These free 2024 Walt Disney World crowd calendars rate dates so you can choose best weeks to go & avoid the worst, skipping long lines and high wait times. We cover seasonal events, weather, park hours, Orlando travel trends, and factors impacting when to visit Florida’s theme parks. (Updated January 4, 2024.)
Let’s start with the good news, which is that crowds have been down significantly in the last several months. This started last year around Easter, and almost every single week has been down as compared to the same timeframe in the previous year. The most significant exception was the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which is always the worst week of the year. That stretch was even busier than normal, a trend that has continued into early 2024.
There are a number of reasons for lower crowds at Walt Disney World, but the main driver is the exhaustion of pent-up demand. Florida was a popular vacation destination for a couple of years thanks to its accelerated reopening. Consumers have now gotten their “fix” of Orlando theme parks, and have moved on to other destinations, resulting in a slowdown at Walt Disney World even as business is booming for international travel and the cruise industry. (Both of which essentially “reopened” in earnest over a year after Walt Disney World.)
This is important context. Both that attendance has been down in the last 8 months and that it’s as compared to last year during pent-up demand when Walt Disney World was doing record-setting numbers. Some media reports have characterized the parks as dead or empty, which is not even remotely accurate.
With the exceptions of off-season, bad weather, and aggressive ticket blockout dates, Walt Disney World is still busy by historical standards. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2024–both a further slowdown as compared to “revenge travel” in 2022, and the parks to be busier than they were 6+ years ago.
Walt Disney World has attempted to remedy the diedown in demand. Discounting has also gotten more aggressive, with Walt Disney World releasing tons of different discounts through Summer 2024. Deals are better than the last two years and are coming out earlier, and the end result is that it’s actually less expensive to visit Walt Disney World now than it was in the last two years.
This now includes the popular 2024 Free Dining Plan promotion, which hasn’t been offered in full since 2019. Walt Disney World pulling out the big guns and bringing that back alone says a lot about the exhaustion of pent-up demand!
This is a Walt Disney World crowd calendar and not a discount roundup, but the two are directly related. The point is that the company has already pulled several “levers” in an attempt to maintain its previously elevated attendance, but the overall trajectory of crowds is still on the decline.
The next three months are a roller coaster of crowd levels that include both some of the slowest dates and also some of the busiest weeks of the entire year. Holiday breaks will end and give way to the doldrums of winter, which will be like flipping a switch overnight from peak crowd levels to off-season. Even within the winter months there are holiday weekends and entire weeks, including but not limited to MLK Day, Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, runDisney races, and youth events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Once that roller coaster crowd ride is over, Spring Break ‘season’ and Easter arrive. It probably doesn’t take a crowd calendar to tell you that those are popular times for trips to Florida and Walt Disney World, but in case it does: those are popular times–among the busiest dates of 2024 at Walt Disney World!
If you’re looking for a convenient resource for planning a weeklong or so vacation to Walt Disney World and want to know when to visit or avoid based on crowds & congestion, weather, special events, and more–check out our list of the 10 Best and 10 Worst Weeks to Visit Walt Disney World in 2024 & 2025. Both of those lists contain weeks in January through March 2024.
For what it’s worth, even the word “off-season” is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to crowds at Walt Disney World. Attendance has increased by millions of guests annually, and as a result, almost every single day of 2024 will be busier than 2013.
Crowd calendar scores are relative and calculated on a rolling basis relative to the prior 365 days. They are not anchored to 1971 or 1993 or 2008 wait times. In other words, a 1/10 today is not the same as a 1/10 in September 2012 or October 2015. Today’s 1/10 might be closer to a 5/10 from five years ago.
This also means that 2024 crowd calendars are in part relative to last year when pent-up demand was still running strong at Walt Disney World. If you look back to 2018 or 2019, the current crowd levels are about average. Looking back even further, pretty much every single day in 2024 would be 10/10 if we used 2008 or earlier as the baseline.
In other words, if you last experienced Walt Disney World several years ago, your baseline expectations and experience probably differ from someone who visited over holiday weeks in the last year or when pent-up demand was running hot.
