2019 Disney World Crowd Predictions: When to Go & Avoiding Star Wars Land Lines
Walt Disney World’s early opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has upended crowd calendars, upsetting many vacation planners in the process. Here we’ll offer predictions for the best and worst months to visit for the remainder of 2019, which we’ve revised following the announced date for Rise of the Resistance. At the end, we’ll also pick three weeks we’d visit. (Last updated July 13, 2019.)
Initially, I was going to simply update our 2019 Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World post to account for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. However, that post takes a more holistic approach to rankings based upon weather, special events, entertainment, and more. Crowds are just one factor used to rank the months.
Judging by recent comments, many of you are primarily concerned with crowds this year, and are wanting to find time for a trip when Walt Disney World is not packed. To that end, we’re offering the below rankings on the sole basis of our Walt Disney World crowd predictions…
Before we dig into the Walt Disney World crowd ‘calendar’ for 2019, some caveats are in order. First, these are our best guesses. Literally no one has perfect foresight as to what Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will bring with it. If someone claims to be able to precisely forecast Walt Disney World crowd levels post Star Wars land’s opening, you should be highly skeptical.
Even DisneyWorld.com has a warning at the top of its ticket page stating, “access to the park, land and experiences may be restricted or unavailable depending on guest demand and other factors” as if to say, we don’t know how busy it’ll be, but prepare for the worst.
Second, there will be good days in bad months and vice-a-versa. The reason I’m hesitant to make more granular predictions is because it’s really difficult to do so with a high degree of accuracy. Extraneous variables like weather (good or bad) can impact wait times, as can Disney’s manipulation of attraction capacity, or even a large conference being held on-site. Moreover, Disney could release new discounts, promotions, or limited-time entertainment offerings to lure guests into the parks.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that the Walt Disney World crowd calendar game is a far from precise science, and that’s especially true for 2019 as we are likely to experience a summer lull in the lead-up to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, followed by who-knows-what in the aftermath.
Nevertheless, we’re doing our best with these rankings, and offering some explanation as to why we feel the way we do about each month. Please note that these rankings are only applicable for the remainder of 2019, so do not rely on them for 2020…
6. December – This is not exactly a bold prediction, especially now that Disney has announced the Opening Date for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This is the flagship attraction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and many fans undoubtedly will be waiting until its debut to visit. Accordingly, we now expect December to be the busiest month of 2019–by a long shot.
Aside from a few pockets early in the month, December has become one of the busier months of the year, irrespective of Star Wars Land. People love seeing the parks decked out for the holidays, the temperate weather, and Christmas events. For 2019, expect that to be compounded by those who postponed trips last year, waiting for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to open. We would anticipate this demographic to disproportionately favor December.
5. November – Pretty much the same story here. Christmas kicks off at Walt Disney World in early November, and it starts drawing people the week before Thanksgiving through the end of the month.
If you’re looking for a “sweet spot,” we’d recommend aiming for around November 10-22, 2019. This should be the best mix of nice weather, lower crowds, Christmas decorations, and just maybe Rise of the Resistance having soft openings towards the end of that timeframe. Any dates after November 22, 2019 are likely to see increasingly elevated Thanksgiving crowds.
4. October – This month went from being one of the best options to one of the worst in the span of only a few years. Last year, there was a bit of a lull in October, but it was still pretty far from off-season.
We’d again expect October to be a very busy month thanks to conventions, school breaks, and tourists who want to double-dip on Star Wars Land and Halloween.
3. July – The likelihood of a pre-Star Wars slump this summer is a real one, and the main reason we expect June and July to be less busy than last year.
Promotions have already been released to entice people to visit in July, with Free Dining beginning immediately after the Independence Day holiday. We predict that this won’t be enough to offset those sitting out this summer, making July a slightly better option.
2. August – If you don’t want to gamble on our advice below–and frankly, we don’t blame you since these are uncharted waters–then late August will be your best and safest option, so long as you’re out a few days before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. There’s also the potential for Soft Openings of Star Wars Land in late August.
That window will offer the best combination of schools going back into session, poor weather discouraging others from visiting, and a lack of anyone who is waiting for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Those two weeks or so have the potential to be the absolute least busy of the year, but when averaged with the beginning of the month and last few days, we’re still giving the edge to September.
