Best Time to Visit Disney World

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Best Time to Visit Disney World

  • This site uses affiliate links. Purchasing through these links does not cost you anything additional, but gives us a small referral fee.
  • This is a recreational blog. Although I've done my best to ensure the safety of each activity, clarity of directions, and accuracy of my educational activities; I can in NO way be held liable for your personal use of my material. Please use common sense.
See all disclosures here.
Are you scratching your head wondering when should I go to Disney? You are not alone! There are so many unique opportunities at different times of the year, varying crowd levels, closures, and weather to consider.  Here is a great guide to help you pick the best time of year to go to Disney World.
Best Time to visit Disney World! Lots of great advice for Disney World Planning based on crowds, price, special events, summer only perks, and more!

I am a huge planner!  I plan out activities, lessons, pictures, bills, and so much more. So it is no surprise I put a lot of thought into planning our vacations too!

I’m a big believer that if I plan things well ahead ahead of time they go smother & I can just enjoy the moment with my kids.

Post Revised & Updated February 2016

When to plan your next Disney family Vacation

There are a LOT of factors in choosing when to go on a Disney vacation:
  • Do your kids go to school? If so are you going to pull them out or go on a school break?
  • Are you a teacher with only certain times you can get off?
  • How amount of money do you want to spend? (There are cheaper and more expensive times to go)
  • Are you okay with crowds & waiting in long lines?
  • Do you like warm weather and lounging at the pool or sweatshirt weather?

As you can see there is a LOT that goes in to finding the perfect time to go to Disney World.

Best Time to Visit Disney World

What time of the year is the best to go to Disney World?

End of August through September

This time of year not only boasts the lowest rates (up to 35% off), but incredibly low crowds [think a crowd of 2-3 on a scale of 1-10]. It is also the best time of year to snatch some extra special incentives like FREE Disney Dining Offer (these usually start appearing in June).

So what’s the downside? Most families have kids in school plus the weather is usually around 90 F every day. They get an average of 6” of rain this month, but Florida rain comes down fast and furious and completely goes away quickly.


Disney World at Halloween in October

October continues to have low rates and low crowds (an average of 4 on a scale of 1-10).  Many years guests can snatch deals like 30% off rooms or free Disney Dining Plan.

Guests will also enjoy the Halloween decorations throughout the park and can enjoy Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (read more about that).

The downside with October is that due to the lower crowds and Halloween party the parks often closer early and open later. If you plan your itinerary well making use of evening magic hours you can still be in the park from 9am-9pm or more daily. Once again, families with kids in school will find this time challenging.

Note: Halloween and the days before/after are more crowded, about a 5.

Beginning of November / Beginning of December

Christmas time is the best time to visit disney world

The first part of November (2-20) and the first part of December (1-18) continue to offer guests low crowds (average of 3 on a scale of 1-10). Offers for 30% off rooms or free Disney Dining Plan have been offered many years as well.

My favorite part of coming in November and December is seeing all the beautiful Disney Christmas decorations!  You will instantly be whisked into the holiday spirit with the seasonal decorations.
Holidays at Disney World

  • Magic Kingdom (decorated around Nov 5th; including holiday music & costumes for cast memebers)
  • Epcot (holidays around the world and Candlelight Processional do not begin until December)
  • Hollywood Studios (Osbourne Spectacle of light is AMAZING and begins in early November; ended in 2015)
  • Animal Kingdom (nothing much any more; ended 2014)
  • Resort Decorations (each resort is decorated differently and the Grand Floridian has a huge gingerbread house; decorated around Nov 15-20)
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (see review) is a must see event with special characters, parades, shows, snow on main street, and more!

Once again the down side is many families will have to pull their kids from school this time of year. Although the crowds have historically been low it is not guaranteed and in 2014 the November crowds were more like a 5-6.  The weather is cooler and you will be grateful for long pants and a sweatshirt. It was extra chilly on our visit and we were grateful for warm hats too!

End of January / Early February

More and more families seem to be willing to pull their kids for a special Disney vacation this time of year (must be that 1/2 the year is over). So although the crowds are still good compared to the summer, they now average a 5 on a 1-10 scale. 

Due to the usually chillier, sweatshirt weather this is the cheapest time of year to go to Disney World. The room rates are already low and many room discounts are usually available, but free dinning has not been offered this time of year for about 5 years.

