For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


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

Available on Amazon here.

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The Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

BEST TIMES TO GO TO WALT DISNEY WORLD

The Best and Worst Times to Visit Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.net

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

In 2021 I do not recommend those weeks, rather, some late spring and early summer weeks.  See this for specifics.

The best times to go on a first family visit to Walt Disney World are lower-crowd periods outside of the ride closure and peak hurricane seasons.

These best times to visit include

  • Very late February–very early March
  • Between the second week after Easter and the week before Memorial Day
  • Later October
  • November– other than the first full week and Thanksgiving week
  • December up until a week before Christmas
  • (For returning visitors, January and February, except New Years week, Presidents Day week and the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, are also excellent, as can be September)

WORST TIMES TO VISIT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Tigger at the Crystal Palace from yourfirstvisit.netPretty much all other times, but especially Christmas week, New Year’s week, and the weeks before and after Easter.

More specifically,

  • Walt Disney World is the most crowded when kids are out of school: over summer through later August, Thanksgiving week, Christmas and New Years weeks, Presidents Day week, the spring break month of March; and the weeks before and after Easter. Crowds matter because they can increase waiting times by a factor of 3-4, lengthening your trip and/or reducing its value as a vacation while you are there.
  • The times when kids are out of school are (mostly) also the most expensive times to visit–Disney increases resort prices at times of higher demand, so that for example the same room at the Polynesian is $1800 more during Christmas week than during the week this site recommends.
    • Walt Disney World pricing is complicated, and prices do vary during these busy periods–for example, prices go down quite bit in August, even though the first two weeks are busy.
    • But generally you will pay more during the periods when kids are out of school.
  • Rides are mostly likely to be closed (for refurbishment) between early January and mid-February. For more on winter ride closures at Walt Disney World, click here
  • The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, but strongly peaks from mid-August through early October.
  • Warm weather becomes materially less likely starting in mid-November, and the chance of good pool weather does not sharply improve again until mid-February. See Weather and When to Go.

 

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497 comments

1 James { 06.11.16 at 11:16 am }

We are debating a trip next year in honor of our daughter’s 5th birthday. We hope to go for a week and know we want to stay at POFQ. Her birthday is March 4th. I admit the idea of waking her up the day of her birthday and saying “We’re going to DisneyWorld” is great fun and we love the idea of her getting to wear a pin and getting birthday greetings. . . . .. BUT. . . some sites are saying that the crowds may be a little higher. . our other option is to go the beginning of May. May would be warmer and we know our daughter would want to play in the pool and the new water play ground and March might not be warm enough. Any thoughts?

2 Dave { 06.12.16 at 1:21 pm }

James, the first full week of March is typically fine! See this.

Note that Disney has strict rules about when you can wear a birthday pin–must be at least 6 months before your birthday, or within 6 months after…

Early May will indeed be more likely to have better pool weather…

3 Belle { 07.23.16 at 11:15 am }

Hi, my husband & I are planning a trip from Australia to WDW in 2017. Could you please advise when is the best months & dates to visit as we really have no idea. We were considering 2 weeks in August as we would like to visit all the parks. If we decide to book for August what dates would you suggest being the less crowded and is August a good month to visit WDW. We greatly appreciate any help. Thank you

4 Dave { 07.25.16 at 11:22 am }

Belle, see this.

5 Belle { 07.23.16 at 6:18 pm }

Hi, I forgot to mention that we are flexible with our dates in 2017 and can travel to WDW in July, August, Setember, October or November. We would just like to know when is the best month and dates to visit for 2 adults to avoid large crowds and bad weather? Thank you

6 Stephanie { 08.23.16 at 11:42 pm }

I am seeing if you can help me make my plans? We are sceduled to be there Oct 1-4,16, We have the park hopper with water park passes. I am having a hard time figuring out which park to do which day to get it all in. If we don’t need the waterpark passes can we get those refunded before we leave? Or do I need an extra day? We are then off to universal for a few days. Any suggestions on how to get to Universal from Disney?

7 Dave { 08.24.16 at 3:15 pm }

Stephanie, are you bringing kids? If so what ages?

8 Denise { 08.24.16 at 9:19 am }

I am wanting to take a trip to Animal Kingdom. Can you tell me when the best time of year would be to go. Thanks.

9 Dave { 08.24.16 at 3:18 pm }

Denise, this page gives you the best times overall. In any given week, at least based on current patterns, Sundays and Tuesdays are the best days of the week to go to AK.

