This guide to August 2024 at Walt Disney World features a free crowd calendar, when to visit & avoid, weather, new attraction openings & closures, and summer events. We also cover info & tips for what’s happening at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
August is the light at the end of the tunnel for summer season at Walt Disney World. It’s still one of the worst months of the year to visit thanks to the weather, and somewhat unpredictable crowd patterns, but at least there are seasonal events towards the end of August. We’ll stress the same thing here that we did in our July 2024 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World: “a rainy, crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.”
To underscore that point, and help relieve those of you who have already planned vacations for August: this used to be our go-to month to visit Walt Disney World. Back when we were still in school, we took our annual WDW trip in late August. There was about a two week “secret window” when we visited.
During this week, most K-12 students were back in school, but college classes had not yet resumed. Park hours were still long, and crowds were low. Some of my fondest memories of Walt Disney World are from those extra late closings in Magic Kingdom, strolling through a virtually deserted park. Now that we’re locals and visit all the time, August is far from our favorite month.
Walt Disney World has gotten better (or worse, from our perspective) and more sophisticated with its crowd forecasting models, and this “secret window” isn’t quite as good as it once was. Every park aside from Animal Kingdom opens later and closes earlier than it used to. Walt Disney World’s date-based ticket pricing and Annual Pass blockout dates have also been somewhat effective at redistributing crowds. Nevertheless, there’s only so many people who can or want to visit during late August, and that number is not enough to result in significant crowd levels–or anything close to it. This is still very much the off-season at Walt Disney World!
Here’s what else you can expect from August at Walt Disney World…
August Weather at Disney World
In terms of weather, it’s still sweltering, intense back-sweat heat and humidity. It’s right there with August in terms of the worst weather of the year, with comfortable weather only 15% of the time–and that 15% occurs between like 2:13 and 5:49 a.m., so it doesn’t do you any good unless you’re nocturnal.
We already blathered on about El Niño in the July at Walt Disney World post. Suffice to say, there’s still the strong probability of that in August, since it’s the worst month of the year for tropical storms. In addition to our standard Unique Items to Pack for Disney, you’ll want to pack the cheap 10-packs of ponchos; we’d recommend ordering 1 per person per day. Alternatively, you might just pick up some high-quality, reusable Frogg Toggs Rainsuits. Those might look dorky, but you will be thanking me by the end of the trip. Really.
AUGUST SPECIAL EVENTS AT WDW
August is basically two different months in terms of Walt Disney World’s “seasons.” The beginning of the month is summer, which means not much of anything anywhere else.
The exception to that is the ever-expanding EPCOT festival season, which should be in full swing. Dates for next year’s Food & Wine Festival aren’t know, but it’ll likely begin in late July or early August 2024. Watch our Guide to the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival for dates to be released–plus everything you need to know, from beating the crowds to cuisine recommendations, best booths, and more.
The second half of August 2024 is the start of fall. Well, not technically by any real world season standards, but things are different in Central Florida. Halloween actually begins in the first half of the month (yes, you read that correctly) and really gets going by mid-month. See When Do Halloween Decorations Go Up at Walt Disney World? for info on that.
Speaking of spook season, the 2024 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Partywill be the big event of August. Typically, the first party night occurs on the second Friday of the month: that means it’ll be held on August 9, 2024. Dates are scattered at first, but really pick up in frequency during the last couple weeks of the month.
The only major closure currently scheduled in 2024 is Splash Mountain. That’s being reimagined into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The new attraction will bring guests into the world of “The Princess and the Frog” after the events of the movie. According to Disney, the reimagined ride will open at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California in late 2024.
If recent rumors are to be believed, there’s actually an outside chance it’ll open in Summer 2024. Honestly, we aren’t holding our breath. While anything is possible, Walt Disney World’s recent track record suggests Tiana’s Bayou Adventure being delayed is more likely than it opening early. But who knows!
By the time August 2024 rolls around, the “new” Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be over two years old. It’ll almost certainly drop its virtual queue by then, but if not: read this.
Another alternative for Cosmic Rewind is buying line-skipping access via the Individual Lightning Lanes, which are also available at the biggest rides in the other parks. Those posts explain the free and paid options, their pros & cons, and everything else you need to know.
