Best Time to Visit Disney World

It’s widely recognized that a vacation to Walt Disney World can be quite costly, yet there are certain periods within the year when it’s more budget-friendly. When is the best time to visit Disney World 2024?

The cost of a trip to Disney World varies significantly over the year, with some seasons potentially being double the price of others. Being aware of these price variations is key to planning your trip during the most cost-effective periods, allowing for notable savings.

This article aims to guide you on the best time to visit Disney World in 2024. We’ll also highlight the best times to buy park tickets and book hotel rooms to take advantage of lower prices. Moreover, we’ll reveal which days of the week tend to be pricier at Disney World and offer essential tips to help you cut down on expenses.

When is the Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World?

Determining the best time to visit Disney World in 2024 hinges on what you prioritize most. Generally, people focus on one of these four key factors:

  • Minimal Crowds: To encounter fewer crowds, it’s best to visit during the school year, avoiding holidays when families with children tend to travel more. The periods of January to early February, and late August through September are notably less crowded. However, be aware that holiday weeks around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s often see higher visitor numbers.
  • Optimal Weather: Florida’s climate is hot and humid in the summer, complete with regular afternoon thunderstorms. As such, many visitors prefer the winter months (December to February) for cooler temperatures, although it can occasionally get cold enough to necessitate coats and gloves. Spring (March to early May) is another great option, offering warm afternoons and pleasant mornings and evenings. Outside these times, expect heat and frequent rain chances throughout the year.
  • Special Events: For those interested in Disney’s special events, timing your visit to coincide with these occasions is crucial. Events such as EPCOT’s four annual festivals, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the fall, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in November and December, are popular choices.
  • Budget Considerations: If you’re looking to save money, consider visiting during off-peak periods when Disney often provides discounts on hotels and package deals. These times typically correspond with the seasons when the crowds are smaller.

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What Are the Best Special Events at Disney World?

A visit to Disney World is always a memorable experience, but certain events throughout the year can elevate it to an even more magical level. There are numerous events to enjoy, and we’d like to highlight a few favorites that bring holiday cheer, offer unique global cuisine, shorter ride times, and much more.

Disney After Hours

Disney After Hours are special events held at one of the four Disney World theme parks, offering an additional three hours of enjoyment. These evenings feature shorter wait times for attractions, as regular park guests leave before the event starts. Some parks, like Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar, are particularly enchanting at night, offering a new perspective on beloved locations.

Currently, Disney World isn’t hosting any After Hours events. However, Epcot’s After Hours ran from June 1 to August 24. A new event is expected to be announced soon.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not only a fantastic celebration of Halloween but also a unique opportunity to experience the Magic Kingdom with fewer guests and a host of themed activities.

In 2023, this event is scheduled on select nights from August 11 through November 1. It features themed food and merchandise, Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks, the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, and performances by The Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet.

Visitors of all ages can collect treats with special bags for trick-or-treating throughout the park. The event also encourages costumes, allowing guests to interact with their favorite Disney characters in their Halloween attire.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party starts at 7 pm, but attendees can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4 pm.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Similar to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party offers an enchanting holiday experience with the added benefit of fewer crowds at Magic Kingdom.

This festive event is adorned with incredible holiday decorations, creating a captivating atmosphere. Highlights include Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Show. Additionally, several attractions get a holiday makeover, and Disney characters don festive attire, enhancing the feeling of being in a Disney Christmas movie.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts at 7 pm, but the Magic Kingdom opens its doors to party guests from 4 pm onwards. In 2023, this magical celebration is scheduled to take place from November 9 through December 22.

When Can I Book Dining Reservations at Disney World?

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s highly recommended (and beneficial!) to start making your dining reservations as early as 60 days before your visit. For those aiming to secure spots at the most popular restaurants, be aware that reservations typically open at 6 am ET on the 60th day prior to your visit, so it’s wise to set an early alarm.

While it might be challenging to finalize your itinerary so far in advance, booking your preferred dining spots early comes with no risk, provided you cancel in time. Most dining establishments at Disney World generally allow cancellations without a fee up to two hours before the reservation. However, failing to cancel within this window could result in a charge of $10 per person.