Disadvantages? Pulling kids from school, chillier weather (high 70-74; lows 45-50)  makes the pools not much fun, and no seasonal decorations.

End of April / Early May

May is the best time to visit Disney World  - see the Flower and Garden Festival or Star Wars Weekend

This block of time also boasts lower crowds (average of 5 on a 1-10 scale), but with mid range hotel costs.

The weather is wonderful this time of year! You can expect a high of 88 with a low of only 66. Rain is minimal this time of year as well.

But my favorite part of going to Disney in May is the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival (AMAZING!!) and Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios (a very cool experience if you are a Star Wars fan)


Summer is a convenient time of year to head to Disney World so you can expect the highest crowds (averaging an 8 not only holiday weekends)  and the most expensive price tag on your vacation.
But it’s not all bad news. Because of the higher crowds Disney kicks it into high gear!
  • Longer Park Hours
  • More Parade / Show Times
  • Additional Characters Out & About
  • Great Weather for Pools / Water Parks
  • Rarely any Scheduled Ride Closures
  • Some room discounts (usually up to 30% off room rates depending on hotel)

Disney World Planning Tips

  1.  When to take your kids (what is the 'perfect' age)
  2. Planning for your trip (time of year, how long to stay, Disney hotels, and affordability/deals)
  3. Tidbits (20 tips from the best place to see Mickey to strollers to super cool Disney features you may not know about)
  4. Dining: My top picks for snacks, quick meals, and reviews on 12 restaurants (including character meals)
  5. Magic Kingdom
  6. Animal Kingdom
  7. Hollywood Studios
  8. Epcot
  9. Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, CA


  1. Great post!! When we went last year we stayed at Pop Century and it was definitely more expensive to fly out there and board our dogs than it was to actually stay. I'm glad you are letting people know that it can be done with a reasonable budget! I can't wait to read the rest of your tips!!

  2. How fun....I have never been to florida...I wonder if you know how different are the two disneyland ( you know I'm in cali)

    1. Christina, California and Florida are 2 very different experiences. Disneyland is not even comparable to the size of Disney World. We did Disneyland in 1 day (and weren't impressed, it just didn't seem as *magical*). Each Disney World park, on the other hand, takes at least 1 day to see everything and was so much better in many ways.

  3. Beth, you've just really made me want to go now. Not in the 3 years we are planning on going. Our plan is when my husband graduates. Our girls will be 5 and 7. I think that's a fun age. If we had the money we'd go sooner. It's going to be a graduation present for all of us. Yeah husband finished and we all made it through this never ending journey of school.

  4. Thanks so much for this! We are leaving for our first trip as a family to WDW on February 12, so I'll be following your blog to see if there are anymore posts before we leave:)

  5. Wow, nice post,there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.Thank you for sharing to us.

    Pousada Do Rio Quente

  6. I was wondering how you find out about free disney dining? How have you found this?


  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I think that's a fun age. If we had the money we'd go sooner. It's going to be a graduation present for all of us..Thanks!
    Luggage Delivery

  9. Oh my thank you so much for this huge tips. We are planning a WDW trip next month and your post just helped me out. We will be bringing our twins and for sure will rent strollers. Thanks you! **hugs**

  10. These are great tips. I wonder how much of them are applicable for Disney World which is a lot closer to us. I have to pin for this post to reread since we will probably go next year.

  11. Just a heads up on the meal reservations...we went in early October 2011 and we are returning early May 2012. As we went to make our reservations for the meals in May, we learned that Disney has a new cancellation policy where they charge $10 a person for any no shows or cancellations when your vacation begins. Even if most of the party still keeps the reservation and one person can not make it, they will still charge, for that person, $10. Which in most cases would not be an issue because who would think of not showing right? But it would have cost me $40 extra this past October, had this policy been in place at the time. Due to the fact that I became ill and was unable to attend several something to keep in mind!

  12. Thanks for the tips. Found you on Pinterest. Please just correct your spelling of the word "dining". LOL!

  13. Thanks for sharing your Disney vacation! Will be there this summer :) Reading your post made me more excited to take my vacation in the Magical kingdom especially now that I won't be bringing stroller along knowing about Stroller Rental Moms would surely enjoy too. Thanks!

