Disney World Calendar of Crowds, Cost, Weather, Events

by josh on November 26, 2013

Updated 5/23/14 – Crowd Calendar entirely updated. Cost for 2015 dates is a best estimate as rates are not yet available.

Introduction

This is a month by month look at the cost, crowds, weather, and special events at Walt Disney World.

The cost section relates primarily to booking a room at a Disney-owned resort. The cost of theme park tickets, upgrades, and other add-ons generally does not change throughout the year, with the exception of theme park tickets, which usually see one price increase during the course of the year.  Traditionally, that increase comes in August, though it came during June in 2011.

The weather section is based on the historical data available. For a look at the last 15 years of Orlando weather on any date, check http://www.wunderground.com/tripplanner/index.asp?MR=1 This is a handy reference tool, but make sure you look over more than just the past couple of years. The fall of 2009 was one of the hottest on record and January 2010 broke record lows when the temperature dipped below freezing several times.

The crowds section is based on data from the past several years. Generally speaking, the higher the price of a Disney resort room, the busier the Parks will be.  For example, Value season usually has the smallest crowds and Peak and Holiday seasons see the highest crowds.  We’ll also take a closer look at the various exceptions throughout the year.

The Park hours and entertainment section covers the hours of operation at the Disney Parks.  If the hours and entertainment aren’t yet available, you’ll see (expected) after the section header.  In this case, I’m basing the hours and schedule on past years.

The best week to visit section takes into account crowd level, available promotions, Park hours, ride closures, resort cost, special events, and other pertinent information.  Be sure to check out the day-by-day analysis when available to check on the daily crowd levels and dates of important events.

The closures and openings section lists all known and expected ride, Park, restaurant, and other closures and openings throughout Disney World.  If a ride is closed for refurbishment or reopened after refurbishment or a new ride or restaurant is expected, it will be listed here.

Finally, I’ve included a brief description of the special events and other nuances throughout the year.  This will help you plan around events that may adversely affect your vacation or you might want to tweak your plans to visit during a special event of particular interest.  I link straight to the Disney website throughout this calendar so you can read “the official word” about the events or purchase tickets.

January 2015

January Cost:

  • January 1 is New Year’s, which is just slightly less expensive than Holiday, but more expensive than any other date.
  • January 2 – 7 is Value 1, the cheapest season.
  • January 8 – 10 is Marathon, which is similar to Regular and Martin Luther King.
  • January 11 – 15 is Value 1, the cheapest season.
  • January 16 – 18 is Martin Luther King, which is similar to Regular and Marathon.
  • January 19 – 31 is Value 1, the cheapest season.

January Weather: It’s the coldest of the year in Orlando, with an average high of 69 degrees and an average low of 50 degrees. Historically, it rains on 22% of days.

January Crowds: Many United States school districts continue winter break though January 4th, Christmas level crowds continue into the new year. January 1st – 3rd remains extremely crowded with crowds tapering off significantly beginning Sunday the 4th,

Crowds are low for the majority of the rest of the month with two major exceptions. Average level crowds are seen for the Marathon from January 8th to 11th.  While the marathon brings in thousands of people to the resorts, they don’t have as big of an impact on theme park crowd levels. Martin Luther King Jr. crowds from the 16th to the 18th are some of the heaviest crowds of the month and the highest crowd level we’ll see until President’s Day Weekend in the middle of February.  It’s best avoided if possible, but still perfectly doable using the touring strategies discussed on this site.

January Park Hours and Entertainment: The January operating schedule will appear here when it’s available in the middle of June 2014 (until then it will say the page can’t be found): http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_january.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in January 2015: January 21 through February 11th are several of the best weeks to visit of the year with decent weather, some of the lowest crowds of the year, and the lowest prices to stay on Disney property.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time – see below.

Notes:

Historically, January has the most refurbishments and closures of any month.  Lengthy pool refurbishments are also common at Disney resorts as are refurbishments at the water rides, including Splash Mountain.

January Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Disney World Marathon is held January 7 – 11.  While the Marathon doesn’t increase lines at the rides much, it does cause a lot of congestion in and around the Parks on the mornings of January 10th and particularly January 11th.  See http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/endurance/wdw-marathon/index?page=registration for more information on the event, including pricing and exact race times.

The last night of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is expected to be January 4th.  See November and December for more information about the Lights.

Beginning in mid-January, South American tour groups tend to visit Disney World en masse due to a long vacation throughout the continent.  Expect to see large groups throughout the theme parks.  If you do see a group, it’s best to avoid them.  They are not as much of a nuisance as during the summer when overall crowds are so much heavier.

February 2015

February Cost:

  • February 1 – 11 is Value 1, the cheapest season.
  • February 12 is Peak, the second most expensive of the major seasons.
  • February 13 – 16 is President’s Day Weekend, which is the same price as a weekend night during the rest of Peak Season.
  • February 16 – 21 is Peak, the second most expensive of the major seasons.
  • February 22 – 28 is Regular, which has prices that are about in the middle of Value and Peak Seasons. For example, a resort that is $100 during Value Season and $150 during Peak Season would be about $125 during Regular Season

February Weather: The average high is 72 degrees and the average low is 53.  Highs do occasionally get into the low 80s.  Precipitation is relatively low, but it does rain on about 23% of days.

February Crowds: Crowds are below average to average through February 11th, which is the Wednesday before President’s Day Weekend.  President’s Day Weekend will be very busy, as will the week following it until February 21st due to some schools getting that whole week off.  February 22nd through March 6th has below average to average size crowds.

February Park Hours and Entertainment: February’s operating schedule will be available in the middle of July here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_february.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in February 2015: February 1st through 12th is by far the best time of the month to visit.  Crowds will be the lowest and it is still Value season, the cheapest season to book a Disney resort.  Crowds pick up substantially February 13th and continue to be large through the 22nd.  February 23rd through the first week in March is a decent time to visit, but after that we’re getting into spring break territory and crowds that are even heavier than President’s Day, which is already well above average.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

Some of the refurbishments from January inevitably run into February.  Pool refurbishments are also common throughout the month as temperatures are lower and fewer people are in the pool.  Most refurbishments will be completed by mid-February to make way for the heavier crowds and higher resort prices.

February Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Princess Half Marathon Weekend is scheduled for February 19 – 22.  It is a smaller event than the January Marathon, but still brings people to the area.  With heavier crowds already in town for a weeklong vacation beginning over President’s Day Weekend, the Friday and Saturday leading up to the Marathon are quite busy.  Beginning Monday February 23rd, crowds return to below average.  For more information on the Marathon, including the schedule and pricing, visit http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/endurance/princess-half-marathon/

Superbowl Sunday is February 1st.  Sunday during the Super Bowl is usually one of the best times of the year to tour the Parks due to all the people who will be home watching the Big Game.  Hollywood Studios is particularly light on crowds.

Valentine’s Day (February 14th) does not have much of an impact by itself, but it will end up being much more crowded due to President’s Day and the fact it’s a Saturday.

Mardis Gras/Fat Tuesday is February 17th.  The event closes many Louisiana schools, causing elevated crowds from that area for the entire week.

The Atlanta Braves MLB baseball team returns to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in mid-February for spring training.  For the schedule and ticket information, visit: www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves.

March 2015

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • March 1 – 5 is Regular Season, which has prices that are about in the middle of Value and Peak Seasons.  For example, a resort that is $100 during Value Season and $150 during Peak Season would be about $125 during Regular Season.
  • March 6 – 28 is Peak Season, the second most expensive season.
  • March 29 – 31 is Easter, with pricing slightly higher than peak and slightly lower than Holiday over Christmas.

