WDW2020: When should you go to Walt Disney World?

WDW2020: When should you go to Walt Disney World?

If this is your first time checking out a post from this series: welcome! I’m a huge Walt Disney World fan and I’m planning yet another trip for next year. I’m doing a series of posts about my planning process. There are two posts before this one: an introductory post and determining my objectives for this vacation.

If you are not new to this series: thank you so much for following along on my Walt Disney World trip planning adventure! If you have any questions, need advice, or want to hear more about a particular topic, please let me know in the comments below!

Step one was to decide the objectives for the trip. I considered why we were going this year (Galaxy’s Edge!) and who we were going with (friends!). As well as any additional desires we have for the trip (avoiding crowds and keeping costs low).

Toy story land in Disney’s Hollywood studios in walt disney world on a cloudy day.

Toy story land in Disney’s Hollywood studios in walt disney world on a cloudy day.

Step Two: Deciding when to visit Walt Disney World

There’s a lot that goes into deciding exactly when to go to Walt Disney World. Here are my tips for choosing a date. You may want a pen & paper or perhaps a calendar in front of you to help you remember the dates you decide to keep as possibilities and which you intend to eliminate.

  • Plan at least 9 to 12 months in advance: If you are able to, I recommend starting your trip planning at least nine months in advance, preferably twelve months. You have a lot of research and planning to do before you can make your ADRs (advanced dining reservations) which are made 180 days  (six months) in advance. You’ll probably want to book your resort 7 or 8 months in advance.

  • Consider special personal events: If you are going to celebrate a birthday, graduation or other event that could factor into your decision. Likewise, there might be some events on your schedule that you want to make sure you are home for.

  • Consider WDW events: WDW has events all year long. In addition to holiday celebrations, there are marathon weekends and festivals (like Food & Wine in Epcot). You might be interested in attending during a special event or holiday. If you are like me, you prefer to avoid events that cause increases in crowds. You can find a list of events here: https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/disney-world-special-events/

  • Think about weather: If you or members of your party do not enjoy the heat and humidity, you might want to travel in January or February. If you want to do a lot of swimming or visit one of WDW’s two waterparks, you should consider going when it is a bit warmer.

  • Think about work and school schedules: Consider the schedules of members of your party. Does anyone have any conflicts? Can everyone get time off during the times you are thinking of?

  • Consider the availability of house/pet sitters: If you use a family member or a friend who isn’t part of a sitting service, you may want to find out their availability before you plan.

  • General crowd trends: If possible you should aim to avoid the super crowded times at WDW. These days Walt Disney World is crowded no matter when you visit. However, you can avoid some of the crowds by not going during school vacations or major holidays. Additionally, visiting during “off-season” times will be more cost-effective as things like hotel and airline rates will be lower.

  • Specific crowd calendar: Once you have a general idea of when you want to go, you should look at a day by day crowd calendar such as the one at: https://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/crowd-calendar

An autograph of mickey mouse.

An autograph of mickey mouse.

My Process for Walt Disney World in 2020

Here is how I decided the dates for my upcoming vacation:

  • I pretty much started my planning process as soon as I got back from my last trip. So, I was planning for just under a year away.

  • We aren’t celebrating a particular event and there isn’t any personal events I needed to be home for. I consulted the other members of my party as well.

  • Weather plays a huge role in my trip decisions. My husband and I both prefer cooler weather and dislike temperatures above 80. The rest of our party seems to either share those views or are neutral. Therefore, we determined we were going in January or February.

  • I had everyone check for work scheduling conflicts and no one had anything for January/February. I also confirmed the dates with my house/pet sitter.

  • We looked at holidays and WDW events during January/February and are trying to avoid as much as we can.

  • I used my subscription with Touringplans.com to gather the predicted crowd date for January/February. I actually created a spreadsheet and did some basic calculations- but that’s probably overboard. You just need a basic crowd calendar to see which weeks will give you the lowest crowds. I chose the time when the estimated crowds will be lowest for Walt Disney World, particularly Hollywood Studios.

  • Crowd levels will definitely change before I head down there, but at least I have a good chance of getting crowds that are relatively lower than other days.

the tree of life at animal kingdom in walt disney world.

the tree of life at animal kingdom in walt disney world.

What’s next in my Walt Disney World trip planning series? How long to stay!

Thank you for reading this post in my series of Walt Disney World trip planning posts. Next in the WDW2020 series I’m going to be talking about how long to stay at Walt Disney World. After that, we will be talking about where to stay.

If you can’t wait and are dying to know more about planning your Walt Disney World vacation, my number one resource is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. I love the Unofficial Guide and touringplans.com, it’s associated website. Honestly, nothing has helped me figure out how to properly tour the parks more than The Unofficial Guide. I recommend it to everyone who tells me they are thinking of going to WDW. And that’s why I am choosing their book to be my very first Amazon Affiliate link. I’ve just started down the path to possibly monetizing my blog (with the only goal being to be able to blog more often someday). If you are thinking about going to Walt Disney World, and think you might want to purchase the Unofficial Guide, it would be simply wonderful of you to purchase it through this link.