10 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 08.25.16 at 10:45 am }

Denise-

Other than what Dave mentioned, some things to keep in mind about visiting Animal Kingdom

– The animals are active when then weather is cooler. During the heat of the day, and during hot months, they sleep a lot and find shaded (hidden) areas So you just don\’t see them as often.

– Most of what you do at animal kingdom is outside. Another reason to avoid those hot months.

Some of the best visits to Animal Kingdom have been in late Fall and early Winter.

Let me know if I can be of help with planning your vacation – KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com

11 Michael { 09.26.16 at 4:33 pm }

We went March 1-10th and it was almost strange. The park was EMPTY!!! I have photos all over the park of 3-4 people standing around, and my kids on rides with NOTHING but empty seats around them. It was crazy. Not only that but disney gave us a free upgrade to a family 2 bedroom 2 bathroom suit for free as they had so many empty rooms. We have been back about 6 times and never seen this again. The weather was great, park was empty, best trip ever. One photo shocks people when they see it, kids on Dumbo at 4pm with not a single other rider on the ride.

12 Dave { 09.28.16 at 2:33 pm }

Thanks, Michael!

13 Amanda { 12.11.16 at 8:59 pm }

Hi Dave, we are planning a trip to WDW Feb 5-7th, 2017. Our kids are 8 and 5. I think we’ve decided on Magic Kingdom, Hollywood studios, and epcot. Could you tell me which days best for those parks? Thanks

14 Dave { 12.12.16 at 7:44 am }

Hi Amanda!!

Avoid the 7th at Epcot, the 5th at HS. The best MK day will be the 7th, which suggests the 5th at Epcot, and 6th at HS.

15 Noereena { 12.23.16 at 3:24 am }

Hi Dave

Trust you keep well!

We are a family from South Africa and would like to know when is the best time to visit. We love the heat so winter time would be a no no for us. It would possibily be 2 adults and 2 kids age 11(girl) and 14(boy) can you suggest where should we book for a great vacation and which hotels as I see on the Disney site there are plenty to choose from and advice would be great please ….

Maybe to add on we looking at a 10 day stay and where can we get a qoute from …

Thank a mil..
Noereena

16 Dave { 12.23.16 at 10:32 am }

Noereena, start here and work through the topics that begin with the words “INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR FIRST DISNEY WORLD VISIT”

For help with booking, use Kelly at 980-429-4499 or KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com–tell her I sent you…

17 Noereena { 01.12.17 at 1:55 am }

Hi Dave

Thanks so much for your assistance…

Warm Regards
Noereena

18 Dave { 01.12.17 at 11:04 am }

🙂 Noreena

19 Melissa Williams { 01.19.17 at 10:25 am }

Hello,
We are thinking of planning a trip during the middle of March 12th – 18th, 2017. Just wondering what the crowd will be like. It will be a multiple family vacation with about 6 children age ranging from 2 – 17. Are there certain days that are better for specific parks? Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom?
Thanks for any info.
MW

20 Dave { 01.21.17 at 6:06 am }

Melissa, I class that as a week to avoid because of crowds and prices. More is here.

You need a good plan for those dates–see this and its daily plans for example, although some of its elements needed to have been booked months ago.

You can also build itineraries from the per-park touring plans in my book, although there too you have (just) missed a few deadlines.

On park days, here’s what it looks like now:

3/12 avoid MK and HS
3/13 avoid MK and AK
3/14 avoid Epcot
3/15 avoid MK
3/16 avoid Epcot
3/17 avoid MK and HS
3/18 avoid MK and AK

Note that the many “avoid MK” days make targeting it easy (14th and 16th); the rest of your park days are then easy to slot in.

21 Kris Wright { 03.13.17 at 10:29 am }

Hi there!

First family trip to WDW is scheduled from 7/25/8/5. Yes, we know it will be hot and crowded, but it is what it is and is better than staying home! Can you recommend which days to do MK?

22 Dave { 03.13.17 at 12:40 pm }

Hi Kris! Your best MK days will be Tuesdays and Thursdays.

23 Dee { 03.21.17 at 9:42 pm }

We are trying to decide between August 7-15 2017 & November 6-17 2017. Staying on property. Do you suggest getting park hopper? We will get the 9 or 10 day passes.

24 Dave { 03.22.17 at 8:20 am }

Dee, for which week to pick, see this. On a trip that long, a hopper is usually an unnecessary expense.

25 Ed { 08.30.17 at 8:55 am }

Was wondering what Disney is like the last week of June. Was thinking of staying with family in Gulfport but spending one or two nights at Disney and take advantage of the FAST PASS. Any suggestions ?

