Whether Summer, Spring, Winter, or Fall, the time of year you visit Walt Disney World will be the best time of all. All joking aside, the time of year to visit Walt Disney World and how to plan for that season can be the difference between a magical journey with a happy ending and taking a bite from the Evil Queen’s apple.
Traditionally we think of a calendar year as having the four seasons listed above. But in Walt Disney World’s calendar, there are several more seasons that have more to do with guest attendance than the weather outside.
Adventure Season– This season is more commonly referred to as the Value Season. This season in 2012 includes the months of January, September, and December 1-14. The biggest advantages to this season are attendance and rates. While there are always many guests at Walt Disney World, the Value Season tends to be the least crowded. Because there are fewer guests in the parks, Walt Disney World will attempt to entice more guests with lower room rates as well as the wildly popular Free Disney Dining Plan. Some of the disadvantages to the Value Season are weather, refurbishments, and park hours. If you travel to Walt Disney World in January for instance, there is a real chance for cold mornings and evenings. On our way to breakfast at The Grand Floridian during our January, 2011 trip, it was a balmy 31 degrees Fahrenheit while we waited for the Monorail to transport us to the resort. September’s weather is always warm, but you run the risk of extreme rain due to hurricane season. But since most schools are back in session by Labor Day, September can be a great time of year to beat the extreme summer crowds. The first two weeks of December may be the best of the Value Season because crowds tend to be low, the weather can still be very good, and guests can experience all of the holiday happenings around the World. Because attendance tends to be lower during the Value Season, guests will see more attractions receiving some TLC than during other seasons. While the park hours tend to be shorter during the Value Season, there are still Extra Magic Hours offered to resort guests as well as the hard ticket event of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in December. Because Walt Disney World is always looking for ways to increase park attendance, there are special events offered during the Value Season to lure guests. In January, you have The Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon as well as a very popular January holiday for Walt Disney World guests, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In September, Night of Joy is offered as well as the first nights of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. And as mentioned above, December offers Mickey’s Merry Very Merry Christmas. In all, Adventure Season is going to offer some real benefits, especially for the budget traveler. But many families tend to miss out on this season because children are in school during this season.
Choice Season – The Choice Season has similar benefits to the Adventure Season as well as other advantages that the Adventure Season does not offer. The resort rates are slightly higher than the Adventure Season, but this season offers more days during its season. The Choice Season for 2012 is the month of October, November 1-20, November 24-30 (Thanksgiving Week is omitted from the Choice Season), December 15-23. Over the past few years, the Choice Season has quietly become a favorite time of year for many Walt Disney World Resort guests. Other than rates, some other advantages include great weather, special events, and increased park hours. A typical October day will see a weather forecast in the mid 80’s during the day and the mid 60’s at night. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween is in full effect as is Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Food and Wine started with a bit of a cult following and now it is arguably one of the resort’s signature events. During November and December guests can enjoy Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas, Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, and The Osborne Festival of Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios. Food and Wine concludes during the first few weeks of November. Maybe the biggest disadvantage of the Choice Season is that the Magic Kingdom’s evening hours are limited because of the hard ticket events. In all, the Choice Season is indeed a superb choice.
Dream Season – The Dream Season is really the precursor to some of the busiest times of year at Walt Disney World. The Dream Season in 2012 includes February 1-15, the month of May, June 1-10, and August 16-31. Other than climbing prices, guest will start to notice things like warmer weather and larger crowds. If you travel to the World in the first few weeks of February, you will typically have great weather, manageable crowds, and increased park hours. The month of May tends to be a guest favorite because not only is the weather getting warmer, but Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom. Prior to Memorial Day weekend, the parks are very manageable and the park hours are great. The first few weeks of June are desirable because not all schools have begun their summer vacation, the summer heat has not quite kicked in, and hurricane season usually holds off. The month of June will see substantially increased park hours, as well as additional performances of evening parades and shows.
Magic Season – The Magic Season is the busiest season of Walt Disney World’s year with the exception of two very special weeks. In 2012 the Magic Season includes February 16-29, the month of March, April 15-30, June 11-30, the month of July, August 1-15, and November 21-23. The common theme around the dates during the Magic Season is that most children will be on some type of school break. Beginning President’s Day weekend and ending April 30 will traditionally be Spring Break for most universities and colleges. Mid June through Mid August is the normal summer break for all schools. The few days in November are the days of Thanksgiving week. During these busy periods, there are additional park hours, additional Extra Magic Hours, additional parades, fireworks presentations, as well as special performances of all sorts. Mid June opens Epcot’s Sounds Like Summer Concert Series as well as Gay Days. During the week of July 4, each park pays tribute to our nation’s independence. If you like warm weather and long hours in the Disney parks, the Magic Season is for you.
Premier Season – The Premier Season in 2012 is only three weeks, but they will undeniably be the three busiest weeks of the year. The Premier Season for 2012 is April 1-14 and December 24-31. Now if these dates sound like they might be important, that would be because April 1-14 is the week before and after Easter, and December 24-31 is the week of Christmas. It is not uncommon for the parks to reach capacity and go through the phased closing procedure. During these weeks, if you want to assure park entry it is best to get to the park you desire early. Even having dining reservations in a park will grant you entry if the park has been closed to capacity. As a resort guest, you are guaranteed entry to a park every day, but Disney decides which park you are guaranteed entry to. That is an extreme situation, but it has happened. There are festivities and events happening almost constantly during these weeks. Unless you are celebrating something special, want to spend your holiday in the World, or have an attraction to extreme crowds, the Premier Season may not be the recommended choice.
There is no doubt that there is a season for everyone at Walt Disney World. Remember to do your research, chat with others about their experience, and above all else remember that you can make magic all year long at Walt Disney World.Share