Best Time of Year to go to Disney World

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Now that you’ve decided to go to Disney World you’ve arrived at one of the first big hurdles in the planning process. When is the best time of year to go to Disney World?

The fact of the matter is there is no set answer to this question. Every single family has different needs and priorities. By looking at those factors you can narrow down the best time to visit Disney World for your family.

This post will help you choose your priorities first. After that you can find a breakdown of pros and cons of each month in terms of a visit to Disney. Finally, I present you with my top 5 times of the year to go to Disney World.

Lady and the Tramp Topiary at Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Factors to Consider in the Best Time of Year to go to Disney World

Read through this first section of the post describing the different factors to consider in determining the best time to go to Disney World. As you read, write down a priority list of most important to least important factors.

Also take note of any set in stone limiting factors such as school or work restrictions.

Once you have that list written out you can go through the rest of this post and jot down the times of year that seem to fit best with your priority list. This process makes your decision a little easier!

Tower of Terror with Christmas projections
Hollywood Tower Hotel at Christmas

Best Weather for Disney World

Florida’s official motto is “The Sunshine State” which leads people to believe that it’s always beautiful in Florida. While this is true to some extent, there are times of the year when Florida weather can be downright brutal.

Summer Weather at Disney World

Summers in Florida are extremely hot and humid with almost daily rainfall. Think temperatures in the 90s (even the 100s) every day with humidity so high you sweat by simply existing.

And yes, if you look at extended weather forecasts during the summer you see a chance of rain daily. The rain might only last for 20 minutes, but it will be there. Often in the form of torrential rain.

Summer is also the start of hurricane season in Florida. Technically, there is the possibility of a hurricane at any time over the summer.

Disney Planning Pro Tip: In terms of weather, summer is the most consistently uncomfortable season in Florida due to the unrelenting heat and humidity.

However, don’t let this dismal forecast stop you from going in the summer. I would still go to Disney in the heat and humidity in a heartbeat. You just need to modify your planning somewhat to accommodate for surviving the heat.

Fall Weather at Disney World

Fall is the time of year where the humidity begins to subside and there isn’t as much rain. Specifically, October through mid-November have near perfect weather.

This is the weather that everyone always imagines when they think of Florida. Think temperatures in the high 70s to mid 80s, blue skies with white fluffy clouds, and lower humidity.

We took a trip at the end of October and were amazed by just how awesome the weather was. The mornings and evenings could be a little cool but the sun warms things up quickly with perfect blue skies.

Unfortunately, this chunk of near perfect weather is pretty short lived. That doesn’t mean you can’t get great weather other times of the year, because you can. It’s just not as predictable or consistent.

This time frame is still technically hurricane season so that is always a risk to take into consideration.

Winter Weather at Disney World

Winter weather at Disney World really can go either way. You can have absolute perfection, or you could be freezing your butt off because you didn’t pack for winter at Disney. And often this happens all in one trip.

Again, everyone pictures perfect sunny and warm weather in Florida, especially in the winter. That’s why all the snow birds move there after all, right?

While this is true in general, the temperature in central Florida can also dip down into the 40s. There are pictures of us from our December trip enjoying Epcot wearing winter coats, hats, and gloves. I kid you not.

Winter does bring a decreased chance of rain fall and average daytime temperatures in the low 70s. You just need to be aware that it might not be as warm as you expect. Before you start packing for your winter Disney trip pay attention to the extended forecast to know what you need to pack.

I have further notes about how to pack for winter at Disney in Disney packing list tips and tricks.

Spring Weather at Disney World

Spring is another season that gives you a glimpse of near perfect weather. Like fall, that window of opportunity is small but totally worth it. You see similar types of temperatures as fall in the 70s and 80s. However, the closer you get to June the hotter and more humid it starts to get.

Another factor of spring at Disney World is just how physically beautiful the parks are during this time of year. The parks are all bursting with spring flowers and are simply stunning.

Crowd Levels at Disney World

The general rule of thumb is that Disney World is ALWAYS busy. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times during the year when you can expect lower crowds.

Disney Pro Planning Tip: Never assume you are going during a slow time with very few crowds. That simply doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, focus on choosing the time of year you’ll get the best experience possible and plan ahead to best handle the crowds.

Since the pandemic and the reopening, crowd patterns have changed dramatically. The limit on park capacity certainly plays a role in this. However, those park capacity limits should begin to rapidly expand now.

And the amount of pent up demand for any sort of vacation is crazy. I expect crowds at Disney World to swell dramatically in the back half of 2021 and well into 2022.

