For all of you advanced planners, we’ll talk about 2017 Disney World vacations! It’s never too early to start planning. Whether you wanted to save up for a big vacation or you’re just looking to try your first Disney adventure with your kids, it’s always a good time to research and plan a Disney vacation. But when to go? Timing is everything.
First, ask yourself a few simple questions:
- If I have kids, am I willing to take them out of school?
- Do I have any blackout dates at work?
- Are there any special events I want to attend? (i.e. Mickey’s Not to Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)
- Do I want to be able to swim or go to water parks? (is temperature a factor)
- Is it ok to miss a few headlining attractions due to routine maintenance?
- Is cost a major factor in our vacation?
- Is it ok if it’s H-O-T while we are there? Summers in Orlando can get pretty brutal)
All of these simple questions will help direct you to the best time of year to travel. As we start to talk about overall crowds and dollar values, please be aware that Disney World has become an increasingly popular destination. Yes, it has always been a popular travel destination for families, but whether it’s more international guests taking the opportunity to travel to the states or families just taking more frequent Disney World adventures, overall crowd attendance is up no matter what the time of year. If you’ve traveled more than once in the last 5 years, you’ll feel this increase in wait times and overall people milling around in the parks.
From year to year, the best times to go are fairly similar, but let’s break it down by month:
January – After you get past the New Year’s crowd which is typically gone by the 3rd or 4th of January, it’s a pretty slow time. Crowds increase during the Disney marathon which is typically the first weekend after the holidays pass. Both crowds and costs are low, however you may miss a few major attractions due to maintenance. Crowds do increase during MLK Jr. weekend as many children have at least one day off school. Weather is typically cool and you may need a light jacket. Swimming may be out. Although the pools are open and Disney pools are heated, it’s still too cold for these old bones when the highs are only in the low to mid 70s.
February – This is also a fairly good time of year. Crowds peak for the Princess Half Marathon weekend as well as President’s day weekend. Other than this time, crowds and costs continue to be low. As with January, you may need a light jacket. In 2014, the weather was unseasonably warm so off season travelers got to enjoy some warm Florida sun but in 2015, weather was unseasonably cold and jackets were a must! 2016 saw a middle ground in weather and much of the year was pleasant. The closer you get to March, the more the crowd level begins to increase. I was told by a cast member that every single room in every Disney resort was booked for Valentine’s Day last year, so if it’s a romantic destination for you, make sure you plan ahead!
March – Ahhh, spring break season! While schools across the country all have different weeks for spring break, you’ll typically see spikes in crowds at last 1-2 weeks during the month. With Easter falling in mid-April next year, Spring Break season will likely start during the 3rd week of March this year but schools will never surprise me with how early spring break may fall! Weather begins to warm up at this time and very few attractions are closed during this time. Epcot begins their annual Flower & Garden festival which runs through the end of May.
April – Spring break season continues.With Easter in mid-April this year, you’ll see peak spring break through the week of April 16th and then a drop in crowds and costs. After spring break crowds wear down, both prices and costs decrease as the weather heats up! It’s not the lowest cost of the year, but it’s better than the peak prices! There’s a bit of a lull here as kids go back to school after spring break and before school lets out.
May – A few things to note for May travelers: the first two weeks of May are often a great time to travel in terms of crowds but it can start to get hot! Our most recent May adventure saw daytime highs in the 90s which made park touring a bit slower paced than it would be in the cooler months of January and February. Disney has continued to elaborate and extend the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival so it’s still a fun time to explore this free event. Lastly, Memorial Day weekend is a popular long weekend for guests and crowds may mildly increase during this time. Prices and crowds tend to be moderate as we get closer to the end of school year and finals. It’s a nice little window between spring break and end of school to enjoy trip! The weather is easily in the 80s and sometimes warmer, and it’s not typically very rainy. Not many attractions closed during this time.
