When you think of a Disney World vacation, you might immediately think about huge sweaty and grumpy crowds, hot rainy weather, and high hotel/ticket/meal prices. That makes sense. That is the typical summertime Disney experience for guests.
However, it isn’t like that all the time. Trust us, Disney World is so much more fun during the Off Peak times!
Read more: Best Weeks to Visit Disney World in 2019
When are the Off Peak Times?
While there are no official definitions, most people say that there are generally three slower seasons during the year at Disney World, all taking place when kids are in school:
January until pre-Easter (after the Christmas and New Year’s rush, but before the spring break crush)
After Easter until early May (before school ends on the west coast)
Labor Day to mid-November (before Thanksgiving week)
That said, Disney is getting better and better about increasing the crowds during the slower seasons.
They run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, Epcot’s International Art Festival January – February, Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival March – June, and the Expedition Everest Challenge in May. See how these events line up with the slower seasons to bring in more guests?
What are the benefits of visiting during the Slower Season?
1 – Weather
Unless you live in the topics, Florida will probably be warmer than your hometown in the winter months. Usually the winter weather in Florida is really nice. It may be cool in the early morning and late evening, but it typically warms up during the day when the sun comes out. And the humidity is half what it is during the sticky summer months.
Central Florida is a sub-tropical climate, not a tropical climate. That means it can be cool and there are occasionally a few days in the dead of winter (usually at the end of January) when it comes close to freezing (32 degrees) overnight.
If you visit in the December-January-February period, you might have to wear a jacket and the two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) might be closed due to cold temperatures as the water is not heated. The pools at all the resorts are heated.
It’s also the dry season, so it’s much less likely to rain on your vacation.
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.
But, you are much less likely to have to listen to over-stimulated crying children in the evening and much less likely to be hit by a stroller. It gets darker earlier, so all the evening activities start earlier, typically around 5pm. The firework shows like Fantasmic! are all earlier in the evening, usually by 8pm. As the parks all close earlier, there’s no feeling of having to stay until midnight to do it all.
3 – Shorter Operating Hours
During the slow times of the year, the parks close much earlier than you would expect. Some parks, especially Disney’s Animal Kingdom, will close as early as 6pm. In addition, Disney schedules ride refurbishments during the slower winter season. 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, both of which close if the daily temperature is less than 65 degrees.
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 for all your favorite rides, 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 on property without a reservation and still be seated. (Totally impossible in the summertime!)
Plus, the prices for everything from air fare to hotels to car rentals to park tickets to Disney menu prices are all significantly lower in the off season.
This might mean you can spend a few extra days at Disney World or buy a few more Disney gifts! 🙂
And, best of all, you won’t be melting under the broiling summer sun.
Florida can be hot, hot, hot in the summertime even after sunset.
We’ve written two books about our time working at Disney World.
Both are available on Amazon.com: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.
If you’d like to follow our daily Disney blog, here’s the link: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/
Have a magical day!