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6 Times to Visit Walt Disney World If You Hate Crowds

2. September (for now)

3 Women at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Image: Disney

Once kids head back to school, Walt Disney World crowds relax substantially. While late August isn’t a terrible time to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth, summer crowds can linger well into the month for students who go back to school later. It’s also still insanely hot.

Enter September and October. By tradition, they have become the favorite two months for many Walt Disney World regulars to visit. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival starts around this time, adding another draw. The parks can be hot in September, but daily rain-showers provide some relief. If you bring a poncho and don’t mind the rain, you can even catch some attractions with extra-low queues when people disperse due to afternoon drizzles (watch out for thunderstorms though).

Like January and February, September and October come with a couple caveats.

  • Labor Day weekend
  • Halloween, especially at Magic Kingdom
  • The opening weekend of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival
  • Days of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Skip these, and you are likely to enjoy a Walt Disney World visit with reasonable crowds-- for now. Guests are more and more reporting increased crowds during this time, especially in October, so be aware that the trends on this time of year may be changing. The only other major issue with September and October is the potential for hurricanes and tropical storms. These generally don’t affect Orlando, but Hurricane Irma proved that even the most Magical Place on Earth sometimes ends up in the path of nature’s fury. This is extremely rare, but it is something to be aware of. More on that later.

3. November and December (with a big, big “but”)

Anna and Elsa in parade sleigh

Image: Disney

November and December are awesome times to visit Walt Disney World, even if they are slowly starting to get busier. While weekdays are ideal, weekends aren’t terrible during this time. The weather is pleasant, holiday lights are up in full display, and the parks have a number of special offerings for the season. However, above all of the times to visit listed thus far, this one carries the biggest of all buts.

If you do not like crowds, do not under any circumstances visit Walt Disney World in the immediate weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, or New Years Day.

If you visit Walt Disney World during these weeks, particularly the Christmas-New Years holiday, there is no advice a Disney expert can give that will help you with crowds. Unless you are a megavert who thrives on the energy of humanity thrumming about you to the point that crowds supercharge your soul, I cannot emphasize enough to avoid this time of year. I know a number of locals who know how to make visits during this time work, and a good touring plan can still make for a very fun Walt Disney World vacation. However, if you are staking a major vacation on it, look away, dear reader, for there be melancholy long lines and temperamental mobs ahead.

These weeks are some of the busiest Disney sees all year (with the exception of July 4th). On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Disney regularly makes the news when Magic Kingdom reliably reaches capacity and has to start turning guests away. It is not a good time to visit if you don’t care for crowds.

If you avoid the holiday weeks, however, November and December are truly magical times to visit. Crowds are low, hurricane season is generally over, and the parks look their most beautiful of all year.

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