Thursday, July 17, 2014

When should I visit Walt Disney World?

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be a large and daunting task. There are so many decisions to make- where to stay, where to eat, how much time to devote to each park, and  more. Before you can dive in to any of these details, the first step is deciding when to visit.

We have many first time guests ask us when is the best time to experience Walt Disney World. While we all have personal favorites, there is no "one size fits all" answer to this question. The truth is, any time is a great time to take a Disney trip- but there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when trying to plan the perfect vacation.

CROWDS
One thing to consider when choosing your travel dates is the crowd level. If you would prefer to visit during a time with low crowds (meaning minimal waits at attractions), then your best bet is to stay away from holidays and school breaks.

Broadly speaking, Disney World has seen lower crowds during certain weeks in September and May. The parks will be at their busiest during holidays, spring break, and mid-summer. Everything else tends to be in between: moderate, manageable crowds. There are a lot of factors that affect crowds, such as special events (like races), and when certain holidays fall (like Easter). 

Keep in mind that with lower crowds come shorter hours. During peak times, the parks will often stay open very late (midnight or 1 a.m.) In slower seasons, it is common to see the parks close at 6-7 pm. That doesn't mean you'll have to crawl in bed early; you can always visit Disney Springs, relax in the pool, or dine at one of the resorts!
 
If you are limited to certain dates because of work or school schedules, there's no need to worry! Just because your trip may fall during dates with higher crowds, doesn't mean you can't have the perfect trip. A good plan can help you have a fantastic visit and maximize your time.

SPECIAL EVENTS
Another factor that may help narrow down when you'd like to visit is what special events you can experience.

The biggest and most celebrated events are the holidays. Beginning in September, the Magic Kingdom turns into a beautiful Autumn paradise. A few nights each week, guests can enjoy the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, which lasts until Halloween.

In early November, the magic of Disney transforms yellow and orange into red and green, as the entire resort reveals a magical winter wonderland. This is my personal favorite time to visit, for more reasons than I can list here. To see all of the wonderful reasons to visit during the Christmas season, check out this post.

Also in the fall is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. From mid-September through mid-November, you can gorge on sample delicious cuisine from around the world. The festival also features the "Eat to the Beat Concert Series," featuring some great hit bands.

In the spring, Epcot is home to another great event: the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, which occurs during parts of March, April, and May.  The park is covered in beautiful creations by Disney horticulturists, with fantastic topiaries and garden exhibits all over the park.  In recent years, food and beverage kiosks have been added around the World Showcase, in similar fashion to the Food and Wine Festival. You'll also find fun play areas for kids, as well as the "Garden Rocks" concert series.  You can read here to see more information about the Flower and Garden Festival. 

For those who love to run, you may want to consider a runDisney event. From a 5k to the Dopey Challenge (4 races, 48.6 miles, 6 medals)- you'll find many fun and challenging races throughout the year! These fill up FAST, so you'll want to keep an eye on registration dates. You can find more info about runDisney over here!

Races bring increased crowds, so if your dates are flexible and you're not visiting for the running event, shifting your dates a bit will help you avoid the slight increase in crowds those weekends.

WEATHER
There are some things that you just can't predict. The fact that Walt Disney World is located in "the sunshine state" means that you have a fairly good chance blue skies and sunshine- but some dates have a better chance than others.

If you're visiting during the summer, there is a good chance you will see at least some rain during your trip. The good news is that Florida showers tend to be quick; you may just see an hour of rain in the afternoon before it passes, leaving sunny blue skies behind. It also tends to leave an added bonus of an empty park. If you head indoors to watch a show or grab a snack while everyone else leaves, you'll enjoy short lines as soon as the sun returns!

If the pools and waterparks are high on your list, then you may want to aim for warmer months. All pools on property are heated to a lovely 82°, but in the winter months, it may be too cold to swim (even in the heated pools). November through February can be hard to predict; you may see 70s-80s your entire week, or you may see lower temperatures- especially at night. I always advise people traveling during these months to being their bathing suits and sweatshirts, as there can be such a range of temperatures. Because of this, Disney's two water parks close for annual maintenance during these months as well: Typhoon Lagoon is closed late October through early January, followed by Blizzard Beach early January through mid March.

No matter when you visit, you'll be sure to have a magical time! The great thing about Walt Disney World is you will never have the same experience twice.

Carissa

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