May 2023 at Disney World: Crowd Calendar & Info
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. (Updated April 24, 2023.)
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, 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 doesn’t kick off until later in the fall at EPCOT and TRON Lightcycle Run is already be open. Still, maybe there’s some summer event announced at the last minute?
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 it comes to Cosmic Rewind, experiencing the new ride is a bit complicated. Be sure to check out our How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy to improve your chances of success for joining the free virtual queue.
Another alternative for Cosmic Rewind is buying line-skipping access via the Individual Lightning Lanes. Those posts explain the free and paid options, their pros & cons, and everything else you need to know. Suffice to say, do not just show up to EPCOT expecting to join the standby line–as there isn’t one.
Then there’s the biggest addition to Magic Kingdom: TRON Lightcycle Run. This is the newest major attraction at Walt Disney World, having officially opened in April. This works very similarly to Cosmic Rewind; see our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run for details, tips & tricks for success, and more.
Beyond that, there are several attractions that have not yet opened and likely won’t until Summer 2023 or later. The most pertinent of which is Moana’s Journey of Water at Epcot, which officially opens in Late 2023, but could have a surprise early opening. Probably not in the month of May, though. For an overview of what’s on the horizon, see What’s New & Next at Walt Disney World in 2023 & 2024.
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 at worst.
Expect even more of a lull from around May 8-21, 2023. It’s very difficult 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.
Based on what we’re seeing thus far during shoulder season (see Sharp Slowdown for Shoulder Season 2023 at Walt Disney World), our expectation is that crowd levels peak at 5/10 during that time frame. If recent precedent is any indication, crowd levels could be as low as 1/10 to 3/10.
There hasn’t been much day of week consistency lately, but Fridays through Sundays have been shockingly uncrowded–likely due to more expensive airfare, hotels, and ticket prices. However, that could change as more locals purchase and use Annual Passes, which are once again available for sale.
Expect a modest spike in the last week of the month, 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.
The only real wildcard at this point is special events. Although there are no runDisney races, there are a couple of cheer or dance competitions scheduled at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at the start of May 2023. Beyond that, conventions and group events are another factor, but none of this really moves the needle on crowds or wait times in a major way. In short, the entirety of May 2023 should see below-average crowds, with the middle of the month being an especially great time to visit.
May PRICING & DISCOUNTS
In terms of promotions, there are room-only discounts for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and the general public in May 2023. See All Current Discounts at Walt Disney World for the various resort deals.
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!
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 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!
I am visiting Disney from May 16-20 of 2020. How do you think the crowds will be during this time? It is the week before Memorial Day weekend, but I am trying to gauge if it still may be lower crowds.
Hi Perri! We visited WDW last year May 12-18th and we are doing it again this year. We found the crowds to be very manageable! We never felt packed like sardines and standby wait times weren’t off the charts. Restaurants we ate at were not overly crowded at all.
We really enjoyed this week in mid-May and I’m sure you’ll have a great trip 🙂 The only thing we are bummed about is that Big Thunder Mountain is closed the entire length of our stay. It doesn’t reopen until May 22nd. Sad because its our favorite attraction in MK!
Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear about Thunder Mountain 🙁 thankfully, there are so many other great attractions! I’m so happy to hear crowds are manageable. I was really worried!!
I really miss the 24 opening. We actually got to get on all the rides and my kids loved it. I wish they would bring it back.
Hi Tom. With the After Hours, as of Dec 2018 being added in both AK and DHS parks, what do you think the chances are of it being added for May 2019?
I’m wondering the same thing!
Tom, where are you getting your MK hours for May 2019? You say that the park is open until 11 throughout the month with some midnight closings. It looks to me on the official website that MK is only open until 9 with a handful of 10pm closings around Memorial Day. Do you have some better inside info?
Have you had a reply from Tom? We have been holding back purchasing tickets for MK and AK waiting to see if After Hours becomes available but if the parks are open till 11pm/12 in may then we won’t need extra hours (we are hoping to do both parks in one very long day!)
I haven’t. I suspect Tom recycled content from previous years that isn’t correct for 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised some of the 9pm closes go to 10, but I can’t imagine Disney changing to 11 or midnight closing at this point. Also, I was hoping for DAH too, but it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to happen for May.
Yikes, sorry about that. Yes, this is something I overlooked when updating the post. Since the opening of Pandora (and extension of AK’s hours), Magic Kingdom has seen a corresponding cut–if not more–to its park hours.
No worries, Tom. I appreciate all you do. The cut in the hours of operation is hard, but seems par for the course these days.
I was just looking on the Disney parks app and the hours for Magic Kingdom varies. During the weekdays they close at 10 and on the weekends 11 pm or 12 am.
We are going August 10th- 17th, and we were hoping to attend the MK After Hours Event. Any idea when or if they will publish summer After Hours Event days? We have wanted to go the last time we were at WDW, but couldn’t make it work. Thanks for any insight you can give me.
We’ve gone towards the end of May a number of times, and are going back for the end of May, early June this year. The first time we took our kid was when he got out of kindergarten, a week earlier than the rest of school, and we went for 8 nights ending on Memorial Day.
While it is not the best time of the year for bargains, bargains can be found, and we’ve always found decent special offers for that time of the year, including out upcoming trip. It’s the battle between getting a better deal, or battling the worst of the heat. As hot as it WILL get in May, early June, it’s nothing like it’s going to be in late July/August (also, you don’t have to worry about hurricanes in May/early June). Of course not everything works out, as when I scheduled this trip, the consensus was that Toy Story Land would open for Memorial Day (we actually got into a soft opening for Toy Story Mania a number of years back).
