Walt Disney World is never a cheap place to visit, but certain times of year are significantly less expensive than peak travel dates, which can cost double to triple the lowest priced dates. This covers days, weeks & seasons in 2023 to 2024 that have lower prices and crowds at Walt Disney World. (Updated June 11, 2023.)
As suggested above, “cheapest” is a relative term and not an absolute one. Walt Disney World is an undeniably expensive vacation destination, and the least expensive dates are still priced on par with traveling to Europe, Asia, or many tropical locales. Compounding that is the reality that total trip prices to Walt Disney World are up by thousands of dollars in the last couple of years–and had risen by around 5% per year in the decade before that.
Park tickets, hotels, restaurants, and more at Walt Disney World have all increased dramatically . While not totally unprecedented, menu and ticket prices increased multiple times last year. First in February, and then again in phases between last October and December. In total, Walt Disney World raised those costs by around 15-20% last year.
That sharp increase doesn’t even take into account all costs, like transportation (airfare, rental cars, rideshare, etc.) or added expenses, such as souvenirs, dining, and more. It also doesn’t factor in the shift from free FastPass to the flat-rate Genie+ to date-based pricing for the line-skipping service. What was once free jumped to $16 per day and now is double that on busier days.
On a positive note, 2023 has not seen any across the board price increases so far. While some food and souvenirs have gone up in cost and the average daily price of Genie+ is now higher, the normal February price increase did not happen. In addition to that, Walt Disney World has gotten more aggressive resort discounts as “revenge travel” has fizzled out, resulting in some prices effectively decreasing!
That’s a small victory, but Walt Disney World prices are still shockingly high and surprising to first-timers and those who haven’t visited since 2019 or earlier. We revisited this topic in How Much Does a Walt Disney World Vacation Cost?That was rather eye-opening for many people planning trips for the first time or returning from a hiatus of a few years.
The reader comments to that are equally illuminating, as many reported spending even more than our already high budget ranges on Walt Disney World vacations. Consider this post an indirect “sequel” to that–and one that aims to avoid overspending.
While this doesn’t help you cut costs or trim the fat from your vacation budget, it does aim to help you choose the most economical dates to visit! Similarly, our recent Top 13 Money Saving Tips for Walt Disney World offers assistance with reducing your vacation budget by eliminating expenses that do not enhance your trip. In fact, some of that advice actually improves your trip–for example, doing breakfast in your room (saves money and time–plus food court breakfasts generally underwhelm unless you like powdered eggs).
This post is similar in that choosing cheaper dates will generally also improve your trip and can save you money. That’s because the dates with the highest prices are typically busiest, and vice-versa. As a general rule, higher prices do not deter people from visiting or “redistribute” attendance. Crowds are almost always a good proxy for prices–the lower the prices, the lower you can expect attendance to be. Double win!
That’s one of the general “rules” when it comes to the cheapest times to visit Walt Disney World, and there are a few more. Another is that prices go up every single year. These increases take many forms, and are staggered across the calendar. Typically, the cost of snacks, sodas, and other pre-packaged items increases in late January or February and potentially again in September or October. Tickets and parking follow a familiar pattern; the last several years, those have gone up in February.
Vacation packages and resort rates for the following year are usually released in mid-summer, and almost always show higher rates. In fact, this just happened prior to our latest update–and is covered in 2024 Walt Disney World Resort Price Increases. Other things, such as souvenirs and regular restaurant menu prices go up at random without any real predictable patterns. (This happened many times last year!)
Consequently, it is almost always less expensive to visit sooner rather than later. If you’re debating between 2023 and 2024, there’s a strong chance this year will be cheaper. If you’re waiting for prices to drop, history is not on your side.
However, there can be exceptions even to that. For example, if you book your vacation early and lock-in pricing on tickets and hotels, it will likely be less expensive to travel some dates in January or February 2024 than in November or December 2023. That’s because prices usuallydecrease in the winter off-season as compared to the prior holiday season, and there are also typically better discounts for the off-season.
Another wildcard is discounting and the broader economy. This is something we’ve been discussing quite a bit, most recently in What Does Walt Disney World Do During A Recession?The odds aren’t in your favor that Disney will drop prices with all else being equal. However, the case could be made that, right now, all else is not equal.
To the contrary, Walt Disney World had almost two years of pent-up demand, strong spending, constrained capacity, etc. However, that has started coming to an end. On the company’s latest earnings call, CFO Christine McCarthy warned of a slowdown at Walt Disney World in the coming quarters. This has already started to happen.
