The Best Time to Go To Disney World in 2020 & 2021 + FREE Printable Calendar!

Posted in Disney World
on December 20, 2018

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Epcot in spring with flowers

If you are planning a visit to Walt Disney World in 2020 you might be wondering what’s the best time to go to Disney World for low crowds and great weather. 

I have been to Disney World over 30 times in every season of the year and there are definitely some times of year that are better to visit than others! 

In this post, I’ll share my picks for the best time to go to Disney World 2020 and 2021 along with a handy printable calendar to help you plan your vacation. 

Best Time To Go To Disney World: Cost, Crowds, & Weather

The three factors to consider as you plan your visit are cost, crowds, and weather. Since I’m a cheapskate at heart, I’ll start with cost. The price you’ll pay for a hotel room at Walt Disney World in 2020 varies wildly depending on the time of year during which you travel.

For example, the “rack rate” for a standard room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort in 2020 ranges from $150 to over $300 throughout the year.

Yep, that same exact room costs 100% more during peak travel season than other times of the year.

So we aren’t just talking about a few extra dollars – we talking about cutting the cost of your lodging almost in half by traveling at off-peak times!

Magic Kingdom train station in fall

The second reason I suggest planning your travel dates carefully is to avoid horrendous crowds at the theme parks.

Nothing ruins a vacation like shuffling through the parks at a snail’s pace surrounded by throngs of frustrated tourists. Or seeing 2+ hour wait times for all of the popular attractions.

The third reason you should plan your travel carefully is the weather. Don’t underestimate the heat and humidity of central Florida in the summer months!

It can be downright miserable, so I strongly suggest avoiding the summer months if at all possible.

Pool at Disney's All-Star Movies resort

If your vacation plans include pool time, you might want to avoid a visit in January or February, when pool days are rare.

Also, traveling to Florida in hurricane season can be dicey, so all but one of my recommended times to visit fall outside of that time of year (roughly June until the end of October).

I’ll give you my four favorite times of year to visit the parks below, but be warned: they all take place when kids are traditionally in school.

Now I will tell you what I told my students and their families if they informed me they would be missing a week of school to visit Disney World (I was a public school teacher for 10 years): Your kids will learn far more during a week at Disney World than they would have in school that week.

Blasphemous, right? But honestly, your kids will get SO MUCH out of a trip to Disney World in terms of new knowledge and life experience.

It is the best possible learning situation for them, so please don’t feel bad or hesitate to take your kids out of school to travel to Disney. Just ignore anyone who says otherwise and send them my way for convincing. 😉

On to my picks for the best dates to go to Disney World – and if you’d rather listen to this information, check out this episode of my podcast on the same subject!

#1 Best Time To Go To Disney World 2020: September After Labor Day

Mickey pumpkin in front of Cinderella's castle

My first pick for the best time to go to Disney World is September after the labor day crowds have passed. While it is VERY hot this time of year, the lower cost and crowds might make it worth it for you.

I have visited Disney World during this time for five out of the last six years for the following reasons:

1) Awesome pool weather (we spend LOTS of time at the pool)
2) Relatively low crowd levels
3) Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!
4) September is one of the cheapest time of year to stay at Disney if you are renting DVC points.

Folks sometimes ask me why I prefer this time to October. October brings somewhat heavier crowds thanks to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party and peak Food & Wine Crowds, plus slightly higher costs. But overall, October is a great time to visit, too!

We love to rent DVC points this time of year for a stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge, our favorite resort. We pay about $150/night for a Deluxe Studio Villa which would cost almost $500 if we booked it directly through Disney (read about how you can rent DVC points to save money on your trip, too).

It is pretty hot this time of year, with highs in the upper 80’s, making it sometimes unbearable in the sun. But as long as you plan for a break in the middle of the day, the heat is manageable (at least for me).

PLUS, Disney usually releases a “Free Dining” offer for this time of year, which can be a great way to save money on a Disney vacation!

If you are looking for more help planning your visit, I suggest getting a free quote from my recommended Disney travel agent Siera with Destinations in Florida. They can help you pick the best resort for your family, book dining reservations, and get your FastPasses, all at no cost to you!

#2 Best Time To Go To Disney World: After Easter Until Memorial Day

Woody in front of Epcot in Spring

My second pick for the best time to go to Disney World is the period after Easter up until Memorial Day.

The weather is the big draw this time of year.

Visiting the warm and tropical lushness of Florida after a cold, gray winter is just completely incredible. Plus no chance of a hurricane ruining your well-laid plans!

Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival takes place this time of year, adding more color and beauty to your trip. Crowds stay lowish, with averages of 4-5 out of 10 for the whole time period.

In 2020 Easter is on April 12th and Memorial Day is May 25th, allowing about five weeks to visit with low costs and crowds. Anytime between these two holidays should be a great time to visit!

As far as cost goes, this is a more expensive time of year to visit compared to fall and early winter by about 20%. But it may be worth it to you for the fantastic weather. 

If you want to rent DVC points, I suggest visiting in May as opposed to April for significant savings.

May is part of “Dream Season” which has rates only slightly higher than the two cheapest seasons. You will pay about 30% more in April, so wait for May if you can!

#3 Best Time to Visit Disney World 2020: Early December

Cinderella Castle with lights during the holidays

My third pick for the best time to visit Disney World is the period right after Thanksgiving through the first few weeks in December.

The main reason for a visit this time of year is to soak up the incredible Disney World holiday magic without paying any more than you would other times of year!

This is one of the more affordable times of year to visit, whether you are booking a resort room with Disney or renting DVC points.

Crowds are around 6 out of 10, though they spike a little on the weekends with locals visiting for the holiday decorations and special events.

The weather starts to get unpredictable this time of year, so you could catch highs in the 70’s or you could need parkas. But as long as you pack for anything, this is such a wonderful time to visit the parks.

