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Home > Walt Disney World > Walt Disney World Planning > Choosing Vacation Dates

Choosing Vacation Dates

Choosing Dates #Disney World #TravelDates

Choosing what time of year to take a trip to Walt Disney World can involve many factors. From weather, crowds, personal and school calendars, and special activities, there is so much to think about. If your dates are flexible, take a look at other factors that might help with your decision. If your dates are not flexible, make sure you know what to expect so you go into your trip prepared.

Crowd Levels   Holidays   Weather Factors

Annual Events

Crowd Levels

Crowds by Attendance

  • Heaviest
    -Marathon weekend
    -Presidents' week in February
    -Easter week (second busiest time of the year)
    -Mid-March through Mid-April (Spring Break)
    -June through Mid-August (School Summer Vacation)
    -Christmas through New Year's Day (busiest time of the year)

  • Moderate
    -Memorial Day week
    -Thanksgiving week
    -Two Weeks before Christmas

  • Lightest
    -Mid-January through Early February
    -Late April through Mid-May
    -The week following Labor Day through the week before Thanksgiving
    -The week following Thanksgiving through the second week in December

Attendance Trends

Resort prices at Walt Disney World rise and drop with demand. The least crowded times of the year will also offer the best resort prices, but also the shortest park hours, and the least number of operating park attractions-often with many favorites undergoing refurbishment. During the most crowded times of the year resort prices will soar, and along with the heavy crowds will come packed parking lots, overcrowded resort transportation, longer park hours, an increase in park entertainment offerings with more live entertainment, more parades, more fireworks, and almost all park rides, attractions and resort swimming pools will be open. Many Walt Disney World restaurants will operate under seasonal pricing, with buffets and character meals costing more and guests paying more to purchase the Disney Dining Plan during the busy season. Advance Dining Reservations that are not booked far in advance may be difficult to get at many Walt Disney World Restaurants.

Lowest Resort Prices

The lowest resort prices can be found during Value Season. The Value Season dates for 2014 are 1/2-1/8, 1/12-1/16, 1/20-2/12 (all resorts), 7/13-9/25 (Deluxe resorts) and 8/3-9/12 (Value & Moderate resorts). For current resort pricing, click here.

Park Hours and Wait Times

Wait times average 90 minutes or more for popular rides during peak crowd times to 15 minutes or less during low crowd times. For information on how to handle long wait times, visit our FastPass+ Page. Additionally, during the busier times of year, the parks will offer the longer hours and more Extra Magic Hours for resort guests to enjoy.

Peak Time for Ride & Attraction Refurbishment

Historically, January & February see the most rides affected, with many attractions down for refurbishment or closed seasonally. From late October through early March, Disney's two water parks alternate closing for refurbishment, with only one at a time open during this period. For most resort swimming pools, Disney follows a January/February schedule for minor refurbishments, working through the various pools at one or two resorts at a time. September will also see increased refurbishment of minor attractions and quick service restaurants, as Disney begins to gear up for the holiday crowds. For information on currently scheduled refurbishments and closures, visit our Rehab & Closures page. Disney tends to announce the majority of its refurbishments and closures only a month or two in advance.

Crowd Impact from Yearly Events

Yearly events at Walt Disney World can have a significant impact on crowd levels, park hours, and offerings such as special parties, live entertainment, fireworks and parades. Some annual events, such as the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival or Star Wars weekends are so popular and anticipated that many park guests actually plan their vacations around them. Other events completely outside of Disney's control can also impact crowd levels, and thus your vacation experience, such as Jersey week in November, summer school recess, Gay Days in early June and visiting South American tour groups (large groups of teenagers who enter attraction lines all at the same time) in June and July - all of which bring more visitors to the park. Likewise, park crowds can be effected by events such as Super Bowl Sunday, which keeps many locals away from the parks and is usually a great time to tour the parks. The chart below summarizes some of the special events you can expect during specific times of the year and the impact they may have on your vacation or particular areas of Walt Disney World Resort. While the scheduling of these events are somewhat predictable, the information below is offered as a guideline. Travelers should consult official Walt Disney World information or sponsor web sites to confirm dates for any listed event.

