BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

Focus: Best & worst months to visit Disney World

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Best & worst months to visit Disney World

While most guests like to consult a detailed crowd calendar to help them decide which week is best to visit Disney World, this is..not that. While we do offer a breakdown of each individual month with our 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendars, the point of this post is to help you see which months will be the best & worst to visit considering several things like entertainment and special events with a hint of crowds and weather. Overall we want you to have a good idea of what the best weeks and months will be to celebrate at Disney World.

Unfortunately COVID has thrown (amongst everything else) Disney World for a spin when it comes to crowds, events and general operations. Some resort hotels remain closed, park capacity is still limited, social distancing measures are still in place, FastPass+ is suspended and some dining remains closed. Outside of the resort, schools, breaks, and travel in general have been thrown into disarray. Given all this, we recommend that our readers consult this guide more so than a regular crowd calendar as it’s great at painting a broad picture which is how we’re having to face Walt Disney World right now.

As the parks return to “normal” this post will become more of a reference to helping you plan visits in general, consulting several of the pre-mentioned factors. For 2021 though, it’s the guide to look at as nothing is stable during the pandemic and things are constantly changing week to week, even day to day.

Jungle Cruise signage at night
Jungle Cruise Attraction
We understand, given the circumstances, that many of you out there may not be ready to travel. 2021 has become the year of “should we go or not” which, we don’t blame you for doing. There are so many things to consider outside of events and celebrations at Disney World including your own health and safety. We can say that the resort is doing a fantastic job at providing these things to its guests and think things will only improve over time. And luckily, you have time on your side.

If you find yourself in this position, we would recommend you follow our free monthly newsletter where we share park updates, savings and ideas for planning your next visit. It can be a great resource when you’re on the fence about when to visit.

As we noted earlier, we’re bypassing our typical crowd break-down for this guide instead as so many things are out of whack right now. Just like no one predicted the pandemic taking the toll that it has, crowd calendars aren’t going to do a great job in 2021. As specific as they are and how nice that sounds, there are too many variables to throw them off course. The phased reopening of the parks is more reliably predicted by a general overview right now than anything else.

Since crowd calendars have been slipping in recent years (and especially now) we have found that most guests out there want a combination of avoiding crowds and getting in on special events and entertainment. This, in our opinion, is the best approach to the parks these days. We’ll break it down for you like this:

Let’s say John is planning a Walt Disney World vacation. He’s been 30 times before, done all the rides, seen all the shows and eaten at most of the restaurants. The point of his vacation is to see everything that the Holidays have to offer this year. This includes decorations, limited-time food and merchandise, and some parades and shows. His window for visiting includes November, December and the first part of January. Any of the weeks during this time works for him.

Storm Troopers in a cargo bay
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Now let’s say Mary is planning her first trip to Disney World with her kids. She really wants to make it on as many rides as she can and see several of the shows. She doesn’t care too much about what else is going on at the parks as this is her main focus. She pretty much has every month to choose from but, because she wants to do as many attractions as should can, she’ll want to choose a less busy month or week.

Lastly, let’s say Jake wants to visit the parks but he hates the heat and humidity (like everyone else). He’s also a big foodie so would like to go during an event that offers lots of new food options. He also does enjoy getting on the rides during his visit but it’s not his priority. His best time frame is going to be the fall months.

This is what we’re trying to provide for our readers in terms of a “new-age crowd calendar.” You should be able to pick a time to visit that fits your wants, not just something that tells you when it’s going to be busy or not. And we get it, there will always be guests who want to see that kind of breakdown. Totally fine. Approach the parks how you want to help you plan the best vacation.

Some things to keep in mind before we get to our rankings. First, don’t forego something you want just because it’s going to be “slower.” If you absolutely hate the heat but there’s a week in the middle of the hot and humid summer that’s supposed to be slow (this would never happen), it would be better to visit during a slightly busier month with a moderate temperature than for you to be miserable every day in the heat.

Second, there are accommodating weeks to almost every celebration that’s found at Disney World. For example, The Holidays aren’t always busy because they are going on. While crowds can spike at certain times because of it, there are still great weeks to visit where you can avoid this. Don’t just assume that because a special event is going on, it’s going to be nuts. Don’t give up on going during these times! The rest of our guide will help you see what months and weeks these are.

