Choosing when to visit Walt Disney World usually means consulting statistical crowd calendars, seasonal events schedules, park hours, and more. This guide the best & worst months in 2022 and early 2023 provides info & tips to help you choose, plus our top 3 weeks. (Updated March 17, 2022.)
The last couple of years have been a veritable roller coaster of changes at Walt Disney World, upending most traditional crowd forecasting in the process. Seasonal events, school breaks, and more were cancelled, and travel plummeted. Now, things are returning to normal and, along with that, pent-up demand and changing visitor dynamics is once again making things interesting–and the parks much busier!
Given that our 2022 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars are less reliable, we’re recommending most readers consult this resource for the “broad strokes” on when to visit Walt Disney World. Accordingly, we’ve re-ranked the best and worst months to visit here based on a variety of mostly qualitative and some quantitative factors. This considers a variety of variables in conjunction with our expectations about Walt Disney World’s attendance for 2022 through early 2023…
If you’re still in ‘wait and see’ mode, determining when to book a Walt Disney World vacation, one thing we’d recommend is following our regular updates from the parks and WDW news to track what’s happening and on the horizon–because a lot is changing.
This will give you a good idea of what things are like ‘on the ground’ at Walt Disney World, as well as what to expect in the future. We regularly share big updates, discounts that are released by Disney, crowd levels change, etc., we send out email notifications. To receive these, subscribe to our free email newsletter.
As noted above, we’re eschewing the typical Walt Disney World crowd calendar approach for these monthly rankings, which have become less reliable in the last few years. Quite simply, too much has changed–and will continue to change. Instead, we’ll use a more holistic approach that takes into account more than just crowds when choosing when to visit Walt Disney World.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney World crowd levels can vary, and can not be forecast with 100% accuracy. As such, you should choose when to visit based on other comfort and enjoyment factors in addition to Walt Disney World crowd projections. It’s more pragmatic to choose when you’ll visit based on a mix of attendance levels plus weather, seasonal entertainment, and special events!
Low crowds during a time when temperatures are sweltering, humidity is off the charts and there are no special events should not trump moderate crowds during a temperate time of year with a special event. Few people evaluate their vacation’s success by some statistical ‘fun quotient’, so why not do likewise when planning, and perform a qualitative analysis when choosing travel dates?
To cut to the chase, the point of this post is to rank every month of the year for visiting Walt Disney World in light of all variables that (we feel) are important with adjustments made for the ongoing reopening of the parks & resorts, operations scaling back up, capacity increasing, and entertainment returning.
On top of that, there’s still a lot of pent-up demand. Due to postponed trips, a return of international travel, resumption of runDisney and youth sporting events, there likely is more demand for at least the first half of 2022. The lack of discounts already suggests a mix of more demand/travel, and less supply/capacity.
How all of that will ultimately play out remains to be seen. If demand and supply start to balance out or if Disney is able to overcome its staffing shortages as the labor market normalizes, some of these issues might improve. Or, the aforementioned issues might extend through the entirety of 2022. Personally, I didn’t expect some of these problems to persist this long, so I’m hesitant about making predictions about when normalcy will fully return.
Honestly, even during entirely “normal times” this list is a challenging. Even months with significant and obvious downsides might have tremendous upside. Take August 2022, for example, which ranks #10. That’s not great, but summer vacation demand usually fizzles out mid-month, making the second half of the month much better than the first half.
There are similar stories throughout the list. November and December have become progressively busier over the last several years, but these are such qualititatively pleasant and fun months that we’re hard pressed to rank them poorly even given the higher crowds than August or May. You’ll have to decide for yourself how you weigh those countervailing factors–we’re just giving you some insight into our thinking and methodology.
Anyway, here is our personal assessment of the best and worst months to visit Walt Disney World in 2022. We’d recommend reading the description of each month carefully to make an informed decision about which time frames are best and worst for you…
12. July – This month ranks dead last due to uncertainty and upside, or lack thereof. Last July was the busiest month of the year at Walt Disney World as the parks got hit by an onslaught of pent-up demand. That’s not normal–in recent years, summer had ceased to be peak season at Walt Disney World.
However, Americans made up for lost time during summer vacation, and Florida was one of the top destinations. Our expectation is that pent-up demand won’t be nearly as strong in July 2022, but there will still be an element of it as more Americans take “make-up” vacations–and international travel resumes in full force.
Beyond that, July is not a good month to visit if only because of heat and humidity. The near-certainty of poor weather plus the uncertainty of heavy crowds puts July 2022 in last place. With that said, once you plan for the realities of a summer trip, remember: “even a rainy, potentially crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.” Don’t get too down on trip–it’ll still be a great time so long as you go in with good strategy and realistic expectations.
11. April – James Franco could make a sequel to Spring Breakers set at Walt Disney World, and it would make the events of the original film seem perfectly tame. Okay, maybe not, but that doesn’t change the fact that Spring Break at Walt Disney World is a time to be avoided if you can. Ranking April 2022 is tricky.
