When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, one of your primary considerations may be whether or not the resort will be crowded. As someone who’s visited during both the very heavy and very light tourist seasons, I can tell you that being at Disney World isn’t nearly as fun when you're standing in line most of the day. And I have no doubt your children would agree with me.
Another consideration is pricing—but at Disney, when the crowds are low, the prices are usually low as well. It’s basic supply and demand. There’s also the weather. Since most people prefer comfortable temperatures over the sizzling heat of the Florida summer, that’s also an important consideration.
Finally, let’s keep in mind any events that are going on at the parks that may enhance your vacation experience. There are some really great festivities at Walt Disney World during the year, and you can score big by combining low crowds with bonus fun events.
All things considered, here are my top recommendations for scheduling a week at the Mouse House:
Week after Thanksgiving—This is arguably the best week to visit Disney World. Crowds are small, prices are low, and the weather is usually very nice.
First full week in November—This week, and actually most of the month of November (except for Thanksgiving week!) usually sees really light crowds. Plus, the weather is usually gorgeous and you may get to experience a little bit of both Christmas and Halloween at the parks.
Most of February—Except for Presidents Day week, February is a really great time to visit. You’re likely to enjoy smaller crowds, the lowest prices of the year, and sweet weather.
First two weeks in June – If you want to try something a little out of the ordinary, go during the first two weeks of June when Disney hosts Gay Days, since fewer families seem to schedule their Disney vacations for this part of June. If you want to travel to Disney close to summer and still not have the crowds, this is a good time to do it. And it's actually pretty easy to avoid the Gay Days festivities if they’re not your thing—there’s usually a designated park for Gay Days each day.
Anytime in September after Labor Day week—Much like February, September is much less crowded at Disney World with pricing that’s usually pretty good. It can still be pretty hot and there aren't any special events, but I bet you’ll still have a great time.
First week in May – Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival finishes its run the first week of May, so you’ll probably see some really cool Disney character topiaries, enjoy good food, and even some great music. Crowds are generally pretty low and prices are typically good as well.
If Crowds Are Not Your Thing, Avoid Traveling During Certain Weeks.
Some weeks at Walt Disney World always draw huge crowds and there will be wall-to-wall people…everywhere. If waiting an hour just to get a drink or a hot dog is no problem for you, then by all means, go. But many people, including myself, have little tolerance for monster lines, so you should avoid the following weeks like the plague:
Week between Christmas and New Years—Christmas Day marks the busiest week of the year at Disney World. Trust me when I tell you that the seven days between Christmas and New Years will bring the largest crowds of the entire year. Probably larger crowds than you can imagine. In fact, the Magic Kingdom will actually close to new guests during the day because the crowds are so enormous.
4th of July week—Almost as many people come to see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom on the 4th of July as they do on Christmas Day. This is a very crowded week.
President's Day Weekend—Avoid the Friday before Presidents Day through the Tuesday of President’s Day week. Since schools are typically closed for at least part of this time, many parents use this extended weekend as a quick family getaway from winter weather and it tends to get very crowded.
Of course, there are several weeks in the summer where the temperatures are hot, the crowds are large, and the prices are high. That’s why I personally would recommend avoiding travel to Disney in the summer if possible. But really, other than the 4th of July week, there typically aren't any flat-out outrageous summer travel times. If summer is definitely your vacation time, I would just recommend going as early or late in the season as possible.