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Does standing in a 3-hour line in a 100-degree sauna sound fun?
Well then…this information is of high priority for you.
My family and I had the distinct pleasure of living next door to Walt Disney World (WDW) for 2 years. We went to the parks at least 2-3 times a week, year round. Because of this, I know exactly when to visit and probably most important…when NOT to visit.
For many people, planning a trip to Disney World is sometimes a one-time event. You save for years just to be able to experience Disney one time. (Side note: If this is you…saving and saving…it is soooo worth it. Keep it up!) Making sure you go at the optimal time of year is important.
I get it.
Let’s begin with when NOT to go…
First and foremost, (If you can help it) do not go to Disney World in the Summer months (June + July + August).
I know…what in the world am I saying here? Not to go when your kids are actually out of school?
That is exactly what I’m saying. Do not go when your kids are out of school.
There are 2 reasons why:
1. Because EVERY KID is out of school as well. Summertime is hands down, the busiest time of the year at WDW. The parks are incredibly crowded. Which means longer wait times for rides, food, the monorail…everything. The parade routes are crowded, the firework viewing area is crowded, and the bathrooms are crowded. It’s nutty.
2. Because it is SO FLIPPIN’ HOT. Have you ever been on the surface of the sun? no? Well, just go to Florida in the middle of the summer. Disgusting. It’s not just the heat but the humidity that’s a killer. You literally sweat the minute you walk outside and don’t stop sweating until you walk back into air conditioning.
Even the Happiest Place on Earth is a bummer when it’s that hot outside. If you DO go during this time be sure to have this on hand so you can banish the Disney fatigue and inevitable emotional overload.
From a crowd standpoint, another time I would try to steer clear of is Spring Break (March + April).
This can be hit or miss though. I found on some days, during these 2 months, it wasn’t too bad and others it was awful. So awful that one day in March at EPCOT it was so busy that the “Living with the Lands” ride (which is a total walk-on ride…meaning there is never a line) had a wait time of 60 minutes. No. thank. You.
Another time that it gets really busy is the two weeks surrounding Christmas.
It’s incredibly crowded…HOWEVER…if this is when you really want to visit I would actually recommend it because of 2 reasons:
1- The weather is normally AWESOME. 70 degrees and no humidity. (Except for our last December…it was still pretty uncomfortably hot on Christmas day. But this is the exception, not the rule.)
2- Disney World at Christmas time is AAAAA-MAZING. WDW is always a magical place but WDW at Christmas time is out of this world.
There are various other times throughout the year that may cause some concern for higher crowds like Disney races and Star Wars Weekend. For those times and other random high crowd times let me introduce you the Disney Crowd Calendar.
This is a really awesome and convenient way to check crowds at Disney World. There are several crowd calendars out there but my all-time favorite one is on Undercover Tourist Blog.
I LOVED and relied heavily on this crowd calendar as we would plan out which park to go to and what day to go. From our experience, it was pretty spot on. Occasionally we would find that it didn’t forecast the crowds correctly but overall it’s quite accurate.
Bonus Tip: Thanksgiving.
I’ve read a lot of blogs saying that the week of Thanksgiving is another very high crowd time. However, our experience of the two Thanksgivings that we were there, the crowds were not bad at all. In fact, we went on Thanksgiving day and it was just a normal, average crowd day.
No craziness at all.
I’ve also heard over the years that the week AFTER Thanksgiving is supposed to be one of the best weeks to go to WDW because no one is there. HOWEVER, …I’ve found that this just isn’t the case anymore. This week tends to be quite busy.
I wonder if because this “tip” has been going around for so long that people have used it and now everyone is going over that week? I don’t know for sure…just speculating. 🙂
The Best Times
Now let’s talk about the BEST times to go to Walt Disney World!
As you can probably guess, my two biggest factors in determining when to visit WDW is weather and crowds. So with that in mind, my ALL-TIME favorite time to visit is… drum roll, please…
…the last 2 weeks of January and the first 2 weeks of February.
The weather is wonderful…as in it’s nice and cool (you may even need a hat and gloves)… and the crowds are at a minimal… as in there are opportunities to just walk-on popular rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Soarin’, and Expedition Everest.
Another time of year that I love is around the last week of August (which is still hot but without the crowds, it’s better) and definitely into the entire month of September. The whole city of Orlando almost feels like a ghost town! Haha! When school is back in session, everyone goes home.
And THAT is when YOU want to come. It’s awesome.
It’s not like this ALL the time but here are some pictures of how small the crowds can be at this time of year…
This is EPCOT:
I love getting shots of the parks when it clears out! Again, this isn’t NORMAL during the slow times but it’s POSSIBLE. You would never see it empty like this in the busy season.
Now this one (below) of my kids in front of the castle may look like there’s practically no one in the park… except…it was actually a super busy day! Check this out where I spill the beans about how to get an awesome castle shot…without all the people!
Grab your free guide–Disney Castle Pics Made Easy: The Super Simple (But Crazy Effective) Cheat Sheet
Holidays at Disney World
As I mentioned, holidays are spectacular at WDW. My favorite holidays there are Halloween and Christmas.
At Disney, Halloween isn’t limited to October and Christmas isn’t limited to December. They start decorating for Halloween at the end of August and it stays up until November 1st.
Literally overnight on Nov. 1st to Nov. 2nd, the entire Walt Disney World resort transforms from Halloween to Christmas! It’s amazing. So if you want to experience Christmas at Disney World without the crowds consider visiting in November.
Halloween is so much fun at Disney!
And Christmas is WONDERFUL!
You really can’t lose!
Rest assured…WHATEVER time you plan your Disney vacation, it will be memorable. Disney does a FANTASTIC job of making sure they compensate for heat and crowds through extra nighttime hours to more inside rides.
Plus, if you have the first thing that goes into my park bag…you’ll be all set!
There are always pros to going at any time of the year. (You will want these 10 Disney World secrets that only locals know so you can really knock your vacation out of the park!) So if you do have to go there in the summer you can take advantage of the resort pool and/or the two Disney Waterparks.
But I will say…if the weather is amazing and the crowds are at a minimum… BEST. VACATION. EVER.
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Have you dreamed of getting the perfect Magical Photo in front of the Disney Castle? Did you know there are actually some tried and true secrets to totally nailing it?
Check out this FREE Guide, Disney Castle Pics Made Easy: The Crazy Simple (But Super Effective) Cheat Sheet
-How to make it look like you’re the only one in the park! (Yes, this is totally possible even on busy days.)
– The exact time of day to take your pictures allowing you to beat the crowds and capture the perfect cherished souvenir.
– What to say to your family members to get total compliance and good attitudes. (This works even with the grumpiest families!)
– The one thing that will change your photo from an amateur point and shoot pictures to professional I-can’t-wait-hang-this-on-my-wall image.
Click HERE to download your Free Cheat Sheet now!
Welcome to Being Katie Brave! I’m so happy to have you here. If you’re looking to take better pictures (stress-free!), get the inside scoop on all things Disney World, or be inspired to live YOUR best life (even if especially if it scares you to death) …you’re in the right place. I ’ve written 3 photography books, our family lived at Disney World for 2 years, and wear my heart on my sleeve…all of which would never have come to pass if I didn’t push past my fears and step in the darkness. Join me as I share my adventure of life, one post at a time.