This guide to March 2020 at Walt Disney World offers a free crowd calendar, weeks to visit & avoid, weather, ride refurbishments, what’s new, and info about the opening of the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride. All of this, plus other tips for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated February 17, 2020.)
March is a “tale of two seasons.” As we’ll cover here, we are very keen on early March 2020, but later in the month is a time to avoid at all costs. This is because, in the wisdom of Alien from Spring Breakers, it’s “SPRINNNG BREAAAKKKKKK FOREVAAAAAA.”
Indeed, it is Spring Break in March 2020 at Walt Disney World. For colleges and many school systems in the country, March means Spring Break, and that means heavy crowds. If you’re somehow able to get past that (perhaps you’re an avid queue enthusiast, in which case 120-minute waits might be right up your alley), everything else about the month is solid. This is especially true in early March 2020…
While it’s always above-average in terms of crowds, March 2020 won’t be so bad because Easter isn’t until April 12, 2020. This means schools that plan their Spring Breaks around the Easter holiday won’t be off for Spring Break in March 2020. However, many K-12 schools and colleges in the United States do have their Spring Breaks the last two weeks of March.
That’s good news, because when Easter is at the end of March, the confluence of fixed Spring Breaks plus Easter Spring Breaks results in crazy crowds. Fortunately, this is a scenario that won’t repeat itself until 2024. However, as we’ll discuss in the crowd calendar section below, crowds do build as the month goes on.
Here’s what else you need to know about March 2020 at Walt Disney World, organized into convenient categories…
March 2020 Weather at WDW
As far as the weather goes, March is the month when the weather starts to turn around and warm up. Temperatures rise over the course of the month, and although they are still on the cool side of mild, it’s usually quite comfortable. Sure, it can be abnormally cold or hot in March (definitely check the long term forecast before visiting as it really could be either), but you’re generally in for weather that’s almost ideal for touring the parks.
Lows at the beginning of the month are in the mid-50s and creep up towards the 60s by the end of the month. High temperatures range from 75 to 80 degrees. In looking at those numbers and the “comfortable” band on this page, you might think that it skews towards chilly. That can be true early in the morning and late at night, but keep in mind that you’ll be most active during the middle of the day when it’s warmest; personally, I prefer slightly cooler temperatures when I’m active, anyway.
The result is that I find March to be one of the better months of the year for weather in Florida, particularly towards the end of the month. At the beginning of the month you’re more likely to experience unseasonably cold weather, so I tend to avoid that. About the only downside to this mild weather is that it can make visiting water parks or spending much time in your resort hotel’s pool less appealing (or downright unappealing). This can be a bummer for those seeking a ‘tropical’ reprieve from winter in the North.
Being Michiganders, that’s exactly what my family wanted from our trips when I was growing up. I still remember an early March vacation during which my parents decided to stubbornly stick to our plans (I paint them as “stubborn” but the reality was probably that I was a bratty kid who insisted upon going) to visit Blizzard Beach. There was almost no one in the park, and we all spent the better park of the day wrapped in towels on our beach chairs.
I recall crossing the icebergs in Ski Patrol Training Camp and envisioning them as actual chunks of ice, which wasn’t that much of a stretch of the imagination at the time. I share all of this because you might not want to make concrete plans for the water parks or put too much weight in a hotel’s swimming pool when choosing a hotel or planning a March visit–you may not want to spend time at either.
March 2020 Disney World Special Events
While there is no Beer Bong World Championship (let alone more unsavory events) held at ESPN Wild World of Sports, that’s perfectly fine, because Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival kicks off at the beginning of March. This is the best time to experience Flower & Garden Festival, as everything is freshly planted. The annual event will run from March 4, 2020 until June 1, 2020.
Regardless of whether you’re into gardening (I’m not) this is event has the park looking lovely. The flower tapestry by the Imagination pavilion, between Future World and World Showcase is incredibly picturesque, as are the many topiaries around the park. There’s much more than that, all of which you can read about in our Guide to Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
March is the only month between January and April that does not have a runDisney event, which is good or bad depending upon your perspective. On the plus side, it means there are no spikes in hotel rates and occupancy on random weekends that might force late-bookers to look off-site. On the downside, you can’t pay money to go running.
