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When is the best time to go to Disney

One of the questions we hear the most is “What’s the best time of year to go to Disney?” And it is not for nothing. Nobody wants to go there on the busiest days, when all the attractions have hours of lines and the day doesn’t yield anything.

Fighting lines and a certain level of crowds is part of any Disney trip, after all thousands of people visit the parks every day of the year. The average is 120 thousand people per day in the 4 Disney parks!

Despite this, it is important to understand that there is a wide variation in park capacity throughout the year: there are days with large crowds (such as Christmas and New Year, when parks reach maximum capacity and even close their gates).

On the other hand, there are days with a much smaller crowd, which disperses through the parks in such a way that you only notice how crowded they are at the time of parades or fireworks.

In addition to saving you time in the parks, choosing a season of emptier parks helps you save in all aspects.

Following the good old law of supply and demand, during low season you are more likely to get hotels with good prices and cheap airfare.

In order to help in the decision, we produced a calendar with the best and worst times to go to the parks in the next 12 months (which we update every 3 months with the latest information).

In addition, so you can understand the reasoning behind these recommendations, we’ve done a month-by-month analysis of key critical events that can result in crowded parks. I hope this helps you choose a good time for your trip so you can get the most out of Disney and other Orlando attractions.

Oh, and for those who want to see the video version of this post, just play down here 🙂 Also, on our Instagram we have a summary of each month saved in the highlights.

Before, some important information:

  • The calendar below analyzes the capacity of the parks exclusively. To learn more about temperature, schedules, shopping tips and other aspects of a trip to Orlando each month, see our Month-by-Month Orlando Guide.
  • Of course, the capacity of two parks can be different, and in the calendar below we focus on showing the periods when you can enjoy empty, moderate or full parks, making a good schedule day by day. Closer to your trip, if you want a more detailed look, use our park capacity calculator considering the days of your trip and the parks you will only visit.
  • For a script to be balanced, the capacity is a very important factor, but it is not the only one. So, here are all our tips for setting up your day-to-day itinerary in Orlando after choosing the time of your trip.

When is the best time to go to Disney?

Disney Crowd Calendar
Disney Crowd Calendar

Main events month by month

January

Remnants of the New Year:
Until around January 5th, the parks are even more crowded with people from all over the world, who have chosen Disney as their destination for New Year’s Eve.

When the New Year falls during the week (in 2020 it fell on a Wednesday), usually the rest of the entire week has an additional holiday crowd. However, parks are always gradually emptying over these days until they become much quieter.

Despite the beautiful decorations and amazing Christmas shows, it’s always good to avoid the parks in these first days of the year.

Disney Marathon:
These are kind of boring days to go to the parks.

Not so much because of the crowd (which has a slight growth), but the parks have some paths blocked because of the marathon until a certain time of day. Because of this you need to take a walk to reach your destination.

Since not every day the event is in every park (and the smaller races end before the park opens), it’s super easy to avoid if you want. If possible, it’s good to avoid it, but if you can’t avoid it, it won’t disrupt your schedule so much.

run-disney-marathon
run-disney-marathon

The good thing is that while the marathon takes place, there is a crowd running or cheering instead of being in line at attractions. Also, the marathon always brings super cool characters to the park. Enjoy! 😉

Marathon dates in 2020: January 8-12
Marathon Dates in 2021: January 6th to 10th

Martin Luther King Day:
As with all national holidays, expect full parks. Martin Luther King Day always falls on the third Monday in January, and the parks are already full on the weekend before this date. In 2020, it happens on January 20th.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts:
Epcot’s latest festival celebrates all kinds of art. Since he is still finding his space, it was not possible to feel major changes in the number of parks caused by him.

However, the only caution you should be careful with is some Orlando residents who go to Epcot over the weekend to check out the festival’s news, so if you can, avoid this park on Saturdays or Sundays.

February

Universal Mardi Gras:
Although not traditional across the United States, Universal celebrates Mardi Gras (Carnival) on select dates from February to April. On some of these dates, the parks can be more crowded, especially if they confirm a famous band or singer to perform for free there, as is usual.

President’s Day:
This holiday always falls on the third Monday of the month and brings many Americans to Orlando’s parks. In 2020, President’s Day takes place on February 17th and is expected to negatively impact park capacity.

