Our guide to November 2020 at Walt Disney World features a free crowd calendar, tips for when to visit & avoid, weather, new attraction openings & closures, Thanksgiving & Christmas info, and more. We also cover what’s happening at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated January 3, 2020.)
November is a good month to visit Walt Disney World due to mild weather, low crowds (except Thanksgiving and Jersey Weeks), and the start of Christmas season! Even beyond the holiday season, there’s a ton going on at Walt Disney World in November, with festivals at Epcot, another runDisney race, and more.
We’re big fans of Walt Disney World in November. It used to be when we took our annual Christmas trip to WDW, and this is reflected in its #1 ranking on our 2020 Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World. November isn’t just the best month–it has our favorite week of the year, too!
Before we get into everything concerning weather, special events, crowd calendars, and everything else you can expect in November at Walt Disney World, let’s start with park hours. Note that these have not yet been released for November 2020, and final hours likely won’t be published until this fall.
Typically, park hours are fairly long in November, as this is no longer the off-season. Another thing that’s consistent is Magic Kingdom closing at 6 pm on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates. As we’ll cover in the crowd calendar section below, this will mean lower attendance during the day on party nights, so take advantage if you have a Park Hopper ticket.
Let’s take a look at what else is going on at Walt Disney World in November, and how you can make the most of your November visit…
November Weather at Disney World
Weather at Walt Disney World in November is unpredictable. On paper, if you just go by historical averages, November is a great month to visit. In reality, the weather you experience likely won’t be a historical average, and packing can be tricky because you might experience weather in the high 80s or you might experience a cold front with frosty mornings.
Because of the potential for cold weather, one water park always closes for the season before November. We recommend packing for a wide range of weather conditions and paying close attention to the extended forecast before your trip. Read our Ultimate Disney Packing Guide & Checklist for clever things to bring year-round, and our Packing for Winter at Walt Disney World for specific cold-weather recommendations.
I still “fondly” remember our late-November/early-December trip a few years ago when I packed all shorts and polos and we unexpectedly had lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s. Purchasing new outfits from The Emporium is neither fun nor cheap! More likely than not, you’ll have pleasant weather, but let that serve as a cautionary tale.
November 2020 Special Events at Disney World
Walt Disney World has a lot of special events, but none compare to the Christmas season. Just about every other special event is “special” in that it costs more to partake in the event. That’s only partially true with Christmas. Yes, there is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but there are also free offerings like the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights, Candlelight Processional, and much more.
While November is a very good month to visit because of the Christmas offerings, it also falls short of being a great month because of the Christmas offerings. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is the case because it scores points for the Christmas entertainment that is available during the month, but loses points as compared to December for the Christmas offerings that haven’t yet started in November.
Walt Disney World does a lot for the holiday season, and comprehensively looking at each of these things is beyond the scope of this post. What you need to know here is that you will miss out on some Christmas ‘stuff’ if you visit in November prior to Thanksgiving weekend. If you want our reviews, tips, tricks, etc., for Christmas, check out our Ultimate Walt Disney World Christmas Guide.
One upside to getting a head start on the Christmas season by visiting in early November is that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party isn’t as popular on the earlier dates, especially the school nights, so you’ll encounter lower crowds at the parties should you go to one in early to mid-November.
If you’re unfamiliar with this special hard ticket event, read our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide to learn more. It’s a fun add-on with a special Christmas parade, Christmas fireworks, special character meet & greets, “free” hot chocolate & cookies, snow on Main Street, and more.
Although Thanksgiving occurs in November, Christmas is the star of the show. If you’re visiting on or around November 26, 2020, be sure to consult our Tips for Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World post for dining recommendations and more you should know.
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival runs through late November, so you’re in luck if you’re visiting during the first half of the month. Like we said in our October at Walt Disney World post, this event is fun but can be deceptively expensive. There are some free and low cost events, but the cost of grazing around kiosks adds up quickly. Read our Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Guide for what’s offered this year at the event, plus tips and tricks, and what we recommend doing (and what we recommend skipping).
In addition to the Food & Wine Festival itself, there’s also a runDisney race that’s somewhat integrated into the event. The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon takes place November 5-8, 2020. There are also a variety of other shorter races over the course of the weekend.
Almost as soon as Food & Wine ends, the park transitions over to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which runs through December. This features holiday storytellers from around the world, seasonal foods, and other entertainment. It’s like a scaled back version of Food & Wine, with a seasonal twist.
In terms of other Christmas offerings, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom typically both start their holiday offerings in early November. An official date has yet to be announced, but we’d expect both to begin November 6, 2020. Decorations around the resorts start to go up around the same time, but typically are not done until Thanksgiving week.
In addition to this, there are a few events on the ESPN Wide World of Sports November Calendar, but these are the types of youth events that only really are a draw for parents with kids participating in them. In other words, if you don’t already know about these events, they probably won’t be a draw for you.
November 2020 REFURBISHMENTS & NEW ATTRACTIONS
In terms of attractions, consult our Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule to see what’s planned for November. That might be a bit deceptive, as there’s a lot of ongoing construction throughout Walt Disney World, and will be for the next several years. The major projects at Magic Kingdom and Epcot won’t be finished until 2021 or later.
Epcot’s construction project that will have the most noticeable impact on the guest experience is the massive reimagining at the front of the park, which will eliminate Future World and replace it with 3 new neighborhoods. This has already kicked into high gear, and will continue to gain momentum throughout 2020.