1. September – To be entirely honest with you, predicting September will be the best month to visit Walt Disney World in 2019 is the pretext for this entire article. Our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Announcement post has over 200 comments; going through those, many are from people who planned September trips and are freaking out about crowds.
We made this ‘September will be best’ prediction back when the opening date for Galaxy’s Edge was announced, and most readers feared the worst, and were skeptical of our prediction. If you’ve read our Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low? post, which is based upon the first month-plus of the land being open at Disneyland, this is exactly the scenario that has played out there. Of course, Walt Disney World is a totally different beast, but we still think there’s good reason to not expect the absolute worst.
There’s no doubt September 2019 will be more crowded than last September. There are a couple questions that should be asked. First, how crowded will it be as compared to last year? Second, how crowded will September 2019 be as compared to October 2019 and pretty much forever beyond?
It’s tough to answer the first question with any degree of certainty (although Walt Disney World not raising ticket prices for September 2019 does say something about their internal forecasts). As to the second question, we’re moderately confident that September 2019 will be better than pretty much any month between now and September 2020.
My reasons for picking September as the least-crowded month are three-fold. First, history. September has been by far the least crowded month for the last several years, if not longer. Last September the parks were veritable ghost towns on some days, and it was consistently the least busy we’ve seen Magic Kingdom in years.
Second, the main factors causing September to be uncrowded–school schedules and weather–aren’t impacted by the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Unless a national holiday is declared for the opening of Star Wars land–and with Disney’s power, perhaps that isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibilities–most schools are going to be in session during the entirety of September. For a lot of people, September is simply an undesirable month to visit, and that’s true irrespective of Star Wars.
Finally, those planning for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge might be inclined to avoid September as it’s the immediate aftermath of the opening and because the flagship Rise of the Resistance attraction won’t be open then. Based on the above, ‘immediate aftermath’ reasoning is probably fallacious, but many people will no doubt have that perception, thinking it’s a savvy move to “wait out” the crowds until December.
On the other hand, waiting for the whole land to open certainly isn’t a terrible idea and there are no doubt a decent number of people who will do that. Those guests will be inclined to roll the dice that December (when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was originally rumored to open) is the safer bet.
I would anticipate appreciably larger crowds beginning in October and crescendoing in December. In large part, this is simply the converse of the above points. Both annual and first-time visitors favor these months, for a variety of reasons ranging from school schedules to weather to other seasonal offerings.
With both Pandora and Toy Story Land, some of the worst waits of the year were not experienced in the few weeks after the lands opened, but in the October to December months. Aside from those who want to say they did it “first” on opening weekend, a good segment of the Disney fanbase (and casual visitors) are perfectly willing to wait a few months and time their visit for new offerings when it’s more convenient for them, holidays are being celebrated, weather is nicer, and the opening surge has subsided (except, again, this last one is erroneous reasoning).
Again, all of these are merely our predictions–but that’s the best anyone can offer at this point. For what it’s worth, if we were only booking one trip for the rest of the year, we’d choose November 15-21, 2019. That’s based on a number of factors, including weather, Christmas, and crowds. (Note: we picked these dates before Rise of the Resistance’s opening date was announced–we’d now be tempted to choose December 1-7, 2019 in light of that…or just hope for soft openings during our original date range.)
If we were only worried about crowds and didn’t care about Star Wars at all, we’d pick August 20-26, 2019. If we were worried about crowds but did care about Star Wars, we’d choose September 8-14, 2019. No matter which dates you choose, expect Walt Disney World crowds, generally speaking, to get worse later in the year.
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 agree or disagree with our rankings? Which month do you think will be least crowded for the remainder of 2019 at Walt Disney World? Most crowded? 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!
We are going from Sept 2-Sept 7 and I am FREAKING out with the announcement of Galaxy’s Edge opening! I am hoping that the crowds will not be as bad at the other parks. We are flying, so we can not change our dates.
Sept 2 – Part day @ Animal Kingdom from 1:30pm-9pm; Exploring the Tree of Life and Dinoland
Sept 3 – Hollywood Studios; we are just going to tough of the crowds. But we are taking advantage of early park access from 6am-9am and going to Galaxy Edge first
Sept 4 – Epcot; Hoping the crowd dies down
Sept 5 – Magic Kingdom; Have early access to do dining at Crystal Palace
Sept 6 – Animal Kingdom
What do y’all think? I have all my fast passes in place and know what we will be getting next. I also have all dining reservations. Any advice? This is my finace and mine first time going together! But my 6th time 🙂 Thanks!