Not only that, but a ‘low’ crowd levels does not mean that in absolute terms. Even on 1/10 days, the parks will not be ghost towns allowing you to do snow angels on the ground. You will see rides with 60-90 minute posted wait times. You will encounter areas of congestion. “Uncrowded” at Walt Disney World means something different than it does at the American Dream Mall or Wyoming in The Last of Us. The most popular rides, especially during the middle of the day, will still have long lines.
For example, going from a 10/10 crowd level to a 1/10 crowd level means you might encounter a 65-75 minute average wait time for popular rides–including but not limited to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, Slinky Dog Dash, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage–as opposed to 90+ minute wait times. Those numbers are averages, so it also means higher peaks and lower lows. Below-average crowd levels does not mean every ride is a walk-on!
There’s also the fact that, during slower timeframes, Walt Disney World uses promotions and special events, hosts major conventions and youth sporting events, and has dynamic pricing for tickets, hotels, and even Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in an attempt to redistribute or increase crowds.
We’re not trying to be debbie downers. Our goal is to provide realistic expectations and preparation for crowds. And if you read reports of the parks being empty, ghost towns, or dead…well, you might have be surprised to encounter “only” a 75 minute wait time for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. (Yes, that’s a lot of waiting–but that posted wait time is also inflated and still far lower than it’d be during peak season.)
Point being, there are still definitely big differences in crowd levels, and you should plan accordingly. No matter how hard Disney might try, there are certain times that travel is slower. School schedules, weather, seasonal festivities, youth sporting events, conventions, and other factors all play a huge role in crowd levels at Walt Disney World.
If all of this sounds overwhelming or imprecise, the good news is that it’s entirely possible to beat bad crowds. In fact, we recommend savvy strategy over choosing the “best” days to visit!
By utilizing Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, Early Entry, Extended Evening Hours, rope drop, etc. We cover the best & worst approach for each park in Best Time-Saving Strategies for Walt Disney World. (If you’re only going to read one planning post, make it that!)
If you want to read a few more posts–all more useful than crowd calendars–be sure to also check out our Walt Disney World Itinerariesfor plans of attack, with options now with and without Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
Honestly, following a good itinerary and utilizing smart strategy is way more important than choosing the “right” dates. There are some exceptions to this, such as going on December 29, 2024 instead of September 6, but by and large, using smart strategy will put you in a better position than picking the least-busy days and doing zero strategizing.
Ideally, you’d opt for a best of both worlds approach–choosing good dates as well as utilizing savvy strategy, but that’s not always possible. After all, there’s a reason most families visit Walt Disney World during school breaks. If you don’t have any choice but to travel during busier dates, you can still beat the crowds.
With that said, here are more detailed suggestions for when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World…
2024 Disney World Crowd Calendars
If you’ve already narrowed down a season or range of dates during which you want to visit Walt Disney World, we’d recommend forgoing the remainder of this post. Instead, refer to our individual monthly guides, which offer free crowd calendars and cover weather, seasonal events, refurbishments, and what’s new & next.
These 2024 Walt Disney World crowd calendars offer more granular details for each specific month. We’d suggest reading all months for the time of year you’re considering. For example, if you’re thinking of a summer vacation, read the May through August monthly guides; if you’re considering Christmas, consult both November and December.
These Walt Disney World crowd calendars are most reliable about 6 months in advance. It’s still too early to make reliable predictions for next summer and beyond. With that said, some of the same general patterns play out year in and out, so later months are useful for broader weekly trends–rather than specific dates to visit.
For these crowd calendars, we combine normal data like wait times and other info that serves as a proxy for crowds with our in-person observations and anecdotal experiences. From all of this, we’ve learned to spot patterns and notice things about wait times and attendance at Walt Disney World, which we share with you in our crowd calendars.
Note that the above crowd calendars do not, for the most part, offer park by park crowd levels. On a calendar day basis, that’s far too granular and no longer possible to predict. However, we’d direct you to Best & Worst Days to Do All Parks at Walt Disney World for advice on choosing which day to do each park. Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT typically follow patterns and picking the right (and avoiding the wrong) days can make a big difference, no matter what time of year (uncrowded or crowded) that you visit.
Having a little knowledge about the ebb and flow of attendance throughout the day will also prepare you to avoid crowds and zig when others zag. Some parks and attractions see visitor numbers and lines spike during certain parts of the day, and it’s important to understand the why of this, so you can plan around the peak crowds.