Princess Half Marathon Weekend:
One of Disney’s half marathons; expect a little more crowding these days, but nothing serious. In 2020, it will take place from the 20th to the 23rd of February.

epcot-international-festival-of-arts-2020-walt-disney-world-resorts
epcot-international-festival-of-arts-2020-walt-disney-world-resorts

Epcot International Festival of the Arts:
Relatively new, this festival that celebrates the most different types of art is still finding its space and for now, it hasn’t been possible to feel major changes in the crowd of parks motivated by it.

However, the only caution you should be careful with is some Orlando residents who go to Epcot over the weekend to check out the festival’s news, so if you can, avoid these parks on Saturdays or Sundays.

Spring Break:
In recent years, some American colleges have set their Spring Break for the last few days of February, which could have an impact on park capacity at the end of the month. In 2020, Spring Break will be especially widespread, with schools and colleges taking a week or two off between late February and mid-April. Despite this, the situation seems to be even worse in March and April, when Spring Break is concentrated in the vast majority of schools and colleges.

March

Spring Break:
As I already mentioned, this month brings the beginning of the Spring Break season, which are “mini vacations” of American colleges and colleges. Each college and school takes Spring Break on a different date, always between March-April (some even at the end of February, as I mentioned before). In other words, the capacity of the parks will be greatly affected at this time because of this recess.

Flower & Garden Festival:
Disney has a beautiful gardening festival that starts in March and runs into late May or early June. In the meantime, many Orlando residents and Disney fans can come to the park to check out the festival, which takes place at Epcot, but I think that does little to add to the crowd at the parks as a whole.

epcot-disney-flower-and-garden-festival
epcot-disney-flower-and-garden-festival

The focus of residents is Epcot, especially on weekends.

Easter:
It depends on the year, right? But if Easter falls in March, it could contribute to a much larger crowd. In 2020 it will only be in April.

Universal Mardi Gras:
While not traditional across the United States, Universal celebrates Mardi Gras (Carnival) on select dates from February to April. On some of these dates, the parks can get more crowded, especially if they confirm a famous band or singer to perform for free someday, as is usual.

April

Spring Break:
Spring Break, which is a “mini vacation” of American colleges and colleges, will run until mid-April in 2020, greatly affecting park capacity in the meantime.

Easter:
The critical factors for April are basically the same as for March. However, in 2020, the month of April will also have Easter on the 12th! The bright side: right after Easter, that Spring Break “cake” is over.

Flower & Garden Festival:

With the end of Spring Break and Easter, the festival has more influence on Epcot’s capacity on weekends, when residents of Orlando and region also enjoy the event.

Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras
Universal Studios Orlando Mardi Gras

Universal Mardi Gras:
Universal is a huge party and in April they still celebrate Carnival (Mardi Gras there). On some of these dates, the parks can get more crowded, especially if they confirm a famous band or singer to perform for free someday, as is usual.

Star Wars Half – Dark Side:
Another half marathon from Disney, this one bringing the fashion theme: Star Wars!

You have to admit, it’s fun to see the crowd running around dressed up in Star Wars, to say the least. There are always some great costumes!! Despite this, speaking of capacity, the race should not affect the movement of parks that much. In 2020 this race will take place between the 16th and 19th of April and I have already registered to participate! =)

May

In general May is also a great month, with well below average capacity, a delicious climate and there is still the Flower & Garden Festival to enjoy.

Flower & Garden Festival:
Disney’s Gardening Festival continues throughout May and may slightly affect Epcot’s capacity, especially during weekends.

Memorial Day:
National holiday that takes place on the last Monday in May.

As with any holiday, expect the parks to be very crowded at this time. This holiday still usually marks the beginning of summer vacations for many American schools, that is, it also marks the beginning of a season of crowded parks. In 2020, it happens on May 25th.

June and July

Vacation:
Disney is always a delight, but given my choice, I really avoid going there at this time of year. I say this because of the summer holidays in northern hemisphere countries (and in July in Brazil and other countries as well).

In addition to the park being very crowded, it is VERY hot. It’s the time of year you least want to be in a crowd. If you have kids, you need to travel during school time and don’t mind the cold, so prefer January or December.