For those organizing a last-minute visit to Disney or who haven’t been able to book a desired restaurant, don’t lose hope. We recommend using the My Disney Experience app or checking the Disney World Dining Reservations page regularly. Often, people cancel their ‘just-in-case’ bookings due to unforeseen circumstances, opening up opportunities to secure those sought-after reservations, even on the day of your visit. This strategy can be particularly effective for snagging reservations at in-demand spots.

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Best Time to Visit Disney World 2024 – Rankings

I always enjoy this part – ranking each month at Disney World for the year 2024 from best to worst.

This ranking is based on a comprehensive evaluation of each month, considering various factors we’ve discussed in this guide. While these rankings are generally consistent year-to-year, they can shift slightly due to holiday schedules and special events.

1. November 2024

Excluding the busy weeks of Thanksgiving and Veterans Day (which are still less crowded than Christmas and New Year’s weeks), November is an excellent time to visit. Early to mid-November offers good conditions, and the week following Thanksgiving is particularly great.

The benefit of November is the milder weather. However, some Christmas entertainment and resort decorations may not be up until after Thanksgiving, particularly at Epcot. For full Christmas experiences, the end of November (which includes a few days in December) is ideal. While early December has recently seen fewer crowds, November 2024 is expected to maintain its top spot due to its overall advantages, barring the busy Thanksgiving week. In contrast, only the first couple of weeks in December 2024 are preferable.

2. May 2024

Best Time to Visit Disney World

Traditionally ranking mid-range, May 2024 has moved up significantly. Post-spring break, attendance dips before the summer crowds arrive. Contrary to increasing crowds, recent trends show May having surprisingly low attendance compared to March and April. With school still in session, May is an attractive time to visit.

Besides lower crowds, you can find great hotel deals in May. Although the weather heats up, often reaching the 90s, it’s not as intense as in summer. May also offers ample daylight and frequent thunderstorms. With its combination of price, crowds, entertainment, and weather, May 2024 ranks as our second-best month to visit Disney World.

3. September 2024 

Despite rising crowds in other off-season months, September remains an exception. No factors, including major attractions or seasonal predictions, have significantly impacted its traditionally low attendance levels.

September is consistently the best month for avoiding crowds, especially after Labor Day. Despite efforts to balance attendance throughout the year, September remains the off-season with the lowest crowd levels.

However, September’s weather deters many visitors due to heat, humidity, and peak storm season. While September has long been a top choice for its low crowds, the challenging weather conditions mean it no longer holds the top position in our rankings. Before planning a trip in August or September, we advise reading about the off-season considerations during these months.

4. December

December ranks as a highly popular month to visit Disney World, with its festive decorations and an array of holiday-themed activities. However, your experience will vary greatly depending on which week you visit, and this can depend on your enthusiasm for holiday celebrations.

Early December sees lower crowds once the Thanksgiving rush subsides. While not as tranquil as before, due to Disney’s strategic planning to fill less busy weeks, the first couple of weeks are still among our favorites. Crowds are moderate but have been increasing lately.

As Christmas approaches, the situation shifts drastically, with the week leading up to Christmas through New Year’s becoming the busiest time of the year at Disney World. Unless you’re comfortable with extremely long wait times for attractions, it’s advisable to avoid these weeks.

Price increases in recent years have also affected our ranking of December. Early in the month, prices are still quite high, with the most significant price hikes occurring from Christmas to New Year’s.

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5. January 2024 

January at Walt Disney World can be likened to a “holiday hangover.” It’s as if the park has overindulged in holiday festivities and is slow to transition back to normalcy. On the positive side, January offers mild weather and the Epcot Festival of the Arts is a highlight.

Crowd-wise, January 2024 is expected to follow recent patterns, presenting a “Tale of Two Seasons.” The first week typically mirrors the busy holiday period, with maximum crowd levels. There’s also a spike during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

However, the rest of January tends to be much quieter, with many days seeing very low crowd levels. The best time to visit is after the Walt Disney World Marathon and Orange County’s winter break, ideally starting from the second week and avoiding the MLK Day weekend. Apart from these specific dates, January should offer lower crowd levels, pleasant weather, and the enjoyment of the EPCOT Festival of the Arts.

6. February 2024

In recent years, February has consistently experienced high attendance at Walt Disney World. Last year, crowd levels were particularly high during the second half of the month due to Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day.

