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

a. When to Go to Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


When to Go to Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netArrive in Walt Disney World one of the first three Saturdays after Thanksgiving.

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, early December is the best time to visit.

Crowds are low, prices are low, 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 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 Celine { 06.11.12 at 1:04 am }

Well, I just LOVE your site and am totally taking your advice. I mean, to the ‘T’! Thank you again!!!


2 Nancy Jo { 07.21.12 at 6:03 pm }

My father has since passed away, but about 15 yrs. ago Dad had official Handicap status and rode a motorized scooter around WDW. He, my mother, and all 10 other family members (adults & kids) were allowed at the front of the lines of most rides. I have a lot of back and leg pain, am on medication and being treated, but do not have official Handicap designation. I would like to rent a motorized scooter to help with the tremendous amount of walking. I and hubby are 65 yrs. old & bringing 7 & 10 yr. old grandkids, probably mid-October 2012. My Dad’s scooter was delivered to his motel (off-site). Do you think I’d have any difficulty renting a scooter at WDW gates when we arrive and do some of the on-site motels offer this accomodation? Without Handicap designation, but using a scooter, would we be able to receive any additional allowances such as avoiding excessively long lines, etc.? Perhaps I would qualify for a temporary Handicap designation from my physician before we go. Do you know how much scooters rent for and can they be used at all areas such as Epcot, Universal Studios, etc.? Thanks for your help. “Grandma”

3 Dave { 07.22.12 at 8:55 am }

Hi Nancy Jo!

I suggest you buy and read this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges It will clarify the help that’s available and steps you can take to make sure you get it.

You can rent scooters at the gate, but sometimes they sell out, and always this slows you down. Many services will deliver scooters to any hotel for the length of your visit. I don’t know enough to particularly recommend any, but googling “Disney World scooter rental” will generate lots of options…

4 Carole { 10.01.12 at 8:50 am }

Hi Dave! We are booked 11/24-12/2 at WL but thinking of changing to 12/8-12/15 to see FLES. We would lose free dining, but that’s not the end of the world because air is much cheaper. Concerned about crowds right after thanksgiving, but perhaps first week after FLES opens is worse. Which way would you go?

5 Dave { 10.01.12 at 9:34 am }
6 Isabel { 10.08.12 at 12:42 pm }

We have been going to WDW during the summer for the past 5+ years, but this year we are trying to make an extra trip during the holidays to enjoy the Christmas spirit. We are not sure if to go during Thankgiving week (Nov. 20-24) or the week around Christmas (Dec 23-27). I know both weeks will be crowed. Our good friends have decided to join us with their family. This will be their first visit. Which week do you recommend that we go so they can really enjoy it the best and not be overwhelmed with the crowds.

7 Dave { 10.08.12 at 12:59 pm }

Hi Isabel, both periods will be overwhelmed by crowds, but Thanksgiving week will be much better than your December option!

8 Janet { 10.10.12 at 7:51 pm }

Hi Dave – We are planning a trip to Disney Nov. 4 -11. Our grandchildren are 4 & 5. Which day would you recommend we go to Animal Kingdom. We are planning on either the 6 or 7th for Magic Kingdom. Is it best to have a day off in between each park? Thanks

9 Dave { 10.11.12 at 10:52 am }

Hi Janet among those dates AK will be OK any day but 11/4 and 11/9. Your target dates for MK are great, and both are about the same. There’s no need for a day off day in between, but for kids that age on average you should spend half your time in the parks–ideally mornings, and evenings if open late–and half off, especially afternoons!

10 Dave { 11.02.12 at 6:05 am }

Hi Janet, I’ve not changed my crowd forecasts. Operating hours have been extended to accommodate previews of the new stuff in Fantasyland for passholders, but these won’t affect crowds…

11 Pete { 12.13.12 at 4:39 pm }


We are planning on a visit to DW 2/16/13 through 2/23/13. It will be 4 adults and 2 children (9 & 6). First trip for all. What do you suggest we try to do. We are thinking about park hopper and dining meal (1 sit down). Staying at the Port Orleans. Thanks.

12 Dave { 12.14.12 at 9:59 am }

Hi Pete, look at this and its links: That will be a wildly busy week, so the parks may open an hour earlier than the itin says…

13 Paige { 12.29.12 at 9:30 am }

Hi! We are heading to Orlando on 1/1-1/4 for a quick trip. We only have 1 day to spend at MK, which would you choose? Also, we arrive the night of 12/31, do you have any recommendation of where we can view the New Years Eve fireworks from outside the parks? Thanks! Your info is awesome!

14 Dave { 12.29.12 at 9:58 am }

Hiya Paige and thanks!

That’s a wildly crowded week, and MK will be mobbed every day. Of your options, non eis good, the third will be the worst, and the 1st the best.

The best place to watch the fireworks from outside the parks is at the Transportation and Ticket Center which is where you go first when you park at MK.

However, there’s a really good chance this will be closed to new cars by the time you get there…See this: SO if you don’t do disappointment well, I’d just go to bed and get a really early start at MK the 1st…

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15 Paige { 12.29.12 at 2:06 pm }

Thanks! We were hoping that schools would be back in session on the 2nd and the crowds would diminish. Oh well, just to be there is a great thing. We are going to Universal for a few days, too. Thanks for your input! And…
What do you think about Sat 1/5? Any lighter crowds?

16 Dave { 12.29.12 at 6:05 pm }

Hi Paige, sadly, about half of all kids are off that entire week–see this: And the 5th should be better than earlier that week!

17 Dennis { 01.09.13 at 11:51 pm }

Hi Dave- We are trying to avoid the Holiday/School Break crowds, so we selected Jan.27 thru Jan.31 for our Disney vacation. What do you think the crowds will be like? Do you have any opinions about going this week? Thanks again for all the great information you provide!

18 Dave { 01.10.13 at 7:53 am }

Hi Dennis, and thanks!

That’s a great week for crowds! You’ll run into some ride closures, and some potentially low temps, but otherwise you’ll be fine! See this for more:

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19 Tara { 01.11.13 at 8:51 am }

Hi Dave – My husband won a 5 day trip to Florida that we get to enjoy sometime over the next year. We have chosen a number of possible dates and were hoping that you could advise us of best times. We need to select 3 possible times and the following are times that we are able to get time off: Dec. 22-26, Jan. 1-5, Mar. 11-15, or Aug. 26-30. Any information you can provide about these times would be greatly appreciated.

20 Dave { 01.11.13 at 12:18 pm }

Hi Tara, how cool that you won a trip! For different reasons I don’t really like any of those dates, but the August ones are best. The first three will be wildly crowded. The end of August is not crowded, but it is in the peak of the hurricane season…see this:

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21 Ashley R { 01.14.13 at 1:21 pm }

Dave – First of all, thank you so much for compiling all of this information! Your site has been tremendous help in my planning and budgeting of our first family trip! Going on the trip will be my husband, myself and our three boys (they will be 3, 8 and 14). I am tinkering with the different dates and am torn between December 2013 (the dates you recommend) or the 2/22/14 date that is a little lower down on the “good weeks” list. My reasons for the February trip – I work in the service industry and make a lot more money in December compared to February. Also, I was hoping to wrap this up into part of the Christmas presents for the two older boys.
What I am wondering is are the early December dates that much better overall than the 2/22/14 date or will the trip in February be amazing as well? (yes, I know all Disney trips are amazing!)

22 Dave { 01.14.13 at 1:36 pm }

Ashley, first, thanks! Second, if you throw out the value of the Xmas decorations and shows, the 2/22/14 week would be a great alternative! It’ll be likely warmer, for one thing, and there’s a better chance that the big ride opening between now and then–the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland–will be open. So I’d say go for it…

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23 Suzie { 01.22.13 at 2:41 pm }

Hi Dave, We are looking to go to WDW for one week in early Oct 2013, and have consulted the week picker. I’m comparing Oct 5th (#25) to Oct 12 (#15). I’m surprised that the Columbus Day holiday doesn’t have more of an impact. My kids will be 5 and 3 1/2. Do their ages matter when considering these weeks? I know you’ll probably suggest Oct 19th (#4), but I’d hate for the kids to miss all of the local Halloween activities back at home, which will most likely be planned for that last weekend in Oct. Thanks to a gift of DVC points from a family member, we hope to spend the week at the Beach Club. Would love to know your thoughts! Thanks, Suzie

24 Dave { 01.22.13 at 3:15 pm }

Hi Suzie, first because all your dates are during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, when the Beach Club Villas are wildly popular, I’d first check if they are even available!

Second, my price and crowd ratings cover a nine day period, and Columbus Day only affects three of them–that’s why the impact of it is moderated…I suppose that given the ages of your kids, crowds matter a little less–making the week of the 12th look relatively better–because they won’t get on the longest-lined rides…

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25 Suzie { 01.22.13 at 3:58 pm }

Thanks Dave! My brother-in-law’s home resort is Key West, which I know ranks low on kid-friendly. He said he would book his home property now, and put in for a transfer to the Beach Club Villas when allowed (7 months ahead). If we can’t get in, we’ll hope to stay at the most kid friendly resort that he can get us! I appreciate your feedback! Thanks, Suzie

26 Dave { 01.22.13 at 4:37 pm }

Suzie–I understand!

27 Rene { 03.18.13 at 9:37 pm }

just booked reservations for the first week in December 2013! Last time I was at Disney World was Christmas week 2010 and while it was beautiful,it was so crowded,we spent the majority of our time standing in line! Now we can get the benefit of the gorgeous holiday atmosphere without the craziness!

28 Dave { 03.19.13 at 4:48 pm }

Rene, that’s great! You can however, hit big crowds–especially at MK–that week if you go the wrong days. See this:

29 Anonymous { 03.25.13 at 4:48 pm }

We are going to Disneyworld October 17th for three days. WE want to attend the Halloween party. CAn you give any advice for what to do for our three days aside from the Halloween Party? WE have never been before, but we own a timeshare at Bonnet Creek Resort so we can go back really anytime. Thanks

30 Dave { 03.25.13 at 5:00 pm }

How old are your kids?

31 Marti Hood { 03.26.13 at 8:38 am }

Sorry. They are 4-girl and 6-Boy.
Thank you.

32 Dave { 03.26.13 at 9:47 am }

At those ages, I’d spend another day or two at the Magic Kingdom!

33 Marti Hood { 03.26.13 at 11:52 am }

Dave, Would any day be better than any other? We will be there Firday, Saturday and Sunday. WE are hoping to do the Halloween Party on Sunday. Also, is there anything for girls and boys in the Castle like a breakfast or dinner?