Tom, I’ve been following your blog for close to a year now. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, with every email I receive, and although not every piece pertains to my family, I find your writing extremely helpful.
My first vacation with my now husband was Disneyworld. I LOVE all things Disney. We are bringing our kids for our first trip June 2-9th (So I’ve been frequenting your blogs more and more as of late.) My kids are only 1.5 and 3.5 years. So Although it will very likely be challenging, and we are only doing 2 days (MK and AK with a day between), I can’t wait to see the looks on my kiddo’s faces when they see all the wonder that is Disney.
I hope to see your June preview before we leave – not that it will give me much time to make any changes. Thank you!!
How is mothers day at the parks?
Magic Kingdom and Hollywood studios in particular.
Hey! Thanks for this post. My family will be visiting May 25, 26, 27, 2018 (Memorial Day weekend but not on Monday, Memorial Day). I’ve been reading mixed reviews about the crowds for the parks during this time. We plan on visiting MK and AK. Any thoughts as to the crowds this year, especially with Toy Story opening AFTER our trip? Thanks so much!
I miss the 24 hour parties, especially since they had live webcams of the events. Too bad they are not doing it anymore. RIP.
I miss the 24 hour event. It was great to be up with Disney family all night.
Unless I’m going mad the opening times for May seem to be a lot shorter than I was expecting. We’ll be there 8th-14th May 2017 before moving onto a hotel nearer universal for 3 nights. From what I can see on Disney’s website the opening hours have the magic kingdom at 9am-9pm. I’ve even scrolled right through to the start of June and the only one that seems to change is Animal Kingdom from closing at 9pm to 11pm. I’m quite disappointed as I expected that in May the MK would be open later than 9pm. Could it be that Disney haven’t updated their website or is this wishful thinking?
We have the same window bookings, May 12-22. It is my experience that the hours of opening/closing can change quickly. The frustrating thing is the work that goes into advance planning, Fastpass+, ADRs, touring plans. But I do expect that as usual the hours will change based on crowds and things we can’t control, like soft openings Pandora, extra Rivers of Light shows, etc. I have a family of 4 but my kids are 20 and 21, so we will do Disney Springs and the night-time fun (Yeehaw Bob, Tambu Lounge, Trader Sam’s, etc.) and maybe still make rope drops. With 11PM or even 1AM close times like in the past, rope drop was almost impossible. So for efficient touring this may be our family’s best choice. But like the weather, just wait, it will change
We just visited Disney last weekend. About 2 weeks before arrival, the hours for MK actually changed to stay open until 9 instead of 8 pm. I used online chat prior and asked if the hours for parks change. The person stated all hours are subject to change for the parks…so fingers crossed for later hours in May! We just might visit again. :0)
Tom we are booked May 20 through May 26 (at the Boardwalk inn, I can’t wait) will the Hollywood Studios Star Wars fireworks show and the Animal Kingdom night time light show be open? I had thought they would but your post says after memorial day. I was really looking forward to the star wars fireworks. Thank you, and thanks for your blog or read it constantly while I obsess over our next trip 🙂
At Disney World now. The temperature this week and last was hotter than usual. So much so that, instead of going into the parks as planned, many families just stayed at the pool for most of the day.
However, Tuesday night, we had a thunderstorm with hurricane like winds that were so bad, my cheap poncho got turned inside out, and almost suffocated me (slight poncho exaggeration, winds, not so much). We took shelter in Mouse Gear, stayed until the storm eased up, and then ran through lake-like puddles to the front of Epcot, with about 5000 people. The next day, about 25 pairs of sneakers were poolside drying out. (A good reason to pack a spare pair).
All in all, still like this time of the year best.
We will be at WDW Sept 2-7th. Will night hours still be on at Animal Kingdom and Star Wars Fireworks at Hollywood Studios or are these SUMMER events only?
I’m now wondering which would be better in a May vs September scenario, especially rainy/stormy weather wise. Oh, decisions, decisions. Plus thanks for the helpful info!
For me, that’s easy. I’ll take September every time (even with the potential for worse weather), because I love Halloween, and Food & Wine can still be pretty fun if you time it right. Totally a personal decision, though. Pros and cons to each month!
Free Food in Sept would be my choice. Temperature’s close- average highs around 89/90. Rain averages double- May is 3 inches for the month, while Sept gets 6. I’d still go with free food, you can eat while it rains 😉 for FREE.
We’d already upgraded our value resort’s Free QS food to TS when we realized it then cost just $150 more to book the Coronado, which already included the upgrade to Table Service (1st week Sept). Score!
Now deciding to do MNSSHP for 9/2…?
Ooops. It shouldn’t say “Author” by name.
That’s an error with the blog, not you. Unfortunately, I have no clue how to fix it…
We’ve been the past 2 years the second week of May. We really enjoyed those weeks. The crowds were reasonable–just enough people. Let’s face it, if the crowds are too low it some of the magic can be taken away. You do need some people in the parks.
I can’t say I’ve visited at a time in recent memory when I’d characterize the crowds as “too low.” Maybe 5+ years ago, but not anymore!
We leave Sunday and I have my fingers crossed for low-ish crowds. We live in New Orleans, so we have very similar weather. Like you said, it is all relative. Still better than June!
We are leaving in 10 days and it’s looking pretty hot down there. I’m hoping my husband can take the heat!
We are here this week and it’s HOT but windy so not too bad. Saturday night we were in Magic Kingdom and surprised the crowds were low. No more than a 20 min or so wait on the bigger attractions. Oh and BTW… please tell me you have a figment magic band? Funny how I saw those today and immediately thought of you because of this blog. 🙂