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.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



2018 Weeks to Visit Walt Disney World, Ranked in Order



By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: THE BEST TIMES IN 2018 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

This site recommends arriving at Walt Disney World one of the first three Saturdays after Thanksgiving.

If you can’t go then, presented below are my rankings of the weeks of 2018 in order of best to worst times to visit Disney World, updated in July 2017.

These rankings are designed for first time visitors who do not know whether or not they will return.

For visitors on a return trip, less concerned about ride closures or the peak of the hurricane season, the later January, early February, and September weeks would be ranked much higher.

These week rankings are based on my updated  2018 Disney World Crowd Calendar and on the final Walt Disney World 2018 price seasons.

Other factors are key as well–the Christmas season, ride closure season and hurricane season in particular.

(For 2017 rankings, see this, and for 2019 rankings, see this. For more how I build these rankings, see this.)

RECOMMENDED 2018 WEEKS AT DISNEY WORLD, RANKED IN ORDER

The fourteen recommended weeks that follow are wonderful weeks to visit Walt Disney World in 2018

Week number one has it all–lower crowds, lower prices and wonderful Christmas programs and decorations. The first Saturday of this week overlaps with Thanksgiving crowds, but the rest of it will be marvelous:

  • 1: 11/24/18

Weeks 2 and 3 have many, but not all, of the strengths of week 1:

  • 2: 12/8/18. A week as good as week 1 on crowds and holiday programs. More expensive, however, than weeks 1 or 3
  • 3: 12/1/18. Largely a terrific week with low crowds, low prices and wonderful holiday programs. However, this is a week that, because of Pop Warner football demand for resort rooms, is rarely discounted beyond its already low prices. Those intending to stay at a value resort, Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs should consider avoiding this week and target week 1 or 2 instead, as Pop Warner guests may make these resorts boisterous this week

Week 4 is a very strong week. It has low crowds and prices, and Disney World’s holiday program at the Magic Kingdom will be in place

  • 4: 11/10/18

Week 5 has lower prices and crowds, and offers in its first few days Disney World’s Halloween program

  • 5: 10/27/18

Week 6 is your best 2018 Spring Break bet, with low crowds and moderate prices

  • 6: 3/3/18

Week 7 is similar to week 5 but projected at slightly higher crowds.

  • 7: 10/20/18

Weeks 8 to 12 are all in the same 2018 post-Easter stretch, and share low crowds, moderate prices, and nice spring weather. They are in calendar order, as the weather is better earlier in this period

  • 8: 4/14/18
  • 9: 4/21/18
  • 10: 4/28/18
  • 11: 5/5/18
  • 12: 5/12/18

Week 13 is the second-best 2018 Spring Break week, with low crowds and moderate prices

  • 13: 2/24/18

Week 14 is similar to weeks 8-11, but has higher prices in the deluxes

  • 14: 4/7/18

This completes the weeks in 2018 that are recommended for first-time visitors who may never return.

2018 WEEKS I’M NOT SO KEEN ON

Weeks 15-19 all have moderate crowd levels, with different prices and weather. I don’t particularly recommend moderate-crowd weeks for first time visitors, but they are quite manageable, and I would go myself such weeks with no hesitation.

They are in order of least to most crowded, and within crowd groups are sorted by price.

  • 15: 11/3/18. Jersey Week”—teacher meetings in New Jersey, leading to a massive temporary immigration of New Jersey families to Orlando. Crowds moderate-minus, prices low to moderate, almost never with major discounts.
  • 16: 10/13/18. A week with moderate crowds, moderate prices, and great weather that has become more crowded in recent years
  • 17: 5/19/18. Similar to week 12, slightly more heat and humidity and crowds.
  • 18: 12/15/18. The same Christmas program as weeks 1-3, but higher crowds–especially later in the week–and much higher prices
  • 19: 6/2/18.  Beginning of summer, with traditionally the lowest crowds until late August

Weeks 20-27 have one thing in common: they occur during the peak of the hurricane season. Hurricanes are rare and even more rarely affect a Disney World vacation, but for first-timers who may never return, why not just avoid the risk? For returning visitors, though, the low-crowd weeks among this group can be wonderful times to visit.

They are ranked in order of first crowd levels, and within the same crowd level prices.

Weeks 20 and 21 have some of the lowest crowds of the year

  • 20: 9/1/18
  • 21: 9/15/18

Weeks 22, 23 and 24 have slightly higher crowds, and Week 24, higher prices

  • 22: 9/8/18
  • 23: 8/25/18
  • 24: 9/22/18

Weeks 25 to 27 are the moderate-crowd weeks in this hurricane group

  • 25: 9/29/18
  • 26: 8/18/18
  • 27: 8/11/18

2018 WEEKS TO AVOID AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

There’s two groups of weeks to avoid: high crowd weeks and weeks when rides are often closed.