Just keep this in mind if you plan a trip in the near future.

Heavier Crowds

There are certain times of year when you are guaranteed to be packed into a sea of humanity in the middle of Magic Kingdom. The general rule of thumb is if the schools are on a break during the school year, Disney World is more crowded.

Many families do not want to pull their kids out of school so limit their options solely to school holidays.

Any time time there is even a long weekend schedule for schools (Columbus Day, MLK Day, President’s Day, etc.) an increase in crowds is expected.

Summer used to consistently be a very busy time to go to Disney World. However, that has changed recently and the crowds have become more manageable.

It remains to be seen what summer 2021 will look like with all this pent up demand.

The MOST Crowded Times at Disney World
  • Just before Christmas through New Years
  • The week before Thanksgiving through Thanksgiving weekend
  • Easter week (pay attention to when Easter falls, it changes every year)
  • Spring break in general (mid-March through mid-April)
  • Fourth of July

Lighter Crowds

Notice I said lighter crowds and not low crowds. Because remember, low crowds no longer exist with any sort of regularity. However, there are pockets of time when you can expect a crowd level that is reasonable to manage if you pay attention to what you are doing.

Since school breaks are the most crowded times the opposite is true when there are lighter crowds. Across the board the “slowest” time of year at Disney World is whenever school is in session.

However, more and more parents are pulling their kids out of school to go to Disney World effectively reducing the odds of going with low crowds.

Special Events

Disney World is famous for the special events scattered throughout the year. These special events can really enhance your overall Disney vacation experience so are something you should consider.

Some of the activities are completely free (resort hopping during the Christmas season) while others are included in the cost of your park ticket, mainly the Epcot festivals. However, there are an increasing number of upcharge events sprinkled throughout the year.

Take the time to learn about the special events and determine if any of them tip the scales for you. This will help narrow down the time of year that holds the most interest for you.

In this category I would count decorations and general ambiance. Are you a sucker for Christmas decorations? Do you prefer all things autumn? Or do you prefer Disney in its original glory? These questions are important as well.

Examples of Disney Special Events to Consider

Chocolate Macaron Lollipop in front of Kermit the Frog topiary at Epcot

Budget

While a trip to Disney World is always expensive, there are times of year when you can expect a somewhat cheaper price tag. Slower times of year boast cheaper resort costs, lower ticket prices, and promotions to lure visitors to come during that time.

It’s Disney’s way of essentially trying to make sure there isn’t actually too much of a slow season anymore. And it’s working.

In fact, Disney’s most famous carrot to dangle in front of prospective Disney guests is the free Disney Dining Plan promotion. People go nuts for this deal and plan trips around it.

Since the reopening, the free Disney Dining Plan promotion was been on hold. I do anticipate it’s return at some point, it’s just a matter of when.

If budget is a major priority for you, find the times of the year that offer you the best deals. Take a look at the Disney World discounts and trends to learn which tend to be the best.

Cheapest Time to Go to Disney

As I mentioned, the general rule of thumb is the higher the crowd levels the more expensive hotel and ticket costs will be. That right there helps you narrow things down.

Another way to narrow down cheaper times of the year is to look at the Disney World park tickets page. Here, you can see the calendar and get an idea of cost per day for various times of the year.

They used to have a nifty little link to click to tell you what months were the cheapest. However, they took that away, unfortunately.

Lucky for you, I had already written down the answer. While the answer can change slightly depending on type of ticket and number of park days, it is often January, February, August, and September.

Once you narrow down the cheapest times to go to Disney this way you can assume that nightly resort rates will also be at their lowest and will likely also have discounts offered on top of that.

Park Hours

This consideration is perhaps less important than the others, but is one I want you to be aware of as well. The time of year determines just how late the parks are open.

The longer daylight hours of summer combined with the moderate to heavy crowds require the parks to be open later into the night.

Conversely, the slower times of winter and less daylight hours lead to the parks closing even earlier. Then there are some times caught in between the two. During a trip in the beginning of September I discovered that Animal Kingdom closed at 8:30p and it didn’t get dark until just after 8:00p.

This was a problem for people who adore experiencing Animal Kingdom at night. We made do and had to really prioritize what to experience in about 20 minutes, but we made it work.

This whole issue of park hours has become even trickier since reopening. Luckily for all of us, park hours have started going closer to normal park hour.

For the past several months, the hours have been drastically reduced. But as crowds return, so do the longer park hours.

