Posted by: realcheapvacationdeals | March 3, 2009

Walt Disney World For Families 101

Walt Disney World For Families 101  
Tip 1: Pick your time of year with care

It’s not just about the crowds…

In choosing your time to visit Walt Disney World, you want to balance four factors:

  • crowds
  • weather
  • park hours
  • and special events.

Some choice times to visit Walt Disney World are mentioned at the bottom of this page. But first let’s consider these four factors. You might change your mind about the best time to visit!

For starters:

Extended Park Hours & Special Events
Yes, the busiest times of year are crowded, but they also have benefits: extended hours, plus special parades etc.

During summer, the Magic Kingdom theme park is often open until 11 p.m. or later; during Christmas and New Year’s, it will probably be open until midnight, and Epcot until 10 p.m.

Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are a lot of fun after dark, and you’ll often find a special night parade, fireworks, and/or shows that only happen when the park is open late. For ex., during a visit we made in June, day-time crowds were intense but night-time in MK was delightful: no wait for rides, fireworks at 10, and at 11 pm, an extra Spectral Parade. Peak periods do have their benefits.

As for special events, many people would consider Disney Christmas — with spectacular lights and festivities– a “best time to visit”, despite the crowds. Star Wars Weekends in June and the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival in spring (with free Flower Power concerts) are other fun times.

The calendar at the Walt Disney World site shows park hours, parades, fireworks and special events.

Expect plenty of heat and humidity during summer, which sounds horrendous with small kids and long line-ups… But for many rides, line-ups are under shade or in air-conditioned areas; plus, you can take coping measures. Ride a “wet ride”, to cool down. Leave the park in the afternoon, then return for night-time.

Summertime often brings thunderstorms; the rain rarely lasts long, and cools things down. Bring plastic ponchos, or buy the Mickey poncho on the spot. Hurricanes are rarely a problem, because Orlando’s inland.

Crowds- Busiest (and Least Busy) Times
Also affecting best times to visit is visitor volume: i.e. when are the parks least crowded and most crowded? For example, the end of April, after Spring Break, has moderate attendance; January and early February, and fall months, have low attendance.

Resort Prices: also in the mix about “When to Visit Disney World” are the seasonal prices for Walt Disney World Resorts. Count up five different “Seasons”: Value, Regular, Summer, Peak, and Holiday Season. Sample dates: Value Season, January 1 to February 13, August 3 to October 1, November 30 to December 18; Regular Season, March 30 to May 21, October 2 to November 29; Summer Season, May 22 to August 2; Peak Season, February 14 to March 29, and Holiday Season, December 19 to December 31.* (These are sample dates only; and there are variations even within the seasons. See details.)

Best bets for When to Visit Disney World Disney-philes have praised the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as a top time to visit, with the parks decorated for Christmas, but not much crowds. Seems like too many people are in on the secret, though; Mousesavers’ authors have reported heavy crowds. Be aware, too, that the Magic Kingdom closes early some nights, and weather may be too cool for the water parks. Still, this remains a recommended time for enjoying the park decorations before peak season.


Other recommended times:

  • January, after school starts back after the holidays
  • late April, after spring break, until Memorial Day; and you can enjoy free concerts during Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival
  • late August: many schools in the southeast are back in session, and crowds are typically less. Also, resort prices drop somewhat. Watch out, though, for earlier park closings!
  • “Wonderful Weeks”: the Walt Disney World site has a best time to visit Walt Disney World calendar, with specific suggested dates about when to visit. For example: first two weeks in April; last three weeks in August, and most of September; second weeks of Nov. and of December. This calendar notes Special Events as well.

If you do visit during a busy time of year, be sure to make good use of Fastpass to sidestep line-ups for rides.

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