34 Dave { 03.26.13 at 4:53 pm }

Hi Marti, I think you probably want to scan through the Magic Kingdom days in one of my itineraries to get a sense of what to do–e.g. this one:

The itineraries are built for kids older than yours, so use this as a filter:

I generally recommend 2 or three mornings, an afternoon, and an evening for kids the ages of yours. The 18th is the best day overall for MK, then the 17th, then the 19th. I’m forecasting the party will be on 10/17 and 10/18.

And yes–in the Castle there’s Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is in all my itineraries. Reservations open 180 days in advance–around April 20 in your case for 10/17–and it often books full the day reservations open, so that’s one to get at the 180 day mark!

Hope this helps. And if so…

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35 Erika { 04.02.13 at 2:19 pm }

My guess is that you won’t post this, but that is up to you as the owner of this site. Your information is WAY off base. While some of this USED to be true, much of it no longer is. For example, the first two weeks in December were once EXCELLENT times to go. No longer the case. Still beautiful for the decorations and certainly better than the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but hardly “low crowds.” And anytime in October is now way crowded due to Food & Wine. And the week in February that you mentioned is SUPER crowded due to President’s week (no school for the week for New Englanders) and the Princess marathon week-end. So while lots of your information used to be relevant, it no longer is. I understand your reasoning that first (or only) timers would not be in their rooms much so you don’t recommend DVC…but WOW. BAD ADVICE. DVC units are the absolute BEST option for parents with young kids! Hello? A full kitchen and washer/dryer and room to spread out?!?! Make all of the difference in the world for a young family. And renting points is often cheaper or equivalent to staying in a Value, let alone the Poly.

36 Erika { 04.02.13 at 2:42 pm }

Ack…this keeps getting worse and worse. My family of FIVE has never spent more than $3000 for a full week at WDW and that is including airfare! Granted, we got a discount and/or free dining or other things. But even so…you are saying things like $8k! Not necessary! And early mornings are the BEST way to see the parks and do as much as you want. Then hit the pools in the afternoon when the parks are the most crowded and the hottest. And Epcot is AWESOME and not a disappointment for kids if you know what to do and where to go! OMG, all of the new little play areas and jungle gyms make strolling around World Showchase with a cocktail (for the adults) a complete joy for the whole family!

37 Dave { 04.02.13 at 2:53 pm }

Erika of course I’ll post it! But I think you are wrong on pretty much every point.

The December weeks are much more crowded than they used to be, but they are still among the lowest crowd weeks of the year. For first time visitors, what they used to be just doesn’t matter, because they can’t go back then. But they are much lower crowd than for example President’s Day week, most of March, the weeks before and after Easter, almost all the summer, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas and New Year’s week. Much lower than Jersey week, than Columbus Day… etc etc…

October is not “way crowded because of Food and Wine.” Epcot’s World Showcase is way crowded in the evenings and on weekends then; its rides are largely unaffected, as are the rest of the parks. You can run into massive crowds if you go to the wrong parks the wrong days–but that’s more about the Halloween Party and MK operating hours than about Food and Wine. See this:

I have never recommended the week of President’s Day for just the reason you note–I suspect maybe you saw a comment about a different year?.. The changing date of President’s day (which can happen from the 15th through the 21st) means that the actual bad week varies from year to year–which all my advice incorporates…see e.g. this:

I am closer to your point of view on renting points–see this –but your math is way off. The cheapest DVC is OKW, and for an 8 night Saturday-Sunday visit (as I recommend) it’s 183 points at the lowest point cost time of the year in 2013. At $12 a point, that’s $2,200, or an average of $275 a night. That’s more than twice as much as value resorts prices those same nights–e.g. Art of Animation Little Mermaid, the most expensive, is about $118 a night the same season!

38 Mary { 04.02.13 at 3:06 pm }

Interesting discussion. I think the difference here is the ‘first timer’ versus the ‘seasoned vet’. There are many things I would or would not do as I go all the time but for a first timer this is great information to get a foundation to go to Disney World and not be overwhelmed.

The dates are definitely fluctuating now but the numbers are still low. The funny thing is first timers seem to always choose the times that are the most crowded. So if this information has them chose a week that is just 2/3 as crowded they win! Not only in crowd size but in $$$ (dang those meal and room upcharges).

On the DVC comment, I own DVC and have younger kids. We enjoy staying in a Value (in fact our next trip is at All Star Sports – one of our favorites) as much as we enjoy the one bedroom Savannah view at Animal Kingdom. So again this is a too each their own and I really appreciate all the information Dave provides.

Good discussion.

39 Dave { 04.02.13 at 3:17 pm }

Erika, of course early mornings are the best time to go–that’s why my itineraries have between 4 and 8 of them, depending on the time of the year and what else is going on. And they have as mnay afternoons off that fit! But morning extra hours without hoppers for families spending a full day at a park, however, are largely foolish.

And of course Epcot is a ball, which is why it’s got typically a day and a half in my itineraries. But if parents of 4 year old with three days ask where they should go, the answer isn’t Epcot.

And it’s great that you can go with a family of five for $3k for a week… with airfares of around a grand, and tickets for 5 for a week at $1,500 I think its terrific that you can do your hotel and food for less than $500 for a week.

40 Tricia { 04.02.13 at 3:44 pm }

Wow – Erika, I’d love to see the numbers on how you took a family of 5 for a full week for under $3000, including airfare. I’m currently pricing out a trip for my family of 6, and airfare alone is coming in around $2500-$3000. Maybe the last time you visited WDW was several years ago, during MUCH lower airfare times?

Dave, thanks for all the great info, as always!

41 Steve { 04.02.13 at 4:17 pm }

Ericka, did you just get back from a little trip in your DeLorean?

Perhaps you haven’t been to WDW during the busy times recently, but your concept of what is and isn’t crowded at WDW is out of date!

I too long for the days of light attandance in the MK being 10,000 and a medium day of 60,000. But those days are long gone. I go to the Food and Wine every year and October is not croweded. Late Oct, early Nov is the time I recommend to everyone I know. Were you at Epcot on the weekend? That is a big no no, as it is flooded with townies there to drink. Weekdays are simply awesome!

Ack… renting points… For a young family… I don’t think so, not and stay under $3000 all items included.

42 Liz { 04.02.13 at 5:48 pm }

Erika travels to WDW at least 4 times a year – in every season except summer. Her last trip was in February, for the Princess Half, yes, in 2013. Although, as she mentioned, she did not include hotel in her estimate, as they own DVC. So no need to wonder about her truthfulness or sanity.

As for airfares, I am still able to find them for about $200 roundtrip. Perhaps that is where I live, but I don’t think it’s an unusual price or a shocking savings. I know my family in the Midwest travels for about the same as we do in the mid atlantic east coast.

Anyway, despite the nastiness, I do think this is an interesting thread – although I also disagree with some points. The truth is, there is no be all site or recommendation for families or WDW visits. I visit at least once a year and have done so since the late 1990s, and have gone all different times – except in summer. (I can honestly say I have not been to WDW in the summer since 1987). So my opinions differ.

I found OKW to be very kid friendly, September and October to be increasingly crowded, due to free dining, and January lovely despite ride closures.I think Mary makes an excellent point – the difference is between an initial visit and a repeat visitor will shift perspectives.

In other points, I would never, for instance, take a first timer there for 8 days. I think it’s both too overwhelming and too expensive and cements the idea that WDW is a once in a life time experience, rather than something to be enjoyed again and again, in different permeations. I do totally agree that taking 4 year olds to Epcot is best not done. 🙂 I wonder about the sanity of any repeat visitor who takes a first timer, or tries to advise them – I have done both, several times, and question myself on it! I think sometimes people need to make their own mistakes and decisions and swear allegiance to their own system.

It’s interesting advice overall, and I appreciate Dave’s response to his visitors. Very kind and gracious.

43 Erika { 04.02.13 at 7:52 pm }

I honestly didn’t mean to start controversy. But — and I do NOT mean to be rude here — the advice on this site is out of line with most other Disney trip planning sites. And also out of line with my experiences over the past decade.

In terms of paying $3k for a trip. That was before I owned DVC and was a 6-day trip. Yes, it was a few years ago, but certainly not ancient history. However, anyone who wants hard numbers from a recent trip, the DisUnplugged podcast (available on iTunes) did a challenge and one their team members took her family of 4 on a 6-day trip for $2400.oo. And they stayed at a moderate level resort. This was in the past 12 months. They live in FL, so did not have to pay airfare. But airfare for 4 can be done in that $600-range. For hard/recent numbers on that….I flew one month ago from the northeast to FL for $163. (So for a family of 4, that would be $650.) I encourage anyone to listen to the segment…you will exactly how they were able to do a week at WDW for less than $3k.

For my family, personally, we will only go when airfares drop to those levels. So that is one way we keep our costs way down.

Now, is $3k on the extremely low end? Absolutely. But my point was it can definitely be done. But Dave’s numbers of $8400 seem completely astronomical to me. If I was a first-timer and came on this site and saw that, I would give up then and there and say there is no way I can afford to take my family on a Disney vacation.

And that is why my comments have been so strongly worded. This is a site for first timers and I think that much of the information here would either scare them off or make for a less-than-ideal trip. As Liz said above…8 days? With little kids? I would never recommend that. You are asking for meltdowns and over-stimulation.

Today my family travels differently. We have DVC. (And yes, we use the kitchen and eat breakfasts in every day and even some dinners.) We have APs, which we purchase with the DVC discount. And so on. So my experiences today are different. But it can still be done the way I used to do it before we were DVC and AP holders….as is described on the podcast. And my first trip with 3 young children….we absolutely rented DVC points at OKW and it was the best decision we made. 5 of us in a standard size hotel room? Not fun. But that is MY family and what works for us. Of course, you will find things to be different. But I strongly encourage ANYONE to do lots and lots of research before planning a Disney trip. Not any ONE site. This or any other. Look around at the other trip planning sites. And go on the message boards ( and you will find more tips, tricks, and advice than you can ever imagine.

44 Mary { 04.02.13 at 8:36 pm }

Erika – You are right. People researching should go to multiple sites. And I can tell you the other sites also give poor information. I have found disBoards to be quite single sided on many topics so I would definitely look for other opinions.

I also wanted to point out that people from outside the US typically holiday for 14 to 21 days. So to me it looks like Dave is appealing to a broader audience than to just the US.

45 Tricia { 04.02.13 at 8:39 pm }

I’d LOVE to know where you’re finding flights for a family of 4-5 for $650. Are you flying standby or something?

Honestly, I’d rather spend $8500 and give my family an amazing trip full of memories than go cheap and leave Disney never wanting to go back.

