Give me Walt Disney World at any time of year and I will take it! Some people, however, prefer to travel during certain seasons of the year for one reason or another. I think each season and time has something going for it at Walt Disney World. Here are 8 Reasons I love Walt Disney World in the Winter.
8. Cooler Temperatures
This one is a double edged sword. Weather during the winter months in Orlando is really unpredictable. I usually end up packing a lot more clothes for a winter trip because it could be in the 50s one day and the 70s the next. Layers are the key to navigating winter temperatures at Walt Disney World. While I can just about promise the temperatures will be cooler than August in the World, it sometimes runs to far down the other side where it is uncomfortably cold. I’ve had many January trips wearing heavy coats and adding a hat and gloves in the evening once the sun goes down. I’ve also had some where I comfortably wore shorts the entire trip.
7. Super Bowl Parade & Pro Bowl
If you are an NFL fan, this is something fun to look forward to at Walt Disney World. In 2019 activities surrounding the Pro Bowl will be hosted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports from January 24-27. You can watch the teams practice, watch some fun national championship games, visit the Pro Bowl Experience and participate in the Fun Run Series. The actual game is January 27 in Orlando at Camping World Stadium. Then you have the most iconic, and repeatable lines in sports. “______ you just won the Super Bowl, where are you going next?” “Walt Disney World!” Shortly after the Super Bowl the Magic Kingdom celebrates the winners with a parade down Main Street USA. Normally some of the players are on floats with Disney characters in their football gear. It is a fun treat if you are there!
6. Quieter Times
There are some travel dates in the Winter that are VERY busy in Walt Disney World. You want to avoid the week between Christmas & New Year’s, Marathon Week(end), Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, and President’s Week. If you can plan your travel around those times you can usually find some sweet spots when crowds are relatively low. I’m looking at you late January-first week of February. Remember that there really are not any UNcrowded times at Walt Disney World anymore, but careful planning can get you to a little more quiet week or days than at other times.
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5. It’s Warmer Than Home!
As I mentioned, you can get some really cold temperatures in the winter months, particularly January in Orlando. However, most likely it is going to be warmer than home that you are leaving behind. It is always nice to get a break from fierce winter weather and visit the more mild climate of Florida. Especially if you live somewhere very cold like Minnesota, Michigan, Chicago, Canada . . . it doesn’t get much better than sharing photos on social media wearing shorts or swimming in January when your friends at home are digging out of 18 inches of snow.
4. Marathon Weekend
If you are a runner the Walt Disney World Marathon should be on your bucket list. This race weekend—that extends more into a week now—consists of multiple races. There is a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and races for kids. If you are Goofy you can complete the Full and Half Marathons for extra bling. If you are Dopey then you can complete all 4 races: 5K, 10K, Half and Full for a special medal (plus that Goofy one too). And speaking of the medals, Disney’s Marathon Weekend has a lot of great bling for runners. The Marathon weekend is a lot of fun (and work too) with race courses filled with Disney characters and special experiences, along with the merchandise at the Expo.
3. Princess Half Marathon
Another running event takes place in February each year, the Princess Half Marathon. This RunDisney event is extremely popular and makes for a great Girls Getaway for runners. At this race you can participate in the Half Marathon, 10K or 5K, and the Fairy Tale Challenge to complete both the Half Marathon and the 10K. There are also some kids races at this event. The Princess Half Marathon is all about Disney royalty, and like the Marathon weekend runners have fun dressing in “costumes” and meeting Disney Characters along the course. RunDisney events fill up quickly so if you are interested you need to set alerts for the registration dates and get your spot early.
2. Epcot International Festival of the Arts
While official dates have not yet been announced for 2019 (as of August 30, 2018), it is an amazing event hosted at Epcot during January and February. It debuted in 2017 and was expanded in 2018. All elements of the arts are covered by this festival: performing arts with Disney on Broadway concerts; visual arts with demonstrations, classes and artists selling their work; culinary arts with food booths along the World Showcase featuring unique flavor combinations presented in an artistic way. I have really enjoyed this festival for the past 2 years always finding a unique piece of artwork to add to my collection and especially attending the Disney on Broadway concerts. There are also several interactive elements like helping to paint a mural, chalk art, a scavenger hunt around World Showcase and more.
1. Winter Holidays
What I love most about Winter in Walt Disney World is the way they celebrate the holiday season. Technically this starts in Fall since the first Christmas parties are in early November, but the true heart of the season falls into the Winter portion of December. Decorations are over the top at the parks and resorts—if you visit be sure to make time to visit the Deluxe Resorts, Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge have gigantic Christmas trees, the Grand Floridian has a life size Gingerbread House in the lobby and the Beach Club has a giant chocolate and gingerbread carousel. Epcot has the International Festival of Holidays featuring storytellers in World Showcase countries sharing the holiday traditions of that country, along with live entertainment and holiday food booths. The crowning touch is the Candlelight Processional retelling the Christmas Story from the Bible accompanied by live musicians and a mass choir. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios the retro decorations take you back in time and make everything feel warm and homey. The Jingle Bell! Jingle Bam! Fireworks and projection show on the Chinese Theater is fun, and on Sunset Boulevard there is a holiday projection show shown on the Tower of Terror and billboards along the street. Animal Kingdom has beautiful decorations that are stylized to the areas they are in—I love looking at the décor in Africa that reflects those cultures and natural beauty. And over in Magic Kingdom the holidays add an extra layer or Magic. On select nights the park hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party with special fireworks, Christmas parade, dance parties & snow on Main Street. Main Street looks like something out of Currier & Ives with its turn of the 20th century decorations. Every evening you can watch Anna & Elsa and all of their Frozen friends light the castle with shimmering icicles—it is truly beautiful. If you can work out a trip to visit Walt Disney World while they are celebrating the holiday season it should be a must-do.
What do you love about the Winter season at Walt Disney World?