Click here to get my ultimate guide to Disney World Christmas for details on the special holiday events plus tips for celebrating Christmas at Disney!

#4 Best Time To Go To Disney World: Early November

Epcot's Spaceship Earth during Food & Wine Festival

My fourth choice for the best time to visit Disney World is early November.

This time of year has fantastic weather, relatively low crowds, and low room rates.

Plus you’ll catch the tail end of the hugely popular Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, my favorite event at Walt Disney World!

Average highs are around 80 degrees so you can likely still get some time in at the pool and it’s not scorchingly hot at the parks. Hurricane season is almost always over by now.

Crowds aren’t too bad (about 4-5 out of 10) and this time of year is part of the rate category Disney calls “Fall”, which is one of the lower-cost times of year to visit.

For comparison, a standard room at Pop Century costs $110 during the “Fall” season, which is second only to “Value” season in January in terms of affordability.

My source for the best rates on Disney Value Resorts is Orbitz since you can stack Orbitz promo codes ON TOP of any discount Disney has released! Read all about how to save money by booking Disney resorts on Orbitz in this post!

Note:  There is a cost increase and increase in crowds associated with the Veteran’s Day long weekend, so avoid those few days if you can.

Runner-Up Best Time To Go To Disney World 2020: January and Early February

I felt like I had to mention one more time of year to consider for the best time to go to Disney World.

January (after marathon weekend) and early February (up until President’s Day weekend) offer the lowest prices AND lowest crowd levels of the year. You’ll have to contend with “winter” in Florida, which is totally mild of course.

In 2020 the Disney World marathon events run from January 8th – 12th so it’s best to visit after that if possible. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on Monday January 20th in 2020 and there is a slight surge in crowds that weekend.

But, if you aren’t concerned with visiting the pool and want to avoid crowds/save money, consider a trip in the first two months of the year! Plus, you’ll get to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts, which is included with park admission.

We love the warm weather and special events of the previously mentioned time periods, so we tend to avoid these months.

Below is a calendar with the best time to go to Disney World in 2020 and 2021 highlighted in green (holidays are in red). Click here to view and print your calendar!

It is also important to note that resort hotel rooms are almost always cheaper Sunday through Thursday night.

If you are planning a 5-night stay and can make it happen with work schedules, go during the week to avoid the additional 10-25% cost increase of Friday and Saturday night stays.

I hope this post gave you some helpful hints for the best time to go to Disney World 2020!

Any questions? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on my free private Facebook group!

Check out these related posts:

Get the BEST time to go to Disney World + a free printable calendar to help with your Disney vacation planning! The best time to go to Walt Disney World in 2019 based on crowds, cost, and weather. #disneyworld #familytravel


  • Ahna

    Hi Leah,
    Thanks for all the tips! How are the crowds M-F during the last week of August? I know most schools are back in session by that time…

    January 21, 2020 at 12:29 am Reply
    • Leah

      Should be a great time to go! Just avoid Magic Kingdom on Monday and you’ll be great.

      January 21, 2020 at 11:51 am Reply
  • Michelle Brown

    Thanks so much for these AWESOME tips!!!

    December 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm Reply
  • Patrick

    Hello Leah, I am surprised that most of the crowd calendars, not to say all of them are showing Magic Kingdom January 12, 2020 in green as less crowded while this the day of the marathon, the “real” one with 20.000 runners going through all the theme park with some oh them finishing around 12 o’clock. Do you have an explanation?

    December 15, 2019 at 4:39 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Patrick! The runners are all out of the theme parks before the 9 am opening time so the race doesn’t affect Magic Kingdom crowd levels at all. What is does affect is traffic trying to get to the parks in the morning! Some roads are closed due to the race. I think it will be fairly low crowds at MK that Sunday (Sunday is usually a good day there) but you will definitely want to leave extra travel time to get there in the morning. Traffic won’t be an issue in the afternoon/evening.

      December 16, 2019 at 8:31 am Reply
  • Steve Snyder

    Hi Leah! I love your blog but I want to play teacher with a red pen and edit something you said for clarification. You said the #2 best time to go to Walt Disney World is after Easter, but you gave 2019 dates, not 2020. The only reason why I’m pointing this out, is because we ARE going the week after Easter 2020 — which is April 12, 2020 — and other WDW bloggers with Crowd Calendars agree that the week of April 13-19, 2020 will be lighter crowds. We are planning our Park days for April 13-17, 2020 and we are so looking forward to seeing less crowds as most kids will be back in school that week.
    Thanks again for great information!


    November 2, 2019 at 12:12 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks Steve! I caught it and it’s updated now.

      November 2, 2019 at 12:25 pm Reply
  • Laurie

    Hi Leah,
    We are possibly travelling to Disney World the third week of March 2020.
    How busy should we expect the parks to be? We are thinking of visiting Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.

    October 22, 2019 at 9:25 pm Reply
  • Shirley

    I just discovered your site and I LOVE it! We are planning a trip for November 2020 and are debating between the 3-11th or the 10-18th. We will be celebrating my daughter’s birthday. Which do you recommend? Thanks for all your incredibly useful information.!

    October 22, 2019 at 6:07 pm Reply
  • Mateo Pedersen

    Was looking to go to WDW the week of June 14, 2020. In your opinion, is that a good time? Not too concerned about weather. Been there in Aug and Sept in the past.

    October 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Mateo! Most schools are out by that time and many families have started their summer vacation. But honestly summer crowds have been totally manageable the last two years. As long as that pattern continues in 2020 I think it would be a fine time to visit.

