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Planning for Disney World in January

Walt Disney World MarathonAfter the merriment (or madness) of the holidays that accompanies December, January is a relatively relaxing time to visit Walt Disney World and the Orlando theme parks. We can think of no better place to make (or break) a few New Year’s resolutions than at the theme parks.

While running the Walt Disney World Marathon isn’t all that relaxing, at least the views will be great. Our hats are off to those of you who will be running the marathon Jan. 13. We wish you all new PRs!

If you have not yet had enough of the holidays, there are still a few days in January to experience the parks decked out in their holiday decor. As far as holiday events, most of them end on or before Jan. 1, but The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios continues until Jan. 6. After that, the lights and holiday decorations are safely packed away, because after all, it’s a brand new year!

Limited Time Magic Dance PartyAs part of Disney’s 2013 “Limited Time Magic” promotion at the parks, a new set of limited-release couture ear hats will debut each month in the parks, starting in January. Additionally, Disney is kicking off the limited-time magic with weeklong “Bling in the New Year” dance parties through Jan. 5 on Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland.

As far as crowds go, the first week of January will see heavy crowds, giving way to lower crowd levels as kiddos around the nation return to school. Walt Disney World has extended its operating hours at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom this first week of the month to accommodate crowds. After that first week, the parks see medium to lower crowd levels, including the weekend ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. day, making it a pleasant time to visit the parks. Check the crowd calendar for our specific recommendations.

A few notable closings in January include Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom, starting Jan. 2, and Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom, starting Jan. 6. You can see the full list of closings and refurbishments here. As reported back in July, starting in 2013, evening Extra Magic Hours have been shortened to two hours from three for those of you staying at one of the resorts. We generally recommend avoiding the park with Extra Magic Hours, but here is our guide for when to use them.


January sees an average high of 71 and a low of 49. Rainfall chances are low. There are sunny days, so make sure the kids pack their swimsuits as the pools are heated. You will still need a jacket for the evenings and chilly mornings. Here is the packing list for this time of year.

Upcoming events

  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing LightsYou can visit the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios through Dec. 6. This crazy-big light display originally started at the Osborne Family’s home back in Arkansas, and every year it grew and grew and GREW! In 1995, the Osbornes decided to share it with the world at Disney.
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend begins Thursday, Jan. 10 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 13. More than 25,000 runners registered for this 20th anniversary race, and while the marathon is sold out, there are still tickets available for the kids races and the Pasta in the Park party. The 2014 race dates have not yet been announced, but the 2013 registration opened in June.
  • Jan. 12 marks the start of SeaWorld Orlando’s Just for Kids event. Held Saturdays through Feb. 2, this event features free concerts, fun zones and more all for the kiddos. This year’s performers include Laurie Berkner, Imagination Movers, Choo Choo Soul and the Kratt Brothers.
  • Real Music Concert Series at Busch Gardens Tampa BayBusch Gardens Tampa begins its Real Music Concert Series on Jan. 16. This Big Band event runs Wednesday through Saturday until Feb. 16 and features The Terry Meyers Orchestra with The Swing Sisters, Frankie Avalon, The Osmond Brothers and Rita Coolidge. It is included with regular admission to Busch Gardens.

Will you be visiting in January? Let us know what you are planning!
– Leap

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10 Responses to “Planning for Disney World in January”

  1. Ernest says:

    There’s an error 404 on the refurbishments link.

  2. Lisa says:

    Yes, my friend and I will be visiting Walt Disney World at the end of January. We will hit all 4 parks at least once plus revisit a few. We have some dining reservations but I think the crowds will be so low that we’ll be fine walking up to a few places. We plan to pack sandwiches, snacks, jackets, and sunglasses for varying weather conditions And yes, we’re going to Extra Magic Hours nights.

    • FrogBlog says:


      Sounds like a great plan! Have fun, and let us know how it went when you get back.

      – Leap

  3. Bob says:

    Are the extra magic days(nights) crowded in January? I looked at your attendance cal and it shows Magic Kingdom as yellow on Sundays. Would it be safe to visit in the morning and afternoon and leave early or is the park crowded all day?

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Bob,

      This is a great question! Since the overall crowd levels are neutral, I think you could plan a visit to MK on a Sunday. The park crowd levels will be elevated because of extra magic hours, but if you plan on getting to the park at opening, you should have low crowds for the first few hours until peak hours in the afternoon.

      New Fantasyland is seeing higher traffic than other areas of the park. If you want to experience those attractions, I would suggest doing them first thing.

      Hope this helps!
      – Leap

  4. Marcia says:

    Sim,estarei com a família na última semana de Janeiro e primeira de fevereiro.Usarei seu calendário de multidões para escolher os parque por dia.Obrigada

  5. Jennie says:

    Planning hard. This is a lot of work but that’s half the fun. My “kids” all in their 20′s and I are revisiting WDW and Universal now that they’re grown. I so appreciate all of your information, time saving and cost saving tips. We’ll be park hopping and jumping for joy.

  6. Cindy S says:

    Planned our WDW vacation using your crowd calendar for Jan 22-28. (all 2 and 3s) Was disappointed to see the calendar changed just a week ago to all 4s. What happened?

    • FrogBlog says:

      Hi Cindy,

      On the crowd calendar, there can be slight tweaks as we get closer to an actual date, sometimes when Disney adjusts park hours or special events are added. Overall, the crowd level for all of the parks during your visit is neutral, so it should be a pleasant experience.

      Let us know how the trip goes!
      – Leap

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