46 Erika { 04.02.13 at 9:21 pm }

Mary–good point about those outside of the U.S.

Tricia–nope, I fly Southwest or JetBlue. Right now I can book on SW for May for $89 going down and $79 coming back….about $170 per person. Those are today’s rates.

By all means, spend $8500 on one trip to Disney. To each his/her own. But the “trip of a lifetime” is a misnomer. Your kids don’t know all that is available. Are they going to feel ripped off or like they didn’t have a great trip because you didn’t do Cirque or the Halloween Party or some other add-on? Likely not. You can have an awesome, incredible, amazing, magical trip without spending that kind of money. And for my family…we’d rather go back multiple times and do something new or different each time as opposed to doing it all at once. Again, different strokes. But we absolutely do not cheap out. Ever. I have never even stayed at a Value. DVC resorts are all deluxe level. And before we owned, we rented points. And I have eaten at every signature restaurant. But I don’t eat a signature restaurant every night for a week. I would never want that much rich food all at once. Again, different strokes. My point about the $8500….don’t tell first timers that is the price tag. It sure doesn’t have to be. And that doesn’t mean you are cheaping out if you spend half that or less.

47 Wendy { 04.02.13 at 10:28 pm }

Oh, my…just want to say – too cool that Dave has a place for all of this to be said…if it needs to be said, that is.

I have visited more sites than I care to admit, have read 3 books about WDW (all printed in the last 2 years – and read cover-to-cover) and have subscribed to a site…and I feel that the info on this site is the clearest, more honest, and helpful. I found $8, 400 a great number to see at the high-end. I love that Dave talks about the different ways to do it…that allows ME to decide. I think that is what Dave is helping me do – he helps me decide what works best for my family. So many places on his site, he makes it clear that these are his opinions and you can take them IF you decide to…in no way, and I spend too much time here, do I get the message that I am being cheap to skip-out on some of the recs. He gives me info so I can decide…

I love that Dave takes his time to help people like me make the most out of the trip…his positive attitude and great advice is a wonderful part of my planning. Dave, you are my Disney guru!

All of these comments come from someone who has been to Disneyland over 50 times and knows her way around Disney, but still needs INFO on WDW.

Keep doing just what you are doing…


48 Dave { 04.03.13 at 7:35 am }

Liz I really appreciate your sticking up for Erika.

As much as I’d simply prefer to vent about her, she’s just another imperfect human trying her best to help other people. Thank you for helping keep me focused on that. And that’s all that I am, too.

On some of your specific points–of course there’s no one size fits all solution. But many first time visitors who may never return–the intended audience of this site–need much better starting points than they have, and that’s what this site tries to provide. I’m pretty darn firm on the home page–but after that there’s almost 1,500 pages of “more” for those who won’t, or can’t, follow the advice on that page.

The “may never return” is a key point and helps make explicable what otherwise is hard to buy into–like the suggested length of 8 nights. If you know you can return, then I completely agree it’s too long! See this: And if you can’t afford the trip I recommend, there’s tons of other suggestions and guidance here as well–e.g.

But frankly that’s too easy.

There are many more people who can afford to go only once than who can return many times.

And there are millions who won’t know until they make their first visit whether or not they will wish to return.

And there’s millions more who can afford to return and want to return but also want to see something new rather than repeat their vacation–who will go on a first visit to the Grand Canyon or Salzburg rather than back to WDW.

So I write for those who have never been and may never return. There’s lotsa stuff here for everybody else, too…but I am just unwilling to leave out in particular the millions who simply can only afford to go once…

On OKW–I love it, my kids love it, it’s my wife’s favorite resort. My point is not that it is not kid friendly–every WDW resort is kid friendly, and kids love them all–my point is that other possible choices are much more kid appealing.

On Erika’s numbers and DVC. First she did not say that she excludes hotel costs in her estimate–and even if she did, who would care? Surely you/she is not suggesting that the right way to come up with a budget for a first, and perhaps only, WDW trip is to first buy in to DVC and second get an annual pass? If she’s leaving out numbers that everyone else has to pay, and getting the rest wrong, what’s the worth of her point?

And finally…as I sit here dealing with Erika’s libelous and deeply flawed comments and their detritus, instead of spending this time helping people, working on my real job, or paying attention to my family, I am strongly feeling the point you make in your penultimate para: “I wonder about the sanity of any repeat visitor who takes a first timer, or tries to advise them” So do I, Liz…so do I…

49 Dave { 04.03.13 at 7:48 am }

Hi Erika!

Just two minor points. I’m not talking about “little kids” and 8 nights. The advice here is that if it’s your first and so far as you know, only only visit ever, wait til your youngest kid is 8. When people who ask me how long to stay for a little kid who can return later my typical response is 3 days in the parks with lots of breaks.

Second, there’s lotsa advice–literally dozens of pages here–on how to cut the vacation costs. See for example this and its links: But a family of four, doing the itinerary I suggest, not counting on any deals or discounts–great to have, but don’t count on them–eating the meals I suggest, seeing the shows, staying in the recommended hotels…that’s what it costs!

That “only visit” is a key reason why a lot of what’s here does not resonate with multiple repeat travelers!

50 Dave { 04.03.13 at 8:10 am }

Thanks Wendy…I kinda needed that…

51 Shana { 04.03.13 at 9:17 am }

Dave, I just have to say that your site has been super helpful to me. I realize that Erika (and others, maybe) has a different opinion based on her experiences and that’s fine….it’s really all about the experience you are trying to achieve and that’s different for everyone. I’ve been to Disney several times myself, but never with a child (my daughter will be 5 when we go). And I think that’s exactly the point you and some other commentors have mentioned…the first time visitors (and maybe ONLY time visitors) will be getting the best experience if they follow the advice on your site. The things I think set your site apart from most is the focus on the children’s experience (even which resorts have most impact) and the organized, easy-to-follow layout that allows you to quickly find summaries of the topics you are wondering about. I have absolutely used other sites while planning our trip, but yours is my MAIN reference source because of the honest opinions and your willingness to answer any question, no matter how “trivial” it may seem to someone who has been there dozens of time. So, I appreciate the service you provide! It has helped me immensely.

52 Dave { 04.03.13 at 9:34 am }

Shana, thanks!!! I also edited out Wendy’s name–Wendy’s been a sweetheart too, like you!

53 Gretchen { 04.03.13 at 2:07 pm }

Hi Dave, I just finished reading this exchange and just wanted to pass along a thank you for once again trying to help people with their vacation planning. I think the majority of your readers know that you are giving them IDEAS about how to plan their vacation (and, if they don’t like those ideas, they can click on any number of your other links on how to modify those ideas). The first time I read your site, I knew my family wouldn’t be able to do a long trip at the first of December, but we took a lot of your ideas and applied it to our situation and our month of travel. I do believe that is what most people do when they read your website.
I don’t think it is fair to criticize you for the fact that WDW is busy. Like you have mentioned before, it is all relative. My Dad thought the middle of May at WDW was crazy busy. I would hate for him to see the week of Christmas. I think he would turn his car around in the parking lot and head home. (and we live in Indiana!) WDW has done their promotions, festivals, etc. to keep themselves busy and it has worked. Now it leaves you, and other planning web sites, with the challenges of finding “the lesser of evil” weeks to plan a vacation.
Keep doing what you are doing. While some may be unhappy, most are not. Those are the ones you have to think of when you get hit with emails that are more criticism than constructive criticism. Take care!

54 Dave { 04.03.13 at 4:47 pm }

Hi Gretchen, great to hear from you again…and THANKS!

55 Allison Jones { 04.05.13 at 6:43 pm }

I agree with you Gretchen! Dave is giving fantastic information for guests experiencing their first visit to Disney World. As a local that visits Disney way too much (is that actually possible), I think Dave is right on target.

I actually spent a lot of time at Disney World this past December during the first couple weeks and loved the crowd levels – it was perfect! Typical Value Season crowds. I also spent time in October during the F & W Festival and still had a great time. It was typical Regular Season Crowds. Just as expected, based on Dave’s site.

We love your site Dave…keep up the great job!

56 Ron { 04.05.13 at 7:54 pm }

Planning a trip for the 1st week of December this year. Are the crowd levels so low that Fastpasses may not even be necessary? How easy is it to get the hard to get ADRs during this time period. Other than Christmas Party at MK, are there any other events not to be missed?

57 Dave { 04.06.13 at 9:13 am }

Allison, thanks a million!

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58 Dave { 04.06.13 at 9:17 am }

Hi Ron, crowd levels are low for Disney World, not low in any absolute sense! Moreover, MK in particular can be mobbed on certain days so picking the right days is critical. For more on both points, see this:

And because more experienced travelers go this week, even though crowds are “low” as noted above, ADRs for the great stuff can still be snapped up 180 days ahead…

My take on what’s not to be missed is in my itineraries–e.g. see this:

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59 Heather { 04.07.13 at 6:10 pm }

Hi Dave! First off, great job on the site. Like Allison, I too visited WDW the 2nd week of this past December with another Adult. While I did find the crowds to be somewhat higher than I’m used to, they were not unmanageable by any means. I also think Magic Kingdom was crowded due to the recent grand opening of New Fantasyland so it was an exceptional circumstance. We went over to Epcot one day and breezed right on to every ride in less than 30 minutes, including Soarin’ and the newly re-opened Test Track. In fact, those were the only 2 rides that even had a wait. At Magic Kingdom, we went back for a 2nd day and started the newer stuff first thing in the morning. Wait times were lower and we waited less than 20 minutes to order lunch at the brand new Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Normally, my husband and I visit the 2nd week of September for the full week. Even with Free Dining in effect, we find the parks to be fairly empty and this past year the weather was pretty reasonable too. Even with Free Dining and RT airfare on JetBlue from JFK, the 2 of us spent about $2,600 for the week at Caribbean Beach, the lowest cost Moderate Resort. I know airlines do have great airfare sales to Orlando however, it’s also important to factor in taxes and surcharges, not just the base fare.

Keep up the great work Dave! I think this post about visiting off-season is spot on.

60 Dave { 04.08.13 at 6:50 am }

Hi Heather, and thanks for the scoop and the kind words!

