Updated for 2014!
“There is no such thing as a bad time to visit Disney World.” I hear this every now and then in discussions of Disney vacation planning. It’s almost like no mater how bad the crowds get, the temperature, or the cost of your hotel, you should just be caught up in the magic, adventure, and fantasy of Disney World itself, no matter how many people are elbowing you or how long you waited, sweating profusely, for a bathroom stall. I personally disagree, as I hate crazy lines, long waits, and elbow to elbow people. There are entire chapters in planning books devoted to when you should vacation in Orlando, so scheduling your travel dates is fairly important when mapping out your vacation. No bad time?
I put that question to our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans to get their opinion. You can read all the planning books you want, but sometimes it’s nice to get input from people who travel to WDW several times a year to hear about their experiences.
So, there is no bad time to visit Walt Disney World. True or False?
Go Anytime, Deal With The Crowds
Melissa, “As a teacher, we have no choice but to go when we (and everyone else on the planet) are out of school. Yes, this means the parks are crowded, but with a little planning we have always found it manageable and enjoyable. We get up early and enjoy the morning Extra Magic Hours. We get more done in those first few hours. By three we have seen and done everything on our list and then some. We usually head back for a swim and then relax. Then if we’re up for it we head in for Wishes or Illuminations or whatever. We were there last July, and the longest wait we had for anything was about 20 minutes to see Merida from Brave. Most rides we walked on or Fastpassed. To me it’s all about planning.”
Lori, “A good touring plan can minimize lines. I avoid them at all costs!”
Amy, “I am a teacher, so I can only go to Disney when the rest of the world does…. Christmas, spring break and summer. We don’t let it get us down though. If you go during this time you must have a PLAN. You need to utilize the Extra Magic Hours and Fastpass system. Take breaks back at the hotel during the peak hours of the day, and plan to go back to the parks in the evening. It is doable and in my opinion..magical!!!”
Janna, “We have been twice between Christmas and New Year’s (both times with young children) and once the week of July 4th (adult only trip), and we did everything we wanted to do each trip. Extensively plan your days using www.touringplans.com, and utilize the FASTPASS and Extra Magic Hours. Despite going during high occupancy times, I still LOVE Disney!!”
Avoid the Crowds
Jennifer, “There is no way we would survive, much less enjoy, a trip with huge lines and oppressive heat. We prefer to go during the quiet times of the year and take advantage of lower prices, crowds and temps. We feel like it is worth pulling our kids from school for a few days at a time to enjoy a relaxing trip to our favorite place.”
Tonya, “No way I would visit during those busy times of year. Some people suffer from road rage – I suffer from crowd rage.”
Victoria Norvell, “I hate having so many people around. While waiting for my family to ride Splash Mountain, I’d taken my son to the little play area by the ride entrance. There were so many kids there, it was very hard to keep track of my own little dodger, and at one point I missed him walking away – thankfully, another mother saw him running and brought him back!”
Sasha, “Low crowd time is the best. I love Extra Magic Hours when you have no wait times for any ride!”
Teryl, “We did Christmas last year… NEVER again! Not the least bit enjoyable.”
Erin, “We went for New Years, and as much as I love Disney, I have no desire to ever go back again for the holidays. The parks and resorts looked beautiful, but I never want to wait almost an hour for ‘It’s a Small World’ ever again!”
And what turned out to be my favorite quote came from Sarah, “I’d rather have my uterus ripped out-of-body via my nostrils than deal with that kind of crowding.” That’s a gal who indeed wants to avoid long lines and crazy crowds.
What can we learn from our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans? If you just have to vacation during the most popular times to visit, you most definitely need to have a plan of action, as well as ADRs locked down, so you can do as much as time will allow. Doing as much as money will allow is a discussion for another day.
What determines a bad time” to go to Disney? It’s interesting that most people who answered our question provided answers based pretty strictly on crowd levels. Traditional planning wisdom says that if the kids are out of school, things can, make that will, be crazy at Disney. Wait times can jump from 20 minutes, to one hour and 20, to two hours and twenty or more for certain popular rides. If you cannot take the kids out of school, then your choices are to travel during the “best” times, or deal with the crowds by proper advance planning when visiting during the “worst” times.
If you had to declare “worst” times to visit Disney World, you could place them in five categories:
What are the “best” times to visit Disney World? Well, that depends on your source of information, what time people arrive at the parks, how late the stay, and even how much they pay for accommodations. The best time to visit is when prices are low, the weather is pleasant, and crowd level are low, sort of like a trifecta of Disney Happiness.
Remember you will certainly pay more for resort accommodations during popular times to visit, making the less popular/off-season times “best” in terms of pricing. Many people will choose to pay more for accommodations during holidays rather than pull their kids out of school, making price less important than other factors.
Obviously the weather will be cooler in January than it will be in July. In the following list of “best times,” August and September are completely missing. Why? Because while crowd levels are lower, and prices can be lower comparatively, many people do not want to go on vacation when their kids just started school again, and (wiping sweat) the temperatures are still soaring. The average high temperature in Florida in August is 91.5 degrees, and September is not much lower with an average of 89.7 degrees. December and January are great for lower temperatures, but the weather can be hot in the day time and drop to freezing at night. Let’s not forget rain.
This list will give you some loose guidelines as to the “best times” to go to Disney World, factoring in temps., room pricing, and hoping the crazy crowds stay low. People these days shake their heads and say there are no more “un-busy times” at Disney World anymore, but these times could be better than others.
April – the last half.
May – up until the last week. Just before and after Memorial day, things get busy.
June – maybe the first week, and it will be hot.
You will notice no other summer dates are listed, because even if this may be the best time for you to travel, it’s still same way for every other person in the U.S. with children out of school, children begging their parents to take a road trip to Orlando.
October – middle to the end.
November – just not during the first week and Thanksgiving.
December – but be back home by the week before Christmas.
January – avoid Martin Luther King Day weekend.
February – avoid President’s Day weekend.
Really need to get away for spring break? Go at the end of February through the beginning of March, and good luck.
After fighting holiday crowds in 2011 from December 23rd to the 27th, we headed out-of-town on the 28th. While my husband drove home, I read on my cell phone that they had closed three of four parks at capacity. I was glad to be headed home to my favorite comfy chair. While everybody is talking about spending another 24 hours at the Magic Kingdom at the end of May, I’ll be glad I am at my other “Happy Place” on the couch, stretching out, a planning guide book in my hands.
Which will of course means one less person standing in line with those of you who think there is no bad time to visit!
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in the parks, but only certain times of year, unless I am crazy or just desperate for a Mickey fix.
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