Are you planning a trip to Disney World, and need to know:
When is the best time to visit Disney World?
We’ve got a crowd calendar for the 2017-2018 school year with the answer.
Which months are the most packed at Disney World,
and which months are the best to visit.
Let’s dive in…
In this article
- A Word on Disney World Crowds
- 2017 – 2018 Disney World Crowd Calendar
- How We Predict Disney World Crowds
- When is the best time to visit Disney World?
- When is the worst time to visit Disney World?
- Disney World Crowds Month by Month
- Wrapping up
A Word on Disney World Crowds
Disney World crowds are pretty easy to understand.
Or are they?
How exactly do you measure Disney World crowd levels?
Is it the wait times on rides?
Or how booked up the restaurants are? Or the hotels?
Or is it how full the parks feel?
We take the view that it’s all of the above. And that’s how we create and present our crowd calendar.
It’s an estimation of overall crowd levels, combining multiple factors, including wait times and resort capacity.
For this reason, we predict crowd levels in categories: light, moderate, heavy and extreme.
We believe that these categories provide all of the information necessary for vacation planning. We also believe that predicting the future any more precisely requires a crystal ball that no one has access to.
2017 – 2018 Disney World Crowd Calendar
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The calendar is structured around the school year, because that’s how many families plan vacations.
Below the calendar you will find more detailed information for each individual month.
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As you can see, we predict crowd levels for each park. They are as accurate as we can make them, given that we are predicting the future.
However, we advise against using them to pick individual park days.
That’s because things like park hours and Extra Magic Hours can have a significant effect on individual park crowd levels. That information is not available when the calendar is created, and it frequently changes.
For the most up-to-date information on park hours, check the official Disney World calendar.
A better strategy is to use the crowd level data to pick your week(s). The more green, the lighter the crowds, the shorter the ride wait times, and the more likely you’ll get your hard-to-get ADR. The more yellow, the worse the crowds are.
Avoid red dates if at all possible. Red denotes extreme crowd levels, which can make for an unpleasant experience. Disney experts never go during these periods.
Then, as your vacation nears, and you are planning your itinerary, pick your individual park days based on when you can get Advanced Dining Reservations for the restaurants you want, Extra Magic Hours, and other events that you are interested in.
We recommend avoiding parks on Extra Magic Hours (EMH) days. Park crowd levels are at their lowest the day after EMH. The rest of our Disney World simple planning process is here.
Get psyched to make your plans by watching a free Disney planning video!
How We Predict Disney World Crowds
We use a number of methods to predict Disney World crowd levels, such as:
- historical crowd data from Disney
- historical crowd patterns, especially around holidays
- upcoming events and festivals
- upcoming conventions
- school breaks
- and the most important, experience
We combine this data in a way that’s part art and part science to produce what we believe is the most accurate,
and most representative Disney World crowd calendar available.
It’s also one of the most comprehensive calendars, as it includes crowd levels at each major park, not just one level for all of Disney World.
When is the best time to visit Disney World?
The best time to visit Disney World depends on your party, whether you want to experience a particular season or event, and whether you have school-related date restrictions:
- If you have no restrictions on dates, the first half of December, is the best time to visit Disney World.
- If you have no restrictions on dates, the month of September is the next best time to visit Disney World.
- If you have kids in school who cannot be taken out, the end of August is the best time to visit Disney World.
- Other school break periods can have extreme crowd levels.
Otherwise, review the crowd calendar above to determine what works best for you.
When is the worst time to visit Disney World?
The worst time to visit Disney World are during extreme crowds (red on the calendar). This includes:
- Thanksgiving week
- Christmas week
- New Year’s week
- Spring Break (end of March/beginning of April)
- Easter week
Having said that, if one of these breaks are the only time that works for you and your family, you can still go and have a great time. After all, thousands of other families are!
Disney World Crowds Month by Month
As you can see, there’s a lot of green on the calendar, indicating low crowd levels.
Crowd levels remain low throughout most of the month, as kids have just gone back to school. No one goes on vacation during the first month of school.
September also kicks off the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, our favorite Epcot festival. This festival doesn’t have much effect on overall crowd levels.
But, it does increase crowd levels in the World Showcase at Epcot on the weekends, as locals come in to sample the international flavors.
We recommend avoiding Epcot on the weekends.
Crowds pick up a little at the end of the month, as some schools have early fall breaks. However, crowd levels only creep up to moderate, with no heavy crowds anticipated until the last day of September.
Remember that September is peak hurricane season, so you may want to consider travel insurance.
Crowd levels peak around the Columbus Day long weekend, with many schools on fall break. We anticipate heavy crowds at all 4 parks during this time.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival continues during October, increasing weekend crowd levels at Epcot. We recommend avoiding Epcot on the weekend.