March Weather: Temperatures warm, but remain erratic.  Expect highs anywhere from the mid-60s to the mid-80s with an average high of 77 degrees and average low of 57 degrees with minimal precipitation.

March Crowds: March 1st through 5th sees average level crowds compared to the rest of the year.  Beginning March 6th, crowds increase substantially with Spring Breaks scheduled throughout the United States.  Crowds are similar in size to summer and decidedly in the 7 – 9 range.  The fact that temperatures are much milder certainly helps and international attendance from South America is lower than the June – August months. March 29th – April 5th is the busiest week with Easter falling on Sunday April 5th.

March Park Hours and Entertainment: March’s operating schedule will be available in the middle of August here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_mar.pdf.

Best Week to Visit Disney World in March 2015: March 1st through March 7th will have the lowest crowds and it’s the relatively inexpensive Regular Season at the Disney resorts until the 5th.  If possible, begin your trip a week earlier in February.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

There are a surprising number of pool closures in March, considering how heavy crowds are, but major ride refurbishments are less common.  Expect a lot of pool refurbishment updates as we get closer to March.

March Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Atlanta Braves MLB baseball team returns to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in mid-February for spring training.  For the schedule and ticket information, visit: www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves.

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is expected to begin March 4th.  Because it runs for so long and it isn’t a “big draw” on its own, the Festival does not noticeably increase crowds like the Food and Wine Festival does.  HGTV is sponsoring the event for the fifth time this year and celebrities from the channel will be giving live demonstrations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the Festival (expected, this is what happened in 2014).  Two shows are expected each day – one at 12pm and one at 3pm.  Expect these shows to be crowded, but I’m not expecting the sponsorship to have a substantial impact on wait times or overall crowds.  The Festival also features millions of flowers, Disney-themed topiaries, and an expansive butterfly garden.  Visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival for more information on the event.

The 2014 Festival brought food and alcohol booths very similar to the Food and Wine Festival in the fall with an emphasis on fresh vegetable and fruit ingredients.  The booths proved much less popular than the fall festival and did not bring in crowds. The booths are expected to return in 2015, but should not impact crowd levels.

In addition to the Festival, there is also a concert series that takes place on weekends at the American Garden Theater in the United States Pavilion of the World Showcase.  Shows begin at 5:15pm, 6:30pm, and 7:45pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

For an idea about who to expect in 2015, the 2014 schedule was:

  • 3/07 – 3/09: The Guess Who
  • 3/14 – 3/16: Gary Lewis and The Playboys
  • 3/21 – 3/23: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
  • 3/28 – 3/30: The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • 4/04 – 4/06: Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • 4/11 – 4/13: The Village People
  • 4/18 – 4/20: The Grass Roots
  • 4/25 – 4/27: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • 5/02 – 5/04: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
  • 5/09 – 5/10: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
  • 5/16 – 5/18: Alan Parsons Live Project

April 2015

April Cost:

  • April 1 – 12 is Easter Season, with pricing slightly higher than peak and slightly lower than Holiday over Christmas.
  • April 13 – 20 is Peak Season, the second most expensive season.
  • April 21 – 30 is Regular Season, which has prices that are about in the middle of Value and Peak Seasons.  For example, a resort that is $100 during Value Season and $150 during Peak Season would be about $125 during Regular

April Weather: April warms up to some of the most comfortable weather of the year with an average high of 82 degrees and an average low of 62 degrees. Precipitation remains low with chances at 18%.

April Crowds: April 1 – 12 is among the busiest two weeks of the year and the busiest time overall until the week around Independence Day in July.  It’s one of the four or five busiest weeks of the year with some of the highest prices of the year.  April 13 – 20 will see peak level crowds with overall crowds similar to much of late March, in the “7 to 8 range” on our 1 – 10 scale.  Crowds drop off substantially in the final week as pricing is reduced due to lower demand.

April Park Hours and Entertainment: April’s operating schedule will be available in the middle of September here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_april.pdf.

Best Week to Visit Disney World in April 2015: April 21st into the first week of May would be best.  Any week before that is either Peak or Easter Season, which are both busy and expensive.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

None at this time.

April Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival runs throughout April.  Because it runs for so long and it isn’t a “big draw” on its own, the Festival does not noticeably increase crowds like the Food and Wine Festival does.  HGTV is sponsoring the event for the fifth time this year and celebrities from the channel will be giving live demonstrations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the Festival (expected, this is what happened in 2014).  Two shows are expected each day – one at 12pm and one at 3pm.  Expect these shows to be crowded, but I’m not expecting the sponsorship to have a substantial impact on wait times or overall crowds.  The Festival also features millions of flowers, Disney-themed topiaries, and an expansive butterfly garden.  Visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival for more information on the event.

The 2014 Festival brought food and alcohol booths very similar to the Food and Wine Festival in the fall with an emphasis on fresh vegetable and fruit ingredients.  The booths proved much less popular than the fall festival and did not bring in crowds. The booths should return in 2015, but should not impact crowd levels.

In addition to the Festival, there is also a concert series that takes place on weekends at the American Garden Theater in the United States Pavilion of the World Showcase. Shows begin at 5:15pm, 6:30pm, and 7:45pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

For an idea about who to expect in 2015, the 2014 schedule was:

  • 3/07 – 3/09: The Guess Who
  • 3/14 – 3/16: Gary Lewis and The Playboys
  • 3/21 – 3/23: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
  • 3/28 – 3/30: The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • 4/04 – 4/06: Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • 4/11 – 4/13: The Village People
  • 4/18 – 4/20: The Grass Roots
  • 4/25 – 4/27: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • 5/02 – 5/04: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
  • 5/09 – 5/10: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
  • 5/16 – 5/18: Alan Parsons Live Project

Disney Grad Nights have been canceled and will not occur in 2014 or the foreseeable future.

May 2015

May Cost:

  • May 1 – 28 is Regular Season, which has prices that are about in the middle of Value and Peak Seasons.  For example, a resort that is $100 during Value Season and $150 during Peak Season would be about $125 during Regular Season.
  • May 29 – 31 is Summer Season.  At the Values, pricing is slightly lower than Peak Season.  At the Deluxe Resorts, pricing is actually a little lower than Regular Season.

May Weather: Temperatures rise significantly in May, with an average high of 87 and an average low of 69 degrees.  Historically, May is among the driest months in Orlando, with only a 13% chance of precipitation.

May Crowds: Crowds are average to above average for most of the first three weeks in May through the 23rd.  Generally speaking, the earlier in May, the less crowded it will be.  Expect weekends to be busier with pleasant weather, visiting locals, and longer hours of operation.  Memorial Day Weekend is busier than the rest of May, but not as busy as other major holidays like Easter, Independence Day, or Thanksgiving.  Pay attention to the “special events” section below for more information on when certain Parks may be busier than the overall crowd level might insinuate (Hollywood Studios in particular).

May Park Hours and Entertainment: May’s operating schedule will be available in the middle of October here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_may.pdf.

Best Week to Visit Disney World in May 2015:  Any time between May 1 – 15 would be best.  You’ll find the lowest crowds of the month and be able to enjoy Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival.  You also won’t need to worry about the Star Wars Weekend crowds at Hollywood Studios.  The weather is also cooler.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

None.

May Special Events That Could Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Expedition Everest Challenge may or may not return in 2015.  It’s is an after-hours race at the Animal Kingdom theme park featuring obstacles, a treasure hunt, and a late evening “Party” when racers will have the opportunity to celebrate their achievement.  Tickets  to the Challenge no longer include a one-day theme park ticket, so prices are lower than past years.  However, Disney is also offering admission to the race and a one-day theme park ticket at a discounted rate.  As usual, there is a discount for purchasing tickets early.  For more information, visit http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/endurance/expedition-everest-challenge.