Same here! we fly in Aug 31st and back out the 7th. I am very curious about how crowds will be. As of now we are not planning on doing the 6am opening buuuuut that could change, who knows. I was fortunate enough to see GE at land last month so it’s not a huge bust if I don’t see it.
Your plan is good, only advice and obviously it will be hard to tell until it opens but everyone will be flocking to GE at the 6am opening.
I think this is a great plan, especially because you are doing this during the week!
We are there December 1st through 8th and I booked our party of 10 at Coronado Springs. Thankfully our ADR window opened up before they announced Rise of the Resistance. Ironically the 5th was our “free” day of the week, so we will be heading over to DHS that day to be in line for ROR!
If guests staying onsite are let into Animal Kingdom around 7:30 on a morning with 8:00 EMH can we expect to be let in around 6:30 on a morning with the 7:00 EMH?
I just want to say I absolutely love that photo of you and your wife in the light saber duel. It perfectly captures your love of Disney and why you do this blog. It’s nice to see you just having fun!
What do you think about the crowds in all other parks besides HS the week of Sep. 2-7? We do not care about GE. Thank you!
Well, I’m gonna be at MK on Nov 26th. I guess I will see the most crowded version but since this was a long term planing as I’m from Germany nothing can be changed. Be there at rope drop and hope to make it to 7 dwarfs train. Has anyone experience with rope drop? Thanks!
I did rope drop in May for 7DMT. Arrived to rope drop area at 7:55. We were at the back of a large crowd of people. Rope dropped at 8. There was a huge crowd and my husband was a little upset at the rudeness we encountered with all the pushing and shoving. It looked as if the line stretched forever and it would take hours to get thru. But it worked out well because I was finished with the ride and headed to my breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest by 8:35. That week the wait time was consistently above 90 min.
However, I would arrive to rope drop area earlier for your Nov date as I’m sure it will be more crowded than it was in May.
We typically visit WDW every year, and got married there during Easter for 2017, which is one of the busiest times of the year. We found that when EMH were at 7-8am, there were a LOT less people there for rope drop. We were able to get right onto several rides in fantastasy land right away include 7DMT, Peter Pan etc. I think there are less people willing/able to get there before 7am to be ready for rope drop!
We planned our trip for the first 2 weeks of Sep and are looking forward to it. Our thought is a large portion of guests plan their trips a good ways out and the announcement of early opening of SW:GE was too late for such early planners.
I can’t wait to take advantage of those Extra, Extra Magic Hours the week of Halloween!
Planning a trip Thanksgiving week. What is the likelihood of Early Early Magic Hours for SWL and/or Pandora? We are looking at staying on the property if this is a likely option.
Booked my trip for September 10th – 17th because I expected SWL to open in November. Lol. Hoping it’s not super crazy and all of the crowds from the grand opening will be gone by the time I get there. Does anyone know if the hotels are completely booked right now for September?
Hotels have a ton of availability for September still…it’s going to be very slow during your visit
My husband and I booked a Adults Only trip the 3rd week in September to avoid the crowds, should we consider rescheduling?
That’s the week I booked with my 23 year old son and I’m not switching. Crowds should still be fine.
I, too, will be traveling with young ones (5 & 22 months) during the last week of October. While my husband is a huge Star Wars fan, we didn’t plan our trip for Galaxy’s Edge (which is obviously an added bonus minus the crowds part), but rather to celebrate our Disney obsessed daughter’s 5th birthday on 10-29. We already planned out dining and made appropriate reservations while keeping in mind the fact that we won’t be going to Epcot on this trip. We honestly thought there wouldn’t be much to do there with a 5 & 22 month old. Another commenter seemed to disagree though, and so I am just wondering why and whether or not we need to reconsider our decision not to go to Epcot on this trip? Also, are there any room only or free dining discounts available for the end of October yet? We are staying at art of animation, the little mermaid room. TIA!!
Google Epcot with little ones
We are planning our first family trip to WDW, we booked the flights and hotel for October 31 to November 5 2019.
Changing the flights is really expensive, but reading this makes me think is our only way to enjoy our family trip.
