Home » Blog » Crowd Calendar & When to Visit » The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World

The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World

by FrogBlog on December 4, 2012 · 72 Comments · in Crowd Calendar & When to Visit

By guest blogger Carl Trent of Dad’s Guide to Walt Disney World

When is the best time to visit Walt Disney World? That’s the number one question I’m asked every year. It’s a real good question. In fact it’s the first (of many) questions that have to be answered when you are planning that “Perfect” vacation.

My standard answer to the question is “anytime you can,” but really that’s not a really helpful answer. It’s true, but not real helpful.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom® ParkLet’s talk about this a bit. There can be a vast difference in crowd levels from week to week. For example, one of the busiest weeks of the year at Walt Disney World is Presidents’ Day week (an American Holiday, which in 2013 will be Feb. 17-23).

During Presidents’ Day week, all of the parks will be packed. Lines can reach three to four hours on some of the big rides and over an hour on some of the “short” line rides. But, if you were to arrive at Walt Disney World the week before Presidents’ Day or the week after (and most of the weeks around that time), you would find almost no crowds. You could walk on to almost any ride (except Toy Story Mania!® Attraction, which always has a line). It’s an incredible contrast.

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas ParadeCrowds make a big difference in the best time to visit, but you also might want to consider some of the great Disney World events when you are trying to decide when to visit.

Our favorite time of the year at Walt Disney World is Christmas time. Christmas is filled with great shows, great decorations and a magical spirit. All of the parks, all of the hotels, all of the restaurants, everyone gets all dolled up in their Christmas finest and celebrate the holidays in style. Christmas is a wonderful time to plan a Disney World vacation. (Just avoid the week of Christmas Day. Trust me.)

Halloween in OrlandoChristmas isn’t the only great time to visit. During the year there are big events like the Flower and Garden Festival, Star Wars Weekends, and the Food and Wine Festival. There are also lots of smaller events like the Marathon weekends, golf tournaments, concerts, Night of Joy, Spring Training (Atlanta Braves) and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Each of the events is a big deal. Disney knows how to throw an event. They make each of them a special occasion. Try one of them out.

Thinking about events, crowds and even weather, I’ve ranked the best weeks for a WDW vacation and the 5 best weeks to visit WDW are:

1. The week after Thanksgiving
2. The first full week in November
3. The second week in June
4. All of September
5. The first week in May

These are the weeks with the best combination of low crowds and great events, pretty good weather and usually you will get a discount if you book one of these weeks.

The bottom line is, the best time to visit Walt Disney World is truly anytime you can. There are times that are better, if you can arrange it, and some times you should try to avoid. But even if the only time you can manage is Christmas week, you can still have a marvelous trip. All it takes is a really good plan.

When is your favorite time to visit Walt Disney World?

Related: How Much Planning Should You Do for a Disney World Vacation?

Related: When to visit the Orlando theme parks

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation is a big task. There are hundreds of things to think about. That’s where I come in. Hi, my name is Carl Trent, but I’m better known as Dad. The Disney Dad. I run a little website called DadsGuidetoWDW.com. At Dad’s Guide we want to help you plan a “Perfect” Vacation. Dad is a self-proclaimed (rarely challenged) Disney World “expert” who focuses on how to develop a plan that will allow you to have the best vacation possible.


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72 Responses to “The Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World”

  1. Tim McDaniel says:

    Wow, I had no idea that the 2nd week of June would be a good week to come! We also visit in September, which is wonderful, but had no idea that a week during the summer would be on your list. Can you share some of the reasons that week made your list?

    • Lora says:

      We have been to Disney many times and try to go during the times listed. As a teacher, I can say that most of the schools in my state end that second week of June. There can be exams, graduation, end-of-year activities, and report card distribution that most families don.t want to miss and teachers have required teacher workdays. We have found the best times to go are when the kids were in school and we had to have them miss days to go. When the kids are out of school on breaks everyone else with kids is trying to go then too. It is easier to take them out of school when they are younger. Getting the school to approve the trip is much harder when they get older. Plus I think every kid should go at least once from about age 5 to 8. It is a real magical age and they remember every detail.

  2. Julie Condy says:

    Carl, I can vouch for your option #2, the first full week of November. My husband and I went that week this year (2012) and have a ball. Mild crowds with short (or relatively short waits for popular attractions). School is in session and Thanksgiving is close at hand so it’s a great choice for a WDW vacation if that is option for you!

  3. Carl (Dad) Trent says:

    Hey Tim,

    Great question.