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival continues through the middle of May. See April above for details.

Star Wars Weekends dates have not been announced, but based on past years, should prove to be May 16 – 18 and 23 – 25, May 30 – June 1 and June 6 – 8.  See this post for more information about Star Wars Weekend, what to expect, and how to avoid the crowds.

June 2014

See the June 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

June Cost:

  • All of June is Summer Season.  At the Values, pricing is slightly lower than Peak Season.  At the Deluxe Resorts, pricing is actually slightly lower than Regular Season and much less than Peak Season.

June Weather: June is hot, with an average high of 90 and an average low of 72 degrees. Precipitation inches up with a 38% chance.

June Crowds: June gets busier and busier as the month goes on and more schools let out for the summer.  Summer is obviously much longer than Spring Break and prospective visitors have several months to visit rather than just a one or two week window.  This equates to crowds lower than the busiest holiday weeks like Easter and Christmas, but higher than any other time.  If you’re flexible and wary of crowds, you’ll want to visit during the first two weeks of June – and ideally the first.  You’ll still run into an above average amount of people, but it will be much more manageable than the last two weeks. More so than in previous years, South America drives attendance higher throughout June.

June Park Hours and Entertainment: The current schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_june.pdf.

Best Week to Visit Disney World in June 2014:  June 1st through June 8th will have the lowest crowds of the month and you will have the opportunity to enjoy Star Wars Weekends.  If Gay Days (explained below) is a concern, Wednesday June 9th through Wednesday June 16th is the best week.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • Festival of the Lion King is expected to close January 5th and will reopen in Africa sometime in summer 2014. It may or may not be open sometime in June.

New Refurbishments:

  • Tomorrowland PeopleMover: June 2 – August 4.

Notes:

June Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

Star Wars Weekends dates include May 30 – June 1, June 6 – 8, and June 13 – 15.  See this post for more information about Star Wars Weekend, what to expect, and how to avoid the crowds.

“Gay Days” is an event held in the Orlando area each year in June.  It is not an official Disney event and the great majority of the participants do not stay on Disney property, but they do visit one of the Disney Parks over a four day span.  In 2014, they are expected to be in town from June 5th through June 8th.  The schedule is not yet available, but we can expect them to be in these theme parks:

  • Thursday June 5 – Animal Kingdom
  • Friday June 6 – Hollywood Studios
  • Saturday June 7 – Magic Kingdom
  • Sunday June 8 – Epcot

For the first two days, we’ll plan to avoid the Parks that Gay Days is visiting because the additional crowds will have a more substantial impact.  Because Animal Kingdom has a limited number of attractions and is open fewer hours, the Gay Days crowd will make the Park considerably busier and it will be difficult to avoid large groups entering attraction queues all at once.  This can cause standby waits to be unexpectedly long.  Gay Days participants generally arrive at the Parks around 11am and leave much earlier than the Parks close.  However, with the short 9am to 6pm hours at the Animal Kingdom, they’ll plan to arrive earlier and won’t leave early enough that we can get a lot done after they’re gone.  On Friday, the Gay Days crowds will just add to an already busy Hollywood Studios because it’s also Star Wars Weekends.  Luckily, almost all of the Gay Days participants go to the Park assigned by the schedule, so they do not have much impact at all on the other Parks.  If you visit the recommended Parks each day (or avoid the Park designated as the Gay Days Park), it’s unlikely that you’ll even notice they’re there.  In fact, they can actually help clear out Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Epcot on Sunday due to all the people who will avoid the Park that Gay Days is visiting solely because there will be a lot of gay people around.  I won’t go into the morality of anything since that is not the purpose of this website, but I will point out the fact that there will be a lot of people who figure out the Gay Days schedule by day three and four and will adjust their own itinerary so that they are visiting a Park other than the one Gay Days will be attending.  Because the Gay Days contingent isn’t that large and the fact that they tend to arrive late and leave early, we can get even more done than usual at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot if we arrive by Park opening and visit the headliners first thing.  Since that’s our plan of attack anyway, we don’t need to be concerned about visiting the Magic Kingdom on Saturday or Epcot on Sunday.  I still recommend avoiding the Animal Kingdom on Thursday and Hollywood Studios on Friday.  Overall, Gay Days is not worth worrying about, no matter what your opinion of gay people happens to be.  You can simply visit a Park that Gay Days is not visiting and you probably won’t run into more than a handful of Gay Days participants during your entire visit.  Most of them also stay off-site, so they are unlikely to be staying at any Disney resort en masse.

The “Sounds Like Summer” concert series is expected to continue during June and July in Epcot outside the American Adventure Pavilion in the World Showcase.   This series features cover bands of popular artists with shows that begin at 5:45, 7:00, and 8:15pm.  Because each band plays for one week and there are multiple shows per night, this concert series doesn’t make crowds any larger than they would be otherwise.

In 2013, the bands were:

  • June 9 – June 15: Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • June 16 – June 22: Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 23 – June 29: Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot – The Ultimate Billy Joel Tribute Show
  • June 30 – July 6: Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 7 – July 13: SouthBound and Company – A Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • July 14 – July 20: The Police Experience – A Tribute to the Police
  • July 21 – July 27: 2U – A Tribute to U2

South American tour groups are common in June and July.  I mention this because the groups are primarily made up of kids between the ages of 13-17 and they generally aren’t well chaperoned.  Many people return complaining of rude behavior.  If you see (or hear) a group of young kids walking around behind a 20-year-old carrying a flag, your best bet is to head in the opposite direction.

July 2014

See the July 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

July Cost:

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • All of July is Summer Season, with prices slightly higher than Regular Season and slightly lower than Peak Season.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • July 1 – 12 is Summer Season.  At the Deluxe Resorts, pricing is actually a little lower than Regular Season and much lower than Peak Season.
  • July 13- 31 is Value Season 2, which is just slightly more expensive than Value Season 1 and less expensive than Regular Season.  Unlike most seasons, weekend pricing is not more expensive.  All days are priced the same.

July Weather: July is among the hottest months in Orlando, with an average high of 91 degrees and an average low of 74 degrees.  Yes, it will rarely be less than 75 degrees, even at 3am.  Even worse than the heat is the humidity, which averages about 75%.  Rain showers also increase in July, with a 49% chance of precipitation on any given day.

July Crowds: Fourth of July crowds are the largest of the Summer Season. The rest of July is the first or second busiest month overall because the great majority of kids will be out of school and summer vacations will be on everyone’s minds.  International visitation, fueled by South America, is also at its highest point of the year.  Most other months have at least some portion where crowds will be smaller, but July is not one of those months. It is crowded every day.  Crowds are slightly lower towards the end of the month as you move into August.

July Park Hours and Entertainment: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_july.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in July 2014:  There are no breaks from the crowds in July and no “soft spot” like there is during other months.  Consider a stay sometime after July 12th if you’re staying at a Deluxe resort because the cost will be less due to the change from Summer season to Value season.  Otherwise, avoid July 1st through 7th because of the even larger crowds due to the holiday.  A vacation that begins around the end of the month would see somewhat leaner crowds.  If you’re flexible with your dates, avoid July if possible and look toward the end of August or September.

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • Tomorrowland PeopleMover: June 2 – August 4.

New Refurbishments:

  • It’s Tough To Be A Bug: July 7 – August 11

Notes:

None.

July Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The “Sounds Like Summer” concert series features cover bands of popular artists with shows that begin at 5:45, 7:00, and 8:15pm.  Because each band plays for one week and there are multiple shows per night, this concert series doesn’t make crowds any larger than they would be otherwise.