The first group, ranked 28-47, should be avoided because of crowds that traditionally range from high to unbelievable.

This group includes all of later June, July and early August (traditionally massive crowds, although I do need t0 note that the summers of 2016 and 2017 were much more manageable than I’d thought).

It also includes the busy March spring break weeks beginning 3/10/2018, and the holiday weeks—President’s Day week, the weeks before and after Easter, Columbus Day week, Thanksgiving week, and the weeks around Christmas.

Click the table for exact rankings within these lousy weeks.

The next group includes the January and early February weeks when rides are often closed for repair or refurbishment—weeks 48-53.

Some of these weeks have the lowest crowds and lowest prices of the year.

(But not all--click the table above.)

However, this is the peak time for ride closures at Walt Disney World, especially the January weeks.

If this may be your only family visit, why go when you know some of the best of Disney World will be closed?

If you must go during this period, avoid the first days of January (massive crowds), and the Martin Luther King Day (1/13/18 arrival date) holiday weekend,.

The Marathon Weekend (affecting the weekend of a 1/6/18 arrival date) complicates Disney World as well, although it has little impact on park crowds beyond the effects of leftover holiday visitors.

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40 comments

1 BostonEd { 01.11.17 at 9:43 am }

Hi, Dave. It’s still quite early in 2017 as I type this. So, I would guess that there might be changes to your 2018 best weeks estimate? When does your estimate get more solid, or is this pretty much it now? Probably going April 14 regardless, unless the school calendar changes (which is slightly possible), but it’s nice to see it as a good week.

Also, while I’ve been to WDW many times before, this will be the fist time in a LONG time to go for a full week, so I’ll be picking up your book. Approximately which publication date revision should I look out for, for an April 2018 trip? It seems you revise them regularly. Thanks.

2 Dave { 01.11.17 at 10:06 am }

Hey, they will firm up in the summer, after the full suite of 2018 school calendars is out (it’s amazing how many districts don’t finalize until June).

On the book, we now offer free updates (as PDFs) as we revise, so you’ll be fine with any 2018 edition. The first 2018 version should come out in August ish.

3 Eric { 01.11.17 at 3:09 pm }

Hi Dave,
Noticed that you moved the week-after-Columbus Day to a much lower rank from 2017. You note the increasing crowds etc. But given that we’re only 11 days into 2017, would/should this cause an adjustment to the 2017 ranking? Or do you still think for 2017, it’s a top 10 best?

4 Dave { 01.12.17 at 11:02 am }

Hey Eric, a great but hard question. To be specific, the week ranking shifts from 10 to 15 over the two years–I don’t view that as a huge difference, though you are right that because of my classification system it does drop that week out of the “recommended” list.” And it’s as likely I’ll change the 2018 crowd ranking as that I’ll change the 2017.

The increased waits in early October, while real, have been greatly overstated, conflating problems people have when they pick the wrong parks–an egregious error during the Party seasons–with observed higher standby waits in mid-afternoons at the more popular rides. The problem I have with the latter is that it’s an artifact of FastPass+, and with 70-80% + of capacity going to FastPass+, both affects few and describes an experience that no one with a good plan should have. That is, a good plan should avoid riding popular rides on standby in mid day…

The technical problem I have is I don’t get good data on the upcoming year’s fall breaks like this until the summer (because a surprising number of schools don’t publish the next academic year’s calendar until near or after the end of the current year). So I won’t have a strong fact-based reason to change 2017 until I get that data–and of course I’ll be in the same shape for 2018 in the summer of 2018…

5 Eric { 01.20.17 at 4:49 pm }

Hi Dave, a little late replying but many thanks for the detailed reply. Sorry to be asking tough questions 🙂 Since I’m planning on going during this week, between the Party days and Epcot F&W, I have some challenges. On that Friday (Oct 20, 2017) it’s a Party day plus AM-EMH as MK; do you think that’s a really bad day to go? It’s our last day at parks so I really want to end with MK. It’s also our third day at MK so it would be mostly repeats anyway.

6 Dave { 01.21.17 at 6:24 am }

Eric, the early close effect will tend to overwhelm the EMH effect, making that a very good MK day if you are EMH eligible!

7 Kristen { 03.21.17 at 12:34 pm }

Why are the prices low for moderate resorts week of 12/30/17 but moderate for the rest? We are thinking of a trip 12/27/17 to 1/3/18. Really can’t do any other time due to schedule and want to avoid the summer. Any advice on how to manage crowds during that time?

