The Best (+ Worst) Times to Visit Disney World

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The Orlando area is one of the most visited tourist spots in the world. As a Central Florida native, I’m no stranger to the crowds, tourists, chaos, entertainment, and kids. Central Florida is awesome and I love my [coastal] hometown. I’m thrilled that people from all over the world come to visit the beauty of Florida and channel their inner child to experience all of the theme parks. But with millions of people visiting every year, is there ever a good time to visit Disney World?

The Worst Times to Visit Disney World

Let’s start with the times you absolutely want to avoid unless there’s simply not another option (because even going during the worst times is better than not going at all!)

The last two weeks of December

  • Those weeks are festive, fun, beautiful, and typically feature much cooler temperatures, but Disney is completely over-crowded. It’s not uncommon for Magic Kingdom to reach capacity once or twice during Christmas week.
      • Alternate Option: If possible, visit sometime after Thanksgiving weekend, but before the third weekend of December. Back in college, I would go to Magic Kingdom on Wednesdays in early December and would literally walk right onto rides.
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    Magic Kingdom crowds on a Friday evening in early December.

Summer Months

  • Even more than the holidays, we completely avoid Disney World during the summer. I get it. If you have children in school you’re probably pretty bummed to read this, but not only are the crowds at all-time highs, but it’s HOT. Extreme heat, humidity, long lines, and massive crowds make for irritable tourists and miserable days.
    • Pro-Tip: If you must visit during the summer months, don’t be scared away by rain. Florida experiences afternoon thunderstorms pretty often during the summer and the parks tend to clear out when it pours. Luckily, these storms can disappear pretty quickly. Stick around and wait it out. You’ll be happy you did.

Spring Break + National Holidays

  • Because travelers are coming from all over the world, the Spring Break crowds are typically pretty constant from mid-March to mid-April. If you insist on revolving your vacation dates around the school schedule, Spring Break might be the most enjoyable time as the weather isn’t quite as hot as summer and the crowds aren’t quite as thick.
  • National holidays like Easter, 4th of July, Labor Day, etc. are always packed. Pick a different weekend, if you can.

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The Best Times to Visit Disney World

First of all, always go on a weekday over the weekend, if possible. However, most of us cannot skip around the parks on any given Tuesday, but if you can take the time off from work, go for it!

But guess what? I’m an annual passholder and I live less than 90 minutes from the Happiest Place on Earth, but I simply can’t go on weekdays that often. My husband gets a whopping 10 days off per year and we save those for the adventures beyond our “backyard”. That means we go on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays – a lot. As any good Disney AP, we use our passes as often as possible. I think we visited Disney World close to 30 times (maybe more?!) in 2017. We’ve been there during the worst crowds and on some of the best days.

 

Month By Month Guide

While this isn’t a specific guide for any particular year, it’s one you can loosely use when planning your Disney vacation any year. See below for our favorite weeks throughout the year!

January:

Avoid the Disney Marathon Weekend and the weekend around Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The end of the month (typically 20th – 31st) are some of the smallest crowds.
TWF FAVORITE: End of January – early February (ex: January 21 – February 3, 2018)

February:

The first two weeks are some of the best weeks to visit, but crowds pick up around President’s Day and the Princess Half Marathon weekend.

March:

Spring Break begins this month and spreads throughout April. Keep an eye on when Easter weekend is for the year you’re visiting. *Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is usually March-May.

April:

Typically between Spring Break and Easter, early in the month is packed. Mid-April and late April might be your best bet. The Star Wars Half Marathon will increase the crowds a little, too.

May:

The beginning to middle of May starts to get much hotter in Central Florida, but it can be a great time to visit with smaller crowds.
TWF FAVORITE: Second week of May (ex: May 6 – 12, 2018)

June:

Summer crowds begin, but aren’t at their worst yet.

July:

Summer crowds are at their worst around 4th of July weekend. We avoid the month of July.

August:

Summer crowds start to dissipate towards the end of the month. This is usually the hottest month of the year.

