A hot topic when planning a Disney World vacation is always when is it not busy. Well, the short answer is these days it’s always busy. With the shutdown of the World a few years ago, it seems to have launched everyone into vacation mode. The Disney World parks haven’t seen a quiet period in years.
The former quiet times right after Thanksgiving and at the beginning of September don’t exist anymore. The marketing team is a little too good over at Disney. So let’s get to the bottom line when are the absolute worst times to vacation at Disney World?
Holidays, Yes All of Them!
Be warned! Disney World is PACKED for every holiday. Not just the major ones like Christmas and New Year’s Day but also the holidays not everyone gets off like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and all the rest.
The lines for this past Veteran’s Day had the lines to park your car at least a mile back from the gate. We had to give up on venturing into the parks. Since we were local it was an easier call to make but if you are traveling that luxury isn’t necessarily an option.
Christmas to New Year’s Day
I know I just mentioned holidays but I had to call out this chunk of time at the end of the year. If you want to know the busiest of the busy time at Disney World this Christmas week through New Years’ day is it. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, you can expect that the parks will be so busy they will stop letting people into the parks. This happens every year and is a very real thing.
Now don’t panic because I would say in all it happens around 5 times per year. I just warn you because I don’t want you to think that maybe this is the Christmas that won’t be crazy, it WILL be, it is every year. When the parks do hit that max capacity level they close it down to people in phases. The first phase of closure starts with turning away people who arrive with just single-day park tickets.
More on the Capacity Limits of Disney World
I am not just talking about college spring break. Another major event to avoid is popular school vacations like spring break. While there are slight fluctuations in school schedules from year to year, spring break tends to fall from the middle of March to the Middle of April. Easter is in early April for 2023, so this will skew some things a bit since some schools schedule their Spring break around that holiday. School vacation weeks and days tend to be so popular since parents don’t have to worry about pulling kids out of school.
Special Disney World Events
Ever notice that Disney’s social calendar keeps filling up fast? This is because what was once a quiet time at Disney is now a time hosting a special event. And it’s no coincidence, they do this on purpose to attract people when they were once less crowded.
So what exactly do you need to look out for? Watch out for the RunDisney weekends, Dapper Days, Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot Food and Wine Festival, Epcot Festival of the Arts, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
When the Florida Heat Sets In
Okay, so this to some maybe 98% percent of the year here in Orlando Florida. That other two percent is what is known as Florida’s winter. In Florida, we get a small window of temporary relief from the humidity and we actually have a few freezing cold days.
The summer here in Florida is a very, hot oppressive time. I am always amazed at the summer crowds we see at Disney World year after year. It’s just a brutal time to be outside period. Its popularity is in large part due to all the kids out of school and on summer break not to mention those teachers on summer break too!
Not only is it hot at Disney World in the summer but this is also the official hurricane season for Florida. Officially hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30 but we most often see hurricanes make landfall in Florida in August and September. In 2022, Disney World closed for two days during Hurricane Ian.
If you do come in the summer months read – How to Stay Cool at Disney World
What To Do if You are Going During Disney World’s Busiest Times
First off know that you are not alone. These are busy times so there are a lot of other people in your same shoes that opt to go to Disney World during peak times. Do not panic if you already have a trip scheduled in one of the times I mentioned above, it’s possible to still have an enjoyable vacation.
- Book with a travel agent, they are 100% free and can help you every step of the way.
- Consider spending extra money on Disney Genie+
- Early Bird catches the worm, people don’t love waking up early on vacation. This is always the lowest ride wait times of a busy Disney World day.
- Do a rain dance, rain will drive people out of the park. So you can play it smart and pack a poncho and enjoy short wait times when the rain starts to fall.
- Go back to the room and nap after lunch, the parks are hot and busy sleep and be able to stay up late when fewer people are in the park.
- Stay at a Deluxe Disney World Resort and enjoy extended evening park hours. Or if that’s out of budget any Disney World resort will grant you early morning park entry.
- Utilize Disney mobile ordering via their app to pre-order your food and skip a line. Do this early during busy times the return pickups can get extended out an hour plus at popular quick service spots.
- Lastly, stay flexible with your day. Rides go down, a flood of people could head to your next ride and it may be better to divert your plans to another calmer area of the park. This is why comfortable shoes for Disney are a must!
Let us know in the comment section below what your experiences have been. Have you ever stayed at Disney during one of these crazy times?
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!
Need More Help Planning Your Vacation?
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Tuesday 18th of December 2018
You need to add the first week of December to that list. It's usually marked a good time to visit, crowdwise, but it's not. The first week of December is Pop Warner Week where cheerleaders (of all ages) and high school football teams go to compete in the Wide World of Sports complex.
They start descending on Disney the week before. We waited quite awhile for our Magic Express bus because there were so many cheerleaders with their escorts and families that the lines were LONG. And that was on the Wednesday before (11/28).
We did the breakfast with Santa at T-Rex on 12/2. It was a nightmare! Over 100 cheerleaders were also there for the breakfast. The only bright side was that we went on Sunday and not Saturday. A manager told me there were over 400 there the day before.
Getting on the bus to be at the park at rope drop was challenging, too. The lines for the bus to MK was ridiculous. It would have taken us being in the line for 3 buses before we got onto one. We chose not to go to MK due to the crowd that we'd have to fight.
Our last night there (Wed 12/5) was bad, too. We went to the Magic Kingdom because it was hard to be there at night due to the Mickey's Christmas party knocking out half the nights. It was filled with cheerleaders and football players. Wait times for rides were well over an hour.