Best time to go to Disney World – 2016
There are certain times when I hate being at Disney World. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing place. But when it’s SUPER crowded and the heat is stifling, I lose interest. Among my family and group of friends, we quickly learned that there are certain times of year when we will NOT go. The overall crowd levels are just too high. For my family, the best time to go to Disney World is October. Your family may be different.
What follows is not a simple chart on crowd levels. If that’s what you are looking for, go print one out, hang it on your wall and use it as a reference. Then come back, and lets discuss what you are looking at. A simple google image search of crowd levels will give you a zillion charts to look at. While those are very helpful..they are only a part of the story
This article is designed not only to help you find the busiest times at Disney World, but more importantly, to help you decide when to take your family to Disney. Your family is different than my family. Your needs are different. Also, crowd levels are important, but they are just one of the many factors you need to consider when planning a Disney vacation.
If you are simply looking for a general synopsis of each park, our article on Crowd Calendars will be invaluable.
When I wrote that article, we realized that while it gives a great overview of the decision-making process, it lacked a level of detail that I wanted to flush out. What follows is a long article that goes into detail and gives you some informative information on each Month of the year. The goal is to help you narrow down your timeframe, during your planning stages.
Best Time of the Year to go to Disney World – A Monthly Analysis
Again, I can’t make the decision for you, and before you drop a wad of cash on a Disney World vacation, read this section. We are going to analyze all 12 months of the year. We’ll give you general info on crowd levels, weather, special events and pricing. This can be your ultimate decision-making guide for your next vacation.
Disney World in January
Crowd levels at Disney World in January begin at an extremely high level, as Christmas bleeds into New Years day. These first few days of the year have crowds that are among the highest all year long. But as people go back to school, crowd levels will begin to plummet. Usually there is a marathon in early January, and MLK weekend in late January will also feature high crowd levels. But, for the most part, crowd levels are quite low in January, once you get a few days clear of New Years.
The weather in January is a significant factor to consider. This is the coolest month of the year in Orlando. Your lows average just under 50 degrees. This makes swimming something only the bravest of souls will try, and certainly not something your kids will likely be able to do. Orlando is not a cold weather city, but you’ll need to bring light-weight jackets if you make the trip in January.
There aren’t a lot of special events in January, other than the Christmas lights at the beginning of the month. Quite often the slower winter months will bring more refurbishments, as Disney prepares for the summer season. Park hours will shorten dramatically from their December highs, so make sure you consider that, if you love being at the parks late at night.
In January, you’ll be able to get big discounts on your Disney package. Typically, sometime between the 3rd and the 5th, you’ll be eligible to get 15-30% off of your rooms. The actual details of the promotions changes from year to year, but with low crowd levels, you can be sure that there will be heavy discounts in January.
Our overall recommendation for January is a 7/10.
Disney World Weather in January: Average High: 70-72 Average Low: 49-50
Disney World in February
February has very favorable crowd levels, and weather that improves just a bit, especially towards the end of the month. Aside from the Memorial Day weekend, which is an EXTREMELY busy time period, the rest of the month has very low crowd levels.
The same promotions that exist in January will follow you into February. These promotions make February a great time to go, from a dollar standpoint.
As with January, there aren’t many special events. You will find that the Electrical parade doesn’t happen every night, so you need to watch that. Park hours begin to lengthen a little bit towards the end of February.
As we mentioned, the weather will improve in February. During late February, you might get some days in the 80’s, which will feel amazing, especially if you are coming from a place that is in the middle of a brutal winter. If you don’t like cool weather though, February is not the month for you. While the averages highs in February are temps in the low 70’s, it’s very possible to have days where temps never get above 60 degrees.
Our Overall recommendation for February is 8/10
Disney World Weather in February: Average High: 72-75 Average Low: 51-55
Disney World in March
The first week in March is an exceptional time to be at Disney World. The weather continues to get a bit warmer, and crowd levels are still very low. But very quickly, things change fast. March is Spring break season, and the crowds start coming fast. Typically the second week of March is when crowds start coming in. As you approach the last ten days of the month, you begin to hit the peak of Spring break season, and the crowds will get very heavy.
The really good promotions will usually go away just as the big crowds come, as you would expect. But the good news is that with bigger crowds, comes longer park hours. You can still have a great time in Disney World during the busiest time periods, especially with fastpass plus. You just have to really be creative and flexible. In March, you’ll have the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. This festival allows you to get some beautiful pictures of Epcot.
