1) After New Year’s Day
Overall, January is a slow month for the parks, though there are a few exceptions. New Years is a busy time in the parks, as many guests are still around from the holidays. Once schools go back in session, these crowds will thin out, although New Year’s Eve and Day are some of the most crowded times of the year. Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend (or any long weekend for that matter) is another busy time in the park. In addition, January is also host to the Walt Disney World Marathon, which draws big crowds and contributes to hotels being booked quickly. As long as you check the calendar, and avoid these few events that happen in January, this is a great time to go to avoid crowds. The weather is also more on the comfortable side for Florida, and if you go early enough you’ll still be able to see some of the Christmas decorations.
2) Late summer
In general, anytime over the summer is going to be fairly busy, however the closer it gets to kids being back in school, the less crowded the parks will become. If I had school-aged children, I would definitely try to visit during late August than over any school vacation week. Not only will the parks be slightly less crowded then, but airfare and other travel arrangements often cost more during peak travel weeks, so it’s likely a better deal to wait until the late summer months.
3) Early fall
Once the kids go back to school, the crowds at the resort will really start to thin out (but don’t worry, they’ll be back just in time for Thanksgiving.) If you have the ability to take a vacation during this time, September and October are great months to go as the weather is still nice, the crowds are not terrible, and you’ll even be able to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom and the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.
4) Between Thanksgiving and Christmas
Christmas and Thanksgiving are some of the busiest times of year at Walt Disney World, however if you’re able to sneak away for a vacation during the weeks in between the two holidays, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the Christmas festivities with much smaller crowds.
When planning a trip around the winter holidays at the parks, remember that anytime schools are on break, the crowds are going to increase dramatically. I know taking kids out of school can easily become a very controversial topic, but if you want to enjoy the Christmas events in the parks I would strongly suggest going as early as you can in the holiday season– the closer you get to Christmas week, the more crowded the parks are going to get.
5) Other tips:
If none of these times work for you, but you still want to try your best to avoid crowds, here are a few more tips to keep in mind: Avoid weekends if possible. If you’re visiting the parks for a couple of days, regardless of the time of year, weekends will be more crowded and more expensive in terms of resort rates. If you have to choose between school vacation weeks and major holidays, go with school vacation weeks. Both weeks will be crowded, however school vacation weeks will be very slightly less crowded, and the weather will be better than some holidays (4th of July.) You may find that your family’s schedules simply do not cooperate with the least crowded times of year, something that can happen very easily due to work and school restrictions. In this case, make sure you plan your trip carefully and do your research. Definitely make dining and Fastpass reservations in advance, and plan on getting up early to maximize the time in the parks before the crowds set in. It’s also a good idea to prioritize what you want to do, because rushing to do everything will not be as easy with the increased crowd levels.