Park Hours for March are what we call the “new normal.” A couple of years ago, you’d have midnight closings for the Magic Kingdom on weekends, plus Extra Magic hours keeping it and other parks open late on other nights. Walt Disney World has quietly been trimming normal operating hours and adding special hard ticket events pre-park opening, so you can now expect Magic Kingdom to close at 9 or 10 pm most nights of the month.
If the normal park closing time is insufficient or you find crowds overwhelming during your trip, Villains After Hours will occur Friday nights in March 2020. We aren’t huge fans of upcharge events, but as you can read in our Villains After Hours Review, Tips & Info post, we had a blast at this event.
Villains After Hours can be a great way to experience popular Magic Kingdom attractions with minimal waits. We recommend waiting until you arrive at Walt Disney World before buying tickets to this, and determining during your trip whether it’s something you “need” to do. With this approach, you do run the risk that tickets might sell out (a rarity), but honestly, you don’t want to do this if tickets sell out, anyway. It defeats the purpose.
March 2020 REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
In terms of attractions that will be closed during March, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Just a heads up: that might be a bit deceptive in terms of actual construction work. Until the 50th Anniversary in 2021, there’s going to be a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World.
The project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience is the massive reimagining at the front of Epcot, which will eliminate Future World and replace it with 3 new neighborhoods. This project has already kicked into high gear, and will further gain momentum in early 2020 with more closures.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 2020 or 2021? in a dedicated post. For most people, the answer will be yes, but it’s still worth going in with a realistic view of just how bad construction will be.
In terms of new attractions that have already opened, there’s Star Wars Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is so incredibly popular that it has led WDW to extend park hours. The blockbuster ride has an unprecedented protocol, as it does not currently have FastPass+ or a standby line.
We highly recommend consulting our Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. That covers almost every conceivable question you could have about ‘best practices’ for experiencing the attraction, and basic info about it. As of right now, every indication is that this protocol will remain in place through March 2020 and beyond.
Three new films are now playing at Epcot: Awesome Planet, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360, and the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. Additionally, both the Space 220 Restaurant and Regal Eagle Smokehouse both open in Epcot at some point in the spring. Exact dates have not yet been announced, but at this point we’re expecting Regal Eagle to be open in March but Space 220 Restaurant to not be open.
The big thing is the debut of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 4, 2020. It’s possible that this ride will have Annual Passholder previews or soft openings in late February and early March 2020 before the official opening date, but that seems increasing unlikely.
The good news is that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have FastPass+ from day one. Consequently, FastPass+ tiers and other new attractions have been added from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (all discussed in that article–along with tips for which to book). Due to its family friendly nature and being the new thing, we anticipate Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway being the FastPass+ priority for the near future.
If you are planning on visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the first day of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the weekend that follows, be aware that Walt Disney World may quietly open DHS before the official time of 8 am. There is plenty of past precedent for this, including literally every single recent major addition to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have a FastPass+, consider arriving between 6 and 7 am, potentially earlier if you can manage. (We do not expect the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to open before 8 am.)
March 2020 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
We’ll start this free crowd calendar section with the same preface as other months–skip ahead a few paragraphs if you’ve already read it. Wondering why you don’t see a color-coded crowd calendar here? It’s because we don’t really trust them anymore and don’t think you should, either. If we just had a visual crowd calendar graphic here, many of you would only look at that and not read the accompanying explanation that covers what you might actually expect. That’d be doing you a disservice.
While they can be useful tools, crowd calendars are one small piece of a much larger puzzle. We no longer choose our own Disney travel dates based exclusively upon crowd calendars and we’d likewise discourage you from doing so. Crowd calendars are increasingly less reliable because of the way Disney manipulates attendance patterns, staffing, closures, and ride capacity.
