One of the main things you need to do when you are choosing your travel dates is to plan your trip around crowd levels at Walt Disney World. Crowds can affect everything from wait times to prices. If it is a busier time of the year, Walt Disney World does raise their rates because they know people will still pay the higher prices. Traveling during times when low crowds are projected will reward you with shorter lines, better reservation times and less busy resorts and buses.
Here are the top 7 times of the year you can expect heavy crowds:
1. Christmas – Parents love to give their children a trip to Walt Disney World for Christmas. When I was 10, my parents surprised us with a trip to Florida that included a one day stop at the Magic Kingdom. That one day was absolutely miserable. The parks were so crowded that we could barely move. We only rode about 5 things the entire day and it caused me to have a strong dislike of Disney until I was in my 20’s and I took my own children back during May when the parks were less busy.
If you go at Christmas, expect wait times to exceed over 30 minutes for everything. Popular attractions will see wait times over an hour or more. I’ve seen Soarin’ with a 4 hour wait before! To beat the crowds, arrive at the park at least an hour before it opens, break in the middle of the day and stay until the park closes. Make sure to take advantage of Fastpass+ too!
2. Easter – This holiday comes in just behind Christmas in crowd levels. Because many schools around the country schedule their Spring Break for the week before Easter, families pack up the kids and head to Walt Disney World for the week.
If you visit at Easter, follow the tips above for avoiding the crowds.
3. The Summer – The summer is always a busier time at Walt Disney World. Crowds start Memorial Day weekend and last through the 3rd week in August. If you do plan to visit during the summer, avoid the 4th of July week. Everything else fluctuates so you’ll be fine with any other week. It will be hot so come early, break in the middle of the day and stay until the park closes.
4. 3 Day Weekends – Lots of families schedule their trips for weeks that have 3 day weekends so that their kids miss less school. If you are considering visiting over a 3 day weekend, I suggest Labor Day week, Veterans Day week or Martin Luther King week. Labor Day week is the absolute best because most kids are back in school so parents do not want to take them out for this week.
5. Spring Break Season – Expect heavy crowds starting the second week in March through the weekend of Easter. I would choose to visit during the month of June before I would visit during Spring Break season. June actually sees lower crowds than you’ll see when school is on their week long break.
6. Presidents Day – The week of Presidents Day is busy because not only is it a 3 day weekend, but it is also followed by the Princess Half Marathon which is the most popular Run Disney event at Walt Disney World. Avoid this week if possible! If you are running in the race, plan on visiting the parks after the race instead of before it.
7. Thanksgiving Week – Many schools give the entire week for Thanksgiving. Expect high crowds, but this week is better than Christmas or Spring Break so if you want to travel when the weather is cooler then I would choose this week. I would book my Thanksgiving meal at Liberty Tree Tavern.
If you are flexible in your schedule, here are the 7 lowest times of the year:
1. First 3 weeks of September – Not many people are willing to take their kids out of school just after it starts for the year making September the best time of the year to visit!
2. Last 10 days of October – Low crowds because kids don’t want to miss Halloween festivities at school.
3. First 2 1/2 weeks of December – Parents don’t want to take their kids out close to the end of the semester, so this makes the first few weeks of December the second best time of the year to visit. Plus you can see the parks decorated for Christmas.
4. Second week of January – Again these weeks are slow because parents don’t want to take their kids out of school so close to the start of the 2nd semester.
5. Last week of January thru Valentine’s Day – Low crowds here too, but avoid Valentine’s Day weekend as it draws locals in to celebrate.
6. Last week of February thru first week of March – Parents don’t want to take their kids out of school so close to Spring Break so that means lower crowds for those who do!
7. First 3 weeks in May – Parents don’t want to take the kids out of school so close to the end of the year either.
So as you can see, the crowds at Walt Disney World are directly dictated by the school calendar. I would avoid Christmas holidays at Walt Disney World and visit during the week after Labor Day if possible.
Check your dates and see how crowded they will be by referencing the Touring Plans calendar. TouringPlans is $12.95 for a 365 day subscription and they even give you a 45 day money-back guarantee!
You should also Plan Around The 4 Seasons Of Pricing.