This guide to August 2023 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 2023 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. 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
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.
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 will be in full swing. This event starts in July, and typically expands in the fall. See our Guide to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for everything you need to know, from beating the crowds to cuisine recommendations, best booths, and more.
The second half of August 2023 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.
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.
Epcot is starting to look fairly good, and will be even better by the tail end of Summer 2023 (or “Unofficial Fall 2023” as the ‘Halloween Half’ of August is known). Connections Cafe & Eatery, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220 Restaurant, Creations Shop, and Club Cool all already debuted. In addition to those, it’s likely significant progress will be made on World Celebration, with more walkways opening back up.
By the time August 2023 rolls around, the “new” Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be over a year old. It’ll almost certainly drop its virtual queue by then, but if not: read this.
Second, whether Harmonious will still exist. We also doubt this. Our expectation is that Harmonious will end before summer, and be temporarily replaced by EPCOT Forever while work is done in World Showcase Lagoon to prepare for the next nighttime spectacular, debuting in late 2023.
Then there’s the next big addition to Walt Disney World: TRON Lightcycle Run. Walt Disney World has already revealed that this will debut in Spring 2023, which means it’ll be several months old by (early) Fall 2023. Our expectation at this point is that the ride will open in March 2023, and if so, it might even drop its virtual queue by August 2023!
Beyond that, there are several attractions that have not yet opened and likely won’t until after August. This includes Moana’s Journey of Water at Epcot, which is likely to open in the second half of the year according to Disney. (Judging by the current pace of work and the fact that it’s a water walk-through, it debuting in late summer is possible.) Other smaller scale additions are likely later in 2023.
Don’t expect anything new in August. 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 2023 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
We don’t offer a color-coded August 2023 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 10, 2023. While that might seem like a random Thursday, it’s the date that 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 10, 2023 that will be above average. Then there are the dates after August 13, 2023, that are all among the best times to visit Walt Disney World.
In numerical terms, the first week of August 2023 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 3/10 to 5/10 range. If you can get past the weather, August is a decent time to visit. Note that these are for Walt Disney World as a whole. Individual parks will vary, especially Magic Kingdom.
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.
Typically, Saturdays are the worst of these days, so if you must do Magic Kingdom during MNSSHP season on one of the full operating days, try to make it a weeknight. We’d expect these dates to have crowd levels of 6/10 to 8/10, perhaps hitting 9/10 on Saturdays later in the month.
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. If, for some reason, Fantasmic still hasn’t returned, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be another great option.
Finally, there’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival dates. Expect Epcot to be busier over the weekends due to Food & Wine Festival, which will probably occur during the entire month of August 2023. 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.
Fortunately, you still won’t have to pay full price, because there will be room-only discounts available for August 2023. 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, Florida Resident, or Disney+ subscriber).
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!