Picking the best week of 2023, 2024 or 2025 for your Walt Disney World trip is challenging, especially when your options are limited by school breaks or vacation windows at work. This guide was designed with that in mind, sharing our favorite times to visit and ones to avoid throughout the next 2 years based on crowd level and wait times forecasts, plus seasonal events, weather, and more.
The idea for this post came while updating our Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney Worldand realizing a couple of things. First, that the vast majority of tourists aren’t visiting for a month, but rather, for 5 days to a week. Okay, that wasn’t really a recent realization–we’ve long known that aside from “holidaymakers” from the United Kingdom, few families are doing more than 10 day trips.
Second, that months are not monolithic. Which is to say that there’s a huge difference between spring break season and late April or early December and New Year’s Eve, just to give two of many examples. So while it can be useful to compare and contrast months, we found ourselves carving out a lot of exceptions and asterisks. Enter this brand-new Walt Disney World crowd predicting and planning resource for now through 2025!
Our intention here is to combine the best quantitative and qualitative aspects of the aforementioned best & worst months resources, combined with our 2023-2024 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendarsand distill that down to something approachable and actionable. Here, there are specific recommendations for weeks to visit and avoid, with pretty much the entire calendar covered.
When combined with our Best & Worst Days to Do Each Park at Walt Disney World, this should offer definitive advice for picking dates. This narrows down the week, and then that provides what you need to know to choose when to visit each park. It’s still more of a “teach a person to fish” rather than the “give a person a fish” mentality of crowd calendars, but it also should prove more accurate and useful.
This considers a variety of subjective variables (explained in each recommendation) in conjunction with our evolving expectations about Walt Disney World’s attendance for the second half of 2023. With that said, it’s weighted heavily for crowd levels and is backed by historic wait times data from the the last two years, plus 2018 and 2019 (2020 was an anomaly, so that has been discarded entirely).
Should this be well-received or deemed useful by readers (rather than another overwhelming crowd resource), my eventual goal is to expand this to rank every single week of the year. There are two reasons I didn’t start by doing that. First, the post would be much, much longer and would’ve taken me considerably longer to write and research.
Second, the quality of wait times data is not equal throughout the calendar. This is something discussed below, but there are inconsistencies and anomalies beyond just the entirety of 2020. A lot of this has already been resolved this year, with summer remaining the biggest wild card–hopefully that falls back into familiar trends over the next few months, too.
To that end, we regularly share big updates, discounts that are released by Walt Disney World, crowd levels change, etc., we send out email notifications. To receive these, subscribe to our free email newsletter. 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.
With all of that said, let’s dig into the data and other variables to rank the 10 best weeks and 10 worst weeks to visit Walt Disney World in the next 2 years–meaning some dates in 2023, 2024, and even 2025…
Worst Weeks to Visit Walt Disney World in 2023, 2024 & 2025
Winter Break (January 1-7, 2024; January 1-5, 2025) – We fondly remember visiting Walt Disney World around New Year’s Eve over a decade ago. Crowds were bonkers in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but so too were hours. You could do Extra Magic Hours starting at 7 am and leave by 9 am, sleep during the middle of the day, then return from 11 pm until 3 am. It was quite the sleep schedule, but it worked well. Then, once New Year’s Day arrived, the parks were dead until Marathon Weekend runners arrived almost a week later.
Times have changed, and anyone still expecting a holiday hangover or serene start to the year is in for a rude awakening. It’s still true that the parks are quiet to start the New Year. But that lasts all of ~4 hours on New Year’s Day. After that, crowds increase and can be worse than the heart of the holiday season due to schools still being on break, lifting of AP blockouts, and early-arriving runDisney fans.
In our view, the biggest factor is Osceola and Orange County locals. Winter school breaks are nothing new–I remember my school always being out of session until after my birthday–so the equation has not changed there for the country as a whole. What is different is the local population, which has absolutely exploded in the last decade as more households with school age children move to Central Florida. Expect these New Year’s crowds to only get worse in the years to come unless Walt Disney World adjusts AP blockouts and adjusts ticket and resort rate charts upwards.
