Best Times to go to Walt Disney World to Avoid Crowds

Walt Disney World has a reputation for being insanely crowded, with long lines for attractions and shoulder-to-shoulder firework viewing. As such, “when is the best time to go to Disney World?” most often can be translated into “when is Disney World least crowded?”

It’s true that Disney World, and especially Magic Kingdom, can be extremely busy. However, there are some seasons when the parks are significantly emptier.

Before I get into any specifics, let me briefly go over some general rules of thumb about Disney World crowds. For starters, the parks are always busier when school is out. That means summer, Christmas break, and spring break will see higher crowds. Many parents hesitate to take their kids out of school, so only vacation during these school breaks. Holidays also bring in more people. And when holidays coincide with long school breaks (like Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Fourth of July), you can bet the parks will be packed! Even Bank Holidays that prompt a three-day weekend will have a spike in crowd levels. Finally, weekends in general are busier than weekdays, since locals will play in the parks on the weekends. So, in the grand scheme of things, the parks will be least crowded on the weekdays, away from holidays and school breaks.

Now that the big picture is out of the way, let’s talk about specifics. Here are five times when Disney World is least crowded.

  1. February: Avoiding the holiday hullabaloo that is Mardi Gras, Valentine’s and Presidents’ Days can lead to a vacation with very light crowds. Even so, since these holidays don’t elicit long nationwide school breaks, the crowds will be moderate at most. Visiting during February will bring light crowds and cooler temperatures. For the snowbirds out there, don’t forget to pack jeans and a jacket: Florida can get chilly in the winter months, even by our northern standards!
  1. First Half of May: Spring break is a busy time at Walt Disney World, but those crowds dissipate by the end of April. Visiting during the first two weeks of May means you can enjoy emptier parks, along with longer daylight, the tail end of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, and perhaps a Star Wars Weekend. Just remember, the summer season starts with Memorial Day weekends, and the crowd levels will start to rise dramatically.

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  1. September: Classes resume at the end of August, and by September, less and less families will be trekking down to Disney World. So, if you are a family with preschool aged children, or adults with no kids (who says adults can’t vacation at Disney World regularly?), September is an amazing time to visit! Not only will you enjoy lower crowds, but you can take advantage of the remaining summer weather!
  1. October: If you love all things fall and pumpkin, then you will love seeing Magic Kingdom decorated with pumpkin Mickeys in October! Just like September, October is an unpopular family vacation time because the kiddos are in school. But, visiting in October means you can experience Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Or, you can go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a hard-ticket event that includes special parades, entertainment, and character meets.
  1. First Half of December: This time is rather contentious with Disney know-it-alls (I mean… Disney insiders…). There are those, like me, who love vacationing in early December. But, some folks cite the Pop Warner Bowl as a reason for rowdy high school kids. The Pop Warner Bowl is a football, dance, and cheerleading competition held at Disney World in the first or second week of December. Personally, I’ve never had negative experience with Pop Warner participants, so I don’t think the event is any issue. For the most part, the students are busy competing during the day, and aren’t in the parks that much. Plus, many high schoolers want to visit Universal for the bigger thrill rides (and Harry Potter!). For me, the benefits of seeing the parks decked out for Christmas outweighs any potential for dealing with high schoolers. The first couple weeks are much less crowded since most families will not take children out of school just before a long break. Crowds will reach maximum levels in the second half of the month, so get in and out before school lets out!

Did I mention your favorite time visit Walt Disney World? If not, when is it?

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!