  • June 8 – June 14: Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 15 – June 21: Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey Tribute Band
  • June 22 – June 28: Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot – The Ultimate Billy Joel Tribute Show
  • June 29 – July 5: Don’t Look Back – Boston Tribute Band
  • July 6 – July 12: Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 13 – July 19: Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tributee
  • July 20 – July 26: 2U – A Tribute to U2

South American tour groups are common in June and July.  I mention this because the groups are primarily made up of kids between the ages of 13-17 and they generally aren’t well chaperoned.  Many people return complaining of rude behavior.  If you see (or hear) a group of young kids walking around behind a 20-year-old carrying a flag, your best bet is to head in the opposite direction.

July 4th Fireworks Shows at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot (Expected in 2014)

There are special fireworks at Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios on the evening of July 4th.   In addition, they do a “dry run” on July 3rd at the Magic Kingdom to make sure everything is ready to go for the 4th.   It is possible that Magic Kingdom will fill close to capacity on July 4th and the Park will close to some or all visitors sometime in the afternoon.  In 2013, Magic Kingdom closed to a Phase 2 closure at 11am and a Phase 3 at 4pm.  It didn’t reopen to all guests until 8:15pm.  If you want to be guaranteed entrance to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the evening fireworks, you will need to be at the Park by 10:30am at the latest.  There will also be additional security at the Monorail Deluxes (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary) and you will either need to be staying at the resort or have a dining reservation for a meal to be admitted on that resort’s property if you’re arriving by car.  This is because the beaches/viewing areas are such popular viewing areas for the patriotic fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  The same is likely to be true for the Epcot-area Deluxe resorts (Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club, Yacht Club).  If you’d like to visit these resorts, plan to do so by Disney transportation.  In addition, the Polynesian may close to guests not staying at the resort around 8pm if too many people have already arrived on the beach. This may be even more likely with the amount of construction going on for the Disney Vacation Club addition.  Read over the July daily analysis for more tips on how to see the fireworks from inside and outside the Parks.

At Epcot, the good viewing areas are the same as usual.  I like to see the show in Canada or Norway to see the fireworks shot above the American Adventure Pavilion during the finale.

At the Hollywood Studios, you will want to be positioned on Hollywood Boulevard for the fireworks show.  The fireworks are shot off of the various buildings and generally appear above  Mickey Sorcerer’s Hat.

Since Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney closed, it is highly unlikely that there will be fireworks at Downtown Disney.

Of the various shows, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are the best.  I recommend seeing them on July 3rd when crowds will be slightly smaller and going to Hollywood Studios or Epcot on July 4th.

August 2014

See the August 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

August Cost:

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • August 1 – 2 is Summer Season and the cost is the same as most of June and July – higher than Value and Regular but less expensive than Peak or Holiday.
  • August 3 – 31 is Value Season 2, which is just a few dollars more per night than Value Season 1, the cheapest season to book a Disney resort room.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • August 1 – 16 is Value Season 2, which is just slightly more expensive than Value Season 1.
  • August 17 – 31 is Value Season 1, the cheapest season to book a Disney resort room.

August Weather: August is one of the hottest months in Orlando, with an average high of 91 degrees and an average low of 75 degrees.  It’s also peak Hurricane Season in Florida.  Although Disney World is inland and not usually affected by hurricanes directly, lesser storms may affect flights and bring otherwise nasty weather with them.  Showers and thunder are common in the afternoon, with a 43% chance of precipitation.

August Crowds: The first three weeks in August will be about as popular as the rest of the Summer season.  In other words, crowd levels will be high.   Crowds begin to diminish beginning the third week in August as more and more kids start the new school year and summer vacation season winds down.  The last week in August is usually a good time to visit Disney World as far as crowds are concerned, though much of September will be even less crowded.

August Park Hours and Entertainment Schedule: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_august.pdf.

Best Week to Visit Disney World in August 2014:  The last week in August is the least crowded and least inexpensive since early May, but all of September is less crowded. Visit as late as possible and ideally wait to arrive until the Wednesday after Labor Day when crowds are the lowest of the year.

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • Tomorrowland PeopleMover: June 2 – August 4
  • It’s Tough To Be A Bug: July 7 – August 11

New Refurbishments:

  • Liberty Square Riverboat: August 4 – August 8

Notes:

None.

August Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

None.

September 2014

See the September 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

September Cost:

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • September 1 – 12 is Value Season 2, which is just a few dollars more per night than Value Season 1, the cheapest season to book a Disney resort room.
  • September 13 – 30 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • September 1 – 25 is Value Season 1, the cheapest Season to book a Disney resort room.
  • September 26 – 30 is Regular Season 2, which is just slightly less expensive than Regular Season 1 and more expensive than both Value Seasons.  Prices are also less expensive than Peak or Holiday Seasons.

September Weather: September is just barely cooler than the summer months with an average high of 89 degrees and an average low of 74 degrees.  Humidity remains extremely high and there is a good chance thunderstorms or rain will disrupt most afternoons and some evenings.  Historically, it rains on 40% of days in September. Peak hurricane season continues as well.

September Crowds: Crowds are at their lowest levels of the year during the first three weeks in September.  The only time you may find less people in the Parks is certain days toward the end of January and the first two weeks in February, making it an excellent time to visit as far as crowds are concerned.  Expect many visitors to be on the Disney Dining Plan due to the Free Dining Promotion, which means lines to the rides may be even shorter than they would be in January due to all the people focused on eating at the various table service restaurants.   September 1st through third will be the busiest days due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday September 1st, but even those three days will have significantly smaller crowds than any of the days during Summer and Peak Season.  Things pick up in the last week as the Food & Wine Festival kicks off.

September Park Hours and Entertainment: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_september.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in September 2014:  Any date from September 3rd through the 18th will have low crowds and you can take advantage of what will most likely be heavy discounts, in addition to already low resort prices. Beginning September 19th, crowds pick up a bit, particularly on the weekends at Epcot with the Food and Wine Festival beginning. Any date from the 19th to the beginning of October is still more than doable with well below average crowds outside of the weekends at Epcot.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic: September 8 – 19
  • Carousel of Progress: September 22 – 27

Notes:

None.

September Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party includes September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, and 28.  The Party runs from 7pm until midnight and includes an additional parade, fireworks show, and trick-or-treating throughout the Park.  Most of the rides are open as well.  For more information about the event, including pricing and tips to maximize your experience, see: http://www.easywdw.com/category/worth-2/halloweenparty/.  For the official word and to purchase tickets, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/ Be aware that this event closes the Magic Kingdom at 7pm for visitors that do not have a ticket to the Halloween Party.  The Magic Kingdom is actually less busy on days when there is a Halloween Party due to the fact that it closes early.  If you have Park Hopper you may want to start there and then hop to another Park to end the day or stay through 7pm and find dinner at a resort.

The Night of Joy returns on Friday September 5th and Saturday September 6th in 2014.  The Night of Joy is a Contemporary Christian concert of sorts at the Magic Kingdom.  Like the Halloween Party, the Night of Joy closes the Magic Kingdom at 7pm for everyone who has not purchased an additional ticket to the event.   The concert runs from 7:30pm until 1am and a handful of the most popular attractions will be open during the concert.  However, many of the lesser attractions will not be operating since the music is the focus.  There are several stages, including the main stage in front of the castle, a stage at Cosmic Ray’s, a stage in Fantasyland, and a stage in Tomorrowland, so a lot is going on.  There are no seats set up in front of the stages, so be prepared to stand throughout the evening.  For more information on performers or to purchase tickets, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/night-of-joy/.  The Night of Joy doesn’t necessarily increase crowds to Disney World overall, but the concert itself is very popular.  Since guests can enter Magic Kingdom with their tickets beginning at 4pm, crowds do increase from 5pm to 7pm.  The Ticket/Transportation Center monorail and boat toward Magic Kingdom also get slammed due to the number of charter buses arriving with area kids.  Ride Disney bus/boat transportation from a resort or other theme park if possible.  Transferring from Magic Kingdom isn’t difficult because most guests are headed in the opposite direction.  One-day tickets purchased in advance are around $55.  Two-day tickets are around $99.  The price for adults and kids between the ages of three and nine is the same.  Disney offers a discount for groups of 20 or more.  Visit NightOfJoy.com for more information.