Walt Disney World doesn’t release official attendance numbers, so crowd calendars utilize info like school schedules, airport traffic statistics, hotel pricing & occupancy, and other indicators as proxies for crowds. For years, this approach worked and made crowd calendars reliable. Walt Disney World attendance followed an identifiable pattern that tracked with the aforementioned proxies.
More recently, wait times don’t always reflect actual crowds because Disney has become adept and more sophisticated at manipulating both attendance and crowd flow. Think of this as the difference between the actual temperature and the “feels like” temperature, but with crowds. We can still actual crowd and attendance patterns, but not wait times. The latter are what most of you likely care about (the “feels like” crowds), but it’s more difficult to accurately forecast wait times via Walt Disney World crowd calendars.
For the past few years, January and February crowds have been increasing. However, the first two months of 2020 have been abnormally busy even by these “new normal” standards. We document this phenomenon in our Peak Crowds in Winter “Off-Season” at Walt Disney World. Suffice to say, we anticipate this trend continuing into early March, albeit not to this pronounced of a degree.
March 2020 crowds will likely be up considerably as compared to last March. That likely will be true with literally every month of the year. However, compared to the surrounding months (January, February, and April) in 2020, we still view March as a good time to visit. It’s all relative–if you’re expecting any month in 2020 to feel like what you might’ve experienced a few years ago, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Early March is slightly below average for crowds, with March 1-7, 2020 being the best travel dates. The wildcard there is March 4, 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is the opening date of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Actually, this is not so much a wildcard as a day that will be very crowded at DHS.
We’re fans of opening day fanfare, but you can avoid that by simply visiting a different park that day and doing Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Runaway Railway on March 5 or 6, 2020. Whatever you opt to do, just plan on visiting DHS to do Runaway Railway before March 7-8, as that weekend is when the locals will turn out in full force.
March 9-12, 2020 should also be a good time to visit Walt Disney World, with moderate or below crowds. It’s worth noting that there’s a Volleyball event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports from March 7-8, 2020 and one other event that will have a minor impact on crowds. Nothing major, though.
Additionally, the International All-Star Championship (plus one other cheer event) occurs the weekend of March 13-15, 2020. That pretty much spells the end of moderate or below crowds at Walt Disney World in March 2020. From March 13 through the end of the month, you’ll encounter a mix of event and spring break crowds.
The major surge in crowds will occur when local schools begin their spring breaks. Osceola and Orange County Public Schools are both off March 13-20, 2020. Expect all of these dates to be busy, with the weekends being particularly bad. Expect heavy (8/10+) dates on the crowd calendar for the last two full weeks of March 2020, continuing into April 2020.
March 2020 PRICING & DISCOUNTS
As a result of Spring Breaks being fairly common in March, you typically won’t find much in the way of exceptional promotions. It’s too early for the Free Disney Dining Plan promo (the holy grail of Walt Disney World discounts), at least for United States residents. At best, you’re usually going to find a room-only discount that maxes out around 20-25%. Better if you receive a targeted PIN code, are an Annual Passholder, or Florida resident.
Likewise, March is above average in terms of pricing. For hotels, much of the month is peak season, which is exactly as expensive as it sounds. Only holiday pricing is worse. For tickets, the pricing is not as bad, but it’s still far from the off-season in terms of per-day pricing.
Overall, March is a tale of two months–but also a month on the rise. From my perspective, this last week of February/first week of March is one of the year’s “sweet spots” for planning a vacation. That’s especially true with March 2020, as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the major addition of the year at WDW, will open on March 4. Other minor additions debut before that, as covered in our 2020 Opening Dates & Details for Resorts, Rides & Restaurants at Disney World post.
In addition to that, early March typically offers below average crowds, weather slightly on the cool side, and the start of the spring bloom with Flower & Garden Festival beginning. After that, March’s attractiveness deteriorates, but even later in the month, I still think the weather goes a long way to compensate for crowds.
Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on March at Walt Disney World? Have you done Walt Disney World during Spring Break before? Do you think it’s thesheeit…or a crappy time to go? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!