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61 Adele { 04.14.13 at 12:53 am }

Hi Dave,
A couple things for you from someone who just returned from her first ever trip to WDW! First, your site was incredibly useful to mentally prepare me for what I might encounter. Thanks so much for the time you put into this, so valuable. And, while we were there and received the lovely “rebook” discount, we used your site and the “best weeks calendar” to figue out if we could take advantage of a return trip this year (sadly, the answer was no, mainly because of lack of vacation time) I digress.
Did we spend too much money? Absolutely – 3 of us, traveling with another family of two who are repeat WDWers, so we didn’t have complete freedom/choices of our own. But, we did stay at a value resort (pop) which was nice, convenient, but very no-frills. All told, no meal plan (I did pack snacks for all five), military park hopper with the fun and more, travel 3.18 return 3.25, about $4k all in. That includes 3 expensive meals, shirts hats and Mickey ears, and of course pins!!!
I’m positive I’ve learned enough from one trip as to how to do it better than this time, but like the experienced dad we went with said, things have changed so much from their last visit 18 months ago we can think we have it “right” just to adjust on the fly.
You are so spot on to recommed a break during the day, because we didnt have any. My husband, who has been at the park, but not since 18, wanted to go go go all day long, open to close in most cases. So we did. My 8 year old is a trooper, I’ll tell ya! Ugh, I’m still recouping! We did have great weather for the parks, not so great for swimming buttons day was just warm enough for the water park before the rain kicked in. Oh, and the tornado on our last day was a fun story to share too!
Sorry for the long post, the point was to say thanks. And there is no need for others to critique what you freely give, it’s as simple as closing the web page if they don’t agree.
Thanks again, keep up the good work. I’ve told many about your site, for their upcoming trips, and they see the value as well.

62 Dave { 04.14.13 at 9:43 am }

Hi Adele and thanks for the thoughtful post, and your support.

I’m happy to take criticism, questions, and skepticism, because I do get stuff wrong, and it helps me to fix it when people to point it out!

But it’s all a question of tone…when people stridently yell and warn people away…well, that’s a a bit much 🙂

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63 John { 04.29.13 at 5:19 pm }

We are planning to go to WDW between May 9-15 and want to see the MK one, possibly two days, a water park, Animal Kingdom, and possibly Hollywood. Our two boys are ages five and nine and we will arrive the afternoon of the 9th, a Thursday, and fly out on the 15th – mid-day. What are your suggestions for which days of the week to visit each park? What would you suggest for the parks to visit other than what I mentioned? Regarding Epcot, I have these memories, not positive, of visiting Epcot, not long after it first opened, when I was a kid, and having the sense it was mostly themed eating and shopping (vs. rides), so I have not really considered as part of trip planning.

Also, this is last minute trip planning so we have not considered dining at all – I see from your site that reservations fill up months in advance. Any recommendations for what to do regarding food for our last minute trip planning?

Thank you,

64 Dave { 04.30.13 at 8:09 am }

Hi John! I’d advise two days at MK and a day each at the other parks–even Epcot! There’s more to Epcot than you remember–see this:

Here’s parks to avoid by day:

5/9: Avoid MK–consider either Epcot or HS in the evening for the evening fireworks shows
5/10: Avoid Epcot
5/11: Avoid HS
5/12: Avoid MK
5/13: Avoid HS and AK
5/14: Avoid Epcot
5/15: Avoid HS

On dining, two options. Once you’ve settled your park days, just book the best of what’s left among the table service restaurants–use this to help: Alternatively, just plan on eating all your meals at counter-service locations…

Hope this helps!!

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65 John Rush { 04.30.13 at 12:37 pm }


It does help. As many others have said about the site, it is a tremendous resource and I will refer friends to it, and if I have the opportunity, local papers (we are in rural NH).

Related to your itinerary above and AVOID days, are there FAVORED days for MK and water parks, specifically, based on the days we are there? I looked at your 6 day itinerary chart for that time of year and I am having some trouble deciphering. Also, I note in your responses on some of comment boards that you have suggested to other families to not do EPCOT earlier in the trip as, potentially, it will be more disappointing than MK, for example, and you also discourage some families with younger kids from EPCOT. Would you say our five year old will get anything out of Epcot (ie, should we still plan on visiting?) And yes, we did read your page on waiting until kids are eight BUT we will be back again someday 🙂

We are following your advice and staying at Pop Century (probably pool side rather than lake side based on ability to watch our oldest son from room when they are in pool area. Are the rooms on pool side that noisy? Should we do upper floor or ground floor – balancing convenience vs noise? What area is close to bus stop? Not so easy to tell from pixelated maps of the property on some of sites.

Will follow your advice on meals as well. Thank you for the site – helps tremendously for a very quickly planned trip.

Finally, do you have a Disney iPhone app or can you recommend one? I see so many Disney apps that offer itineraries by the hour/day as to how to maximize time. Barring you not having an app, I will follow the itineraries you have listed on the pages of this site.

A lot of questions, I know, thank you for your time.


66 Dave { 05.01.13 at 7:48 am }

Hi John and thanks!

The best MK days during your visit will be the 14th and 15th.

Sorting through Epcot, it’s likely not great for kids the ages of yours, and if you do do it, do it early in your trip–there’s enuf there for the little ones to cover a morning, and then a return for the evening fireworks. See this:

Re Pop…frankly you are unlikely to be able to see the kids at the pool well enough from your rooms for this to be a factor in your planning. The 60s buildings overall are the most convenient to everything, and after that the 70s.

That is a crummy map. Sorry about that. I’ll be staying at Pop in later May (some of the same days you are, in fact!) so will grab a new map and re-scan it when I get home!

On the wait apps, I haven’t done a head to head comparison in a while….so cab’t give you a thoughtful recommendation.

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67 John { 05.02.13 at 10:09 am }

Last email – really, I promise; hopefully these questions help others (at least latter part of this email as it is not so specific to our itinerary). We fly out on 15th early afternoon, and knowing my stress levels with flying and wanting to get airport early we are thinking we just pool it at Pop C. that day. Based on your first email to me we had planned on 9th (arrival day late afternoon) – Epcot, to see it briefly, mainly for fireworks; Fr – MK as the kids and me will be itching to get there; 11th – AK; 12th – HS; 13th – MK; 14 – TL; 15 – travel day. Based on last email I should flip flop Typhoon Lagoon and MK, instead going to MK on 14th?

Based on your advice with resort, we decided to change to an upper floor room at Pop C. facing lake in 60’s or 50’s area (knowing 50s area not as close to bus, food). They tell me that the cannot guarantee anything with rooms, but that will try to accommodate requests. Based on your experiences, do they usually get you room meeting requests, at less crowded times of year.

Thank you,

68 Dave { 05.02.13 at 6:40 pm }

Hey John, no worries, and keep asking away! I do this site to help–and you are right, people do read these comments!

Yes I’d flip MK and TL.

And they do their best with requests–ps did you do online check in yet? You can request again there–but the best way to get a request is to check in very early and to tell them that you’d rather wait for your room than get one assigned quickly. Your travel plans on;t let you do that, so I wouldn’t count on getting your request. You may–just don’t count on it…

69 John { 05.02.13 at 11:58 pm }

Thank you – did not know about online check-in – will do so. Also, generally we will do a few more formal sit down meals (if reservations available) such as at San Angel Inn at Epcot, but one could just just do more traditional, theme park, walk-up-to-window dining, without needing to make reservations to keep some flexibility with timing of eating and location? Such as at Sunshine Seasons. Thanks,

70 Jason { 05.28.13 at 3:05 pm }

Hi Dave,

I love your site. thanks for it. We are planning a trip to WDW for the first time for our 4 year old between the 27th of June to the 07th of July from Dubai. the only other option is the 16th of August to the 26th August. what would you recommend. secondly is there a lot to do for a 4 year old or plan when she is older. lastly we are planning to stay at the contemporary. is this a good hotel to stay during this time. thanks Jason

71 Dave { 05.29.13 at 7:10 am }

Hi Jason, and thanks!

Honestly, I would wait til she is a few years older—see this for why: That would also let you plan a much better time to visit.

July at Disney World is miserably crowded, hot and humid–well, not as hot as Dubai, but more humid! And the end of August, while less crowded, is in the peak of the hurricane season–see this:

See this for the best times to visit:

The Contemporary is a good choice, but there are better. See this:

Hope this helps!!

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72 Jaime { 07.16.13 at 3:03 pm }

Hi Dave, Love the site! I have two weeks in 2014 that I’m debating about. They are May 10th-17th or November 8th-15th. The most important thing to me is LOW CROWD level. Can you tell me which week you think would be best. Thanks for your time.

73 Dave { 07.17.13 at 7:44 am }

Hi Jaime, and thanks! I’d pick the November week.

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74 nicki { 07.17.13 at 10:14 pm }

Thanks for your awesome site! This will be our 3rd visit to WDW, and used your help last trip as well.
We want to go for Christmas this year and wondering which dates you would suggest. My kids are much younger than you suggest, but they still love it–they are 6,4 and 1!
The two weeks we are looking at are:
Nov 11-15
Dec 2-6 (this is the week we are leaning towards)
I heard they might be filming the Christams parade that week in Dec and wonder if that is going to make it more busy?
Thank you for your help!

75 Dave { 07.18.13 at 8:02 am }

Hi Nicki, for sure I’d pick the December dates. The parade taping the 6th and 7th clots up Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, and the Castle hub, but has no effect on the rest of the park.

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76 Yvonne Doodles { 07.26.13 at 6:05 am }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for all the info.
Thinking of a trip to the world around the 29th of March to April 14th.
What crowds can we expect?
British schools haven’t broken up then.
Yvonne Doodles.

77 Dave { 07.26.13 at 8:14 am }

Hi Yvonne, see this:

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78 Katye { 07.28.13 at 3:24 pm }

Hi! We’re going to visit Disney World again March 1-5 2014 we are either going to stay at Riverside or Coranado, which do you think is better? Also last year we came at this time and it was freezing the highs were about 55. Is this normal for Florida? And are we visiting at a busy time? thanks

79 Katye { 07.28.13 at 3:26 pm }

Also when will the seven dwarfs mine train be open? We don’t want to miss that!

80 Dave { 07.29.13 at 6:27 am }

Hi Katye!

First, no that’s not a busy time.

Second, early March weather can be all over the place, but 55 is not normal for then! See this:

Finally, I have a slight preference for Coronado, but read the reviews for both you can find linked to here:

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81 Dave { 07.29.13 at 6:27 am }

Katye, there’s no good date out there yet. My guess is early 2014, so you might well catch it!

82 Mark { 07.29.13 at 1:07 pm }

Hi Dave,

I discovered your site between our 2nd and 3rd trips to Disney World. In considering your advice and the options to present, our third trip was a greatly improved experience. We our now planning our 4th trip and your advice is once again central to our planning. Thank you for laying out considerations and options so clearly. It has been extremely helpful.

I have been enjoying your articles on your personal preferences. I would love to see more of them.

I grew up in North Olmsted. Most of my family still lives in the area. You live in a great place.