Presidents’ Day (February 16-24, 2024; February 14-22, 2025) – For the last couple of years, the week of Presidents’ Day has ranked as one of the worst 5 weeks as measured by average wait times. This year, this holiday coincided with Mardi Gras, making it more likely that schools would have winter breaks. On top of that, there was the runDisney Princess Half Marathon bookending the holiday.
In both 2024 and 2025, Mardi Gras will not coincide with Presidents’ Day (the holidays occur one week apart instead), effectively diluting the crowds. It’s thus possible that this week won’t end up being among the worst 10–that really depends upon how spring break and summer vacation play out. Regardless, it’s popular for winter breaks and thus choosing sunshine over ski slopes, making it an easily-identifiable week to avoid that’s predictably bad even when it’s not among the absolute worst.
Orange County Spring Break (March 15-23, 2024; March 14-22, 2025) – It should go without saying, but Orange County won’t be the only school district with spring break in mid-to-late March for the next two years…and two decades after that. Like clockwork, there are hundreds of schools around the United States (and probably beyond) that are out of session this week. In aggregate, they have a big impact on crowds.
However, that’s true throughout mid-March and mid-April. All of those weeks are elevated due to various schools having breaks, and descending upon Florida for reprieve from cold weather or whatever. It’s Orange County and its ever-increasing population that pushes this particular week over the top, and makes it the worst of spring break season. That should be doubly true for the next couple of years (as contrasted with the last two) now that Annual Pass sales have resumed.
Easter (March 22-31, 2024; April 11-20, 2025) – Next year, there will be no reprieve after Orange County’s spring break ends, as Easter falls early–at the end of March 2024. This will make the week leading up to it a close second for crowds. In fact, this week could even end up being the peak of spring break next year. On top of the schools that normally have the last week of March off for spring break, there will be the schools that have a floating holiday based upon Easter will be added to the mix.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which of these two weeks has higher crowd levels. That’s almost entirely academic, an interesting thing to watch for those of us who obsess over crowd trends and attendance patterns. The bottom line for most planners looking at this from a practical perspective is that the entire second half of March 2024 will be unbearably crowded–worse than normal due to the consolidation of spring break season.
Summer Peak (July 1-9, 2023; July 3-13, 2024) – Summer vacation season is where the most uncertainty exists when it comes to 2023-2024 Walt Disney World crowd calendars. This is because there has been zero consistency in attendance patterns for June and July in the last several years.
The reasons for this have varied considerably: pre-Galaxy’s Edge uncertainty, surging COVID cases, and spiking gas prices. And that’s just the last 4 years. Even before that, Walt Disney World had been tinkering with pricing and special offers, resulting in a bit of a redistribution of attendance.
Barring future curveballs, our expectation is a return to normal in Summer 2023 and Summer 2024. The only problem is determining what, exactly, is normal for summer since we haven’t had a reasonable baseline in at least 5 years. Our expectation is attendance steadily increasing from mid-June, peaking around the beginning of July, and steadily decreasing thereafter through early August.
The safe money is on the worst of crowds coinciding with Independence Day, but this is not a sure thing. The two weeks before or the two weeks after could actually see heavier attendance and higher wait times. This prediction thus has the lowest degree of certainty; avoiding that entire month window is advisable. If you have no choice but to visit during summer, aim for early to mid-June or early to mid-August for the “best” crowds, but understand that there are air quotes around best for a reason.
Columbus Day (October 6-14, 2023; October 11-19, 2024) – There’s ample reason to believe that this won’t actually end up being among the worst 10 weeks of the year. It ranked #9 last year, but that happened as summer crowds plummeted prematurely. If this does turn out to be a normal summer season, the aforementioned weeks in June and/or July could bump this out of the “top” 10.
Nevertheless, it’s an identifiable red flag right now. Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day is a proxy for many fall breaks, and that results in an influx of visitors to Florida. The earlier time this year might also depress turnout, as some potential visitors might be spooked by storm season or still-hot weather. Others will be lured by the heart of Halloween season.
Holiday Hijinks (October 28 to November 11, 2023; October 31 to November 11, 2024) – This is a much longer window than a single week, but there’s good reason for that. This is what happens when two holidays collide, starting with Halloween and concluding with Veterans Day. In addition to that, the runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Jersey Week are in the mix. During the latter, approximately 73% of the Garden State descends upon Walt Disney World.
