Disney planning can be very overwhelming, especially for first-timers. With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 23 resort hotels, hundreds of dining options, 5 championship golf courses, Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex and the Downtown Disney entertainment mecca, The Walt Disney World Resort offers so many options that making plans can be complicated. So, where do you start? First things first….know when to go. As one of the most visited theme parks in the world, there are times when the parks are just unbearably crowded. The time of year you go can have a huge impact on the wait times for rides and how much you actually experience. And, if this is your first visit, you will want to see as much of it as you can.
The busiest times in the parks are during school breaks. Summer breaks, spring breaks, Christmas breaks, etc. The parks are also very busy during special events that are held throughout the parks like Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, Star Wars weekend, Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, Halloween and Christmas.
If you are visiting with children and are not opposed to pulling them out of school, there are certain times of the year that offer the most operative times for covering a lot of Disney ground. For example, early fall is one of the best times to visit the parks.
September is a very quiet month, mainly because the kids have just gone back to school. The beginning of October is a great time as well. However, keep in mind that the middle to the end of October starts to pick up quite a bit. According to several cast members, this is not only because of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party but also because year-round schools have their fall breaks at this time.
The beginning of November and December are perfect times to visit with the exception of the full Thanksgiving week and the week of Christmas. These two weeks are exceptionally busy and generally the Magic Kingdom will hit capacity by 10 am on Christmas morning. Just so you know 100,000 guests is the max capacity for the Magic Kingdom. The parking lot closes at 75,000 to allow room for hotel resort guests arriving on buses, boats and monorail. Trust me, it’s shoulder to shoulder people and not enjoyable. If you want to see Disney World decorated for Christmas, the decorations start going up the first week of November and they start coming down around January 3rd.
January is my favorite time to visit the parks – no crowds, no lines, no problem! It’s also my birthday and nothing is more fun than celebrating your birthday at your favorite place. January through the beginning of March are fairly quiet months in the parks with the max wait time on the most popular rides being maybe 15 minutes at best. Keep in mind that President’s day weekend can tend to be a bit busy given that it is a long weekend for most and the crowds start to pick up.
From mid-March through the end of April, the crowds start to increase because of kids and their Spring Breaks from school. Easter weekend is a pretty popular weekend. This is also when Epcot celebrates spring with it’s International Flower & Garden Festival through May.
The peak times at Disney World are mid-May through the end of summer. Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving week, this is when you will experience the highest crowd levels and wait times for rides. Not only is it crowded but it is also hot and steamy in the state of Florida…very hot! Although I never turn down an opportunity to visit the parks, this is my least favorite time to go but don’t get me wrong, I will always endure the crowds just to get my Mickey fix!
Now that you know when to go, you will need to figure out how long to be there. Stay tuned for tips on how long to plan for your trip.