  14. WE LOVE Disney Too! We have two Disney cruises planned and a week of Disneyschooling in Novemeber!

  15. Hi Beth,
    Just found your blog through Pinterest. So timely, since we are heading to Disney next month. Thanks so much for all the great tips!

  16. Thanks so much, this is very informative. We're heading to Disney in September (free dining!) and your reviews on the character dining restaurants were very helpful.

  17. I'm from Orlando originally, and the BEST place to stay of all the Disneyworld resorts is camp Wilderness. Cheapest if you have your own camping tent or vehicle, but you can also rent their Fleetwood camping 'cabins' which sleep six to eight, and have a kitchen so you can manage your costs by making some of your own meals. Their are load of activities right there in the campground, some free (like a nightly outdoor movie in an amphitheater setting complete with roasting marshmallows, and a petting zoo) two resort pools, and just like every other resort in the complex--access to all the magic kingdom transportation. Dogs are welcome in certain areas, and there is an air conditioned kennel where you can leave them during the day while you 'park hop' during the day. There is also a reasonably priced dinner buffet right in the camping resort, and a beach. When we lived in Orlando, we would just go to the resort for the week-end, just to get that full on Disney experience without having to visit the Magic Kingdom.

  18. So our first family trip is only 60 days away and I am in full Disney planning mode. I have a few questions. What times are the light parade and fireworks in the magic kingdom? I want to plan around dinner reservations. I am torn between which character dinners to do. I have lots booked and am going to have to start cutting some out. When would you do bippity bippity boutique the morning or afternoon. Thanks for all of your help and I love your blog.

  19. Carmen, your profile is not attached to an email so I can't respond to you directly. the best way to see current times for parades & shows is here: For character meals check out my Dinning post (#4 in my series; link above). We have not personally done the bippity boppity boutique... but I would say morning that way your girl can enjoy being treated as royalty all day!!! You can even get a slot 1 hour BEFORE the park opens so you don't loose any park time!! Hope that's helpful,
    Beht =-)

  20. Just a head's up: If you are planning on going anywhere near Halloween, yes, the decorations are gorgeous, but they kick everyone out of the parks around 6pm to get the park ready for the scary Halloween stuff. And, if you don't have a hopper pass, you will need to pay again if you want to come back that evening. When we went, that was the worst part about our trip because we would get to the park around 10am, get kicked out at 6pm and not feel like we saw everything we wanted to see and certainly didn't want to pay again to go back that evening.

  21. Your Life in Print - you are right they do close the Magic Kingdom early 2-3 days a week in October. Generally the crowds are so much less that time of year that you will see much of what you wanted to see. The other option is to plan the days you are at MK to not be there on one of the Halloween days! (The other parks are open 'normal' hours) We tried to plan character meals (like Chef Mickeys, Cinderella dinner, etc. for those days at 6pm... then be back swimming at the wonderful pools by 7:30pm). We found one of those days to be a welcome change of pace.
    Beth =-)

    1. Were those character meals easier to book dince most people would be at the parties? My daughter'ssbirthday is the first week of Nov and that would be great if it would be easier to book.

  22. We have NEVER been to Disney World, but grew up next door to Disneyland and so are a little jaded....HOWEVER we are now raising our granddaughters aged 6 1/2 and 5. We MUST do Disney now as we haven't been to Disneyland in 18 years....maybe this time we'll go to Disney World. We live in Northern California and reading your site was certainly a help!

  23. When are the Star Wars weekends? I couldn't find it on their site.

  24. Just wanted to say for those that are wondering..... Disneyland and Disney World are so different! Disneyland is extremely small in comparison and when you drive outside of the theme park, you're just in a regular city. When you drive outside of each Disney World theme park you still feel like you're in a special Disney area. I really don't know how to describe it, but its so nice. Anyway, thank you SO much for doing this! Great tips!!!! =)

  25. Hi, we are going to Disney next week and just disxovered your blog and i'm reading it all, cause it's helping me a lot! But i just called the hotel ( we are staying at The Swan) an asked about the free transportation from the airport and they told me they dont have that service.they work w a company that charges $34 per person/round trip.
    Where can i check again the free transportation?
    Thanks for all your help

    1. The Swan and Dolphin, although on Disney property, are not owned by Disney and therefore do not include free airport transportation.

