Choosing when to visit Walt Disney World usually means consulting statistical crowd calendars, seasonal events schedules, park hours, and more. This guide the best & worst months in 2023 provides info & tips to help you choose, plus our top 4 weeks. (Updated December 1, 2022.)
The last couple of years have been a veritable roller coaster of changes at Walt Disney World, upending most traditional crowd forecasting in the process. Seasonal events, school breaks, and more were cancelled, and travel plummeted. Now, things are returning to normal and, along with that, pent-up demand and changing visitor dynamics is once again making things interesting–and the parks much busier!
If you’ve yet to narrow down when you want to visit to a specific month or season, our 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars aren’t really going to help you. Accordingly, we recommend many readers consult this resource for the “broad strokes” on when to visit Walt Disney World. We’ve re-ranked the best and worst months for 2023 based on a variety of mostly qualitative and some quantitative factors. This considers a variety of variables in conjunction with our expectations about Walt Disney World’s attendance for 2023…
If you’re still in ‘wait and see’ mode, determining when to book a Walt Disney World vacation, one thing we’d recommend is following our regular updates from the parks and WDW news to track what’s happening and on the horizon–because a lot continues to change. This will certainly be less pronounced than in the last 2 years, but with Bob Iger now back in the CEO seat, more changes are likely on the horizon.
To that end, we regularly share big updates, discounts that are released by Walt Disney World, crowd levels change, etc., we send out email notifications. To receive these, subscribe to our free email newsletter. This will give you a good idea of what things are like ‘on the ground’ at Walt Disney World, as well as what to expect in the future.
These rankings eschew the typical Walt Disney World crowd calendar in favor of a more holistic approach that takes into account more than just crowds when choosing when to visit Walt Disney World.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney World crowd levels can vary, and can not be forecast with 100% accuracy. As such, you should choose when to visit based on other comfort and enjoyment factors in addition to Walt Disney World crowd projections. It’s more pragmatic to choose when you’ll visit based on a mix of attendance levels plus weather, seasonal entertainment, and special events!
Low crowds during a time when temperatures are sweltering, humidity is off the charts and there are no special events should not trump moderate crowds during a temperate time of year with a special event. Few people evaluate their vacation’s success by some statistical ‘fun quotient’, so why not do likewise when planning, and perform a qualitative analysis when choosing travel dates?
To cut to the chase, the point of this post is to rank every month of the year for visiting Walt Disney World in light of all variables that (we feel) are important with adjustments made for the ongoing reopening of the parks & resorts, operations scaling back up, capacity increasing, and entertainment returning.
Even months with significant and obvious downsides might have tremendous upside. Take August 2023, for example, which ranks #10. That’s obviously not great, but summer vacation demand usually fizzles out mid-month, making the second half of the month much better than the first half.
There are similar stories throughout the list. November and December have become progressively busier over the last several years, but these are such qualititatively pleasant and fun months that we’re hard pressed to rank them poorly even given the higher crowds than August or May. You’ll have to decide for yourself how you weigh those countervailing factors–we’re just giving you some insight into our thinking and methodology.
Anyway, here is our personal assessment of the best and worst months to visit Walt Disney World in 2023. We’d recommend reading the description of each month carefully to make an informed decision about which time frames are best and worst for you…
12. July 2023 – This month ranks dead last due to uncertainty and upside, or lack thereof. Last July was the busiest month of the year at Walt Disney World as the parks got hit by an onslaught of pent-up demand. That’s not normal–in recent years, summer had ceased to be peak season at Walt Disney World.
However, Americans made up for lost time during summer vacation in the last two years, and Florida was one of the top destinations. Last July wasn’t quite as busy, but that could be attributed to inflation and rising gas prices, etc. Obviously, a lot could change between now and July 2023, but we’re expecting above-average crowds.
The big reason behind the low ranking is that July is not a good month to visit Florida because of heat and humidity. The near-certainty of poor weather plus the uncertainty of heavy crowds puts July in last place. With that said, once you plan for the realities of a summer trip, remember: “even a rainy, potentially crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.” Don’t get too down on trip–it’ll still be a great time so long as you go in with good strategy and realistic expectations.
11. April 2023 – James Franco could make a sequel to Spring Breakers set at Walt Disney World, and it would make the events of the original film seem perfectly tame. Okay, maybe not, but that doesn’t change the fact that Spring Break at Walt Disney World is a time to be avoided if you can.
