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 consider. 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. Here are some helpful tips on how to choose your Walt Disney World vacation dates.
How to Choose Walt Disney World Vacation Dates With Crowd Levels
Crowds by Attendance
-Marathon weekend (usually in the first week or two of January)
-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)
-Memorial Day week
– Week around Columbus Day (Many schools have fall break this time of year)
-Two Weeks before Christmas
-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
Resort prices at Walt Disney World rise and drop with demand. The least crowded times of the year will offer the best resort prices, but also the shortest park hours. Also, 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. On the plus side, you will see an increase in park entertainment offerings, more parades, more fireworks, and almost all park rides, attractions, and resort swimming pools will be open. 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 are select dates in January and early February (all resorts), Mid July through September (Deluxe resorts) and August and early September (Value & Moderate resorts).
Park Hours and Wait Times
Wait times average 90 minutes or more for popular rides during peak crowd times to 30 minutes or less during low crowd times. Additionally, during the busier times of the year, the parks will offer the longer hours 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 open at a time 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. 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, are so popular that many park guests plan their Walt Disney World vacation dates around them. Other events entirely outside of Disney’s control can also impact crowd levels, and thus your vacation experience. Events 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 impacted by events such as Super Bowl Sunday, which keeps many locals away from the parks and is usually a great time to visit. 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 is somewhat predictable, the information below is offered as a guideline. Travelers should consult official Walt Disney World information or sponsor websites to confirm dates for any listed event.
Crowd Impact from Park-Specific Events
Other factors, or an isolated special event, such at the Christmas parade taping in the Magic Kingdom for a few days in mid-November, 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, our Annual and Seasonal Events Guide can help.
For park hours and parade and firework times up to six months out, visit Disney’s Official Park Hours.
Our Favorite Time to Go
Don’t underestimate the impact crowds and extremely hot temperatures can have on your vacation. Early December is probably our favorite time to 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 Disney Springs. 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 planning your Walt Disney World vacation dates at this time of year are that it may be too cold to swim, and children will have to be taken out of school.
How to choose Walt Disney World vacation dates – Holidays
US Holidays 2023 -Date
New Year’s Day – January 01, 2023 (Sunday)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day – January 16, 2022 (Monday)
President’s Day – February 20, 2023 (Monday)
Easter – April 9, 2023 (Sunday)
Memorial Day – May 29, 2023 (Monday)
Independence Day – July 4, 2023 (Tuesday)
Labor Day – September 4, 2023 (Monday)
Veterans Day – November 11, 2023 (Saturday)
Thanksgiving Day – November 23, 2023 (Thursday)
Christmas Day – December 25, 2023 (Monday)
US Holidays 2024 -Date
New Year’s Day – January 01, 2024 (Saturday)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day – January 15, 2024 (Monday)
President’s Day – February 19, 2024 (Monday)
Easter – March 31, 2024 (Sunday)
Memorial Day – May 27, 2024 (Monday)
Independence Day – July 4, 2024 (Monday)
Labor Day – September 2, 2024 (Monday)
Veterans Day – November 11, 2024 (Thursday)
Thanksgiving Day – November 28, 2024 (Thursday)
Christmas Day – December 25, 2024 (Sunday)
How to choose Walt Disney World vacation dates – Weather Factors
The period from August to September is the height of the hurricane season in Florida, although hurricanes are possible roughly from June 1 through November 30. Keep that in mind when choosing your Walt Disney World vacation dates.
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 a few times due to hurricane landfalls since the resort opened in 1971 – in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, in 2004 for Hurricane Charley, in 2016 for Hurricane Matthew, in 2017 for Hurrican Irma, and in 2022 for Hurricane Ian. Most times, storm force winds are more an inconvenience to the resort guests, although lightning and tornadoes may also pose a threat. Hurricanes, however, can and do affect airline transportation in and out of Orlando yearly. 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.
For those looking to choose the right temperature during their Walt Disney World vacation dates, 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 sunblock 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 how to choose Walt Disney World vacation dates with Orlando weather, visit our Weather page.
When choosing your Walt Disney World vacation dates, the break of June through late September encompasses the rainy season in Orlando, with June typically 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. Afterward, the sun comes out, and things dry up quickly. Unless a more severe storm front is hovering over Orlando, these afternoon rain bursts 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 that 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 tips. The dry (and cooler) season in Orlando is generally from October through May. Nothing is entirely predictable, however. For example, in 1998, the El Nino weather phenomenon brought an unusually wet January and February to Orlando. This then led to summer drought.
Other Seasonal Concerns
The amount of daylight in Florida varies pretty substantially over the year. For more information, visit our guide. 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. 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. Lovebugs are most active in the mid-morning and just before nightfall.