Walt Disney World is known as the Most Magical Place on Earth. But the moment you wait in a 30+ minute line for a ride, you begin to second guess that popular slogan. To combat the lines and the never-ending crowds, plan your trip around the best time of year to go to Disney World.
Table of Contents:
- Best Times to Visit Disney World
- Worst Times to Go to Disney World
- Disney World Festival Schedule
- How to Combat Disney World Crowds
- Quick Advice for Planning a Disney Vacation
The Best Time of Year to Go to Disney World
The majority of Disney World crowds are based around holidays and school vacations. With this in mind, the times of year with the shortest lines and smallest crowds are:
- Mid-January through mid-February (Before President’s Weekend)
- Late-February through early March
- Late August through mid-November
- Weekdays from late-November to early January
Overall, most of January and the entire month of September are considered the ultimate Disney vacation seasons. As kids return for the school year, the crowds dwindle down and you can walk right on almost every ride.
After the New Year’s celebrations, the parks are practically empty the rest of January. During this time, the water parks are closed and operating hours are shortened. In addition, the weather is a perfect average of 70℉, with the occasional rain shower or two.
In September, kids have returned from summer vacation for the new school year. Once again, the parks are free of massive crowds. Plus, Walt Disney World hotels typically boast their lowest rates this time of year. And, the Epcot Food & Wine Festival is also hosted during this month.
Low crowds plus delicious food from across the globe? Count me in!
However, September is hot and is considered part of Orlando’s rainy season. While the crowds may be diminished, the rain showers aren’t. Remember to pack a poncho or rain jacket so a little rain doesn’t stop your day at the park.
The Absolute Worst Times to Go to Disney World
Disclaimer: While these times of the year may have long wait times and larger crowd sizes, the parks are still just as magical as ever!
For some families, visiting Disney World during the school year or off-season isn’t possible. So, naturally, the parks fill up during peak vacation seasons such as the summertime. As a result, the most crowded times of the year tend to be:
- Early January
- Mid-March through early April (Spring Break)
- Late May through mid-August
- Thanksgiving week
- Christmas week
- The week of New Year’s Eve
In addition, anytime Disney World has a festival going on, expect larger crowds on the weekend. For instance, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a fantastic fall festival which occurs each year from mid-August through the end of October.
However, since this is a special ticketed event and during the school year, weekdays at the park during this festival tend to be the best time of year to go to Disney World. The weekends, on the other hand, are jam-packed! After all, who doesn’t want to see Magic Kingdom decked out in Halloween decor?
Disney World’s Festival Schedule
Depending on your tolerance of crowds, any of Disney’s festivals could either be the best or worst time of year to visit. While the crowds are larger, the extra activities and magical fun make the Disney World festival seasons worthwhile.
Or, if you’re trying to avoid crowds at all costs, schedule your Disney vacation in between these famous festivals:
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: January 6-10, 2021
- Epcot® International Festival of the Arts: January 17 – February 24, 2020
- Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: March 04 – June 01, 2020
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: 2020 Dates TBA
- Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: 2020 Dates TBA
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: 2020 Dates TBA
Additionally, keep national holidays in mind, as many families flock to the House of Mouse around these dates.
How to Combat Disney World Crowds
Even if you schedule your vacation around the best time of year to go to Disney World, you’ll likely run into a crowd or two. No matter when you visit, these crowd management tips will come in handy!
Take Advantage of FastPass+
Repeat after me: FastPass+ is my friend.
FastPass+ enables visitors to skip the long lines and return to their ride or show of choice at a designated time. Once you return, you’ll jump to the front of the line and head onto the ride. Say goodbye to mindlessly going through a line queue all day long!
Each visiting party is allowed three FastPass+ reservations per day. To make your reservations, use the My Disney Experience app or the kiosks at each ride queue. While the kiosks are handy once at the park, you’re guaranteed a FastPass+ reservation if you use the app in advance.
Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel are able to book their FastPass+ reservations 60 days ahead of their first day at the parks. If you are visiting during a peak season, I cannot recommend this feature enough. Set a reminder or alarm on your phone, wake up early, and snag those FastPass+ reservations for your favorite rides at each park!
Those staying at an off-site hotel are able to make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance.
Plus, once you’ve used all three of your reservations at the park, open the My Disney Experience app to reserve more!
Eat a Big Breakfast
If you think the lines for rides are long, wait until you see the lines for food! Curb your appetite by fueling up before you get to the park. Doing so will help you avoid the need to wait in line for breakfast with the rest of the park-goers. Plus, if you eat a big enough breakfast, you may be able to eat a late lunch and avoid the crowds again!
Pack Snacks and Drinks
So long as you follow Disney’s park rules, you are allowed to bring snacks and drinks into the park. I recommend bringing a refillable water bottle along with healthy snacks to keep you hydrated and alert throughout the day. You can’t be bothered by crowds if you’re in a great mood and not enduring a sugar crash!
And, by bringing your own snacks, you’ll forgo waiting in yet another line for quick bites to eat throughout the day. Although, the turkey legs and Mickey ice creams are worth it!
Anyone who’s ever traveled with me knows I despise walking slowly or standing in a crowd if I don’t need to. Naturally, the same goes for visiting Disney World.
Although darting between groups of people will get me to the ride faster, I’ll still need to wait in line (unless I’ve secured a FastPass+ reservation.) However, one trick I’ve learned to use is to simply breathe.
Seriously. It’s that simple.
Take deep breaths, remember you’re at the happiest place on Earth, and enjoy your Disney vacation! There’s no way to get rid of the crowds, so go with the flow, be flexible, and have a magical day.
Quick Advice for Planning a Disney World Vacation
On top of scheduling your vacation around the best time of year to go to Disney World, these tips will help you plan the most magical family trip yet.
Packing is Key
What you bring to the Disney parks can make or break your day (and your budget!)
Use our Disney World Packing List to ensure you bring all the key items on your Orlando vacation. And, if you need to go shopping before your trip, use our buying guide to find the right gear for your Disney vacation.
Stay On Disney Property
While hotels located outside of the Disney World resort property may have desirable rates, they can’t beat the convenience of staying on-site.
When you stay at a Disney World resort hotel, you are granted access to the property’s massive transportation system. Instead of renting a car, paying for gas and parking, and having to sit in traffic on the way to the parks, use Disney’s bus system or monorail! It’s easy, convenient, and gets you to the parks fast.
If you’re planning to visit during a peak season, staying on property is well worth the additional cost per night.
Have a Family Safety Plan
With all there is to do and see in the parks, it’s easy for a young child to get excited and accidentally wander off—especially during busy seasons. This is where a family safety plan comes into play.
A family safety plan ensures everyone knows what to do if one member of your group goes missing. Teach your children to notify a Disney Cast Member if they get separated from the group during your visit. Some families also place temporary ID tattoos or stickers with the family’s contact info on their kids.
Even if you visit during the best time of year to go to Disney World with minimal crowds, it is wise to create a family safety plan.
Plan Your Perfect Disney Vacation
Organizing a memorable Disney World family vacation is a lot of work. With so many moving pieces and things to consider, it’s hard not to have questions.
How many parks should we visit? Do I really need a Magic Band? So. Many. Questions.
Fortunately, we’ve answered all your questions in our Disney World Vacation Planning Guide. Use the easy infographic and you’ll have your Disney World vacation planned out in no time!
Know When to Go: The Best Time of Year to Go to Disney World
Now that you know when the best time of year to go to Disney World is, it’s time to start organizing your trip. Remember to take advantage of Disney World vacation packages for even better rates!
When’s your favorite time of year to go to Walt Disney World? Tell us!