The Best Time to Visit Disney World

The Best Time to Visit Disney World

Ashley Nicole DeLeon / © TripSavvy 2018

Trying to figure out the perfect time to visit Disney World? If you're looking to avoid crowds, the best time to visit Disney World is in January or September when the weather is mild, crowds are thin, and prices plummet.

However, if special events and decorations are what you're seeking, the months of August, September, October, November, and December may be better options for you. Read on for more about the weather and events at Disney World and a month-by-month guide to the best times to visit.

The Weather at Disney World

Florida is famous for its sunshine, but many visitors are not prepared for the Florida heat and humidity. The temperatures in the summer climb into the high 90s and the humidity can be stifling, but during the winter, the climate is more moderate. Hurricane season runs from June through October. Although the chance of a hurricane hitting Florida while you are visiting is slim, this is something to keep in mind. 

Peak Season at Disney World

Crowds will be the worst during school holidays, such as summer vacation, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break, but you can make your life easier by locking in ride times and dining experiences with the My Disney Experience app. This app lets you choose your FastPass+ attractions and dining experiences with ease, even when the crowds are large. 

In 2016, Disney introduced a surge pricing model for theme park tickets that follows its long-established practice for hotel room prices, which means that hotel and ticket prices are less expensive during slower periods, such as January and September.

However, the pricing is done on a day to day basis, so you may find that Thanksgiving Day is more expensive than a Saturday in July, depending on past attendance records. 

Popular Events & Festivals

Disney has several major events throughout the year, such as the Epcot International Flower and Garden FestivalEpcot's International Food and Wine FestivalMickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

January

As Disney World continues to draw more and more crowds year-round, January is one of the last remaining months considered to be the off-season. The high peak prices from the holiday season just a few weeks prior significantly come down, and the weather is unusually mild, with high temperatures usually hovering around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While days are usually warm and sunny, don't be surprised if you see a frosty dew in the early morning hours or experience chilly evening temperatures, as Orlando has a sub-tropical climate. Post-New Year's Day, the hours in the parks shorten, as workers speed to remove the holiday decorations, but since the attractions lines are shorter than any other time of the year, the lessened hours shouldn't affect your trip.

While the resorts' pools and hot tubs remain heated and open year-round, Disney's two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach are typically closed for the winter following New Year's Day. 

Events to check out:

  • Every January, the park hosts The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, which brings in thousands of runners each year. Some of the longer race courses take competitors through each of the four Disney parks.
  • The year starts off with a "bang" as Disney hosts a New Years fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, and at Disney Springs. Keep in mind that Animal Kingdom never has fireworks.

    February

    Much like January, February is still a slow month, except for the Presidents' Day week, which falls on the third week each year. Since most U.S. schools are closed during this week, crowds are to be expected. Valentine's Day is also a popular day for locals, especially at the onsite restaurants, so unless you have reservations, it's best to skip visiting on February 14.  

    The park hours are similar to January, and the waterparks usually remain closed during February as well.

    Event to check out:

    • Ladies, dust off your Nikes! In February, the parks host Disney's Princess Half-Marathon weekend, which is focused on female runners.

    March

    In March, the weather in central Florida is still mild, but with spring break, Bike Week, a popular Daytona Beach event, and Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival, the traffic, in addition to park attendance can get heavy this month.

    Easter is also a popular day for families to visit Disney, but it is an ever-changing holiday that occasionally falls in March, but more often April. 

    The waterparks typically reopen in early to mid-March, and as the days get longer (and warmer), the park hours follow.  

    Events to check out:

    • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off in March and runs through the end of May. More than 100 elaborate topiaries are spread throughout the parks.
    • The Atlanta Braves spend their spring training at Disney. Games take place at Champion Stadium in Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

    April 

    Things begin to heat up in April as temperatures begin to rise to the mid-80s during the day. Spring breakers continue to flood the parks, and the prices reflect this sudden surge. Avoid visiting on Easter Sunday if it occurs this month, as it will be the most popular park day.

    Events to check out:

    • The Star Wars Rival Run Half-Marathon weekend takes place in April. Runners can compete in the Star Wars 10K, Star Wars 5K, Star Wars Dark Side Challenge, and the runDisney Kids Races, as well as the half marathon.

