This guide to March 2021 at Walt Disney World offers a free crowd calendar, weeks to visit & avoid, weather, ride refurbishments, and what’s new. All of this, plus info & tips for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated January 3, 2021.)
First, a word of caution about planning a trip to Walt Disney World in March 2021. A lot has been cancelled, cutback, or changed at Walt Disney World following the reopening of the parks, and that will remain the case for the next several months. While we’re hoping more normalcy returns in March 2021, the experience will still be very different from the same month last year.
This guide will cover a normal March at Walt Disney World and then offer commentary about how this year will differ. That should make this a useful resource for those planning or debating trips for March 2021 and March 2022, and will also give the former group an idea of what they’re missing and how it’ll impact their Walt Disney World vacation for better or worse…
Normally, March is a “tale of two seasons.” We are fairly keen on early March 2021, but usually crowds pick up later in the month and make late March time to avoid. This is because for colleges and many school systems in the country, March means Spring Break…and that means trips to Walt Disney World. 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.
While it’s always above-average in terms of crowds, March 2021 won’t be so bad for a couple of reasons. First, because Easter isn’t until April 4, 2021. This means schools that plan their Spring Breaks around the Easter holiday won’t be off for Spring Break in March. However, many K-12 schools and colleges in the United States do have their Spring Breaks the last two weeks of March.
Second, it’s likely Spring Break won’t be as much of a “thing” in 2021. Many colleges, universities, and even local K-12 school systems around the United States have canceled their Spring Breaks. Notable examples include Florida State University, Ohio State University, Arizona State University, Boston University, and the University of Michigan. At these schools, students will receive several one-day “well-being breaks” without any scheduled academic activities in February and March 2021.
We’ll discuss the ramifications of this shift in the March 2021 crowd calendar section below. Here’s what else you need to know about the month at Walt Disney World, organized into convenient categories…
March Weather at Disney World
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 2021 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 the 2021 Taste of EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival kicks off at the beginning of the month, running from March 3, 2021 until July 5, 2021.
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.
Normally, 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 earlier most nights of the month. Nothing else noteworthy happening in March 2021 in terms of official events at Walt Disney World.
March 2021 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.
At EPCOT, there’s the possibility that three new things will debut by March 2021: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220, and Harmonious. March is actually the first month we think any of these have a decent chance of opening, and we’d put the odds of one debuting during March 2021 at around 50/50. (Harmonious is the least likely.) Our Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Opening Info post covers why Disney could hold off on these until Summer or Fall 2021; the rationale applies to all three, not just the rat ride.
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 continue through at least 2022.
This unprecedented overhaul has led us to address the question Should You Visit Epcot in 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.
Other work around Walt Disney World won’t be visually noticeable. This includes ongoing construction on TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster at Magic Kingdom, but that’s an expansion to the park that is not in the normal guest areas. Some minor projects will be visible in the other parks, but EPCOT is the major one at this point.
In terms of new attractions that have already opened, there’s Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway plus Star Wars Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These opened just over a year ago, but is still so incredibly popular that the ride has its own special policies and hoops to jump through in order to experience it.
If you only read one other post while planning, we highly recommend that it be 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.
March 2021 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, winter crowds have been increasing. We documented this phenomenon last year in our Peak Crowds in Winter “Off-Season” at Walt Disney World. However, that was attributable to the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, a huge number of youth events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and international tourists coming Orlando from South American countries for their summer vacation.
While Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance remains popular, the current capacity cap on that park and greater awareness of the hoops required to ride will likely significantly limit its drawing power in February 2021 as compared to last year.
More importantly, none of those other things will impact crowds in February 2021. There isn’t a single youth event scheduled for ESPN Wide World of Sports and international travel is virtually nonexistent this winter due to border closures. Plus, runDisney races, conventions, and other normal winter draws have all been cancelled.
Thus, as discussed in Will Crowds Keep Increasing at Walt Disney World in 2021? we’re expecting a drop in attendance for January through mid-March 2021. The wildcard is what happens later in the month, during what would normally be Spring Break “season” at Walt Disney World.
Our tentative expectation is that Spring Break will not have as pronounced of an impact on crowds as normal, but will still result in a noticeable uptick. Many schools will cancel their Spring Breaks, thus reducing those crowds to some degree. Conversely, a rise in virtual learning will result in other families pulling their kids “out” of school earlier in February and March. The overall impact should be crowds spread more throughout the month of March.
Nevertheless, we’d still expect early March 2021 to be slightly below average for crowds and late March to be slightly above average. The same trends as normal, just not as pronounced.
We would choose March 1-11, 2021 as being the best travel dates. For the last few years, the first two weeks of March have been a “sleeper pick” for one of the best times of the year to visit Walt Disney World. Not many people know it tends to be uncrowded (shhhhh…) and the weather is usually nice and temperate. It’s quietly becoming one of our go-to choices and recommendations.
The following week will likely be the polar opposite. Even though Spring Breaks are being cancelled at schools around the country, as of publish time both Osceola and Orange County, Florida are scheduled to have their Spring Break March 15-19, 2021. That alone will make that week plus the weekends before and after pretty busy.
It would not surprise us if that ends up being the peak of Spring Break crowds. Normally, more out of state tourists would descend upon Florida and Walt Disney World in the final two weeks of the month. That’ll still likely happen to some degree, but not as much as normal. Nevertheless, expect 7/10 or 8/10 crowd days the last two two full weeks of March 2021, continuing into April 2021.
March 2021 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. In fact, we love it so much that it’s our #2 week of the year on our rankings of 2021’s Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World.
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.
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 thoughts on March at Walt Disney World? Have you done Walt Disney World during Spring Break before? Do you think it’s a good or bad time to visit? 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!