August 2021 at Disney World: Crowd Calendar & Info

This August 2021 at Walt Disney World guide includes 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. (Updated July 7, 2021.)

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 2021 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: 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 Magic Hours 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. Worst of all, the end of August is now worse from a crowd perspective, due to Walt Disney World’s date-based 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…

August Weather at Disney World

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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.

Temperatures are pretty consistent throughout August, but consistent is not synonymous with “good.” Daily lows are around 74°F everyday, and highs are around 90°F most of the month, going above 94°F or dropping below 87°F only one day in ten. Read our Tips for Beating Summer Heat & Humidity post for ways to minimize the affect of unpleasant summer weather on your vacation.

The good news? It’s in the mid-70s year round at Walt Disney World’s indoor attractions thanks to the true Disney magic: air conditioning. The bad news? Poor weather in August is exacerbated by high humidity and rain. Humidity levels exceed 94% for the majority of the month, and it rains 70% of days. August is the heart of hurricane and storm season in Florida, so you should be prepared for that.

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.

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 second half of the month is fall, which means Halloween (yes, you read that correctly). See When Do Halloween Decorations Go Up at Walt Disney World? for info on that.

Halloween starts in mid-August because that’s when Disney After Hours Boo Bash kicks off (on August 10, 2021). This limited-capacity separately ticketed event at Magic Kingdom features “Mickey’s Happy Halloween Cavalcade,” character greetings, shorter waits for attractions, and other entertainment.

Then there’s the 2021 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which normally begins in mid-to-late August, but will start in July this year. Normally, the festival-less summer months that Epcot sees low attendance. Since that event will occur during the entirety of August 2021, there’s no before/after distinction this year.

AUGUST REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS

For an idea of what’s going to be closed in August, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Not everything will be listed on that until a few months before August. However, even after that’s updated, it doesn’t fully cover the construction all around Walt Disney World–just attraction closures.

The project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience is the massive reimagining at the front of Epcot, which will eliminate Future World and replace it with 3 new neighborhoods. This project has already kicked into high gear, and will continue through at least 2022.

This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2021? in a dedicated post. For most people, the answer will be yes, but it’s still worth going in with a realistic view of just how bad construction will be.

Epcot’s silver lining is that three new films and two new restaurants will debut prior to August 2021. Additionally, a huge expansion to the France pavilion that includes the family-friendly trackless dark ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, could soft open in late August 2021 (it’s a long shot, but it’s possible).

Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new in August. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are both now open. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.

AUGUST 2021 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR

We don’t offer a color-coded August 2021 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!

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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 10, 2021. While that might seem like a random Tuesday, it’s the date that Orange County Public Schools go back into session. Two days later, on August 12, 2021, 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. There are the dates before August 10, 2021 that will be above average. Then there are the dates after August 15, 2021, that are all among the best times to visit Walt Disney World.

In numerical terms, the first week of August 2021 is about 6/10 to 7/10 on the crowd calendar (depending upon the park and whether it’s a weekday), with subsequent weeks in the 4/10 to 5/10 range. If you can get past the weather, August is a decent time to visit.

With that said, there are two wrinkles that this August 2021 crowd calendar does not take into account. First, the big one, which is addressed in When Will Walt Disney World Sell Annual Passes Again? As explained there, our expectation is that these sales will resume in mid-August, right after schools go into session.

If that happens (and there are no guarantees), it’s impossible to predict what the immediate impact will be on crowds. We have heard from a lot of Walt Disney World fans and new Florida transplants who are eager to purchase APs. If they are allowed to do so in mid-August, that could result in a spike of pent-up demand that comes close to offsetting the drop in attendance from schools going back into session. That’s potentially significant.

Another potential impact is Disney After Hours Boo Bash, the new Halloween-themed event. Typically, Magic Kingdom is less busy during the days of event nights 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.

However, Boo Bash will occur after normal park closing time, so our expectation is that its impact on crowd patterns will not be as pronounced as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. In fact, it might have no impact whatsoever.

Finally, there’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival dates. Expect Epcot to be considerably more busy over the weekends due to Food & Wine Festival, which will occur during the entire month of August 2021. If Annual Passes return in mid-August, expect these weekend crowds to be exacerbated by that. 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

As noted above, the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion offers limited availability in August, but more dates could be added later. Since Walt Disney World uses this promotion to entice guests to visit during the off-season, there’s no need to offer it in early to mid-August when schools are on break.

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.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

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!

29 Responses to “August 2021 at Disney World: Crowd Calendar & Info”
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