      October 21, 2019 at 6:34 am Reply
  • Mary

    Hi Leah, I just joined your podcast, it’s great! We are a family of 5, hubby and I, a 7 and 5 year old girl and a 1 year old boy. It’s our first time going to Disney and had some questions if you could help out.
    1. Are the Deluxe/Moderate hotels worth it? For us ease of transporting kids is a must, and that’s why we may not want the value resorts. If so which ones are your favorite? Kids love to swim so a great pool would be awesome.
    2. I noticed you went in May and mentioned it was HOT! Was this closer to June or beginning of May? We were planning to go right after February, so March or April. Any best weeks for this? We definitely don’t like super hot weather but enough warmth for the pools. School isn’t an issue.
    3. We won 8 hopper tickets. We’re so you suggest we buy the rest from? Direct with a Disney or another site? We would like to go for 6-7 days but not spend all our days at the parks. Maybe 4-5?
    Thanks in advance!

    August 29, 2019 at 4:39 pm Reply
  • Julie

    Thank you for answering my question, So I was able to check the crowd calendar and it says that its EMH I believe. To confirm what I think this means is that people staying at the resort will have access to park 1hr earlier? We were planning on doing a character breakfast to get in early as well. Is it still worth it?

    August 24, 2019 at 5:58 pm Reply
    • Leah

      An pre-park opening character breakfast won’t help much if there are morning Extra Magic Hours during the time when you are eating breakfast. I’d use that time to tour the park with low crowds and eat your meal later in the day when the crowds have already built (say after 10 am).

      August 26, 2019 at 6:04 am Reply
  • Julie

    Correction Disney date is Jan 10th, 2020

    August 24, 2019 at 12:49 pm Reply
  • Julie

    So we are planning a 1 day trip to Disney prior to embarking on a cruise. Our Disney date is Jan 19th, 2020. Now I see this is smack in the middle of marathon weekend how will this impact me and do you have any tips and tricks. Also keep in mind I’m travelling with my husband, my 3yrs old and 5yrs old, and then grand parents 65 and 77yrs old.
    Thank you so much for this very informative info. Julie

    August 24, 2019 at 12:48 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hey Julie! I think you will be totally fine visiting on the 10th. The race that morning is the 10K and it’s prolly the least popular of all of the races. The race will be over before the parks open so the only issue might be traffic in the morning. Just leave some extra time to get to the park and you’ll be fine.

      August 24, 2019 at 5:11 pm Reply
  • Vicky

    Hello Leah, I hope to get some advice from you. This is our 2 nd trip to disney and we got lucky the last time we went in September and enjoyed it alot. So this year I booked a short trip on November 17th-20th at AOA since it is the only week my husband got his time off. What do you think about the crowd level in that week. I’m a little nervous since it is a week before thanksgiving. TIA

    August 24, 2019 at 11:56 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Vicky! I think that week will actually be a great time to go. Since Thanksgiving isn’t until the 28th I expect pretty low crowds during the time you will be there. Have fun!

      August 24, 2019 at 5:12 pm Reply
  • Emily

    Planning a trip for my 4 and 6 year old end of January 2020. Looking at the weeks of Jan 20-24 or Jan 27-31. Wondering if the week of Jan 20 would be busy as many people have Jan 20 off (school and work) for Martin Luther King day? Any suggestions on which week would be preferred?

    August 19, 2019 at 10:55 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I think the second date would be better! There is a slight surge in crowds due to MLK day (particularly that Monday at Magic Kingdom).

      August 24, 2019 at 8:05 am Reply
  • Mary Jane Meeks

    Hey Leah, Thank you so much for all of your info. My husband has a convention in Orlando in January, so we were going to go to the parks Jan. 8-10. I see that is marathon weekend. Is this a bad idea? Thanks!

    August 17, 2019 at 1:49 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Mary! Traffic in the mornings is the main concern during the marathon events. If you wanted to avoid any issues you could wait and head to the parks after 10 am when everything is cleared out.

      August 24, 2019 at 8:07 am Reply
  • Catherine Osborne-Flesch

    Dear Leah, my family and I are thinking of going to Disney April 4-9th 2020…do you think that this would be a good time – it is the week BEFORE Easter?

    August 7, 2019 at 3:50 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Catherine! This is a pretty busy time at Disney World. I’d say crowds will be a 7-8 out of 10. Crowds generally build the closer you get to Easter.

      August 9, 2019 at 7:26 am Reply
  • Michelle

    My family and I are coming Oct. 11-14 and I was wondering what the crowds will be like during that time. I know HS will be pretty busy because of Star Wars, but what about the other parks? Am I going to regret this decision?

    July 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm Reply
  • Family Travel Pro

    Wish we had read this before we booked our flights! Great summary and clearly very helpful to your readers.

    July 20, 2019 at 11:34 am Reply
  • April

    Hello I want to take my family in December 2020 but not sure what week may be best . Also best value with which resort

    June 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm Reply
  • Chelsea Spier

    Hi there. I love your post. Thanks so much for sharing. I was planning on a visit early February in hopes the crowds would be low to super bowl. I just found out the super bowl is going to be in Miami. Do you think this will bring crowds to the parks?

    June 11, 2019 at 1:25 pm Reply
    • Leah

      That’s a good question, Chelsea. Normally crowds are quote low on the actual day of the Super Bowl. Even with it being in Miami I don’t think it will impact crowds all that much. Just be sure to avoid President’s Day weekend and the Princess half marathon.

      June 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm Reply
  • James

    If you were choosing between the first week of Mar 2020 or May 2020, which would you chose? Thank you!

    June 9, 2019 at 7:29 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi James! Definitely the first week of May. You’ll avoid all spring break crowds and have great weather!

      June 12, 2019 at 12:33 pm Reply
  • Dee

    will there be any promotions after Star Wars opens? I was told there most likely will not be

    May 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Dee! It’s hard to say. I think there will be some kind of discount, though it won’t be much.

