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Winter Ride Closures at Walt Disney World



By Dave Shute

RIDES CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE AND REHAB AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Walt Disney World rides and attractions can be closed for maintenance, rehab, or replacement at any time.

The way I keep up with this is to check the “Refurbishments and Attraction Closures” part of the weekly Walt Disney World Resort Update section of MousePlanet.com.

That said, the most common time for attraction closures is January and early February.  For this reason, this site suggests that first time visitors who are unsure whether or not they will ever return should avoid this period.

Why go during a period when some of the best of Walt Disney World may not be available?

For the currently known 2016 winter closures at Disney World, see this.

However, I’ve seen some claims that “only Splash Mountain is closed” during this period, so I went back and analyzed ride closures over the last five years to double check the facts.

The results of this analysis are presented below.

WINTER RIDE CLOSURES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Over the past five years, an average of three rides are closed in January at Walt Disney World.  (This figure excludes rides closed for massive rehabs—e.g. a nine month do-over.)

The average number of closures drops sharply as mid-February and the President’s Day Weekend approaches, and continues to drop into March.

Walt Disney World Ride ClosuresSee the chart for daily averages (click it to enlarge it.)

Splash Mountain is indeed the most common ride to be closed in this period–it has been closed each of the last five years, for at least five days, and for an average of almost 30 days.

Other attractions closed more than once during the period include Test Track, Buzz Lightyear, the Backlot Tour, and the Liberty Belle riverboat. Other significant attractions closed at least once in winter include Rock N’ Roller Coaster, Kali River Rapids, and Indiana Jones.

There’s not much on this list I’d want to miss…so the advice to first time visitors who may not be able to return remains the same–avoid January and early February!

This advice is reflected in this site’s 2016 weeks to visit, ranked in order.
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85 comments

1 Chris { 07.08.13 at 7:35 pm }

Dear Dave-
We are planning a trip to WDW for the dates of Jan 5-10 2014. We are buying
6 day (base) ticket and staying off the grounds of Disney. We want to spend 2
days in Hollywood Studios, 2 days in Magic Kingdom, 1 day in Animal
kingdom and 1 day in Epcot. Our priorities are in this order: Magic Kingdom
most important, Hollywood Studios second, Epcot third and Animal Kingdom
last- having stated that can you help us figure out what days of the week we
should visit each park? I am concerned it will be very crowded Jan 5 with
guests visiting for the New Year and then it will get crowded again on Thursday
Jan 9 and Friday Jan 10 with the marathon crowd. We can’t change our dates.
Thank you very much for your help. We really appreciate it!

Thanks- Chris

2 Dave { 07.09.13 at 7:19 am }

Hi Chris! The marathon clots up the parks, but not anything like the New Years crowds. Most kids are back in school the 6th, so will be traveling the 5th. Thus the 4th will be the last really bad day.

I like MK your dates the 7th and 8th, HS any day but the 10th, but especially the 9th; AK all days except the 6th and 8th, and Epcot all days except the 6th and 7th.

So putting all these together, I’d do this:

1/5 AK
1/6 HS
1/7 MK
1/8 MK
1/9 HS
1/10 Epcot

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3 Crystal { 07.18.13 at 1:22 pm }

Hi Dave,

We are planning our first family trip to WDW. It will be my husband and I and our two daughters, ages 9 and 2. We want this to be an extremely memorable trip especially for our 9 year old as it will be a surprise birthday & Christmas gift for her (her b-day is Dec 22) and we don’t know when we will be able to go again. We will be staying at a resort outside of Disney. Unfortunately, with my husband’s work schedule and daughter’s school schedule the dates that we have already locked in are Dec 28, 2013- Jan 4, 2014, which I am now reading are some of the MOST crowded times.

I think Magic Kingdom will be the best way to WOW our 9 year old. She doesn’t really like rides that much, especially anything that would be considered the least bit scary. She is really into music and movies. I have been to WDW, but it has been 15+ years so I can’t remember a whole lot about many of the attractions. Can you give us any pointers or other suggestions to make this the most memorable trip for the whole family? What are the must sees at Disney for a family like ours? Also, do you know if there will be any earlier fireworks displays during this time period because both girls are usually in bed by 9:30 or 10 at the latest.