Given that Easter will be in April every year until 2024, it’s a month that we recommend avoiding if you don’t like long lines. The entire month will be above average, but the weeks abutting Easter will be DEFCON 1. You’d better have some fast fingers (and a fast internet connection!) when trying to book a Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog Dash!
The last two weeks of the month, April 2023 should improve considerably. Whether crowds drop by enough to move it higher on this list is debatable–but the point is that the back half of April is much better. If that were its own month, it’d rank on the top half of this list.
10. June 2023 – In a typical year, June starts out slow and gets progressively worse as more schools get out and families begin taking their summer vacations. Crowds start in above-average territory and are high by the end of the month. That’s not what happened this year (summer crowds peaked in mid-June), but our expectation for June 2023 is a return to that familiar pattern.
Another normal downside to June is the weather. Obviously, it’s a hot month, and the average monthly rainfall in June at Walt Disney World is over 8+ inches, and the probability of rain on any given day is above 50%. The upside to June is that it’s typically the less busy of the summer months, with most summer vacations happening in July or early August.
9. August 2023 – Feel like Mission: Space is insufficient at simulating a visit to outer space? Then you’ll love August in Walt Disney World, when every day feels like a veritable trip to Venus or Mercury! August sees the mercury rising in Central Florida, and that hot, humid, and rainy weather alone makes August among the worst months to visit.
August is qualitatively the worst month to visit Walt Disney World. Quantitatively, it’s harder to say. August marks the end of “Peak Season” ticket prices, meaning people who postponed their visits to save money will start heading to the parks. On top of that, Annual Passholder blockouts lift in August, causing a slight spike in locals.
However, summer vacation demand starts to burn out by the second week of August as families prepare to head back to school schedules. This results in an overall drop-off in attendance and there’s typically a large lull in crowds from mid-August through the end of September. On balance, August is a tale of two months–somewhat busy as vacation season winds down to start, but significantly better during the second half.
8. March 2023 – Early March is one of our “sleeper picks” for low crowds–and will be once again come March 2023 with Mardi Gras moving forward to February. Consequently, there should be a brief respite before spring break, but not long enough for March as a whole to rank too highly.
Spring break is the major downside to the second half of March, and what prevents the month from leapfrogging January and February. In particular, avoid Orange County’s spring break (March 10-19, 2023) as that’ll be the worst week-plus of the entire season, since that local school district has the most outsized impact on crowds.
On the plus side, weather is typically temperate by March, as evidenced by the start of Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival at the beginning of the month. Regardless of the year, we are fans of March dates as a great time for cool weather, moderate crowds, and Epcot coming into bloom.
7. February 2023 – For the last few years, February has seen high crowds at Walt Disney World–to the point that we no longer call them “atypically” high crowds. See Winter is Not Off-Season at Walt Disney World or the Most Crowded Month in Two Years at Walt Disney World, both of which break down what happened with winter wait times this year at Walt Disney World.
As of right now, the period around the Presidents’ Day holiday is still the busiest week of 2023 at Walt Disney World. It edged out all of summer, fall break, and even Thanksgiving. Aside from the week of Presidents’ Day, high crowds do not “naturally” happen in February–at least, not to this extent. The winter months of January and February are Florida’s off-season. However, Walt Disney World leverages special and sporting events to boost crowd numbers.
Whether January or February 2023 will be “better” really depends upon the week you choose. If you can avoid the dates around holidays, February is still a decent time to visit–it just sees overall crowd levels that are slightly elevated. The first week of February is definitely the best of both worlds, so if you’re planning a visit in February 2023, that’s the week to choose. (The last full week of February 2023 won’t be attractive since it’ll encompass both Mardi Gras and the Princess Half Marathon.)
6. October 2023 – For the last several years, October had been dropping. Thanks to a variety of holidays, school breaks, conventions, and other events, October had become one of the busiest months of the year at Walt Disney World in terms of average wait times before that. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party also throws a monkey wrench into Magic Kingdom attendance (but the upside is that it makes heavy crowds easier to predict and outsmart!).
Our expectation is that October 2023 marks a return to normal, as was more or less the case this year. That means some spikes around Columbus Day for fall break, with conventions and youth events also resulting in larger crowds. Other than that, the month is only slightly above average–albeit much worse than September.