83 Dave { 07.30.13 at 10:03 am }

Hi Mark, and thanks! Will do some more personal preferences stuff…and Northeast Ohio rocks!!

84 Jo { 08.05.13 at 1:57 pm }

Hi Dave,

I love your site and my husband and I are trying to apply your crowd indicators in order to pick our best week to go in 2014. We can either go from March 4th to the 9th (your crowd score 4/11) or April 23rd to 28th (your score 8/2). Seems there is a chance we could have a really crowded Sat 8th if we go on the March dates (we won’t be in the Parks on the 9th) If you think that is the case, what park/parks would you suggest we visit?


85 Jo { 08.05.13 at 2:25 pm }

Woops another thought…seems as if you think the week After Easter will not be as crowded as in the past. Do you think the fact that we would not be in the parks until that Thurs (24th) might help us out a bit? Sorry for all of the questions but your answers to everyone here seem so helpful.
Thanks again!!

86 Dave { 08.06.13 at 8:04 am }

Hi Jo and thanks for the love!!

The March dates will be much better overall than your April option. March 8 should be OK, with the real crowds beginning March 9. I won’t be able to advise anything more specific than that until Disney releases its March calendar, which it should do in a month or so…so come back then!

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87 Dave { 08.06.13 at 8:05 am }

Jo, yes…but…I still like the beginning of March much better!!

88 jo { 08.06.13 at 10:28 am }

We’ll seems like we should start on those reservations then! Do you mind sharing why you think March is better. I assume crowds and prices but there may be more…my hubby and I are both lawyers – way over verbal & analytical – but that’s why I love your site:).
Sorry to be a pest. Thanks for the help!

89 Dave { 08.07.13 at 7:43 am }

Hi Jo, I’ll publish more on this later, but hardly any kids are on break the first week of March.

90 Jo { 08.07.13 at 10:25 am }

Ha ha- mine’s not on breack either but she does have an oddball three day weekend we figured we would take advantage off! Sounds like a plan.
Thanks so much!!

91 Dave { 08.08.13 at 7:05 am }

Great, Jo!

92 Laura { 09.03.13 at 3:23 pm }

Hi Dave! Just about to purchase our daughter’s first trip to Disney World. Choosing between 10/20/2013 or 10/27/2013. Is the week of halloween busier than the prior week?
Thank you,

93 Dave { 09.04.13 at 7:17 am }

Hi Laura! Halloween doesn’t really have an impact, because kids are not out of school. See this

Was this even remotely helpful? Then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

94 Jennifer M { 09.20.13 at 10:50 am }

Hi Dave! I just read on that the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival will be starting half way through our visit. Is this something worthwhile to see? I hadn’t planned on going back to Epcot later in the week. Now I see that there are extra magic hours from 9-11 on March 7. We will be spending the day at Animal Kingdom, then supper at T-Rex in DTD. AK closes at 6 that day. So, I was thinking instead of hanging around at DTD we could hop over to Epcot for the evening and check it out. Is it worthwhile to look at for 7 adults and two kids (6,9)?

95 Dave { 09.21.13 at 10:44 am }

Jennifer, I don’t think the Flower and Garden show a big enough deal to plan around–you will see it incidentally during a routine visit to Epcot and for most that’s fine. And it’s at its best during daylight…

96 Joyce { 10.15.13 at 10:30 am }

Hi Dave!!
Your site is amazing but I’m a ill overwhelmed. My sister and I are planning on going December 26-31. I know! Crowded holiday season but that is the only time we have together. We would like to visit the parks and also do Harry Potter. Should we do Potter our first day or last? What kind of scheduling do you recommend and where should we stay that would give us the fastest transportation within the parks? We can’t afford Poly. Is A of A our best bet? Thanks!!

97 Dave { 10.16.13 at 7:02 am }

Hi Joyce and thanks!!

There’s no good answer on what days to do what parks that week. For a little help, see this–written for last year so ignore specific date references, but the overall themes are valid:

On the hotel question–Is it just you and your sister, or kids too?

Was this even remotely helpful?

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98 Mike { 10.17.13 at 4:32 pm }

Dave, don’t know where to post this but I want to thank you for your help the last couple months. We are leaving on Oct.20 and your help was a big help. We read your posts to others and that info was very helpful plus your answers to us. Thank you again and some day hope to meet up with you. God bless you and your family.

99 Dave { 10.18.13 at 7:11 am }

Thanks, Mike!! Have a wonderful trip–and come back and let me know how it went!!

100 Mike { 10.30.13 at 7:29 am }

Hello Dave, we are back from a great trip. Most things worked out just fine but some did not. The MNSSHP on 10-22 was really crowded. Since it was on a Tuesday did not expect that many people. It was close to a sell out. The magic bands were OK but not enough kioks in the parks. I think most parks had 3 locations while the paper machines were everywhere. If you had a smart phone with MDE you were OK. It was hot the first 4 days then perfect. W-F was semi crowded but we only went during the day. Restaurants and CM we had no problem. Seen less scooters . Think we will go back next December so we have to start saving. Thanks again

101 Dave { 10.30.13 at 2:48 pm }

Hey Mike, thanks a million for checking in!! I’ve heard from others that last week was pretty crowded…

102 Terri Eagle { 11.08.13 at 8:50 pm }

Hi Dave,
Firstly I just want to commend you on your very comprehensive site. You do a wonderful job and i think it’s great how you patiently answer every question, even though I’m sure most questions are already covered in your guide and you get asked the same question over and OvEr and OVER again!!! You’ve already helped me out before, but I just wanted to run another idea by you: We are planning our once in a lifetime trip to Disney World and surrounds in early December 2014. However, going on 2013 dates, If we time it just right and go in early November instead, we could possibly see the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party if we stay in Orlando for at least 10-12 days. We don’t really have Halloween in Australia so thought it would be fun for my tween kids to experience. Do you think it is worth trying to fit them both in? Will we miss much of the Christmas festivities if we only get to do the Mickey’s Christmas party around the 8th November or will Disney World be in full swing for Christmas, fully decorated and a full programme? Otherwise our original plan was just to go in the first week in December 2014 to experience the christmas festivities and low crowds. Because we only get one shot at this, I’m trying to pick the best time to go to maximize our experience and if i can get 2 for 1 festivities all the better! At the same time I don’t want to go when there’s decorations only half up and half down when their changing over. What do you think? Thanks for taking the time to answer.

103 Terri Eagle { 11.08.13 at 8:56 pm }

oops Sorry, i just called you Mike! I meant Dave!!

104 Dave { 11.09.13 at 9:24 am }

Hi Terri and thanks!! (And I edited your comment to make me Dave!)

That’s a pretty neat concept. You will miss, though, all of Epcot’s Xmas program, and some of the decorations in the resort hotels…

105 Dave { 11.09.13 at 9:24 am }


106 Chris { 12.10.13 at 7:39 pm }

Just got back from Disney World. Went to the parks Dec 3 – Dec 6. Have gone this same week every year for 15 years and this was the most crowded year we have had by far. I had never seen the Splash Mountain line outside the building before. Usually ride Toy Story 3 times in a day. Only managed 2 using a fastpass and waiting an hour at opening. Fastpasses were gone by 10:00.
The secret is out. People must be reading the blogs.
I heard that the second week of Dec will be the least crowded in 2014 so everyone please go then. 😉
Magic Bands still have a few issues. I think it will be great once the bugs are worked out. My biggest complaint was getting different answers from every cast member. Guest Relations claims to be the authority on Magic Bands and gave the most accurate info.

107 Dave { 12.11.13 at 8:33 am }

Hey Chris! I was there most of last week and thought crowds were about what I expected… but see this:

108 Jacquie { 12.23.13 at 9:56 am }


I am planning to take a trip to Disney World with my soon to be husband and my 3 boys (9,12,13) and need help deciding when to go. Due to my Fiance’s work schedule the only time he has to vacation is the week of 4th of July and the two weeks of Christmas and New years. I know from experience what a mess the 4th of July crowds can be from a trip there several years ago during that time and I hear that Christmas is just as bad. While I know that they are both going to be packed, do you have a suggestion as to which of those 3 weeks is best opposed to the other as far as crowds, prices, things to do?? While it is not any where near my first trip my boys were 6 months, 3 and 4 when we went last and my fiance has never been so would like to be able give them the best experience possible given the poor timing of our trips… Thanks so much.

109 Dave { 12.24.13 at 9:50 am }

Jaquie, that’s a tough set of choices, but I’d go with July. Crowds and prices are much higher at Christmas/New Years–except value resort prices are almost as high in the July. There’s a fun Christmas program (see for example ) but I don’t think its enough to make up for the extra crowds and prices…

110 Marie S. { 01.04.14 at 4:45 pm }

Hi Dave 🙂
We have decided to take our 2014 vacation to Disney as we enjoyed our April 2013 vacation so much. We settled on 11/29/14-12/13/14 and are looking into ticket/dining plan/resort pricing. Do you know if Disney offers resort discounts to annual pass holders? We are considering buying an annual pass for either my husband or I if it can produce a savings during the trip. We were looking at getting 8-10 day park hoppers so the annual pass would cost about $200 more than the cost for the park tickets if we decided to go that way. Thanks again for all the input, your suggestions were very helpful planning our last 2 Disney trips and we are so excited to be planning our next stay!! Thanks.

111 Dave { 01.05.14 at 9:11 am }

Hi Marie and I’m so glad the site has helped.

I actually would advise one AP, but for a different reason–dining.

While AP discounts are pretty common, they haven’t recently been better than general public discounts, but are announced later. Those dates commonly see room discounts for the general public, so I don’t know thta the AP will actiually pay off on room rates.

However, an AP make you eligible to buy a Tables in Wonderland card, which saves 20% at most sit-down meals. The card costs $100, so for you to save money you’d have to be expecting to spend more than $1500 on food ($100 for the card +$200 extra for the AP= $300, which is 20% of $1500). On a two week trip like yours it’s pretty easy to spend well over $1500 on table service, so that might really pay off for you (you would NOT do the dining plan in this scenario.)