Thanks in advance!
Crystal

4 Dave { 07.18.13 at 4:55 pm }

Crystal, frankly, you should cancel and take your daughter out of school to go another time, or cancel your off-site hotel and book on site. My parents took me out of school routinely through my junior year of high school (and would have done so my senior year except that we were in London!) and I still got nominated by the University of Chicago to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship!

Not only will the crowds be simply astonishing–I’m talking about three hour waits for rides in the afternoons–but also MK will close to those coming from off site likely several times during your visit. See this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/30/park-closings-at-walt-disney-world/

Moreover, the common way to get a heads up on the crowds–to arrive before they open–won’t work well at MK for you, as it opens an hour early through the 31st on the current calendar, and likely through the 4th once the January calendar is finalized, for WDW resort hotel guests. That means the crowds will already be there when you arrive…though still not as bad as they will be in the afternoons.

There’s a couple of nights (the 30th and 31st) when MK fireworks are at 9, but they are otherwise at 10. The fireworks show “Fantasmic” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has daily shows among other times at 6.30p. Epcot’s fireworks are typically at 9.

For my general recommendations of what to do and see, check out one of my itineraries–e.g. this one https://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/06/summer-itinerary-for-walt-disney-world-v2/ (It’s called “Summer,” but applies to all the higher-corwd periods.)

Sorry to be a downer. See this for much better weeks to go: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/15/2014-weeks-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-order/

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5 Karen { 08.06.13 at 2:29 pm }

Looking to plan a trip 1/17/14-1/23/14. Looks like that’s ranked pretty low on your list of “best weeks.” We’re all repeat visitors, except my 4 yr old, and not too concerned about ride closures. Think we’ll be ok?

6 Dave { 08.07.13 at 7:54 am }

Karen, the week rankings are for first time visitors who may never return, and it’s noted on them that the later January (and early Feb) weeks in particular can be great for returning visitors. Yours is exactly like that–very good for returning visitors–except that your first few days will be crowded by the MLK holiday weekend!

7 Rhett { 08.08.13 at 8:48 am }

Karen –
We went 3 years ago over MLK weekend through the Tuesday after MLK. We followed the crowd days from The Unofficial Guide To Disney and each park was like a ghost town. I was shocked by how empty the parks were for a holiday weekend. The only ride closed then was Splash Mountain, but our daughter was to short to ride it anyway. And the weather was FABULOUS! We are actually booked for Jan 19-23 2014 because we enjoyed that time so much (and going over that weekend saved me one of my vacation days at work!

8 Dave { 08.09.13 at 10:57 am }

Hi Rhett, that’s great!

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9 Lisa { 09.22.13 at 11:53 am }

Hello,
Stumbled upon your site, pertaining to all things Disney, and I absolutely LOVE it!

Hubby, myself and little girl want to come celebrate her 4th birthday at WDW in Nov 2014. We are coming from South Africa, hence the planning way in advance.

My major question is when around that time period, the “lowest of low” crowd wise, budget wise ect are. We took her to Disneyland (Paris) for her 2nd birthday, and hubby sooooo didn’t do queues, hence the question. Very flexible with dates, thus will look forward to your recommendations around this.

Much appreciated
Lisa

10 Dave { 09.23.13 at 10:43 am }

Hi Lisa, and thanks!!

See this, especially the weeks ranked #4 and #9: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/15/2014-weeks-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-order/

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11 Ell { 09.25.13 at 10:00 am }

Hi Dave, your site is great, really informative. I was just wondering if you could let me know what you think about out holiday dates for November 2014, they can’t be changed as all booked bit I was wondering what your think the weather an crowds would be like. We are coming 11th Nov 2014 – 25 th. thanks Ell

12 Dave { 09.26.13 at 11:02 am }

Hi Ell and thanks!

For your dates, see this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/15/2014-weeks-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-order/ Your weeks are in the top 10!

Weather can be tricky then. See this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/15/2014-weeks-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-order/

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13 Ell { 09.26.13 at 11:23 am }

Thanks Dave, we are coming from the uk for the first time and as long as we get a few nice days we will be happy, can’t wait, only 411 days to go ????

