This is Part Two of our Free Guide to Disney World. Be sure to read all the other parts as well.
“When to go to Disney World” is an important question, affected by both personal and external factors. Personal things, like when your kids have school breaks, when you can take vacation from work, and how your finances fluctuate greatly impacts when you can head out to WDW. While I can’t help with any of that, I CAN help you to consider the external factors:
WEATHER: Weather in Orlando fluctuates between 50 and 95 degrees farenheit, with humid, HOT summers and pleasant, cool winters. The Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane season is in effect from about June through November each year, though Orlando is far enough inland that it escapes most landfalls. Hurricanes bring heavy rains and winds, however, and have caused many Orlando vacationers to cancel; consider travel insurance when booking trips during August, September, and October.
That said, the best times of year to visit WDW weather-wise are Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Personally, I enjoy weather that’s warm enough that I can go for a swim, but not so sweltering that I’m sweating all day. That kind of weather happens most often in October and April/May.
CROWDS: No doubt about it, Disney World can get crowded! Many of us have horrible memories of visiting the Magic Kingdom during the summer or Spring Break, standing in two-hour lines in the hot sun, pretty much bored out of our minds. The rest of us live in fear of having that experience.
Well, guess what! There are ways to avoid crowds–or at least lessen their impact on your vacation–at Disney World. One of my favorite tools to avoid crowds is touringplans.com’s Crowd Blog, but there are two main strategies to follow that will really put you ahead of the game:
- Avoid School Breaks: This will be tough if you have kids or if you don’t want to take your kids out of school for your vacation. However, if this isn’t the case for you, visiting while USA public schools are in session is the number one way to avoid crowds at Disney World. Basically, NO=Summer, Spring Break, and Christmas; YES=Autumn, January-February, and May. Here’s a great (and SIMPLE) list of the most and least crowded times at Walt Disney World.
- Avoid USA Holidays: The parks fill up during three-day weekends, so try to avoid the major ones: Martin Luther King day in January, President’s Day in February, Memorial Day in May, 4th of July, Labor Day in September, Columbus Day in October, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving in November, and Christmas in December. Here’s another great list of USA Holidays for several years out.
SPECIAL AND SEASONAL EVENTS: Disney World is no stranger to a celebration and is known for its seasonal events. Here are a few of my favorites to help you as you consider when to visit:
- Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival: This is a fantastic seasonal event, which runs from late September through mid-November. International foods and wines have the spotlight as Epcot’s World Showcase is transformed into a wonderland of new tastes, sights, and sounds. It’s lots of fun, and can be enjoyed by any Epcot visitor. You can also purchase tickets to special Food and Wine Festival events, wine pairing dinners, and show dinners with famous chefs!
- Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival: Epcot is again transformed, but this time by flowers! If you’re an avid gardner–or just love looking and floral landscaping–try to visit during the Flower and Garden Festival.
- Christmas in Disney World: From Thanksgiving to the New Year, Disney World is decked out in holiday finery, and guests can experience some of the most exciting events of the year. From Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, to Epcot’s Holidays Around the World, Disney World is definitely the place for Christmas cheer. Just remember that Christmas is a crowded time; you can enjoy all of the holiday festivities with fewer crowds by visiting in late November or early December.
- LOTS MORE!: Besides all of that, you can also visit during these exciting events: Star Wars weekends in the Spring (coincides with the Flower and Garden Festival), Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party offered select nights in the fall (coincides with Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival), and the Disney World Marathon in January.