      May 11, 2019 at 6:13 am Reply
  • Dee

    We are a family of 6 people, we are flexible on when to go to Disney world but were hoping to go in 2019 and preferably after Aug. 20, 2019. Our kids are young so we can pull them out of school. We are trying to keep cost down, I was curious about the DVC points and if it’s possible for family of 6 also, when would be the best time to go? Are you able to provide options for us>

    May 10, 2019 at 3:38 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Dee! The best way to go about renting DVC points if you are new to it is to go through a broker like David’s DVC Rental. Here is a post that walks you through the whole process: My pick for the best time for the end of the year is probably mid-November. Though that will depend on when they open the second attraction at Galaxy’s Edge! If they open it in November that will obviously affect crowd levels.

      May 11, 2019 at 6:15 am Reply
  • Tany

    Hello, I’d love to take my kids as we’re first timers. I want to go in 2020 when it’s not busy and not have to worry about hurraince season. When is the best time you can suggest to go? We’d also like to play in the pool. I have no problem taking the kids out of school, I just don’t want them miserable to have to wait in lines all day.

    April 28, 2019 at 9:08 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Tany! Hurricane season is roughly June through October so avoid those months. My picks would be mid-November (avoid Veteran’s Day) and right after Easter through the week before Memorial Day.

      May 5, 2019 at 6:24 am Reply
  • Colette

    Se are planning a trip to Disney the last week in July, right before my kids go back to school. What do you think prices and crowds will be like?

    April 7, 2019 at 5:16 am Reply
  • Krystin

    Hi! Do you think the crowds will still be lower in September even though Galxays edge is opening up in August of this year? Thanks😊

    March 14, 2019 at 8:37 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Krystin! You are right, Galaxy’s Edge will definitely impact crowds this year. I’ve updated the post – thanks for the reminder!

      March 15, 2019 at 8:49 am Reply
  • Felicia Cox

    Hi, we are planning our 5th trip to Disney World this Dec 18 2019. this is the only time we can visit, my Daughter is in University and my Son is in High school so they can’t miss time from school. We were at Disny World 2 years ago March 7 to March 22 it was busy but we got through all the rides and shows, will December be Busy like it was in March or Busier. Any tips will be a huge help 😁

    March 12, 2019 at 12:52 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Felicia! The first few days of your trip will have fewer crowds than later in the trip, so I’d plan to do Magic Kingdom early in your trip if possible. I expect that starting on the 21st you’ll have pretty heavy crowds, similar to spring break. The busiest week of the year is the week between Christmas and New Years. Hope that helps!

      March 12, 2019 at 6:09 pm Reply
  • Tammy miller

    Hey Leah
    This is our first time going to WDW and we are going April20-27 if you have any suggests on anything please let me know!!!
    I’m so excited about going!!!

    February 26, 2019 at 2:47 pm Reply
  • Rick

    Hey Leah, which week in April would be better to go this year, the week of 3/30 or the week of 4/6?

    February 9, 2019 at 4:07 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Rick! I checked the crowd calendar and the second option (week of 4/6) looks slightly better. Expect 7/10 crowds as opposed to 8/10 – both weeks will be pretty busy.

      February 9, 2019 at 5:40 pm Reply
  • Leah

    Hi Lori! When we travel with my dad we like to get connecting rooms so everyone has their own space but we can be together as much as we want. So that’s one option! We have traveled with other families and shared a two-bedroom villa through renting DVC points as I describe in this post: Animal Kingdom Lodge is our favorite resort. A few off-property places I have stayed at that I can recommend with two-bedroom units are Caribe Royale, Sheraton Vistana, and Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista. Though I strongly prefer to stay on Disney property if at all possible!

    February 6, 2019 at 5:40 am Reply
  • Leah

    Hi Natalie! It will be crowded, but not nearly as bad as the holidays. The two keys are to visit the right park on the right day using a crowd calendar and the second key is to really understand the FastPass system and make good use of it. This post will help: This episode of my podcast would also really help!

    February 4, 2019 at 7:25 am Reply
  • Vanessa

    Hi Leah
    We are looking at doing a trip in 2020 (we are from South Africa) – do u have recommended dates for that year or am i being too hasty. My son turns 3 on 3 Nov 2020 so we want to go before that so that he goes into the parks for free. Was looking at September after Labour day but have been warned about the 3 H’s (heat, humidity & hurricanes). HELP!

    November 22, 2018 at 5:28 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Vanessa! I think it’s good to start planning now for your 2020 trip and a brilliant idea to take your son before he turns 3! I would suggest a trip at the end of October and even into November. The heat will be more manageable then than in September (though average highs are still above 80 degrees F) and it is the very end of hurricane season. Plus the fall decorations are incredible! The prices are good this time of year, too. Just be aware that Magic Kingdom closes early several nights each week for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Party dates will be released in the spring of that year. Also, you don’t have to show any proof of age when you take little ones, it’s on the honor system. 🙂

      November 22, 2018 at 5:47 am Reply
  • Sam

    Hi! Great post. Where do you rent your DVC points from? Currently looking to do the same!!

    Thanks 🙂

    September 26, 2018 at 10:58 am Reply
  • Shannon

    Hi Leah – this is great information! I am planning a trip for early 2019, but have seen so many conflicting articles on the best time to go. I am thinking some time late Jan – early May. I am somewhat flexible on dates, but I need the weather to be nice (but not too hot/humid) and prefer the crowds to be moderate to low. It will be two adults and 4 kids (13,12,9,8) Can you give me your best suggestion?

    May 23, 2018 at 4:22 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I have two suggestions, Shannon – the first two weeks of February will be cooler (average highs in the low 70s) and crowds of about 4/10, and the first two weeks in May will have about the same crowd level and will be warmer (average highs in the mid 80s). So I guess it depends on how warm is hot to you, LOL. I prefer May because we love to spend some time at the pool every day and it’s generally a little chilly for that in February. Hope that helps!

