November 2018 is a very good month to visit Walt Disney World due to mild weather, low crowds (except Thanksgiving and Jersey Weeks), and the start of Christmas season! This month also sees the continuation of Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, another runDisney race, and the standard mix of events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Oh, and did we mention the start of the Christmas season? It’s our favorite time of year at Walt Disney World and the parks go all out for it. This post will cover what you need to know for November at Walt Disney World. (Last updated September 17, 2018.)
In terms of crowds, most of the month of November remains off-season, with low crowd levels until the week of Thanksgiving. Even Jersey Week–starting November 4, 2018–which is when New Jersey schools are out of session due to teacher meetings, is not that bad. Granted, you’ll have to tolerate a bunch of Jersey drivers if you rent a car and risk running into Snooki and her posse, but the impact of Jersey Week on crowds is fairly negligible.
Thanksgiving week is a different story, as it spikes crowds tremendously; this entire week through the Saturday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World. It’s still not as busy as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, but it’s quite busy. If you can avoid this week, November is still a good month to visit for low crowds (check out our When To Visit Walt Disney World post for the best and worst months of the year). If you are visiting for the holiday, be sure to consult our Tips for Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World post for dining recommendations and more you should know.
Expect wait times to mostly be low, although you will encounter throngs of people admiring the decorations and grazing from Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival booths over the weekends. Because of the lower crowd levels, you can expect park hours to have earlier closings throughout the month of November (except Thanksgiving week), but early closings and light crowds are something we’d take any day of the week over heavy crowds and extended hours.
Park hours for November are now available here. Note that the normal Walt Disney World Park Hours page shows 6 p.m. closings on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates. 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…
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, Blizzard Beach will close for the season at the end of October (one downside to visiting in November). We recommend packing for a wide range of weather conditions and paying close attention to the extended forecast before your trip. Read our Disney Packing Guide 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.
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.
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 kiosks around World Showcase offering small snacks that are about $4-8 each are what most people do, and grazing these 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 is a half marathon (obviously) weekend taking place in early November. The event itself features an after-party with foods and beverages from Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. 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 from November 18 until December 30, 2018. 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 will start its “Flurry of Fun” offerings on November 8, 2018, so you can get in the festive spirit even if you’re visiting well before Thanksgiving. Note that the decorations around the resorts don’t typically go up until just after mid-month, so it’s not totally Christmasy at Walt Disney World 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.
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).
Our Walt Disney World Discount Comparisons post covers why the room-only discount gets our vote over “free” dining–remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you’re booking a room-only discount, you can decide for yourself which hotel might be best by reading our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews.
If you are considering a November trip to Walt Disney World, the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion is typically available for booking. As noted above, the Free Dining booking window has closed for 2018; the promotion will likely return around April 2019 for November 2019 travel dates.
If you’re looking to save money on airfare, visit ITA Software to search for the best prices. We have more tips for traveling frugally that might be worth reading if you’re trying to do Disney on a Dime.
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, but at the end of the day, we have a difficult time recommending it over early December, especially if you want a strong dose of the Christmas spirit. Several Christmas offerings don’t kick off until after Thanksgiving, including virtually everything at Epcot and the resort hotel decorations. So, while it’s one of the top overall months, if you’re already contemplating a trip this time of year, and it’s possible for you to hold off, we really like the week right after Thanksgiving (which is partially in November!). 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.
If you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation and need to know about more than just the month of November, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
Do you like Walt Disney World in November? Which month is your favorite for Walt Disney World vacations? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!