This isn’t to say that there’s no way to avoid the crowds anymore–there absolutely is–and crowd calendars will help with that. The slower dates are still noticeably slower than the busier dates. All we’re saying is that crowd calendars are not some ‘magic bullet’ that you can use without doing any other research to have a great trip, walking onto every attraction. Over-reliance on Walt Disney World crowd calendars (including ours!) will lead to disappointment.
If you’re trying to determine when to visit, we recommend starting by choosing seasonal events and the type of weather that appeal most to you, and then narrowing your dates within those broad parameters based on what crowd calendars identify as the best and first weeks to visit. Walt Disney World crowd calendars are still a useful tool, but they’re not a planning panacea.
Choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials. With that said, here’s what else to consider…
If weather is an important consideration, we highly recommend heading down from in late September, October, early November, late February, March, or April. Those are ideal from a weather perspective. That is, assuming you want more temperate weather, rather than extreme heat and humidity or more cold weather. If you like your clothes drenched in sweat from high temperatures, May until late-August are the perfect times for you to visit.
Late summer and early fall are the height of hurricane and storm season, which have become increasingly relevant. We highly recommend consulting our Visiting Walt Disney World During Storm Season article before booking a trip this time of year. The best case scenario is navigating the afternoon showers without them putting too much of a damper on your trip. Worst case, an approaching hurricane forces you to cancel your trip or be at Walt Disney World while the parks close due to the storm.
If you must visit between the late spring through early fall, just remember to pack accordingly, bringing the Frogg Toggs for the humidity…and ponchos for the rain so you don’t spend $179 on them at Walt Disney World. Read our Unique Disney World Packing List for some items you might not otherwise think of taking.
While early December and January are great times to visit to avoid crowds, our experience has been that these are the worst two months in terms of weather. Not only does it get extremely cold (well, relatively speaking–it is Florida after all), but there are substantial swings in temperature. You might find yourself wanting to wear shorts in the morning but by late afternoon it is jeans and sweatshirt weather. As the night rolls on, you might even find yourself wanting to put on a parka.
If you travel during these seasons, expect to bring more luggage and make more stops at your room to change clothing (or at least plan on renting a locker to store additional layers of clothing each day). You may be lucky and find relatively consistent temperate weather during these timeframes, but it’s best to prepare for the worst so that you don’t have to purchase a bunch of $50 sweatshirts from the Emporium on Main Street. Those $50 sweatshirts can add up quickly! Check out our Winter Packing Tips for Disney post for more insight on what to take on your winter trip to Walt Disney World.
In talking to others, we’ve found that this is the one area that people consider the least when planning their trips, which we think is at least a small mistake. It’s important to note up front that, typically, less busy seasons have shorter park hours and busier times have longer park hours.
It thus stands to reason that you can basically get the same amount done in a shorter day during a less busy time than you could during a busier time. However, this isn’t always true. If you use an efficient touring plan (see our Itineraries for Walt Disney World), you have a good chance of getting more done during a busier time of year than during a slower stretch.
This is especially true if you get to the park early and stay late. Sometimes during especially busy times, Magic Kingdom will open at 8 am and will close at 11 pm. While we’ve taken advantage of these hours without taking a break during the day, we realize some of you are mere mortals.
A great strategy to employ during days with operating hours such as these is to get to the park shortly before opening, stay until around 11 a.m., go back to your resort to nap or relax, and return around dinner time to stay until park close. Regardless of the time of year, the parks will always be fairly slow during the first couple operational hours, and will always be fairly deserted late at night. Ride as much as you can early in the day and do less popular attractions as the day wears on.
Similarly, park hours should be taken into account based upon your sleep habits. If you’re a late-to-rise night owl, the Fall and late Winter/early Spring months may be a bad idea, as these entail many early closing times. If you’re not going to get to the parks until noon anyway, your day might be only 7 hours or so.
Conversely, if you wake up early and generally call it a day by 5 or 7 pm or so, those midnight closings aren’t going to do you any good. Make sure you check Disney’s park hours calendar when planning your trip. It’s important to note that this calendar is often inaccurate far in advance (Disney posts hours conservatively, then extends them as bookings increase).