4th of July:
USA Independence day. The parks will be full every day of the month, but they will be especially busy on this national holiday, especially Magic Kingdom and Epcot. If you can’t help but be there, the good thing is that you will see a very special fireworks show. 🙂

4th-July-disney-world
4th-July-disney-world

Tip: If you want to see the fireworks and escape the park on the 4th of July, the Magic Kingdom usually has this special show on the eve of the holiday, the 3rd as well. The park is still HYPER full, but it’s more drinkable than the crowd. on the 4th.

August

End of vacation:
The beginning of August is still quite busy due to the summer vacation in the USA, but it gradually deflates throughout the month. Around the middle of the month the parks start to get quieter, but as it’s still late summer, it’s hot and it can rain a lot.

September

In September, everyone who was on vacation has definitely left and the parks tend to be emptier. This is probably the emptiest month ever and one of the best to be in Orlando. The summer weather continues, with a lot of heat and sunshine in Florida, but you’ll find far fewer lines.

My tip here is: even if you finish going to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot or Hollywood Studios rides before they close, stay until the parks closing shows, because they are VERY worth it, ok?

Labor Day:
National holiday on the first Monday in September. Since it’s a holiday, expect a fuller park on this day and the weekend before it. Tip: Outlets often have great deals on holidays, so escape the parks and run there! In 2020, it will take place on September 7th.

Food & Wine Festival:
September is a time marked by the Food & Wine Festival, a gastronomy festival that takes place at Epcot. For this event, several kiosks are set up representing different countries or regions of the world. Each kiosk sells typical food and drinks.

In addition, there are lectures, special tastings and many activities for food lovers.

EPCOT-FOOD-AND-WINE-Festival
EPCOT-FOOD-AND-WINE-Festival

The important thing here is to say that there is an increase in the number of people at Epcot because of this event, but this should go completely unnoticed by you, as the park spends the entire month emptier.

The tip, as with any festival, is to escape Epcot on weekends, when Orlando residents also invade the park to enjoy the event.

Halloween parties:
At this time, some parks have very traditional Halloween parties in the city, especially the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios. The two parties have very different profiles (the first is cuter, while the second is even scarier). However, they can be very interesting to improve your schedule.

Although Halloween is only in late October, parks begin the celebration in September, on select nights, after the parks close. The point here is: avoid the Magic Kingdom during party days as the park is expected to close early and there will be no fireworks show. At Universal Studios, you can go quietly in the park on Halloween day.

That said, I highly recommend the Disney and Universal Halloween celebrations.

October

In October the parks start to fill up a little more, but the capacity is still well below average.

Food & Wine Festival
Again, it is possible to notice an increase in the capacity due to the Food & Wine Festival, but it is a movement concentrated at Epcot, especially during the weekends.

Columbus Day:
Holiday that always takes place on the second Monday in October. In 2020, it will take place on the 12th of October. Expect a “big” crowd during the weekend before this holiday, so the tip to escape to the outlets is still valid for that date as well. While parks are queuing on holidays, outlets are full of promotions!

Halloween parties:
Halloween celebrations start in September, but gain much more momentum in October. A lot of people go to Orlando around this time to attend Halloween parties.

It’s kind of funny the dedication of the Americans – you see some families completely costumed with clothes they had made especially for this day.

Again: avoid the Magic Kingdom during party days, as the park is expected to close early and there will be no fireworks show.

At Universal Studios, you can go quietly in the park on Halloween day.

That said, I highly recommend the Disney and Universal Halloween celebrations.

November

This is perhaps not exactly the best time in terms of stocking (though not bad either), but it is definitely the start of the most beautiful season in the parks, as the Christmas decorations are placed in the beginning of November.

Food & Wine Festival:
Again, it is possible to notice an increase in the capacity at Epcot (especially on weekends) due to the last days of Disney’s Food & Wine Festival.

International Festival of the Holidays

Also at Epcot, towards the end of the month, a new festival starts, now with a Christmas theme, called the International Festival of the Holidays. This makes the park even more beautiful for the end of the year celebrations and offers many special activities. However, thinking about capacity, it is worth avoiding it again on weekends, when local residents also enjoy these festivities. Dates for 2020 have not yet been released, but in 2019, the International Festival of the Holidays kicked off on November 30th.