Given that Easter will be in April every year until 2024, it’s a month that we recommend avoiding if you don’t like long lines. The entire month will be above average, but the weeks abutting Easter will be DEFCON 1. You’d better have some fast fingers (and a fast internet connection!) when trying to book a Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog Dash!
After around Tax Day, April 2022 should improve considerably. Whether crowds drop by enough to move it higher on this list is debatable–but the point is that the back half of April is much better. If that were its own month, it’d rank on the top half of this list.
10. August – Feel like Mission: Space is insufficient at simulating a visit to outer space? Then you’ll love August in Walt Disney World, when every day feels like a veritable trip to Venus or Mercury! August sees the mercury rising in Central Florida, and that hot, humid, and rainy weather alone makes August among the worst months to visit.
August is qualitatively the worst month to visit Walt Disney World. Quantitatively, it’s harder to say. August marks the end of “Peak Season” ticket prices, meaning people who postponed their visits to save money will start heading to the parks. On top of that, Annual Passholder blockouts lift in August, causing a spike of locals.
Conversely, summer vacation demand should start to burn out by mid-August as families prepare to head back to (largely in-person) school schedules. This results in an overall drop-off in attendance and a lull in crowds from late August through the end of September. On balance, August is a tale of two months–very busy with “growing pains” the first half, and significantly better during the second half.
9. June – Our expectation is that things are largely back to normal at Walt Disney World by June 2022. This means an ordinary summer season, which has become a moderately crowded time of year to visit. With that said, we do expect a slight spike over normal driven by a return of international tourism, the ongoing 50th Anniversary celebration, and likelihood that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will debut in or around June 2022.
Another normal downside to June is the weather. Obviously, it’s a hot month, and the average monthly rainfall in June at Walt Disney World is over 8+ inches, and the probability of rain on any given day is above 50%. The upside to June is that it’s typically the less busy of the summer months, with most summer vacations happening in July or early August.
8. March – Usually, early March is one of our “sleeper picks” for low crowds–and will be once again come March 2023 with Mardi Gras moving forward to February. Consequently, there should be a brief respite before spring break, but not long enough for March 2023 as a whole to rank highly.
Spring break is the major downside to the second half of March, and what prevents the month from leapfrogging January and February. In particular, avoid Orange County’s spring break (March 10-19, 2023) as that’ll be the worst week-plus of the entire season, since that local school district has the most outsized impact on crowds.
On the plus side, weather is typically temperate by March, as evidenced by the start of Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival at the beginning of the month. Regardless of the year, we are fans of March dates as a great time for cool weather, moderate crowds, and Epcot coming into bloom.
Aside from the week of Presidents’ Day, this would not “naturally” happen–at least, not to this extent. The winter months of January and February are Florida’s off-season. However, Walt Disney World leverages special and sporting events to boost crowd numbers.
Whether January or February 2023 will be “better” really depends upon the week you choose. If you can avoid the dates around holidays, February is still a decent time to visit–it just sees overall crowd levels that are slightly elevated. The first week of February is definitely the best of both worlds, so if you’re planning a visit in February 2023, that’s the week to choose. (The last full week of February 2023 won’t be attractive since it’ll encompass both Mardi Gras and the Princess Half Marathon.)
5. January – This is the “holiday hangover” at Walt Disney World. It’s sort of like Walt Disney World ate too many Christmas cookies and is too lazy to get off the couch and take down the decorations, with this mentality continuing long after the tree is dead to the point where its wife is embarrassed when it finally throws out the tree. (Not that I know from experience or anything.) On the plus side, January offers mild weather and the Epcot Festival of the Arts is fantastic.
When it comes to crowds, expect January 2023 to be a repeat of this year and 2020 before that. Which is to say, that January is a mixed bag. Avoid Orange County’s Christmas break, the MLK Day holiday, and 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon. Basically, target the week of January 22, 2023–hopefully, that will see moderate or even low crowds.
5. October – For the last several years, October had been dropping. Thanks to a variety of holidays, school breaks, conventions, and other events, October had become one of the busiest months of the year at Walt Disney World in terms of average wait times.
Last October wasn’t bad at all, but there’s reason to believe it was an anomaly, with spiking case numbers driven by Delta and fears of the 50th Anniversary driving record attendance causing cancellations. Special events, group bookings, and conventions are already returning to Walt Disney World in a big way, and in recent history, October has been a big month for those. Our expectation is that October 2022 sees a significant year-over-year increase in crowds as a result.
Nevertheless, October remains attractive for its seasonal events at Epcot and Magic Kingdom and improving weather. We can’t recommend this month from the perspective of crowds, but it’s not a bad subjective choice when Halloween, Food & Wine, and more are added to the equation.
4. December – If Disney Vacation Club is the “Best Kept Secret,” the beginning of December being the best time to visit is “Disney’s Second Best Kept Secret.” Unfortunately, there’s just a pinch of sarcasm here. It’s as if the both ‘secrets’ were entrusted to Harvey Levin, and have been plastered everywhere.
The secret has gotten out about early December, and that coupled with Disney’s more strategic use of blockout dates and dynamic ticket pricing has shifted attendance somewhat. Crowds are still not as bad as other peak seasons, but it’s no longer the ghost town that it once was. We still view the first two weeks of the month as desirable times to visit, even despite being about as “secret” as the In-N-Out Secret Menu.