To combat the end of “revenge travel” and normalization of attendance, Walt Disney World has started pulling “levers” to remedy the issue. Thus far, this has included the resumption of new Annual Pass sales and more being done to show appreciation to fans and locals, from new discount ticket offers to VIPassholder Days.
Most notably from the perspective of this post about the cheapest dates to visit in 2023-2024, Walt Disney World has already released more–and better–discounts for 2023 than last year by this same point (see All Current Walt Disney World Discounts). In total, there have been over a dozen different resort discounts, and they’ve gotten progressively more aggressive, with savings of up to 35% off resort rooms (on average, discounts have offered 5-10% more savings on average as compared to last year).
While our expectation is that hotel discounts will continue to get more aggressive, that’s not the only component of costs to visit Walt Disney World. It’s still entirely possible that inflation will continue to run hot for the rest of this year and into 2024. That could continue to put price pressure on restaurant menus, souvenirs, and more. Additionally, wage growth could accelerate as businesses are forced to pay more to attract hourly workers.
This could increase the likelihood of more price jumps, especially on food, tickets, parking, and other discretionary add-ons and upcharges. The next major price increases are likely to occur in October 2023 and/or February 2024, so plan accordingly if you want to “beat” those. (Last year, prices also went up in early December, but we suspect that was an anomaly.)
Your personal perspective about the direction of the economy will almost certainly dictate where you think Walt Disney World’s pricing is heading in the next couple of years. Although there are signs of a looming recession, there are also signs of a resilient economy and American households. This is not a blog about consumer sentiment, and since there’s not even consensus among economists about what will occur at some point later in 2023, that’s beyond the scope of this post.
Normally, the least expensive time to visit Walt Disney World would be the winter off-season in January and February. This basically encompasses these entire two months, with the exception of the very beginning of the year when schools are still on Christmas break plus the weeks around MLK Day and Presidents’ Day.
There’s a bit more nuance to it than that, but the general rule is that January and February are the cheapest months of the year, on average. There’s a little more nuance to it than that, as the fall has had better discounts (historically) and other variables that can move the needle on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, we could say January and February 2024 will mostly be the cheapest months of the next 12, although portions of August and September 2023 could come close.
Again, it’s worth reiterating that rack rates for resorts–the most expensive component of most vacations–increase each calendar year. While it’s debatable whether February or September will be cheaper within 2024 after discounts, it’s likely that both of those months will offer lower rates than their counterparts in 2025. (Again, barring a recession in one of those years.)
In other words, the advice here should be applied to dates or months in the same year (with the aforementioned carve outs). Unless you’re “banking on” another recession or economic downturn, it’s a safe bet that the general trend line for Walt Disney World prices will continue its upward climb on an annualized basis.
Within each year, January and February are the cheapest months to visit. January 8-11 and January 15 through mid-February 2024 are two relatively crowd date ranges that are cheapest. Prices spike for the week of Presidents’ Day/Mardi Gras, falling again the next week–but not as low as those early-year off-season dates.
Following that, early March is generally another sweet spot, as is the end of the month. Spring Break and Easter also bring with them significant spikes to both pricing and crowds.
Fast-forward past Easter, and that week (after the holiday) through the week before Memorial Day once again see lower prices. This is technically considered “regular” season, but it’s on par with some dates in mid-February and is the cheapest Walt Disney World will be until early August.
About a week before schools go back into session, prices decrease again. This occurs earlier on the hotel side of the equation than with park tickets, presumably because locals continue visiting after tourists stop traveling–and only the latter books hotel stays.
Starting the third Sunday of August, prices return to near their lowest levels of the year and stay there until mid-September (with the notable exception of Labor Day weekend). Costs do get higher from then until early October, but it’s by a nominal amount. Technically, these rates are higher than off-season dates in January and February. As noted above, that can be further exacerbated by intervening price increases on tickets, food, etc.
Prices for October through early December tend to be a veritable roller coaster depending upon whether it’s a holiday week/end or not. Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving all see spikes–some fairly massive. Same goes for runDisney race weekends.
If it’s not one of those weeks or weekends, pricing is near its lowest levels of the year through the first week of December. That gradually escalates beginning the second week in December, culminating in the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Beginning December 16 and lasting until the end of the calendar year, holiday season kicks in and prices hit their highest levels of the entire year.