The Food and Wine Festival officially begins on September 19th.  In past years, the booths have opened up as part of a cast member preview beginning right around 11am on Thursday t.  That tradition should continue and any regular guests are welcome to visit the booths on the 18th, which will be much less crowded than the Friday – Sunday of the Festival.

October 2014

See the October 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

October Cost:

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • October 1 – 9 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.
  • October 10 – 12 is Columbus Day Holiday, pricing is equal to a weekend night during Regular Season.  This is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2 or Fall Season, but slightly less expensive than Thanksgiving Holiday pricing.
  • October 13 – 31 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • October 1 – 9 is Regular Season 2, which is just slightly less expensive than Regular Season 1 and more expensive than both Value Seasons.  Prices are also less expensive than Peak or Holiday Seasons.
  • October 10- 12 is Columbus Day Holiday, pricing is slightly less than a weekend night during Regular Season 1 and slightly less than a night during Thanksgiving Holiday.
  • October 13 – 18 is Regular Season 2, which is just slightly less expensive than Regular Season 1 and more expensive than both Value Seasons.  Prices are also less expensive than Peak or Holiday Seasons.
  • October 19 – 31 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 1 and 2, but less expensive than Regular Season 1 and 2.

October Weather: Weather cools slightly with an average high of 84 degrees and an average low of 68 degrees.  Precipitation is much lower than the summer months, with a 26% chance of showers on any given day.

October Crowds: Crowds are heavier in October than past years with domestic school schedules moving away from the typical long summer vacation, in favor of a larger number of shorter breaks throughout the year. That includes a week off in October for schools in the south, which feed Disney World attendance. South American attendance is also higher in the first two weeks, culminating in the largest crowds of the month over Columbus Day Weekend, from the 10th – 13th. Still, they won’t be anywhere near as bad as summer or other holiday weekends.  If you are flexible with your dates, hold off until after October 19th.   Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is scheduled throughout October, which makes Epcot busier on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

October Park Hours and Entertainment: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_october.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in October 2014:  Sunday October 26th through Sunday November 2nd  is the best week to visit in October, with average crowds, cooler weather, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the International Food and Wine Festival.  The cost to book a Disney-owned resort is also lower than earlier dates in October, especially at the Deluxe resorts.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None currently scheduled.

Notes:

None.

October Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler returns on the evening of Saturday October 4th.  After the run is a villains-themed party at the Studios. The event closes the Studios at 6pm, which in turn causes crowds to be lower during the day.  More information here.

The Gartner Symposium returns to the Swan, Dolphin, Beach Club, and Yacht Club from October 5th through October 9th.  All of the Epcot area resorts will be sold out and most of the restaurants in the area will be booked solid for those dates.  The Gartner Symposium is the largest annual gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders.  You may not want to visit the BoardWalk in the evening during these dates because it will be crowded.  The Symposium crowd will not affect the crowds at the Parks much because the conventioners are busy with their own activities.  Epcot may be slightly busier in the evenings due to its proximity to the Boardwalk area, especially in the World Showcase area for the Food/Wine Festival.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party includes many dates throughout October including the 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 31 to give you an idea of the number of dates.  The Party runs from 7pm until midnight and includes an additional parade, fireworks show, and trick-or-treating throughout the Park.  Most of the rides are open as well.  For more information about the event, including pricing and tips to maximize your experience, see: http://www.easywdw.com/category/worth-2/halloweenparty/.  For the official word and to purchase tickets, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/ Be aware that this event closes the Magic Kingdom at 7pm for visitors that do not have a ticket to the Halloween Party.  The Magic Kingdom is actually less busy on days when there is a Halloween Party due to the fact that it closes early.  If you have Park Hopper you may want to start there and then hop to another Park to end the day.  Or you can stay through 7pm and head out for dinner at a resort.

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a fun event that brings food and wine from around the world to booths spread out around the World Showcase.  It runs throughout the entire month of October.  There are also bands you’ve actually heard of (and some you probably haven’t) performing throughout the Festival outside on the American Adventure Pavilion stage for free.   It’s a fun event with interesting food, educational classes, and several expensive dinners.  For more information, and a complete list of the bands performing, head over to http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival/. The Festival makes Epcot busier on the weekends in particular. Weekdays in World Showcase are also busier than they would be otherwise, making it more important to arrive by 11:15am.

November 2014

See the November 2014 Crowd Calendar with Daily Analysis Here.

November Cost:

Value and Moderate Resorts:

  • November 1 – 21 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.
  • November 22 – 28 is Thanksgiving, with pricing about equal to a weekday during Summer season or about equal to a weekend during Regular season, depending on room type and resort.
  • November 29 – 30 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.

Deluxe Resorts:

  • November 1 – 24 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 1 and 2, but less expensive than Regular Season 1 and 2.
  • November 25 – 28 is Thanksgiving, which is more expensive than Value, Fall, and Regular Seasons, but less expensive than Peak Season and other major holidays like Easter, President’s Day, and Christmas.  Pricing is similar to a weekend during Regular Season
  • November 29 – 30 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 1 and 2, but less expensive than Regular Season 1 and 2.

November Weather: It’s noticeably cooler than September and October, with an average high of 76 degrees and an average low of 59 degrees.  Humidity is also substantially lower with a 23% chance of precipitation.  For those who like warm, but not uncomfortably hot temperatures, November is the perfect month to visit.

November Crowds: Crowds are surprisingly light for the majority of November, with two major exceptions.  The first is November 4th through the 11th, due to a phenomenon known as “Jersey Week” combining with Veterans Day Weekend and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  New Jersey schools get at least the 6th and 7th of November off and many families from the state travel to Disney World during that week and/or weekend.  Certainly not everyone from New Jersey descends on Disney World, but it does have a modest impact on the overall crowd level.  In addition, Veterans Day also has an impact because many other schools also take at least Monday November 10th off. The Half Marathon also brings in well over 10,000 people to the Walt Disney World Resort.

Second, Thanksgiving week is very crowded, from the Sunday before to the Saturday immediately following.  November 23rd to 29th will be substantially more crowded than the rest of the month.  Other than those bottlenecks, November is an excellent month to visit Disney World, with generally low to moderate crowds.  November 1st through 5th and 16th to 22nd are your best bets.  November 30th through the first week of December also sees low to moderate crowds.

November Park Hours and Entertainment: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_november.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in November 2014:  November 16th to 22nd is the best week to visit with the lowest crowds of the month. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the Osborne Lights, Magic Kingdom Castle Lighting, and have an opportunity to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Consider a visit over the first week in November if you’d prefer to attend the Food and Wine Festival.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

None.

November Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party occurs throughout November and December.  It is a “hard ticket” event, which means you need to purchase a separate event ticket to attend.  It’s scheduled on November 7, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21, and 30. The Party does not run over the extremely busy Thanksgiving Week.  Like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Party includes an additional parade, fireworks show, stage show, and special Castle lighting.  Cocoa and cookies also take the place of trick or treating candy.  For more information on pricing, event features, and tips on how to maximize your experience, see: http://www.easywdw.com/category/worth-2/christmasparty/.  For the official word and to order tickets, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party/

“Jersey Week” is November 5th through the 10th, with all public New Jersey schools closing Thursday and Friday November 6th and 7th.  While everyone from New Jersey does not visit Disney World, some do and it does noticeably increase crowds.  Because Jersey Week coincides with Veteran’s Day on a Monday this year, crowds will be significantly higher over that weekend.