    The reason for the 2nd week of June is I wanted to offer one week during what is the traditional summer break for most families. Yes, during the second week of June not all schools have started their summer break, but for the ones that have this is a great time to miss some of the big summer crowds that start arriving the 3rd week of June.

    June is not nearly as slow as September, but it’s an early summer WDW vacation is a great way to start the summer.

    Carl

    • Nancy says:

      We always took our 3 kids out of school for vacations like this, to avoid crowds. Ask their teachers for assignments to cover work they will miss. It gives you a chance to work with your child on school work and have a great stress free holiday at the same time.

  4. T.R. Owen says:

    The week after Christmas, leadng up to New Years is INSANE! You are shoulder to shoulder with people the whole day, and they run out of fast passes before noon. However, if you can be at Magic Kingdom New Year’s eve for the fireworks show, it is AMAZING!

    • Karen Greer Howell says:

      I can vouch for all of that! I was there this year from Dec 26-Jan2. The crowd was totally NUTS! Shoulder to shoulder, couldn’t even cross the streets without getting run over, or running over someone else. But, at Hollywood Studios on NYE, the fireworks were by far the very best and most amazing ones I’ve ever seen! The ground shook and the sky lit up like daylight! The Festival of Dancing Lights has to be witnessed in person to be believed! Wouldn’t trade that trip for anything, even if it was very crowded!

  5. Mark says:

    We lived an hour away for WDW and had annual passes so we could go and spend a day or two and if it was too crowded we just left. September is great. Our kids came down from Atl in Sept and we met them at WDW. Had a great time. Walked onto many rides. Rode space Mountain twice in 30 minutes. Just a great time.

  6. Richard says:

    Don’t go to Disneyworld during the summer. The heat is unbelievable and if it rains, its like a sauna. Go in Feb, beast weather and small crowds.

  7. Pete says:

    We’ve always loved WDW in September, especially right after Labor Day when the crowds are truly low because of all the kids returning to school after Summer break. Also, late Sept when Food & Wine fest begins is an amazing time for excellent WDW touring.

  8. Aundrea says:

    Husband and I went for our first trip to WDW just last month, went the tail end of November into the first week of December. It was fantastic, weather was in the high 70′s, no rain, very little crowds. Some days were a bit heavier than others but we didn’t wait more than 15-20 minutes for any ride and some I just walked right onto.

    • Monica says:

      We go every year the first or second week in December. We stay on property – my husband scours the sites throughout the second half of the year until he sees the deals popping up – free meal plan is usually the one we get – and have a wonderful, uncrowded, less expensive, much cooler than summer vacation. We look forward to it every year. I don’t know about this year, though, since I just got laid off from my company after 25 years, and that’s going to hurt big time. I hope we can get at least a couple of days in. We’re in Connecticut, so the airfare is an expense, too -

  9. Garyschnid says:

    The best time I ever had was a trip I left on May 31st. I got the off season rates for everything (lodging, airfare, rental cars, etc.) The parks hours went to the extended summer hours on June 1st, so we got the cheapest rates with the longest hours, and there were hardly any lines since most kids were still in school, and families hadn’t started their summer vacations. I think the longest line we waited in was 10 minutes. The weather in Orlando isn’t super hot yet, but warm enough for the water rides, so it was a win all around for us! If you go on the Memorial Day weekend, the local people will be at the parks for the 3 day weekend causing some lines, but after Monday, things thin out alot.

  10. Leslie Culhan says:

    I went this past December 7-9 and it was packed! I’ve gone in November about a week before Thanksgiving, and it was much better.

    • George says:

      We were there that week also. I agree it was quiet busy. That is the week of Pop Warner football and cheerleading contests. There were also many South American soccer groups there. That used to be one of the best weeks, but no longer. Free meal package was not available that week either.

  11. Melissa says:

    How would you guys think one of the last two weeks in August will be? It’s within days of September but I think that there might be the ‘just before school starts’ crowds that will be there.

  12. Jim says:

    I highly recommend going on Labor Day. All the kids are back in school, and the park is deserted. When I was there on Labor Day a couple years ago, the rides all had signs that indicated a 10 minute wait, but it was generally less than five minutes. About noontime, a light rain started falling and the rides all changed to saying ZERO minute wait when the few vistors took off back to their hotels. As someone who grew up in Orlando and who has been to WDW dozens of times dating back to opening day, I can certainly say I’ve never seen zero minutes for the wait time, it was the coolest thing ever!

