Have you ever heard the term “Jersey Week” in reference to the Walt Disney World Resort? If you’re not familiar with what it is, you might think it’s something official on the Disney calendar (it’s not). Or, that it has to do with wearing a sports jersey or spirit jersey (it doesn’t). No, we’re talking about “Jersey” as in the state of New Jersey (my home state)! “Jersey Week” is definitely something you’ll want to be aware of if you are planning a November trip to Walt Disney World.
What is Jersey Week?
Jersey Week is a week in early November where the entire population of New Jersey cashes in their vacation days and descends upon central Florida, specifically the Orlando theme parks. I’m sort of kidding here, but not really. If you’ve traveled to Walt Disney World during this time, you may notice that a huge percentage of the Guests around you are, in fact, from New Jersey.
Why so many New Jerseyans, you ask? Schools in New Jersey are closed for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)’s Convention during the first week of November each year. The convention dates usually fall on the Thursday and Friday of the first full week of November. Some schools in the state close for just Thursday and Friday, while many others close for the entire week. Regardless of whether a district is closed for the full week or just the end of it, many New Jersey families take this as an opportunity to take their children to Walt Disney World. This is a great time for families with school-aged children to travel. Class time missed is minimized and families can still enjoy an entire week of vacation (with weekends on both ends, if they like). New Jersey educators are mostly limited to taking trips on school breaks, and this is one of the cooler weather breaks that’s available to teachers and school staff.
Depending on how the dates fall, Jersey Week can back right up against Halloween. This means that the last few days of Halloween season at Walt Disney World are pretty popular among travelers from New Jersey. On the other end of the week (again, depending on the dates) the break sometimes overlaps with the start of holiday festivities.
Related: Spooky Season Favorites on Disney+
How is the Weather?
The weather in Orlando in November is mostly pleasant, with average daily high temperatures in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. It’s certainly a welcome departure from the sweltering heat that you might feel if you schedule a Disney trip for the summer months. It’s still warm enough to swim at your Disney Resort, for the most part, but it’s definitely not hot. The typically favorable November weather definitely influences people to flock to Jersey Week!
Why Does Jersey Week Matter?
Booking Your Stay & Park Passes
If you’re trying to secure a Resort stay during Jersey Week at Disney, you may be surprised at how fully-booked this time period is. If you’re planning to travel in early November, it’s important to plan well in advance. Because the state of New Jersey has been closing schools during this week predictably for decades, it’s something that many families do annually. Even families who do not go every year can anticipate this school break years in advance. For those reasons, the Resorts do fill up quickly.
Once you purchase your Walt Disney World tickets, you’ll need to make your Park Pass Reservations. If you’re unfamiliar with the system, you’ll want to check out Disney’s official explanation of how the Park Pass Reservation System works. In short, the system requires that you pick a Disney Theme Park to visit each day. When you book your trip, you’ll want to decide how many days to devote to each Park. You can split days in half if you have a Park Hopper ticket, but you will have to select your morning Park and make a Park pass reservation for that day. Additionally, you can only hop to your next choice after a designated time (usually 2 pm). For example, families with children who have a 5-day Disney Park ticket may choose 2 Magic Kingdom Days, and 1 day each at EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Once you figure this out, plan those Park pass reservations early to guarantee that your choices are available.
Impact on Crowds
Jersey Week does seem to have an impact on the crowd levels, but it’s still nothing like visiting between Christmas and New Year’s Day or even a 3-day holiday weekend. However, Jersey Week does influence the crowd levels enough that you’ll notice moderate crowds – certainly more than you would see if New Jersey did not have this annual break. There are no guaranteed times to experience low crowds anymore, as Disney has strategically adjusted ticket pricing to encourage Guests to spread out their Disney trips.
Going to Walt Disney World during a slightly more crowded week is not necessarily a bad thing, because it means that Park hours are a bit more generous. While a winter trip can be ideal for its low crowds, you’ll also find that the Park may have more limited hours and more attractions closed for refurbishment.