Pleasant weather plus Christmas decorations & entertainment are the big highlights here. It also helps that Pop Warner has moved to Universal, so that won’t contribute to crowds. However, a lot of Walt Disney World fans delayed annual holiday visits last year, and that plus it being one of the final few months of the 50th Anniversary could lead to December 2022 being well above-average. If you can’t do mid-November, we think early to mid-December is still well worth it from a subjective perspective, even if that means 8/10 crowd levels.
3. May – With our latest re-rankings, May 2022 is the biggest winner. This is mostly because the entirety of the month falls before summer tourist season and our expectation is that–after several months of consistently high crowds for one reason or another–May 2022 will be something of a return to normal as the calm between Spring Break and Summer 2022.
Our big expectation for May 2022 is it’s entirely back to normal. Festival of Fantasy Parade is already back, we’re optimistic that Fantasmic will join it by then, and hopefully Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be in preview or soft opening mode prior to its (expected) opening over Memorial Day weekend. Speaking of which, even with that holiday weekend factored into the mix, crowds are typically below average in May.
The main downside to May is that heat and humidity can really start intensifying in May, but still not as bad as the summer months that follow. However, May is the first month of the year during which it’s not uncommon to see the temperatures broach 90-degrees and the humidity reach high levels.
2. November – Save for Thanksgiving and Veterans Day weeks, neither of which are as bad as the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks in terms of crowds, November is similar to December. Mid-November is usually a decent time to visit Walt Disney World, and the week after Thanksgiving is exceptional if you don’t mind elevated attendance.
The upside to November are that the weather is generally more temperate. The downside is that not all Christmas entertainment starts until after Thanksgiving (specifically at Epcot), and some resort hotel decorations are not up during the first half of the month. However, in the last few years crowds have spiked significantly in December, making November 2022 an overall superior pick so long as you about the aforementioned holiday weeks. Essentially, the 1st, 3rd, and final weeks of November 2022 are all solid times to visit, whereas only the first week or so of December 2022 will be good.
1. September – Every single month that was once the off-season has seen soaring crowds at Walt Disney World in recent years, with one exception: September. Nothing has moved the needle on fall off-season crowds–not the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, not the anticipated pre-50th Anniversary lull, and not perpetual picks by crowd calendars that September would be the slowest month of the year.
When judged solely on the basis of crowds, September is always the best month of the year. Aside from Labor Day weekend, September is relatively slow, especially earlier in the month. While Walt Disney World has been able to manipulate crowd levels in other off-season months, that has not happened with September. After Labor Day, the entire month is off-season, with the lowest crowd levels of the year.
September remains resilient and “crowd-proof” because most people simply cannot visit during the month due to school going back into session, or don’t want to do so because of the weather. Speaking of which, heat and humidity make being outdoors unpleasant during September, and it’s a high point in the storm season. Despite that, it’s absolutely worth bearing with the weather to take advantage of those low crowds, especially later in the month. Even in the current era of unpredictable crowds, September 2022 should be relatively reliable.
The culmination of all of this? That our favorite week to visit Walt Disney World is the Sunday after Thanksgiving through the first Saturday of December. For this year, that means arriving on November 27, 2022. We think that’s the sweet spot for the best prospects of good weather, moderate crowds, and experiencing all of the Christmas festivities.
Note that crowds will not be low during this week. At best, you’re looking at numbers in the 7/10 range. If lower crowds are of paramount importance, instead target November 13-18, 2022. That week should be slightly less crowded and offer most Christmas entertainment, outside of Epcot.
For week #2, I’d look look to the nearer future: the last full week of May 2022. Specifically, the week of May 22-27, 2022 ranks really highly for us, and is our top week of the summer season. If Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind were really important to me, I’d plan on staying for the holiday weekend, as well.
Memorial Day is the only real wildcard, and might strike you as “catnip for crowds.” Historically, that has not been the case–and even with so much uncertainty, it’s unlikely to be a more pronounced problem this year. The unofficial start of summer is simply earlier than most tourists start traveling for fully-fledged vacations–Americans tend to do long weekend getaways for Memorial Day, instead.
Either way, the week leading up to Memorial Day tends to be quiet because it falls between spring break and summer vacations, has zero special events, and is long after the start of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. It’s a counterintuitive and unnatural vacation period, for lack of a better term, which is what makes it the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World.
I would plan trip #3 during the last week in September 2022. This starts September 25, 2022 and capitalizes on the lower crowds of September while also increasing the odds of milder and hurricane-free weather. This also hits both Halloween and Food & Wine seasons.
While we don’t expect anything special for it, October 1, 2022 is Walt Disney World’s 51st Anniversary and Epcot’s 40th Anniversary. There’s an outside chance TRON Lightcycle Run will debut on that date, along with other entertainment, and perhaps a small celebration. Don’t count on any of that, though.
Do you agree or disagree with our 2022 Walt Disney World month by month rankings? Are there any months you think are better or worse than we have them ranked? Any specific ideal weeks that you’d recommend people visit Walt Disney World? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!