May at Walt Disney World is the start of vacation season! For 2019, that means the kickoff of the summer celebrations in the parks, and we’ll cover in this post what that normally means, along with other info about May at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the rest of Walt Disney World.
Unfortunately, May will not see the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which won’t debut until Late 2019 (likely November or December). The good news is that May will see a reduced slate of refurbishments and longer park hours, and only moderate crowds. Most schools are still in session during May, so crowds (aside from Memorial Day weekend) typically are mostly average.
We like the month of May at Walt Disney World. For most people, earlier in the month is going to be better. However, 2 of the last 3 years, we have visited Walt Disney World right around Memorial Day weekend, and had wonderful visits in terms of weather, crowds, and entertainment. (A couple of years before that, we visited in mid-May and the humidity was unbearable…so your mileage may vary.)
Our experience has taught us that the biggest make or break for May is the weather. I think that’s true when traveling to Walt Disney World during this time of year, in general. Low temperatures for May range from 64 to 70 degrees, with highs averaging 85 to 89 degrees. Those are just averages–temperatures in the 90s and high humidity aren’t unheard of.
As demonstrated by the “comfortable” band on this page for May, weather is generally on the upper end of nice (like you cold weather climate folks expect from a Florida vacation). It can creep into “unpleasant” territory with some regularity, with it being warm and above 64% of the time in May.
The potential for unseasonably hot weather in May is demonstrated with weather forecasts from last year that regularly topped out above 95 degrees and 75% humidity. Days like like make May a little questionable in terms of weather, but if you’re looking at a summer vacation and it comes down to May versus June, July, or August, May is by far the safest option. So there’s that upside.
There’s actually a lot more upside to May, especially as compared to other summer months…
May is the first month of the year that you can expect Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks to be open consistently (the parks are frequently closed with unseasonable cold snaps), and you’ll also feel more compelled to use your resort hotel’s pool. In order to get your money’s worth if you’re staying at Yacht or Beach Club, you technically have to spend 22.7 hours per day in Stormalong Bay, so at least the hotter weather helps with that!
Keeping for your time with the pools and water parks will be the theme parks, which have increasingly long hours come May. Early in the month, relatively early park closings will occur on weeknights, with slightly longer hours typical on weekends. Things really pick up once Memorial Day weekend hits at the end of the month, with later closings.
Normally, Memorial Day weekend is the official kick-off of summer for Walt Disney World. For Summer 2019, we anticipate a number of stop-gap celebrations around Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. As noted, it’s too early for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and it’s also likely too early for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the other big offering of the year. You might be able to ride the Skyliner gondolas come May, but even that isn’t certain.
Instead, expect dance parties, temporary shows, and other offerings to help Walt Disney World coast its way into what should be a huge holiday season. Not exactly great news for those of you who enjoy new experiences, but at least you won’t have those Star Wars crowds, either!
This summer’s offerings build upon last year’s opening of Pandora – World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, which was the most expensive addition to Walt Disney World in a long time (since the opening of Animal Kingdom itself!). Even though Pandora will be two years old in May 2019, expect hour-plus waits at the Pandora attractions. We recommend consulting our Pandora – World of Avatar Strategy Guide to minimize your waits.
You can also expect to see the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival; this annual event will run from March 6, 2019 until June 3, 2019. Flower & Garden Festival features marketplace food booths, gardening entertainment, and beautiful ambiance to Epcot. While it’s not for everyone, it’s one of my favorite events of the year at Walt Disney World…and I don’t even enjoy gardening.
In terms of other attractions that will be closed during May, check the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule. Just a heads up: that might be a bit deceptive in terms of actual construction work. There’s going to be a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World, and will be for the next several years.
While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the big project right now, and it finishes in 2019, other projects at Magic Kingdom and Epcot won’t be finished until early 2021. Some of this won’t be visually noticeable (such as the work on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway), but other projects (such as those at hotels) will have a much greater impact.
While Memorial Day weekend is the official kick-off of summer, that’s not true in terms of crowds. The entire month of May is slightly above-average for crowds, and there’s a slight spike for the Memorial Day holiday (as far as holidays go, it isn’t bad), but it’s still far better than July and July. This is because most schools aren’t off for summer vacation yet, so it’s still the calm before the storm, in that sense.
From our perspective, this makes late-May an appealing time to visit Walt Disney World. Yes, the weather is generally worse than February through April, but park hours are longer, summer entertainment has started, and crowds are still manageable. Plus, if you’re comparing weather to the summer months that follow, late-May is actually significantly better. (See, it’s all relative.)
For this reason, if you’re looking at visiting during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), the end of May is actually one of our top picks. (Followed closely by late August when kids start going back to school, weather starts getting better, park hours are still long, and Free Dining is available.)
Speaking of the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion…it’s not available for May. At least, unless you live outside of the United States, or you receive a bounce-back or PIN code offer. In terms of promotions, May is typically slim pickins’ for promotions. This year, the Free Meal Plan (truncated Free Dining) promo was available at the end of the month, as was a 30% off room-only discount. Neither of these are still available for booking.
Otherwise, when it comes to pricing, May is fairly average prior to Memorial Day weekend. For 1-day park tickets, May is “regular” season prior to the holiday weekend (read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post for multi-day ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing). For hotels, pricing is also typically at the “Regular Season” rate.
Overall, the month of May at Walt Disney World demonstrates that everything is relative. If you’re comparing May to February through April, in many regards it’s the weakest choice for planning a trip. The weather is hotter and crowds are (typically) heavier, which makes it less appealing, even with the longer hours and late-month summer entertainment. Conversely, if you’re comparing May to June through August, May is the best month of the bunch. The weather is better, storms are less likely, crowds are lower, and park hours are nearly as long. In other words, if you’re limited to traveling during the summer and May is an option, it’s when we recommend visiting Walt Disney World.
Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the month of May at Walt Disney World? Are you looking forward to “Incredible Summer” at Walt Disney World? Do you like to visit in May? Fan of the Memorial Day weekend 24-hour party (RIP?) that has been held in the past? 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!