So without further delay, here are our rankings for 2021:

BEST WEEKS TO VISIT DISNEY WORLD

A treehouse with rope bridge
Swiss Family Treehouse
Our #1 week to visit Disney World in 2021 would be November 29th thru December 5th, 2021. This is the week right after Thanksgiving and has always been the best week to enjoy great weather, lower crowds, and to see all the Holiday decorations. Thanksgiving week has always been a crazy time and completely unnecessary to visit during. Coming the week after still includes everything you’d want and more during the Holiday Season.

Crowds during this time are typically moderate so just be aware of that. They aren’t low per se but they aren’t Christmas Week either. The reason we love this week over, say the first week of November which has lower crowds, is that the Holiday decor isn’t all the way done that first week. That and there’s a holiday. If you really want low crowds and most of the decor you can look at visiting the week before Thanksgiving though that weekend is when things get crazy.

Our #2 week would be March 7th thru the 13th, 2021 for several reasons. First, The International Flower & Garden Festival will be going on at Epcot. It’s not the first few days of crazy which is nice to avoid but will be in full swing during these dates. Second, this week avoids any potential Spring Breakers from schools throughout the United States but more specifically Florida. We’ll talk more about this below in our March and April months but for now just understand that it’s important to avoid them.

Lastly, March has some of the best weather where the humidity is low and the temperatures are very moderate in the 70’s. We don’t expect any bigger entertainment to return during this week specifically. When this happens we believe there will be spikes in crowds but for now this week looks very promising for 2021. The only thing that could throw this week into disarray would be if Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opened and/or the Space 220 restaurant opened. This would be a call to all Disney nerds to come and visit. For this reason, our back-up week would be the week before this one.

Hollywood tower hotel at dusk
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
And last but certainly not least, our #3 week to visit Disney World would be September 26th thru October 3rd. There’s a lot in play here so hear us out. First, September has always proven itself a slower month minus it’s Labour Day holiday at the beginning. We prefer to avoid that week but are open to every other week in the month. Second, September has great weather. The heat and humidity are typically gone at this point and hurricane season isn’t quite upon us. We typically see temperatures in the 70’s which is fantastic.

This year marks Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary which will be heavily celebrated at the resort (specifically Magic Kingdom). The great thing about this week is that it offers some slowness to it but also the chance to be there when the celebration starts. Yes, all Disney super fans will be there and things will probably get crazy. However, to be able to say you were there is priceless. Plus we expect not just the regular entertainment to be in full swing, but also new stuff like parades and fireworks. You’re not going to want to miss it!

BEST AND WORST MONTHS TO VISIT DISNEY WORLD

Disney characters inside a train
12. AUGUST – If you love heat, if you love humidity and you love crowds, have we got the month for you! We always have and always will hate the month of August at Disney World. We never visit during this month unless something big is happening. It’s still part of summer so the first 2 week are full of kids who haven’t returned to school yet. We mentioned the whole heatwave thing which makes for miserable days. We also don’t like the influx in crowds the last 2 weeks of the month due to the “cheapo’s” out there who waited to travel during off-peak days (we actually think they are smart in that regard).

August is also notorious for thunderstorms in Central Florida. If you don’t want to deal with the heat and crowds and on top of this, rain, just avoid this month like the plague. Also, this month has now become the new start for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties which always increases crowds. While the event didn’t take place in 2020, we fully expect it to be back in some fashion for 2021.

11. JULY – Wait, you thought that August was the only miserable summer month? Guess again. Every summer month is miserable! It’s just that July is a hair less miserable than August. This month is hot like you would expect summer to be. The humidity is 1000% and there’s no shade in sight. You’ll spend $100 on water everyday just to keep cool and hydrated. It’s not that bad but it is a hot month.

Summer breaks are in full swing during July so we always expect crowd capacity to be at its fullest. While summer doesn’t typically have anything amazing going on like festivals or entertainment, for 2021 we expect regular entertainment to return which will cause a spike in crowds. Add in the holiday week of July 4th and you’ll have the perfect storm. We expect crowds to increase around Independence Day and then level out for the following weeks but that level is still going to be higher than normal.

