With 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months and four seasons to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the best time to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth.  Best, of course, is a very subjective term, so we’ll just discuss the pros and cons of the distinct seasons at Walt Disney World, and you can decide for yourself which you think is best (let us know your favorite in the comments below).

Summer

This is the obvious choice for a lot of people.  Kids are out of school and the education population tends to have more leeway with vacation time from June to September.  However, that also makes this one of the busiest times to visit (aside from Christmas week, but we’ll attack that beast a little later).  In addition to the crowds, you have the heat.  The summer heat and humidity in central Florida is no joke.  Add to that thousands of your closest friends all clamoring to get on the same rides or into the same theatres, and you can almost guarantee some grumpy tourists.

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Take time during the day to cool down.

It’s not all bad, though.  Since the summer is such a popular time, more attractions are operating, parks are open later and the weather is perfect for enjoying those fantastic resort pools and the two great water parks!  Disney has even begun offering discounted rates and promotions through the summer, which is a nice way to save a few bucks if you intend to stay on property.

Get Park Wise: Keeping cool is essential when visiting Walt Disney World in the summer months.  Be sure to stop for shade and/or some air conditioning as often as possible, and stay hydrated!!  Whether you’re toting your own bottled water or stopping in for a free cup of ice water at counter service restaurants, it’s important to chug all day.

Cool off by visiting Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
Cool off by visiting Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.

Spring

With lots of schools districts offering a week-long spring break, this is another popular time for tourists to head to the Sunshine State.  We’ve enjoyed a spring break or two at Walt Disney World, and while it is more crowded than our usual choice of seasons, it’s not nearly as busy as summer vacation time.  The only caveat to that is if your vacation happens to coincide with Easter.  This is a pretty slammed holiday at the World, so know what you’re getting into if you choose this time to visit.

The weather during the spring is milder than in the summer, but you can still get some steamy days.  We had a few very cool mornings and evenings this past March, so when packing for a spring vacation, throw in a light jacket just in case.  The spring also brings a fun special event in Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival.  Featuring beautiful topiaries throughout the park along with celebrity seminars, demonstrations, new mini food marketplaces and the Flower Power Concert Series, this festival can definitely add some variety to your vacation.

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Get Park Wise: Although not as busy as summer, rope drop arrivals and FastPasses are still important in the spring if you want to get as much into your day as possible.  The headliners are busy by noon, so make use of the great weather and lower crowds on those spring mornings.

Winter

This season covers two completely different aspects as far as crowds, pricing and planning.  Let’s dive right into the craziest week of them all…Christmas!  If you’re taking advantage of this week off work and school, be aware that tens of thousands, if not more, of other people are, too.  And I commend you all.  You’re much braver than me.  Lines are long, parks are packed and “holiday pricing” is in full effect.  However, I can only imagine how magical it must be to wake up in Walt Disney World on Christmas morning.  Don’t know if we’ll ever know personally, but I’m sure it’s wonderful.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa features a life-size gingerbread house and huge Christmas tree.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa features a life-size gingerbread house and huge Christmas tree.

Get Park Wise: If you’re headed to a park on Christmas or New Year’s Eve (Magic Kingdom and Epcot in particular), get there early and put down roots.  These parks often close to capacity and/or are extremely crowded on these major days and nothing will get you back into the park once it’s at a stage four closing.

If you’re traveling in mid-late winter, though, you’re in for the total opposite.  January and February often boast lower crowds (save MLK and President’s Day weekends), lower prices and room and package discounts.  You will, however, be faced with refurbishments of rides (Splash Mountain almost always sees downtime in January) and a water park, as well as decreased park hours.  You may not need those later evenings, though, as you can probably take advantage of lower crowds during the day.

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Fall

This is probably my favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World!  Crowds are decent, weather is improving by the day, discounts abound and there are so many special events from October to December that there is always something fun happening above and beyond the typical Walt Disney World day.  Fall brings us the much anticipated free Disney Dining Plan promotion, as well as Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom and great holiday decor and experiences in the parks and resorts from November on into winter.

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When traveling during this season, though, as the days get shorter, so do the park hours.  Additionally, if you’re not attending one of the hard ticket events at Magic Kingdom, it can be difficult to find a full day at the park, and when you do, it does tend to be more crowded since others had the same idea.  All of the extra activities during this time can also encourage tourists to spend more money in the parks on special event merchandise, marketplaces at the Food and Wine Festival, etc.  If budgeting for souvenirs is an issue for you, be sure to take this into account.

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Get Park Wise: Dining reservations can be hard to come by during the fall because of the popularity of the free Disney Dining Plan promotion.  Be sure to make dining reservations as early as possible.  If you’re unable to secure a desired reservation, continue to check as the credit card guarantee and cancellation fees do encourage guests to cancel reservations they will not be attending.

When is your favorite time to visit Walt Disney World?   Any season you choose to avoid?