26 Dave { 08.30.17 at 9:42 am }

Ed, see this for June 2017, which oughta be similar to June 2018, although see this too.

The difference between 60 day and 30 day FP+ can be profound for several rides, and by then, for the new Toy Story area at HS as well. So your thought of having a few nights at a WDW hotel is a good one!!

27 Laura { 08.30.17 at 11:32 am }

Hi, you’re site is super helpful i have a couple questions i was hoping you could help me with? i am taking my son for the first time for his 5th bday (which he will turn in MK) we will be there 10/21-20/27 2017 and i really wanted to stay at the poly but it booked before i said yes to my travel agent. So now i’m at Copper Creek but not sure it’s the right choice. I haven’t been there since i was i child but bc time is so close my options are limited hotel wise i am looking to stay at deluxe resort what’s left is Disney Old Key, Saratoga AK (but limited choices) and Bolder. Is copper creek good? it’s just me my husband and son. Thank you so much for your time i sincerely appreciate it. Just looking to make this memorable for my son i’m not sure if we will get the opportunity to return anytime soon.

28 Dave { 08.31.17 at 8:37 am }

Laura, Copper Creek is a wonderful choice. See this for a full review from my stay there in July, and this for a review of its parent resort, The Wilderness Lodge.

29 Laura Bolt { 08.31.17 at 11:03 am }

dave thank you for your time after reading your review i thought you were advising against copper creek for the first time visit so thank you for clarifying i wasn’t sure if i should cx to Animal Kingdom. have a great day

30 Dave { 09.02.17 at 8:56 am }

Laura, I generally don’t recommend the larger room sizes of the DVC offerings as you won’t be in your room much. However, a studio in one is just fine, and there’s nothing wrong with the larger sizes (one and two bedroom villas, etc) if you can afford them!!

31 Vanessa Hardin { 09.13.17 at 6:22 pm }

Our family of four, my husband, myself, my 5yo daughter, and 3yo son will be first-timers and would like a mixture of magic kingdom, character visits, and mild weather to swim (they can’t get enough of swimming). Not desiring the sweltering heat of Florida (we live in the south and get enough heat as it is!). We can travel to Disney on these dates:
1. March 3-10
2. April 7-14
3. May 12-19
Any suggestions? What do you do when you arrive mid day on a Saturday and return mid day on a Saturday (do you try to go to the park in evening, or just take it easy at the resort?)

32 Dave { 09.14.17 at 10:15 am }

Hi Vanessa, I’ve always thought that best-balanced weather in Orlando is the second half of April and the second half of October. So I’d recommend your April dates.

FastPass+ makes short days very productive, and the way Disney prices tix–makes it (relatively) affordable to add extra days! So I advocate as many ticket days as you can bear, and fitting some breaks in via partial days mid-trip especially.

33 Vanessa Hardin { 09.13.17 at 6:28 pm }

By the way, I absolutely love your Spring Break fever meter!!! So interesting and helpful. Are you associated with touringplans.com by chance?

34 Dave { 09.14.17 at 10:17 am }

Nope!! Although I have the highest regard for Len and their book and site. (My book is better though.)

35 Vanessa Hardin { 09.14.17 at 12:22 pm }

Thank you Dave! Are the crowds about the same on March 3-10 and April 7-14? We are flying into Sanford. Would you recommend a one-way car rental or keeping the car rental for the week to get around?

36 Dave { 09.16.17 at 11:20 am }

Vanessa the crowds will be a tad better in March, but fine either date. See this. You don’t need a rental, but it makes many things much simpler.

37 Lance { 09.15.17 at 7:58 am }

Dave,
Needing a little expert advise. We’re scheduled to make a return visit to Disney the week of 11/26. With the recent Hurricane I can only imagine the September goers have rescheduled their trips to later in the year. Checking through Disney’s property I have noticed all the properties now are booked solid the week we are scheduled. Not even Christmas week or any other week is showing that. Touring Plans is still listing this week as a viable time. So my question is what would you do? Stay with this week or which two weeks would you suggest moving to in early 2018? We enjoy nice weather (no rain) and riding all the rides.
Thanks!

38 Dave { 09.16.17 at 11:24 am }

Lance, agree with Kelly. Disney runs 80%+ occupancy year round, and is always highly booked the three weeks after Thanksgiving–because so many frequent visitors know that’s a great time to go, and frequent visitors are more likely to stay on-site, so it’s always hard to book.

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