Tree with waterfall at dusk
Discovery Island Trail
10. JUNE – It’s the last of the summer months and the best of the 3 to visit the parks..maybe. Disney is trying really hard to get to normal by summer and that push could have a significant impact on the way June turns out. We already know that Disney is planning to bring back Festival of the Lion King to Animal Kingdom theme park this month. Other shows may follow including Finding Nemo the Musical and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. Essentially this push could bring in some bigger crowds. However, if they don’t reach that level, this month could end up a sleeper compared to 2019 (parks were closed June 2020).

Outside of the crowd levels, June is a hot and humid month for park going. You can expect temperatures in the 80’s and a hot sun glaring down on you all day. Oh, did we forget to mention rain? Orlando sees a significant increase in rain during this month so be prepared. If you do, you’ll enjoy some small wait times on the days it does decide to pour. A good hint: choose a hotel that is easily accessible to the park you spend the most time in. It makes things easier when you need to freshen up. Oh, and choose one with a good pool!

We do want to mention, as we round out the summer months, that over the past few years, summer time has been coming down in attendance numbers. A lot of this has to do with peak pricing from Disney but also that guests are now being more conscious of things like weather and entertainment more than when it’s convenient. While this is happening, summer is still a busier time than most months so if they can be avoided, we say do it.

9. APRIL – Ahh April, it’s the time for Spring Breakers to flex their muscles and show the parks what they’re made of. If you’re not catching what we’re saying, we’ll make it clear: avoid April. There’s a lot going on this month and there will be no shortage of crowds. Easter weekend falls in April this year which always draws in big crowds to celebrate. And then there’s all the school breaks that may or may not happen in 2021. This is also a sleeper month for us because we’re not sure how COVID will affect the parks. A lot of schools have cancelled or changed the way they are doing Spring Break this year so it’s something we’re keeping an eye on.

Overall though, the whole month is going to see elevated crowds. If you must travel during April we suggest avoiding the first week and look to the last for any saving grace. Really though, just be ready to see increased wait times. The weather in April isn’t as bad as the summer months but it is the creeper month. We’re referring to humidity and it’s slowly coming for you now.

Gorillas in a forest
Gorilla Falls Trail
8. MAY – This month can have a bleed from April that we don’t like. Along those same lines, it’s a hard month to determine if schools will be affecting its overall attendance or not. For many years, Grad Nite has been a big thing at the resort in May. It’s also the end of the Flower and Garden Festival which people like to catch. 2021 will be different as we don’t foresee Disney holding Grad Nite’s and the Festival isn’t ending until June this year.

May does see an uptick in park hours which a lot of people like. This means longer nights and possibly earlier morning for more time in the parks. It may also be the month that Disney brings back (or at least tries out) their new Extra Magic Hours. Memorial Day will be celebrated heavily this month so that’s a week to avoid. Temperatures in May can get high and the humidity is almost in full-swing. Plan on it being hot and humid.

7. DECEMBER – We want December to be lower than this but the truth is, December has a lot going on that can easily be avoided in November. Temperature wise, the months are very similar. Hurricane season is over at this point and the Holidays are in full-swing. This draws in big crowds, particularly the last two weeks of the month. Schools are out and families are wanting to get in on the action of the season.

The reason that this month can be hard to rank is that the first two weeks, particularly the first week of December, can be really slow. But slow doesn’t mean you’re missing anything. All the decorations are up, special events like the Festival of Holidays and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are going on and there’s lots of great food and merchandise to be had.

But when those last two weeks come, it’s night and day difference. Christmas week in particular is insane. We don’t see how anyone has fun during this time at the parks (we’re only sorta kidding). The weather is cooler though and the humidity isn’t anything to worry about. If you really want a good experience, try visiting that first week or think about November.

Hotel signage at night

6. JANUARY – It’s the Holiday drag month! Christmas is over and yet Disney World still can’t let go. This is the Holiday bleed but it doesn’t last too long. Typically everything is cleared out by the end of the first week of the month. This includes Holiday decorations, merch and special entertainment. We know. There’s some out there that never want it to end. But it does and we’re happy to see new things take over the parks.

Once that first week is over, January is a fantastic time to visit with really mild weather, no humidity and Epcot’s Festival of the Arts starting. This has grown in popularity over the years and has become one of our favorites to attend. The best times to visit during this month is towards the end. Avoid the first week and MLK week and you’ll be pleased with the low crowds and entertainment offerings.