      May 23, 2018 at 5:18 pm Reply
  • Josie

    My family and I are planning on going to Disney for the first time but we’re not sure when to go, mostly because my sister and I will both be college students. Looking at when we would have breaks, we’re thinking early October or mid March. Any advice, or suggestions?

    April 22, 2018 at 10:23 am Reply
  • PegP

    If traveling to Disney in September, please know that this is peak hurricane season time. Disney got hit big in Sept 2017 when Hurricane Irma plowed through. And hurricanes have been increasing in number and intensity over the last few years. If you must go in Sept, buy travel insurance!

    We went at the end of October in 2017 and it was great except for Epcot. Crowds were low at the other parks, but unreal at Epcot because of the Food & Wine Festival. We’ll never go there again when that’s on. When a child asks you why Disney is still serving drunk people, it’s time to go back to the resort. We were there for only 2 hours. It was not very family friendly.

    And also know that the 1st week of December is Pop Warner week. I wouldn’t advise staying at a value resort (especially the All Star resorts) during that week. It can get loud and unruly. That’s when we’re going this year, but hoping that it won’t be so noticeable at Saratoga Springs.

    March 31, 2018 at 8:37 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks for sharing, Peg! We go to Disney every September and have been lucky to never have an issue with hurricanes. Last year we lucked out and went a few days after Irma and there was no damage to speak of, but there is always a chance so I agree with you that travel insurance is a great idea!

      Sorry you had a bad experience at Food & Wine. I avoid Epcot on Friday through Sunday during the festival for that reason. It is very different during the week in my experience at least – way less crowded and very little drunkenness.

      And great advice about Pop Warner week. You will not notice it at all at Saratoga. Pop Century doesn’t get the crowds either, just the All-Stars (especially Sports!) just like you said. Thanks again for all of your input!

      April 1, 2018 at 6:59 am Reply
  • Erin

    We are planning our first ever (and probably only) trip for 2019 and I can’t decide between May and September! We are using a friend’s DVC points so we can’t have trip insurance, and I worry about hurricane season/getting lots of rain. But we really want to enjoy a crowd-free trip. Crowds and weather are the most important factors. What would you do?

    March 28, 2018 at 10:42 am Reply
    • Leah

      This is SUCH a good question, Erin! Are you at all interested in Star Wars land? It is more likely to be open by September but no guarantees. If you don’t care much about it either way I would definitely recommend May! The surge in crowds will be tremendous when it opens. Also, the weather is way more reliable in May – not much rain and no hurricanes. It is a great time of year to go, just slightly more expensive than September. Hope that helps!

      March 28, 2018 at 12:45 pm Reply
  • J Riley

    My college student granddaughter and I will be staying at the Old Key West resort from Jan 5-Jan 11, 2019. That is the only week we can go due to her school and work commitments. I just learned that part of our stay will be during the marathon and I am very concerned about how that will impact our time there. Can you tell me what to expect as far as park crowds and bus transportation? I’m scheduled for knee replacements in preparation for this trip so I could be considered a trooper of sorts. I am not a trooper, however, when it comes to fighting big crowds and standing in extra long lines. Should I consider rescheduling for the following year in hopes of missing the marathon?

    March 27, 2018 at 12:03 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi there! Honestly I wouldn’t worry much at all about the marathon! The events that cause the biggest disruptions are the marathon and half-marathon and they are on the 12th and 13th when you will already be gone. For the first few days of the event (when you will be there) the crowds at the park won’t be affected much at all and you should have no problem getting around.

      March 28, 2018 at 12:49 pm Reply
  • Diana

    E went to Disney this past November from the 26 th to the 4 th of December it was so crowded ? ugh after everything we read and heard about crowds that time of year was one of the best it was the worst every park every day was sooo crowded I was so disappointed. The weather was nice tho

    March 7, 2018 at 11:44 am Reply
    • Leah

      So sorry it was more crowded at the parks than you were expecting, Diana. That is a great time of year to visit, but there will always be crowds at Disney World – it is just HOW crowded it will be! What you saw in early December is nothing compared to the insane crowds between Christmas and New years, if that’s any consolation. I think it is becoming more and more important to get to the parks at least 30 minutes before opening and be very strategic about what parks you visit on what days. That really can help with the crowds.

      March 8, 2018 at 7:20 am Reply
  • shannon

    We just took a vacation to Disney Feb. 5-16 this year and it was insanely busy. I purposely planned early February for low crowds but it was packed =( Might do a different time of year next time.

    February 23, 2018 at 9:13 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Shannon! Another reader visited February 1-5 and commented that she experienced light crowds and was even able to cancel some FastPasses. Maybe late January/first week of February is a safer bet. I was at Epcot on Monday, February 12th and I estimate the crowd level was a 3/4 out of 10 which I consider low crowds. Disney definitely is working on spreading out peak crowds throughout the year so I think it’s safe to say most times of year will be at least at this level.

      February 24, 2018 at 5:55 am Reply
  • Joan Fox

    We just got back from a 5 day stay at the Art of Animation Cars resort(Feb 1-5, 2018). This timing was perfect, allowing us to cancel several of our fast passes due to light crowds, with minimal waiting times. Counter meals were also a breeze. Weather was mild, requiring jackets or sweatshirts early AM and evenings, but very pleasant mid day.

    February 15, 2018 at 9:10 pm Reply
    • Leah

      I’m happy to hear you had a great trip, Joan! Glad you experienced light crowds and nice weather. I went about a week after you and had the same experience. February might become one of my new favorite times to visit!

      February 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm Reply
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  • Jessica

    Hello! Thank you for the information it is very helpful. I am planning our trip for the week before thanksgiving. I’m expecting busy parks. However, do you know if the holiday decorations will be up at that time? Would hate to miss that! Thank you so much!