Disney World in Each Month

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of what you can expect at Disney World for each month. This looks at each of the factors we discussed and highlights any special considerations.

Technically, you could do separate posts for each and every month full of details. And maybe I’ll be able to do that some day, but for now I present you with a glimpse at each month in Disney World.

Disney World in January

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 72/51 degrees. An average of 4 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Light to Moderate
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Immediately following New Year’s (heavy), Marathon Weekend (moderately heavy), Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (heavy)
  • Special Events
  • Park Hours: Expect parks to close between 8:00p to 9:00p, heavy on the 8:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: This is one the consistently slower months of the year. The weather can be very nice and there is little rain this time of year. Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts is amazing.
  • Downside: There is a lack of special events during this time frame, though the Festival of the Arts is exceptional and well loved. Crowds are not as low as you would think they should be during January. The water parks will close when the temperature is too low. Depending on the weather it might be too cool for the pool.

Disney World in February

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 75/54 degrees. An average of 4 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate with some light days thrown in the beginning
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Presidents week (heavy) – this can be a “winter break” for some schools
  • Special Events:
    • Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts
    • Disney Villains After Hours
    • Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom
    • Princess Half Marathon Weekend
  • Park Hours: Expect parks to close between 8:00p and 9:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: Overall, crowds in February are bearable, as long as you avoid going anywhere near Presidents’ Day. The weather is mild with little chance of rain and low humidity. There is a nice selection of special events to choose from. It is also one of the times of year that Disney World has it’s traditional look, no seasonal decorations necessary.
  • Downside: While the weather is mild it can also be quite cool if you happen to be there during a cold snap. Jackets are 100% necessary in the morning and evening. The water parks can potentially be closed due to weather and you might not do a lot of swimming in your resort pool. The shortened park hours keep you from experiencing late nights at the parks.

Disney World in March

It is important to note the the crowd levels for March and April vary depending on when Easter falls in any given year. Whichever month contains Easter will have the heaviest crowds. So make sure you look at the calendar for the year you plan to go to know when Easter is.

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 79/57 degrees. An average of 5 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate to heavy (depending on Easter)
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Easter, Spring Break
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:00p-9:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: The weather is starting to look up! Consistently higher temperatures begin to emerge, especially during the end of the month. Disney World during spring in all of it’s glory is truly beautiful. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival begins this month (usually halfway through) which is an amazing Festival to see.
  • Downside: Park hours during this time frame are still pretty restrictive while crowd levels are on the rise. Colleges and school districts around the country begin to have spring breaks at various times. Keep an eye on whether Easter is in March. If it is, expect crowd levels of 10 during that time.
Flowers at Epcot
Epcot in the Spring

Disney World in April

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 84/63 degrees. An average of 4 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate to heavy with a sudden drop to light/moderate at the end of the month
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Easter, Spring Break
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:00p and 9:00p, but more consistently towards 9:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: A lot of the comments for March apply to April as well. The biggest difference is that the weather essentially reaches perfection during April. The end of April is known for light crowds once Easter clears out making that particular chunk of time a near perfect time to go to Disney World.
  • Downside: Holy crowds, Batman! Prepare yourself accordingly if you are going at Easter or towards the beginning of the month. Park hours are slowly getting later, with parks closing more often at 9:00p instead of 8:00p.

Disney World in May

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 88/69 degrees. An average of 6 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Light to moderate
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Memorial Day weekend
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:30p and 12:00a, often closing at 10:00p or 11:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: With the school year drawing to a close parents are reluctant to take their kids out of school. The beginning of the month is ideal in terms of weather and crowds. With the International Flower and Garden Festival combined with the availability of Disney After Hours there are some special extras to experience at low crowds. Park hours begin to reach their peak during May.
  • Downside: Southern schools begin to finish up towards the end of the month prompting an increase in crowds. The temperature also starts to rise dramatically towards the end of May.

Disney World in June

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 91/73 degrees. An average of 12 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate with pockets of heavy
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Potentially as all the northern schools finish
  • Special Events:
    • Villains After Hours
    • Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom
    • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (dates extended in 2021)
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 9:00p and 11:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: If you have to go Florida in the summer, June is preferable to July in terms of weather and crowds. Though the summers aren’t nearly as crowded as they used to be in previous years. Park hours are now much later than during most other times of the year allowing you to extend your park days.
  • Downside: If you compare June weather with May weather you will notice a massive increase in the amount of rain to expect. Welcome to the rainy season in Florida. Crowd levels are more consistently moderate, leaning towards the moderately heavy side most of the time.