The weather in March is awesome. March is going to be a month with warm days, and cool nights. There will be some really hot days, and you’ll also find some really cool nights. But overall, on average, the temps are great.
Our overall recommendation for March is 10/10 for the first week and 6/10 for the rest of the month. If you prefer being at Disney when it’s cool, as opposed to hot, the first week in March is our recommendation for a perfect Disney vacation.
Disney World Weather in March: Average High: 75-80 Average Low: 55-60
Disney World in April
With Spring Break and the Easter holiday, April begins as May ended, with extremely busy crowds. I’d avoid the first few weeks in April if you can. But the 2nd half of the month is one of the best times of the year to be in Disney. The crowds are very light, as school is back in session.
The weather continues to improve in April, as your highs will average in the low to mid 80’s. With the humidity, there will be very warm days. The nights feel great, with lows in the low to mid 60’s.
The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival continues, but there isn’t much else going on at the end of April. Low crowds, warm weather make this one of the best times to be in Disney World.
Our overall recommendation for April is 5/10 for the first 2 weeks, and 9/10 for the 2nd half of the month
Disney World Weather in April: Average High: 79-85. Average Low: 59-65.
Disney World in May
The first half of May is a great time to be in Disney World. If you like the hot weather, you’ll enjoy this time period, as crowds will be very low, weather will be hot, and you will be happy. There aren’t a lot of events at the beginning of May, but that will change very quickly.
Disney has begun to kick off their Summer season with some events that will have a big impact on your decision-making. Star Wars Weekends is now taking up 2-3 weekends in late May. This event happens in Hollywood Studios, and makes that park almost unbearable. As an aside, it does make for much lower crowds in Epcot and the Animal Kingdom.
Memorial Day weekend is packed, and has begun featuring a 24-hour day at Disney World! Basically, Disney opens their doors at 6AM and doesn’t close them until 6AM the next morning. This makes for a fun day, but it also makes for very heavy crowds.
The weather in May goes from very warm in the beginning of the month, to hot by the end. By the end of the month, Disney is going to be hot and humid, although it will still feel great at night.
Our overall recommendation for May is 9/10 for the first 2 weeks, and 5/10 for the 2nd half of the month.
Disney World Weather in May: Average High 85-91. Average Low is 65-71
Disney World in June
Ah, summer in Disney World. The land of packed theme parks and sweltering heat. My synopsis for June, July and August are all going to be quite similar. You’re going to fight huge crowds and get really hot. There also isn’t much going on in the way of discounts, so you’ll pay a lot too. And if you are staying offsite, they’ll jack their rates as well. Personally, I never go in the summer months.
But due to work and school, many are forced to. There is some good news for you summer folks. Late park hours! Practically every night of the week, the parks are open late. The Magic Kingdom, for instance, will stay open until midnight or 1AM every night. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom will also lengthen their hours as well.
These different park hours call for an adjustment your typical Disney schedule. Take breaks from the heat and crowds during the middle of the day. Stay out late on Magic Kingdom days.
The weather, as mentioned is very hot. Your typical high’s average out to about 90 degrees, and your lows are in the low to mid 70’s. The other factor is the rain. June, July and August are the three wettest months in Orlando, by a long shot. So not only are you hot and miserable, but you are bound to get soaked. Make sure you are properly prepared for the rain.
Our overall recommendation for June is 2/10
Disney World Weather in June: Average High 92. Average Low 72
Disney World in July
There is not much of a difference in June and July. On average, July is just a little bit hotter than June, but not by much. But hotter, makes it our choice for the worst month of the year. It’s also a little bit busier than June, as well. July 4th weekend is super crowded, as usual.
Again, make use of the late nights, make use of intelligent park scheduling, and try to get there at gate open as much as possible. As always, stay hydrated and cool, because the heat packs a punch.
Our overall recommendation for July is 1/10.
Disney World in August
The first 2 weeks of August are carbon copies of July. The weather is just as hot, the rain is just as bad, and the park is still very crowded. However, August does begin bringing relief in terms of crowd levels. Most families are beginning to prepare for school, and so the first two weeks, while still very crowded, aren’t quite at their July peaks.
But things really change as school goes back in session. Typically crowds start tapering off by the middle of the month, and then get very light by the end of the month. The weather is still very hot, and there usually aren’t any big discount, but the crowd levels are MUCH lower.
So if you are one of those that loves the heat, the end of August is your choice.
