Our May 2023 Walt Disney World crowd calendar offers a guide to the month, weeks to visit & avoid, weather, new attraction openings & closures, and the kickoff of summer. Plus, other info & tips for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
We like the month of May at Walt Disney World. For most people, earlier in the month is going to be better. However, even right around Memorial Day, crowds at Walt Disney World aren’t nearly as bad as you might expect for a holiday weekend at Walt Disney World. We’ve had wonderful visits during May in terms of weather, crowds, and entertainment.
The other good news is that May sees a reduced slate of refurbishments, longer park hours, and only moderate crowds. Most schools are still in session during May, so crowds are typically fairly uniform for most of the month. While some things are still up in the air for May 2023 at Walt Disney World, we do have a pretty good idea of what to expect…
There’s actually a lot more upside to May, especially as compared to other summer months…
May Weather at WDW
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.
While not technically weather, May is the first month of the year that you can get your money’s worth if you’re staying at Yacht or Beach Club. Technically, you have to spend 22.7 hours per day in Stormalong Bay (sorry, we don’t make the rules) to get appropriate bang for your buck, so at least the hotter weather helps with that!
May Special Events at Disney World
Throughout May, you can enjoy the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival; this annual event will run for the entire month of May, likely ending in early July 2023. 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.
Normally, Memorial Day weekend is the official kick-off of summer for Walt Disney World. It’s unlikely that will be the case in 2023, as the Disney100 celebration starts closer to the beginning of the year and TRON Lightcycle Run will already be open. Still, maybe Memorial Day is when new nighttime spectaculars will debut at Magic Kingdom and Epcot?
May REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
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.
The construction project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience is the massive reimagining at the front of Epcot. This is starting to look better, but the front of the park is still a sea of construction walls with a giant dirt pit in the middle–and that’ll still be the case for the most part in May 2023.
On the plus side, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Space 220 Restaurant, Creations Shop, Club Cool, Connections Cafe, and more all have now debuted.
When looking forward to May 2023 at EPCOT, a couple of things that are uncertain. First is whether Cosmic Rewind will still be using a virtual queue. We highly doubt it, but if so, read this. Second, whether Harmonious will still exist. We also doubt this. Our expectation is that Harmonious will end before summer, and be temporarily replaced by EPCOT Forever while work is done in World Showcase Lagoon to prepare for the next nighttime spectacular, debuting in late 2023.
Then there’s the next big addition to Walt Disney World: TRON Lightcycle Run. Walt Disney World has already revealed that this will debut in Spring 2023, and it’ll almost certainly debut before May. Our expectation at this point is that the ride will open in March 2023.
Beyond that, there are several attractions that have not yet opened and likely won’t until Summer 2023 or later. These include the Play Pavilion and Moana’s Journey of Water at Epcot, both of which are likely to open in the second half of the year. Other smaller scale additions are likely later in 2023.
May 2023 DISNEY WORLD CROWD CALENDAR
We’ll start this free May 2023 Walt Disney World crowd calendar section with the same preface as other months–skip ahead a few paragraphs if you’ve already read it. There’s no color-coded crowd calendar here because they’re unreliable at this point. 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.
Disney doesn’t release official attendance numbers, so crowd calendars use things 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.
In a normal year, May is the shoulder season at Walt Disney World, a slower time between the peak travel seasons of spring break and summer. Crowds typically are at their highest levels at the beginning and end of the month, and even then, rarely go above 7/10.
Early May 2023 should still be an attractive time to visit, with mostly average crowds. You’re not looking at low crowds, but the parks are still fairly manageable. Weekday crowds until around May 7, 2023 should be moderate.
After that, expect a lull from around May 8-21, 2023. It’s too early to predict crowd levels for these dates with precision, but there’s every reason to expect this to be the slowest stretch of the month based on historical precedent and a lack of events. (We’ll update this closer to May 2023 with more specific predictions–it’s simply too early for that now.)
Expect a modest spike the following week, and another bump for the Memorial Day long weekend, starting on May 26, 2023. With that said, as far as holidays go, Memorial Day still isn’t bad. This is because most schools aren’t off for summer vacation yet, so it’s still the calm before the storm in terms of tourists.
One final question mark is whether Walt Disney World will host big youth sporting events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports that are currently on the calendar. If so, there are cheer and dance summit events that could potentially spike crowds in May 2023.
May PRICING & DISCOUNTS
In terms of promotions, May is typically slim pickins’ for promotions. Expect there to be room-only discounts for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and Disney+ subscribers. It’s still too early to say what other special offers might be available, but we probably will not see the return of Free Dining this early.
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. From our perspective, it’s a fairly appealing time to visit Walt Disney World in many regards. Yes, the weather is generally worse than February through April, but park hours are longer, summer entertainment begins to start, new additions have debuted, fewer refurbishments are occurring, and crowds are still manageable.
Plus, if you’re comparing weather to the summer months that follow, 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. 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 then!
Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts on the month of May at Walt Disney World? Are you looking forward to Summer 2023 at Walt Disney World? Do you like to visit in May? 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!