One of the most common questions I’m asked when people need a little help planning a Walt Disney World vacation is “what is the best time of the year to visit?” Although almost any time is a good time to visit Walt Disney World (July and August not included unless you enjoy crowds and 100 degree temperatures!) my recommendation is to visit Disney World in January. There are so many reasons I think this is the best time of the year for a Disney vacation so read ahead to find out why!
Note: some of these features may be currently unavailable due to the pandemic. Please check the Walt Disney World website for updated travel information and current safety guidelines.
Crowds will be lower
While most Disney fans would argue that there are no more “slow seasons” at Walt Disney World, January has historically always been one of the slower times to go, and this means less people.
High crowds have been a common complaint for the last few years at the Disney parks and visiting in the off peak season is the obvious way to beat them.
Some of the benefits of lower crowds:
– Shorter waits for the rides. This is a big one. No matter how amazing Flight of Passage is, no one wants to wait three hours for it, and visiting the parks with less people means less people waiting in lines.
– You won’t have to find a parade or fireworks spot hours in advance; with less people not only will you be able to show up and find that perfect spot a little later on, but you won’t be squashed in there with 50,000 of your closest friends!
– Genie+ and Lightning Lanes selections will be easier to find. If less people are visiting the parks, then less people are looking for those elusive ways to skip the line, so there’s a higher chance you’ll snag one!
– Waits for Disney transportation will be less. If you’re staying on Disney property, waits for the buses, monorails, and the new Disney Skyliner system will be lower since room occupancy rates are always lower in January.
– Disney dining will be easier. Whereas it’s almost impossible to book Cinderella’s Royal Table for the middle of December, you’ll find it much easier to book in the middle of January with lower crowds.
Lower crowds just generally make for a much more relaxed Walt Disney World vacation, and visiting Disney World in January is the best way to achieve this!
Temperatures will be much cooler
If you’ve ever visited Walt Disney World in the summer, you’ll know how miserable it can be to walk around in 100 degree temperatures, let alone stand in line for rides or buses in the blistering Florida sun.
The good news about visiting in January is that there is absolutely no chance that it will be 100 degrees! The average temperature in Central Florida in January is 70 degrees during the day, which is the absolute perfect temperature for walking around a theme park; warm without being too hot.
You’ll notice that not only are the other guests in better moods when temperatures are lower, but the Cast Members are too!
The only downside to this is that it is still the middle of winter, and weather in winter in Central Florida can be a little wonky. While the average day is warm, there are always odd days where temperatures are less – sometimes significantly less.
It can and does get down to below freezing at Walt Disney World every year, and although this will probably be only a day or two before climbing back up, this is something to consider.
I would recommend reading through my post on visiting Walt Disney World during the cold weather, but the best advice is to check the weather a few days before you leave (anything more than five days out will not be reliable).
Take lots of layers so you can add and take away clothing, and be flexible with your plans; sometimes the weather gets too cold for the water parks or the pools to be open, so if you’re planning on doing those things then you might want a Plan B.
There will be less rain
Florida is generally a tropical climate so you can usually expect some rain on a Walt Disney World vacation, but with temperatures lower in January there is a much lower chance of rain.
The average rainfall in January is only two inches compared to eight inches in June, and although you can still have fun when it rains at Walt Disney World, it’s a lot easier to navigate a trip when you know you’re going to stay dry.
You won’t need to bring those Disney ponchos or other travel rain gear, you won’t need to worry about parades being cancelled or outdoor rides closing, and there’s a zero chance of a hurricane coming through and ruining your plans!
It will be cheaper to get there
If you frequently travel with kids, you’ll know that flight prices are always lower in January. Airlines know that most people aren’t looking to travel right after the holidays, so they keep those prices low to try to encourage travel at a slow time of year.
The one thing to bear in mind at this time of year however is to consider the weather, especially if you’re driving instead of flying. While there is no chance of Florida airports closing because of snow, surrounding airports – including those in neighboring states – may have adverse weather that might affect your flight or your drive.
Prices will be more reasonable at the parks
Walt Disney World hotel room rates and ticket prices change depending on the time of the year, and January is one of the best times to get those cheaper prices.
Hotel occupancy is lower so you’re more likely to find some great deals and offers, which might mean you’re able to afford to stay on Disney property for the first time, or even upgrade to a nicer resort or splurge in a Disney Club Level room!
Ticket prices for the parks will also be at their lowest in January, making it more affordable to visit all of the Walt Disney World theme parks.
Lastly, did you know that buffet prices at the Walt Disney World restaurants fluctuate throughout the year based on the season? Prices for January are some of the lowest, so that buffet at Crystal Palace will be cheaper than it was just a few weeks before!
Basically everything at Walt Disney World is going to be cheaper in January and since it can be such an expensive vacation, any way to save a little money is always a good thing!
You’ll be able to fit more in
Between the low crowds and the lower temperatures, you’ll be able to get a lot more done visiting Walt Disnet World in January. The lower temperatures will mean you have more energy and are less likely to overheat or get dehydrated, plus you’ll be spending less time dodging crowds and standing in lines.
This means getting to do more rides, watch more shows, visit more of the parks, stay out a little later, and basically make much more your vacation! You could even try visiting all four of the Walt Disney World parks in one day, something we have made an annual tradition and is so much fun!
You can experience the Epcot Festival of the Arts
One of my favorite festivals of the year, the Epcot Festival of the Arts, takes place at the beginning of the year and if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in January then I’d definitely recommend stopping by.
The festival began in 2017 and has quickly grown to be one of the more popular festivals while still being quiet enough to enjoy everything there is to do.
You can read through my post on visiting the Epcot Festival of the Arts where you can check out everything the festival has to offer, including concerts by Broadway stars, amazing displays of art by Disney and local artists, food that not only tastes amazing but looks beautiful, and much more!
You can still see the Christmas decorations (without the crowds!)
Christmas starts at Walt Disney World at the beginning of November and luckily for those visiting Disney World in January, it doesn’t usually end until the end of that month!
Decorations get taken down at the parks and resorts over the course of the month, so while you might not get to see everything, chances are there will be at least some decorations still standing for you to admire.
Visit the Disney Resorts to see their Christmas decorations, and enjoy the decorations in the parks without wall to wall guests before they are taken down for another year.