Surviving Disney: When is the BEST Time to Visit Disney World
Welcome to the Surviving Disney series where I’m sharing all sorts of tips and tricks to surviving Disney with a toddler. Granted many of these tips and tricks are valid for ANY age, but since I’m traveling with a toddler and I’m in the process of surviving toddlerhood I tend to focus specifically on toddlers. So, if you’re trying to survive toddlerhood too please make sure you subscribe and keep coming back as I have TONS of toddler-centric posts on the way (oh and hopefully you don’t mind my making up words).
So, the MAIN component in surviving Disney World with a toddler is timing! When exactly is the BEST time to visit Disney World? Well, there are several factors that go into play here– so let’s get started!
1. October – March
October through March are what I consider the PRIME…these months make up the BEST time to visit Disney World. Why? Because of the weather!
If you’re not familiar with Florida then you don’t understand the heat. Florida heat is not normal heat. Yeah, you may be use to 100 degree weather in the Summer BUT in Florida the humidity will suffocate you! It’s just too hot at other times of the year. Heat and children just don’t mix well at all….grumpiness tends to multiply when sweating to death.
2. The Cheapest Prices are in September, October, January, and February
Disney World does experience lags throughout the year and usually they will offer HUGE incentives in order to get visitors.
The free dining plan is a BIG incentive that people hold out for….we just did the free dining plan on our last trip and it was SOOOOOOOOO worth it! Others will argue that the dining plan is not a good incentive because you are paying regular price for the hotel rooms BUT just by having the free dining plan my family saved an additional $850! Now, granted, we wouldn’t have done as many character meals or had as many expensive snacks if we weren’t on the dining plan but still…even if we had chosen the 30% off room rates instead of the dining plan we would have only saved $325 for 6 nights….there’s no way we could have eaten at Disney for $325 for the week! So I think the dining plan is a fantastic deal (I’ll be writing another post about the dining plan soon).
You can SAVE THOUSANDS just by going to Disney during their off season! Not only are the room rates cheaper to begin with– a room that’s rack rate is $198 a night in low season can have a rack rate of $284 a night during prime season– that’s almost $100 a night difference already! So, during the off season you can get the cheaper rack rate AND a highly coveted discount to make your Disney DREAM vacation an extremely affordable option!
3. See a Disney World you’ve never seen before!
During these off seasons Disney hosts a bunch of different events that transform the parks into completely new parks!
Mid-September through the end of October you will experience the Magic Kingdom all decorated for Halloween. And you can even get a special (cheaper) ticket to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
The end of September through early November you can experience the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. If you can grab the highly coveted free dining plan during this event you’ll really luck out! Your snack credits can be used for many of the yummy dishes at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
Next time we go will be in October so we can have the cool weather and I’m going to plan a snack credit day where we go to Epcot and just use all of our snack credits eating yummy treats (this last time we had 8 snack credits left over at the end of our trip!). You get so much food on the dining plan that this is a totally feasible option! Can you tell I really love the dining plan?? Especially with kids because you know– they see something and they want it– you don’t have to worry about racking up the bill when you have the dining plan. Seriously, I’m going to write a post or 2 just on the dining plan! Plus, you can experience Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom…..which is a total must do for any Disney fan!
Finally, early November through late December you can experience a Disney Christmas! The parks will be decorated for the holidays and you can even attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (at a discounted price too!).
Experience a Disney Holiday Party
I HIGHLY recommend doing either of the Mickey parties when you are traveling with a toddler! We took Little Man to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party when he was a baby and we loved it!
They limit the number of tickets they sell so the park is not crowded at all! The longest wait time we had for any ride was 10 minutes!!! The park admission is cheaper because the amount of time that you get in the park is less– but not really. See, the park shuts down to anyone who doesn’t have a pass at 7pm….so the people who paid for a full day wind up losing the last few hours that the park is typically open. But, when you have the special ticket they will usually let you in a few hours before the “party” begins– make sure you check the website or call and find out how early you can get in! We were able to enter the park at 4pm and it was open until midnight! That’s 8 hours of park time!!! And because of the limited number of people with tickets the lines were shorter and we were able to do EVERYTHING we wanted (a few things twice) and still left before the end!
4. Low Crowd Levels
The lowest crowd levels are said to be the weeks after Labor Day (but the heat is still pretty crazy), after Thanksgiving, and after New Year’s. You want to go during low crowd levels ESPECIALLY when you have a toddler!
Toddler’s don’t understand the concept of waiting! So the less wait times the better!! We were waiting in line to see Goofy and Little Man got so upset because he saw Goofy and didn’t understand why he couldn’t just go up and hug him. He watched the other kids go up to hug and talk to Goofy but his mean horrible parents were making him stay behind the rope in the hot sun….no fair! Needless to say a tantrum quickly ensued.
5. Go BEFORE your child turns 3 and they’re FREE!
Most people don’t realize that if you plan a Disney vacation before your child turns 3 everything for that child is FREE! Even if you plan the vacation on their birthday….as long as they don’t turn 3 until after you check in to the hotel they are FREE! Needless to say, Little Man turns 3 next year so I think we’re going to plan a Disney vacation for his birthday.
Unfortunately, there is no PERFECT date to go to Disney World but there are best times to visit Disney World based on your family, priorities and situation.
For me the perfect time to visit Disney World is the end of October– low crowds, cooler weather but still warm enough for swimming, fun events, and just a little more money than value season– but comfort is important– and once you go to Disney World they send you super discount codes to bring you back– so if we get a super discount code then it will be perfect! But I’d rather pay a little more for the comfort factor.
Through much research and experience here are my recommended top BEST times to visit Disney World:
Anytime in October and November– the weather is PERFECT! Warm enough for the pool during the day but not too hot to enjoy the parks and cool enough at night for a light jacket. The crowds are lower– and they seem friendlier….maybe it’s the whole heat and grumpiness thing but the cooler weather brings out the niceness in people.
January is a great time if you’re not too concerned with the water parks or going to the pool– although you’re limited to a week or two in January because of the marathon. January also boasts the cheapest rack rates– so if price is a worry then January is YOUR time.
February….at least until Valentine’s Day is a great time as long as you don’t care about the pool or water parks. The pricing is at Disney’s lowest and the crowd levels are at their lowest but the weather will be chilly– so take a coat. Yes, it does get cold in Florida….granted their winter only lasts about 4-6 weeks but they do get a winter.
So there you have it….the best times to visit Disney World.
When is your favorite time to visit Disney World? Share when and why in the comments below….
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Make sure you check out the Top 10 Tips for Staying Cool at Disney!