There are dozens of crowd calendars online. Doz-zens. Clearly, people wanting to plan their vacations when fewer other people will be at the parks is a thing. I get it – I like avoiding masses of people, too – but my stance on this is somewhat controversial: don’t plan a big, important, expensive, magical vacation based on what other people anticipate other people may or may not do.
Allow me to share what might be a somewhat disappointing – if obvious – fact: Disney World is always going to be busy. Always. Is it always crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, can’t-even-move busy? No. But compared to what most people experience on a daily basis, yeah, it’s gonna be busy.
Me last January: “But I thought January was the slow season?!” Ohh ha ha. Hee hee. Slow season. There’s not one anymore.
My theory: more and more people are trying to catch the “slow” season by vacationing during traditionally off-peak times, which means off-peak times are no longer a thing at Disney World. There are even people who advocate for pulling your kids out of school to take Disney vacations during “less crowded” times. You get the picture: with people clamoring to visit during the “slow” season, there is no longer a slow season.
Take fall and summer, for example:
Fall has become super popular for a few reasons:
– The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
– Free Dining promo
– Fall break
– Reputedly milder weather
So, while you may think of fall as a traditionally non-busy time, that just isn’t the case anymore.
Conversely, the common mentality is to avoid Disney World in the summer months because kids are out of school, Florida is a sauna, and it’s just madness. Yes, ok, the heat and humidity are astounding, but you may be just as likely to experience the same weather during a fall visit! Crowd-wise, summer 2016 was much calmer than I expected. Everyone attributed this to the recent price increase, but I disagree. The same pricing was in effect over Christmas week, and crowds were more maddening than ever. Anyway, summer 2016: The crowds definitely seemed milder than autumn 2015/2016 crowds and much milder than the Christmas week crowds. Is it quiet? No. Are you going to be the only people in the park? No. Are you going to have to wait in line? Yes.
Crowd level is going to depend on the park, too – Magic Kingdom is typically the busiest. During Food & Wine Festival, Epcot is going to be swarming with tipsy people – especially on weekends.
So really, it’s all relative. Are certain times of year busier than others (omg, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve ☠️)? Yes. But is Disney World busy nearly all the time? Also yes.
By all means, look at those crowd calendars if you want. Get an idea of what timeframe would be the best for your group to visit. But don’t agonize because dates you’ve already booked or the only dates you can travel are not going to be totally deserted.
Please don’t waste your precious time and energy stressing over whether Disney World will be crowded when you visit. It probably will. And you’ll be ok. We can make this work.
Instead, put your effort toward selecting the best park on the best day, prioritizing your “must do” items, choosing fun dining experiences, and enjoying free time with the people you love.