    January 19, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Jessica! The holiday decorations will definitely be up in the Magic Kingdom since there are Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties during your visit! The decorations there are wonderful so I’m glad you get to see them. The other parks are hit or miss. Trees, etc. won’t be up in the resorts at that time. Hope that helps.

      January 20, 2018 at 6:21 am Reply
  • Samantha

    I am planning a trip April 27th- May 5th. Glad to see these are good days to visit.

    November 30, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply
  • Karen

    Planning a trip Feb. 4-6, we will be at the park Sunday through Tuesday and need advice about what parks to do in what order. Didn’t get a park hopper and want to visit AK, Epcot, and MK. Thanks in advance.

    October 21, 2017 at 4:47 am Reply
    • Leah

      I’d definitely go AK, EP, then MK. Those days look the best and that happens to be the order I prefer anyway!

      October 21, 2017 at 11:56 am Reply
  • Sagan C.

    How does late May look? I’m looking for less crowds because my son is autistic.

    June 6, 2017 at 3:44 am Reply
    • Leah

      Late May is an awesome time to visit if you are looking for lower crowds. Just make sure you are gone by the Thursday before Memorial Day when crowds start to ramp up!

      June 6, 2017 at 6:16 am Reply
  • Dianna Adams

    If planning a WDW family (6 adults 2 year old, 4 year old and a 12 year old) vacation in April or May 2018 when is the best time to book.

    June 2, 2017 at 6:52 pm Reply
  • Lucio

    Hi Leah, thanks for your post, I found it very interesting since your point of view considers weather, crowds and price. My main concern is finding low crowds in the parks. I checked in 4 websites and I found the second half of august and first days of september has moderate to low crowds (and also that fits well with the time we have for vacation), but I don’t find that dates in your recommended times to visit. Could you tell me what is your opinion on visiting disney on late august?
    Thanks a lot.

    March 30, 2017 at 10:35 am Reply
    • Leah

      I think you will find overall low crowd levels in the parks after August 30th and throughout September. The exception would be Labor Day weekend (September 2nd through 4th this year) which will have very high crowds. It will be very hot but if you can handle the heat then its a great time to visit! Thanks for stopping by, Lucio!

      March 30, 2017 at 10:42 am Reply
  • Chrissy van Doorn

    Hi Leah,

    When you stay at a resort, are you able to access all of the pools/public amenities at that resort, or only the ones closest to your room? For example, if we stayed in a Little Mermaid room at the Art of Animation Resort, would we be allowed to swim in The Cozy Cone Pool or the The Big Blue Pool–or would we only be allowed into the Flippin’ Fins Pool?


    March 26, 2017 at 1:23 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Chrissy! You can use all of the pools at your resort, regardless of your room location! At some resorts you can even use “sister” resort’s pools, such as you can use any pool at the All Star resorts if you are staying in one, or the pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House if you are staying at Kidani Village. I’m actually at an All Star resort right now and can confirm that the sign at the pool says it is for guests of the All Star resorts.

      March 26, 2017 at 5:32 am Reply
      • Chrissy van Doorn

        That’s super helpful–thank you so much! 🙂

        March 26, 2017 at 6:34 pm Reply
  • Norma Cinco

    Thank you for all your great tips. I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I am a teacher and therefore, cannot travel during your recommended dates you provided. This, of course, makes my heart very sad. So, we were planning on Thanksgiving week, what do you think? Also, do you think it’s best for me to go to a travel agency or try to book everything separately and on my own?
    Thank you!

    March 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Norma! I think of all the school breaks, Thanksgiving is the least crowded. Definitely less so than Christmas! Also the weather is usually nice and mild. It really depends on how much time you have to spend learning about all of the aspects of planning a Disney vacation. If you have the time and you like to DIY, then you can likely save money planning yourself. But if you don’t have the time or patience for planning the trip, a travel agent is the way to go! I recommend Destinations in Florida, an established no-cost agency that specializes in Disney travel:

      March 19, 2017 at 4:07 pm Reply
  • Jen

    Give me some good news..March 19-22 and we are staying at one of the other value resorts, that movie one, have you ever been there?

    February 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Yes! All Star Movies is actually my favorite of the All Star resorts! Are you traveling with little ones? The kiddie pool area there is really fun. Be sure to walk around the resort and check out all of the areas, the Toy Story courtyard is fantastic. I think you will encounter moderately high crowds but nothing like Easter week. Be sure to plan your visits to the Magic Kingdom carefully. I generally avoid Saturdays and Mondays there.

      February 22, 2017 at 6:42 am Reply
  • Megan

    My family is going March 2 thru the 8, any idea how this should be?

    January 29, 2017 at 10:54 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Megan! Should be great, especially at the beginning of your trip since it is before most spring break crowds arrive!

      January 30, 2017 at 6:39 am Reply
  • laura

    We’re thinking about going October 8th-12th. I noticed October wasn’t recommended; can you tell me why?

    January 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hey Laura! October is overall a good time to visit since schools are generally in session. There are higher crowd levels in October than late September and early November due to both Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party being in full swing. If you use a crowd calendar to plan your park days carefully you will have a great trip!

      January 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm Reply
  • Sabrina

    I am planning on going either April 29th – May 6th or May 6th – May 13th for my birthday. I’m happy to see that these are highlighted in green! It will be my first time there 🙂

    January 4, 2017 at 9:42 am Reply
    • Leah

      That’s fantastic, Sabrina! After Easter and before school lets out is one of my favorite times to visit! I went the week after Easter last year and it was perfect. Hope you have a great time celebrating your birthday at Disney World.

      January 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm Reply
      • Sabrina

        Thank you so much! I’m happy to hear that and hoping to avoid major crowds to make the most of my trip!