The Wine and Dine Marathon is scheduled on Saturday November 8th.  The various races and prices are explained in full at http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/endurance/wine-and-dine-half-marathon/. The Marathon begins at 10pm at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and finishes at Epcot for the after-party, which runs (no pun intended) through 3am.  Spectators may also purchase separate tickets to just the Party.  This year, some of the major Epcot attractions will be open during the after-party along with the food and wine booths.

Veteran’s Day is Tuesday November 11th.  The holiday increases crowds on the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th due to parents taking that Friday off work if they do not already get it and traveling to Disney World for a four or five day vacation.

The Festival of the Masters art exhibition returns to Downtown Disney for its 39th year on November 7th and runs through November 9th.   The work of more than 150 national and local artists is featured.  Admission is free.  The event usually brings much larger crowds than usual to Downtown Disney, so you’ll want to avoid it if it’s of no interest.  Personally, I would make an effort to visit it if you’re planning a “down day” because the art is remarkable and the artists are friendly and approachable.   There are several areas for kids to create their own art and many of the Downtown Disney restaurants have booths outside that offer inexpensive food.  In 2012, the food was better and the portions were larger than the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival continues through November 10th. See October for more details.

Holidays Around the World in Epcot begins on Friday November 28th.  Disney brings in storytellers to tell holiday stories and explain unique traditions in many of the World Showcase countries.  Santa Claus is also available for pictures and wishlists in the American Pavilion.  In addition, the Candlelight Processional is an amazing stage show featuring the voices of famous celebrities, a large choir, and a 50-piece orchestra.  The show, which tells the story of Christmas, is put on three times throughout the night (5pm, 6:45pm, and 8pm) and lasts about 40 minutes.  Illuminations, the nightly fireworks and laser show, also includes several holiday-only effects that you won’t want to miss.  Holidays Around the World will increase crowds to the World Showcase in the evening, especially on the weekends.  You may want to visit the World Showcase in the early afternoon if Epcot is particularly busy, because the evenings are much more crowded.

At the Hollywood Studios, the Osborne Family (no relation to Ozzy and Sharon and no “u” in the name) Spectacle of Dancing Lights features over 5 million lights carefully set up throughout the Streets of America.  While the dates haven’t been announced, the Lights should be scheduled for November 7th through the first week January .  The effects are truly mesmerizing and admission is included with your ticket.  The lights are up every evening (unless a private event closes Hollywood Studios early) and shouldn’t affect daytime crowds much due to the fact that there is plenty of opportunity to visit the Spectacle.  You may want to avoid the Streets of America during the evening lighting ceremony if it’s of little interest or you’ve already seen it.  The best time to view the Lights is from about 15 minutes before the Studios closes through 60 minutes after the Studios officially “closes.”  The Lights stay on and you will be allowed to stay and check them out for about an hour  after the operating hours indicate the Studios will close.  In other words, if the Studios closes at 8pm, you can enjoy the lights through 9pm.  An announcement comes on when the last song is played and the Lights are turned off.

December 2014

December Cost:

  • December 1 – 11 is Fall Season, which is slightly more expensive than Value Season 2, but less expensive than Regular or Summer Seasons.
  • December 12 – 18 is Peak Season, with pricing higher than any Season other than Holiday.
  • December 19 – 31 is Holiday Season, by far the most expensive time to book a Disney-owned resort.

December Weather: Expect erratic temperatures throughout December.  It is not uncommon for one day to be in the low 60s and the next day to be in the high 70s.  Nonetheless, the average high is 72 and the average low is 53 degrees Fahrenheit, making most afternoons comfortable and most evenings a little chilly. Precipitation remains low with a 22% chance.

December Crowds: Crowds get heavier and heavier throughout the month with below average to average crowds through December 18th. Beginning December 19th, some of the heaviest crowds of the year arrive, with the highest crowds of the year from December 25th – December 31st.

December Park Hours and Entertainment: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_december.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in December 2014:  Try to end the trip by December 12th to take advantage of below average crowds, below average resort pricing, and everything the Christmas season has to offer.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

Notes:

None.

December Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The ABC Christmas Day Parade taping is expected to occur on December 5th and 6th.  On the 5th, Disney should tape musical performances in front of Cinderella Castle in the morning.  This should only cause minor inconveniences around the Castle.  On December 6th, most of Main Street will be closed off entirely from open through about 5pm.  Other sections in Magic Kingdom will also be intermittently roped off, causing delays through the afternoon.  For a look at last year’s taping and what you can expect, visit: http://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/magic-kingdom-christmas-day-parade-taping-swiss-family-treehouse-greek-salad-extended-queue-saturday-and-the-survey-says/.  If the weather is bad on December 6th, Disney uses December 7th as a backup filming date.  I recommend avoiding Magic Kingdom on December 6th because it will be extremely crowded and moving around the Park will be a hassle.

Beginning December 20th (expected, not yet official), Magic Kingdom will begin to offer the special Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes during regular Park hours.  They replace the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade and “Regular” Wishes.  These are the special Parade and Fireworks Shows that are shown during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

The ESPNU College Football Awards show at Disney’s BoardWalk area and specifically the Atlantic Dance Hall is expected to return on Thursday December 11th.  The event brings some of college football’s biggest names.  The event itself won’t have any effect on the overall crowd level.  If you are interested in getting to see or meet the players, you might consider visiting the BoardWalk area outside the BoardWalk Inn on Wednesday December 10th and Thursday December 11th.  You can get to the BoardWalk by driving, taking a Disney resort bus or boat from a theme park to the BoardWalk Inn, or exiting Epcot through the International Gateway (between France and United Kingdom Pavilion in the World Showcase) and walking or taking the boat.  It’s also accessible by walking from Hollywood Studios.  Most of the athletes leave on Friday December 12th.  If you have no interest in college football and would prefer to visit the BoardWalk when it is less busy, I would recommend avoiding December 10th and 11th.  The Atlantic Dance Hall is a ways away from the BoardWalk Inn, so additional noise shouldn’t be much of an issue for those staying at the resort.  If you have already booked the BoardWalk Inn or other Epcot area resort, you don’t need to be too concerned about the players adversely affecting your stay.  December 10th through the 12th will be busier, but not so much so that it’s a “deal breaker.”

Pop Warner is a serious youth football league which brings its Super Bowl to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex over the first week in December.   Pop Warner does not have a substantial impact on theme park attendance, but it does have a serious impact on the resorts because the great majority of the kids and their families stay on Disney Property, specifically at the All-Stars, Coronado Springs, and Caribbean Beach.  If planning a trip over the first two weeks in December, consider booking another resort to avoid thousands of largely unchaperoned kids.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party occurs throughout November and December.  It is a “hard ticket” event, which means you need to purchase a separate event ticket to attend.  It’s scheduled on December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 19.  Like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Party includes an additional parade, fireworks show, stage show, and special Castle lighting.  Cocoa and cookies also take the place of trick or treating candy.  For more information on pricing, event features, and tips on how to maximize your experience, see: http://www.easywdw.com/category/worth-2/christmasparty/.  For the official word and to order tickets, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party/.