Then there’s the biggest addition to Magic Kingdom: TRON Lightcycle Run. This is the newest major attraction at Walt Disney World, having officially opened over a year ago. This works very similarly to Cosmic Rewind; see our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run for details, tips & tricks for success, and more.
Bouncing back to EPCOT, there’s a bunch of other new stuff there. This includes World Celebration, Moana’s Journey of Water, and Luminous: Symphony of Us, all of which will only be about 8 months old as of Summer 2024. That’s still pretty new in the grand scheme of things! For an overview of what else is on the horizon, see What’s New & Next at Walt Disney World in 2024 & 2025.
Don’t expect anything new in August 2024. It’s entirely unprecedented for Walt Disney World to open new things as summer season winds down. New additions typically debut prior to Spring Break/Easter, between Memorial Day and Independence Day, and between October 1 and mid-December. Only very small scale additions and entertainment tend to open outside those timeframes.
AUGUST 2024 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
We don’t offer a color-coded August 2024 crowd calendar to start this because that’s reductionist and doesn’t give you the full picture of Walt Disney World attendance trends. Moreover, WDW crowd calendars are less reliable due to how Disney manipulates attendance patterns, staffing, closures, and ride capacity. Suffice to say, it better serves readers to offer an explanation in terms of what to expect crowd-wise this summer at Walt Disney World.
Since Disney doesn’t release official attendance numbers, crowd calendars use things like school schedules, airport traffic statistics, hotel pricing & occupancy, etc., as proxies for crowds. For years, this approach worked and made crowd calendars reliable. Walt Disney World attendance followed an identifiable pattern that tracked with the aforementioned proxies.
Unfortunately, wait times no longer reflect actual crowds because of the aforementioned manipulation. We can still forecast attendance, but not the resulting wait times. This is like the difference between the actual temperature and the “feels like” temperature, but with crowds. The latter are what most of you likely care about (the “feels like” crowds), but it’s more difficult to predict wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars. Hopefully that makes sense!
Essentially, the distribution of summer crowds at Walt Disney World is like a Bell Curve. This means that early June and mid-August are the best times to go from a crowd calendar perspective during what’s traditionally considered summer vacation season.
As more and more school districts go back into session, August crowd levels should decrease. This will be most noticeable beginning August 12, 2024, which is when both Orange County Public Schools and Osceola County Public Schools start their first day of classes.
These districts have the biggest impact on crowds at Walt Disney World, and going back into session will result in immediate attendance drops. As other districts around the South, Midwest, and Northeast start their academic years, crowds will continue dropping for the remainder of the month.
From a crowd calendar perspective, you can basically split the month in half in terms of overarching attendance patterns. There are the dates before August 12, 2024 that will be above average. Then there are the dates after August 13, 2024 that are all among the best times to visit Walt Disney World.
In a normal year, the first week of August would be about 6/10 on the crowd calendar (+/- one or two depending upon the park and whether it’s a weekday), with subsequent weeks in the 3/10 to 4/10 range. Note that these are for Walt Disney World as a whole. Individual parks will vary, especially Magic Kingdom.
However, our expectation is that August 2024 will not be normal. Based on the ongoing exhaustion of pent-up demand, slower consumer spending, and the likelihood of a recession, very early signs point to August 2024 will be slower than normal. There was already a pronounced summer slowdown in August 2023, with average crowds about 2-3 levels lower than normal, on average.
Accordingly, our expectation is crowd levels in the 3/10 to 4/10 range most weekdays through August 9, 2024. It’s possible that there will be the occasional lower levels or higher levels, as we’ve seen several 1/10 and 2/10 days this summer, but higher is unlikely.
For the weekends in August 2024, expect 1/10 to 2/10 crowd levels. If you’re wondering why Saturday and Sunday attendance forecasts are lower, see the ‘Wonky Weekends at Walt Disney World’ section of our recently updated Best & Worst Days to Do All Parks at Walt Disney Worldfor a discussion of this dynamic.
Expect these trends to continue into the second half of August 2024, which should once again be the bona-fide off-season, with crowd levels regularly in the 1/10 to 2/10 range. There could be some dates that are higher, but even 3/10 or 4/10 is not too bad.