Disney World in July

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 92/75 degrees. An average of 13 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate to Heavy
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Fourth of July week
  • Special Events:
    • Disney Villains After Hours
    • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (wraps up beginning of July)
    • Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (begins mid-July)
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 9:00p and 12:00a
  • Why this is a good month to go: If you can tolerate the crowds and the heat, the Fourth of July fireworks are a sight to see. Park hours are consistently quite late. This is key in the heat, focus your park time in the morning and evening/night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
  • Downside: Quite simply, this is the hottest, most humid month of the year in Orlando. The days in and around Fourth of July bring on heavy crowds.

Disney World in August

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 91/75 degrees. An average of 14 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Light to moderate, with the lighter crowds at the end of the month
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Beginning of the month
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:30p and 10:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: The last half of August brings in times of lower crowds as some kids go back to school. The last half of August also brings on the start of both Disney After Hours Boo Bash and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Food and Wine is Epcot’s biggest, and most popular, festival of the year. Once again, the parks are open later in the evening allowing some respite from the heat.
  • Downside: I know I sound like a broken record, but man it’s hot and humid in Orlando during the summer. And rainy. Did I mention that August is the rainiest month of the year? It’s up to you to decide whether you can get past the heat long enough to take advantage of the lower crowds.
Mickey pumpkin glowing at night in Magic Kingdom

Disney World in September

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 89/74 degrees. An average of 11 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Light
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Labor Day (but still only moderate)
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:30p and 10:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: Recently, September has been the slowest month of the year at Disney World. You will not find crowds this consistently low during the rest of the year. With these low crowds you also get Disney After Hours Boo Bash and the Food and Wine Festival. Disney is all decked out in autumnal glory.
  • Downside: It’s still pretty darn hot and rainy, but becoming less so. The past few years have seen hurricanes hit Florida in September. One of the reasons September is so slow is because all the schools in the country are now in session and parents don’t want to take their kids out so soon. If you have kids, the beginning of the month won’t work for you at all. But maybe the end of the month…

Disney World in October

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 85/68 degrees. An average of 5 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate with pockets of heavy
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Columbus Day Weekend
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:30p and 10:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: Once again we hit a stretch of glorious Florida weather. The temperatures hit the perfect mix of being warm enough to enjoy a swim without being overwhelmingly hot. There is also a lot less rain. The official month of Halloween has all of the fall time activities in full swing. Park hours are still generously late allowing you to really max out your park days in wonderful weather.
  • Downside: October used to be acknowledged as one of the best times of year to go to Disney World. However, over the past few years it has seen an increasing crowd level. Columbus Day weekend boasts heavy crowds with the rest of the month on the moderate to moderately heavy end of things. Because of this popularity, Disney often excludes October from the Free Dining Plan promotion and potentially room discounts. This year, expect some of the highest possible crowds at the beginning of October as the 50th Anniversary officially kicks off.

Disney World in November

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 78/59 degrees. An average of 3 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Light to moderate, heavy during Thanksgiving
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Thanksgiving week/weekend, Jersey week (a bit of a mythical week where New Jersey teachers have off of work and everyone from Jersey goes to Disney World), Wine and Dine half marathon weekend
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:00p and 11:00p
  • Why this is a good month to go: The beginning of the month boasts more of that perfect Florida weather with reasonable crowd levels. There are also a lot of special events that start up during November. Christmas officially begins at Disney World the minute the clock strikes midnight on November 1 so expect Christmas decorations the entire month.
  • Downside: Thanksgiving brings in the crowds and they stay moderate. Towards the end of the month the weather begins to turn cooler and requires layers to get through the day comfortably. Really, that was all I could come up with for cons…

Disney World in December

  • Weather: Average daily temperatures of 75/55 degrees. An average of 4 days of rain.
  • Overall Crowd Levels: Moderate to gird your loins level of heavy
    • Times of Higher Crowds: Christmas through New Years
  • Special Events:
  • Park Hours: Parks close between 8:00p and 10:00p (with the occasional extra late night thrown in there)
  • Why this is a good month to go: There is nothing quite as magical as the Christmas season at Disney World. Disney does a phenomenal job of truly immersing you in Christmas cheer, Disney style. Just the ambiance alone is reason to go in the beginning of December. To go with that ambiance are the phenomenal seasonal offerings at all 4 of the parks. The beginning of the month gives you a pocket of moderately light crowds while the park hours are generous.
  • Downside: Christmas week is the single busiest week of the entire year. The parks, Magic Kingdom in particular, are known to close due to capacity during this time frame. That being said, there are people who absolutely RAVE about going during Christmas week as the experience is unmatched the rest of the year. The weather is not consistently that warm Florida weather that everyone imagines it to be. Be prepared to possibly have morning and evening temperatures in the 40s.
Mickey and Minnie topiary during Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

When is the BEST Time to go to Disney World?