Holidays Around the World in Epcot runs through December 30th.  Disney brings in storytellers to tell holiday stories and explain unique traditions in many of the World Showcase countries.  Santa Claus is also available for pictures and wishlists in the American Pavilion.  In addition, the Candlelight Processional is an amazing stage show featuring the voices of famous celebrities, a large choir, and a 50-piece orchestra.  The show, which tells the story of Christmas, is put on three times throughout the night (5pm, 6:45pm, and 8pm) and lasts about 40 minutes.  Illuminations, the nightly fireworks and laser show, also includes several holiday-only effects that you won’t want to miss.   Holidays Around the World will increase crowds to the World Showcase in the evening, especially on evenings that the Candlelight Processional is shown.  You may want to visit the World Showcase in the early afternoon if Epcot is particularly busy.

At the Hollywood Studios, the Osborne Family (no relation to Ozzy and Sharon and no “u” in the name) Spectacle of Dancing Lights features over 5 million lights carefully set up throughout the Streets of America.  The effects are truly mesmerizing and admission is included with your ticket.  The lights are up every evening (unless a private event closes Hollywood Studios early) and shouldn’t affect daytime crowds much due to the fact that there is plenty of opportunity to visit the Spectacle.  You may want to avoid the Streets of America during the evening lighting ceremony if it’s of little interest or you’ve already seen it.  The best time to view the Lights is from about 15 minutes before the Studios closes through 60 minutes after the Studios officially “closes.”  The Lights stay on and you will be allowed to stay and check them out for about an hour  after the operating hours indicate the Studios will close.  In other words, if the Studios closes at 8pm, you can enjoy the lights through 9pm.  An announcement comes on when the last song is played and the Lights are turned off.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations: For New Year’s Eve, December 31st, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot all have special celebrations.  It’s just like any other day at the Animal Kingdom, which closes at 8pm and doesn’t offer any special fireworks or Parade.  At the Magic Kingdom, special “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks are featured on both December 30th and December 31st at 11:50pm.  Fireworks are shot from all over the Magic Kingdom, creating a 360 degree panoramic effect.  I recommend seeing the fireworks on December 30th because the Magic Kingdom will be slightly less crowded and you can see one of the other special shows on December 31st.  None of the other Parks also have a special celebration on December 30th.  At Epcot, IllumiNations has a special ending with about six minutes of additional fireworks.  The show is shown twice, at 6:30pm and 11:40pm. Many countries in the World Showcase will host dance parties or similar other festivities.  It’s a lot of fun for people of all ages.  Hollywood Studios offers a special fireworks show called “Lights, Camera, Happy New Year’s” at 12am.  It’s also a great show, with fireworks shot from all over the Studios’ rooftops.  I recommend going to the Studios because it’s less crowded than Magic Kingdom and Epcot and the fireworks are every bit as good.  It will still be extremely crowded, but it isn’t quite as stifling as the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve December 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Do you have an idea when your October 2013 calendar will be posted? I’m new to your site and don’t know how often you update

Reply

Ashley (wgwtgb) December 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Wow! Fantastic job Josh!! I love having all of this information all together!! You rock, as usual. :-)

Reply

Meghan (affableolive) December 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

AMAZING as usual! Thanks for all your hard work! Will be planning my subsequent 2013 trips by this! Thank you!

Reply

Lisa December 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

This article just shows what a masterpiece this website is. Thank you Josh for doing what you do. Happy New Yearl

Reply

KapBoy77 December 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Yeah Josh is definitely my go to guy!!! Amazing and awesome!

Reply

ErinElizabeth January 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

I am planning at least one (hopefully more) trips to WDW in 2013. I’ve combed the web and this is truly the best & most helpful planning info website around. Thank you for your incredibly insightful perspective and useful information.

Reply

Jim February 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Sad, so sad, that your bigotry and hate spills over to your otherwise valuable site.

As a gay person I will match my morals to yours any day. I do not cast stones, and I love my neighbor. I do not judge (you should know the rest), and I leave the final decision to MY lord.

Doubt that this will ever make it to your pages, but if it even gives you one second pause to think that perhaps a gay person is exactly like you except for the sexuality with which he was born, than the effort of writing this won’t be in vain.

Reply

Dee February 10, 2013 at 9:19 am

Jim,
I don’t see anything on this site that shows bigotry. Gay Days is a concern for a lot of people visiting with young children. I have no problem with homosexuals and strongly support gay marriage, but I do not think my child should be exposed to PDA’s of gay people. I have no problem with seeing a same sex couple at Disney if they are there to enjoy the parks and have a great vacation, but when they are showing up in masses to try and prove some point…I don’t want my family to be a part of that. I’ve seen pictures of what goes on and I would never take my child during that time. It’s not being anti-gay at all, it’s just knowing that the type of people Gay Days draw is not the type of people I want my son exposed to. And by “type” I don’t mean homosexual, I mean the type who would overtake a happy place for children exposing them to perversion for no reason other than demanding equality and respect, the same respect they lack for all the families who’s vacations they ruin by their very actions. Gay Days reminds me of PETA, doing more harm for their cause than good. I support animal rights but am very anti PETA just as I support gay rights but am very anti Gay Days. Same principle.
He was simply providing valuable information for those of us who want to avoid those days. It absolutely does not mean he is a bigot.

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Meg February 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Dee, just a little FYI, Disneyworld isn’t only for children. Have you been during ‘gay days’? If not, leave your little commentary out about what you think goes on. Pictures? Really that’s your defense. I’ve been during this time and it’s no different than any other time. Let’s be honest, a person displaying obnoxious PDA, is a hoosier whether homosexual OR straight. I’ve seen some nasty things at Disney, from straight couples being inappropriate. Ridiculous.

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J February 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Josh mentioned Gay Days because the entire purpose of this site is to plan around the crowd. Gay Days affects the crowd — therefore he accounts for it.

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Erin February 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Very insightful….and definately plan in using this for reference!

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mc February 19, 2013 at 7:01 am

Wow….this world would be a better place if people weren’t so sensitive–thick skin needed. TO JIM: Josh simply makes note of when Gay days is to point out crowds–should the people from Jersey get upset because Josh points out when Jersey week is???? I agree…PDA from ANYONE is annoying, but I get when people are trying to make a point simply by being obnoxious in poblic–IGNORE THEM! They want to get your attention. I mean if there was a “straight day” at MK, then trust me, there would be a HUGE uproar.

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mike February 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

jim to defend onesself so vehemently shows a lot of guilty? feelings

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mike February 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm

same with Meg

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Susan March 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

I’m planning to go the week after Thanksgiving, when will your crowd calendar be up for Nov & Dec?

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Steve March 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm

If you only have a ticket for mnsshp, are you still able to ride the attractions between 4-7?

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Alana March 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Hey Josh, you mentioned for sept 2013 that there would be free dining promotion for the 3rd-27th. I was wondering if that is true or not due to not being able to find that information anywhere else. If it is true and hasnt been released yet, do you know when disney will announce it?
Thanks! :)

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Anna April 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Your site is the best as always. Thank you

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Donna April 3, 2013 at 6:50 am

Thanks for this awesome summary!!! This will be a big help for people trying to decide when to go. I thought I had read that Pirates of the Caribbean would be closed for refurbishment June 17-20. Has that changed?

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Prof. Brainard April 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Knowledge of when Gay Days occurs is important if you are trying to avoid visiting when there are large crowds. A person wishing to have such information for this purpose has a legitimate and sensible reason for inquiring. If, however, people want that knowledge so that they can avoid certain kinds or classes of park guest, then that is a different matter entirely, akin to someone wanting to know when there would be large crowds of [insert minority group here] because they did not want their children exposed to such people. Avoiding Gay Days because one does not wish to subject one’s children to the sight of two men kissing leads to suspicion of bigotry (unless one objects to ALL public kissing regardless of the sexual orientations involved). As to people taking offense, it is not oversensitive to take offense when someone says the sight of you kissing your partner in public is so repugnant that children must be kept from it. Any straight person would be offended, likewise, if their relationship were viewed in such a way. No one can ever be too sensitive about their rights as a citizen and their dignity as a human being. I have no doubt that the owner of this blog would agree with these points.