That’s par for the course, as schools start going back into session mid-month, and fewer families are inclined to take summer vacations in the couple of weeks heading back into school. The result is typically that crowds continue to taper off throughout August before bottoming out in September. Expect the same dynamic in late summer and early fall. It’ll be interesting to see just how low crowds can go in the off-season!
All of this is fairly consistent with the last couple of months at Walt Disney World. If you’ve been following our recent crowd reports, you’re likely already aware that numbers nose-dived after Easter, with the slowest 6-week stretch at Walt Disney World in 2 years prior to Memorial Day. Wait times have increased since then, but it has not been busy.
There were several stretches of 1/10 to 2/10 crowd levels during the shoulder season between spring break and summer vacation. Normally, the early fall off-season is even slower than shoulder season–hence the different names. We’ll see if that happens this year, as it’s downright difficult for Walt Disney World to be even less busy than it was in late April through mid-May!
For Magic Kingdom, there’s an added wrinkle to the crowd calendar: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). On nights this event is held, the park closes to regular ticket holders at 6 pm. Consequently, Magic Kingdom is less busy during the day time hours on dates when MNSSHP is held, and more busy on days the Halloween event is not occurring.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s because the party is separately-ticketed. Typically, the biggest impact is felt closer to Halloween, so the phenomenon isn’t bad at all in August, but you should still consider avoiding Magic Kingdom on Saturdays. That’s always good advice, anyway.
In past years, Saturdays are the worst of these days of the week during Party Season–but it remains to be seen whether that’s the case in 2024 given how slow Saturdays have been this year. Usually we avoid Saturdays in Magic Kingdom during Party Season. Until it starts, we aren’t confident that’ll be the case this year, though.
Normally, we’d strongly recommend visiting Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights, and then bouncing to another park at around 4 pm. Animal Kingdom will always be your best option for lower-crowd evenings during the fall. Disney’s Hollywood Studios can be another great option.
In any case, concrete advice for the 2024 Party Season won’t be possible until it starts and is a few weekends old. Once we’ve had time to visit and observe wait times, we’ll update our guidance accordingly…but that won’t be until late August or early September 2024. (For now, avoiding Magic Kingdom on Saturday and doing DHS on that day is probably the safest ‘middle ground’ approach.)
Finally, there’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival dates. Expect EPCOT to be busier over the weekends due to Food & Wine Festival, which will occur during the entire month of August 2024. During festival season, it’s always a good rule of thumb to avoid EPCOT on weekends.
In any case, both of these events will have minimal impact on overall crowd levels at Walt Disney World, and both are easy enough to plan around, especially in August when these event dates are limited.
AUGUST PRICING & DISCOUNTS
In a normal year, the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion offers limited availability in August. It’s presently unknown whether this promotion will be offered for Fall 2024 travel dates. Based on the current trajectory of discounts, we think there’s a better than 50/50 chance that Free Dining is released sometime in Spring 2024 for travel dates in the late summer and beyond.
Regardless, you won’t have to pay full price, because August is always one of the best months for special offers at Walt Disney World, with lower rack rates coupled with percentage savings of up to 35% off in a normal year. See All Current Discounts at Walt Disney World for the various resort deals.
As far as pricing goes, early to mid-August is considered “regular” season and late August is “value” season for one-day park tickets (read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post for ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing). As far as room rates go, August is among the lower seasons.
Overall, early August is a lot like July–arguably worse due to the weather. Normally, that also comes with elevated crowds as the summer tourist season winds down and parents with school age children scramble for last-minute vacations before school goes back into session. Summer 2024 will likely be different (again), with lower crowd levels across the board that should make early August more enjoyable. (The weather will almost certainly still be bad, though!)
As always, the second half of August will be a lot like September. Crowd-wise, it’s an objectively great time to visit as one of the last true off-season times at Walt Disney World. If the heat, humidity, and storms don’t bother you, late August is potentially an excellent option. Crowd levels of 2/10 or below are quite common, and that could be even better in August 2024 if the summer slowdown accelerates into the early fall off-season!
Do you like August at Walt Disney World? Do you think there should be a special event themed to Big Al? If you’ve visited in August, do you have any tips to add? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!