Nevertheless, October remains attractive for its seasonal events at Epcot and Magic Kingdom and improving weather. We can’t recommend this month from the perspective of crowds alone, but it’s not a bad subjective choice when Halloween, Food & Wine, and more are added to the equation.
5. December 2023 – If Disney Vacation Club is the “Best Kept Secret,” the beginning of December being the best time to visit is “Disney’s Second Best Kept Secret.” Unfortunately, there’s just a pinch of sarcasm here. It’s as if the both ‘secrets’ were entrusted to Harvey Levin, and have been plastered everywhere.
The secret has gotten out about early December, and that coupled with Disney’s more strategic use of blockout dates and dynamic ticket pricing has shifted attendance somewhat. Crowds are still not as bad as other peak seasons, but it’s no longer the ghost town that it once was. We still view the first two weeks of the month as desirable times to visit, even despite being about as “secret” as the In-N-Out Secret Menu.
Pleasant weather plus Christmas decorations & entertainment are the big highlights here. It also helps that Pop Warner has moved to Universal, so that won’t contribute to crowds. If you can’t do mid-November, we think early to mid-December is still well worth it from a subjective perspective, even if that means 8/10 crowd levels. (As of our latest update, December has just started, so we don’t have crowd level data yet to assess, but we’re expecting this month to be above-average. This ranking might change if that’s wrong in either direction.)
4. May 2023 – The entirety of May 2023 will fall before summer tourist season and our expectation is that–after several months of consistently high crowds for one reason or another–May will be another return to normal as the calm between Spring Break and Summer 2023.
Even with the Memorial Day holiday weekend factored into the mix, crowds are typically below average in May. Most schools aren’t out of session this early, and there’s a lag between when kids get out of school and families take their big summer trips, anyway.
The main downside to May is that heat and humidity can really start intensifying in May, but still not as bad as the summer months that follow. However, May is the first month of the year during which it’s not uncommon to see the temperatures broach 90-degrees and the humidity reach high levels.
3. January 2023 – This is the “holiday hangover” at Walt Disney World. It’s sort of like Walt Disney World ate too many Christmas cookies and is too lazy to get off the couch and take down the decorations, with this mentality continuing long after the tree is dead to the point where its wife is embarrassed when it finally throws out the tree. (Not that I know from experience or anything.) On the plus side, January offers mild weather and the Epcot Festival of the Arts is fantastic.
January is the month that moves up most for our new 2023 rankings. When it comes to crowds, expect January 2023 to be a repeat of this year and 2020 before that…but to a much lesser extent. Which is to say, that January is a mixed bag but will generally have below average crowds.
This year, the month as a whole ended up being 5/10 on the crowd calendar, but that takes into account the busy post-holiday period before school goes back into session and the MLK Day holiday weekend. Most of the rest of January was much less busy. By contrast, February as a whole was a 9/10 on the crowd calendar. Big difference! We are expected slightly lower crowds in January 2023 across the board due to an exhaustion of pent-up demand and other variables. To be sure, it will NOT be like 2018 or earlier (so if that’s your frame of reference, prepare for disappointment), but it’ll be better than this year.
If you can avoid Orange County’s winter break, the MLK Day holiday, and 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon, January 2023 should be a great time to visit. Basically, target the first full week or any date starting January 22, 2023. Both of those windows should see fairly low crowds, with other weeks being moderate. No weeks in January are truly bonkers. On top of that, the weather is pleasant and Festival of the Arts is fun.
2. November 2023 – Save for Thanksgiving and Veterans Day weeks, neither of which are as bad as the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks in terms of crowds, November is similar to December. Early and mid-November are usually good times to visit Walt Disney World, and the week after Thanksgiving is exceptional.
The upside to November are that the weather is generally more temperate. The downside is that not all Christmas entertainment starts until after Thanksgiving (specifically at Epcot), and some resort hotel decorations are not up during the first half of the month. If that is make or break for you, visit in the last week of November 2023 (which technically also includes a couple days of December).
This is especially true since crowds have spiked significantly in December over the course of the last few years. So long as that remains true in ’22, November 2023 will retain it’s #2 ranking as an overall superior pick–again, so long as you about the aforementioned holiday weeks. Essentially, the 1st (partial), 3rd, and final weeks of November 2023 are all solid times to visit, whereas only the first week or so of December 2023 should be good.