8 Dave { 03.22.17 at 8:17 am }

Kristen, first note that this is a forecast–actual 2018 prices won’t be out until this summer. Second, I class these prices (forecast or not) as low, moderate, etc, so the breaks between these classes sometimes are not the same–what is happening that week is a few days of high prices at the beginning, and then some lower priced days, averaging out to either low or moderate depending on the resort type.

Re the high crowds, pick your FastPass+ judiciously, have a good plan for what you will see the rest of the day, and arrive at the parks well before open. See this for an example of how to shape things.

9 Mary { 05.13.17 at 8:40 am }

Hi Dave,
I was recently reading that Josh (your coauthor) is no longer providing crowd estimates because he does not have enough data and peoples\’ decisions about when to visit are less affected by school schedules, holidays, etc. I believe that there is also the argument that when WDW forecasts lower crowds they reduce staff thereby increasing wait times for rides. My plan has been to visit late Jan 2018 or early Feb 2018 partly because these seem to be \”quieter times\” but also because the timing works well for us and I prefer cooler weather. Will the last week of Jan and first week of Feb actually have lower wait times for rides(based on what you know) or am I better to try to go a time with more moderate crowds? My biggest concern is not really how many people are in the park; but rather how long I am going to have to listen to my 5 year old complain about the wait 🙂 But with all the changes recently I am somewhat confused about when the best time to go would be to avoid waits. Thanks 🙂

10 Dave { 05.13.17 at 9:45 am }

Mary, the short version is that you will be fine.

What Josh is no longer doing is forecasting which park is better than another 6 months ahead by day, because of the absence of data.

Waits can be longer at some rides than they were say two years ago during the equivalent dates, but it is still true that the lowest periods of the year are the lowest! And BTW a good plan trumps a badly-chosen park pretty much any day of the year…

11 Richard Cameron { 06.10.17 at 7:58 am }

Hi Again Dave, back on your website as we are fully booked up once again. Your help last year was invaluable so thanks for that. Especially as the wee man who, as you may remember, doesn’t keep well… Had an amazing time.
We are going for 10 days from 27/02/18…..
What’s your thoughts on this spell?
Also, is there a link you can provide to the busy day guide… It was spot on last year… But I can’t find it this time out.
Cheers in advance
Richard

12 Dave { 06.11.17 at 12:02 pm }

Richard, those will be good dates! I won’t have an opinion on good or bad days until Disney’s calendar for then comes out, which is several months away

13 Jen { 06.20.17 at 12:10 pm }

Thanks for the helpful info Dave? We have visited WDW many times and I have always picked low crowd times and taken my children out of school. Its been great! Well…we have a bunch of family planning a trip for the week of presidents day and the princess half marathon. We had planned on going but I’m wondering how bad the crowds are when its high? I have never visited during high crowds. How bad is it….what are average wait times? We really want to go with the group but I also don’t want to take my kids out of school and spend a bunch of money if it is going to be horrible. My kids range from 1-8 and we have visted WDW 4 times and disneyland 1 time in the last 7 years. Thanks for your input!

14 Dave { 06.21.17 at 7:51 am }

Jen crowds are pretty bad, especially in the earlier part of the week. That said, experienced visitors willing to get up early with a good plan can do just fine.

15 Shannon { 06.22.17 at 9:36 am }

Hi Dave,
I am considering going the last week of January (week of 1/27/18) OR the first week of Feb (2/3/18). Was wondering whey you are predicting slightly lower crowds the first week of Feb vs. last week of January (level 1 vs level 2)? Would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
Many thanks

16 Dave { 06.23.17 at 10:05 am }

Shannon, I will be updating this draft in the next month or so, so the numbers might change. The difference built into the draft was from the Pro Bowl family/fan events being in Disney World in the January week in 2017 and 2018. I checked all this out in Jan 2017 (after I’d published the draft), and saw little difference in crowds.

17 Csuther { 08.03.17 at 12:45 pm }

I see the week of 4/7/18 changes from high to low in terms of crowds. Can you tell me the reasoning behind this week. Thanks!

18 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 08.03.17 at 4:41 pm }

Csuther – This year Easter falls on 4/1. Most schools have their vacations the week before. But some do have it the week after. Once spring break crowds leave you’ll the drop in crowds.

19 Dave { 08.05.17 at 10:43 am }

Hi Csuther, I published the reasoning for that in early July, here.