Crowds remain mostly in the moderate range through the end of October, with only a few high crowd levels at individual parks anticipated.
Peak hurricane season continues during October; you may want to consider travel insurance.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will continue to increase Epcot crowds on the weekends through the 13th of November, when it ends.
Moderate and moderate-to-high crowd levels continue through the first half of November, up to…
If at all possible, avoid Disney World during the Thanksgiving week, as extreme crowds are predicted.
The last week of November will see moderate crowds decreasing to low crowds, as Thanksgiving guests depart.
You’ll find low to moderate crowds and pleasant, warm-but-not-too-hot, dry weather. You’ll also enjoy festive, magical holiday decorations.
Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom is lit beautifully for the season, and there are giant, beautiful Christmas trees in the parks and resort lobbies. There’s no shortage of festive photo-ops.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is also running during this time, a hard ticket event.
Crowd levels begin at moderate and pick up to high the week before Christmas.
The week of Christmas and the week of New Years both feature extreme crowds, and we recommend steering clear.
Crowd levels are moderate to high for Marathon Weekend, which takes place mostly over the first weekend of January. This contributes to slightly higher park and resort crowd levels, but has minimal impact on ride wait times, as many visitors are there to run or watch the marathon, not ride the attractions.
Crowds decrease to mostly moderate levels during the second and third week of January, with the exception of Martin Luther King Day and weekend. Crowd levels are high to extreme during this 3 day weekend.
The new (as of 2017) Epcot International Festival of the Arts is anticipated to begin January 12th (official dates have not been released at the time of publication). This may run Friday through Monday, as it did in 2017, or all week. In either case, it is not expected to significantly increase crowd levels.
Crowd levels continue to decrease to the moderate-to-low range over the final 2 weeks of the month.
February starts off with low to moderate crowds during the first 2 weeks, as the Epcot International Festival of the Arts continues through President’s Day (anticipated, official dates not yet released).
Crowds begin to pick up in the days preceding Mardi Gras, but mostly remain moderate.
Crowds spike into the high and extreme range over the President’s Day long weekend, one of the busiest of the year. Winter breaks contribute to moderate and moderate-to-high crowds during the weeks bracketing President’s Day weekend.
Crowd levels remain main moderate during the Princess Half Marathon weekend.
Crowds then taper off into the moderate to low range for the final week of February.
Crowds then begin to increase into the moderate to high range during the third week, as Spring Breaks begin.
Crowds continue to increase during the fourth week of March, as more school districts go on Spring Break.
The last week of March is peak Spring Break and the week before Easter, leading to extreme crowds for much of the week.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival begins March 1st.
Crowd levels then decrease week by week, as Easter crowds depart and Spring Breaks wrap up.
The second week of April has high crowd levels throughout. The third and fourth weeks of April have mostly moderate crowds, with a few interspersed high and low crowd/park days.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival continues during April.
The first 3 weeks of May are a great time to visit Disney World, with moderate to low crowds. Temperatures are warm to hot, spring has been in full swing for several months, and the wet season is just beginning.
Cinco de Mayo increases crowd levels just a bit at Epcot, but otherwise has no impact.
Crowds then begin to pick up during the last week of May as Memorial Day weekend approaches.
The long Memorial Day weekend is a great time to avoid Disney World, as crowds peak into the extreme range.
May finishes out it’s last few days with moderate to high crowds.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival continues during May.
But, if you pack the right gear, you can ride these out and use them to your advantage. Parks tend to be less crowded and cooler immediately following rain.
June crowds are mostly high throughout the month, as most schools go on summer break.
Wet season continues during July, so bring your best Disney World gear to deal with afternoon storms. You can ride these out and use them to your advantage. Parks tend to be less crowded and cooler immediately after the rain.
July is our least favorite month for Disney World because of the combination of high crowds and high temperatures. However, July crowds are not as high as they have traditionally been, possibly due to peak season pricing.
Crowd levels throughout July are mostly in the high range, with occasional moderate days/parks, as almost all school systems are out for summer break.
The week of July 4th is the busiest week of the summer at Disney World.
The average high temperature is 92 degrees, so if you do plan a July trip, use these tips for staying cool.
By the final week in August, crowds are actually in the low range. So if your kids haven’t gone back to school yet, this may be a great way to end the summer.
However, while the crowds are better than July, the weather isn’t.
The average high temperature is 92 degrees. Wet season continues with frequent afternoon downpours, and peak hurricane season begins. You may want to consider travel insurance during hurricane season.
Well, that’s our Disney World Crowd Calendar for the 2017-2018 School Year. We hope you find this information useful when you’re planning your trip.
If you’d like to use our calendar on your site, you are welcome to: just click here.
Please let us know what you think in the comments! And if you visit, let us know how we did with our predictions!