Our overall recommendation for August is 2/10 for the first two weeks, and 5/10 for the final two weeks
Disney World Weather in August: Average High 92. Average Low 74
Disney World in September
We are transitioning into my favorite time of the year to visit Disney World. September is a great month to go, for a few reasons. First of all, the crowd levels are very low. School is back in session, and most parents won’t take their kids out in the first month! Mid-week crowd levels are awesome!
Second, Disney traditionally runs Disney dining throughout the whole month of September. This plan will save you money, and I always recommend it.
The downside to September is that it’s still really hot. The first few weeks are really no different than August. Only by the end of the month will you begin to see relief, and that is due to the fact that the rainy season is ending, and the humidity isn’t QUITE as stifling.
Towards the very end of the month, two events begin happening. First, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Second, the Halloween Party begins at the Magic Kingdom. You’ll want to definitely not forget about the Halloween Party, as it can drastically affect your touring plans. The Food and Wine Festival is great, when paired with free dining, btw.
Overall, September is a great month to go, but if you don’t like the hot weather, keep reading.
Our overall recommendation for September is 10/10. This is our top Recommendation if you like to be HOT when you go to Disney.
Disney World Weather in September: Average High 90. Average Low 73
Disney World in October
In October, the weather begins to cool down, the Food and Wine Festival is in full swing, and the Halloween party really heats up. This party begins happening up to four nights a week. Since it costs extra, however, it can really put a damper on a long trip, especially if your family loves the Magic Kingdom. This in turn makes the non-Halloween Party nights busier, and can create a snowball affect that I don’t particularly like, as I’m a big MK fan.
To top it off, there usually are blackout dates for the free dining plan for most of October. Usually you can get free dining if your trip starts in September, and the blackout dates often end with about a week to go in the month. So make sure you plan around the free dining, to save money.
The weather and crowd levels make this a great month to go, although the Halloween Party, and all the fallout from it keep me from ranking it higher.
Our overall recommendation for October is 7/10.
Disney World Weather in October: Average High 85. Average Low 66
Disney World in November
Cooler Temperatures and low crowds make November a great time to visit Disney. With average highs falling under 80, and average lows under 60, the heat finally leaves us in November. It’s also the month with the least amount of average precipitation, making “rainout” days less likely than any other month.
Crowd levels for the first 3 weeks of the month are great. Usually the 2nd and 3rd weeks also have free dining, which can save you money. As with the Halloween party, the Christmas party will take up a lot of nights at the Magic Kingdom during both November and December. It’s unlikely that you’ll pay the money to go twice, (you may not pay the money to go once), so this does make for crowded nights at the Magic Kingdom as guests flock in on non-party nights to make sure that they get to have fun at night.
Thanksgiving week brings massive crowds. If crowd levels is a big deal to you, don’t book in the week prior to this holiday, or you will be heavily disappointed.
Our overall recommendation for November is an 8/10, and for Thanksgiving week is a 4/10
Disney World Weather in November: Average high 79. Average Low 59
Disney World in December
The first two weeks of December are phenomenal times to tour. If you are coming to see the Christmas festivities, they are all happening, and the crowd levels are extremely low. You can get free dining in the first two weeks, usually, and the weather is nice and cool.
As with October and November, the Christmas party is a bit annoying, as it takes away flexibility, but if you can work around that, you’ll still have fun.
However, once Christmas break starts for school kids, things heat up. The third week gets very crowded, and the final week of the year is the busiest week of the year for Disney World.
I’ve long wondered why people go to Disney World during the last two weeks of the year. The answer, of course, is that this is the only time some people vacation, as many offices and businesses are essentially shut down. Many people use all their remaining vacation time, and take off.
But for me, nothing would be worse than working all year to earn a long vacation, and then going to Disney World to fight the biggest crowds of the entire year. Can you still have fun? Yeah I guess. But why? There are so many better times, and I just struggle to see why anyone would do it.
Our recommendation for the first two weeks of December is 9/10. Our recommendation for the final two weeks of December is 1/10.
Disney World Weather in December: Average High 73. Average Low 52.
Well there you have it!
Hopefully this article will help you out. Take your favorite crowd calendar chart, print out this article, and use it to help plan a perfect Disney World Vacation.
For more details on Planning your vacation, head to our series on My Disney Experience and learn some tips for planning the perfect Disney Vacation.
Also, check out the 2015 Disney World Planning & Touring Guide for more info on the subject!