Crowd Impact from Park-Specific Events

The scheduling of Extra Magic Hours can have an impact on crowds at specific parks designated to open early or close late for resort guests, as well as can other factors. For example, the opening of a new major attraction at a specific park such as the opening of new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom on December 6, 2012, or an isolated special event, such at the Christmas parade taping in the Magic Kingdom for a few days in early December, can drastically change the "expected" crowd dynamics for a park for a single day, a week, or even longer depending on the event. While we can't predict all of these events, a few that occur annually are listed below.

For park hours and parade and firework times up to six months out, visit Disney Online

Our Favorite Time to Go

Don't underestimate the impact crowds and extreme hot temperatures can have on your vacation. All things considered, Early December is probably our favorite time visit Walt Disney World. Crowds are low to moderate for the most part, resort prices are moderate, there is no chance of a hurricane disrupting your trip, temperatures are tolerable, and the parks are all decked out in their Christmas finery with special parties in the Magic Kingdom and holiday events in all parks and Downtown Disney. Since Disney will be getting ready for the holidays, fewer attractions are likely to be down for refurbishment this time of year. The only two drawbacks to visiting at this time of year are that it may be too cold to swim and children will have to be taken out of school.

Holidays

US Holidays 2014 Date Observed
New Year's Day January 01, 2014 (Wednesday)
President's Day February 17, 2014 (Monday)
Easter April 20, 2014 (Sunday)
Memorial Day May 26, 2014 (Monday)
Labor Day September 01, 2014 (Monday)
Thanksgiving Day November 27, 2014 (Thursday)
Christmas Day December 25, 2014 (Thursday)
US Holidays 2015 Date Observed
New Year's Day January 01, 2015 (Thursday)
President's Day February 16, 2015 (Monday)
Easter April 05, 2015 (Sunday)
Memorial Day May 25, 2015 (Monday)
Labor Day September 07, 2015 (Monday)
Thanksgiving Day November 26, 2015 (Thursday)
Christmas Day December 25, 2015 (Friday)


Weather Factors

Hurricane Season

The period from August and September is the height of the hurricane season in Florida, although hurricanes are possible from June 1 through November 30. Walt Disney World is situated in the central part of Florida. Because of its inland location, the Walt Disney World theme parks have closed only twice due to hurricane landfalls since the resort opened in 1971 - once in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd and once in 2004 for Hurricane Charley. Most times, storm force winds are more an inconvenience to resort guests, although lightening and tornadoes may also pose a threat. Hurricanes, however, can and do affect airline transportation in and out of Orlando on a yearly basis. If you're planning a trip during this time of year, we suggest you purchase trip insurance that will reimburse you for any loss of time, delay or trip cancellation due to weather. You can also consult Walt Disney World's current hurricane policy on Disney's web site.

Temperature Trends

Late November to mid-February becomes unpredictable at WDW. There is a 50% chance that temperatures will drop below the mid-seventies, and daytime high temperatures can dip well into the sixties and fifties during brief periods. During this period, be sure to consult the 10-day advance weather forecast for Orlando before packing and include at least a few items of clothing for both warm and chilly weather. January is the coldest month of the year, with average daytime high temperatures of about 71 degrees and average nighttime low temperatures of 47 degrees. Beginning in May and continuing through September, highs are almost always nineties and above with July being the hottest month at an average 92 degrees. Humidity levels of 95% can push the heat index even higher during this period. Although temperatures rarely reach 100 degrees, the extreme humidity hampers the body's ability to cool off and the Florida sun can be fierce during the summer months. Always protect your skin with sun block and stay hydrated! March, April and October are almost always in the mid-seventies to high eighties range. The lowest and highest recorded temperatures in Orlando both occurred in 2000 with a 17-degree low and a 102-degree high. For more information on Orlando weather, visit our Weather page.

