It was July and it was hot in Central Florida. Dang hot. Sahara hot. In fact, the light side of Mercury hot. The kind of hot that makes you mad at the sun.
We were in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, crossing the bridge into Pandora and I was lagging behind feeling particularly oppressed by the heat.
Suddenly, I got distracted. I realized my wedding ring was no longer on my finger and, in a fog, I began to look to see if I could find it.
So I shook my head a couple of times to clear the cobwebs and in doing so, remembered I hadn’t worn a wedding ring in almost a decade. I’d lost it while spinning it like a top and never gotten another.
At that point, I finished my way across the bridge and found a shady spot where I could rest and cool off.
We had a great trip, but we haven’t been back to Disney again in the middle of July.
There are a lot of factors – a lot of points of view on when is the best and/or the worst times to visit Disney.
For some, the best times are when the crowds are the smallest – which means the best times are the least popular.
Yet for others, the best times are when the park is humming. Therefore, the best times are the most popular times.
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How do we know what is the best and worse time to visit Disney World?
How do we decide what’s best and worst? Like anything, there is a myriad of factors that go into what makes it worth it to go to Walt Disney World.
If you’ve got school-aged kids, your calendar gets cut into a third of the year. Spring break. Fall break. Christmas break. Summer break. If you live close enough maybe you can plan a long weekend break around Easter or Labor Day.
If you’re not bound to the vagaries of a school calendar, Disney World is your oyster. And the best and worst really come down to personal preference.
There are sites that do a Disney World Crowd calendar, but the parks are changing and so is their popularity. Therefore, I don’t think they’re overly reliable more than three or four months out.
Especially when you consider that pre-2020 data is essentially irrelevant at this point, using historical guest trends to predict future performance is akin to consulting an almanac for planting season.
Is the off-season a good time to visit Disney World?
The traditional idea of the off-season includes January, February into early March. Any time after Christmas and before schools start their spring break.
But the off-season isn’t exactly “off” anymore. Disney stays pretty well busy year-round.
Statistically, there are less popular months, but the difference between February and June might not be what it once was.
In fact, frequent visitors to the park this off-season have told me they’ve only seen a few days that the crowd could be considered light.
The word on the street is the park has stayed hopping this past off-season.
What is the least popular month to go to Disney World?
The consensus seems to be September. Children are in school, it’s the height of hurricane season – though that starts earlier and lasts longer than it used to – and there aren’t any major holidays after Labor Day.
January and February are not overly popular as the weather in Florida can get chilly or even cold. It’s a gamble. You might spend thousands on a winter vacation to Central Florida and find yourself packing a coat and your sweaters.
It will likely be warmer than where you came from, but it’s a small consolation if you spend your vacation with highs in the 40s.
Still with three major holidays – Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras, there are several times in February that are almost guaranteed to draw a crowd.
What are the worst months to go to Disney?
Let’s get to the bottom of this the only way we know how. The application of the scientific method and the making of a list. We’ll break this down from best to worst.
In this ranking, the higher the number, the better.
To paraphrase Red from the “Shawshank Redemption”, May is a dang fine month to be outdoors. I like to aim for the back half of May, just after school lets out locally.
Many of the Northern states are on a Labor Day to Memorial Day schedule meaning the entirety of the country is not yet out of school. And while Florida is hot in late May, it’s not as bad as in late June, July or August.
If you’re hoping for smaller crowds, the earlier in the month the better. Memorial Day weekend is not only the unofficial start of summer, it’s when the summer Disney crowd surge officially begins.
We went recently during our school’s fall break. And we loved it. It has the same kind of vibe as May, though I did find the park more crowded than I expected.
The weather is manageable – though if you’re unlucky it might be too cool in the evenings for the swimming pool.
Plus the parks are decorated for autumn and Halloween. That seasonal feel gives the park a little extra kick of nostalgia.
Bonus if you get to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
We took the kids out of school one year so Ainsley, our youngest, could have a Disney birthday.
April is an especially fine month to go to Disney. The heat isn’t overly oppressive and the Flower & Garden Festival at EPCOT is in full swing.
Crowds, ticket prices and lodging at Walt Disney World resorts are all at some of their best prices of the year.
Weather-wise, the average high temperature in Orlando for April is 84 and there are – on average – four days of rain each year.