5. FEBRUARY – January and February are very similar months. The only reason we rank Feb. a bit lower is because it doesn’t have that Holiday bleed like Jan. does. This means there are more open weeks to visit the parks with slower crowds while still being able to enjoy things like the Festival of Arts. Next year this month will rank higher (bad) because we anticipate sporting events to return to ESPN Wide World of Sports. That’s not happening this year however which is a big plus.

Look for the same weather as January with maybe slightly higher temps but not by much. February is the last month for the Epcot Festival which you’ll be able to catch till the end. One thing to watch out for is the middle week of the month that has both Presidents Day and Mardi Gras. This is a busy week so we would recommend travelling the first or last week of the month if possible.

Rock with waterfall and trees
Canada Pavilion Epcot
4. NOVEMBER – If you can’t make the first week of December work for your vacation but really want to take part in the Holiday celebration, this is your month. And clearly we prefer it over any of the other 2 months that include Christmas stuff. November has a lot going on including the Holidays, Food and Wine Festival/Festival of the Holidays at Epcot and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom.

The first week of the month is sorta an awkward one because Disney is starting to put up decorations but they’re not officially there. However, by the 6th or 7th it is so you’ll kind of get a taste of Halloween and Christmas by visiting then. It’s definitely unique! The second week is fantastic because the Holidays have officially kicked off and everyone is saving up their travel time for Thanksgiving week. Clearly this is the one week to avoid during the month. We don’t even attempt it. It’s busy. The rest of the month though is open to short wait times and small crowds.

November 2021 in particular is going to be a great one! Look for all those previously mentioned festivals and special events in combination with the resort celebrating 50 years of magic. It’s going to be amazing!

3. MARCH – This has become a stand-out month in the past 2 years. While we typically avoided it due to Spring Breaks, that hasn’t been the case recently. In fact, for 2021, with Spring Breaks out of whack, we’re predicting the first two weeks of this month to be incredibly good for travel, possibly even the third. The only thing that throws a wrench in the third week is St. Patrick’s Day which is in the middle of that week. It is celebrated at Disney World but it’s typically not a “travel the whole week because of it” Holiday.

Epcot starts its Flower and Garden Festival this month which is always a big hit and a must-see for anyone. Temperatures during March are great. Very moderate with little to no humidity still. The end of the month can see some higher climbs but nothing like summer. Be aware though that there will still be some Spring Breaks happening and the resort will see an increase in crowds towards the latter of the month. It won’t be anything like 2019 or years previous to that though.

Pyramid with foliage at night
Gran Fiesta Tour
2. OCTOBER – This is for all you Disney nerds out there who are getting excited about the 50th Anniversary starting October 2021. We’ve always like October as a moderate month just because there’s a lot going on but not a ton of crowds to show for it (good thing). Halloween is being celebrated, mostly over at Magic Kingdom theme park, with decorations, food, merch and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The great thing about those is that they are very focused on the nights they are happening and just at Magic Kingdom.

The Food and Wine Festival is going on at Epcot and is our favorite festival to take part in. There are no major Holidays during October except Halloween at the end of the month but nobody is taking a week off to celebrate it. You really can’t choose a bad week to visit the parks during this month.

If you are thinking about coming during this month in 2021 be aware that the first week is going to be busy with all those super fans we mentioned coming in to participate in the 50th celebration. Magic Kingdom park will be pretty crazy but it should subside after the first week. If you’re crazy like us and want to be there during the madness, book your trip now!

1. SEPTEMBER – You may have heard rumors about this month and we’re here to tell you that they are all true. In terms of wait times and crowds, this is the slowest month. Breaking it down, September offers the most slow weeks of any other month out there. We understand that Labour Day happens at the beginning which can cause a spike but the rest of the month is fantastic.

We also love that the Halloween Parties at Magic Kingdom are happening and the Food and Wine Festival starts at Epcot. What happens is that most guests wait till October to travel, and then Thanksgiving. So there’s this sort of long stretch during September that makes the parks a “ghost town”. It’s the perfect month to see and do it all! And because we’re confident that Disney World will have returned to 90% normal by then we’re expecting big things for this month.

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