Breaking it down a bit, the Halloween side of this usually is not as bad as people expect; by contrast, the Veterans Day end is typically much worse than expected. It’s advisable to avoid it all, if at all possible. We’ve been warning about Veterans Day crowds for years, as it has been almost on par with Thanksgiving some years.
Thanksgiving (November 17-25, 2023; November 22-30, 2024) – Just about any Walt Disney World fan is familiar with the crowds of the final three weeks on this list. They’re hardly a secret or surprise, and are predictably busy year in and year out. These weeks still catch some casual visitors by surprise, as there are persistent urban legends that the holidays are quiet because “everyone is at home with their families.” Obviously, that’s hogwash.
Offering a bit more insight here, Thanksgiving week crowds tend to be worst the Sunday through Tuesday before Thanksgiving before a comparative lull on late Wednesday and early Thursday. (Those time frames are still bad, just not the threat level midnight crowds of the prior 3 days.) Friday and Saturday are wildcards; usually both are very busy, but not always. Then there’s reliably a mass exodus on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Christmas (December 16-24, 2023; December 19-25, 2024) – The arrival of Christmas week crowds are very dependent upon the day of the week of Christmas. Due to its timing last year and this year, the week after (between Christmas and New Year’s Eve) saw or will see the worst of the crowds. In 2024, the week leading up to Christmas will once again surge–likely to higher levels than we’ve seen in the last several years.
Regardless, all of these second-half of December dates are very, very bad and likely to see 10/10 crowd levels. But not all 10/10 days are equally busy. Some are far worse. That’ll probably be the case with December 19-25, 2024.
New Year’s Eve (December 25-31, 2023; December 26-31, 2024) – It’s the exact same story here. The week leading up to New Year’s Eve is almost always 10/10 on the crowd calendar, and would likely be more like 15/10 if the scale allowed for that.
If you were to place a bet on the busiest weeks of 2023 and 2024, the smart money would be on this week. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have the worst wait times, but it has the best odds of claiming the crown.
Best Weeks to Visit Walt Disney World in 2023-2025
The list of best weeks to do Walt Disney World this year and in 2024 is less precise and more subjective. In part, this is a byproduct of most of the worst weeks crowd-wise being readily identifiable on the basis of school breaks and holidays. So objectivity there is easier.
By contrast, there are wider windows for some of the lower crowd dates; as a result, we narrow those to our favored time frames based on subjective considerations. With that in mind, let’s dig into our rundown of the best weeks at Walt Disney World in 2023 and 2024…
Late January (January 28 to February 3, 2024; January 26 to February 1, 2025) – After winter break ends, January is largely quiet with the exception of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend. This leaves three different weeks that are potentially good options for lower crowds in January 2024.
All of those should be equally good, and if this were done exclusively on the objective basis of crowd levels, there’s a more than decent chance a couple of weeks would make the cut. We ultimately choose the latest of those on the basis of weather and expected timing of EPCOT Festival of the Arts. The first full week of February should also be in the conversation when debating which of these great dates to choose.
Late February 2024 (after Mardi Gras & Presidents’ Day) – It’s pretty much the same idea here. Unlike other holiday weeks, there is no gradual decline after Presidents’ Day. It’s abrupt. The crowd levels in the last week of February 2024 should be on par with the best dates in January. Perhaps ever-so-slightly higher due to youth sporting events.
The tradeoff that makes late February more appealing for some Walt Disney World vacation planner is the likelihood of better weather and fewer refurbishments. (Note: This and the next recommendation are for only 2024; due to Mardi Gras falling on March 4, 2025, those considering winter or spring visits will want to target mid-February 2025–meaning before Mardi Gras; the week between Mardi Gras and Orange County’s spring break should be another good option.)
Early Spring (March 3-9, 2024) – That stretch this year is actually what prompted this post, as early March was a sweet stretch of mild weather and low crowds leading up to the start of spring break season, with most parks having 1/10 to 3/10 crowd levels during this week in March 2023. Then, like flipping a switch, attendance surged almost overnight with the start of Orange County going out of session for the week.