If you’re simply looking for the very best dates in each season, they are as follows:
All Sundays through Thursdays approximately equal in June and July 2023
August 6 to 10, 2023
August 13 to 17, 2023
August 20 to 31, 2023
September 4 to 14, 2023
September 17 to 21, 2023
September 24 to 28, 2023
October 1 to 5, 2023
October 9 to 12, 2023
October 15 to 19, 2023
October 22 to November 1, 2023
November 6 to 17, 2023
November 25 to 30, 2023
December 3 to 7, 2023
January 2 & 3, 2024
January 8 to 11, 2024
January 15 to 18, 2024
January 22 to 25, 2024
January 29 to February 1, 2024
February 4 to 8, 2024
February 12 to 15, 2024
February 26 to 29, 2024
March 17 to 20, 2024
April 7 to 11, 2024
April 14 to 18, 2024
April 21 to 25, 2024
April 28 to May 2, 2024
May 5 to 9, 2024
May 12 to 16, 2024
May 19 to 23, 2024
A couple of things to note about the above. First, Summer through Christmas 2024 prices track very closely with this year; we’ll add those dates soon, but you can basically adjust by a day to determine the cheapest dates for the second half of the year.
Second, there are major price changes in Spring 2024 as compared to this year. That’s almost certainly because of Easter shifting into March 2024, which makes that–and not April–the busy month for spring break season. April 2024 rates are still elevated as compared to January and February, but there are actually many dates that are less expensive than this year.
By contrast, every single day in March 2024 is more expensive than this year. Based on our research and comparisons, that’s the only month of the year when that’s true. (Although the jury is still out on October through December 2024–more price increases could come for those dates.)
Next, it’s mostly Sunday through Thursday nights that have the lowest prices, with Mondays through Wednesdays having the absolute cheapest rates. If you’re looking for the least expensive options, you’ll find them at the All Stars. Those Value Resorts start at $117 per night in the off-season, which will likely be right around $100 per night after discounts.
In general, Friday and Saturday will be the most expensive days of the week to visit Walt Disney World, with Thursday and Sunday costing less–but still more than Monday through Wednesday nights.
As for the most expensive dates to visit, we can say with almost complete confidence that the most expensive dates to visit Walt Disney World are December 15-31, 2023 and December 13-31, 2024. (January 1, 2024 and 2025 is also extremely elevated–prices drop like a rock the following night.)
If you want more specificity in the least & most expensive dates to visit and the best & worst dates to visit, it can be useful to consult our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar. Look for the least busy dates, you’ll also generally find the cheapest dates.
Ultimately, that should answer some questions about when it’s cheapest to visit Walt Disney World in 2023-2024…and perhaps raise even more. Basically, the least expensive dates on paper as of right now are mid-January through mid-February and mid-August through September, followed by late April to late May, then October through early December–all minus long holiday weekends and the full weeks leading up to major holidays.
Of course, that’s a wide range of dates and even potential pricing depending upon where things go from here. While I cannot offer any credible predictions about the economy, my general sentiment is essentially this can’t go on forever.
Against that backdrop and with that bias, if forced to choose dates to visit Walt Disney World in the next two years–for a range of reasons both qualitative and quantitative–I would not pick the winter months. Though great from a weather perspective and for EPCOT Festival of the Arts, winter is no longer the sleepy off-season it once was.
Instead, I would look to September. Even though the weather is far less desirable in the early fall off-season, September is reliably the best month for crowds and deals at Walt Disney World. It’s also a great time of year with Halloween, EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival, and more.
Personally, I’d actually go beyond September for my travel target and book the week after Thanksgiving. This is nothing new and actually has nothing to do with pricing–we’ve been recommending that week for ages, and it’s our personal favorite for a mix of reasons related to pricing, weather, crowds, and Christmas.
Late November and early December are “objectively inferior” to September, but the reality is that humans don’t take vacations in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. That’s the better week on balance. It typically offers superior weather (far lower likelihood of high heat & humidity…or hurricanes!), seasonal events, and more. It’ll be slightly more crowded and expensive, but that’s a worthwhile tradeoff in our view.
What do you think about this look at the cheapest times to visit Walt Disney World? Which would you pick in the January/February v. August/September dilemma? Think discounts will continue to improve throughout 2023 and put a reality-check on runaway prices? Have you noticed these increases in 2024 Walt Disney World vacation packages? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!