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. Add Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival to the mix and it’s easy to see why it was the favorite month to visit for many WDW fans.
Unfortunately, the reality for what you can expect has become much 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. October being one of Walt Disney World’s busiest months has become the “new normal” over the last 5 years.
The potential good news is that October 2019 could be a reversion to the “old normal.” With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge likely to open in November or December 2019, there’s a very strong chance that many people will be delaying visits to Walt Disney World until that happens. We’re already seeing signs of this, as Walt Disney World has been getting more aggressive with discounts for Summer and Fall 2019 to entice people to visit during the pre-Star Wars slump.
Before you get too excited about this and race off to book an October 2019 Walt Disney World trip, there are a couple of things worth mentioning. First, there’s always the possibility that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge defies all expectations and manages to open by October 2019, in which case it’ll be totally bonkers.
Second, since a lot of Walt Disney World’s October business is based upon convention bookings, this month may not be as susceptible to the Star Wars slump than August or September. Along these lines, it’s also possible that Walt Disney World will make up the shortfall on normal bookings with discounts.
With that said, we expect 2019 to be an anomaly. 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is still advising you that October is a “quiet” month at Walt Disney World, ignore their advice, as they are offering outdated information.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.
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.
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.
While it’s highly unlikely that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be open by October 2019, there are still two new-ish lands at Walt Disney World. The first is Toy Story Land, also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Second, Pandora – World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flight of Passage remains incredibly popular, and ~2 hour waits are not outside the realm of possibilities. Read our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar for tips and tricks on avoiding lengthy waits, and doing this new section of Walt Disney World.
October tends to be much more popular than September, but midday waits under an hour aren’t outside the realm of possibilities for Slinky Dog Dash. That’s not too 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!)
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. However, aside from the ones we’ve already mentioned, most won’t be of interest to anyone reading this. There are several events on the ESPN Wide World of Sports October Calendar, but those will only appeal to attendees (who should already know about them). At the end of the month, there’s 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).
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.
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!