By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Winter Ride Closures at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


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

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.


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.
The 2017 easy Guide

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1 Tina { 09.20.16 at 9:42 am }

I am planning on taking my mom to WDW for her 70th Birthday and her first visit ever!! Just the 2 of us. I can’t decide if early February or early March is better for her. I dont want it to be too hot but I don’t want alot of attractions to be closed due to refurb. Advice?

2 Dave { 09.20.16 at 5:24 pm }

Tina, it’s hard to say until the refurb schedule comes out, but there won’t be “a lot” of attractions closed–it’ll be 3-6, with one or two major. I’d thus go with early February

3 Anonymous { 12.25.16 at 6:15 pm }

Hi, it’s our first time visiting DisneyWorld as a family with our four kids. How do we reserve a breakfast with Disney characters? Do we need to reserve ahead of time if we want to dine at the fancier restaurants? Which ones would you recommend? We have kids aged 2-12. Where can we find the special events and do we have to reserve ahead of time? Anything and everything help 🙂

4 Anonymous { 12.25.16 at 6:16 pm }

Sorry, I forgot to mention the dates. We will be there from Jan.9-16, we plan to be at Disney from Jan.10-15. We will be staying outside Disney about a 25-30 min drive.

5 Dave { 12.27.16 at 7:50 am }

All sit-down restaurants–including the characters–start taking reservations 180 days before, and the most popular book up months ahead. You may find availability at Tusker House (on your Animal Kingdom day) but most others will be booked. You book them either over the phone (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) or via the My Disney Experience app/website.

6 Anonymous { 12.25.16 at 11:21 pm }

If I’m visiting magic kingdom on Jan.12, 2016 d o you recommend fast pass for the Cinderella, Rapunzel and Elsa and Anna meet and greet? Or will the crowds be low enough that we don’t have to get the fastpass.

7 Dave { 12.27.16 at 7:52 am }

You absolutely will need FastPass+–low crowds at Disney means only “lower than other dates,” not “none.” Anna and Elsa are now at Epcot, and you don not need FastPass+ for that meet. My recommended FastPass+ for each park are here.

8 Deb { 10.11.17 at 11:36 am }

Hi – I’m coming down to Disney 1-6-18 to 1-8-18 for a girl’s weekend. Just wondering about ride closures? Do you have any info?

9 Dave { 10.12.17 at 8:01 am }

Hi Deb, except for the Hall of Presidents, the ride closures for then have not been posted yet. What’s typical is one or two major rides, and a couple of minor ones. Most common are Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids, and the Riverboat. Splash is currently undergoing a major refurb–which may mean no January closure for it.

10 Barbara { 02.18.18 at 2:23 am }

Hi. We are travelling from Australia next year. Either January, February.
Can not decide. My daughter wants the end of January, beginning of February for lower crowds. I have read conflicting blogs about this time. And with ride closures and so much informations out their it is just mind boggling.

After reading what you have said recently just makes me more confused. I am not one for waiting a long time.

So our dates would be 1/30/19 to 2/8/19. Would these dates have lower crowds and waiting times and what is the weather like. I have been watching the news and checking the the internet to judge what it might be next year but once again confused.

Could you please give me some insight into this problem.


11 Dave { 02.18.18 at 10:24 am }

Barbara it’s hard to comment without knowing what your alternative week is. That said, a couple of points: standby waits waits have indeed been higher this year than expected. Whether or not they will also be higher next year is hard to forecast. That said, other than during a few weeks, a good daily plan can defeat almost any crowd level.

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