By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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a. When to Go to Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


When to Go to Walt Disney World from

Most years, I recommend arriving in Walt Disney World either one of the first three Saturdays after Thanksgiving or one of the first two.

In 2022, I recommend arriving one of the first two Saturdays after Thanksgiving–11/26 or 12/3.

See Next Best Dates if you cannot go on these dates.


“Here’s a tip for avoiding the crowds. The entire world over, two of the best weeks to go anywhere are the first two weeks of December. The weather is good in most places and attendance is almost always low. At Disneyland and Disneyworld in particular, the first two Wednesdays of December are often among the three or four lowest days of the year.”

Buzz Price, Walt’s Revolution: By the Numbers

Crowd levels* are the first factor to consider in timing your Walt Disney World trip.

Here’s why: daily attendance at the Magic Kingdom, the signature park at Walt Disney World, varies from fewer than 20,000 people to more than 60,000, with more than 90,000 heard of at Christmas. The park has a total hourly capacity of approximately 40,000 people–that is, the attractions can deliver about 40,000 rides per hour.

Consequently, on a day with 60,000 visitors, it will be hard for you to average more than one attraction every 90 minutes or so. Multiply this by the number of attractions in the park and it could take you more than 50 hours to enjoy everything at the Magic Kingdom. The attractions themselves take about 7 hours to enjoy; the other 40 or so hours will be spent waiting.

On the other hand, if you go to Walt Disney World during a low attendance period, you can enjoy an attraction at the Magic Kingdom every 20-30 minutes, reducing your total Magic Kingdom time to less than 15-20 hours, and your waiting time down to 8-14 hours.

Multiply this effect over the other three other theme parks at Walt Disney World and you can see how you can save literally days of waiting in line by going during a low attendance period. This allows you to

  • Spend fewer total days at Walt Disney World, easing budget and schedule issues
  • While seeing more of the best of the parks
  • Taking more breaks from the parks, and, all in
  • Having a less stressful, more satisfying experience

Other factors to think about in setting your date include seasonal pricing, the hurricane season, ride closures, and special events.

Given this, late November and early December is the best time to visit.

Crowds are low, hotel and ticket prices while varied are OK, especially the first of these two weeks, the hurricane season is over, few rides are closed, and magical special Christmas events and displays are everywhere.

See best and worst times to visit if you cannot go in late November/early December.


*But not the lowest crowd periods–these are low for good reasons: the peak of the hurricane season, and ride closure season, both of which should be avoided by first time visitors who may never return.




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1 Sarah { 05.11.19 at 8:53 pm }

My family and I have been to Disney a few times during the Xmas season. This time around we chose to go Oct 14-20,2019. We are excited to see the Halloween decor. I’m a bit nervous of the crowd predictions I have read here n there…. any predictions for this time? We are flying from Canada so I’m hoping it won’t be to overwhelming 🙂

2 Dave { 05.12.19 at 7:42 am }

Hi Sarah, my crowd forecasts are here.

The main crowd drivers your dates will be the impact of the opening of Star Wars at Hollywood Studios, the unprecedented daily Extra Magic Hours at three parks that has come from it, and picking the right day for the right park–always critical this time of year, and especially so with the Star Wars and EMH effects.

3 Jo { 01.16.20 at 6:42 am }

Hi Dave,

I am at the very early stages of planning a family trip from the UK for 2022 & currently trying to budget our savings & figure out when is best to go. We have a week’s school holiday at the end of May (always the last week) so we could do 2 weeks around then, or come at Easter. I don’t fancy July/August with the humidity.

We will have a 6 year old daughter & an 11 year old son by then.

My daughter will adore all things Disney, but I have a feeling my son will think himself too grown up for it by then (although I also know he won’t be & will love it!) & so with that in mind (& the fact that this will be 2 – maybe even 3 – years of saving hard) we would also like to visit Universal, Kennedy Space Center & Legoland – is all of that possible to cover in a 2 week break?