June – June of 2015 saw a HUGE influx of travelers throughout the month (moreso than previous years with 8-10/10 crowds each day) with a bit of a dip in 2016. This may be related to some new attractions opening in late June that had guests delay their arrival date to explore the new offerings. Early in the month, the unofficial event “gay days” is held in one of Disney’s theme parks. It does increase the crowds of that park specifically, so be aware as you start to plan. Along with increase in crowds comes increase in prices and heat. The summer months can be sweltering. Although June is not that bad, the remainder of the summer is hot, hot, hot!\
July – It’s one of the most popular times of year to travel to Disney. I can’t say that I’ve been there in July, but it’s a hot! Plan for an afternoon rain shower which is often welcomed in the humid Florida weather. It provides some relief. Fourth of July weekend is even more costly than the standard summer pricing. Crowds continue to peak during this month. Take a break from the parks and enjoy a water park!
August – As summer ends, the crowds begin to dwindle. By the middle of the month, crowds resume their normal 5-6/10. The weather is still hot and you often have a pop up rain shower. Don’t be scared if you see a 30% chance of rain every day. No special events throughout the summer, and August finishes that trend. Toward the end of August, you’ll see value season pricing as back to school season really ramps up (even before Labor Day weekend). If your kids don’t return until after Labor Day weekend, this may be a unique time of year for you to travel!
September – After Labor Day passes, the some really low crowds and prices settle in. School is officially back in session and it can be somewhat rainy. The weather is still typically very warm (especially earlier in the month). By mid to late September, Epcot is geared up for the International Food & Wine Festival which runs through midNovember. September also brings Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This special ticketed event at Magic Kingdom closes the park early and allows guests to enjoy a special themed party where costumes are not only allowed, but encouraged. Plus, meet special characters appear throughout the park and lines are incredibly short. This even runs through the end of October. Great discounts and special offers are typically available September through mid November. This is often the time of year with the best promotional rates as it continues to have the lowest attendance. Over the last two years, the end of September has trended up in crowds with the addition of many schools adding a fall break to their school schedule. The last of September has become a much busier time of year.
October – October has become the “new summer” in terms of crowd levels. Without the heat of summer, days off of school for Columbus day, the draw of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, and Halloween festivities, it’s a huge draw for crowds. 2015 saw an astronomical spike in crowds over the previous year and 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year again. This can also be attributed to later fall breaks for schools across the country. There still appears to be a pocket of time at the end of the month around Halloween that gives a little reprieve on overall crowd levels. Weather finally begins to cool again after a long, hot summer. Temps will very likely still remain in the 80s, but it’s not as humid.
November – The phenomenon known as “Jersey Week” happens in early November. Schools in New Jersey have a week long break in early November inflating crowds. This isn’t a huge jump in crowd levels, but it’s a factor in making your plans. The first week of November often has lower crowd levels as Disney removes all of the Halloween and Fall decor and starts to set up for the Christmas season. You’ll see shorter hours in Magic Kingdom as the transformation happens literally overnight. For families with little ones, it’s a nice way to enjoy comfortable temperatures, and allow them to see fireworks shows without staying way past bed time! Additionally, Veteran’s Day is often a day off for students (November 11) PLUS the Wine & Dine RunDisney event. Between this time and the week of Thanksgiving is a great time to travel as crowd levels begin to dwindle. As it gets closer to Thanksgiving, crowd will peak. Discounts stop the days surrounding Thanksgiving as it’s often another peak travel time with multiple days off of work and school. Discounts typically resume the Sunday after Thanksgiving and continue through mid December. Watch for Christmas decorations as Halloween items are removed. Around this time, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party also begins. Similar to its Halloween counterpart, Magic Kingdom closes early for special events and characters culminated with a holiday parade and fireworks.
December - The last month of a year is a mixed bag of crowds and costs. The first two and a half weeks finishes up the Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. Decorations remain throughout the theme parks and resorts through the remainder of the year (and through the first few days of January). After the second full week of December, crowds begin to increase as families take their holiday vacation to Disney World. It’s the highest crowd levels of the year, and the prices match. Wait times during the days surrounding Christmas and New Years can often be measured in hours instead of minutes. While it’s a magical time of year, it’s not the best time to go the most magical place on earth. Around Christmas and New Years, no room discounts are available.
Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Can you believe we can already price out and plan your adventure? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!