Next year is expected to be similar, with Mardi Gras occurring earlier in the month. This means two busy weeks instead of just one. Consequently, February might be slightly more crowded than January 2024. However, avoiding holiday periods still makes February a reasonable choice for a visit.

For those planning a trip in February 2024, aim for the first or last weeks of the month. These periods are likely to have lower crowds and enjoyable weather, complemented by two different EPCOT festivals.

7. October 2024

Best Time to Visit Disney World

October theoretically should be an ideal time to visit Disney World, with cooler temperatures and children back in school. It was once a favorite month but has been slipping in our rankings due to increasing crowd levels. Although not as crowded as peak holiday times, ride wait times are still lengthy.

Events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival contribute significantly to October’s popularity, drawing many visitors to Disney World specifically for these happenings.

Weekdays in October are generally the better choice for a visit. The days are still warm, but evenings are cooler compared to September. With no major events scheduled for 2024, crowd levels are expected to be high, but perhaps not as overwhelming as in recent years.

We recommend checking for available deals and lower crowd levels after Columbus Day, particularly in the latter half of the month. Weekdays during this period can make October one of the best times to visit, placing it at #7 overall on our list.

8. August 2024

August is quite similar to July, particularly in terms of weather, but there are distinct advantages. It’s one of the hottest months in Disney World, with slightly less rainfall than July, but daily thunderstorms are still common. You’ll likely find yourself spending considerable time in the resort pools.

The positive aspect of August is that crowds typically reduce significantly as Labor Day approaches. This results in shorter attraction wait times and attractive hotel discounts.

In 2024, despite the ongoing EPCOT Food and Wine Festival and the early start of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, park attendance is expected to be much lower than in the fall months. Previously, August was ranked at the bottom with June and July, but it has moved up due to lower prices and wait times.

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9. April 2024

April at Disney World, particularly during Spring Break, is notoriously crowded. While it may not be as chaotic as portrayed in a hypothetical “Spring Breakers” sequel, it’s still a period best avoided if possible.

With Easter falling in April annually until 2024, the month is generally busy with long wait times, especially during the weeks around Easter, reaching critical crowd levels. Quick booking skills are a must for securing Lightning Lane passes for popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash during this time.

However, from Tax Day Eve onwards, April tends to see a considerable decrease in crowds. Although it’s debatable whether this improvement is enough to rank it higher, the last one and a half weeks of April are significantly better compared to the rest of the month. If this period were considered separately, it would rank in the upper half of our list.

10. March 2024

Early March is considered one of our “hidden gem” periods for experiencing lower crowds, and this trend is expected to continue into March 2024, thanks to Mardi Gras moving up to February. However, the relief from crowds is relatively short-lived, preventing March from ranking too high on our list.

The downside of March is the onset of spring break, particularly towards the latter half of the month, and the presence of Easter at the end of March 2024 (March 31). It’s essential to steer clear of Orange County’s spring break week, as it tends to have a significant impact on crowd levels.

On the positive side, March typically offers mild weather, evidenced by the beginning of Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival at the start of the month. Regardless of the year, March remains appealing for its pleasant weather, moderate crowds, and the blossoming of Epcot.

11. June 2024

June remains unchanged in its ranking as one of the least favorable months to visit Disney World in 2024. The weather in June can be oppressively hot and humid, necessitating sunscreen and regular cooling off. Rainfall also increases in June, with an average of around 5 inches, meaning you’re likely to encounter frequent thunderstorms during your visit.

Crowds are lighter in the first half of June but pick up as schools let out for summer vacation. On the plus side, June offers extended hours of sunshine, longer park hours, and a variety of entertainment options.

In 2024, we anticipate heavy crowds, longer wait times, and the combination of sweltering summer weather, making June a less desirable time to visit.

12. July 2024

July traditionally ranks as either the worst or second-worst month for a Disney World visit, and this holds true for 2024 as well. July is characterized by scorching temperatures, often exceeding 90 degrees, accompanied by stifling humidity.

Additionally, it’s one of the rainiest months, with an annual average of over 10 inches of rainfall. Carrying ponchos and having extra socks on hand is essential in Disney World in July.

