Magical Monday – When to Visit Disney World

It’s Monday, and you know what that means…it’s time to answer another of your questions!

The actual question was, “When is the cheapest time to visit with kiddos?” The cheapest times are in the off-season, and they’re also the least crowded times. Double bonus if you’re traveling to Disney World with children. Or at all.

The busiest times at Disney World are also the most expensive. If you’re trying to avoid crowds, you should absolutely not go to Disney World over Christmas Break, Spring Break, or as soon as school dismisses for the summer. If you can swing an off-season trip, it will save you a lot of time waiting in lines and a lot of dollars.

The least busy times at Walt Disney World parks are:

  • January until Presidents’ Day week in February – with the exceptions of New Year’s Day and the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend
  • September (after Labor Day) until the week prior to Thanksgiving
  • The week after Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas
WDW 2014 Crowd Calendar

Graphic from yourfirstvisit.net

Historically, Disney has released some of their best discounts during these time periods as well. There was a great room and ticket package available this January and February, as well as some room only discounts. In the past, there have also been free dining promotions released in the fall months. The rack rate for rooms is also at its lowest during these times of year.

If you can’t pull any of those off, there are some good secondary choices where crowd levels at Disney World are still pretty moderate.

  • After Presidents’ Day week in February through early March (before Spring Breakers begin to arrive)
  • Late April through early June (except for Memorial Day weekend)
  • The first half of Thanksgiving week

There will likely be discounts available for these more moderate times, too. Right now, there are room discounts for rooms at select hotels for stays most nights March 14 – April 12 and April 20 – June 15, 2014. (Trips using this discount must be booked by March 31, 2014.)

The summer is always busy at Disney World. If you must travel during the summer months, wait a few weeks after school dismisses. Those first few weeks will be the craziest.

Ticket prices do not change throughout the year. Disney usually releases their annual ticket price changes during the summer. The most expensive tickets (when you look at what you’ll be paying to enter a park each day) will be one-, two-, and three-day passes. After three days, the cost of the ticket only increases by about $12 per day. The longer you stay, the better the value. There is only about a $50 difference in cost between a 7-day ticket and a 3-day ticket.

Owens' Castle Pic

Our kids always decide it’s time to wrestle when we want a Cinderella Castle picture.

From personal experience, you can make the most of a trip to Disney World at any time of year if your expectations are in the right place and you manage your time well. The first time we took our kids to Disney World was Thanksgiving weekend in November, and there were 6 adults and 2 little ones in our group. My kids were still too small to ride any of Disney’s thrill rides, and those are the rides that generally have the longest lines. We went with the expectation that we wouldn’t be able to see and do everything in four days at Disney World with a 1 year old and a 3 year old. And we didn’t. And you know what? It was a wonderful trip anyway. I loved getting to spend time with my family over the holidays. I loved seeing the parks and hotel decorated for the holidays. It was truly magical.

Two years later, we took the kids back to Disney World. This time, they were 3 and 6 years old, and it was just our family of four traveling. We went in mid-June, so again, a higher crowd time. We used FastPasses, took advantage of Extra Magic Hours, went to the parks even when it poured rain (we showed up in the middle of a tropical storm), and again, we had a great time. We didn’t miss out on anything the kids wanted to do, and we were able to take a break most afternoons, which is a must when you still have a napper in the family.

My last visit was February of last year, and I didn’t take any kids with me. Instead, I ran the Princess Half Marathon and had a Disneymoon with my best friend. Since the trip before that had been in the summer, I could definitely tell a major difference in crowd levels. You can tour the parks at a very laid-back and leisurely pace in February, and we probably saw larger crowds than other dates because it was an event weekend.

All of that is simply to say, if you can visit Disney World in the off-season, do it. You will not regret it, and you will most likely be able to get a wonderful deal. If your kids aren’t in school yet, now’s the time to travel! (unless you don’t have a problem pulling your children out of school to go on vacation) If you can’t manage an off-season trip to Disney World, don’t stress. There is usually some kind of discount available, and I can give you tips for managing lines and crowds.

As always, if you have any specific questions or are ready to plan a trip, please e-mail me: audra@atimetotreasuretravel.com

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