Ashley’s Answers: Best Time of Year for Walt Disney World Travel

October 24, 2016

This Week’s Ask Ashley Question

One of the questions this week came from Richard from Essex, Connecticut. Richard asked:

My family has been talking about taking a trip to Walt Disney World for ages! I feel like the timing for the kids and our budget is finally right and I would like to book a trip during 2017. I’m sure there’s a perfect time to visit, or at least a suggested time. What are your recommendations on when we should travel?

I should note that we are flexible with when. Our children are young enough where taking them out of school isn’t too much of a challenge.

Ashley’s Answers:  When to Travel to Walt Disney World

Thank you so much for your question Richard! I can’t say there is a perfect time to travel to Walt Disney World; but, I can say there are some times that are better than others. For some guests, after the first visit you can get a feel for what time of year you may wish to revisit given your latest experience.

To answer your question, I will give some hints as to typical discount periods, typical park attendance, and even the time frames of Special Events at both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks.

Discounts

One of the BIGGEST discounts guests fawn over is the Free Dining Plan offering. In years past, this option occurred in the Fall and Winter months and was only offered for stays during a typical date range. There is a great article on the Disney Tourist Blog site where they’ve broken out the potential date ranges for 2017 as well as information on the bounceback offers that have been provided to guests this year as an incentive of returning in 2017.

The details? The promotion offers the Disney Dining Plan for free; but, as this is a very popular offering, it can sell out. Additionally, it does have some restrictions on which rooms to avoid or guests could lose eligibility for the promotion. My recommendation is to price out your trip with the Free Dining Plan and with a room discount instead. By doing the math, it could surprise you which option is truly better!

If doing the math sounds intimidating and what I’m saying potentially even sounds overwhelming, this is why I, as well as numerous other Disney aficionados recommend using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner (e.g. a Travel Agent) to book your trip for you. If this is something that you would like more information on or even a FREE quote, Magical Vacations and Beyond would be happy to assist in making your trip stress and worry free!

dining

Park Attendance

The size of the crowds at the Walt Disney World parks are one of the most important factors in a guest’s decision for when to visit. A simple rule of thumb is that weekdays are often better than weekends. Specifically, the resort pricing will tend to be lower and the crowds smaller. There are many good times to visit Walt Disney World, specifically:  mid t0 late January or the beginning of February for smaller crowds, March through May (not during Spring Break) for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, and later in the Summer for less hot days and smaller crowds. Some of the other options are:

The week before Thanksgiving and first 2 weeks of December will give you the holiday experience without the crowds. The week of Thanksgiving is usually packed, whereas the week prior is considerably more subdued. In December, while children are antsy for the holidays (and presents) to begin, most parents aren’t inclined to take a vacation when a vacation is upon them. However, at that point, the weather is perfect (e.g. 70s to 80s during the day) and the stand-by lines at the attractions are shorter. Visiting during either of these times will mean considerably lower trip costs, easier opportunities for dining reservations, and a calmer vacation experience. If you do happen to book a trip during Christmas, do note that Magic Kingdom Park does reach capacity early in the day on Christmas, but does reopen later in the afternoon.

My favorite time to visit? The last 2 weeks of October. At this time of year, you will have the opportunity to experience the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, but also Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If you can hold out until the beginning of November, typically the Free Dining Plan will be available then; however, you may miss out on the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and will ultimately run into larger crowds at the Quick-Service and Table-Service restaurants across property as a result.

Special Events

There are 4 very popular Special Events that occur at Walt Disney World through out the year:  the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

The dates of the 2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will be March 01, 2017 through May 29, 2017. This event is free with park admission and features character-shaped topiaries and a variety of other floral designs all through out the park. Also, around World Showcase guests can expect to see food at the 11 main countries as well as 13 additional outdoor kitchens. The festival does showcase How-To Seminars, the Garden Rocks – Concert Series (on Weekends Only), as well as wildlife habitats.

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Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Occurring in the Fall is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Similar to the Flower & Garden Festival, the Food & Wine Festival is included with park admission. Though the dates aren’t available for 2017 just yet, typically the festival can be expected to be scheduled for mid-September through mid-November. If food is your thing, this festival is reason enough to make the trip! Stationed around World Showcase, there are typically 30 total cuisine offerings from around the world as well as country-specific beer, wine, and spirits. At the American Adventure Pavilion, guests can catch a concert featuring famous bands like Sugar Ray, Boyz II Men, and others (the line-up does change yearly) at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. If that isn’t enough, there are often Special Guests (i.e. ABC’s The CHEW was in 2016), specialty food and wine pairings, demonstrations, and numerous seminars.

A Taste of the World at the 18th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Located at the Magic Kingdom Park, both parties are separately ticketed events. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is scheduled each year on select nights during  September and October and pricing starts at around $91 for guests ages 10+ and $86 for guests ages 3-9. The event is perfect for guests of all ages and lasts from 7:00p.m. to midnight. Expect a special fireworks show, the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade featuring the Headless Horseman, as well as special character experiences with Jack Skellington and even the 7 Dwarves. What’s better than Trick-or-Treating in the Magic Kingdom while dressed in your favorite costume?

mickey-halloween
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is scheduled each year on select nights during November and December and pricing starts at around $86 for guests ages 10+ and $81 for guests ages 3-9. This event also is perfect for guests of all ages and lasts from 7:00p.m. to midnight. Here, you can enjoy cookies and hot cocoa while watching the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade or even Holiday Wishes. The favorite part of the event for most guests? The snow falling on Main Street U.S.A. through the magic of Disney and the exquisite Dream Lights adorning Cinderella’s Castle!

photopass_visiting_mickeys_very_merry_christmas_party_7101768771
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

What are some of your favorite times of year to visit the Walt Disney World Resort? What do you like the most about those times? Why do you prefer those times over others?

3 thoughts on “Ashley’s Answers: Best Time of Year for Walt Disney World Travel

  1. Pingback: Ashley’s Answers: Halloween at the Disney Parks – Disney Parks and Beyond

  2. Pingback: Ashley’s Answers: Halloween at the Disney Parks – Disney Parks and Beyond

  3. Pingback: Ashley’s Answers: Halloween at the Disney Parks – Magical Parks and Beyond

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