If you are a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World Resort, you know there are many different opinions on the best times to visit. Each visitor defines the best time to visit differently. Some plan based on crowds, some on special events or festivals taking place, some consider tiered pricing and least expensive times. No matter what way you look at it, there is no one “best” time to visit. Overwhelmingly large crowds can ruin the vacation of someone that isn’t prepared for it. Some visitors don’t mind the crowds and others freak out thinking of long lines and crowded walk ways.
Historically, when crowds are highest, park hours are longest and lowest crowds equal shorter park hours. I’m fortunate enough to visit several times per year and usually flexible with my dates. Because I do visit often I never worry about long lines since if I miss an attraction on a trip, I know I will get to see it again soon. Unfortunately not everyone can do that. Over the years I have found the least crowded times to be right after the kids go back to school in September (middle 2 weeks of the month) and the time between Easter and/or Spring breaks to mid-May. Other than those periods it’s really a crap shoot! There used to be lots of weeks that were less crowded, unfortunately over the years Disney has filled most of those times with special events or runDisney races to bring in the crowds. You just never know.
Crowd levels vary from week to week and month to month. There are a multitude of sites that publish crowd level calendars based on historic information adding in what events will be taking place. There are no two crowd calendars alike. Personally I have often found the crowd calendars to be wrong and rarely bother to look at them.
My best advice to anyone planning a trip to Walt Disney World – keeping in mind that WDW will never be truly empty of crowds:
- Make a list of the dates/times you are available to go.
- Next, go to the Walt Disney World site to find out what events are taking place during those times you are available to visit.
- If you had 3 time periods on your list and one of those time periods have no events listed on the WDW site, BINGO! if you hate crowds, that’s the time to go!
- If you are interested in attending any of the events (i.e., Epcot International Food & Wine Festival or a runDisney race) then that would be the time frame to visit.
- Are there any promotional/discounts specials offered by Disney for any of your available times (i.e., free Dining, discounted room rates)?
- Keep in mind local attendance to events. During the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for example, attendance in Epcot on the weekends can be shoulder to shoulder, people everywhere, make you crazy, crowded!
- The same goes for runDisney big race weekends (like Princess Half Marathon or Walt Disney World Marathon). Not only do the runners emerge on the area from Thursday through Monday, most come with families or friends so the number is usually doubled, tripled, or quadrupled! If you aren’t a runner, chances are you will want to avoid a race weekend if possible.
- Remember that some parks tend to be more crowded than others. For example, the Magic Kingdom could be packed but hopping over to Epcot on the same day you will find it to be much less crowded.
- If you are visiting without little ones hit up the Magic Kingdom at night, especially if there are extended hours. Most families with little ones head back to their resort to get the kids to bed. They tend to be in the Magic Kingdom earlier in the day.
- If you can only visit during the summer or during school holidays unfortunately you have to go into your trip knowing you will have to deal with crowds. Don’t let it ruin your trip. Plan well using your My Disney Experience account to arrange FastPasses, make dining reservations in advance and try to go with the flow. Disney is genius at moving crowds and keeping things going.
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