Ideally, I’d even like to add a few days at the beach somewhere on to the end of it to relax, as this will likely be our only sunshine break for that year (& probably the years either side).
Can you advise on best times & point me in the direction of a fortnight’s itinerary that might tick all of our boxes?

Also, can you advise where to stay to maximise our time – I am looking at the Art of Animation hotel for the Disney section – would you stay in a Universal hotel for that bit, or somewhere else?

Thank you so much for all of your advice in advance,

A very excited family. xx

4 Dave { 01.16.20 at 10:23 am }

Hi Jo! The second half of May would be best among your options–but do note that later May can be just as humid, and almost as hot, as the rest of the summer. You will still see lower crowds and most likely lower prices at the end of May than either Easter or the summer. Note that the US Memorial Day holiday in 2022 is May 30, so both prices and crowds will be higher at WDW May 27 through May 30. If you have the flexibility, having your fortnight end that weekend will give you the best experience. If not, I can help you work around it.

You will have on the order of 16 days. I’d allocate 7-9 to Disney World, 2-3 to Universal. That will leave 4 to 6 days for travel and your other thoughts, and frankly I think you will be trying for too much. I don’t have an itinerary that would work for such an individual schedule, but I can work with you to hep design one as the dates get closer.

At Art of Animation–are you thinking a standard room or a family suite? With kids the ages of yours, all the value resort standard rooms are pretty cramped for four people for that long a period. The suite will do nicely, but are much more expensive. There may be alternatives worth noting. So for now just tell me suites vs standard rooms.

Guests at Universal hotels get special privileges in the parks that reduce waits on both the day of check in and check out. These vary a bit by Universal hotel price point, and may change by then, but all are worth it. So I’d plan to be in a Universal hotel for 2 nights.

Hope this is at least a start at helping! I also BTW recommend my book, if you don’t already have a copy. It is of course about the wrong year, but 90% of it will likely still be sound for your dates!

5 Jennifer { 02.09.20 at 12:14 pm }


Just curious I’m here at Disney now and it says this week is one of the better times to come. Some one said yesterday the crowds were at a 10. Any idea why? I came this week thinking it’d be a less busy time

6 Elise Craft { 07.23.21 at 10:09 am }

I know the world over is crazy and unpredictable…..but what about 2022? Any predictions? I won’t hold you to them lol.

7 Dave { 07.23.21 at 12:19 pm }

Elise I hope to share some thoughts on 2022 within a month…

8 Joy { 09.01.21 at 5:47 pm }

I popped over today to see if you have posted anything about 2022 yet, specially the first full week in January. Our last trip was 11/19 and I feel like every single thing has changed since then and I have to start all over with my planning!

9 Dave { 09.02.21 at 10:39 am }

Hi Joy, I don’t have the full set of school breaks yet. The big question is how many schools are out that week.

Based on Disney’s Annual Pass block out calendars, they are expecting that the districts that take two weeks off at the holidays will be off the weeks of December 19th and 24th, suggesting that the first week of January will be fine, starting January 2 or 3.

10 Sophia { 11.11.21 at 9:51 pm }

Hello, I’m writing a paper for my math class about when are the best times of the year to go to Disney World based on the month, or preferably, the week. I was wondering if you had some sort of park stats about the number of people at the parks monthly as I need pure data for my paper and it is difficult to find. Thanks!

11 Dave { 11.12.21 at 9:31 am }

Hi Sophia! Sadly, there are no such stats available. Disney won’t even publish annual visitation stats–there are various folks who estimate annual visits by park but none are “official.”

One proxy you can use–I’ve used it myself in the past–is to infer Disney’s expected crowds based on park operating hours. This only works for Magic Kingdom, as it is the only park to routinely show a lot of day to day and week to week variation in operating hours.

And of course the pandemic throws everything off, so if I were you I’d only look at pre-March 2020.

I’ve published weekly operating hours going back to 2012. You can find them here:

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