The Best Time to Go To Disney World in 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 2021 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 2021 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.

Little girl meeting Elsa

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. šŸ˜‰

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 2021: 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.
5) Some of the cheapest dates for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party discount tickets

Folks sometimes ask me why I prefer this time to October. October brings somewhat heavier crowds thanks to the Halloween party and peak Food & Wine Crowds, plus slightly higher costs.

But overall, October is a great time to visit, too!

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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.

She 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.

Lightning McQueen from Cars

In 2021 Easter is on April 4th and Memorial Day is May 31tst, allowing a full SEVEN 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 2021: 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.

Mickey on a christmas float during a parade

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.

bed at disney pop century hotel

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

For comparison, a standard room at Pop Century costs $165 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 2021: January and Early February

Festival of the Arts sign in epcot

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 2021 the Disney World marathon events run from January 6th – 10th so it’s best to visit after that if possible. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on Monday January 18th in 2021 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!

calendar for looking at the best dates to go to disney world in 2020

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 2021!

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

Check out these related posts:

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

165 Comments

  • Oded Paz

    Hi Wendy,

    We’ve {finally} booked our Disney vacation on January 14-21, 2021.

    The only thing we haven’t reserved yet is are the park tickets and dining (Saturday, 1/16/21 is my wife’s 60th birthday).

    Any ideas as to where/how to get the best (cheapest…?) tickets and how to make the 16th a night to remember?

    Thanks for everything you do and the priceless information you provide!

    September 15, 2020 at 10:59 am Reply
    • Leah

      That is so exciting! This post will guide you to finding the cheapest tickets: https://www.thefrugalsouth.com/cheapest-way-to-get-disney-tickets/

      As far as making it a memorable night, I’d have to check and see what special experiences are still available during the restrictions. As far as a special dining experiences, I suggest these places when you are celebrating: Teppan Edo, Topolino’s Terrace, or California Grill (if it is open then).

      September 16, 2020 at 6:49 am Reply
  • Wendy

    Hi! Thank you for all the helpful information. We are planning on going to WDW for the 1st time and we were thinking end of March 2021 or beginning of April 2021. Which would you recommend more, as far as crowd-wise?

    July 29, 2020 at 5:03 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Wendy! Since Easter is early that year (April 4th) I honestly think the best option would be to go immediately after that if you could swing it. The crowds will be WAY down and prices will be much cheaper.

      August 2, 2020 at 6:38 am Reply
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