September :

After Labor Day weekend, September can be one of the best months to visit!
TWF FAVORITE: Mid-late September (ex: September 16 – 22, 2018)

October:

The very first few days of October are the best of the month. Fall can be a wonderful time in Florida, but Halloween festivities and *Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival make the weekends very busy.

November:

The Wine & Dine Half Marathon is really popular this month. Pick a weekend between the Half Marathon and Thanksgiving, or go the week right after Thanksgiving.

December:

Crowds at the beginning of the month are never as bad as the two weeks around Christmas. It really is a magical time of year at Disney World, so make sure you get there at least once during the holiday season!
TWF FAVORITE: Beginning of December (ex: December 1 – 8, 2018) *You’ll still experience moderate crowds, but the holidays are totally worth it!

Want more Disney?! Check out our Magic Kingdom proposal! Spoiler – it was in a commercial! 😉

When do you plan to visit Disney World?!

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  • This is such a great guide!!! I figured spring break and the holidays would be NUTS!!!!

    • Katherine

      Lol yep! It seems to be getting worse every year! But it makes going on the slower days that much sweetet. 😉

  • we visit orlando alot, but the only time we went to disney was aroundmarch 18 (It was my sons birthday) and our spring break. The crowds were NUTS and it was uncharcteristcally hot that week (90+) but since we knew that going in, we planned forlong waits and utilized our fast passes. we were patient and did what we could.

    • Katherine

      Oh 90 degrees at Disney is ROUGH! But i agree, if you’re prepared for the bigger crowds, your patience is higher and it makes it that much more enjoyable!

  • This is so helpful! I have never been to Disney World, but it is definitely on my bucket list! We will want to take our son once he’s old enough to appreciate it. I will be saving this post for then!

    • Katherine

      I can’t wait to have a child of my own one day so I can take them! Hopefully you can get him there before he starts school so you can take advantage of the off-season. 😀

  • I went to Disney World for the first time during September and was surprised that it wasn’t that packed! It was enjoyable! I’m a Disneyland girl and I always tell people not to go during Christmas time but surprisingly we didn’t have a busy season this year.

    • Katherine

      Disneyland is on my list!!! I really want to go this year, so it’s nice to hear there’s smaller crowds there. September at Disney World is really one of my absolute favorite times to go!

  • Trish

    Interesting! I have always thought it would be fun to visit Disney World in later December … looks like it would be better to move to a much earlier date in the month!

    • Katherine

      Haha! Only go then if you’re prepared for the massive crowds! Like I said, going during the busiest days is still better than not going at all. 😉

  • I’ve probably been to Disney World about 25 times in the past 10 years and it does seem like the parks just get more and more crowded no matter what time you go. October used to be great but now it’s always packed. We like to go in early September – our wedding was on September 3rd so it makes for a good anniversary trip 🙂

    • Katherine

      I can’t believe how crowded the whole month of October seems to be now! Early September is a fun anniversary date because you’ll always get the smaller crowds. 🙂 Our anniversary is November 13th and it seems to be a little calmer before the holiday crowds, too. 🙂

  • Ruthie Ridley

    Saving this post!! Thank you so much!!!

    • Katherine

      You’re welcome!!

  • I’ve never been anywhere Disney, so these tips are helpful for future visits! I do assume though that it’s not best to go during peak season (i.e., holidays, etc.).

    • Katherine

      Hope you can get to Disney during the “off season”! The holidays really are magical though. 🙂

  • Brigette Collins

    Saved to my pinterest board! I can’t wait to finally go to DW! These tips are perfect!!

    • Katherine

      Aw, thanks!!

  • Patricia Conte

    What a great guide for those heading to Disney! I haven’t been in so long, and nice to have this handy guide.