14 Christie W { 10.29.13 at 4:08 am }

Dave , hi!!! You are the expert it seems. I have a couple major & time sensitive questions. We are arriving Nov. 9th first flight. – Nov. 12 ( for my husband & 2 high schoolers). Wed. Nov.13th for me & my 9 yr old. DVC members , wondering staying @ 2 hotels had to break up visit due to last minute booking. Bay Towers & Sar. Villas. We received opportunity to test the bands. I’m 50/50 on this. ( tried exact this @ Dollywood, worked well, saved steps & preferences). For Disney we’d love to do toy story , Jedi academy for. 9 yr old , roller coasters, tower for 14 year olds.
Do you have suggestions which days open early during our trip. Which passes to request @ each park per day to make the most of our trip. Bringing an extra 14 yr old, whom I assume is as daring as my own. My two boys are daring & and ride anything , but detest waiting . My oldest will ride single rider while we fast pass Everest , so we are pretty savvy. Please come up with a great plan. & we ‘ll be forever greatful !!! Due to 3 gifted students and desire to exempt this is THE week we can travel . It maybe possible teens can stay with us for the additional Wed. Should find out tomorrow. Thanks for your expertise!!!!

All things magical to you!
And and tricks to getting into LeCellar in Canada @ this late date? Only rest we ‘be desired to go to & haven’t. My sons favorite is the Flying fish & we love the Yachtsman .

All and any advise will be appreciated!!!

Christie & the Wiley Family 🙂 SOS – save our spots in line lol , from the. 9 yr old!!!

15 Dave { 10.29.13 at 7:55 am }

Hi Christie, I think I’m a little lost in your questions, but here’s the basics:

I have no idea how to get into Le Cellier on such short notice…

The word is that “regular” fastpasses are in really short supply, so I would go with the MagicBands and FastPass+

My thoughts on which attractions to book by park are at the end of this page: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/08/20/what-you-need-to-know-now-about-fastpass/

I’m not quite following your dates and their complexities, but here’s parks to avoid by day

11/9: Avoid MK and HS
11/10: Avoid MK
11/11: Avoid HS and AK
11/12: Avoid Epcot

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16 Disney DataViz: 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar | Michael Sandberg's Data Visualization Blog { 04.06.14 at 10:09 am }

[…] week. The lowest weeks are low for a reason–typically because they are in the hurricane or the ride closure […]

17 DataViz: 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar | Michael Sandberg's Data Visualization Blog { 04.06.14 at 10:13 am }

[…] week. The lowest weeks are low for a reason–typically because they are in the hurricane or the ride closure […]

18 michelle { 08.26.14 at 11:18 pm }

Hi

We are planning a 2 week trip to Florida for 2 girls who will be 6 years and just under 2.5 years (we have family in florida). we are planning on 2-3 days at the magic kingdom (so 2 hotel night stays), what days would be the best in Jan or Feb?

19 Dave { 08.27.14 at 8:03 am }

Michelle, you basically want the period between the day after MLK day to the Thursday before President’s Day. Within that, in general Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best.

20 michelle { 08.28.14 at 10:06 am }

Thanks Dave for your response!

21 Bob J { 10.19.14 at 1:06 am }

Hi Dave,

Your blog is awesome.

We are coming down the two weeks February 11 thru February 23rd. Unfortunately they are the only days that work for our family. I see you are recommending that we avoid DW during President’s week due to long lines. We are planning three days at the park, which three days would you suggest between February 11 to February 23?

Thanks a bunch!

22 Dave { 10.19.14 at 8:42 am }

Hey Bob, thanks! Either the beginning or the end would be best–especially the 11th-13th.

23 Dee { 10.27.14 at 9:41 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are considering our first trip to WDW with two small girls (4yo and 1.5yo). Just wondering what the best dates would b for a 7 day trip staying in WDW for a family of 4? We’re driving down from NYC thinking of taking 10-12 days total including drive staying with family along the way. Any recommendations on hotels as well? Thinking budget.
And also, we don’t mind the ride closures – since we have small kids and it’ll be my first time ever, I’m not really sure what I’m missing.
Thanks in advance!
Dee

24 Dave { 10.29.14 at 8:02 am }

Hi Dee! My date recommendations are here https://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/12/08/2015-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/ Because you don’t care about ride closures (and I agree if you are coming back doesn’t matter) then the period from 1/18 to 2/12 is in play as well. My hotel recommendations are here: https://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/

25 Jenny jacques { 10.27.14 at 9:43 pm }

Where can I find out which rides are closed in February 2015. We are planning on being at Magic Kingdom for 2 days. Which dates do u recommend, we are planning at this point for it to be in the first 2 weeks of Feb.

