Today is my last Disney post for a while. Judging from all the likes and comments I’ve received, it’s probably for the best. 🙂 However, I know the information I am providing is going to be helpful to at least one of my readers. They may not know it now, but they will someday.
Selecting the right time of year to visit Disney is crucial to maximizing your experience. Spend some time looking at the crowd calculators in the Unofficial Guide to Disney (http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Guide-Walt-Disney-World/dp/1628090200). Look at the average highs and how rainy it typically is the time of year you are considering. You may find the only time you can go to the parks is when your research says is the wrong time. That’s okay. You can still have a great experience if you have the right mind-set and plan ahead.
And now I bring you, northville mom’s favorite times to visit Disney:
#1: The week prior to Christmas
As long as you fly out by Christmas day, you will avoid the overwhelming crowds that frequent the park the last week of the year. Everything is decorated to the hilt, particularly Hollywood Studio’s at night. Look up “Osborne Festival of Lights” on YouTube if you want a taste of the experience. Disney begins decorating the first week of November, but the true experience is only available after Thanksgiving. This is when Epcot’s World Showcase begins its Candlelit Processional, which is a grand Christmas Pageant with a celebrity narrator and live performances. You can reserve your space in the reserved seating area by booking the Candlelit Processional Dinner Package, which gives you a choice of restaurants and a limited (although good) menus at each. This way, you don’t have to wait standby and risk not getting a seat.
Beyond the Processional, there are many opportunities to celebrate the holidays at Disney. Epcot’s World Showcase is full of displays and storytellers explaining how the holiday is celebrated in other areas of the world. Pick up the Times guide at the entrance to the park. It will let you know when each event is taking place. The parades in each park also take on a holiday theme, as does the show in front of Cinderella’s Castle (called A Frozen Holiday Wish). A meet and greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus is also available in Magic Kingdom, at various Disney hotels and in Downtown Disney. With some resort guests decorating their balconies, front doors and rooms you are surrounded by the season wherever you look. Of course, holiday music plays throughout the parks, just in case you forgot what time of year it was.
The only disadvantage to traveling near Christmas, other than possibly missing family events back home, is the price. As you approach the magical day of 12/25, you may be prevented from using discounts (like Tables of Wonderland). Prices may also increase at certain restaurants and your hotel and DVC rental point requirements will be based on it being the busiest season of the year. Personally, I feel it is worth the extra expense. Air fare flying out of Orlando Christmas Eve or Christmas Day has always been reasonable. You can’t beat the experience of Disney at Christmas. Splurge at least once if you are a frequent Disney traveler.
#2 Home and Garden Festival- Early March – Mid May
The weather is optimal in Orlando this time of year and most of the H & G festival occurs during non-peak times, saving you money over traveling during the holidays. The flowers are beautiful and you will be amazed at everything surrounding you. It is truly beyond what you see at the park other times of year. A video that captures what the festival is about can be found here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/
Those with school children may find it difficult to visit outside of Spring Break, but even that time of year is manageable with advance planning. You don’t want to show up without dinner reservations, fastpass + reservations, and patience. Of course, if you can avoid the week before and after Easter you will have a more relaxing experience. Particularly if you are a frequent Disney traveler who can appreciate the lighter crowds. However, I would not rule out traveling Spring Break because the alternative is worse. Going to Disney when the kids are out of school for the summer is a tough prospect. Why? It gets hot in Orlando!
#3: It’s yours to discover.
I have not traveled to Disney in the summer or over Halloween, which I hear is a great time to go. Therefore, it is possible that your perfect time of year is one haven’t experienced personally. You can find a detailed list of the events available on the Disney site or here:
Examples of some of the events listed:
- Orlando Gay days (their words, not mine), June.
- Star Wars Weekends, May and June.
- Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival (Late Sept. – Mid November).
If you have a favorite time of year to visit the parks, please leave feedback. I’d love to hear from you. Until then…