See this for more on the card:

But these days I wouldn’t get an AP just based on room discounts…

112 sarah h { 01.07.14 at 4:37 pm }

hi dave excellent site some top info on here but im gunna ask you a question which may anoy you which is better for crowds week 17 in the spring break before easter or week 31 memorial day week also is it swimming weather at the beginning of april

113 Dave { 01.08.14 at 10:01 am }

Week 17 has much lower crowds–and I’m not annoyed at all 🙂 See

For April weather, see this:

114 sarah { 01.09.14 at 5:08 pm }

hi dave we are planning to vist 2 quite weeks in may -after easter and between memorial week just wondering if extra park hours would be of any benefit to as judgeing by your week planner were going on quite weeks with low crowds thanx
and to quickly mention again what a excellent site , do you stay in florida yourself

115 Dave { 01.10.14 at 7:14 am }

Hi Sarah and thanks. I’m generally against Extra Magic Hours–they make the park overall more crowded during the day. So skip them. Note tho that “low” means “low for Disney World”–you will still face crowds and lines and need a good plan…and I live in Northeast Ohio, but go to Disney World 6-8 times a year…

116 Luis { 01.15.14 at 9:59 am }

Hi Dave! I love your site! Is the real deal… I made my plans just for reading your stuff, I went on Dec. 2nd thru 12th, and the crowds where real real real low! Almost no waiting in lines and for several rides, just went to the exit and re enter, for a 5 minute wait! God bless your job. Greetings from Central America

117 Dave { 01.16.14 at 7:17 am }

Thanks, Luis, and I’m so glad the site helped!!

118 Anonymous { 02.02.14 at 3:08 am }

Hi Dave,

Thank you very much for the time you put into the site, it has already helped us a lot!!!

My question is maybe a bit confusing (sorry for my English, too!): We will be staying in Orlando from Saturday, 17th of May to Thursday 22nd of May, after that we will stay in St. Petersburg which means more driving, but still potential visits to the parks. Ticketwise we have bought tickets for all the parks and the two waterparks valid for 7 visits in a 14 days period. We are traveling with a baby and a toddler, so I guess we’ll not be able to do a rope-drop-to-rope-drop day….

My question: What would you do when? What would be sensible at the first weekend? A waterpark maybe? And what else? For the rest of the time I guess going midweek would be clever?

Sorry for the long and complicated question, but if anyone can help us it will be you : ) Regards from rainy Germany

119 Dave { 02.02.14 at 8:42 am }

Hi Jessica!

For a toddler, I’d focus on the Magic Kingdom, and not pay a ton of attention to the other parks–perhaps one morning at each. (See this for why: )

Your dates, the Magic Kingdom will be best the 20th and 21st, Epcot the 19th, HS the 18th, and AK th 17th.

120 Lindsye { 02.03.14 at 10:25 am }

Ok Dave, I know this is a couple years off but we are looking at Mardi gras 2016. It does not coincide with president’s week that year. How do you think that week will be for crowds? Thank you!

121 Dave { 02.04.14 at 9:08 am }

Lindsey, Mardi Gras itself has little effect as kids from only a coupe of states get it off. That week should be great until Thursday, when the President’s Day crowds start coming in…

122 Lynn { 02.08.14 at 1:54 pm }

Hi, Dave. I love your site and the great work you put into keeping the information current. We’re planning a Fall visit with our well-be-8 yo daughter. Looking at 8-9 night trip for the weeks of either 9/20, 9/27, or 10/18 . My preference is 9/27 because it looks to be really low crowds and would mean we’ll be at Disney for daughter’s birthday. If I booked this week, I think we’d actually do 9/25 through 10/4 or 10/5. My hesitation with this is the past two years the three to seven days before Food and Wine were the only Fall arrival days not covered by the free dining promotion. (My plan would be too book with the hope of adding the free dining promo when released, knowing I may need to be flexible with changing resorts.) What are your thoughts on this? If I reserved trip for these dates, at the 180 mark, would I also have the ability to book ADRs for a later week, such as the 10/18 week (with the plan being that if originally planned arrival days aren’t covered by free dining promo, but 10/18 is covered, I’d switch to this week)? Is this great of a switch even allowed without penalty? I’ve seen people say they’ve added days to get dining promo added, but I’ve never read about someone changing the entire week. And, finally, 9/20 is actually my second choice to 9/27 because of crowds, am pretty sure that if free dining is offered, it would be covered, but, then feel like I would be giving up all hope for the 9/27 week. I visited in 2003 with my now-grown kids and there were absolutely no lines. But I do worry somewhat about the chance for inclement weather. Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated.

123 Lynn { 02.08.14 at 2:03 pm }

Sorry for all of the typos above. I’m terrible typing on my tablet.

124 Dave { 02.09.14 at 1:10 pm }

Ok Lynn, here’s some thoughts:
1. All these weeks are great. My suggested ranking–which doesn’t incorporate deals–is here:
2. My prediction–and I hope I’m wrong–is that we won’t see free dining in October. Add there’s not a material difference in the September week crowds…
3. You can make dining reservation for any dates 180 days or closer, for any number of days, and in different, separated weeks, regardless of whether you have hotels or not. You just have to remember to cancel the ones you don’t use so that you don’t get hit with the cancellation penalty–and to free those times for others
4. The weather risk is real but slight. If this was your first and only visit, I’d worry about it. But for a returning visit…not so much…

125 Shar { 03.12.14 at 9:07 pm }

Hi, we will be visiting the theme parks from April 28-May3. How will the crowd be by then? Because if the crowd won’t be bad, we plan to just buy the tickets by the gate. Thanks.

126 Lara { 03.13.14 at 5:17 am }

Hi Dave, we are coming all the way from New Zealand with my family (three kids aged 9 (boy),7 (girl) and 5 (boy) end of Sept/October 2014 for a once in a lifetime trip – not sure we will ever be able to get back again.

As it is getting close to the 180 day mark I am starting to get quite stressed about our itinerary! We have free disney dining plan for our first week (1 table, 1 quick service, 1 snack each day) so want to book the right restaurants on the 180 day mark. We also have 14 day ultimate pass through our agent which includes hopper and water parks.

We arrive in Orlando on the afternoon of 23 September and have a few days where we are planning on doing Seaworld, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens and staying at a Seaworld hotel.

We then want to arrive at Wilderness Lodge first thing in the morning on Sunday, Sept 28th. We have 13 full days including the 28th Sept at Walt Disney World and then leave on the morning of the 11th of Oct to go on a Disney Cruise. (Our first week is at Wilderness Lodge and second week at AK Lodge hence why we are leaving AK park till we move to AK Lodge in second week). Also, after a late night like Illuminations, Fantasmic, Mickeys Halloween party I try to make the next day an easier/rest day as kids will be very tired).

We want to do Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party but its hard to make plans not knowing what dates that is on (although I notice you have some predicted dates now which might affect my proposed itinerary here). Also if we do the Halloween Party will we see the Wishes fireworks and evening parade at the party or do we need to do Wishes and Evening Parade on another night as well as doing Halloween party?

I would so love your help on my itinerary – I am revising it constantly trying to get it right before the 180 day mark and now worried that I am going to be at the parks on wrong days with Extra Magic hours, fireworks..etc from what I read as the calendar for our dates is still not out yet I need to book restaurants in 2 weeks time!

This is my proposed itinerary (nothing is set) so please just tell me how it is and what changes I can make so that we avoid the crowds and get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience!!

Sun, 28 Sept: Check in at Wilderness Lodge (leave bags at reception) and go to Epcot. 1pm Princess Lunch at Akershus for my daughter and I. Afternoon back to hotel to check in at 3pm and enjoy pool. 6 pm Whispering Canyon dinner.

Mon, 29 Sept: Morning HS and afternoon rest at hotel. Dinner 6pm Chef Mickey.

Tues, 30 Sept: Morning: MK. 12pm lunch at Crystal Palace. Afternoon rest at hotel. Late afternoon and dinner at Epcot and watch Illuminations.

Wed, 1 Oct: Rest Day including shopping at Downtown Disney, Bippity Boppoty for daughter, Lunch at Rainforest Cafe then 6.15pm Hoop de doo Show/Dinner.

Thurs, 2 Oct: Morning: MK, Princess lunch at Cinderella’s castle daughter and I, afternoon rest at hotel then Fantasmic dinner and show package at HS that evening.

Fri, 3 Oct: Typhoon Lagoon and Dinner at 6pm at 1900 Park Fare with Characters.

Sat, 4 Oct: Check in at AK Lodge (leave bags at reception – or possibly porters will transfer them for us between WDW resorts?). Morning: AK park. Afternoon: check in at AK Lodge. Dinner at Bouma. (Tonight is the last night of our free dining plan now that we have changed hotels).

Sun, 5 Oct: 10.30am House of Blues Gospel Brunch. Rest day at AK Lodge around pool. Afternoon: Possibly MK?

Mon, 6 Oct: Blizzard Beach

Tues, 7 Oct: Morning HS (boys will probably want to do Star Wars jedi training again). Hotel for rest. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 4pm – midnight

Wed, 8 Oct: Morning: rest at AK Lodge. Afternoon: Half day at AK park. Hire car tonight.

Thurs, 9 Oct: Drive to Universal (Harry Potter)

Fri, 10 Oct: Drive to Lego land

Sat, 11 Oct: Drive to Port for Disney Cruise

Any help would be so appreciated!!! I have read your site as much as possible and a couple of books and other websites but have come back to your website as got so confused reading all the other sources. Your website is amazing and really hope I can use your information to get our itinerary right?!?



127 Dave { 03.13.14 at 7:42 am }

Shar, DIsney World crowds are always bad. It’s just that sometimes are worse than others. Your dates will see low relative crowds, but I still would not go to the gate to get tix–I’d get them before arrival.

128 Dave { 03.13.14 at 7:43 am }

Hi Lara! I won’t be able to comment on October until Disney’s calendar for then comes out, which it should soon…

129 Shar { 03.13.14 at 8:39 am }

Alright Thanks Dave. I’ll need to fix this then.

Is claiming tickets in Will Call booth ok? Because We will be arriving on a Sunday then we’ll go to Disney on Monday and Tuesday. So we don’t have time to claim/buy tickets in advance anymore. Or can we purchase tickets upon arrival in the airport? Any suggestions? Thanks!