    • Katherine

      Thank you! I feel like Disney changes a little every year so I’m happy I can help others. 🙂

  • Ok so my boyfriend surprised me with my first adult trip to Disney World for New Years Eve (my birthday) and girl, it was so packed that they literally closed the park down due to capacity. At the end of the night, it took us TWO HOURS to get out of The Magic Kingdom just cause it was SO packed. And talk about IRRITABLE! I got pushed and shoved and even HIT by grown man who was at least a foot taller than me….I told my boyfriend…. “This is NOT the most magical place on earth…. on my birthday.” lol haha

    Thinking back, now from the comfort of my own home, I did love the decorations and being where all my favorite childhood idols were and I loved the rides but I won’t make the mistake of going during the holidays or sadly my (holiday) birthday. lol So this was soo factual and helpful!

    https://thelexiewilson.com/my-blog/2018/1/4/my-birthday-disney-trip

    • Katherine

      Hahahah ohhhhh noooo! So the surprise gift was on point, but yeah a holiday like NYE is insane at Disney (we went to Hollywood Studios one year and waited 2.5 hours to ride Toy Story lol). But seriously, people get vicious! It definitely tests your own patience and politeness, but I’m glad you got to see all the magic, too! When you go back in the future, you’ll appreciate the smaller crowds that much more. 🙂

      • I totally agree with you! And girl! I know! The rides were at minimum around 2-3 hours of a wait!!! We only did rides we could get fast passes for cause it was not worth it to be in line for HOURS for a 5 minute ride lol

        But we definitely learned our lesson! Haha

  • this is amazinggg! As a kid we used to always go during the first week of December and it was SO quiet! All the holiday stuff was up, but no crowds 🙂

    • Katherine

      That’s the best!!! I seriously love the holidays there so I never want to skip out on them. Beginning of December is so much more enjoyable.

  • Maps & Monograms

    As a Floridian, I totally agree with this timeline. Disney can be soooooooo nuts, which is why we rarely go anymore. My favorite time to visit is during Food & Wine Fest <3

    • Katherine

      Thanks!! And I totally agree, I’m a sucker for the food and wine festival (I accidentally had it in there twice instead of flower and garden festival haha so you could tell what was on my mind) 😉

  • Oh man! This was very helpful, but now I am cringing because I am going to Disney with a couple of passholders on MLK Day. They chose that day… hopefully it isn’t too packed. lol

    • Katherine

      I’ve been on MLK weekend before and it was pretty busy, but I haven’t been on the Monday of MLK weekend, so hopefully that will be much better!!

  • This is SUPER HELPFUL!! I love how you broke each month down. I’ve actually never been to Disney World, but I have been to Disney Land!!

    • Katherine

      Thank you!! I’m so glad you find it helpful! I can’t wait to go to Disney Land one day!

  • Kyrie allen

    I love this so much!!!!! We just booked our week trip to Visit Disney at the end of February! I checked and we are luckily missing the weekend of The Princess Half Marathon! We are going a Monday-Friday which should be perfect. Also celebrating Natalie’s second birthday! It will be a magical week 😉

    • Katherine

      I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU! And, selfishly, so excited that you’re getting passes again!! Eeee! I know that’ll be an amazing time for you at Disney and I can’t wait to see pictures of Natalie taking in all the magic!! (And Minnie – so much Minnie!) Haha

  • Such a helpful post. Our family has yet to visit, but the crowd factor stresses me out. Thank you for sharing.

    • Katherine

      So happy this was helpful! The crowds are one of a kind at Disney lol so it’s understandable. 🙂

  • Dee

    Great tips here. I HATE going to Disney because of the crowds so I have avoided it. But I live in South Florida and feel like my daughter is missing out. I will try during one of these slow seasons you mentioned.

  • Kirsty Pickering Bott

    I live in Australia so reading this makes me envious that you have an annual pass and can visit Disney World anytime you like!!!!! Some great tips here, thank you for sharing.

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    You’re right on the money with these tips! It’s so funny how busy February and March can get now that all the Louisianans head to WDW for Mardi Gras! We still make the trip every year though because it’s tradition and it’s also fun to run into familiar faces all through the parks!

  • I went last year end of Jan/beginning of Feb DURING the week and it was the best decision ever. I plan to plan future Disney trips to include weekdays only and if not, at least half of the trip to include weekdays.