I love Walt Disney World, but I’m not a fan of large crowds. The irony here, of course, is that Disney is almost always crowded. Between the four theme parks, the Walt Disney World Resort sees a staggering 50 million guests (or more) per year, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world and all but guaranteeing that you will be vacationing at the Disney Parks with many, MANY other people. Precious hours lost while waiting in long attraction lines and shuffling through jam-packed walkways may seem par for the course when visiting a Disney Park, but there are certain times to visit that can help you avoid the crammed full-to-capacity park days. Let’s take a look at the seven best times to visit the Disney World Parks if you hate crowds.
7. Go During Extra Magic Hours
We all know that there are some wonderful benefits to staying at a Disney Resort, one of which is the opportunity of enjoying Extra Magic Hours at the Disney Parks. During Extra Magic Hours, Disney Resort Guests can experience extra time in the parks before they open or after they close simply by showing their valid park ticket and Resort I.D. During Extra Magic Hours, one can expect to see a significant decrease in crowd levels, especially if the extended hours fall late into the night/early morning hours (i.e. 12 p.m. /1 a.m.). The Extra Magic Hours times vary week to week and park to park, so make sure to consult your Times Guide or the official Walt Disney World Online Calendar (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/).
6. Go When the Park Opens/Closes
Extra Magic Hours or not, the Parks are not nearly as crowded when they first open or as they approach closing time. It’s no surprise that midday levels are the highest at the Parks so use this to your advantage. Head in first thing in the morning and experience the popular attractions before the lines grow, take a midday break—lunch or nap at your resort—and then head back into the Park as the crowds begin to thin out. Guests tend to migrate out of the Park after the nightly big event (i.e. Wishes, Electrical Light Parade, Fantasmic!, etc.), emptying the Park of the throngs of day guests. Also important to keep in mind, even if the Park officially closes while you are in line for an attraction, Disney Policy is to let you experience the attraction, regardless of how long that line is.
5. Go When It’s Raining
Grab your poncho, Crocs (c’mon, they’re practical!), and/or umbrella and head INTO the Parks. Granted some outdoor attractions may temporarily shut down for rain, but the streets will begin to empty out as guests seek shelter. Use common sense, of course. If there is a lightning storm or tornado watch/warning, you’ll want to stay put indoors. But as the rain pours down it tends to flush the crowds out and you probably won’t be sharing those walkways with many other folks. Though it’s true that the majority of rainstorms in Florida last mere minutes, there are days that are total wash-outs. Those are the days you’ll see less crowds! Keep in mind that if you are bearing the rainy conditions, you’ll want to bring plastic storage bags to protect your camera, phone, etc.
4. Go When the Crowd Calendars Show Low Levels
Type “Disney World Crowd Calendar” into your next Google search and you’ll be granted with several sites to help you predict the lowest crowd levels for the month you wish to vacation during. Many calendars will show you a day by day crowd level for each Disney Park, some even breaking the crowd levels down hour by hour (impressive, yes?). In addition to the predicted crowd levels, many of these sites will give you a good idea of how long you’ll be waiting on each attraction as well (for accurate CURRENT attraction wait times, check out the My Disney Experience App).
3. Go During a Special Hard-Ticketed Event
Namely, go during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Both events will sell a limited amount of tickets, so even if a party is sold out it will still be less busy than a typical crowded Magic Kingdom day. The key is to choose a date that is farther away from the actual holiday the party is celebrating (try visiting the Halloween Party during September or the Christmas Party in early November). You will see significantly less wait times for attractions during these events. Even though these events typically run from 7 p.m. to midnight, your ticket can grant you access into Magic Kingdom as early as 4 p.m., giving you plenty of time to get your money’s worth.
2. Head Into the Park that Had Extra Magic Hours or a Special Ticketed Event The Previous Night
Though this is never a guarantee that it won’t be crowded, it could be argued that the majority of the people who experienced the park during the special ticketed event or the Extra Magic Hours the night before won’t be heading into that same park the next day, or at the very least the next MORNING. This system might not always work, but it’s at least worth a shot if you’re desperate for a couple hours of quieter crowd levels.
1. Go During Off-Season
Is it just me or does it seem like Disney gets busier as each year passes? Even during “off-season” one can expect a good level of fellow vacationers, so there is no surefire bet, of course, that you will be hopping onto your super-stretch Rock N’ Rollercoaster limo in as little time as it takes to speed off from zero to sixty mph. But “off-season” will certainly grant you far lesser crowds than, say, the stifling, swamped summer months. Let’s get specific—the least crowded times of the year to visit Walt Disney World, based on previous years, are as follows:
– Mid-November through mid-December. This is with the exception of Thanksgiving week, which WILL be crowded as many workers/students have those days off on holiday. Crowd levels during mid-November to mid-December don’t get overly congested and with the seasonal decorations coupled with the cooler weather, it is a pleasant time to visit, indeed.
– Second week of January through mid-February. Again, this is with a couple of exceptions. If you are looking to avoid the crowds DO NOT come during Marathon weekend (typically the second weekend in January) or during the 3-day holiday weekends.
– First three weeks of May. Crowds are MODERATE, though not heavy. This is the calm before the (summer) storm, so to speak.
-Late August and entire month of September. In my experience, going at the beginning of September is a great time to avoid crowds as most children are already back at school. Keep in mind that going to Epcot in middle to late September will put you at the start of the Annual International Food and Wine Festival and you will certainly see your fair share of crowds at that particular park for this popular event (especially on the weekends!).
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