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

Walt Disney World in 2017

By Dave Shute

Walt Disney World in 2017 from yourfirstvisit.netHere are my thoughts on rides, hotels, crowds and such at Disney World in 2017.


After the February 2017 opening of the evening show Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 2017 will see an even deeper transformation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as the new land Pandora opens May 27.

Pandora–deeply themed to the moon of James Cameron’s Avatar–will include two new rides, one a spectacular banshee ride through the world of Pandora, the second a boat ride through bio-luminescent forests (Disney concept art below).

(c) DIsney

(c) Disney

While there’s not much to the movie Avatar itself, it does have gorgeous and stunningly creative settings.  I expect all elements of Disney World’s Pandora to lavishly recreate the experience of being there, and the rides to be well worth doing. Joe Rohde, the original lead designer for the Animal Kingdom, remains in that role for Pandora, and I expect a great performance from him and the team.

When combined with the eventual opening of Rivers of Light, the overall attractiveness of the Animal Kingdom will be transformed.

Construction of the new Star Wars and Toy Story areas will continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2017. I don’t expect anything much of these areas to be open until 2018 at the earliest.


I don’t expect much material change at Disney Springs in 2017, nor at the current Disney resorts.


Presidents Day, February 20 in 2017, is almost as late as it can be, meaning more good January and early February dates, and fewer good late February dates.  Crowds for this week actually begin the Thursday before.

Mardi Gras in 2017 is the week after–February 28th.  A few southern school districts have it off as a single or multi-day holiday. This will lead to the weekend of the 25th being a little busier than usual, but the part of the week following the 28th will be just fine.

Easter in 2017 is late, on April 16. As a result, March breaks and Easter breaks won’t overlap, so later March will be a little better than past few years, but there will be fewer good April weeks.

Summer crowds will continue to be rough in 2017, as South Americans take advantage of their winter breaks to come to Disney World and join the hordes of US families on summer breaks.

Thanksgiving, November 23, is almost as early as it can be in 2017, giving more good late November dates but fewer good early November ones.

Christmas is on a Monday in 2017.

  • Many, many school districts that take long holiday breaks will begin their breaks on Monday December 18, so holiday crowds at Disney World will begin to roll in on December 15th.
  • Districts that take shorter breaks will be off something like Friday the 22nd through Monday the 1st. This means that the week between Christmas and New Years Day—always the worst of the year at Walt Disney World—will be an especially crazy mess in 2017.


Disney World raised ticket prices in February 2017. Resort prices should not change again during the calendar year.


Disney World 2017 Crowd Calendar

Disney World 2017 Price Seasons

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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1 Megan { 01.11.17 at 11:16 pm }

Hi! I’m looking at Thanksgiving 2017 plans already for all parks. Planning on staying 11-21 through 11-27. I definitely expect crowds, but what are your suggestions for the best parks to be in on each of those days? Thank you!

2 Dave { 01.12.17 at 11:04 am }

Hi Megan, I’ll be able to help, but only after Disney publishes its calendar for then, which won’t be for a while–in mid-April.

3 Donna A. { 01.12.17 at 3:57 pm }

At the Poly, where do you refill the rapid fill mug? Are there 2 locations at the Poly property? We are staying in a DVC Studio & wondering how far we will have to walk. Also, if you had to choose between Mama Melrose Fantasmic lunch deal or 50’s Prime Time Cafe for lunch on Saturday, 4/15 which would you choose food wise?

4 Dave { 01.12.17 at 5:01 pm }

Donna, in the Capt. Cook’s quick service in the main building, and during the earlier part of the day, at the Oasis pool bar in the Oasis pool, which will likely be closer to you.

On the lunch, it’s really nice to get the Fantasmic seats, but the food and theming is better at Prime Time.

5 Donna A. { 01.12.17 at 9:08 pm }

Ok so now that Disney announced the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular is happening 4/14 is this why there is no Fantasmic show scheduled? You sent a link showing it on the Travel Agent Calendar, but is there any chance it will now not happen due to the Star Wars thing? Can you tell I just want to see Fantasmic?!? Also, if I go to HS that evening will I be able to see the fireworks show or is only for those who bought the special Star Wars tickets? What time would it even be at???

6 Dave { 01.13.17 at 3:32 pm }

Donna, I think you are right, although the details aren’t really out yet. And it looks like the evening shows will be only for those who buy the special tix. I can’t tell if Fantasmic will show for them, but my guess is no.

7 Jennifer P { 01.14.17 at 11:10 am }

Have been reading various blogs and they suggest to avoid parks with EMH due to pulling in a lot more people. What are your thoughts?

8 Dave { 01.15.17 at 8:22 am }

I think pretty much everyone thinks that, although it has become less material since FastPass+ was instituted, as people more are planning their parks ahead of time. it’s especially an issue in the party season By travel agent calendar do you mean this: ?

9 Jennifer P { 01.14.17 at 11:13 am }

After reading in various venues many recommend to avoid parks with extra magic hours due to masses of people flocking to them. Just wondered your thoughts. Also do you have a travel agent calendar for the first week in May. We are going for the first time & staying at A of A with a total group of 16 (don’t intend to stay together all the time needless to say;-) Thanks for your input.

10 Donna A. { 01.18.17 at 8:02 pm }

Easter week at Poly, any idea what time Torch lighting will happen? I read it’s only Tues-Sat is this true? I am staying Sun-Wed so I do not want to miss out on this & will plan FastPass around it if need be…or is this ceremony no big deal?

11 Dave { 01.19.17 at 8:01 am }

Hey Donna, I don’t track that–suggest you ask on Steve Siefert’s Poly facebook page

12 Stephanie { 01.23.17 at 1:36 pm }

We are planning to go to Disney World April 22nd through the 27th. of the 23-26, which days would you recommend for Magic Kingdom with a 9, 4 & 2 year old? Trying to get them the best experience possible, and your site has been so helpful! Thanks!