20 Richard { 08.07.17 at 10:39 am }

Hi Dave
Just checking in to see if you have any info on the busy day guide for the first 10 days of March 18?
You were spot on for us last time out so I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts.
Cheers
Richard

21 Dave { 08.08.17 at 5:50 am }

Richard, I’ll be able to help after Disney publishes its calendars for then. As of this morning, it’s up to February 4, so it will be a while…

22 julie hancock { 08.31.17 at 3:46 pm }

i would request you put the date in this format 2nd march and not 2/3 as in uk we are confused which is month or day?.

23 Dave { 09.02.17 at 8:58 am }

Thanks, Julie. I will make the change when I have the time!

24 Richard { 09.06.17 at 6:30 am }

Hi Dave
Was wondering if youve got that Busy Day Guide up for the 1st 2 weeks of March 2018?
I guess it must be about now?

25 Dave { 09.06.17 at 10:58 am }

Richard only March 1 is out now. The rest of the days will be added one day at a time, so come back in a week or so.

26 Anonymous { 09.07.17 at 6:41 pm }

Cheers Dave
Would you have a link I could check out?

27 Dave { 09.08.17 at 9:32 am }

Not sure what you mean…

28 Anonymous { 09.08.17 at 4:57 pm }

Sorry Dave
Where would I find the Busy Day Guide
Can’t remember from
Last time…

29 Dave { 09.10.17 at 7:09 am }

Hi I don’t provide one but am happy to give my forecasts if you give me your dates!

30 Richard { 09.10.17 at 1:48 pm }

Hi Dave, Richard here…. Not sure why that reply had anon….?
Could have sworn you helped me out this year…
We are away 26/02 for 10 days if you can help
Cheers

31 Dave { 09.11.17 at 8:52 am }

Hi Richard,

2/26 avoid AK
2/27 avoid Epcot
2/28 avoid MK
3/1 avoid Epcot
3/2 avoid MK
3/3 avoid AK and MK
3/4 avoid HS
3/5 avoid AK
3/6 avoid HS

That’s as far as DIsney’s calendars go right now…

32 Richard { 09.12.17 at 8:19 am }

Thanks for that Dave

33 Jill { 10.16.17 at 2:49 pm }

Hi Dave,
May I have your opinion on park choices? Dining opens for our trip next week and I really want to have our parks nailed down before then. 4/23 MK; 4/24 Epcot; 4/25 AK; 4/26

34 Jill { 10.16.17 at 2:52 pm }

Rats! Sorry I hit submit too soon. I meant to ask about 4/23 MK; 4/24 Epcot; 4/25 AK; 4/26 HS; and 4/27 MK. I like the idea of bookending the trip with MK – especially since the little ones might not be ready for Wishes on the first night, but we could catch it on the last. Would love to get your thoughts. Thank you.

35 Dave { 10.17.17 at 7:28 am }

Hi Jill, the calendars for then are still not out–right now they got thru 4/11. Based on EXPECTED stuff I’d expect EPcot to be crowded on 4/25 and MK on 4/27–as both are EMH days. But you can work around this with a good plan, especially if you are EMH eligible and can be at the turnstiles Friday before EMH begins

36 Jill { 10.17.17 at 11:05 pm }

Last time I avoided EMH days in order to go with the less crowded parks, but I think we’ve picked a good week to go, so maybe we’ll go for it. We are staying at AoA, so we’re eligible, but we’re not the earliest birds in the world, so that might be a struggle. Thanks so much for the feedback and I’ll keep watching for the second half of April calendar…

37 Jill { 10.17.17 at 11:16 pm }

Aaaannnddd, it would help if I had the correct dates. Sorry if my post was confusing – I’d written the wrong dates. Let me try this again (and it may not change things (EMHs?), but at least I won’t feel like a dummy): Sunday, April 22 – MK; Monday, April 23 – Epcot; Tuesday, April 24 AK; Wednesday, April 25 – HS; and Thursday, April 26 MK. Thanks, sorry again for the confusion.

38 Dave { 10.18.17 at 8:01 am }

Jill, the preliminary April calendar is now out. Your (revised) dates all look fine!!!!

39 Laura { 12.07.17 at 1:23 pm }

Hi Dave,
I would like to return to Disney October-December 2018. Below are 3 dates we are looking at. Any preference for one over the others? Thank you.

October 27-November 1 (While this is ranked low, how bad could it be bc of it being Halloween?)
November 9-14, 2018
December 7-12, 2018

40 Dave { 12.08.17 at 9:45 am }

Laura, I have each of those ranked within my top 5. Halloween has no impact on crowds, but October gets more popular every year, so if my rankings are wrong they would most likely be wrong for the October dates.

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