We’ve seen this scenario play out repeatedly over the years, but that was not the case in the last two years. Instead, crowds only dropped a bit. In all likelihood, early March of this year probably was not an anomaly, but rather, a return to normal. This is a top tier time to visit thanks to the mild weather, EPCOT in bloom, and low crowds. It’s the calm before (and after) the storm, and there are only a handful of weeks that we’d rank higher from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.
Post-Easter (April 14-20, 2024; April 27 to early May 2025) – For both of these weeks, we’re essentially looking a week or two after Easter. Usually, crowds die down in the week immediately after the holiday, but there are still some schools with breaks then. The week following that is usually when the slower season arrives.
The added benefits here are (usually) spring weather and lower prices. There’s no guarantee of either, though, as summer weather can occur 10 months of the year in Florida and it’s possible for prices to remain elevated even after Easter. Both are uncommon, though, making this a great option if you’re looking for the optimal dates between spring and summer school breaks.
Spring & Summer Shoulder Season (May 5-11, 2024; May 4-10, 2025) – In looking at the wait time data, the first full week of May is usually the slowest of the month. Not by a wide margin, and the following week is sometimes better. In fact, the entire month before the Memorial Day holiday weekend is usually pretty good, and reliably uncrowded since it’s the shoulder season between spring break and summer vacation. (Even Memorial Day isn’t that bad by holiday standards.)
Crowds alone would be the tiebreaker with all else being equal, but weather is another variable to take into account. Earlier has a better chance of being milder, with less of a chance for extreme heat and humidity. As icing on the cake, prices are better and we’ve tended to find better discount availability during this earlier May window.
Mid-September (September 17-23, 2023; September 22-28, 2024) – If you’re perplexed by the over 4-month gap between the last recommended week and this one, we’re going to assume you’ve never visited Florida during the heart of summer season. Or, perhaps you love alternating being able to fry an egg on the sidewalk and afternoon showers that last long enough to drench your already sweat-soaked clothes, but are too short to cool things down.
In actuality, this is an objectively “poor” pick. In our monitoring of the data, wait times have bottomed out between the day after Labor Day and the following Saturday most years. We’re not talking about wait times for the month, but for the entire year. So if you’re choosing dates with a data-driven mentality, September 5-16, 2023 is your best bet. The same will almost certainly hold from true for 2024, 2025, 2026, and so on.
Not even the off-season opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was enough to drive crowds. Ditto the Free Dining promotion, which could return for both 2024 and 2025; that will make restaurants busier and ADRs more competitive, but has less of an impact on wait times and overall attendance levels. This window is predictably uncrowded because of school going back into session and the weather being a deterrent.
With that said, the entire month is off-season and delaying a week maintains low wait times while improving your odds of better temperatures and fewer storms. We think that’s worth an extra one minute in line (literally, that’s the difference), but the fact is that heat, humidity, and hurricanes are a gamble anytime from early August through late October.
Of course, if the parks close for a hurricane, wait times drop all the way to zero! Technically, that makes for the best crowd conditions of all…but that’s probably not what you have in mind if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the fall. Still, it’s something we can’t help but point out, as there’s always that risk. It’s still statistically low, but tell that to everyone who has been burned by closures in the last few years.
Nevertheless, those planners who would prefer to trust the numbers should move their trip forward by a week or two. Those who like low crowds but would rather hedge their bets on the qualitative side of things should stick with this week, or even consider delaying one more week. Early October is still good so long as you’re out of town before the Columbus Day crowds discover Walt Disney World.
Post-Columbus (October 22-28, 2023; October 20-26, 2024) – This is a lower degree of confidence suggestion, especially for October 2024. Based on the last few years, both of these weeks are surprisingly good. I was actually mildly and pleasantly surprised by that when combing through the data, as it wasn’t quite what I expected.
For years, conventional wisdom was that October was a great month to visit–a sweet spot of low crowds and nice weather. That ceased being true about a decade ago, and was driven in large part by an uptick in conventions business and the Free Dining promotion. With the exception of fall break and the aforementioned holiday, it seems to have resumed being true–at least to some degree–in the last 3 years. Of course, that stretch hasn’t exactly been normal, hence the low confidence in this suggestion.