The 4th of July stands out as one of the busiest days of the year at the parks, and heavy crowds persist throughout the entire month. We expect this trend to continue in 2024, as more families are resuming travel, and July coincides with school vacations.

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When is Disney World the Most Crowded?

When is Disney World the Most Crowded

Holidays and extended weekends tend to bring the largest crowds to all tourist destinations, and Walt Disney World is no exception. Essentially, whenever schools are on break, you can expect Walt Disney World to experience higher attendance.

The busiest periods at the parks typically revolve around these dates, often including the days leading up to and, in some cases, the days following these holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (Observed on the 3rd Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day/Washington’s Birthday (Observed on the 3rd Monday in February)
  • Spring Break (Last two weeks of March)
  • Easter (Both the week before and the week after generally see increased crowds)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Observed on the 2nd Monday in October)
  • Veterans’ Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Observed on the 4th Thursday in November)
  • Christmas week through January 1

When is Disney World the Least Crowded?

Traditionally, the periods with the fewest visitors at Disney World are:

Mid to late January through early February: Following the conclusion of the holiday season, when most families are focused on school activities.

Mid-May: A time devoid of holidays, with fewer families opting to travel in the weeks leading up to the end of the school year.

Mid-August through most of September: This period coincides with the return of the majority of American students to school, resulting in fewer vacationing families. Additionally, Florida experiences exceptionally hot and humid weather during this time, dissuading some potential guests.

What Time of Year has the Best Weather?

If your primary concern is favorable weather, characterized by cooler temperatures and fewer rainy days, our top recommendations are January, February, and December. These three months stand out as excellent choices for a visit, with average high temperatures in the low 70s and an average of approximately 6 days of rainfall each.

Moreover, all three of these periods offer unique attractions and activities. January and February, excluding holiday weekends, provide pleasant weather and lower crowds. December is also a great option but is expected to be somewhat busier in 2024 compared to January or February, mainly due to the holiday season.

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What Month at Disney World is the Best?

The ideal month for visiting Walt Disney World depends on your specific objectives:

January, February, August, and September (excluding holiday weeks) have historically been associated with the lowest crowd levels. If you can steer clear of busy holiday weekends, these months typically offer a quieter experience.

January and February boast the most favorable weather conditions, characterized by cooler temperatures and reduced rainfall. However, you might want to have a jacket on hand for the cooler evenings.

Late August and September are excellent choices if you’re interested in experiencing fall decorations and Halloween activities. During this time, historically, the crowds are significantly lighter compared to October, making it a preferable option for enjoying fall decor and attending events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

December is the prime month for holiday decorations and festivities. All the parks and resorts are adorned with holiday decor, and the Festival of Holidays is in full swing. However, it’s important to note that December tends to be crowded due to the holiday season.

Tips for Visiting During Peak Seasons

Strategies for Managing Crowds: Arrive early and take advantage of the lower crowd levels in the morning. Also, consider staying in the parks during the evening when many visitors tend to leave.

Recommendations for FastPass+ and Dining Reservations: Book FastPass+ selections and dining reservations as far in advance as possible. This will save significant time waiting in lines and ensure you have a spot at your preferred dining venues.

Suggestions for Alternate Activities: During peak times, explore less crowded attractions, such as shows or character meetings. Also, consider spending time at Disney Springs or resort activities for a break from the park crowds.

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Conclusion

To wrap up, the best time to visit Disney World 2024 varies based on numerous factors, including weather patterns, crowd sizes, special events, and personal preferences. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Weather: Consider Florida’s climate; cooler in winter and hot in summer.
  • Crowds: Peak seasons include holidays and summer, while January to early April and September to early November generally see fewer visitors.
  • Special Events: Plan around events like Halloween, Christmas, and Epcot festivals if these interest you.
  • COVID-19: Stay updated with the latest health and safety guidelines.
  • Costs: Off-peak times often offer financial advantages.

Your Disney World experience can be magical and memorable with careful planning and consideration of these factors. Whether you’re seeking thrilling rides, enchanting events, or just a magical escape, align your trip with your personal preferences and needs. Remember, every visit to Disney World is unique, and the best time to go is when it feels right for you and your travel companions. Embrace the magic and create memories that will last a lifetime!