1. September 2023 – Every single month that was once the off-season has seen soaring crowds at Walt Disney World in recent years, with one exception: September. Nothing has moved the needle on fall off-season crowds–not the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, not the anticipated pre-50th Anniversary lull, and not perpetual picks by crowd calendars that September would be the slowest month of the year.
When judged solely on the basis of crowds, September is always the best month of the year. Aside from Labor Day weekend, September is relatively slow, especially earlier in the month. While Walt Disney World has been able to manipulate crowd levels in other off-season months, that has not happened with September. After Labor Day, the entire month is off-season, with the lowest crowd levels of the year.
September remains resilient and “crowd-proof” because most people simply cannot visit during the month due to school going back into session, or don’t want to do so because of the weather. Speaking of which, heat and humidity make being outdoors unpleasant during September, and it’s a high point in the storm season.
Despite that, it’s absolutely worth bearing with the weather to take advantage of those low crowds. Yes, these rankings take a “qualitative” approach that should penalize the heat and storms, but those low crowd levels are too much to overlook. That’s doubly true when you consider the fact that prices are cheaper in September and events are held at EPCOT (Food & Wine Festival) and Magic Kingdom (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.) Even in the current era of unpredictable crowds, September 2023 should be relatively reliable.
The culmination of all of this? That our favorite week to visit Walt Disney World is the Sunday after Thanksgiving through the first Saturday of December. For next year, that means arriving on November 26, 2023. (You might actually consider arriving Saturday to make your first park day Sunday–this year that day was dead.)
That’s the sweet spot for the best prospects of good weather, moderate crowds, and experiencing all of the Christmas festivities. Note that crowds will not be low during this week. At best, you’re looking at numbers in the 7/10 range. If lower crowds are of paramount importance, instead target November 12-17, 2023. That week should be slightly less crowded and offer most Christmas entertainment, outside of Epcot.
Backtracking a bit, our next favorite time is during the second-to-last week in September 2023. This starts September 17, 2023 and capitalizes on the lower crowds of September while also increasing the odds of milder and hurricane-free weather. This also hits both Halloween and Food & Wine seasons.
Note that this recommendation is moved forward by a week as compared to this year. This shift should better avoid early fall breaks and holiday weekends, primarily in the Northeast. (Also worth mentioning that Hurricane Ian caused a closure during our favorite fall week this year, so you are running a risk visiting during storm season.)
Next, we’d do the last week of January and first week of February 2023 as our third choice. All dates after MLK Day in January and before Presidents’ Day weekend in February should be pretty good, but we view this as the sweet spot. There are no holidays, no runDisney events, and the 2023 EPCOT Festival of the Arts will likely be in its second week. Weather should be better than early January, but still mild and comfortable.
Even if winter crowds follow the elevated pattern of 2020 and 2022, this particular week still looks good and should see below average crowds. It should also be a far above-average qualitative time to visit, which counts for a lot.
For week #4, we’d look to late March 2023. Central Florida schools have their spring breaks mid-month (so arrive after March 19, 2023), and Easter falls on April 9, 2023. Going between the two should minimize crowd issues, and the likelihood that TRON Lightcycle Run is open.
If you’re a gambler, consider booking the first week of March 2023 (our normal top pick). There’s a decent chance TRON Lightcycle Run will be open by then (or at least in previews) and crowds will almost certainly be smaller. If you are not a gambler and want to hedge your bets, there’s a good chance Walt Disney World announces the official opening date for TRON Lightcycle Run by or before ABC’s Christmas Day “Parade.” So you might want to just wait until then before booking this last recommended date, as you could get burned by a week (or so) if you choose these dates and TRON Lightcycle Run actually ends up opening in early April 2023, which is a distinct possibility.
Ultimately, that’s a rundown of the good & bad of crowds at Walt Disney World. As you might’ve gathered by reading the entries, the various months don’t really demarcate attendance levels. To the contrary, it’s really more about school breaks and holidays, and the stretches before and after those.
Consequently, mid-January to mid-February is more of a distinct window than either January or February, late April has more in common with May than with early April, mid-August is more like September than early August, and the last few months of the year are all about holiday breaks (or the lack thereof).
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!
Do you agree or disagree with our 2023 Walt Disney World month by month rankings? Are there any months you think are better or worse than we have them ranked? Any specific ideal weeks that you’d recommend people visit Walt Disney World? Any questions? 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!