You can have fun any time of the year at WDW. In terms of crowds, however, the best time to go is the period from after the Thanksgiving weekend until the week before Christmas (the last days of November and the first two and one-half weeks of December), when the parks are least crowded. The next best times to visit are September through the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, January 4 through the middle of February, and the week after Easter through early June (except for the always-busy Memorial Day weekend).
The most crowded times to come are Christmas Day through New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving weekend, the week of Presidents’ Day, spring break for colleges, the two weeks around Easter, Memorial Day weekend, mid June through late August, and Labor Day weekend. If you visit during these ultra-busy times of the year, you can expect to pay more for your hotel room and you won’t be able to experience as many attractions because long lines build early in the day. However, theme park hours are longer during the busiest seasons and there’s more live entertainment on offer.
At slower times of the year, some attractions will probably be closed for maintenance or refurbishment, park hours will be shorter, and you’ll have fewer choices of live entertainment. Such drawbacks are outweighed, however, by the pleasant ambiance created by lighter crowds and generally shorter lines. Furthermore, cooler weather tends to prevail during slower times of year.
The slower late November and early December time period offers an additional benefit: Walt Disney World is perhaps at its most beautiful during the slowest time of the year! Christmas decorations abound in the parks and hotels. For example, the five million (and still counting) lights in the “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” are draped over the Streets of America in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In addition, special Christmas events, shows, and parades are scheduled in the parks and resorts for your enjoyment. At Epcot, you can make dinner-package reservations for the “Candlelight Processional.” This program includes a choir, orchestra, and a guest celebrity who reads the Christmas story in America Gardens Theater at The American Adventure Pavilion. Dinner packages cost $35 to $64 per adult, including tax, depending on your choice of restaurant, and about $14 to $25 per child at any of the restaurants (call 407-WDW-DINE for options and reservations). To see the Processional free (without buying the dinner package), line up an hour or so before showtime and you’ll usually get in. No guarantees of course.
At Magic Kingdom, tickets go fast for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party,” scheduled for 17 or more November and December nights, usually from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. or later. This party includes special holiday shows, a Christmas parade, caroling, discounted photos from Disney PhotoPass (see page 65), free hot chocolate and cookies, and fireworks. Since many attractions remain open for party guests, it’s a great excuse for Disney to keep the Magic Kingdom open late.
Please note that some “Christmas Party” nights can be quite crowded, especially those near Christmas Day. Call 407-WDISNEY for information and tickets (up to $63 for adults and $56 for children 3 to 9 including tax). You’ll save over $7 per ticket on certain nights by booking ahead.
You’ve probably noticed that the best times of year to visit WDW are during the school year. A message for parents with kids: it’s worthwhile to take your kids out of school to visit WDW if they can afford the short absence from the classroom. Otherwise, try for late May or early June, before the summer crowds hit their peaks.
Gay visitors take note: the unofficial “Gay Pride” day(s) are generally celebrated around the first weekend in June (check gaydays.com/calendar) and many celebrants visit the Magic Kingdom on Saturday of that weekend.
If you visit on or near your special day (birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, etc.) and want some special treatment, tell your meal reservationists, Guest Relations, or cast members at your resort and at all parks, restaurants, and other areas you visit. Get free birthday and other special buttons from Guest Relations at the parks. You’ll take home some magical memories. How about a birthday wake-up call from Mickey himself?!
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