Traveling to Walt Disney World in the winter can be tricky! Though it’s often talked about as one of the lower crowd times to go, this year has proven to be quite different than we’ve seen at Disney in the past during the winter. Not only that, but the weather can be very unpredictable. Here are our best tips for traveling to Disney World in the winter!
- 1 Disney World in Winter
- 2 Know what to pack for Disney in the Winter
- 3 Arrive to the Parks early to beat the Crowds
- 5 Stay late to avoid the crowds in the winter at Disney World
- 7 Take Advantage of Extended Evening Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests
- 9 Rope Drop your Favorite Food Booths at Festival of the Arts
- 10 Take Breaks to Warm Up
Disney World in Winter
Walt Disney World in winter is interesting. That’s for sure. Winter doesn’t last too long in Orlando. But if you’re traveling during the months of December, January or February, it’s important to know how the cooler weather can affect your trip.
As a girl from Ohio, you would think I would be able to handle Florida cold. But let me tell you, colder weather in Florida is just different. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the humidity. But as someone who can stand being outside in 30-degree weather with only a sweatshirt at home, when it hits 50 in Orlando, I am freezing. And the cold weather affects a lot more than you might think. It affects when people are at the parks, what you should pack and which rides may have longer or shorter waits than usual.
Here are some of our best tips for managing a winter trip to Disney World.
Know what to pack for Disney in the Winter
Need a cozy winter packing list for Disney World? We’ve got you covered. Being prepared for the weather will make your trip more enjoyable, and let’s be honest, less expensive. Disney knows that many people are unprepared for the varying weather than can come in the winter in Central Florida. So, they keep their coziest sweatshirts, sweatpants and jackets on racks near the front of the store. And since these sweatshirts usually range from $60-$80, being underprepared can make a big dent in your Disney budget.
Now, if you’re planning to buy something warm while on your trip anyway, just be sure to budget in for the high cost of a Disney souvenir like that. Otherwise, be sure to pack enough warm things that you won’t be tempted.
Outside of layers and cool weather gear, it is very important that you still pack a rain jacket or poncho. Many people seem to forget that it does still rain in Orlando in the winter months. And they leave the ponchos at home. Don’t do this. It’s central Florida. It can rain anytime! We have been going to Disney in January for a while now, and it always rains, at least once.
Arrive to the Parks early to beat the Crowds
Though this is always a good strategy, but it’s especially a good one in the winter! When it’s very cold, think around the 50s or so for Disney World, guests tend to arrive a little later than they usually would. Probably because, well, it’s cold. Many people don’t want to be lugging around their packable winter puffers all day and will wait until it’s just slightly warmer to head out to the parks. Taking advantage of extra morning hours if you’re staying on Disney property is a great way to get a head start.
We have seen ride wait times change dramatically once the temps start to rise even just a few degrees. And even if you’re not staying on property, arriving as early as you’re able to can help you get on a few rides before the crowds start rolling in.
Now this is not to say that mornings are empty. But the weather does play a part for when people are up and at ’em. So, if it’s a chillier morning, bundle up and get as much done as you can in the earliest part of the day.
Stay late to avoid the crowds in the winter at Disney World
The same idea goes for staying later. As the sun goes down, it will start to get colder, and many people will begin their journey home or back to their resort. This is one reason why Disney sets their Happily Ever After fireworks show at Magic Kingdom to 8pm during the winter rather than 9pm, even when the parks are open later. They know many families will want to leave earlier because of the cold.
The only park this doesn’t work for is Animal Kingdom, because the park closes so early in the winter to begin with. With closing times of 5pm or 6pm throughout the winter months, it’s usually not cold enough for people to give up and go home at that point.
Take Advantage of Extended Evening Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests
Extended Evening Hours is available to Deluxe Resort Guests at random times throughout the year. If you’re able to stay out later, say until 11pm or so, this can really be a benefit worthwhile. We’ve heard of reports during the warmest months of the year of it being more crowded during these hours. However, in the winter, this is the perfect opportunity for low ride wait times at Disney World.
And if you’ve been trying to get a virtual queue for either TRON or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, deluxe resort guests get an extra opportunity to get these queues at 6pm. And if you’re quick enough to get a boarding group, the line once your boarding group has been called is a lot shorter than if you would have visited during the day.
Rope Drop your Favorite Food Booths at Festival of the Arts
Does this sound silly? Maybe. But when crowds are high, the lines for the food booths at festivals can take away a ton of your precious Disney time. We’re not talking like ten minutes. Try more like 30-45 minutes. Each. So, if you have a favorite booth that you’ve been wanting to try, but the line always seems so long, try to “rope drop” it! The booths open up at 11am, so this is one rope dropping scenario that you don’t even have to get up early for.
Take Breaks to Warm Up
Breaks are essential at Walt Disney World. Between the walking, crowds and general overstimulation, we always think breaks are a good idea. Some of the easiest breaks to take are those on longer indoor rides, or by resort hopping to resorts close by. Regardless of where you decide to take a break, when it gets really cold, plan to have some down time to warm up and reset.
Hopefully this post has helped you plan for a winter trip to Disney! Winter is a great time to visit Disney World for the mild weather, Festival of the Arts and so much more.
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .