So you want to plan a trip to Walt Disney World? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Inside the Magic has got you covered with our 2020 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar, a guide to the best times to go to Disney World in 2020. Our Crowd Calendar is full of tips and tricks for planning your 2020 Disney World vacation, from beating the crowds to saving the most money while on your trip.
Our crowd calendar is a super helpful tool when planning a trip to Walt Disney World, but there’s truly nothing like enlisting the help of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. While you can use our Disney World Crowd Calendar to help you decide when to book your trip, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at Academy Travel can help you with so much more. They can help determine when you should visit Walt Disney World based on your interests, schedule, budget, and more. And best of all — their services come at no extra cost to you! Click here for a free, no-obligation vacation quote from Academy Travel.
Now let’s jump into the Disney World Crowd Calendar: What is it, and how can you use it to your advantage?
What is the Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar?
Walt Disney World is massive! With four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two waterparks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park), Disney Springs, mini-golf, dozens of resort hotels, and so much more — it can feel overwhelming to plan a trip! When is the best time to go? When is the least crowded time to go? When is the cheapest time to go? We’ll answer all those questions and more!
The Inside the Magic Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar is a calendar that shows the low, moderate, and high crowd levels at the Walt Disney World Resort throughout the year. It allows anyone the ability to take a look at the predicted crowd levels at the Disney Parks in order to help determine which time of year to visit. While we always say that there’s never a wrong time to take a Disney vacation, often a crowd calendar can help you narrow down your travel dates.
Our crowd calendar is organized by green, yellow, and red colors: green indicates the lowest crowds, yellow indicates moderate crowds, and red indicates the highest crowds. Keep in mind that while we adjust our crowd calendar throughout the year to make our predictions as accurate as possible, there is no crowd calendar that is 100% correct, as they are all meant to be helpful predictions of crowd levels.
How can crowds affect your Disney vacation?
Because a majority of guests visiting Walt Disney World are not locals or Annual Passholders, but instead are vacationers, the crowdedness of the theme parks can depend highly on the seasonal events and school schedule.
Visitors who are only able to vacation at Walt Disney World once a year (or perhaps once in a lifetime) often highly prioritize booking the must-do attractions and must-eat restaurants, like Frozen Ever After, Flight of Passage, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. This can make reserving FastPass+ and dining difficult, and it can increase the queues at most of the rides and restaurants in the theme parks. Visiting Walt Disney World during busy seasons can add stress to your vacation because you may not be able to accomplish everything you want to.
During a low season, guests will likely find shorter queues (and lower wait times), decreased park hours, and overall less crowded and easier to navigate parks. During a busy season, queues and wait times are typically much longer, the parks are more difficult to navigate, the parks are often open longer, there are often more entertainment showtimes available. During a moderate season, the theme parks feel somewhat in the middle, and you don’t really know what you could get on any given park day.
Walt Disney World Resort crowd levels are often dependent upon the school schedule, groups visiting for national competitions (like dance and cheerleading), special events and festivals, and holidays. Knowing that the busy seasons lead to less available dining reservations, longer ride wait times, and often difficult-to-navigate theme parks, you may be inclined to research the times of year that attract the lowest crowds at Walt Disney World.
What to consider when planning a 2020 Walt Disney World vacation?
2020 will bring plenty of new experiences, attractions, shows, and more to the Walt Disney World Resort, but it will also mark the return of old favorites we know and love from years past. No matter what time of year you visit Disney, you’ll get to experience the magic of the Disney theme parks, Extra Magic Hours if you’re staying on property at a Disney Resort hotel (or a Disney Springs Resort area hotel, or other hotels that are considered Official Walt Disney World Resort Hotels even if they’re not owned by Disney), the option to add amenities like the Disney Dining Plan or Memory Maker to your trip, fantastic dining experiences and tours you can add to your reservation, and so much more.
But when you visit Disney during certain times of the year in 2020, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience new and returning events and attractions. Below we have included a list of some of the seasonal events returning in 2020 as well as new attractions, shows, and experiences coming this year.
Seasonal events in 2020 will include the following:
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom: This separately ticketed event occurs on select nights at Magic Kingdom throughout August, September, and October in celebration of Halloween. It allows guests of all ages to get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up and enjoying unlimited trick or treating, stage and fireworks shows, a parade, attraction overlays, special seasonal treats, and so much more.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom: This separately ticketed event occurs on select nights at Magic Kingdom throughout November and December in celebration of the Christmas season. It allows guests of all ages to enjoy unlimited holiday cookies and beverages, stage and fireworks shows, a parade, attraction overlays, special seasonal treats, and so much more.
- Epcot International Festival of the Arts: This seasonal festival at Epcot costs no extra money to attend and is included with your theme park admission. It is a celebration of art, entertainment, and food and is the newest of the Epcot festivals featuring artistic culinary offerings, performances, and hands-on experiences for all ages. The festival takes place from January 17 to February 24, 2020.
- Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: If you’re familiar with the stunning florals and topiaries all throughout Epcot, those can only be seen during the Flower & Garden Festival, which takes place from March 4 through June 1, 2020. The festival features gorgeous gardens, fun concerts, delicious food, and more.
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival: The Food & Wine Festival returns every year in the fall and brings some of the most delicious food and beverages Walt Disney World has to offer, not to mention incredible entertainment! This is by far one of the most popular times to visit Walt Disney World, but for good reason.
- Epcot International Festival of the Holidays: Even though the holidays at Walt Disney World typically kick-off at the beginning of November, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays doesn’t start until the end of November, but it’s worth the wait. You can try holiday foods from different countries around the World Showcase and even watch the Candlelight Processional and other amazing holiday-themed performances.
- runDisney marathon and half-marathon weekends:
New attractions, shows, and experiences in 2020 will include the following:
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, March 4, 2020: Based on the recent award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a brand-new attraction unique to Walt Disney World Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios—and the first ride at any Disney park that stars Mickey Mouse and friends.
- Harmonious, the all-new Epcot fireworks show, debuting sometime in 2020: We don’t know much about the new fireworks show that will debut after Epcot Forever ends its limited-time run, but we do know that it will be pretty amazing. Once the official debut date is revealed, we will include it in this post.
- New restaurants opening up in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the American Adventure at Epcot’s World Showcase, and Future World in Epcot: We are so excited for Roundup Rodeo BBQ to open up as the first table-service restaurant in Toy Story Land. The American Adventure is also getting a new and improved quick-service restaurant. and Space 220 — the space-themed restaurant coming to Epcot — is sure to be out of this world.
What is the cheapest time to go to Disney World?
So you want to save money on a Disney trip? We’ve got you covered! While there is no for-sure “cheapest” time to visit Disney, there are some factors that can help you save money when booking your vacation. Here are our tips.
Keep in mind that the prices for Disney Resort hotels and Disney Parks tickets fluctuate seasonally depending on whether it’s considered a peak, regular, or value season to travel to Disney World. In addition to the price of vacation packages varying season to season, month to month, or even week to week, you can get a fantastic deal on your Walt Disney World vacation if you pay attention to the special offers at Disney announces throughout the year. Depending on the time you book, you can often save big on your hotel or even get a free dining plan!
There is no for-sure answer for the exact cheapest time to go to Walt Disney World, so we suggest finding the dates that work best for you and your family, putting down your $200 deposit for a vacation package, and then keeping your eyes peeled on the special offers section of the Disney World website for when Disney releases their travel deals. Booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help take this stress away since they will often catch word of awesome vacation deals before the public and can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
To give you an idea of some less expensive times to travel to Disney World, below are some examples of 2020 special offers.
Walt Disney World 2020 vacation special offers
- Give the Gift of a Magical Stay at a Disney Resort Hotel: Surprise your loved ones with a memorable getaway! With the help of this merry offer, you can save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels―valid for stays most nights January 1 through April 25, 2020 when you book by January 1, 2020.
- Purchase a Package, Get a FREE Dining Plan for Kids: Get a FREE dining plan for kids (ages 3 to 9) when you buy a non-discounted 3-night/3-day package for you and the kid(s) that includes a room at a select Disney Value Resort hotel, theme park tickets and a dining plan, when you book by January 1, 2020.
- Explore All 4 Theme Parks with a 4-Park Magic Ticket: Get a taste of new and iconic experiences at all 4 Walt Disney World theme parks with the 4-Park Magic Ticket—4 days from $89 per day (from $356 total), plus tax, when you book by September 30, 2020.
- Passholders Spring into 2020 Room Offer: Save up to 35% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels in early 2020 when you book through April 25, 2020.
What is the best overall time to go to Walt Disney World?
Overall, the best times to go to Walt Disney World in 2020 — considering crowd levels, seasonal events, new attractions and shows, and possible money-saving deals — are…
- January 13-16, January 27-February 13: The beginning of the year marks a fresh start. No more holiday decorations throughout the parks and minimal crowd levels as school is back in session and most families won’t be traveling during this time. You will also get to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Arts between the end of January through February. Additionally, the beginning of the year tends to bring some amazing travel deals so you can save big on your Disney Resort hotel stay.
