One of the most common questions when planning a Walt Disney World vacation is “When is the best time to go?” There is no set answer to that. Each season has its advantages, and each has some drawbacks as well. Here is a list of the pros and cons of all five seasons; five, because the holiday season deserves special mention.
1. Winter Pros
There are a lot of advantages to visiting during the winter months. The top one has to be the weather! While most of the country is experiencing snowstorms and cold temperatures, the weather is much warmer in the Sunshine State. There can be rain, but it most likely will not be the daily storms that are seen during the summer months. If you’re visiting during the winter, make sure you check the forecast before you pack. Temperatures can be all over the place. That said, it beats shoveling snow. Crowd levels can also be a pro during the winter, especially in January and at the beginning of February. Schools are back in session and offices are open again, which means fewer people in the parks. They won’t be empty, but the crowds tend to be more manageable. The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is also in the winter.
2. Winter Cons
The refurbishment schedule tends to be longer in the winter for the exact reasons listed in the pros. The weather is nice, so it’s easier on construction crews. The crowds are lower, so fewer people are missing a ride or attraction if it is closed for a short period of time. Only one water park will be open in the winter, the other will be closed for refurbishment. While the crowds can be lower, there are still times when the parks will be busy. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January can bring thousands of people to Central Florida. Presidents’ Day Weekend is always busy. Around that same time, some school systems will go on break. Many of those families will head to Florida to enjoy some sunshine while the kids are out of school.
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3. Spring Pros
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival takes place each spring, and it is one of the best reasons to visit during those months. EPCOT comes alive with color, even during the construction. If you have never been, make plans to attend next year. You will not be disappointed. Spring weather is another pro, especially in the early spring. Even if it is hot in the daytime, the evening temperature will most likely be close to perfect. There are also special spring touches throughout Walt Disney World. There are extra flowers almost everywhere. You might find Cast Member decorated Easter Eggs in the resort lobbies. Even though Florida is never without green, there are more colors coming alive in the spring. Crowds can be down, especially if you avoid Spring Break weeks. The month of May up until Memorial Day Weekend will often have some of the lowest crowds of the year.
4. Spring Cons
The spring weather makes the con list as well. At the end of April or the beginning of May the summer weather pattern will usually start. That means that the heat and humidity go up, and there will also be a chance of thunderstorms. When the heat arrives the lovebugs will as well. They’re harmless, but annoying. Some years the lovebugs are worse than others. Spring also means Spring Break, when the parks will be packed. The best way to avoid Spring Breakers is to stay away the week before and the week after Easter. From there, do a little bit of research to see when schools are out of session. Don’t check just your own state, because the Spring Break weeks are not all the same.
5. Summer Pros
If you are a parent with kids in school, summer might be the best time to visit. You will not have to worry about the kids missing school, and you might also have some vacation time that you need to use before you lose it. If your school year ends in the middle of May, take your vacation right after the last day. If your kids don’t go back until the beginning of September, plan a late August vacation. The summer is the best time to visit if you love the water. Both Walt Disney World water parks will be open, and spending a day by the hotel pool is a great way to relax and recharge in the middle of your vacation. Summer is also a great time to plan a beach day. There are several fantastic beaches an hour or two from Walt Disney World. Another advantage of the summer is that the parks are open longer. Crowds might be up, but you’ll have more hours each day to try to get everything in.
6. Summer Cons
There are two obvious cons in the summer. The first is the weather. It is hot! Don’t picture a hot day back home, instead think “surface of the sun” hot. The humidity can also be unlike anything that you’ve experienced elsewhere. Most days it will rain during the summer. The good thing about the daily storms is that they usually pass quickly. The bad news is that the humidity will then rise even higher. The other summer con is the crowd levels. The parks will be packed. July is the worst month, so plan your trip in June or August if you can. The Fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year, and the parks could reach some level of capacity. That said, the Fourth of July fireworks at the Magic Kingdom could be the best that you ever see.
7. Fall Pros
There are two special events that are held each fall that you need to experience. The first is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It is a special ticketed event, and it is not just for kids. The other is the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. You can try dishes from around the world, and there are plenty of extras that are included with park admission. With schools back in session, the crowds tend to level off a bit. September is a great time for those who don’t like crowds, because most parents don’t want to take their kids out that soon. The days are still a bit longer in September and early October, so there will be plenty of daylight.
8. Fall Cons
The early part of the fall still tends to be hot and humid, and the daily storms might still take place. Fall is also the peak of Hurricane Season, and September is traditionally the worst hurricane month of the year. Lovebugs will sometimes return in the fall. While the crowd levels are lower for most of the fall, Thanksgiving Week will be extremely busy. If you hope to have a special Thanksgiving dinner make your reservation as early as you can. It is next to impossible to make a last minute reservation for a table service meal on Thanksgiving Day.
9. Holiday Season Pros
The holidays at Walt Disney World begin in mid-November, and they run through early January. No one does Christmas like Walt Disney World. The theme parks and Disney Springs all have special offerings. The hotels are decorated unlike anything that you’ve ever seen before. Even Scrooge would get into the holiday spirit if he were to visit Walt Disney World during the holidays. The weather is another reason why the holiday season is a great time to visit. The temperature might be cold or it might be on the warm side, but the chance of rain is usually low. You will see why Florida is called the Sunshine State.
10. Holiday Season Cons
The biggest con of the holiday season is the crowds. It used to be that early December had low crowd levels, but the secret is out and people flock to the parks during the entire holiday season. If you want to avoid crowds as much as possible, stay away from Thanksgiving, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Another con of the holiday season is the cost. You will pay a premium, especially if you visit during Christmas Week. Disney knows that people are willing to pay more, so they charge more. It is as simple as that.