The question on everybody’s mind when they plan a trip to Walt Disney World: Will it be crowded? Seasonality has a big part in answering that question, but there are actually many more variables to account for and here are all of them:
1. Seasonal Crowds:
Yes, the holiday season is one example where many people will plan a Disney World Vacation, but there are a few months where the crowds slow down because of school schedules or times where there’s the calm before the storm. But don’t let this one variable sway you from visiting Disney World during the holidays or the summer. There are so many great reasons to go during those times, and many more ways to avoid the crowds.
2. Day of the Week:
No matter the season, weekdays usually have less vistors; use this to your advantage when planning. Saturday will be the busiest day of the week, unless there’s a long weekend.
3. Which Disney World Theme Park:
Magic Kingdom is the most attended park in the world, so it will always be slightly busier than the other parks. Choosing to go to Animal Kingdom on a Saturday and leaving Magic Kingdom for a weekday is a good strategy. And while Epcot may be the second-most visited Disney World Theme Park, it is also the largest (more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom,) so attendees are more spread out. Keep all these facts in mind when planning.
4. Special Events/Long Weekends:
Every long weekend will have more people planning to go to Walt Disney World. The reason behind it is that kids have time off from school and families plan long weekend adventures, which isn’t a bad idea. Disney World is very good at dealing with crowds by having more things to do on these weekends to dilute all the visitors. Also keep in mind Special Events, for example, Star Wars Weekends brings more people to Hollywood Studios during the weekends in spring, but also less people on the weekdays.
5. Time of Day:
Maybe the most important variable to remember, the time of day really effects how many people are in a theme park. Usually, the early morning is the less crowded and the afternoon is the heaviest. Planning to go to the busiest park in the morning and leave in the afternoon to another park is a wise plan. Also, here’s a tip for Magic Kingdom: Many guests at Magic Kingdom come with small children, and most will leave Magic Kingdom before it gets too late. Magic Kingdom is the park that’s open the latest. You can actually get lots rides done in no time during a late night at the park. Most people leave after the fireworks. Take that time during the parades too and ride, ride, ride!
Plan in advance. You can choose your FastPass+ selections 30 days before your trip. If you want to get a FastPass+ for some of the most sought after attractions like Toy Story Mania, you are going to want to schedule your group’s FastPass+ plans as soon as possible. Check out this list of popular attractions you might want to schedule. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you can schedule your FastPass+ experiences 60 days in advance! Also, order your MagicBands and customized them; they are complimentary for Walt Disney World Resort guests, and they are mailed to you before your trip even begins.
Here’s a quick view of the crowd calendar guide for the busiest and slowest months at Walt Disney World, but remember you can always enjoy Disney during high peaks because seasonal crowds is just one piece of the puzzle.
January – Moderate
The holidays may technically end on Jan. 1 but Disney is still letting visitors experience the holiday magic in January. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as other holiday attractions usually stick around through January 4 and families take one last holiday look this month before heading home. After, crowds die down.
February – Slow
After the holidays and first of the year trips, Walt Disney World hits its first slow month in February. The temps in Orlando are still slightly colder and there aren’t any real events sweeping the park, except for Valentine’s Day. The Epcot Flower & Garden Festival kicks off a month later and most guests wait until Orlando thaws out a little more and spring begins to bloom at Orlando parks.
March – Slow
Even though the weather is starting to take a turn and the Epcot International Flower & Garden festival usually kicks off this month, Disney is still relatively slow in March. Even if crowds are busier at Epcot; there are more things to do, and guests can usually find shorter lines at other Disney parks.
April – Moderate
In April, things really start to heat up at Disney as the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is in full bloom, and visitors come out to experience the warmer, but not to hot Orlando weather. Really, it’s my favorite time of the year to visit, especially before Easter. Around Easter you will find more crowds at all parks.
May – Moderate
While the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues, May is also the month when Star Wars Weekends takes over Hollywood Studios. This out of this world event is always a popular one and keeps all of Disney’s parks with an influx. Also, watch out for Memorial Day Weekend.
June - August – Heavy
It’s full on summer during June through August and this means families are out on summer vacation trying to get in all of the Disney magic they can. These months are one of the busiest of the year so plan accordingly. It’s all manageable though if you consider all the variables and use My Magic +.
September – Slow
September usually has the lowest crowds at all Disney parks. That’s because summer is over, the kids are back in school and Halloween is just far enough away that you don’t have a ton of people hitting up Magic Kingdom or another Disney park before they visit Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
October – Moderate
Things get a little busier in October as crowds start to take advantage of the cooler Orlando weather and Mickey’s Not So-Scary Halloween Party. Magic Kingdom, again will be slightly busier do in part to the fact that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary is located at this park and guests like to spend the day here before the party. All Disney parks boast Halloween events and activities in October, which are a must see.
November – Slow
As the holidays draw near, Disney slowly gets busier, however in the weeks right before Thanksgiving, Disney parks drop in attendance. This is the perfect time of the year to hit up the parks and take in some of the holiday lights the parks, if they’ve already been put up. All Disney parks are usually slower here and you can get your holiday Disney fix before the crowds take over in December, just do it all before Thanksgiving for the slow season.
December – Heavy
December at Walt Disney World is busy. Period. But there is good reason for that. There’s nothing like Disney over the holidays. The magnificent lights, the holiday events, the sweet treats and overall mood are even more magical this time of year. If you are going to visit Disney in December Best of Orlando recommends visiting Magic Kingdom on a weekday and leaving Animal Kingdom or Epcot for Saturday. If you use the other crowd avoiding methods, you are sure to do more holiday fun.
Orlando, FL – 09/12/14
By: Jena Pugh & Alex Mateo