Aside from certain weekends, February is a very good month to visit Walt Disney World. The weather is starting to improve, crowds remain low most of the month, hotels are offering discounts and off-season pricing, and it’s a great time to see the parks without seasonal decor. All of this makes February a pretty solid time to visit Walt Disney World.
While I stated that I’m not much of a fan of January at Walt Disney World, February is a bit different. The big thing for me is that it lacks that holiday hangover–that awkward time in mid-January when you’re “over” Christmas and there isn’t any seasonal entertainment, but the decorations are still oddly up and Christmas music is still playing.
I’m a huge fan of Christmas, but I don’t enjoy seeing its remnants in the middle of January. Then, it’s just sort of like the Christmas tree in your house that you wish weren’t there, but you’re too lazy to take down. Additionally, February has better weather than January and pretty similar crowds.
Speaking of crowds, February really is a tale of two months. The first half of the month and last half of the month are both pretty slow, with low to moderate crowds most days. Then there’s President’s Day week. For most people, President’s Day isn’t a weeklong holiday, but in terms of crowds at Walt Disney World, it absolutely is.
A lot of people visit for the long weekend, with some staying the rest of the week, but that’s not the only reason it’s busy. At the end of this week, it’s the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. With the President’s Day holiday and the Princess Half Marathon effectively “bookending” the week, the crowds are really bad throughout the entire week, and it’s actually now one of the busier weeks of the year.
One thing we should note is that even the low-crowds portions of February 2018 were far busier than anticipated. As we discussed in our “Is There an Off-Season at Walt Disney World” post, we encountered some of the worst crowds of the year in January and February.
In our follow-up to that, “Explaining Increased Crowds at Walt Disney World” (and in other subsequent posts), we questioned whether this spike was an isolated occurrence. We believe that it was, and do not expect heavy crowds in the off-season stretch of January and February 2019. Nevertheless, it might happen.
You can really see the difference in crowds reflected in the February Walt Disney World Park Hours (not yet available for 2019). On days that aren’t going to be all that busy, the Magic Kingdom will likely close at 9 pm or 10 pm. On days that are going to be busy, you’ll see midnight and even 1 am closings for the Magic Kingdom. For those wondering about crowds for any particular day (any day of the year, not just February) park hours are a pretty good proxy for crowds.
Walt Disney World bases its operating hours on its crowd level forecasts (and it’s pretty good at forecasting crowds based on hotel bookings and historical data), and shorter hours mean lower anticipated crowds, whereas later operating hours mean higher crowds.
Let’s take a look at the other upsides and downsides to visiting Walt Disney World in February…
Another reason why I prefer February to January is the weather. Based upon historical averages for the month of February, you’re looking at highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s. Now, this is only around 5 degrees better than January, but I think that makes a big difference. Additionally, based on our visits during both months, it seems like February is a lot less likely to have a freak cold spell with freezing weather. That’s just anecdotal, but it has been our experience.
This lack of events can be a good or bad thing depending upon your perspective. On the plus side, you don’t have the spikes in crowds that many, more popular events draw. You also get to see the parks as the Imagineers originally designed them, without any decorations or overlays “blemishing” things.
On the other hand, “blemish” is in the eye of the beholder (hence the air quotes) and a lot of the decorations and seasonal events are fun, and a nice change of pace, especially if you’ve visited before and want something new to see or do. We visit a lot, and while we are big fans of the special events, it’s also nice to see the parks in their normal state. Sometimes it seems like special events are no longer the exception, they are the rule. The Halloween and Christmas seasons alone now take up almost half the year!
In terms of other attractions that will be closed during February, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Just a heads up: that might be a bit deceptive in terms of actual construction work. In 2019, there’s going to be a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World, and will be for the next several years.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the big project right now, and it won’t be finished by February 2019. Other projects at Magic Kingdom and Epcot won’t be finished until early 2021 or later. Even though we recommend spending a lot of time at Epcot for Festival of the Arts, be mindful that it could have significant construction in early 2019. Other work won’t be visually noticeable (such as on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway), but other projects (such as the Caribbean Beach Resort and Coronado Spring Resort overhauls) will have a much greater impact.
Another upside to a February Walt Disney World vacation is prices. Normally, you’ll see a 30% off room-only offer for all of February except President’s Day week (it’s too late to book that promo this year), and also Value Season rates for hotels. Again, President’s Day week is an exception to the seasonal rates, as hotel prices spike for that week, too. In case it’s not already abundantly clear, unless you’re visiting for the Princess Marathon or getting time off for President’s Day, you really should avoid that week. If you’re booking a February stay at a Disney resort-hotel, you can decide for yourself which hotel might be best by reading our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews.
Overall, we have had some really great experiences at Walt Disney World in February. Low crowds, temperate weather, the parks looking good, and cheaper prices all make it a winner in our book. For me, February (again, minus that one week) feels like the early year sweet spot between the holiday hangover of January and the Spring Break season of March. Think of it as this time of year’s September (another of our favorite times to visit for similar reasons), except without quite as much humidity. Much like September, my favorite time in March is at the very end of the month (overlapping with the following month, in both cases), when the weather starts to improve and crowds remain low.
Do you like Walt Disney World in February, or do you think it’s a dull month to visit? Do you like seeing the parks in their “normal” state, or would you rather have a special/seasonal event? Are you a fan of Epcot’s Festival of the Arts? Ever experienced President’s Day crowds? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!