A question that I get asked a lot is; “When is the best time to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida”? I usually answer this question with a question, What do you mean by the best? Do you mean the least crowded, coolest weather, least chance of rain, most to see/do, my favorite time of year to visit, cheapest time, etc. best takes on quite a few different meanings depending on your situation and tastes. As well as external factors such as kids school schedules, your vacation availability, etc…
Picking the best time to visit Orlando
Let us start off the discussion by what many mean, which is how are the crowds? As a general rule the crowds tend to follow the United States School Holidays. Meaning when school is in session crowds are generally lighter than when they are out for a holiday. The most crowded time of year traditionally is the week between Christmas and New Years. Thanksgiving weekend as well as Easter week rank up there too. With the fourth of July holiday coming in right behind them. Traditionally mid September through November is a fairly mild time of the year to visit. Most children are in school, but the challenge this time of year is weather. Hurricane season really kicks up in October so it is a slight gamble, Orlando is in the center of state and very rarely is heavily impacted by the storms but it is still a consideration. Another lull is right after New Years until the spring break season starts up in late February/early March (except for the presidents day holiday in February which brings in the crowds).
The next consideration is weather. Central Florida is often described as hot and humid and features an occasional hurricane, as discussed above. The natural landscape in much of the area is swamp land so this makes perfect sense. If you have a low tolerance for high heat indexes you should avoid from May through September. December and January are traditionally mild, except the past couple years Orlando has been hit with record lows (last December when I was there the temps were in the 30s a couple of days!). No matter the time of year there is a decent chance of at least a thunderstorm or some isolated showers during your visit. So pack and plan accordingly. Usually I try to have redundancy in my plans, for, example if you want to golf, do not plan your only chance for the last day of your trip. Plan it early on with a backup date later in the trip in case of weather issues. The four main theme parks usually stay open with some attractions shutting down due to weather (only a couple times in the history of the resort when hurricanes were heading directly toward the area did they close the parks for the day or part of a day).
Lastly you may want to take into account what is happening at the parks. Throughout the year Disney has different promotions/festivals going. In the spring they run the Flower and Garden Festival at EPCOT, in the fall its the Food and Wine Festival, in November and December it is their Christmas celebrations at all the parks. So you should check the Disney calendar to see if there is something coming up that may fit your tastes, one of the worst things you can do is miss something by a week or two because you did not know and if you had known could have tweaked your trip dates.
About the Author
Jason began the Disney Geek website back in 1994, providing useful and unique information about Disney and other Orlando attractions.