We have too small kids (3 and 2) so I think we could skip Epcot on this visit, even with that – do you recommend paying for changing the flights? or keep the dates and visit Animal Kingdom, Disney World and Hollywood Studios?
Keep your dates. If your thinking of changing because of Star Wars don’t worry. Just plan accordingly. The not so scary Halloween party is in the MK so plan around that and the wine & fine run half marathon inWDW. Look at under cover tourist for Disney and you’ll see what the crowds should be and which parks are best for which days. Dads crowd calendar predicts light to moderate crowds for those dates.
Why skip EPCOT? there’s so much to do with the kids there. I would not change my plans, and maybe just avoid the crowds at Galaxy’s Edge. DO a FP+ if you get one and then stay out of that side of the HS. Just my two cents.
I’m trying to move dates to September 27 – October 3.
But if I can’t, I will follow your advice… probably just stay away from HS (maybe go to Typhonn with the kids instead?)
The calendars predicts a moderate crowd on MK and AK (those parks are my main goal for the kids)
I made reservation for Sept 19-21 in May and I am not changing them. September has routinely been a slower month due to school back in session. I am not a huge star wars fan. Will walk thru the land maybe, but mostly ride Toy Story, visit Epcot, AK & MK. Due to motion sickness, HS doesn’t have much for me. I am trying to add a day and am sure I will be successful before then. We are DVC & AP. I just have to watch the weather for hurricanes.
Just remember that those extra people heading to Disney for Star Wars will also be visiting the other parks as well. We were going to go in September until I saw that almost every resort was sold out shortly after the opening of Star Wars was announced.
Even the dining reservations were much harder to get. We canceled and are now going at the beginning of 2020.
There is availability at every single resort except Boardwalk for September. I think people are really blowing things out of proportion.
There are lots of hotel availability in September and October. I’m not really worried. Hopefully we get the Disneyland effect on crowds lol
i really wouldn’t necessarily assume the other parks will be super packed. remember kids still have to go to school and most will have just started back to school and people work. if people are there, it’s unlikely to be families, but rather SW fans, who likely will spend all of their time at GE and HS and not spend the money on park hoppers. i wouldn’t bank on the other parks overflowing. i was initially scared of this ,but i’m leaning towards that not being the case. my TA confirmed there is still a ton of september resort availability.
I agree with you. I booked my dining ages ago, I am going from August 25 – Sept 1, and I checked last night for some time changes and had no problem doing so. I am crossing my fingers for a not so chaotic trip. Busy, yes, but hopefully not so bad.
These are the dates we booked for our family as well not knowing that Star Wars would be opening. Really nervous but hopefully if we avoid HS on Thursday for the opening, the trip won’t be too bad. We have small children and although we love Star Wars, we probably won’t be visiting Galaxy’s Edge this trip. We will wait a couple of years. Lol
I’ve noticed that, strangely enough, although the 1st wave of free dining was from July to end September, and Galaxy’s Edge opens 29 Aug, dining reservations are very full around September 11 to October 8. It’s in fact easier to get dining reservations in Summer or in November. Not sure if this information might be useful to your analysis? 🙂
Are there any upcoming room discounts for stays in September 2019?
I just booked our 180 dining reservations online and w the Dining CS and believe me the first week of December has almost no reservations available. We are DVC members and dining was my only real concern but seriously we have gone this time of the year for 20 years and andnever had a problem getting tables w/in 60 days except Cindy;’s RT breakfast. At 6 AM on line nearly everything is booked Tusker’s at AK had a few lunch Epcot Rose & Crown DR sold out it was amazing. We got most of what we wanted being flexible but it was a shock.
With a kitchen we will be fine, but I bet there will be many disappointed guests. Disney needs to withdraw this 180 perk from non Disney hotel guests.
Maybe try again in a few days. When I booked for last week in Oct. I had no problem except For one restaurant. Nothing at all available, which seemed odd nice I could see there was availability on nearby days. I checked back and 2 days later all kinds of availability opened up. I wonder if the rush at 6 am doesn’t cause some glitching.
We are in the same boat. We wanted to be there before SW opened. I have to admit the pictures out of California look pretty awesome. I have never seen one of the SW movies. If we can get in on the early openings for hotel guests, we might go. We do want to go to Hollywood Studios for a day hopefully we will all be worrying for nothing. I also hope that the Skyliner is open by the last week in September.