    • AM says:

      After years of WDW trips, I totally agree with the Labor Day weekend suggestion.. Most southern states including Florida have already started classes and schools in the north will be the following week. Another good time is a week or so before Christmas. You can enjoy all of the Christmas festivities & decorations without the school break crush.

  13. Devona says:

    Hi,

    We’re planning a trip for several family members and we are thinking about going the 3rd week in July. Is that a good time to go and how is the weather in July??

    Thanks in advance!!!

  14. Ken L says:

    I have found that the week after spring break is over and all the little kids and collegians are back in school is great. There are few if any lines at the best rides.

  15. Gary J says:

    We used to go to Orlando twice a year starting in 2000. We have cut it back to once a year. but our times to go was late January, early February and September. We tried Easter one year, HUGE MISTAKE, and we tried July one year — UGH.

    If you do have to go on a busy time, try and go later in the day. The time we went in July we waited until 4pm to leave the resort and head over to the park. We had 20 minute waits instead of 2 hour waits.

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for the suggestions! Also, another tip for visitors during the summer months is that the parks typically clear out during the afternoon storms. If you can wait inside somewhere until the rain is gone, you should then find pretty low waits on rides immediately after that.

      – Leap

  16. Lily says:

    My family and I are going from 10th July too 31st July how bad are the crowds thanks

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Lily,

      Great name, by the way! My daughter’s name is Lily.

      The crowds are pretty high during that time. That said, we’ve made the visit during that same time range and had a great time. It will make a huge difference if you can get to the parks before opening and follow the crowd calendar suggestions on which park to visit. We were able to ride just about everything we wanted to by 11 a.m.

      It’s also worth watching for updates on FASTPASS+, which hasn’t launched yet, as it may also factor into your touring plan.

      – Leap

  17. Sharon says:

    I definitely agree with your 5 best weeks, but I can’t agree about Disney World during Christmas. We took our kids during Christmas and it was horrible. There were too many people, most of them were tired, angry, and frustrated. We actually were in a restaurant in the park when two families started to get physical over a table.

  18. Lisa says:

    Hello,
    I am a school teacher in upstate New York. With all teachers, we are limited on the dates we can travel. We are considering the last two weeks in August. I looked at your temperature calendar and see that the average temperature is 92 degrees. Is that pretty accurate? We were also thinking about coming when school gets out; the last week in June. It seems from your calendar that that is a pretty crowded time. True? If you were to have to pick (February break, April break, last week in June or last week(s) in August) which would you suggest?

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Lisa,

      If we’re basing the decision solely on crowds, the last weeks in August would have the lowest crowds (assuming Feb. break falls during President’s Day week and April break falls during Easter), which generally makes for a more relaxed vacation. The average high for August is correct.

      – Leap

  19. Ed Angel says:

    My wife and I went to DW in May 1975 for our honeymoon. The weather was cool to warm. The park was celebrating Senior Citizens week/month. The prices were right. The lines were minimal. We had such a great time. Back then, we moved faster so we raced each other to every attraction.
    Now I think we’ll be more sedate. LOL
    We also went a couple of times with my wife’s sister and her family. We stayed at the Camp Grounds in our pop-up trailers: 2 couples/ 9 kids. Cool weather, shorter lines, great time.
    I have to mention that one year we went with our in-laws my wife was 6-7 months pregnant. DW provided a wheelchair and put us at the front of every line (ALL of us), That was 1985. DW was so friendly and accomodating.
    I don’t agree about “any time is great time” though. We have been there in June, July and August and the weather has been brutal!! Even at night the heat/humidity was withering. We don’t go in those months, I promise you.

  20. Missy says:

    We are thinking about late November (the week before Thanksgiving). When does the Christmas party start at Disneyworld? I know Halloween started in mid September, so I was hoping maybe Christmas was the same.

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Missy,

      The Christmas Party will be in full swing the week before Thanksgiving, and that should be a great time to visit. Usually, the last Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and first Very Merry Christmas Party are separated by a week.

      – Leap

  21. Joseph says:

    I was in Disney World on Super Bowl Sunday 1-20-1985, the Miami Dolphins were in it. The park was empty, during the game. You had your pick on which ride you wanted to go on with no line.

    The next time I was in Orlando was Sept 9th, 10th, 11th-16th 2001. During the 9-11-01 attack every park was empty, as was most hotels. Everything was free, I was their on a military conference. It was no fun with out the crowds, and the people in fear.

  22. Chris says:

    So my family is planning our second trip to WDW at this time. Our first trip was the end of July- first of August. BIG MISTAKE, the heat and humidity was horrible. We are now planning on going in the about 2 weeks after Easter (Mid- April). Any idea what the crowds will be like at that time?????? I’m hoping that all Spring Breaks will be done and kids will be back to school for the most part.