130 Dave { 03.14.14 at 7:14 am }

Shar, lines will be long at all options early Monday…why not buy them in advance? Or go to a park Sunday evening to pick them up? MK will be open til 11…

131 Shar { 03.20.14 at 9:46 pm }

Thanks Dave! Will the park still be selling tickets on sunday evening? 🙂

132 shaz { 04.01.14 at 6:31 am }

hi are the dates for may 2014 up to date ie theres no change in crowd levels or any other planned holidays ie spring break etc ive seen early may is a good time too come so redy to book up now thanks (subject to your clearance)

133 Dave { 04.01.14 at 7:22 am }
134 shaz { 04.01.14 at 8:43 am }

hi again thinking of staying in one of the Disney hotels maybe pop century were fussy eaters so will be looking to goto I drive maybe on a nite for food is this a good idea or is it too far and too much inconvienience

135 shaz { 04.01.14 at 8:55 am }

hi sorry forgot to ask we have 2 kids 5 and 9 and obviously want to make the most of our time and not pay for things we don’t need in your opinion which park tickets are wortjh buying , will we get to see them all in 2 weeks , you no what they are like in uk they try to sell you as many park tickets as they can

136 Dave { 04.02.14 at 8:12 am }

I-Drive is a pain, but there are other options, Shaz, like along the 192 corridor. If you have a car, then all kinds of possibilities open up…

137 Dave { 04.02.14 at 8:13 am }
138 shaz { 04.02.14 at 2:21 pm }

to be honest was thinking of leaving car hire out as we were gunna stay in a Disney hotel and isn’t the benefit of staying in one of these that you don’t really need a car?

139 Dave { 04.03.14 at 7:19 am }

Shaz you for sure don’t need a car at Disney, but how were you gonna go to I Drive?

140 shaz { 04.03.14 at 9:18 am }

hi do the Disney hotels not do busses etc we only maybe wanna go for food on a night , that’s all I drive is good for isn’t it ?

141 Dave { 04.04.14 at 1:56 pm }

Shaz, buses only go around WDW. I-Drive is a ways away, not served by WDW buses. There’s actually a lot of fun stuff to do there, but not at the expense of going to the theme parks…

142 shaz { 04.05.14 at 8:20 am }


143 Shaz { 04.06.14 at 6:04 pm }

Hi dave been to many hols over the years spain turkey egypt. Altho not recomended i always take my spending money in cash and change it as required and always get good rates compared to travel agents and banks in uk. Would this practice be of any benefit in wdw do they have many money exchanges like other holiday destinations thanx

144 Dave { 04.07.14 at 6:47 am }

Shaz, see and this I didn’t find much on halal… I would skip the dining plan–with it’s most recent price increases, it likely will cost you money…

145 Dave { 04.07.14 at 7:03 am }

Shaz, I’m sorry but I dunno. Suggest you ask this question at the UK-focused Disney discussion board

146 Shaz { 04.10.14 at 5:14 pm }

Hi again got our tiks and flights for 29 April for 2 weeks at pop century. Looks like a lot of planning required for this hol which I haven’t really got time for with me working flat out I was just wondering if my plan as follows is ok or has it got loads a holes n pitfalls
Gunna do disney (no water parks)
Bush gardens
Discovery cove. ( do I drive on same day )
I’m just gunna get up pik up a daily programme if hotel has any and just hit a park. Just eat as we go maybe have a cheap character dinner somewhere and if we finish early some bites go to Downtown disney. What do you reckon wise or foolish

147 Shaz { 04.10.14 at 5:15 pm }

We hav 2 kids 5 n 9

148 Dave { 04.11.14 at 7:45 am }

Shaz, there’s real value to picking your parks ahead of time, and then booking FastPass+ as soon as possible…

149 Denis { 05.13.14 at 4:10 pm }

Hi Dave,

Great website! Apologies if this has already been asked. What are your thoughts on the week BEFORE Christmas, i.e. Dec 18-24. Would we avoid some of the Christmas rush or has the madness set in already?

Thanks Dave!

150 Dave { 05.14.14 at 7:08 am }

Denis, kids largely are out of school beginning the 20th, so the parks will be mobbed from then til January 4.

151 Joy { 05.15.14 at 10:56 pm }

Hi Dave,
After reading your site (great site!), I booked the week after thanksgiving from Nov 28 – Dec 7 (9 nights) at The Little Mermaid Room. I also purchased the dining plan since we’re such big fans of character dining. This is our first time, I will be going with my 7 and 9 yr old girls. I’m only thinking of getting base tickets and just focusing on 1 park per day. What are your recommendations on which day to go on which park. Is a 7 day base enough? Also, any character dining tips? Is it worth adding the waterpark option? my kids are water park fans. Thanks!!!

152 Dave { 05.16.14 at 12:06 pm }

Hi Joy and thanks!!

I’ll be publishing a new itinerary for those dates early next week, so check back then, OK?? It’ll be here:

153 Joy { 05.18.14 at 2:58 am }

Hello again. One more question, WHat happens if I make dining reservations at 7pm at the Cinderella’s Royal Table the night they have MVMCP, without the party tickets? I don’t plan on going MVMCP, I just want to have dinner at Cinderella’s. Is that possible? I understand they close the park at 7pm to the general public, but what about those with dining reservations?

154 Dave { 05.18.14 at 10:30 am }

Joy you’ll be fine–you’ll just have to leave the park once you are done with dinner…

155 Pam { 05.26.14 at 5:13 pm }

Hello Dave . I trying to decide on the best week to go in December 2014 .. We would like the lowest crowds , either December 6 for 6 nights (that’s also pop warner week) or December 13 for 6 nights .. According to your guide the latter week has less crowds . What should I do ?

156 Dave { 05.27.14 at 6:39 am }

Pam, while I do expect the later dates to have lower crowds, there won’t be much difference, and it will be more expensive

157 Key { 06.01.14 at 10:09 am }

I just want to THANK YOU for this awesome advice. I have a son who has suffered from a stroke & I have put WDW off because of crowds. Now I feel more confident in making plans in Dec. (early weeks) so I won’t worry about bim getting tired & overwhelmed so quickly. I can’t wait to take him & his little brother. You are AWESOME Dave!

158 Dave { 06.02.14 at 7:14 am }

Key–thanks for the kind words. But two points of clarity: even on low crowd days, Disney World is still really crowded…and that time of year, you need to be really careful which parks you pick which days. See this

159 Melissa { 07.21.14 at 8:21 pm }

When will Disney World release their list of scheduled refurbishments for January/ February 2015? I want to know before I start booking and we are coming up on the 180 day mark to book dinners. Any info is appreciated. Thanks

160 Dave { 07.22.14 at 6:11 am }

Melissa, they typically come out about 8 weeks before.

161 Tia { 10.12.14 at 4:48 pm }

Okay. I am really overwhelmed at this point; I don’t know what to do or where to start. I know I want to surprise my daughter with a trip to Disney someday, after I have saved a good while, but I don’t want to take her and have her miserable. She overheats very easily and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. That being said, I thought a cooler month would be a great idea but I don’t want her to miss out on any rides, if they’re closed for one reason or another. I’m not so worried about the budget, I guess. I know I will find a way to save what I need by the time we’re ready to take the trip (she’s barely a year old right now and I want to wait until she’s eight), so that’s not the issue. I just want to pick a good time, weather-wise, without having to deal with big crowds. For those purposes, is this the best time- early December? And since it’s just the two of us, how would you suggest making the most memorable visit? I don’t plan on doing this trip more than once, so I’m thinking staying 10 days will do it and we’ll be on to the next adventure.

162 Tia { 10.12.14 at 4:50 pm }

I forgot to add… I was thinking of calling a Disney travel rep. to help. Is there a charge for that service? And do they make the reservations for restaurants and events for me?

163 Dave { 10.13.14 at 8:40 am }

Well, Tia, you need to check back in about 5 years, as things will have changed between now and when she is 8…But if you want to think about the basics now, just start with the home page and work your way through its topics:

164 Dave { 10.13.14 at 8:40 am }

Tia, if you mean a travel agent, they work for free if you do all your booking through them, and can reserve everything

165 Laura { 10.21.14 at 5:46 pm }


I will be in Orlando the first week of November 2014. I have never been to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. After reading your page, I think the first week of November is a good time to go. Do you think the crowds would be lower on Sunday, November 9th or Monday, November 10th?

Thank you,

166 Laura { 10.21.14 at 5:51 pm }

Also, I noticed that November 10th is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas. Would this be worth attending for the additional charge. It is our first time attending Magic Kingdom (2 adults). Would the Very Merry Christmas take away from our first time experience/visit, or is it a must see?

Thanks again!

167 Dave { 10.23.14 at 10:07 am }

Hi Laura, overall crowds will be lower Monday, but it will vary a bit by park, and MK –while it will have low crowds–also will close early. Tell what park you are interested in?

168 Dave { 10.23.14 at 10:08 am }
169 Debora Alvim { 11.20.14 at 10:58 am }

Hi Dave,
I loved this site!! Your tips and tricks are very useful, I´m from Brazil and We´ve already bougth na travel package to Orlando on 8 March 2015 to 20 March 2015. But Now, I´ve heard about spring break and we are very afraid about crowding and waiting time in line to play … mainly because we´ve 2 childrens and they won´t be patient.
So, I would like to confirm with you, is the begging of March to crowd ?? Or it worse at the end of March?

I thank you in advance….
Best wishes

Debora Alvim

170 Dave { 11.20.14 at 11:39 am }

Debora, thanks! I expect it to be pretty awful from March 7 through April 10, but worst 3/28 through 4/10.

171 Danielle { 12.13.14 at 8:34 am }

Hi Dave – we’ve been to WDW a bunch of times, and I’m still finding great planning ideas here. Just starting to think about a family trip for spring 2016…most likely 1st or 2nd week of May. I was actually thinking to go Wednesday to Wednesday, to coincide with my niece’s 5th birthday, so I was wondering about your itineraries. …are they all designed to start on Saturday/Sunday just because that’s how most people travel, or are there real benefits to sticking with a regular calendar week?

172 Dave { 12.14.14 at 9:32 am }

Danielle–my approach is just to fit enough park days into a typical “week off of work.” Because weekends are often more expensive and more crowded, a Weds-Weds is actually better!

173 holtone { 03.06.15 at 11:55 am }

Hi, I am booked to arrive Thanksgiving day and check out Dec 6th. I’ve been to disney before but this is the first time with my 9 yo granddaughter. I’ve been in summer and on christmas day – both hellish and would never repeat or recommend!! This will most probably be my last hurrah there. Where can I get or can you recommend which day to go to each park (least crowded) I have a hotel/ticket package – tickets are for 7 days but i do plan to jump over to universal and don’t know where to place that visit-I was thinking 3 days for Universal – one for each park: IOA, HP, and US. It’s most important that my least crowded day is in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom (for the granddaughter to enjoy the most) Can you help?

174 Dave { 03.07.15 at 7:54 am }

Hi Holtone a couple of things: first Universal has just two parks, IOA and US. There is a Harry Potter area in each. On DIsney, I won’t be able to recommend parks for sure until the December calendar comes out, which will be in May. So check back then!

