This August 2020 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 January 2, 2020.)
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: 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.
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…
August 2020 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.
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.
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.
AUGUST 2020 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 Diet Epcot and not much of anything anywhere else. The second half of the month is fall, which means Halloween (yes, you read that correctly) and Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.
It’s a bit surreal to see during August, but Halloween decorations will go up in Magic Kingdom during the second half of the month. 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 2020 dates for the party. We expect around 4 or so August MNSSHP dates.
Then there’s the 2020 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which will mark the end of Diet Epcot, the festival-less summer months that Epcot sees low attendance. Official dates have yet to be announced, but we expect it to begin in the last week of the month. August 27, 2020 is the most likely start date, but there’s also a chance it begins August 20, 2020.
AUGUST 2020 REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
For an idea of what’s going to be closed in August 2020, 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 to gain momentum in Summer 2020 with more work.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2020 or 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 2020. Additionally, a huge expansion to the France pavilion that includes the family-friendly trackless dark ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, opens in “Summer 2020.” Barring a delay, it’ll be open well before August 2020.
Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new in August 2020. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens this spring, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted late last year. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
AUGUST 2020 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
We don’t offer a color-coded August 2020 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 2020 and mid-August 2020 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 2020 crowd levels should decrease. This will be most noticeable beginning August 8, 2020 and will continue for the remainder of the month. From a crowd calendar perspective, the week beginning August 16, 2020 is the best time in August to visit Walt Disney World.
In numerical terms, the first week of August 2020 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.
The one thing to watch for–and what this August 2020 crowd calendar can’t yet take into account–is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and 2020 Epcot Food & Wine Festival dates. However, this will primarily impact crowds in Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Expect Epcot to be considerably more busy the first weekend of Food & Wine Festival. Conversely, Magic Kingdom is less busy on days with MNSSHP in the evening and more busy on days the Halloween Party is not occurring. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s because the party is separately-ticketed.
Magic Kingdom closes early on MNSSHP night. This causes guests to avoid Magic Kingdom on days with shorter hours. If you have a Park Hopper ticket, we’d advise 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.
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 2020 when these event dates are limited. Prior to the start of Food & Wine, Epcot will be the least-busy park on the crowd calendars during August 2020.
AUGUST 2020 PRICING & DISCOUNTS
As noted above, the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion offers limited availability in August 2020, 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!
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!