Rainy Season

The break of June through late September encompasses the rainy season in Orlando, with June normally being the wettest month. Late afternoon thunderstorms will be an almost daily occurrence in Orlando during this period. Typically, rain comes in quick late afternoon downpours (around 4 p.m.) that are heavy but last only about an hour or two. Afternoon storms can sometimes deliver several inches of rain within a single hour. Afterwards, the sun comes out and things dry up quickly. Unless a more serious storm front is hovering over Orlando, these afternoon rain bursts really have little effect on your day in the park. Outdoor rides will close down, but Disney has an abundance of indoor rides that will continue to operate. Another bonus is that crowds thin down when it rains and sticking it out at the park can often pay-off in shorter ride lines for the remainder of the day. If you're planning on visiting during this period, be sure to pack a rain poncho. The ponchos Disney sells are pricey, and Disney sells a ton of them! For ideas and tips on what to do at Walt Disney World during rainy days, read our Magically Speaking article. The dry (and cooler) season in Orlando is generally from October through May. Nothing is completely predictable however. In 1998, the El Nino weather phenomenon brought an unusually wet January and February to Orlando, which led into a summer drought.

Other Seasonal Concerns

From December to May, Orlando is prone to wildfires - particularly March through May. Disney keeps its property well watered so the chance of a wildfire breaking out on Disney property is small. If however one suffers from a breathing condition such as asthma, be aware that smoke from nearby fires can sometimes be strong, even on Walt Disney World property. Additionally, nearby brush fires can impact the flow of traffic on main highways and interstates. The Florida Forest Service updates current wildfire info on its web site. Lastly, there are several weeks in May and September when "love bugs" swarm in Central Florida. For some reason, these tiny fly-like insects seem to congregate along highways. While love bugs are harmless (they don't bite or sting), it's hard to avoid them when you are driving, and they can sometimes be so thick as to obstruct your view. Spattered love bugs exposed to sunlight will turn acidic within 24 hours. Failure to remove the dead insects from your car in a timely fashion could potentially cause damage to your car's paint job. Love bugs are most active in the mid-morning and just before nightfall.

Annual Events

January

Event: Youth Group Competitions and Exhibitions
Time: January - March
Participation: Some public exhibitions may be scheduled (sports, dance, cheerleading, singing, bands)
Location: World-wide
Impact: Heavy bookings at some resorts, especially All-Stars, by youth groups, where the noise levels may be significantly increased. Possible random closure of certain park attractions for use as event venues such as Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Event: Walt Disney World Marathon
Time: Second weekend in January
Participation: Registered Event
Location: World-wide
Impact: Possible heavy resort bookings by marathon participants and early morning traffic impact on race day.


February

• Continuation of youth group competitions and exhibitions

Event: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Time: Late February
Participation: Registered Event
Location: World-wide
Impact: Possible heavy resort bookings by marathon participants and early morning traffic impact on race day.

Event: Presidents Day Weekend
Time: Third weekend in February
Participation: No related events scheduled
Location: Walt Disney World-wide
Impact: Traditional start of spring break season. Possible heavy booking at resorts. Extra crowds possible in all parks. Longer park hours with more frequent scheduling of fireworks, parades and some shows.

Event: Mardi Gras
Time: Mid or late February; early to mid-March.
Participation: Nothing announce at WDW since Pleasure Island Closure
Location: N/A
Impact: Possible extra crowds due to the closure of most Louisiana schools for the entire week.


March

• Continuation of youth group competitions and exhibitions
• Continuation of Mardi Gras

Event: Flower & Garden Festival
Time: Early March, running 75 days
Participation: Open to public
Location: Epcot
Impact: Possible extra crowds at Epcot. Additional live entertainment  at World Showcase


April

• Continuation of Flower & Garden Festival

Event: Easter
Time: Easter Sunday (March or April)
Participation: Open to public
Location: World-wide; some events at some resorts and Downtown Disney
Impact: Likely extreme crowds in all parks, especially MK. Longer park hours with more frequent scheduling of fireworks, parades and some shows.


May

• Continuation of Flower & Garden Festival

Event: Star Wars Weekends
Time: Four consecutive weekends mid-May to mid-June.
Participation: Open to public
Location: Disney Hollywood Studios (MGM)
Possible Impact: Extreme crowds at Disney's Hollywood Studios


June

Event: Gay Days
Time: First week in June.
Participation: Unofficial public and private events at Disney & other Orlando locations.
Location: World-wide
Impact: Possible extra crowds in specific parks, one each day. Possible early closings of some theme parks, water parks for private parties.
Additional Information: Scheduled events and times can be found at GayDays.com.

