Perhaps you’re considering visiting Walt Disney World during a convenient time for your family, and it happens to fall during one of the peak travel seasons for the parks. Have no fear! While there are certainly subjectively “better” times to visit, you’ll still have a great time. However, you’ll want to be well-informed of some factors before you pack your bags and head to the most magical place on Earth. Here are 10 things you might not know about visiting Walt Disney World during peak season, especially if you are a first-time visitor.
10. “Peak Season” refers to many parts of the year
There isn’t just one peak travel time at Walt Disney World. The summer months are certainly some of the busiest; June, July, and the first half of August, specifically. Other peak times include holidays, such as President’s Day weekend. The Spring break period spans several weeks, usually the month of March through early April. Easter weeks (both preceding and following the holiday) are extremely busy. Thanksgiving week, as well as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, is also peak park attendance periods. Special events also increase park attendance, though some of them actually occur during less busy times of the year (such as the Food and Wine Festival).
9. It’s more expensive to stay on property during peak season
You probably aren’t terribly surprised to learn that Disney charges more during the peak season. While Disney does not change park ticket prices, your resort will certainly cost more during in-demand travel seasons. The concept of supply and demand is alive and well when it comes to travelling just about anywhere; resorts can charge more for the times when droves of people want to visit.
8. You can have a “split stay”
As mentioned above, resort room prices peak when the demand for them is high, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay at the resort of your dreams. If you’re just dying to stay at a certain deluxe resort, consider setting up a “split stay.” You can stay for one or two nights in your dream location, and plan to spend the rest of your trip at a more affordable resort. A magical, complimentary perk- Disney will move your luggage between resorts if you decide to do this. Just pack your bags before you head out to the parks in the morning and they will be transferred while you are out. Of course, this only applies when switching between Disney resorts.
7. There are still some discounts to be had
Despite it being one of the most crowded times to visit, there are actually some resort discounts to be had during the summer months. Disney often runs a promotion which boasts “up to 30% off your stay.” Can you guess which resorts have the 30% discount? It’s the deluxe resorts, which are the priciest. Even though the parks are the most crowded in the summer, most guests are not reserving the deluxe accommodations, so Disney chooses to discount them in order to fill all the rooms. This means that peak season can sometimes be a good time to try out the deluxe resort you’ve been hoping to stay in.
6. Seasonal menu price changes
Ooh, doesn’t a “seasonal menu” sound magical? Unfortunately, in this case the only thing that changes on the seasonal menus is the prices. When travelling during peak season, you can expect to pay a few dollars more per meal. The prices of character meals, fixed-price buffets, and sit down meals are all subject to seasonal pricing.
5. Bigger crowds = longer lines
This one is probably common sense, but many people may not realize just how much park attendance varies based on the time of year. The unfortunate part about peak season is that many guests will end up paying more and doing less, because the increase in crowds translates to longer wait times for attractions. However, if you are a plan-ahead type traveler, longer lines will not necessarily put a damper on your trip if you use some park-touring strategy (we’ll get to that soon!).
4. Advance Dining Reservations are critical
If you want to eat at an in-demand, table-service venue, that is. Most guests travelling to Walt Disney World agree that dining is a big part of the experience, and planning a few special meals will really enhance your trip. Using the My Disney Experience app and website, you’ll have the opportunity to book your reservations up to 180 days in advance of your travel date. Take advantage of this, because scoring the most sought-after reservations (like dinner at Be Our Guest), especially during peak travel periods, requires an extremely early reservation.
3. You must use FastPass+
Unless you want to wait in lines of epic length for your favorite attractions, you will definitely want to take full advantage of reserving your FastPass+ selections in advance. During peak season, you will not be able to reserve popular attractions and times in the park; it simply must be done in advance if you want to avoid waiting in line. Schedule your FastPass+ times for later in the day, when lines are longer. Consider choosing FastPass options in the park where you have a dinner reservation. Spend your morning hours visiting other attractions that you did not use your FastPass selections on.
2. Having a strategy will make all the difference!
The basic key to success for touring the parks during very high crowd volume times is this: arrive before the park opens, so you’re among the first there when the gates open, ride the most popular attractions early in the day, and use Fast Passes if you are going to arrive later or to ride other popular favorites later in the day. You may also want to leave the park mid-day for a break; this is also when the parks are at their most crowded. Mid-day is a great time to enjoy the pool, visit Downtown Disney, explore the resorts, or have a meal reservation.
1. You can still have an absolutely fabulous time at peak season!
While the advice about visiting during peak season might seem overwhelming, you can be assured that with a reasonable amount of knowledge and planning, you will be well-equipped to take full advantage of your time in the parks no matter when you visit. You will have a great time on your trip, even if it seems like there a million other people there with you! With just a bit of a strategy, you’ll have a leg up on most of the people in the parks who show up without plans. Remember to enjoy the magic around you and soak it all in!
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