    May 

    In May, although the calendar says it's spring, you will feel like you're in the middle of summer with temps potentially reaching 90 degrees. Thunderstorms in the afternoon are a common occurrence, usually right around 3 p.m. Florida is known for its flash rain showers, so while you won't win any style points, it's usually a good idea to pack a poncho if you are visiting from May through September. Crowds are moderate at this time since most schools are in session, and no major holidays or events fall within the month. 

    June

    June is the month with the longest days, so beware of Florida's brutal sun. Though necessary year-round, you must be mindful to constantly reapply sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and bring a hat if you plan on spending the daylight hours at the parks.

    The beginning of the month sees few crowds, as many schools are in still in session until mid-June, and it is too close to summer break to justify playing hooky. After June 15, however, the high summer season is in full swing, and with that comes rising prices and fewer accommodations and restaurant choices, but also extended park hours, and in-park shows, activities, and ride openings.

    Events to check out:

    • June kicks off Epcot's Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, which hosts three performances nightly at America Gardens Theater. 

    July

    July is the peak month at Disney World. Just about every child in America is enjoying summer break during this month, so families flock to the House of Mouse to enjoy their time off. The temperatures are at this time are sometimes unbearably high, especially midday when the sun's rays are strongest.

    You can expect attraction wait rides to rise to well over two hours for the most sought-after attractions and finding a place to eat a sit-down meal might prove impossible if you don't have an advanced reservation. 

    The good news is that the parks are open longer. Your best plan of action is to arrive at opening time, then leave and return to your resort for lunch and a refreshing dip in the pool. Afterward, you can return to the parks once the temps drop a little in the late afternoon, and ride anything you may have missed in the morning.

    Events to check out:

    • Fourth of July fireworks at Magic Kingdom are a "can't-miss" for Disney visitors in July. Note that Epcot, Disney Studios, and Disney Springs all have special firework shows as well.

    August

    August is the hottest month of the year. From noon to 3 p.m., your primary goal is to get inside, whether you make a lunchtime reservation in an indoor restaurant, or perhaps catch a movie at the AMC theater in Disney Springs. You can also beat the heat at the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach, or take to the sea and rent a paddleboat from your resort's dock and cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon.

    Most of the month is packed with visitors, but Florida children return to school in late August, so you might notice a slight dip in the size of the crowds at the tail end of the month. The end of the month marks the beginning of the months-long Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, however, so within that park, you can expect high crowds.

    Events to check out:

    • From August through October, the park hosts Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on select nights. The event features trick-or-treating in the park and Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes.

    September

    September is one of the best times to visit the theme parks. The lines are again manageable since most school-aged children have returned to school, and hotel rates are the lowest of the year.

    The weather is hot but milder than July and August, and the waterparks, as well as Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, remain active during the month. 

    Events to check out:

    • During fall's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, visitors can try international cuisine from more than 25 different kiosks. There are also various seminars on cooking, and food and wine. The event runs through November.

    October

    October can still be hot during the day, but temperatures start to drop at night. It is a great time to visit since the parks are decorated for the fall season and there is a special Halloween party that happens most evenings. Other than Halloween day, you shouldn't have much a crowding issue, aside from in Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival.  

    November 

    November can be a great time to go, as long as you avoid Thanksgiving week. Though, if you plan to visit the day following Thanksgiving weekend, you may find no lines at all. The temperatures this month are pleasant during the day, and cooler at night. The holiday decorations won't be fully on display until December 1, but you might get a glimpse of what's to come if you visit later in November. 

    Events to check out:

    • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party begins in November and runs through the holidays, taking place on select nights at Magic Kingdom. The event includes Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, and Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration Castle Stage Show.

    December

    In December, the parks are festively decorated for the holidays, and there are plenty of special holiday-themed treats as well as events scheduled throughout the month, such as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Naturally, many families love visiting during this month, as many have holiday breaks, and like July, it also has an extremely high amount of visitors.  

    Events to check out:

    • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays brings storytellers from around the world to share holiday customs and traditions from their respective countries.