When you think of a Disney World vacation, you might immediately think about huge crowds, hot rainy weather, and high prices. That makes sense. That is the typical summertime Disney experience.
However, it isn’t like that all the time. Disney World is so much more fun during the Slow Season!
When is the Slow Season?
While there are no official definitions, most people say that there are generally three slow seasons at Disney World, which generally take place when kids are in school:
Labor Day to mid-November (before the Thanksgiving rush begins)
January to pre-Easter (after the Christmas and New Year’s rush, but before the spring break rush)
After Easter until early May (before school ends)
That said, Disney is getting better and better about increasing the crowds during the slow seasons. They run the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival in Sept.-Nov., the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, the Flower and Garden Show in March-May, and the Expedition Everest Challenge in May. See how these events line up with the slow seasons to bring in more people?
What are the benefits of going during the Slow Season?
1 – Weather
Unless you live in the topics, Florida will probably be warmer than your home town in the winter months. Usually the winter weather in Florida is really nice. It may be cool in the early morning and evening, but it typically warms up during the day when the sun comes out.
However, Central Florida has a sub-tropical climate, not a tropical climate. That means in can get cool, and there are occasionally even a few days in the dead of winter (usually the end of January) when it comes close to freezing (32 degrees) overnight. In the end, you might have to wear a hat and gloves, at least during certain parts of certain days.
But, you won’t be melting under a broiling sun in 90+ temps! And, it’s the dry season, so it’s much less likely to rain!
2 – Slower Pace
When crowds are smaller, they also tend to move more slowly. You might experience a somewhat laid-back vibe with less energy and hustle. You might have to accept a less energized environment.
But, you are much less likely to have to listen to over-stimulated crying children in the evening. The parades and firework shows are all earlier. It gets darker earlier, so all the evening activities start earlier, typically around 5pm. As the parks close earlier, there’s no feeling of having to stay part midnight to see it all.
3 – Shorter Operating Hours
During the slow times of the year, the parks may close much earlier than you would expect. Some parks, especially Animal Kingdom, will close as early at 6pm. In addition, Disney generally tends to schedule refurbishments during the slower seasons. You might find that some of your favorite attractions are down for repairs. It might be too cool to visit either of the water parks (Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach).
That’s the downside.
The upside is that the lines for attractions will generally be much shorter so that you can see and do more even when the parks are open for fewer hours. You probably won’t need FastPasses, or if you do want them, they won’t be all gone by 10am like in the summer. You will probably have a much easier time getting Advanced Dining Reservations. You might even be able to walk into some table service restaurants without a reservation at all, if you can imagine that! (Totally impossible in the summertime!)
Plus, the prices for everything from air fare to hotels to car rentals to Disney menu prices are all significantly lower in the off season. If might mean you can spend a few extra days at Disney World or buy a few more Disney gifts! 🙂
We’ve written a book about our year working at Disney: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale.
Available now on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Published by Theme Park Press.