This is a big one for us, as we’ve been to Walt Disney World so many times that it’s nice to visit during different times of year to keep things varied. Even if it’s your first visit to Walt Disney World, if you have particular interests, you might want to consider planning your trip around these special events. The schedules for these varies, as does the price (if any), so please consult the respective page for each event when doing your planning and budgeting.
We’ve written tips & tricks for almost every seasonal event at Walt Disney World, because most aren’t simply a matter of “show up, have fun.” We encourage you to click these links (they will open in a new tab) and read the guides. Like all things Walt Disney World-related, you’ll have a much better time and see more that the event has to offer if you do some advance planning…
Walt Disney World Marathon– The flagship runDisney race weekend is held in early January, usually the weekend after New Year’s. It typically occurs while schools are still out for winter break, effectively extending the holiday season crowds into early January.
EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival – Beginning in late summer, this is EPCOT’s flagship culinary event. Want to know what to do–and more importantly what NOT to do? Read our guide. It’ll give you an idea of what’s not worth the money, and what is worth doing.
2024 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom – Possibly more than any other special event at Walt Disney World, you need to do advance planning for this. Character meet & greets can form hour-plus long waits, and there’s so much to do that you can’t accomplish everything in one party. We highly recommend reading this guide!
EPCOT Food & Wine Festival – Same as above usually continues through mid to late November.
Candlelight Processional at Epcot – Here we cover whether you should do the dinner package, along with a list of the narrators, and some photos from recent Candlelight Processionals we’ve attended.
If school schedules are something around which you must plan, chances are you’re going to go during one of the busier (or at least not one of the least busy) times of the year. School schedules are the paramount consideration for many other families planning trips, too.
It may seem convenient to visit during one of the ‘holidays’ your kids have off from school, but it’s important to consider whether other schools have these same dates off, as well. Of the traditional school holidays, only Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are good times to visit.
Because most schools have the week before Christmas until the shortly after New Year’s off, this is an especially crowded window to visit. Likewise, the same goes for President’s Day weekend, Easter week, Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day week, Veterans Day week, the entirety of the Summer, and Thanksgiving week.
Although schools do vary their Spring Break schedules, don’t expect the parks to be any less busy because of staggered Spring Breaks. Mid-March until mid-April are also incredibly busy dates for the parks because of Spring Breaks, with the two weeks abutting Easter being the absolute worst (since most schools still use Easter as a proxy for Spring Break).
Some people don’t have many other options, so it’s going during a school break or nothing. If so, it’s not the end of the world. As we’ve stressed above, crowd calendars are not as important as they used to be. Simply pack your patience and have a good touring plan (which is far more important than choosing dates based upon a crowd calendar, anyway). For help with this, refer to our Free Walt Disney World Park Itineraries & Touring Plans. We have the perfect strategy for fun, efficient, and memorable days in the parks!
If you don’t have kids or aren’t otherwise forced to travel around holidays or traditional vacation periods, we’d highly recommend avoiding them. Not because we have anything against kids, but because crowds and prices will be higher during these breaks. Plan around them and save both time and money!
If you are unsure of when visiting Walt Disney World might be best for you–or need personalized help with any aspect of your trip from hotels to the Disney Dining Plan and more–we recommend contacting a no fee “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (basically, Disney’s term for a travel agent) to get a quote and to help you plan. They get their commission from Disney, so none of the authorized (key word) planners will charge you for booking their trip and helping. Here’s one such Authorized Disney Vacation Planner that we recommend!
Ultimately, all of this is a long-winded way of saying that consulting crowd calendars for Walt Disney World in 2024 is useful, but strategy matters more. That has been the case since ~2018, but it’s more pronounced than ever right now. With Disney Park Pass reservations booking up on a daily basis, crowds are largely being leveled and not reflective of actual, organic demand. That presumably does vary much more day-to-day or week-to-week, but that’s not playing out with the capacity caps in place.
As we often say, pack your patience and arm yourself with savvy strategy if you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the coming weeks or months. The bad news is that it’s going to be very busy with “feels like” crowds and wait times among the highest we’ve seen in the last two years. The good news is that these crowds are more “beatable” than those of this winter or last holiday season.
Visiting Walt Disney World during the best dates to avoid crowds is probably one of the most important aspects of trip planning. What season, month, or week do you generally visit WDW? Do you visit at times when you know crowds will be light, or do you visit when school is out of session? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!