175 Karen { 03.15.15 at 4:00 pm }

Hi Dave, we are planning a vacation for 11/26-12/5/15. We are going to be doing both WDW and USF. I know the first couple days will be busier as it will be the end of thanksgiving week. I figured we would take the first Friday to do a gingerbread house/resort tour. I was then thinking we would go to Epcot world showcase on sat, thereby leaving days with lower crowd levels for rides/other parks for the rest of the week. Have you been to world showcase at this time? Can you share your thoughts? Thanks!

176 Dave { 03.16.15 at 4:18 pm }

Karen, I won’t have specific thoughts until Disney publishes its calendar for November–in about a month. But–til then–AK is typically a great choice the Friday after Thanksgiving, if you can’t wait, and Epcot is typically a good choice the Saturday after.

177 Lara { 05.18.15 at 10:45 pm }

Hi Dave, its Lara here from NZ who you helped on our first trip in September 2014 which was amazing thanks to all your advice!! We are now planning another trip for September 2016. The New Zealand school holidays for us fall from 23 Sept – 10 Oct which is why we like to use those two weeks plus a week either side or two weeks after them. Anyway, my question is I realise the weeks Sept 24 and Oct 1 fall within peak hurricane season and yes when we were there in 2014 the rain did impact on our first week which was 23 Sept to 30 Sept 2014. It meant we had the stress of waiting for the Hulk ride to reopen at Universal (as was closed for half of the day with the weather) and also the Jedis at Hollywood Studios – the day we were there most of the shows were cancelled because of the rain just our one we were lucky enough to find a break in the rain. So yes our first week wasn’t ideal! So my question to you is if we come at this time of year again (and I realise weather patterns change) would we better perhaps to do the week Disney Cruise first and then hit the theme parks weeks of October 1 and October 8. Or do we risk it again and do what we did last year which was 2 weeks at Disney World first followed by a cruise on the week of October 8 (Columbus Day week) where crowds can be a bit busier according to your charts. Ie better to do a Caribbean cruise when weather not as good (perhaps avoid it in the Caribbean) or do theme parks when weather not so good? Thanks so much!!!

178 Dave { 05.19.15 at 1:34 pm }

Hi Lara and so glad you are back! While as you note nothing is certain, average rainfall amounts drop precipitously (get it? ha ha) in early October. See this.

What makes the difference is what you like to do on cruises. Me–I like the ship’s pools, and visits to beaches, wandering around old city streets, etc., all of which I’d point towards the dryer dates. Rain in the parks just keeps the crowds down. If your loves of a cruise are more indoors, I’d flip the cruise to the beginning and the parks to later… Crowds are busier later, but not bad, and for an experienced person like you easy to plan around.

179 Dack VanOrden { 08.14.15 at 12:35 pm }

Hi Dave,

We will be in WDW December 5th-12th. As you know this is at the same time as the ESPN Cheerleading competition. I know the crowds are generally low at that time, however I am concerned that there will be longer lines filled with overly excited tweens 🙂
Should I be worried? Do you have any experience in this area?


180 Dave { 08.15.15 at 7:33 am }

Dack, yes I’ve been there a lot then. See this.

181 Dack { 08.15.15 at 4:47 pm }

Thanks Dave! As always you’re the best!

182 Gary { 09.06.15 at 5:28 pm }

My wife and I are retired (ages 69 and 67). We are planning to arrive at WDW 4/6/16 and depart 4/14/16. Are there advantages/disadvantages to planning the 9-day trip for Wed thru Thur vs Sat thru Sun? Thank you. [Exceptional website!!]

183 Dave { 09.08.15 at 12:37 pm }

Gary, other than the point that you can’t use my itineraries, a midweek-midweek trip is a great choice. Airfares wil likely be lower. Most Disney hotels have upcharges Friday and Saturday nights, so having as few of these as possible (i.e. 2) lowers costs a bit. Finally, except during the summer, crowds are higher on weekends (as both short and long trips typically include them) so that’s another plus.

My itineraries are Sat-Sun solely becasue the best fit the typical “week off of work” and hence are most broadly useful…

184 Jow { 10.12.15 at 10:10 pm }

Hello Dave, I want to ask you how do you think is the crowd more or less from 16th to 21st of december 2015


185 Dave { 10.13.15 at 9:24 am }

Hi Jow, crowds will be fine through the 18th then wikd after that

186 Chris T. { 10.15.15 at 8:25 pm }

Hi, Dave, Just wanted to publicly say that your website’s information is so spot-on it’s scary. So much of what you say rings true with my own experiences, and there’s always something new to learn about things I have yet to experience (or have experienced “less optimally” without your guidance). I recently paged through your 2015 “Easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit’ and was pleasantly surprised with how “fresh” it still felt after being out for over a year. Prompted me to place a quick order for your 2016 guide so I can REALLY be impressed. I think it will be great to have the information at my fingertips for my own use and as a travel agent for guiding my clients. And as others have said, it’s not just for first-timers! Keep rockin’ Disney!

187 Dave { 10.16.15 at 8:22 am }

Chris, thanks a million!

188 Lara { 10.19.15 at 4:37 pm }

Hi Dave,
You might remember me from New Zealand – we did our big trip to WDW end of 2014 and thanks to only you (and all the questions I asked you) we had the most AMAZING time! Because of this we have decided to return for September again in 2016. My big question is coming from NZ we can now fly direct to Houston then take a flight on to Orlando which will make the trip so much easier. However, I was wondering if we should take the original route from NZ and stopover in LA to do Disneyland on the way for a couple of days. Have heard Cars land at DLR is amazing and there are a few other differeneces and there is nothing similar at WDW. However, do you think that would be overkill and unnecessary? Its just such a long way from New Zealand wondering if we should fit both DLR and WDW in this time? Thanks heaps!! Lara

189 Dave { 10.21.15 at 2:19 pm }

Hi Lara and welcome back!!

It’s hard for me to put myself in your shoes. How much of the rest of the US have you seen? If I had not seen much, and was stopping over in LA, I think I’d see San Diego, the Grand Canyon, and/or (longer drive) Yosemite befrore adding DLR. Don’t get me wrong–DLR is well worth seeing. The DL versions of the duplicated rides are pretty much all better than the WDW options (the dupes in DCA are not worth seeing–too similar) , and the unique stuff at both is well worth seeing. But my advice would be to do something different…

190 Lara { 10.22.15 at 6:24 pm }

Thanks Dave. Very good advice as always. My plan was actually just to do a few days at DLR and then would do less days at WDW ( i.e. 1 day MK, 1 day AK and 1 day HS) so wouldn’t overlap too much. But yes we might actually be able to fly into San Francisco now and do that city too so will weigh it all up. I have seen a lot of the US as a kid but my hubby and kids haven’t. Haven’t been to Las Vegas but not sure would be great for kids?
Anyway, one more question – with HS creating new star wars and toy story land I read somewhere that when we are there Sept 2016 might be nothing much to do at HS so could probably do it in half a day? Is that right?
Thanks so much, from your biggest fan!

191 Dave { 10.23.15 at 8:23 am }

Lara, a selfish question for my “biggest fan”–have you posted a review of my book on Amazon lol??

Even with the closures, HS is not a half day park for first timers who want to see everything there, despite all the fuss. However, returning visitors who don’t want to do everything again can do it in a selective half day.

192 Lara { 10.24.15 at 9:23 pm }

Of course, I think I was one of the first to post a review!!

193 Dave { 10.26.15 at 8:07 am }

Lara, I was thinking of the 2016 edition 🙂 You really need several you know.

194 Lauren { 11.14.15 at 6:20 am }

Hi Dave,
Love your book and the site! There is so much great information here to take in.

Our trip is planned for 11/27- 12/6. I just looked at the extended forecast and while they are predicting highs in the upper 70s, it seems we might have a lot of rain and overcast while we are there. When it rains this time of year does it tend to be a passing thing or can it take over the day?

195 Dave { 11.17.15 at 8:37 am }

Hi Lauren! First there’s not much value to a weather forecast beyond five days. Second, rain this time of year is a matter of large fronts moving through, so duration etc is purely a function of larger weather patterns–that is, it cna be short, or long.

196 Lauren { 11.17.15 at 9:19 pm }

Thank you Dave! Thinking warm and dry thoughts! 🙂

197 Jen Whalen { 03.18.16 at 12:53 pm }

I have been studying for our Disney World trip now for over 1 year – and have read every website I can find – yours has been “hands down” the most informative and user friendly of ANY I have found – THANK YOU so much for doing it. I am going 9/25/16 – 10/1/16 — with my husband and an 8 year old – they like to be comfortable and don’t like to be inconvenienced much (where I am more adventurous) – we are currently booked at POR Riverside – Garden View w/a Room request for Magnolia Bend. I am debating upgrading to Pool View/Royal – as it appears it may be closer to the walking path to cross to lobby — and would be close to a quiet pool — am debating just upgrading to Pool View — in regular rooms and requesting Magnolia Bend – hoping that will keep me close to Ol Man River path and a quiet pool — any tips on this — ALSO strongly debating renting points at a Poly Studio, Boardwalk Villas or BLT — to stay closer to our budget but have “more convenient” hotels — I could change dates, if needed – we are flexible there – just do not know what to do . We are DRIVING so will have a car, but POR just seems remote…. Any advice?

198 Jen Whalen { 03.18.16 at 12:56 pm }

Oh – also I should add – we want to do Mickey’s Halloween Party, and other priorities are WISHES, Electrical Parade, Electrical Water Pageant, Dining – CRT, and O’Hana — and we have park hopper and plan to visit all parks – low intensity rides only 🙂


199 Dave { 03.18.16 at 1:57 pm }

Jen, there’s a lot to be said for the Poly or BLT. Boardwalk is convenient only if you plan to spend a lot of time at Epcot or HS–POR is more convenient to MK.

200 Jen Whalen { 03.19.16 at 1:48 am }

Thanks, Dave! Turns out nothing available for studios – DVC rentals at the 2 brokers I tried — Sept and Oct very popular for studios, maybe on my “secondvisit” 🙂 They did get back to me right away – which was awesome!

POR it is – and that will be just fine!

Thanks for all the great info!

201 Sarah Stoker { 09.11.16 at 11:34 am }

Hi Dave,

I love this website and this will be my 2nd time to disney/florida. Me and my family are planning on going to Orlando for 2 weeks in October 2017 and while I will be coming again in the future for them this is a once in a lifetime thing.

So as you can imagine we are looking at doing Disney, Universal and Discovery Cove. What would be the best way of doing this so that we aren’t completely worn out by the end?

Thanks in advance

202 Dave { 09.12.16 at 9:57 am }

Sarah, how old will the kids be then?

203 Shaun Delucca { 07.25.17 at 12:09 pm }

Thanks for the awesome information! I highly appreciate it.

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