  23. Carl says:

    as a florida resident, i can tell you the BEST day to go is Superbowl Sunday.. the place is deserted. (as are all the other theme parks)

  24. Laura says:

    I have taken my son to Disney World three times and am planning our fourth trip for late fall. The first time we went was at Christmas and while the crowds were CRAZY it was totally worth the holiday magic!! That was our shortest trip as well (3days) Then we went for a full week the second full week of January (I believe) and ran into small crowds for a few days due to the marathon but even at that the lines were rarely longer than 30 min. The final time was also a week and right before memorial day. It was still cool (we are from Texas though) and while much more crowded then January no where near as bad as I remember the summer crowds being as a child. This year we will be visiting with our new 4 month old and really don’t want to fight crowds as we will be taking extra breaks for the little one, but want to spend as much time on the rides for our 8 year old. We are stuck and don’t know whether to go with the week before Thanksgiving or the week after Thanksgiving. Any suggestions??

  25. Emily says:

    Hi,
    We are planning a trip Sept 19 – 21 with our just turned 4 year old. I see that Sept. 19 is projected to have a high crowd level at Magic Kingdom. I know that Sept is generally a less crowded month. Are the daily crowd levels in Sept relative to other Sept days or will a red day in Sept be just as crowded as a red day in July? We are really looking to minimize line time. My husband and I visited alone the day after Labor Day back in 2004 and it was empty and SO nice!

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Emily,

      The daily crowd level is consistent across the months from 1-10, 1 being the least crowded and 10 being the most crowded.

      It’s important to look at daily crowd levels to gauge how busy the parks will be overall vs. the park-vs.-park recommendations. For example, Sept. 19 has a crowd level of 3 (out of 10), so the parks are on the low scale for crowds. Magic Kingdom is expected to be more crowded than Epcot, but it still will not be anywhere close to a red day in July.

      Hope this helps!
      – Leap

  26. DisneyMom says:

    We are considering going over Halloween. I know the Magic Kingdom closes early a few days that week due to Mikey’s Halloween party, but our kids are still young and we probably wouldn’t stay till close anyway. Your thoughts on that week? Crowds? Weather?
    Thanks!

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi DisneyMom,

      The weather is normally very pleasant and crowds are low the week of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Magic Kingdom is generally recommended on days of MNSSHP because folks who don’t have a ticket to the party avoid that park because of the shorter hours.

      Hope that helps!
      – Mommy Frog

  27. jason says:

    We have been in March for spring break and Oct for fall break but only had 1 week there.The problem we seemed to have was we felt rushed because of limited time we had.Therefore we didn’t have much choose on which days to go,crowed or not.We like to go in the summer at the end of May or by the 1st or 2nd wek of June when we can go for 2 or 3 weeks and spreed the days around and not fill rushed.Is it more crowed at this time?Yes,but we don’t mind a crowd,after all we prefer to have more people around than have none at all.People watching is just as fun.Is it more hot and humid during this time of year?Yep, but that is ok with us because we are from the South anyway.Now lets get this party started.

  28. Jimbo says:

    we are thinking about going for a week beginning Nov 10th 2013. are the parks in their full christmas decorations at that time???

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi there, Jimbo,

      That is a great question! Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios should be decorated by then, but the other parks may not by fully decorated by that time. Last year, the The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights actually kicked off Nov. 10, and there should have been a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or two by that week.

      –Leap

  29. Jey says:

    Hey, me and a couple of friends were planning a trip out to WDW. We have planned Aug 6th -12th in order to not be caught up in other activities during the summer. I’ve heard that this is a crowded time to go with plenty of precipitation. I was wondering if this would still be an enjoyable time.

  30. Muttsy says:

    The first full week in November can be a problem. The NJ teacher’s convention is often at the end of the week and the park fills up with people from NJ who have no school.

  31. Nancy says:

    We visited in September a couple of years ago and it was still a bit too humid for us. We visited WDW in late October last year and I enjoyed myself a lot more with the weather being a few degrees cooler.

  32. Lisa says:

    Hello,

    We are taking our first trip to DW with my 9 year old daughter. We will be going Sept. 29 to October 6, 2013. I wouls have thought october during the week would be fairly low crowds considering kids are in school.

    Also any must do’s or dont’s for our first trip.

    Thank you

    P.S. I have been to Disneyland many times since i use to live in Cali.

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Lisa,

      That week will see low to lower-medium crowd levels. It should be a great time to visit. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are both happening during your visit and are a ton of fun!

