October used to be a “best kept secret” when it came to the best months to visit Walt Disney World. Temperate weather, low crowds, value season pricing, and seasonal events all made it a good time to visit. If you ask Disney Vacation Club members, it’s often their favorite month of the year for the reasons above plus Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.
Unfortunately, the reality for what you can expect in October 2018 is way different than the perception. In the last few years, October crowds have ballooned at Walt Disney World, thanks to a combination of the secret getting out, people postponing summer vacations for better pricing, and more schools having longer fall breaks, among other things.
If someone is still advising you that October is a “quiet” month at Walt Disney World, ignore their advice, as they are offering outdated information. Now, October is consistently one of the year’s busiest months. We’re talking an entire month of crowds that rival Spring Break. On top of that, due to the month’s newfound popularity, discounts are much more difficult to find, making it more expensive than it used to be, as well.
As for crowds, they drop off after Labor Day and remain light for most of September before really ramping up towards the beginning of October. Throughout October, these high crowd levels remain. It should be noted that this is not as bad as Thanksgiving week, Christmas, or New Year’s. Those are all brief spikes surrounded by weeks that are less busy.
Rather, October is a sustained month-long time of heavy to very crowds. Worse than even what summer used to have. On top of that, weekends at Epcot will be packed for the Food & Wine Festival and the Magic Kingdom’s Halloween Parties will get busier closer to Halloween. Still, with a little planning, you can beat the crowds during October in Walt Disney World. Just consult our 1-Day Disney Park Itineraries for step-by-step touring plans.
If you can get past the crowds, October is still a moderately good month to visit. The weather is improving, and the seasonal events are in full swing. Because of that, October still does reasonably well on our Best and Worst Months at Walt Disney World post. Keep in mind that park hours are often short in October, which compounds the impact of those larger crowds, too.
Weather at Walt Disney World continues to improve in October, with temperatures cooling even further from September, humidity dropping, and the tail end of hurricane and storm season concluding. Afternoon showers and torrential downpours are still possible, as is really hot and really cool weather, so remember to pack for a wide range of weather conditions.
You can view day-by-day temperature and weather forecasts plus historical averages for Walt Disney World weather in October here. As you can see, average highs are still in the 80s every day of the month, so it’s not that much cooler…although those 60 degree lows can make a big difference.
That’s the crowd and weather forecast in Walt Disney World’s neck of the woods, now let’s take a look at the events going on around the Resort!
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is offered many nights in October, which can be a good or bad thing depending upon how you look at it. In the “good” camp, this means more opportunities to get in the Halloween spirit and attend. In the “bad” camp, this means more 6 p.m. closings, which have to be carefully planned around on the days of your vacation that you aren’t attending the Halloween Party.
As for when to attend, we highly recommend attending as early in the month as possible, on a school night. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, read our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide to learn more. It’s a fun hard-ticket event (that means it costs extra) with a special Halloween parade, Halloween fireworks, special character meet & greets, trick or treating, and more.
In terms of attractions, the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Schedule is pretty light for October, but that might be a bit deceptive. There is 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.
On the plus side, Toy Story Land is now open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if early September is any indication, waits for Slinky Dog Dash shouldn’t be too bad. We’ve been seeing wait times as low as 35 minutes for this popular new roller coaster.
While October tends to be more popular than September, midday waits under an hour aren’t outside the realm of possibilities, which isn’t bad for a brand new roller coaster! (Nevertheless, we recommend doing it during Morning Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or the very end of the night–you won’t wait nearly that long in either scenario!)
Pandora – World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and its crowds will have died down a bit since last year. You should still expect long waits in October as the parks will be busier (overall) than in the summer, but 2+ hour waits for Flight of Passage are unlikely. Read our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar for tips and tricks on doing this new section of Walt Disney World!
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is also in high gear during the month of October. This event has expanded significantly in recent years, both in terms of popularity and what’s offered. There’s no two ways about it: Food & Wine Festival is expensive.
Yes, there are some free and low cost events, but just about everything at the event is costly, and at an elevated price even by Disney standards. Most people stick to the kiosks around World Showcase offering small snacks that are about $4-8 each, on average. That doesn’t seem like much, but costs add 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 not doing).
October is actually one of the bigger months of the year for special events at Walt Disney World. After the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler race was cancelled a couple of years ago, runDisney no longer does October events. Uhh…an “alternative” is the Disney Cross Country Classic, but if you don’t know what this is…it’s probably actually an alternative, since it’s a cross country event for student athletes. There are actually a few other events on the ESPN Wide World of Sports October Calendar, but again, these are only going to appeal to those with kids participating in them.
At the very end of the month, you’ve also got the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, which is their own weekend food and wine festival that compliments the one in Epcot (but is a standalone event). Back in the parks, naturally, there are some refurbishments, too. Instead of following the prevailing sentiment that “my vacation is ruined!” when you read of a favorite attraction being down during your vacation, think optimistically, and be happy that it’s getting some TLC. Walt Disney World’s refurbishments for October are listed here.
Besides the events, October is a great month to visit in terms of what you’ll pay to visit. There tend to be decent room-only discount offers, and we typically prefer this discount to the uber-popular Free Disney Dining Plan promotion (which blocks out the entire month of October, anyway). You can see why in our Walt Disney World Discount Comparisons post. 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.
Overall, October is a mixed bag. There are great events and the weather is starting to get nicer, but there has been a surge in crowds the last few Octobers, and we’d expect that trend to continue. Still, we really like October, and if it ever returns to being a normal month crowd-wise, it’d be among our absolute favorite times to visit Walt Disney World.
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!
Are you a fan of visiting Walt Disney World in October? Have you experienced the heavier October crowds the last couple of years? Which month do you like to visit WDW? 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!