- February 25-March 3: Late winter tends to bring that mild Florida weather that we all love. Soak up the parks in their low-crowd glory! Plus, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival makes its 2020 debut during the first week of March.
- The second half of August: The entire spring and early-mid summer season can feel intensely crowded at Walt Disney World lately, so if you’re not visiting at the beginning of 2020, opt for a second-half-of-August visit. By the end of the month you’ll be able to catch the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival as well as the first nights of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
- Most of September: Continue celebrating Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort after most kids are back in school for the fall. Also, Food and Wine is in full swing, and even though the weather can still be pretty hot, it’s not nearly as bad as in June or July. The fall also has a history of bringing even more travel deals, such as the option to save big on your hotel or get free dining. This is never a guarantee, but something to keep in mind for sure.
- Weekdays in October: Even milder weather tends to greet October travelers, and as long as you’re hitting the parks on the weekdays, you shouldn’t have to brave heavy crowds.
- Weekdays in November (besides Thanksgiving week): Catch the end of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival before it switches over to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Plus, holiday decorations begin popping up all throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Springs, and Disney Resort hotels in November, and you can even visit for the first few nights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom.
- Weekdays in December (besides the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve): The weeks of Christmas and New Years are almost guaranteed to be crowded. This is the busiest, most magical time of the year, after all! But as long as you plan to hit the parks on the weekdays, you shouldn’t have much to stress about. It will still be crowded, but not nearly as bad as on the weekends. And isn’t Christmas cheer enough persuasion for traveling to Disney?
Walt Disney World 2020 Crowd Calendar
Walt Disney World Trip Planning FAQs
How can I avoid crowds at Disney World?
When it comes to planning a trip to Disney, one thing that pretty much every first-timer wants to know is how to avoid crowds. There are some seasons that are less crowded and some that are more crowded, as we’ve shared above, but if you can only visit during peak seasons like the middle of summer or Christmas vacation, here are some tips for avoiding crowds as much as possible.
First, we highly recommend using the My Disney Experience app. This will allow you to check park hours, wait times, and even order food straight from your phone. It’s available in the app store for your iPhone or Android device and it will be a lifesaver while on vacation. We, of course, recommend downloading the app before you arrive at Disney property.
Secondly, we recommend taking advantage of amenities like Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+. These luxuries are free for Disney Resort hotel guests and will help you not only stay organized and have a plan for your trip but also avoid crowds and waiting in long lines.
What are Extra Magic Hours?
Extra Magic Hours are extra hours offered for Disney Resort hotel guests — those staying in Disney-owned hotels or those staying in Disney-affiliated hotels. During the magic hours, guests have the opportunity to visit a Disney theme park either in the morning before the park opens to the public or in the evening after the park closes to the public, depending on when the magic hours are offered. Extra Magic Hours are free of charge.
These magic hours can help you avoid crowds because they are only open to Disney hotel guests and not to the public, so anyone just taking a day trip to Disney or staying off-property cannot enter the park during Extra Magic Hours. This means the park is much less crowded than it would be in the middle of the day, for example.
Our tip for utilizing Extra Magic Hours (particularly the morning magic hours) is to arrive at the park before the Extra Magic Hours start in the morning. Then, take advantage of all of the open attractions and experiences during that time. Continue to hang around the park after the park opens to the public, but then either go back to your resort for a mid-day break or park hop to another Disney theme park (which will probably be less crowded since most Disney hotel guests will be visiting the park that offers the Extra Magic Hours on that day).
What is FastPass+?
FastPass+ is a game-changer when it comes to crowds because it allows you to avoid waiting in long lines. Seasoned Disney World visitors hardly ever wait in lines longer than 20 minutes, and it’s because of FastPass+. If you are staying in a Disney-owned hotel or a hotel affiliated with Disney, you get to reserve three FastPasses per person, per day, up to 60 days in advance. So if you book your FastPasses 60 days in advance right when you’re able to, you can often snag those hard-to-book attractions like Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Frozen Ever After at Epcot, Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, and more.
FastPass+ will allow you to head to an attraction during a designated one-hour window and wait in a much shorter line (or no line at all!). You can also continue to book more FastPasses after you have used the ones you booked in advance. You can read our first-timer’s guide to FastPass+ here, or chat with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, who can book your FastPass+ reservations, dining reservations, and so much more.