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No shade to the other Disney parks, but Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, has a unique grip on pretty much every traveler, from families and groups of friends to couples, solo travelers and even affinity groups like marathoners. Experiencing the rarified magic of Disney’s four separate theme parks and two water parks under the shining Floridian sun historically comes with some planning—now more than ever. Visitor demand is at an all-time high since the pandemic derailed trips over the last few years, so it’s essential to navigate your trip to Disney World with an updated—and we hate to even use this word—strategy.
“Disney is always changing—literally always changing,” says Lauren Masarik, Travel Agent with Intouch Vacations who has sold Disney travel for over 12 years and gets to the park herself just about every month. “Planning your park days so you can book your park reservations is important to the rest of the planning,” she adds. To help you update your approach for 2023, we spoke to an array of travel and booking agents like Masarik, who regularly plan the family fun, and local experts. They revealed everything from the best times to go if you want to avoid the crowds to how to score the cheapest tickets, plus other great tips to ensure you experience the Disney dream and avoid a Disney dud.
@perfectingthemagic When's the best time to visit Disney World in 2023? Here are the Disney World 2023 dates for low crowds, good weather, seasonal decor, and new rides #disneyworld50 #disneyplanning #waltdisneyworld #disneyrides [e-266c] Lo-fi hip hop - NAO-K
The Best and Worst Times to Visit Disney World in 2023 at a Glance
Here's a quick look at the best and worst times to travel to Disney World. We break down each of these categories in much more detail below. Remember: the best trip takes into account your needs, schedule and desires.
Best Time to Go to Disney World If You Want to Avoid Crowds
First thing’s first: If you're going to Walt Disney World, you need to prepare for crowds no matter when you go. Many of our experts agreed that the “sweet spots” or times with almost no crowds have virtually disappeared as of late, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your trip with a bit of research and date planning.
Your best bet is to go when schools are generally in session or start back up after a break. “Avoid peak times like Christmas, President's Week, Spring Break, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to ensure that you are at least avoiding the most crowded times,” says Becca Magnusen, Family Vacation Planner.
Usually, the lowest crowds are right after those school breaks, so you can target mid-January, late April to early May and late August to late September when people don't want to pull their kids out of school. Other times like that include the third week in November and the second week in December. “Remember that school calendars are different all over the country, so just because there's a break in your region doesn't mean the crowds will be low,” she advises.
Best Time to Visit Disney World Based on the Weather
The best times to visit Walt Disney World depend on the weather you’re looking for, says Magnusen. “If you like mid 70s to mid 80s, late October through late November or going in March give you the best chance for that, but I always tell my clients not to base decisions on the weather because you never know.”
Those looking to experience the full Florida sun and splashy fun will love the summer weather of May, June and July, advises Shannon Henson, Visitor Services Supervisor at Visit Orlando. But many of our experts suggested that Florida’s weather can get scorching and unbearable during these months. It would be best if you avoided it when traveling with elderly people in your group, or kiddos with low tolerance for heat. For cooler temps, which are ideal for everything from alfresco dining to outdoor adventures like clear kayaking, scenic boat tours and beyond, December through February are Henson’s pick.
“I personally love October to November, which is also cooler, but going around this time, you need to consider hurricane season and storms that tend to pick up,” says Veronica Gerosimo, an affiliate of ET Family Travel. “In Florida, it is important to remember that it can rain daily, and random heavy rainstorms are to be expected. The winter months can get chilly, but temperatures also fluctuate during the day from putting on a sweatshirt—and maybe a scarf or gloves like we did once!—to being warmer and not needing a jacket.” Net, net: You should pack layerable items for Walt Disney World that you can quickly take on and off.
With Peak Pricing Now in Place, Here’s the Best Time to Visit Disney World If You Want the Cheapest Tickets
While theme park pricing and hotel rooms are priced for demand, visitors can typically get the most value weekdays in late August or during the month of September. “For the majority of the year, prices for tickets do not fluctuate much,” says Gerosimo. “However, the most expensive days are around the Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holiday weeks.”
But you can put a little savings back into your wallet even during those peak times, especially if you’re planning to do do multiple days in the park. Our experts all agreed that the more days you visit Walt Disney World, the less overall you will pay per day.
Best Overall Dates in 2023
There are many factors that may impact the best dates to visit Walt Disney World, based on your personal availability, budget, and interests, our experts all advise. “Also consider any special celebrations or holidays that you might be interested in, such as celebrations around Halloween and Christmas, or the amazing food festivals that occur in Epcot,” says Gerosimo.
“For flexible clients, I always recommend late April to early May if they want to travel the first half of the year or mid-November/mid-December to enjoy the holiday decorations," says Magnusen, noting that while she loves September at the parks, the still-hot-and-sticky weather and hurricanes can be disruptive to travel. Another piece of advice: “There are ‘Crowd calendars’ on Pinterest and this year, those dates were extremely inaccurate,” she says. “Everyone who used them booked during the times the crowd calendar said it would the lightest and therefore those weeks were packed!”
As a very frequent visitor of the park, early May is my Masarik’s favorite time of year due to the great weather and lower crowds, noting that pricing will be a bit higher than late August/September, but you get to see Orlando and Walt Disney World during some of its most ideal weather.
Worst Overall Dates in 2023
While Disney delivers no matter when you visit the park, we also had our experts look into their crystal balls to identify some of the worst dates to travel there in 2023. Dates to avoid altogether, if you can, include the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the weeks before and after Easter, and most of March when Spring Break is at its height. “Mid-March to mid-April will be packed basically every day,” says Magnusen. Meanwhile, if you do travel during Thanksgiving Week or the week between Christmas and New Years, expect to pay the most expensive prices for tickets and accommodations for your Mickey-centric trip.
But it really depends on what might impact your vacation, they all note. “Take the weather and cost into consideration, and how that aligns with your interests. “Be aware of any special events that might bring more people and crowds to the resort and parks, such as holidays and the runDisney marathons,” says Gerosimo.
Travel agents can provide you with up-to-date information and changes at the park, walk you through technology, and provide concierge services such as making dining and other experience reservations. They’ll even build out a personalized itinerary for your family, which will come at no extra cost to you as the traveler, Gerosimo says. “Booking through me is the same price as booking directly with Disney, but you get the benefit of support and you're supporting a small business—win/win,” she says. Now that’s some marketing we can get behind.
Travel professionals like Dr Terika Haynes, CEO of Dynamite Travel, offer a wealth of knowledge for their clients. She advises arriving at the parks early, and considering a stay at an on-site Disney hotel. “If you do this, you can consider taking a break in the middle of the day. This gives you time to take a nap or just relax at your hotel—while avoiding warmer weather—and allows you to return to the park later,” she says. While inside the park, you'll need to refuel with food and drinks, and Haynes advises clients to use the food ordering feature on the Disney app, which can reduce your wait time for grub so you can spend it enjoying rides and attractions.
“Know where to spend your money and what options you can add to your trip to make it special and magical, says Masarik. “For example, knowing how to use the My Disney Experience APP and how virtual queues work, Lightning Lanes and Genie+ is very important.”