        January 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm Reply
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  • Suzanne Maldonado

    Hi! Can you tell me what you think the week of 03/19/2017 might look like?? That is the week Im going to WDW for the first time. Im willing to move up a week or so if it will help to go during lower crowd times. TIA

    December 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Suzanne! You are looking at peak pricing at Disney resorts from 3/10 through 4/8. You would save pretty substantial money if you were able to go prior to 3/10, but pool weather can be iffy at the very beginning of March. Crowds will also be higher the second half of March compared to the first half due to spring breaks. The week of March 5th through the 11th looks great for crowds and prices. Hope that helps!

      December 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm Reply
      • Lynn Smith

        I’m going 3/12-18/17. Is this going to be one of those super crowded weeks or can I count on, hopefully, moderate to slightly busy crowds?


        February 6, 2017 at 5:24 pm Reply
        • Leah

          Hi Lynn! I checked out the crowd calendar at Undercover Tourist and it looks pretty busy that week, about a 7/10. I suggest planning which park you will visit on which day using a crowd calendar like I suggest in this post: You can still dodge a lot of the crowds by visiting the least busy park each day! Hope you have a great trip.

          February 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm Reply
  • Justi

    What about the first week in April? Is that a good time

    December 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Justi! It really depends on when Easter falls. This past year (2016) Easter was early, so we went during the first week of April which was AFTER Easter. We had a great time with overall low crowd levels. This upcoming year (2017) Easter is later in April, so it will likely be very busy and pricey the first week in April. Disney bases their prices on anticipated crowd levels, so the most popular times of year (such as the holidays and Easter/spring break) are going to be the most expensive. Hope that helps!

      December 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm Reply
  • Julie

    Thanks for the great tips! We are planning to go November 12-18th in 2017. Just wondering why November 10-12 and 18 are not included in your green (i.e. “best time” dates)? Is something going on at Disney during that time that we don’t know about?

    October 25, 2016 at 10:52 am Reply
  • Lisa

    My family just returned from our visit this past week (10/15 – 10/21). The weather was perfect mid 80’s and the evenings were gorgeous! It didnt rain once..not the norm for FLA weather. We did dodge the hurricane; however, I did have friends that were there that week and even when the parks closed for the day (which they never do), they said that Disney was more then hospitable and it all worked out fine. For us we were able to spend time at the pool and water park. Blizzard Beach had just closed to start renovations for next year. In fact, the only downside visiting during an off season is that attractions may be closed..but since there is so much to dont even notice! The one pool was closed at our resort as well but we were advised ahead of time. The crowds were fantastic! Of course we worked our fast passes along with the Disney App for wait times and took advantage of the extra magic hours; however, the lines were only long to see the characters. We rode several of the special attractions mutiple times! Many, many years ago my parents would take us the 8th week of the year (February was their timeshare week) and the crowds were similar to what we experienced last week..but no swimming! I will probably always stick to the fall and don’t forget Mickey’s not so scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom..the decorations were awesome! I have to first trip was at x-mas break when I was about 12… the only thing I could remember about that trip was standing in line! It was right up there with wanting to slit your wrist! Don’t forget ….not only are the hotel rates higher in peak the-park passes are higher to help swing the crowds. P.S. about missing school….my son is in K…the principal when she signed off on the excused absent with a smiley face…said “I am sure I will sign one of these every year for a vacation?” Yep! ?

    October 24, 2016 at 1:35 am Reply
    • Leah

      I had a HUGE smile on my face reading your comment, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Disney in the fall! It is such an awesome time to visit, isn’t it!?! Where did you stay? So glad you had low crowd levels, I might have to adjust my calendar if I hear this is a pattern in mid-October.

      October 24, 2016 at 6:21 am Reply
  • kendra

    um I need to leave a comment saying the calendar needs updated because the whole calendar is wrong look at January 2017 the 1st starts on Sunday not Saturday so the whole calendar is a day off

    September 21, 2016 at 8:57 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Kendra! The issue is that this calendar starts on Monday instead of Saturday. So while it is correct, it isn’t the usual Sunday through Saturday setup. I’ll look for something easier to read and get it updated. Thanks!

      September 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm Reply
  • Carissa

    Good to know, I wish I had this knowledge about the END of September earlier! I just got back yesterday, we spent the 13th-18th at WDW and the crowds were terrible! Well, terrible by MY standards lol. All the crowd calendars predicted a 2 or 3, lowest of the year for my dates at the parks, and they were more like a 5 or 6! Oh, and the humidity! We still had fun, but man you really have to NARROW down those dates! Thank you!

    September 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm Reply
  • Shelley

    Being East coast Canadians, by the end of January we are sick of winter. We took our dirt Walt Disney vacation in January 2014 and loved it! It was not too busy and not too hot (but much milder than the weather back home)! We went again in January 2016 and have January 2017 planned already!!! For us, it’s the best time to visit ?

    September 18, 2016 at 5:35 pm Reply
  • Heather

    Any recommendations, or follow same reasoning, for Disneyland.

    September 4, 2016 at 10:48 am Reply
    • Leah

      Sorry Heather, I’m not familiar with crowd patterns at Disneyland. I’m hoping to make my first trip there next year!

      September 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm Reply
    • Steph

      I do Disneyland at least once a year (this year I’ll have 4 trips!) My first choice is mid September. The fall decor is up, the weather is not as hot (probably low 80’s) and crowds are not bad mid week. My next choice is end of January-park can be u crowded and only once have we gotten rained on (but it may be too cool for outdoor swimming). I also have enjoyed a trip during the first week of December. Magical decorations and not crowded. I rarely visit on weekends, but even when I did Labor Day weekend and Mother’s Day (Disney half marathon weekends) it wasn’t insanely busy. I’m headed to DLR this weekend, so hopefully even though it’s a weekend, it won’t be too busy. Hotels near the park are always spendy, the best you can get at a decent place is going to be at least $100 (probably more like $149). I’m headed to Disney World the first week of November, so here’s hoping for no hurricanes!