Now that we’ve looked at various factors to consider with each and every month it’s time to make a determination of which are the best. Of course, this will vary for everyone depending on just how they prioritize the factors to consider.

There are a few times of year which are universally considered to simply be the best times to visit Disney World. These months/time frames encompass the best combination of factors such as weather, crowds, and special events.

So which months do I deem the best times to go to Disney World? I’ve turned it into a countdown for you!

5. End of January through Beginning of March

While the crowds during this time frame are not as low as they used to be, they are still considerably lower than other times of the year. There is also the exceptional Festival of the Arts to enjoy during your trip.

While the weather might not be as warm as you would hope, there is very little rain to contend with, making it a bit easier. And toward the end of this chunk of time the weather begins to get close to ideal.

As long as the crowd levels stay relatively low, that helps boost this time frame into the top 5. If those crowd levels rise too much higher than they currently are, I don’t know if it will make the list anymore.

4. October through Mid-November

The near perfect weather during this time frame helps propel October through mid-November into the 4th spot on this list. A few years back the ranking would have been higher, like #1 or #2. However, the secret is out and more people are flocking to Disney in October.

Crowds aside, the fall decorations and offerings at Disney are just so fun. They really add to the overall enjoyment of the trip. There is a lot to do and the weather is conducive to using the resort pool and going to the water parks.

3. September

September is turning into the sleeper contender on this list. Yes, the weather is a little hot and sticky, and yes, there could be a hurricane, but the crowd levels, my darling. The. Crowd. Levels.

Do you know how much you can get done at Disney World with crowd levels rated at a 1 or a 2?

The low crowds give you the freedom to experience so much more during your time in the parks, plus enjoy time in the pools during the heat of the afternoon.

Quite frankly, the weather is the only thing that keeps September from being the absolute best time of the year to go to Disney World. But if low crowds are your #1 priority, September is the least crowded time to visit Disney World.

2. End of November to Mid-December

I really, really, struggled with putting the end of November through mid-December in the number 2 spot. I love this time of year so freaking much. Christmas at Disney World is a sight to behold for a Christmas nut like me.

There is just something so magical about all the Christmas decorations and offerings. Make sure you take a look at my post all about Christmas at Disney World and you will see what I mean.

The ONLY thing that led me to put this in the #2 position is the weather. You might get lucky and have picture perfect weather during this time, or you could be wearing winter coats.

And that temperature swing can happen in the same trip. Our trip during that time will always be a favorite of mine, but I would have liked to not wear a hat and gloves with my winter coat while in Florida. That said, I will go back during this time in a heartbeat.

1. End of April through mid-May

There are two reasons why end of April through mid-May end up in the top spot: weather and crowds. This is another stretch of beautiful Florida weather combined with some of the consistently lower crowds of the year.

On top of that, spring is in full swing and the parks are decked out in all of the floral finery. It really is so beautiful.

The perfect weather gives you the freedom you are looking for in a Florida vacation, while the crowd levels allow you to experience everything you want with less hassle. Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is amazing (in my opinion better than Food and Wine).

This time of year cannot compare with the unbelievable Christmas atmosphere of the end of November and beginning of December. Nothing can.

However, if you want better weather and lower crowds more than you want that ambiance, then end of April through mid-May is the best time of year to visit Disney World.

Final Thoughts on the Best Time of Year to Go to Disney World

Well, there you have it, my attempts to answer the question: What is the best time of year to go to Disney World? As with all things Disney planning, it’s simply not a cut and dried answer. However, I do truly believe that you can have a great time no matter when you go.

I understand the need to try to pick the BEST time of year to visit Disney World because I’ve been there (and continue to do it). But I’m telling you, try not to stress yourself out about it. You will have a wonderful time even if you can only go during Christmas week!

The bottom line is, you are going to Disney World! It has the potential to be magical no matter what!

Best time of year to go to Disney World pin image

Your Thoughts

Did this make is any easier to narrow down the best time of year to go to Disney World? I really hope it did. Let me know in the comments below what month you’ve chosen for your trip!

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