WHEN TO GO

In most cases, families have little flexibility on when to visit Disney World. They must go over Spring Break or during the summer because their children are out of school then. When families do ask us for help on when to go, we look at three factors: park attendance, the weather, and the hours of operation. Each one has an impact on the decision. They affect the cost of your hotel room, the length of the lines, and the evening shows.

Park Attendance: If you can go during the off-season, you can save money and experience shorter lines. During the off-season, however, some of the evening shows are available only one night of the week and the weather is too cold for Splash Mountain and the Kali River Rapids - two popular rides.

Park Attendance
January 2nd to Presidents Week
LOW
Presidents Week

HIGH

After Presidents Week to Mid March
AVG
Mid March to Late April

HIGH

Late April to Memorial Day Weekend
AVG
Memorial Day Weekend
HIGH
After Memorial Day to Mid June
AVG
Mid June through Labor Day

HIGH

After Labor Day to Thanksgiving
LOW
Thanksgiving Week

HIGH

After Thanksgiving to Christmas
LOW
Christmas through New Years Day

HIGH

Weather: From October through March, the parks are surprisingly cold, especially in the evening. On more than one occasion, we bought sweatshirts in Epcot in March just to keep us warm during the evening fireworks show. July and August, on the other hand, can be oppressively hot in the afternoon. It sometimes seems that the lines for the spray bottles of water are as long as the lines for the attractions.

Park Hours: The official hours of operation for the parks vary throughout the year. During the summer and holidays, the Magic Kingdom and Disney Studios stay open from three to five hours longer. Epcot and Animal Kingdom, however, change little throughout the year.

Weekends: Most visitors travel to Walt Disney World on the weekends and visit the parks from Monday through Friday. As a result, the lines are longer on weekdays. If at all possible, plan to spend all of Saturday and Sunday in the parks when the lines are shorter.

Conclusions: If your schedule is flexible, consider visiting in May or September. The weather is mild, the attendance is lower, and the parks are open somewhat longer than they are in winter. You can also avoid some of the longer lines by visiting the parks on a weekend. If you must go during the summer, leave the parks in the afternoon and return in the evening when it is cooler.

In planning your trip, please note that the on-site Disney hotels stay full most of the year. It is the surge of off-site guests that crowd the parks during peak times. If you are going during a peak period, you can reach the parks before the off-site guests by staying at an on-site hotel.