Thanksgiving Holiday:
The entire week of Thanksgiving break the parks should be VERY busy. So the tip is to keep these days apart for shopping. End up on Black Friday promotions, which in 2020 will be on November 27th, but avoid going to the parks during these days, ok?

Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon Weekend:
Another one of Disney’s half marathons. Expect slightly more crowded parks during the weekend of this event, which in 2020 will take place from November 5th to 8th. However, the capacity does not harm your use of the parks.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
As well as the Halloween party in September and October, Disney hosts a Christmas party at the Magic Kingdom after the park closes to the general public in November.

The party is magical in my opinion and it’s really worth it, but even if you don’t want to go, pay attention to the days it will happen and avoid going to the Magic Kingdom on these dates. I say this because the park should close early because of the party and there should be no fireworks at the end of the day

ABC Christmas Parade Recording:
Traditionally, Disney receives the ABC TV channel’s (which belongs to Disney) Christmas parade footage for a few days. The recording usually takes place in the 4 parks at the beginning of November and the dates are announced very close to the event itself.

It’s worth being alert with the possible additional capacity during these days due to this event, and also with the change in the parks’ concert schedule, as some are cancelled, specifically at Magic Kingdom. Also, since some celebrities often show up at the park to shoot, expect a bigger crowd in general. Even if you fall in the middle of your trip, you can organize yourself to avoid the Magic Kingdom on those days.

December

The beginning of the month is generally calmer, but gradually the parks fill up until they reach their maximum capacity at the end of the year. Despite this, you can’t help but be enchanted by the Christmas atmosphere at Disney.

I love this season. If you have the chance, go at the beginning of the month to be able to better enjoy the parks and check out all the Christmas programming and decorations in the city. If your trip is around this time, check out our Orlando Christmas guide and Orlando New Year guide.

International Festival of the Holidays

Continuing the end-of-the-year festivities, the International Festival of Holidays continues at Epcot throughout December, making the park even more beautiful. Again, the tip here is to avoid Epcot during the weekends, when many local residents choose to visit it too.

Christmas and New Year:

By December 20th the parks are impassable. The capacity comes close to maximum every day; on the 25th and 31st of december, the parks often close their gates even before noon, as they have already reached their maximum capacity and no one else can enter.

This is really the busiest week of the year.

very-merry-mickey-santa-claus
very-merry-mickey-santa-claus

If on the one hand the decoration and the fireworks are wonderful, on the other hand, you will hardly be able to walk among so many people.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:

As in November, the Magic Kingdom Christmas party continues to roll in December after the park closes to the general public on select nights.

As I said, the party is magical and well worth it, but even if you don’t want to go, pay attention to the days it will happen and avoid going to the Magic Kingdom on that day. I say this because the park must close early because of the party and the fireworks must not be held at the end of the day.

At this time when all the attractions have so many lines, every hour in the park is very valuable. Now, if you go to the party, I suggest you leave it to enjoy a normal day at Magic Kingdom on another date, so you don’t miss the parade and fireworks show that don’t happen on party days.

After all, when is the best time to go to Disney?

Avoiding Christmas and New Years week, Spring Break and the American vacation period, almost any time of year can be a good time to go to Disney.

Every month has its critical days, but these are days you can avoid by scheduling yourself to do other things, like go shopping.

The times I like to go to Disney the most are early May, September and late November/early December, but this is just my personal preference. So, look carefully at the events of each month and choose the best time for your trip.

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Secure internet for your entire trip

Although several places in Orlando have free Wi-Fi, the connection is not always good and mainly, in several situations where you will be moving from one place to another we recommend that you have internet to use gps on your cell phone for example.

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More Tips for Your Trip to Orlando

As we talked about above, be sure to check out our youtube channel where we give several travel tips to Orlando.

In addition we show you lots of cool things to do there, do you want a better way to plan a trip than already living a little bit of what you will see there?

Click on the Image below to check all our tips on Youtube

Art of Animation - Little Mermaid Carlos and Nath - Departed Disney Parks
Art of Animation – Little Mermaid Carlos and Nath – Partiu Disney Parks

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