      Best,
      –Leap

  33. Cristina says:

    We visited last year mid October. Weather was great, mid 80′s but it did rain 3 out of the 6 days we were there on and off. Very mild crowds as well and not to mention the food and wine festival!

  34. Desaree Oriani says:

    Absolutely Favorite time is the day after labor day. There is NO lines at all and the weather is still nice but not unbearable. There was no rain all sunshine. I actually went on labor day too and must have waited 2 hours for buzz lightyear . Next day we just sat on it several times ! AWESOME

  35. Tory Western says:

    If you really want to maximize your “party” time, the 1st week of November can be pretty neat. The last Halloween Party this year is Friday Nov 1st , and the first Christmas Party is Friday November 8th. If you coordinate your days correctly and stay for 8 days, you can catch both. In 2012, my family was able to do this and the Halloween party was not crowded at all. The Christmas party was sold out, but I believe this was because of the new Fantasyland openings. We have been to the first Christmas party in the past, and it is usually not crowded at all.

  36. Karen H. Perez says:

    I love visiting Disney at Christmas, but as far as best weather/escaping the crowds, I like early November and early February best.

  37. Lynn S. Vasquez says:

    The first week of December is also a good week to visit. I’ve been with my family three times and the weather is in the 70′s and no crowds in the park.

  38. Mike says:

    What about first full week of October? 5-12? I thought the crowds would be very low. Per your chart, I think they should be, no?

    Thanks

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Mike,

      The crowds for that time are in the medium range, with a few in the lower end and a few at the higher end. There are some great events going on, and they do bring in more crowds. I would factor in the daily crowd level as well as the individual park recommendation in planning which park to visit on which day. Let me know if you have more questions!

      Best,
      –Leap

  39. Kimberly says:

    Hello, We are a family of 4 coming to visit WDW Sept. 5 – Sept.16. I see during this time… Night of Joy and MNSSHP is happening. And Universal is having Rock the Universe. If we don’t have tickets to those parties/events…What time do they close the parks. Is this a Good time to go, or should we avoid those days?

    Thanks So Much

    - Kimberly

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      These are separately ticketed events. The parks’ regular operating hours are noted on our crowd calendar, so I would recommend looking at those individual days. Generally, these are good days to go to the parks as people tend to visit parks with longer operating hours on these days.

      Best,
      –Leap

  40. Diana says:

    In 2009 was my first trip to WDW, at age 59! We, 13 of us, went the end of Sept. and beginning of October for 10 days. Weather was beautiful, lines were not long. We enjoyed 2 of the Halloween parties. Had so much fun at the first, we went again! In 2011 all 13 of us moved to Florida and we are season pass holders. Now, that being said, we have only went 3 days this summer! The lines are too long, and the weather is just too hot. The afternoon storms, you can almost set your clock by them, are torrential downpours! But, the MAGIC is still there! During the summer months my family prefers to go to Quest in Downtown Disney. And, don’t forget the Boardwalk and their street performers. WDW is the happiest place on earth!

  41. Joann says:

    I have to say that November has to be carefully planned not to overlap with Jersey Week. we went last year (2013) during the 2nd week and it was Jersey week and was far more crowded than we anticipated!

  42. Ellen says:

    I am planning on coming in for Marathon weekend January 10-12th, 2014. Cheapest ticket options and best day and time to go to MK? Love Epcot but don’t want to wear myself out pre 26.2 mile run…
    What about weather for kiddos (5 and 10) to swim? Free fun stuff to do??

  43. monica Ryan says:

    Carl
    We are planning a trip from sept 14-28 2014, will the food and wine festival be on? Also what time does Mickys not so scary Halloween party usually start? What is the weather usually like? We are traveling from Australia so are used to temperatures in the high 90′s – low 100′s.
    Thanks Monica

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Monica,

      Although next year’s dates have not been announced, you will likely be able to catch the start of Epcot International Food & Wine during your trip. The Halloween party normally starts in early September, and you should expect rain, at least during many of the afternoons of your trips. You should feel right at home with the temperatures.

      – Mommy Frog

  44. Angie says:

    Wondering how crowded February 20th through the 25th 2014 would be. I’m planning a first time Disneyworld Vacay for my little family of four we have a 5 and 2 year old and this may be our once in a lifetime type of vacation and want to visit during a not so crowded time…Thanks:)

  45. manda says:

    How is Memorial Day weekend? We are looking at going May 18 and coming home May 24. I am concerned how are last few days may be. Thanks!

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