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 at Walt Disney World post: “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: for years, it was when we visited Walt Disney World. Back when we were still in school, we took our annual Disney trip in late August. There was about a two week “secret window” (as we called it) when most K-12 students were back in school, but college classes had not yet resumed. During this week, park hours were still long, and crowds were low. Some of my fondest memories of Walt Disney World are from those 3 a.m. Extra Magic Hours closings in Magic Kingdom, strolling through a virtually deserted park.
Sure, we had to contend with the heat, humidity, and storms, but it was worth it for what was otherwise an anomaly on the calendar: a low crowds time with long hours. Disney 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. Extra Magic Hours now never go that late, and every park aside from Animal Kingdom closes earlier than it used to. Worst of all, the end of August is now worse from a crowd perspective, due to Walt Disney World’s dynamic 1-day ticket pricing.
Late August can still be a decent time to visit Walt Disney World, but it’s not for everyone. Here’s what else you can expect from August at Walt 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 La Nina 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.
Given the heat, humidity, and all of that, August is another great month for enjoying the best resort swimming pools at Walt Disney World. Likewise, it’s a great time for the water parks. You can read why we love them in our Typhoon Lagoon FAQ & Tips and Blizzard Beach FAQ & Tips posts. Both parks will have long hours in August.
Speaking of hours, most parks close by 10 p.m. at the latest in August. Animal Kingdom’s hours will remain longer in August, thanks to Pandora – World of Avatar still being only a few months old, but the other parks have earlier-than-normal closings in August. Magic Kingdom’s hours might get extended a bit here and there, but don’t expect those hours to change much.
Beyond that, there’s a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World, and will be for the next several years. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the big project right now, and it finishes in 2019, but won’t be ready by August. Other projects at Magic Kingdom and Epcot won’t be finished until 2021 at the earliest. Some of this won’t be visually noticeable, but other projects (such as work around Epcot) will have a much greater impact.
Aside from that, the “new” things will be Toy Story Land (which will be a little over a year old at that point) and Pandora – World of Avatar, the latter of which has retained its massive popularity despite having debuted a couple of years ago. Read our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar for tips and tricks on doing this new section of Walt Disney World!
In terms of seasonal events, there’s not much in August. About the closest you’ll get to a special event is that the last week or so of the month, Halloween decorations will go up in Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World announced Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party dates in August last year; it remains to be seen whether there will be August 2019 dates for the party (we expect 3-4 August parties, though).
Unofficially, Gay Days Orlando will be occurring August 13-19, 2019. This event draws nearly 200,000 people to Orlando, many of whom will visit the parks. The unofficial event includes park visits on its schedule. Expect Gay Days to impact crowd levels the most over the weekend (August 16-18, 2019).
A couple of years ago, there was the Villains Unleashed event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (that’s when the firebreather photo above was taken, for those wondering) and before that, the Pirate and Princess Party, but neither lasted long, due to being too awesome for guests to handle…or something like that. I feel like Walt Disney World should concoct some sort of special event to throw a bone to those visiting in August. “Big Al’s Humdrum August Participation Event!” has a certain, charmingly simplistic ring to it.
Fortunately, if you’re visiting earlier in the month, you still won’t have to pay full price, because there are room-only discounts available for August. There are always some restrictions on dates, but you can save 20-30% at many resorts (with even better offers if you’re an Annual Passholder or Florida Resident).
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–which we consider the worst month of the year to visit Walt Disney World (you’ll want an itinerary for touring the parks). By contrast, late August is a lot like September, which is in the middle of the pack in terms of best and worst months to visit. If the heat, humidity, and storms don’t bother you, late August is a potential time to consider, but we’d recommend anyone with a slightly flexible schedule choose a different time to visit.
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!