      September 8, 2016 at 12:47 am Reply
      • Leah

        Awesome advice, Steph! Thanks so much for sharing, now I am even more excited to check out Disneyland. The first week in November is my hands down favorite time to visit WDW! Nice choice. 😉

        September 8, 2016 at 9:10 am Reply
  • LauraB

    I totally agree with your best dates! I also would rather swim with sharks than deal with crowds and heat, so my family and I have never visited in the summer. I would love to spend Christmas at Disney World, but never have because of the crowds and prices. About five years ago, before Veteran’s Day crowds were crazy, we went over Veteran’s Day and were at Magic Kingdom when they turned on the holiday lights at the castle for the first time that holiday season. It was magical. We’ve also visited at the end of September and the beginning and end of January. Recently my husband and I went for a few days at the beginning of February. I think it’s the most affordable time and crowds are at their lowest. I am hoping to plan another February trip for he and I in 2017. My daughter and I went in early May and enjoyed the Flower and Garden festival with low crowds. I also totally agree with you that it is worth it to take the kids out of school for a week to go when crowds are low. And I am a teacher!:) The memories you will make as a family and the experience they will get is definitely worth it. Thanks for continuing to give great advice on how to make a Disney World trip affordable!

    August 11, 2016 at 7:01 am Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences at Disney, Laura! Glad you too have had good trips during these times of year. I really want to get down next spring for Flower & Garden festival at Epcot as I haven’t been to that event in years.

      August 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm Reply
    • Carissa

      Ditto on the sharks! I love January at Disney World, it has been so much nicer to us.

      September 19, 2016 at 9:20 pm Reply
  • Anastasia

    We went September 13-20 in 2015. I loved it! Crowds weren’t bad, and I pretty much walked right up to the Space Mountain ride. Their were some waits, we did a lot of kiddie rides for my 2 year old daughter, I think our longest wait but most enjoyable wait was the Winnie the Pooh ride, thankfully they have tons of activities while you wait. 🙂 Stores weren’t crowded heavily either and Downtown Disney was a dream! I really dislike large crowds full of arrogant people who seem clueless of manners. That being said the most crowded area was main side, we double timed it the castle and the crowd reduced greatly.

    July 30, 2016 at 5:34 pm Reply
    • Leah

      So good to hear, Anastasia! I am heading down for a quick trip September 17-19 so I hope for similar low crowds!

      August 2, 2016 at 3:42 pm Reply
  • Ellen

    Planning my first family Disney trip for next year. Just curious, why not October? I was thinking first 2 weeks of Oct. Would it be worth it to plan for sept or nov? Also: when does the free dining generally run?

    July 20, 2016 at 1:19 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Ellen! The reasons I suggest end of September or November as opposed to October is crowds and availability of Free Dining. It is slightly more crowded in October with both Food & Wine AND Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party in full swing. But October is still not nearly as crowded as other times – maybe a 5 out of 10. The dates for Free Dining change every year and the offer is typically released in the spring (April/May). For the last two years, most dates in October have been excluded. For example, this year the dates for Free Dining were 8/14-10/1, 11/15-11/21, and 12/10-12/21. It is likely the dates for Free Dining next year will be similar, if Disney does indeed offer the promotion again next year! Hope this helps!

      July 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm Reply
      • Nicole MacFarlane

        hello, just wondering where i would find the info about the free dining. Also do you know when the halloween stuff starts? we were looking to travel in mid october for that particular reason so the kids could enjoy all the halloween things. and one more thing, having only visited disney once briefly is it best to book at an actual disney resort or a condo nearby? any info/tips much appreciated!!

        January 19, 2017 at 8:37 pm Reply
        • Leah

          Hi Nicole! Free Dining for the fall is historically released between March and May. As soon as I hear anything I will be sure to share it here on the blog! The Halloween party usually starts the first week in September on certain days. It isn’t likely that free dining will be offered in October (it hasn’t for several years) but there is a chance there could be some dates in September. I recommend staying on Disney property and just shared a post about this topic here: Thanks for stopping by!

          January 20, 2017 at 7:01 am Reply
  • Monica

    I would have to disagree with the end of September. I’m a Disney travel agent, and I sell a lot of vacation packages during that week. I would recommend arriving the day after Labor Day for a week. I have gone several times during that week, and the crowds are about a 1-2, and the weather is almost perfect! The last week of September/first of October is a lot more crowded.

    June 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks Monica! I’ve never been during those weeks since it is before Food & Wine starts and that is our favorite event of the year. F&W Fest begins a week earlier this year (on September 14th) so we are going to try going during that week this year. Maybe the crowds will be less than we are used to? Thanks again for your input!

      June 29, 2016 at 7:56 am Reply
      • Deanna

        From Cali. Planning a NY/PA road trip next year then Florida on our way home. Which will put us in Florida first week of October. What do you think?

        August 24, 2016 at 10:58 am Reply
        • Leah

          The first week in October is a great time to visit Disney, Deanna. The only reason I don’t suggest October is slightly higher crowd levels than surrounding dates (though the crowds are nothing compared to peak times of year!) and the fact that free dining hasn’t been offered in October lately. The weather will be great though still very hot (highs around 85). Perfect for the pool!

          August 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm Reply
    • Brenna Anderson

      I disagree with mid October it’s too hot I know because I was there last year going in late March through early April next year

      September 6, 2016 at 3:49 pm Reply
      • Leah

        You are right Brenna, it is still pretty darn hot in Florida in mid-October! I bet you will like the weather in late March better.

        September 7, 2016 at 6:08 am Reply
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