Overlap with Special Events
Part of what makes Jersey Week feel crowded is the overlap that it has with other events that take place during this time. EPCOT‘s International Food and Wine Festival, possibly the most popular special event at Walt Disney World, definitely draws large crowds. Toward the end of the Food and Wine Festival you’ll also run into the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which typically falls at the end of Jersey Week. This year, you’ll also see the 50th Anniversary festivities!
Related: Happy 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World! 50 Reflections on Why Disney Has My Heart
Strategies for Navigating Jersey Week
If you’d like to minimize the impact that crowds (resulting from extra Guests, special events, and favorable weather) can have on your trip, then you might want to consider a few of these strategies:
- If you want to visit the Food and Wine Festival, consider doing so during the day. The crowds in the World Showcase at night can sometimes make it feel very claustrophobic.
- Avoid EPCOTt’s International Food and Wine Festival on the weekend, especially during Jersey Week! Runners from the runDisney races like to visit EPCOT after the events, which typically take place during the latter portion of this week.
- Take advantage of any early entry or extended evening hours that you are eligible for. Early Theme Park Entry allows on-site Guests entry into the Parks 30 minutes early each morning, while Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are a perk for Guests at Deluxe resorts that grant them post-closing access to some of the Parks on select nights.
- Rope drop whenever possible.
- This next suggestion is best done in conjunction with rope dropping: go to the most popular areas of the Parks first. You may want a picture in front of Cinderella Castle, but you can save that for later in the day. Stopping for a picture in the morning can mean a 15-minute longer wait for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
- Learn the ins and outs of Disney’s replacement to FastPass – Disney Genie. Weigh the costs/benefits of purchasing Disney Genie+ or even using Individual Lightning Lanes for attractions that have particularly long wait times.
- If you don’t have to travel during Jersey Week at WDW, consider scheduling your November trip in the 2nd or 3rd week of the month. While you may still see a bump in crowds for Veterans Day, that pales in comparison to waiting for Thanksgiving week.
- Avoid believing every stereotype you hear about New Jersey’s residents. We don’t all have “Joisy” accents and most of us bear no resemblance to Snookie from “Jersey Shore”.
Bonus Tips for New Jerseyans
In addition to the previous tips about navigating Jersey Week, here are some special bonus tips for actual New Jerseyans heading to Walt Disney World for Jersey Week.
- You will see your boss on your vacation. If seeing your boss will take the magic out of the Magic Kingdom, consider traveling there during a different week.
- Teachers: I know you’re trying to take a break from the real world to go see Mickey Mouse, but you’re equally likely to see one of your students and their parents.
- You may settle into your Doom Buggy in the Haunted Mansion, only to gaze across the room past Madame Leota’s floating head and see the face of a colleague. Hopefully it’s a coworker that you like. If not, make a strategic beeline into the Memento Mori shop after the ride and hope they pass by.
- Behave yourself. This is an opportunity to show the rest of the Disney Guests that New Jerseyans are not like the cast of “Jersey Shore”. It’s our moment to prove just how magical we truly are and break down all of those unfair and mostly unwarranted Jersey stereotypes.
- You can always take a page out of my book and spend your Jersey Week elsewhere, like Disneyland Resort, which also has festive holiday offerings for both Halloween and Christmas, as well as gorgeous weather!
Related: Find Tricks, Treats, and Halloween Specials at Disneyland Resort Hotels This Fall
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What’s the Verdict? Is Jersey Week a Good Time to Visit WDW?
Choosing the “right” time for your family to visit Walt Disney World really depends on your priorities. (See related: The 4 Best and 4 Worst Times to Travel to Disney) If you’re looking to avoid the overwhelming summer heat and are hesitant to take your kids out of school, then Jersey Week is a wonderful time to visit the theme parks. There’s no reason to avoid the week if it’s best for your schedule, especially if you follow our tips for avoiding crowds. As every Disney Fanatic knows, there’s no bad day to soak up the Disney magic in the most magical place on Earth!
Related: 10 School Holidays When Disney World Parks Get Super Busy!
Have you experienced Jersey Week at the Walt Disney World Resort? Did you feel like it was a great time to be at the Disney Parks? We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page!