The tradeoff is taking the greater gamble on crowds than late August through September is the smaller gamble on weather. (All of these dates are the “heart” of Halloween, which starts in mid-August.) Prices are also higher for these travel dates. And again, you’re gambling on weather to some degree even with this week–Hurricane Nicole caused a closure in early November!
Pre-Thanksgiving (November 12-17, 2023; November 16-22, 2024) – The final three recommendations are also the top three picks for our favorite weeks of the year to visit. Honestly, if we weren’t purposefully trying to spread out the choices to achieve greater variety, another week during the holiday season might be added here.
You’ll notice the window is smaller this year than in November 2024, which is due to the timing of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. It’s also likely to be a better set of dates next year than it is this year from an attendance perspective. Qualitatively, both a great in terms of typical weather and seasonal events–Christmas is far and away our favorite time of year at Walt Disney World.
The only downside to these dates is that they’re early in the holiday season before all of the resorts are decked out for Christmas and prior to the start of EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays. Still, the other 3 parks will be decked out for Christmas, as well some of EPCOT–you just won’t have the food booths, storytellers (Global Santas, for lack of a better term), or Candlelight Processional.
Post-Thanksgiving (November 26 to December 2, 2023; December 1-7, 2024) – This is our #1 week of the entire year at Walt Disney World. That’s been true for ages. Back when we lived in the Midwest, our annual Christmas trip usually started the Sunday after the holiday. (Even when we were still in school, we used to skip a couple days to make it a long weekend trip!)
If I had to guess at which week of the year we have spent the most minutes in Walt Disney World since 2007, it would be this one. Probably by a pretty wide margin. We absolutely love the week after Thanksgiving.
We have our time-tested approach down to a science, flying into Orlando on Saturday and actually doing our first day in the parks on Sunday. We start with Magic Kingdom during the day, as it’s typically a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party night–the first in over a week. That means shorter hours in Magic Kingdom, and smaller crowds as a result. For that same reason, do not attend that MVMCP. There’s pent-up demand from everyone still around from Thanksgiving who didn’t have the chance to attend earlier. Instead, do the Thursday night party.
Everything about this week is great–the weather, post-holiday lull in crowds, pricing, and the full slate of Christmas season entertainment. We joke that this used to be Walt Disney World’s “second-best kept secret” after Disney Vacation Club, which is to say it was a secret in name only since so many people knew about it. However, due to Pop Warner moving to Universal and other variables, that’s once again true. This is our top recommendation, and it’s not even a particularly close call.
Pre-Christmas (December 3-9, 2023; December 8-14, 2024) – As is probably evident, this is simply the week after that. It has all of the same qualities as our #1 week, but with a couple of significant differences. First, crowds are starting to increase by this point. Families who want to be home for the holidays are more inclined to time their trip at the midpoint between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Locals and other Annual Passholders who are subject to blockouts squeeze in visits to savor the spirit of the season before they don’t have the option.
Second, prices are getting higher. They’re still not at peak season levels, but they’re about 15-25% higher than the previous week. That’s true for park tickets and resort rack rates, and also likely to be the case for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Lightning Lanes, as well. All of that adds up, and makes the middle of December noticeably worse than the sweet spot after Thanksgiving, but this still ranks very highly, all things considered.
Ultimately, that’s a rundown of the top 10 weeks of the year and the worst 10 weeks at Walt Disney World, for the remainder of this year, all of 2024, and the first half of 2025. As you might’ve gathered by reading the entries, there are good and bad windows that stretch beyond what’s covered on this list–you should be able to deduce most of those based the rundown above.
With that said, we still hope to expand this list to a resource ranking all 52 weeks at Walt Disney World by later this year. After some tumultuous times, attendance is finally returning to familiar patterns. Once we see what happens from the remainder of June through mid-August 2023, we should be able to draw more definitive conclusions about the summer months, too. So stay tuned!
Do you agree or disagree with our Walt Disney World week rankings for now through 2025? 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? Other dates to avoid the parks in 2023, 2024, or 2025? 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!