13 Dave { 01.24.17 at 6:35 am }

Stephanie–of those dates, the only great MK day will be the 25th. Avoid the 26th, and the other two days will be so-so–fine with a good plan and judicious FastPass+, though!

14 Alexis { 01.31.17 at 9:29 pm }

My family is going to WDW 4/8 through 4/16. We have two adults and three kids (2,6, and 13). What are your park/fastpass suggestions, if I might ask?

15 Dave { 02.02.17 at 6:16 am }

Alexis, that’s one of the two or three busiest weeks of the year. This and its links (to-do List, daily plans) is what I recommend for it, but it will need to be adapted to earlier opens and added morning Extra Magic Hours.

16 Jennifer { 02.07.17 at 7:14 pm }

Talk to me, Dave. My current plan was Animal Kingdom on June 5 for EMH in the AM, originally planning to hit Kilimanjaro first thing, minus FastPass, then use FP for Everest, Kali, and Lion King. I’m now thinking we hit the “old” rides and shows first without FP, assuming crowds are all heading straight for the new stuff, and use the FPs for whatever Pandora has to offer. Thoughts?

17 Dave { 02.08.17 at 7:25 am }

Hi Jennifer! That’s exactly what I’d do. Note that those FP+ will be very hot items so you will want to book them as soon as you are eligible to do so.

18 Jennifer { 02.08.17 at 12:42 pm }

I’ve got the FP date marked on every calendar in my home and office! Thanks for the confirmation!!!!

19 Stephanie { 02.25.17 at 9:01 pm }

I plan on going to mk on March 2nd and ak on March 3rd. Seem like ok crowd days?

20 Dave { 02.26.17 at 7:24 am }

Hi Stephanie, yes!

21 Nettie Nielson { 04.07.17 at 5:17 pm }

Excited Meme and Paw planning an. Oct 15-20 trip for our precious granddarlings,5&11. Have your book,it has been a tremendous resource! Have to make our dining reservation’s soon. Followed your book advice for parks to visit. Would like to know if you approve or do I need to make changes. Arrive Oct 15-plan to go to HOOP DEE DOO that night Mon Oct16 HS. Tues Oct17 MK. Wed Oct 18 An. Thur Oct 19-MK. Fri Oct20 Epcot. Would like to go to MNSSHP Fri night for our grand finale IF we are not too tired! What do you think? Young at heart but decrepit joints. Value your advice Nettie

22 Dave { 04.08.17 at 8:58 am }

Nettie, this looks great! I wish, though, you had one more day and could take an off day….

23 Bryan { 04.22.17 at 6:36 pm }

I’m having a tough time deciding when to book a trip to Disney. This will be my wife’s, and son’s (4) first time at visiting Disney. I haven’t been since Animal Kingdom was still being built. Basically i have enough points to book our family round trip for free, and I also have enough points where we can spend a week at the Contemporary resort (standard room) for a little over $1,000 for 7 nights. The monorail convenience is what really drew me into the Contemporary.
When it comes to which week to go, I suggested the week of 11/26 – 12/3. I am a bit worried about what kind of weather we’ll get. My wife says she wants to enjoy the pool, but I’m very hesitant to book a week in late september bc it’s hurricane season. It would really be a shame to book are really nice resort like Contemporary, and not be able to enjoy the pool.
11/5-11/12 is another option, but I just read on your site that it’s Jersey Week. and you recommended to avoid Jersey week if I can.
9/24-10/1 was another option, but weather is what really worries me. The last thing I need is for a hurricane to pass through. Plus, I’m not sure how often it rains during this time.

My last and final week i could possibly do is 10/22-10/29. Are pools still open at this time? I feel like I’m leaning towards this week being the best possible.

Thank you very much!

24 Dave { 04.23.17 at 9:04 am }

Bryan, while a cool spell can happen anytime, they are most common from Nov-Feb. (The pools are heated and open year round.)

September has a LOT going for it, but I don’t recommend it for first timers for just the hurricane reason you note.

Of your remaining options, late October is the best bet. And also see this.

25 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 04.25.17 at 10:07 am }


I’m Kelly, Dave’s designated Destinations in Florida Travel agent. I would be more than happy to help you narrow down your dates and help you plan the rest of your vacation as well.(You can contact me at

I agree with Dave that the end of October may be best for you and your family. Not to hot but warm enough to swim. (All the pools are heated). I’ve been in Nov and it’s been too cold, but gone in Dec and Feb and enjoyed days by the pool. October should still be warm enough for lounging and not just a quick dip.

26 brian { 08.01.17 at 8:12 pm }

We will be staying @the AKL Dec 5 thru 14 2017 we understand that the buses at that hotel is not very reliable. I have read a few stories that said people waited for over an 1 1/2 hr for a bus at the end of the night, and waited 45 mins for the morning pick ups. I am very concerned I like to get to the parks very early. Is this possible???

27 Dave { 08.02.17 at 7:41 am }

Brian, whoever you learned that from is not a reliable source. The buses run an average of every twenty minutes, but in fact can get quite backed up if you choose to get on them right after a park-closing show–but you’d have pretty bad luck to wait 90 minutes.

Very early in the morning is a different matter. You’d want to check with the concierge the night before for the first bus, and if you don’t like the timing, use Uber or the new Minnie Vans.

28 Vonda haworth { 09.07.17 at 1:32 pm }

When does garden show begin?

29 Dave { 09.08.17 at 9:31 am }

Vonda, the official dates are not out yet–it’ll be sometime in March, and was March 1 in 2017. The dates, when out, will show up here:

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