26 Dave { 10.29.14 at 8:06 am }

Jenny refurbs can be announced any time, typically about 8 weeks befroe closure. There’s no official list, but you can find unofficial lists all over the place–e.g. weekly on MousePlanet here http://www.mouseplanet.com/search.php?type=c&cid=wd

The best dates in Jan/Feb are from the day after MLK Day to the Thursday before Presidents Day, then again later Feb beginning Feb 21.

27 Mari { 04.20.15 at 10:36 pm }

Hi!
Booked 2/6-2/13 for 2016 at Contemporary. You have me doubting myself with your rankings, but unable to do any other weeks in February then I’d be running into high prices with March. I have a 4YO and a 2YO. How worried should I be about closures? How about the weather in February? Thanks!

28 Dave { 04.21.15 at 8:22 am }

Mari, you should face at most 3-4 closures–maybe less, as rides commonly re-open at the end of Jan. For weather, see this.

29 Kate { 04.30.15 at 9:38 am }

Hi. Great Site. Thank you for all the useful information. We are planning a trip to Disney at the worst time it appears but cannot be avoided since that is the week we have the Time Share. First week in January 2017. There will be a minimum of 17 of us. Ranging in age from 3.5 years to 75 years young. My husband is retired military and I did note the Military discount will not work due to that time being “blacked out”. Can you recommend how to get that many tickets at the best price? For example: Do we do the park hopper? Or is it better to buy multiple days without and just pick a park each day?
Thank,
Kate

30 Dave { 04.30.15 at 4:17 pm }

Kate, the park hopper only affects what you can do in a day, not how many days you can go. Disney tix are explained here. Start with the concept of base multi-day tickets bought at a military outlet. Disney may also extend the Military Salute, which currently ends at the end of Sept 2015. But this will work for only 4 days and 6 people.

Tell me your exact arrival date and planned number of days in the parks and I can help a lot more!

31 Steve From MilitaryDisneyTips.com - YourFirstVisit.net Military Moderator { 04.30.15 at 7:46 pm }

Hi Kate,

I’m tagging in.

I am expecting the Disney Armed Forces Salute to be renewed for the Oct 2015 – Oct 2016 timeframe, but it is too soon to get a feel for 2017. It just depends on the economic conditions at the time.

Having said that, the Salute tickets are typically blocked out only through 1 or 2 January so if your dates do not include the 1st or 2nd you will be fine. ANd even those days might work with the right tickets/combo.

The savings afforded by the Salute tickets is huge and you should endeavor to mix them into your plan if possible. You didn’t nail down how long your vacation will be for, but as Dave mentioned the Salute tickets are 4-day and you may use up to 6. But they can be used back to back for 8 days by 3 people, that would be $354 vs $401 for an 8-day hopper (the 8-day base ticket would be cheaper though at $339).

As you can see there are variables and you need to price out every possible combo of tickets to find what works best and cheapest for you.

Some combo of the Disney Armed Forces Salute and Regular Military Discounted Magic Your Way tickets will work great for you.

As we get closer touch base with me on my site and we can get more specific.

Steve

32 Dave { 05.01.15 at 8:01 am }

Thanks Steve–Melissa, Steve is referring to his site http://www.militarydisneytips.com/ where you’ll always find the best and most up to date info on available military deals.

33 Danny { 08.12.15 at 8:36 am }

Hi,
I have read some of the threads about MLK weekend. I will be travelling from Australia and will be visiting LA from the 15th to 19th of January 2016 (5 full days). If I have to pick 2 days of the 3 day weekend, which would be the best day and which would be the next best day to visit Disneyland?

34 Dave { 08.13.15 at 8:49 am }

Sorry, Danny, I don’t cover Disneyland.

35 Claire { 07.14.16 at 8:31 pm }

We are planning our first trip to Disney World with our kids (2,4 &6). We are thinking about the last week in January or last week in February. We aren’t too concerned with refurbishments. There is so much to do, we’ll be overwhelmed as it is! Are there any other cons for going that time of year? Thanks!

36 Dave { 07.16.16 at 9:54 am }

Claire, the weather can be unexpectedly cool, and the Pro Bowl may increase crowds through January 28th–see this.

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