The 6 Best Times to Visit Disney Parks, According to Experts
These are the ideal days and months to experience the magic.
There's a reason Disney has a trademark on the phrase "the happiest place on earth." Both Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California, are vacation destinations that offer fun for the whole family. Yes, there are beloved rides and attractions, but also luxury hotels and fine dining experiences. Regardless of what you're looking forward to doing at a Disney park, however, you'll want to make sure you're getting the best price and having the optimal experience before you plan your next visit. Wondering when the perfect time is? Travel experts are here to help. Read on to discover the six best times to visit Disney parks.
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By far the most widely recommended month to visit Disney parks is the month of September, specifically after Labor Day weekend. For Disney World, in particular, the temperatures in Florida cool down after the height of summer, and across the country, kids are headed back to school.
"Every Florida local knows the absolute best month to visit Disney World is September," Bridget Highet, of the Just Go Family travel blog, tells Best Life. "All of the kids are starting back in school, so out-of-town tourists rarely visit in September."
These factors make for shorter lines and smaller crowds, so you'll be able to do and experience more on your trip. With that being said, experts remind travelers that inclement weather is a possibility in September. "Be aware that this is still hurricane season in Florida," Ruth Hutchins, family travel blogger with BE Family Travel, says. "Your plans may be interrupted by weather."
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, so experts recommend getting to Disney parks bright and early.
"The parks are least crowded in the morning (i.e., before 10 a.m. or so)," says Jessica Schmit, of the travel blog Uprooted Traveler. Sweetening the deal, both Disney World and Disneyland will generally admit guests staying on their properties half an hour before the general public, she says, and if you take advantage of this, "you can access select rides before other park attendees can enter the park."
Before you set your alarm clock, Amanda Emmerling, content creator and travel advisor at Toddling Traveler, recommends that you double-check for race events going on at the park. These kick off in the a.m. as well and can "impede your ability to get to certain parks early in the morning." You can check the dates for these events at RunDisney.com.
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The middle of the week
Oftentimes, it's more convenient to schedule trips and vacations around the weekends, which requires less time off from work and fewer days away from the classroom (if you're planning to take the kids during the school year). But to make the most of your Disney experience, the middle of the week is the time to go.
"Mid-week is a great time to visit Disney World, as weekdays are the least busy—Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday," Hutchins says. Leona Bowman, of the family travel website Wandermust Family, notes that even Mondays should be avoided, as they typically mean larger crowds.
"Although Monday is not a weekend day, you will find that many people will come to the parks Friday through Monday as part of a long weekend visit to Disney World," she says. "Therefore you will still see some of the weekend crowds around."
When it comes to Disneyland, Emily, the blogger behind The Female Abroad, says you should to stick to the middle of the week—and yes, on the earlier side. "Disneyland is usually visited by locals, so if you have to go when the kids are in school, then try to go mid-week and earlier in the day," she says, adding that those who have season passes and live nearby will "come out after work and on weekends."
Sunday through Thursday
That being said, if you're planning to make your trip to Disney a true vacation, you probably want to stay longer than just Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If that's the case, Tamara Williams, owner of My Elated Odyssey, recommends scheduling your trip from Sunday to Thursday, as they're "the least expensive days" to visit Disney World.
Disney vacations can also get very expensive very fast, which Williams says you can mitigate depending on how long you stay. "With Disney's ever-increasing popularity, deals are hard to come by," she explains. "However, a known rule is that when you book two days or more, the daily price gradually decreases. For example, a five-day pass will cost $91 per day versus $109 for a single day."
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Even better than September weather-wise is May, some Disney experts say. During this month, spring has officially sprung in Florida, but storms are still a ways away. "It is consistently warm by then, but the summer rain and hurricane season haven't started," Siera Duiser, independent travel agent with Destinations in Florida, notes.
For Disneyland as well, May flies under the radar. "May has turned into a very underrated time of the year to visit, and crowds are low, especially on the weekdays," Ziggy Oskwarek, owner of Ziggy Knows Disney, says. "This is because spring break and Easter have just finished, and there is a lull before the summer break starts up."
As with any other destination, Disney parks have an "off-season" and a "peak season." Both parks will always be crowded on holidays, Oskwarek says, so unless you're willing to deal with crowds and lines, don't visit over Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, New Year's, or similar celebratory days and weeks.
Instead, consider saving some money by visiting when the parks aren't as popular. "The best deals for Disneyland are during the off-season, which is typically January to early March and September to early November," Ashley Flores, family travel blogger for Tear-Free Travel, says.
Alanna Koritzke, travel blogger at Periodic Adventures and Disney creator at PeriodicMagic, agrees and adds that the winter months—which account for a large portion of the off-season—are actually enjoyable at Disneyland.
"I have found one of the best times to visit is winter, specifically mid-January and February," Koritzke explains. "Not only is the weather cool, meaning you can finally wear your Disney sweaters, but winter avoids the harsher Los Angeles-specific weather like scorching summer and fall time El Niño rain storms."
With fewer people visiting the parks, you'll also likely to score a cheaper rate at nearby hotels in Anaheim, she adds.