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mike April 4, 2013 at 1:25 am

Im sorry to disagree with you but why should my 3 year olds innocence be lost becausr he goes on gay days and sees 2 large men with princess dresses on. What am i supposed to tell him about that when he asks me? So i want to avoid my child losing his young innocence by avoiding gay days. Its not my childs fault, nor my fault that 2 depraved homosexuals want to flaunt thier lifestyles in front of young children. If it was just kiss ing

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mike April 4, 2013 at 1:30 am

Then it would be easier to explain, and dont try to tell me it doesnt happen because i have seen it with my own eyes. I dont see touring groups doing depraved things

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Psac April 5, 2013 at 9:58 am

Monday April 22 is earth day and the 15th anniversary of Animal Kingdom. Probably a busy day for that park.

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Lisa May 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I don’t have offense to gay individuals or straight. However I do understand why some families may want to avoid gay days. That’s their personal right to their families. I have never been to a ‘gay day’. I have a 12, 10 and 2 year old and a husband. I personally would be ok with taking my children to a gay day at Disney as long as it is respectful the same as I would expect that same type of respect from straight individuals. Kissing in public is fine as long as it is respectful by anyone. I would hope and expect any human being to be respectful anywhere! Unfortunately some ‘bad apples’ wreck it..straight or gay.

But

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Lisa May 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Disregard the ‘but’ on my last post on the end. Just an error

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mike May 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Totally agree lisa couldn’t have said it better myself

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Jen May 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

We have been to Disney during Gay Days. We’re a very accepting family, have a number of gay friends, and spend two weeks each summer with my best friend who is gay. Our kids have grown up understanding the basic difference between gay and straight, and they don’t think a thing of it. However, with that said, there are a couple of things you should know about Gay Days if you’re planning to bring your family during that week. Even though we are very accepting people, I was frankly appalled at the public displays going on at MK during our last trip. Our kids were 6 and 7, but they could READ – and it got a little awkward trying to explain the phrases displayed on the multitude of t-shirts worn by gay and lesbian tourists. We were really surprised that Disney allowed the sexually explicit language (rug-munching, boner, etc.) openly displayed, as most parents would be offended by t-shirts like that worn by ANYONE at a family theme park – gay or straight. When I talked to my best friend about it, he was appalled as well – and he’s gay! Our solution was simply to avoid the park designated for Gay Days on the rest of our trip, and we didn’t have any problems. Crowds are lower at the non-gay days designated park anyway! It’s a shame, however, that we don’t feel comfortable bringing our kids to a Gay Day park – they’re used to seeing members of the same sex holding hands, living together, even kissing – but the makeout sessions and vulgar t-shirts were too much even for us. It’s too bad there isn’t a better way to promote acceptance.

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Rachelle from MN September 3, 2013 at 9:50 am

Great info… Thanks!

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Robyn September 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Hi Josh,
May 1 is Hollywood Studios’ 25th anniversary, and I’ve heard it will be a busy weekend for the entire resort as a result. The same company that did Epcot’s 25th is planning a whole weekend for the studios’ celebration, so please make any necessary adjustments in crowd levels based on that.
Otherwise, this guide is really cool, thanks so much for compiling all the info!

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Dan October 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

What a fantastic help this was…I highly recommend a plan or itinerary.

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Darwin November 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Perhaps the Gay Days folks are using the rude behavior to deter others from going during that time frame resulting in sparse crowds, an abundance of FP+s, and awesome touring. Brilliant!

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tracy January 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Love your site and looking forward to the calendar being updated for our December 2014 trip! :)

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Patty January 29, 2014 at 11:52 am

Love the site! Any idea when Pop Warner will invade Disney World for December 2014 and which resorts they will stay at??

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Nydia February 17, 2014 at 8:13 am

We were at Disney World Feb 1st to 4th and stayed at Pop Century. It was VERY crowded due to a cheerleading convention. There were swarms of Latin American girls at our resort and in the parks, being very loud and obnoxious, and they cut in line without so much as an apology, no chaperones… we complained to Disney and got free tickets. That’s how bad it was. The parks were not crowded during the Super bowl, but Magic Kingdom was VERY crowded earlier in the day and especially crowded the day after. Do NOT go the first week of February unless you are not staying at a value resort and don’t plan to visit Magic Kingdom.

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Nydia February 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

I forgot to mention, the Cheerleader convention happens annually and Disney has received numerous complaints about the girls for at least the last two or three years.

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Laura DeVries April 8, 2014 at 12:49 am

Could you explain the Disney Dining Plan and when it is?

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Brandie April 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

We are planning a trip November 10-16. I have been comparing crowd calendars and there seems to be some discrepancy. Some calendars say crowds will be 2-3 and others say 5-6. What is causing the difference? And when will you release your November 2014 calendar?

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Sharon R May 4, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Hi Josh,
FYI, per Disney’s site: “Embark on a grand culinary adventure as you’re welcomed into a food and wine lover’s paradise—September 19 to November 10, 2014! ”
(Above, you have it beginning Sept 26)
Thanks for all the awesome info!!

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Carla June 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

This is very helpful information. Thank you.

It is helpful to see the best week to visit each month (due to lowest crowds), but do you also provide information ranking the best weeks of the year? For 2015 I am trying to decide between Feb 21-Mar 1 or April 25-May 3 for our family’s first Disney vacation (2 adults & 2 young kids), and it is hard to tell which of those weeks will be more crowded. I’m not sure if the princess half marathon would bring too large of a crowd for the last week in Feb, or if the garden show would increase crowds more in the last week of April. Do you have thoughts about this?

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Maria June 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hello. I planned a trip for Nov 9-16 2014 and am now having 2 thoughts with Jersey week & Food & Wine Festival. Do you think I should stay with this week or cancel & try & book the next week? Also if I keep that week which is the best day to go to MVMCP?thank you.

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Paul Bucher July 3, 2014 at 5:10 am

For the calendar’s – you have notations such as (2) and PM, yet those notations are not explained anywhere. What do they mean?

Also, in your August notes under “Best Week to Visit Disney World in August 2014 “you state…” The last week in August is the least crowded and least inexpensive since …”

Don;t you mean to say “least expensive” not “least inexpensive”?

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Leanne July 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

Just wanted to let you know that for closures in January – Cinderella’s Royal Table Fairytale Dining will be closing January 5 for maintenance. It states on the website:

“Please Pardon Our Royal Dust

Cinderella’s Royal Table will be closed for planned maintenance starting January 5, 2015 and will reopen in the spring of 2015. We beg your pardon for any inconvenience, your Highness.”

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Jon July 30, 2014 at 8:39 am

Josh, are you going to be updating refurbs etc. for September? I know WDWRR is going to be down for a while in September.

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Alayna August 25, 2014 at 11:44 am

Hey Josh,
Just noticed on My Disney Experience App that Rockin Rollercoaster is closed today. We leave for WDW in 2 weeks….. Any word on how long it will be down??
By the way, your site has planned our entire trip! Thank you so much for all of your amazing research & tips!!!

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ellen jensen September 8, 2014 at 9:32 am

I’m confused. I checked Undercover Tourist site for the week of April 13th and it looked like a good time to visit. The crowd levels were at 6/10 (yellow). Then I came to this site and it looked like an awful time, with a crowd level of 9 (red). Why the discrepancy? We were hoping to go over our 2015 spring break April 11-19. Thanks!

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