Event: Summer School Recess
Time: Second week in June until Mid-August
Participation: Families with school age children
Location: World-wide
Possible Impact: Heavy bookings at resorts and longer lines in parks and restaurants.


July

• Continuation of Summer School Recess

Event: Independence Day Celebrations
Time: 4th of July
Participation: Open to public
Location: World-wide
Impact: Heavy crowds in all parks except Animal Kingdom. Longer park hours and special firework shows.


August

• Continuation of Summer School Recess

Event: Free Dining
Time: Mid-August through September
Participation: Special discounted vacation package for specific dates Disney has released for the public to book in recent years; there is no guarantee Disney will offer the Free Dining vacation package each year!
Location: World-wide
Impact: Heavier than usual crowds for this time of year. Heavy restaurant bookings and lines at counter service. Click here for more information on Free Dining at Walt Disney World.


September

• Continuation of Free Dining

Event: Night of Joy
Time: First or Second weekend in September
Participation: Ticketed event open to public
Location: Magic Kingdom; 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in previous years at DHS
Impact: Possible early closings at Magic Kingdom on Fri/Sat. Increased crowds in the Magic Kingdom beginning 4 p.m. The Ticket and Transportation Center monorail and ferry boat heading into the Magic Kingdom will also be very busy after 4 p.m. due to the arrival of bus loads of area kids.

Event: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Time: Select Dates September - Early November.
Participation: Public & extended ticketed events
Location: Magic Kingdom, 7 p.m. - 12 a.m.; World-wide Halloween
Impact: Early closings at MK for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Crowds in the Magic Kingdom may be lesser on party days due to the early closure of the park.

Event: Food & Wine Festival
Time: Late September - Early November
Participation: Open to public; some ticketed events
Location: Epcot
Impact: Extra crowds at Epcot, especially the World Showcase, mostly on weekends. Some Epcot venues may be restricted for ticketed events. Possible late evening traffic impact near and around Epcot on evening of Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and increased bookings at resorts by marathon participants.


October

• Continuation of Food & Wine Festival

• Continuation of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party


November

• Continuation of Food & Wine Festival through first week.

Event: Jersey Week
Time: First or Second Week in November
Participation: New Jersey Teachers Convention & Jersey Families
Location: World-wide
Impact: Decreased availability at resorts. Possible extra crowds at all parks.

Event: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Time: Select Dates in November and December.
Participation: Ticketed event
Location: Magic Kingdom
Impact: Early closings at MK for ticketed events. Possible heavier than usual dinner crowds at MK restaurants and resorts.

Event: Thanksgiving
Time: November 25th
Participation: No special events scheduled
Location: World-wide
Impact: Likely extreme crowds on Thanksgiving weekend, especially at MK; heavy bookings at sit-down restaurants.


December

• Continuation of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Event: ABC Filming of MK Christmas Parade
Time: Late November/Early December.
Participation: Public
Location: Magic Kingdom
Impact: Extreme crowds in the Magic Kingdom; some shows and parades may be canceled. Main Street will be closed off during one of the taping days from parking opening through about 5pm. and other sections of the Magic Kingdom will also be roped off, causing delays through the afternoon. Visit our Holiday Activities & Events page for specific info on the parade taping.

Event: Pop Warner Sports Tournaments
Time: First or Second week in December.
Participation: Some public exhibitions may be scheduled
Location: Wide World of Sports
Impact: Heavy bookings at some resorts by youth groups, especially All-Stars resorts and some moderate resorts that are offered to these groups at a discount; possible increase in park crowds during evening hours.

Event: Christmas
Time: Christmas Week
Participation: Public
Location: World-wide
Impact: Heavy booking at resorts for end of December. Extreme crowds on Christmas week and between Christmas and New Year's Day. Resort prices at their most expensive.

Event: New Year's Eve
Time: December 31
Participation: Public & ticketed
Location: World-wide
Impact: Heavy booking at resorts. Extreme crowds at all parks. Cirque du Soleil and Disney Quest at Downtown Disney restricted for ticketed events. Atlantic Dance Hall at Boardwalk restricted for ticketed event. Extended Park hours and special fireworks.

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