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There is no shade at other Disney parks, but the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida has a unique power over just about every traveler, from families and groups of friends to couples, solo travelers, and even interest groups like marathon runners. Historically, experiencing the rare magic of four separate Disney theme parks and two water parks under the blazing Florida sun requires some planning—now more than ever. Visitor demand is at an all-time high since the pandemic has disrupted travel over the past few years, so it’s important to navigate your Disney World trip with an update – and we hate to even use that word.– strategy.
“Disney is always changing—literally always changing,” says Lauren Masaryk, travel agent for Intouch Vacations, who has been selling Disney travel for over 12 years and visits the park almost every month herself. “Planning your days at the park so you can book your park spots is essential to the rest of your planning,” she adds. To help you update your approach for 2023, we spoke to a range of travel and booking agents like Masaryk who regularly plan family fun and local experts. They’ve covered everything from the best time to go if you want to avoid the crowds, to how to win the cheapest tickets, as well as other great tips to help you experience the Disney Dream and avoid the Disney flop.
A quick look at the best and worst times to visit Disney World in 2023
Here’s a recap of the best and worst times to travel to Disney World. Below we will discuss each of these categories in more detail. Remember: the best trip takes into account your needs, schedule and desires.
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Best time to visit Disney World if you want to avoid crowds
First of all: if you are going to Walt Disney World, you need to prepare for the crowd, no matter when you go. Many of our experts agreed that the “best places” or times when there are almost no crowds have all but disappeared in recent times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your trip by researching a bit and planning your dates.
It is best to go when schools are usually in session, or resume classes after a break. “Avoid peak periods like Christmas, President’s Week, spring break, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to make sure you at least avoid most crowded times,” says Becca Magnusen, family vacation planner.
Usually the least number of visitors is right after the school holidays, so you can target mid-January, late April-early May and late August-late September when people don’t want to pick up their kids from school. Other similar times include the third week of November and the second week of December. “Remember that school calendars vary across the country, so just because there is a break in your area doesn’t mean there won’t be many people,” she advises.
The best time to visit Disney World depending on the weather
The best time to visit Walt Disney World depends on the weather you’re looking for, says Magnusen. “If you like the period from the mid 70s to the mid 80s, then late October to late November or March is your best chance for it, but I always tell my clients not to base decisions on the weather because you never know for sure.”
Those who want to experience Florida’s full sun and have fun will love the summer weather of May, June and July, advises Shannon Henson, Visitor Experience Supervisor at Visit Orlando. But many of our experts have suggested that the weather in Florida could get scorching and unbearable during these months. It would be better if you avoid this when traveling with the elderly in your group or children with poor heat tolerance. For cooler times that are perfect for everything from al fresco dining to outdoor adventures like kayaking, scenic boat tours and more, December through February is Henson’s choice.
“Personally, I love October to November, when it’s cooler too, but that’s when you have to consider hurricane season and storms that tend to get stronger,” says Veronica Geroshimo, partner at ET Family Travel. “In Florida, it is important to remember that it can rain daily and occasional heavy showers should be expected. The winter months can be chilly, but temperatures also fluctuate throughout the day, from putting on a sweatshirt – and maybe a scarf or gloves, as we used to do! – to the point that it gets warmer and does not need a jacket. Net, Net: You must pack layered items for Walt Disney World that you can take on and off quickly.
Now that peak prices are in effect, it’s time to visit Disney World if you want the cheapest tickets.
While prices for theme parks and hotel rooms are set based on demand, visitors can usually get the best weekday deals in late August or September. “For most of the year, ticket prices don’t fluctuate much,” Jeroshimo says. “However, the most expensive days are during the weeks of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
But you can save some money in your wallet even during peak hours, especially if you plan to spend several days in the park. All of our experts agreed that the more days you visit Walt Disney World, the less overall you will pay per day.
Best Shared Dates in 2023
Our experts advise that there are many factors that can influence the best dates to visit Walt Disney World, depending on your personal availability, budget and interests. “Also consider any special holidays or holidays that you might be interested in, such as Halloween and Christmas celebrations or the amazing food festivals that Epcot hosts,” Jerosimo says.
“For flexible clients, I always recommend late April/early May if they want to travel in the first half of the year, or mid-November/mid-December to enjoy the holiday decorations,” Magnusen says, noting that while she loves September in the parks, still hot and sticky weather and hurricanes can interfere with travel. Another tip: “There are crowd calendars on Pinterest, and those dates were wildly inaccurate this year,” she says. “Everyone who used them booked at a time when the crowd calendar said it would be the easiest and so these weeks were packed!”
As a very frequent visitor to the park, early May is my Masaryk’s favorite time of the year due to the great weather and less crowds, noting that prices will be slightly higher than late August/September, but you’ll be able to see Orlando and Walt Disney. The world during one of its most ideal weather conditions.
Worst overall dates in 2023
While Disney is fun no matter when you visit the park, we also asked our experts to examine their crystal balls to determine some of the worst dates to travel there in 2023. Dates to avoid altogether if you can include the week between Christmas and New Years. The year, the weeks before and after Easter and most of March when spring break is in full swing. “From mid-March to mid-April, people will be crowded almost every day,” says Magnusen. Meanwhile, if you’re traveling during Thanksgiving or the week between Christmas and New Years, be prepared to pay the most expensive ticket and accommodation prices on a Mickey-centric trip.
But it really depends on what might affect your vacation, they all note. “Take into account the weather and the cost, and how it suits your interests. “Be aware of any special events that could bring more people and crowds to the resort and parks, such as RunDisney holidays and marathons,” says Jerosimo.
Travel agents can provide you with up-to-date information and park changes, introduce you to technology, and provide concierge services such as restaurant reservations and other entertainment. According to Jerosimo, they will even design a customized itinerary for your family that will not incur additional costs for you as a traveler. “Booking through me is the same price as booking direct with Disney, but you get support and support for small businesses – mutually beneficial,” she says. Now this is some marketing we can leave behind.
Travel professionals like Dr. Terika Haynes, CEO of Dynamite Travel offer a wealth of knowledge to their clients. She advises arriving at the parks early and considering staying at a Disney hotel on site. “If you do that, you might consider taking a break in the middle of the day. This gives you time to take a nap or just relax at the hotel while avoiding the hot weather and allowing you to return to the park later,” she says. While at the park, you’ll need to fill up with food and drinks, and Haynes advises customers to use the Disney app’s food ordering feature, which can shorten the wait for food so you can spend it enjoying the rides.
“Know where to spend your money and what extras you can add to your trip to make it special and magical,” says Masaryk. “For example, it’s very important to know how to use the My Disney Experience app and how virtual queues, Lightning Lanes, and Genie+ work.”
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