There’s a reason we celebrate summer vacation and culturally flock to Florida. Yes, it’s going to be hot. Deal with it. Find a spot by a pool during the height of the day and relax.
Hit the park in the mornings, take a break and come back and close that sucker down.
Summer vacation is a vibe, man. Don’t let the sun come down on it. June, in my opinion, is one of the best summer months to visit.
The Magic Kingdom in December is especially magical around the Christmas holiday season. Not only is the park festive, but extra events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party really add to the appeal.
Sure, you’re trading out some of the allure of a Florida vacation. You’re probably not hitting the pool or soaking up the sun in December, but the trade for a holiday Walt Disney World vacation is worth it.
Still, be ready for crowds which will especially ramp up in the week before Christmas and the week before New Year’s Eve when the park will be most packed.
September may be the least popular month to go to the Disney World resort, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst.
As mentioned above, the crowds tend to be less – although that is a relative comparison – and the temperatures are statistically milder than in August.
It is the height of hurricane season which means you should definitely get travel insurance for your Disney vacation. I’ve had a pair of Orlando vacations brush up against tropical storms, and I promise you that I don’t want to be in the park during a hurricane.
Hot, humid and rainy just like July. So why has August ranked ahead of July? Lots of schools in the South do not wait for Labor Day to go back, meaning crowds are less in August than in July.
My kids’ school tends to start somewhere around the first of August. I don’t like it. But it’s good for you because we won’t be getting in your way at Disney.
Negatives? It’s hot and this is the time of year Disney the Disney crowd peaks. Positives? Perfect for hitting the amazing Disney pools and waterparks.
Two of my kids have July birthdays so when planning we always consider making a birthday trip between the two.
If you’re planning on going in July, I’d plan a break day in the middle to just chill at the hotel pool and in the air conditioning, giving everyone a day to rest and recover.
The difficult part of that plan? It rains, on average, 13 of July’s days in Orlando. Now, those tend to be the pop-up late afternoon storms so you can work around the weather. But it does make planning a rest day trickier.
With an average high of 79 degrees, March might be a fine month to get theme park tickets except for the dreaded spring breakers. Maybe it’s just me, but the short nature of spring break brings a hint of more stress when families plan a big vacation.
On paper, six days in July are no different than six days in March. However, when those six days represent the entirety of your break, there’s a pressure there.
In the summer, it feels like there’s more time to decompress before being thrust back into the daily routine.
In November, you get festive Christmas decorations and Mickey’s After Hours events. In fact, you get everything you get in December in the parks but it just doesn’t feel the same.
The weather’s good – 78 is the average high, 59 is the average low – with an average of only three days of rain.
That said, if I want to celebrate Christmas I want it to be close to Christmas. Crowds are good except for Thanksgiving week, which may well be the worst week to be in the park due to the crowds.
February in Disney World has its charms. If you can get a reservation, a romantic Disney dining experience around Valentine’s Day is a hit.
With an average high of 75 and an average low of 53, you’re probably not gonna freeze. But if you want to ride a water attraction? Don’t bet on it. This is the time of year those rides typically close for refurbishment.
It’s also a time of year – in general – for Disney to get its maintenance work done so you run more of a risk of a favorite ride being down than you would in the “busy” season.
There’s no bad time of year to go to the Magic Kingdom and there are people who swear by Disney in the middle of winter. Just not me.
With an average high of 72, you’ll probably be just fine.
However, it would be my luck to spend thousands and catch one of those Florida cold spells – the kind that has frozen iguanas falling from trees further south and puts the orange crop in danger.
I can tolerate a lot of things, but I don’t want to be cold at Disney.
What is the slowest day at Disney World?
What day of the week? The consensus seems to be Tuesday but really it’s the middle of the week, Tuesday through Thursday.
Weekenders might stretch into a Friday or Monday, but it’s the middle of the week when crowds will dwindle a bit.
When is the best time to go to EPCOT?
EPCOT’s calendar is built around a series of festivals.
The Festival of the Arts kicks off the year, followed by the Flower and Garden Festival which runs from March to July.
EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival lasts from July to November and closes with the Festival of the Holidays.
I’m a fan of the spring in EPCOT.
The World Showcase can be a lot in the heat and humidity of the summer and is prone to some cold winds whipping over the lake in the winter.
What is your favorite month to go to Disney World? Let us know in the comments.