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.
On the plus side at Epcot, three new films, three new restaurants, and one blockbuster ride will debut prior to Fall 2020. The ride comes via a huge expansion to the France pavilion that includes the family-friendly trackless dark ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Outside of Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has two attractions that will still be fairly new come Fall 2020. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens this spring, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted late last year. The latter is literally the best Walt Disney World attraction in decades–better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
November 2020 Crowd Calendar for Disney World
There’s no color-coded November 2020 crowd calendar for Walt Disney World at the top of this section because it wouldn’t tell the full story of attendance trends. If you spend the ~5 minutes reading this section from beginning to end, you’ll be far better prepared to avoid November crowds!
Unfortunately, crowd calendars are less reliable due to how Walt Disney World manipulates attendance patterns, staffing, closures, and ride capacity. Since Disney doesn’t release official attendance numbers, crowd calendars use school schedules, airport traffic statistics, hotel pricing & occupancy, etc., as proxies for crowds. This approach worked and made crowd calendars reliable for years.
More recently, wait times have no longer reliably reflect actual crowds due to the aforementioned manipulation. We can still forecast attendance, but not the resulting wait times. This is like the difference between the actual temperature and the “feels like” temperature, but with crowds. The “feels like” crowds are likely what you care about most, but Walt Disney World crowd calendars don’t always get those right. With all of that in mind, here are our crowd calendar predictions for the best and worst weeks at Walt Disney World in November 2020…
November 2020 will be a month of peaks and valleys on the Walt Disney World crowd calendar. The first week begins with a bang, thanks a few factors: Election Day (November 3, 2020), Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (November 5-8, 2020), and Jersey Week. Consequently, November 1-8, 2020 will be very busy.
Things don’t get any better the following week, as November 11, 2020 is Veterans Day. This means the entire week, through November 14, 2020 will also be very busy. Both of these first two weeks of November 2020 should be avoided as they’re high dates on the crowd calendar.
The following week (November 15 to 21, 2020) is one of the aforementioned valleys. This will mark a return of moderate crowds, the best since October (arguably even September). If crowds are your primary concern, this is the sweet spot during the entire Christmas season.
From that valley, crowd calendars peak the following week thanks to Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020. This is one of the worst weeks of the year and definitely the worst of the month on the Walt Disney World crowd calendar. If at all possible, avoid this holiday.
The following week (beginning November 29, 2020) marks a return to below average crowds, and this is also our very favorite week of the year to visit. We base this on a mix of crowds and seasonal offerings, as this is the best mix of Christmas and crowds. This is not off-season, but it’s really good.
There are also roller coaster crowds throughout each day in November 2020. This is primarily due to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Epcot’s two festivals in November. Dates for all of these events have yet to be released, but these will impact the November 2020 crowd calendar within dates.
Epcot will be significantly more busy on weekends, especially when Florida colleges like UCF have away football games. Epcot’s attendance will be lightest on weekdays before 4 pm, with heavier crowds after work as locals turn out to graze at the festival booths.
Similarly, Magic Kingdom is leastbusy on days with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the evening and more busy on days that the event isn’t happening. The Christmas Party is separately-ticketed, which causes Magic Kingdom closes early on these nights. Many guests avoid Magic Kingdom on days with shorter hours, meaning lighter crowds before the party.
These same guests then flock to non-party days in Magic Kingdom. Even though the park has longer hours on these days, you will get less done than you could before 4 pm on a party day. As such, avoid Saturdays in Magic Kingdom and any days that are in between two or more Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights.
We’d strongly recommend buying Park Hoppers and visiting Magic Kingdom during the day on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights, and then heading to another park at around 4 pm. The downside to this is less time in Magic Kingdom at night, which is when it’s prettiest during the Christmas season, but it’s worth the trade-off.
Disney Springs, resorts, restaurants, and bars at Walt Disney World all are busier during the Christmas season. This is due to a mix of holiday dinners and locals wanting to enjoy the free Christmas decorations and entertainment. Be sure to make ADRs for any fine dining outside the parks, and be aware that you’ll encounter heavier crowds in Disney Springs.
This should all underscore why we don’t really care for traditional color-coded or numerical Walt Disney World crowd calendars. None of the above trends could be adequately conveyed by a simple graphic, and it’d be easy to become frustrated if we simply had an November 2020 crowd calendar vacillating between 4/10 and 9/10 days.
Instead, we’ve explained the how and why of November crowd flow so that you can plan accordingly. While you’ll still encounter congestion and long waits, by zigging when others zag, you should have a pretty pleasant visit in November. This strategic park hopping advice is more practical than a numerical crowd calendar.
November 2020 Discounts & Pricing
Discounts continue into November, and you can expect room-only discounts to be available basically every date besides those days right around Thanksgiving. We typically prefer this discount to the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion (which is regularly offered in November, but isn’t currently available for booking).
November is one of the best months of the year to visit Walt Disney World if you’re comparing it to every month of the year, especially those two sweet spots of low crowds. The downside is that some Christmas offerings don’t kick off until around Thanksgiving, which makes that week right after Thanksgiving (straddling both November and December) the very best time to visit. It has all of the upsides of a November visit in terms of crowds, discounts, weather, and it has a better slate of Christmas entertainment.
Do you like Walt Disney World in November? Planning a November trip around the holiday season? Which month is your favorite for Walt Disney World vacations? Do you prefer December or November? Agree or disagree with our assessment of November at WDW? Any questions? 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!