  26. Carmen,
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news.... but the Swan is listed as an "Other Deluxe Hotel" (along with the Dolphin) and does not include the same perks as staying at a Disney Hotel =-( You will also not find free parking here. Calling the hotel directly will be your best bet. If you are using the Disney Dinning Plan you may also want to check if they accept that. I agree it is confusing on the Disney website!!
    Have a GREAT trip,
    Beth =)

  27. We are planning a trip with a 3 & 1 yr old. We will be staying at a seaworld hotel, so how should we go about doing meal plans, etc? We're also interested in the Halloween party, do u recommend this for these ages? What rides, restaurants, or activities do u suggest?

    Other random questions... Do u suggest taking our own strollers, car seats, pack n plays or renting them all?

    We r hoping to get by with just using shuttles, and not renting a car. How likely is this ? :).

  28. Gibsons,

    I have never stayed at a Seaworld hotel. I highly recommend staying at Disney in the midst of the magic. You can still purchase the Disney meal plan if you like or just purchase a la carte. Reservations for sit down meals are still necessary and book out.

    I have not done the Disneyworld Halloween party, but just got back from the DisneyLAND one and it was wonderful and perfect for little ones.

    See other posts in the series for rides/restaurants I recommend by park =-) There is a lot of information in there.

    Again, I have never done it from SeaWorld....but staying at Disney we ALWAYS bring our own stroller. It comes out cheaper and is so convenient for kids & stuff at the bottom. No need for carseats if you are riding the shuttle - we never needed to rent a car. Pack & Plays are free at Disney, but not sure about Sea World.

    You will want to read up on Sea World to answer your other questions.

    Have a GREAT vacation =-)

  29. We are trying to decide if we want to stay on property or off. Do you know if you can take a limo/car to the front gates or do you get dropped off and take a shuttle?

  30. We LOVE staying on property in the midst of the magic! On property there are free shuttles that drop you off as close as any vehicle can come =-)

    Off property you'd have to see if they offer a shuttle. If not, taking a car will cost $14 to park per day!

  31. Any specific tips for a single MOM bringing her daughter. I'm wanting to plan a trip for daughter's 6th bday this October. I'm nervous about traveling alone and getting more BANG for my very small buck! :)

  32. This is a wonderfully helpful and informative article for planning a Disney Vacation. We have done the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios with the kids (but I sure wish I had this information first). We are planning to do Animal Kingdom when we take a short trip to Orlando in March. I was wondering if you could suggest which Disney movies we should watch before doing that park so that the kids would get the most out of it? Thanks!

  33. Rebecca - I would say The Lion King (wonderful show based on it, plus characters in the parade), Bug's Life (tree of life/show/characters to meet/great), and Finding Nemo (wonderful show!)

    You may also want to catch Jungle Book (some caracters to meet & great).

    Have FUN!!
    Beth =-)

  34. The post really appreciable and it contains such impressive offers. thanks for sharing...... Limo Services in Bay Area

  35. How does the free baggage check work? That could save a lot of money with three people traveling.

  36. This is SO awesome! I just moved to first from K and really needed some resources. THANK YOU!
    Call of Duty Black Ops 2 | Full Version PC Games

  37. Great site and suggestions. Just so you know, dining is not spelled "dinning". Your entire article has it misspelled.

  38. I've been scouring the internet for cheap vacations to Disney, and this post just gave me a lot of useful info. Thanks so much for all the resources!

  39. Great post! We're are headed for our 2nd Disney vacation next week. So excited!

  40. I have a question regarding car seats. If we have an infant with us does the shuttle or van require us to have a car seat? and if so, do they provide one if we request it?

    1. Shuttles do not require the use of carseats. If you reserve ahead many taxis or "car" services will bring them for you to use free of charge. I called FLorida Police before our trip and they are REQUIRED for children traveling in taxis.

      Hope that helps =)


  41. I disagree about so much time at Magic Kingdom. My family/kids have always loved Epcot most, Animal Kingdom next. We can spend more time at Epcot and get Magic Kingdom done in a day easy during off peak. That said, I would recommend doing a day each place FIRST then decide where you want to spend extra time. Some people never leave the Magic Kingdom and I think that's a big mistake. Check them all out. At 5 my son's favorite place was Epcot.

  42. Are special tickets required for the halloween and Christmas festivities if we get annual passes? Thanks :)

    1. yes, the parties require a special ticket above and beyond annual passes or daily tickets. Although you can enjoy the decorations the entire month.