Walt Disney World’s unexpected August opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has thrown a monkey wrench into crowd calendars, upsetting many vacation planners in the process. In this post, we’ll offer revised predictions for the best and worst months to visit for the remainder of 2019 in terms of crowds and wait times. At the end, we’ll also pick three weeks we’d visit depending upon our priorities.
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…
9. December – This is not exactly a bold prediction. Aside from a few pockets early in the month, December has become one of the busier months of the year. 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.
8. 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 being open. Any dates after November 22, 2019 are likely to see increasingly elevated Thanksgiving crowds.
7. 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.
6. April – With Easter in late April this year, the likelihood of more pronounced crowds this month (and a slight decrease in March) seems like a safe bet. Both before and after that, there should be pockets of relatively low-crowd days.
Crowds in both March and April are largely driven by spring break and Easter, and while these two variables can cause huge spikes, avoiding them can also negates the overall trends.
5. 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 on July 5, 2019. We predict that this won’t be enough to offset those sitting out this summer, making July a slightly better option.
4. June – It’s really a wash as to whether June or July is busier, but with Free Dining starting in July, we’ll give the slight edge to June.
Either way, our expectation is that this summer will be less busy than last. The question is whether it’ll be by enough to offset the weather and seasonal pricing.
3. May – Even with the slight spike of Memorial Day factored into the mix, May has proven to be a consistently moderate month crowd-wise at Walt Disney World the last few years.
We’d expect that to remain true this year. With a big/effective summer promotional push unlikely before May, we’d expect May to be better this year than in recent memory.
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.
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.
That’s not an illogical response to the news, and 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 (give or take a couple days in either direction). That’s based on a number of factors, including weather, Christmas, and crowds. 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.
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!