Disney World is a family vacation destination so articles that tell you the best way to have a good time at Disney is to go when school is in session and the crowds are low just aren't all that helpful. If you have kids, the odds are that you have to work around the kids' school schedule....just like everyone else. Sure, that means that there will be crowds during school breaks but we have some suggestions that will help you have a great time and manage crowds during school breaks.
Planning A Disney World Vacation
Because school breaks tend to fall along fairly predictable lines, the best advice we can give you is to book early - as soon as you get your updated school calendar is ideal. Because Disney's first offer is almost always their best offer, you'll also get the best discounts by booking early. Early planning is definitely the key to getting your first choices in resorts, room categories, and dining locations. Too late for that? Don't worry, we're seasoned professionals and we can help you whenever you're ready to start planning, just understand that short notice trips will require more flexibility and compromise.
Longer breaks like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break get the largest crowds of the year and require some special planning but there are some advantages that are worth considering.
Disney has long park hours during these times.
The temperatures are so much cooler than summer.
Thanksgiving & Christmas have great holiday events.
Disney tries to keep ride closures to a minimum.
Summer vacation is the longest break of all and that spreads the crowds out a bit though there is no denying that crowds are a factor from mid-June through mid-August, with the week of the 4th of July drawing the biggest crowds of the season. Heat and humidity are definitely a factor but warmer temperatures also enable you to enjoy the Disney water parks and hotel pools.
Shorter breaks and long weekends draw a surprising number of guests but, again, cooler temperatures or special events may make minor holidays like Presidents Day worth considering. Some families will take kids out of school for a couple of days on either side of a holiday weekend to make a longer trip but you may need to think through your child's overall academic performance, test schedules, and school policies when making a decision about missing school. Some schools will require your child to write a report on some academic aspect of their trip and Disney certainly have plenty of topics that apply here.
Teacher in-service days and conference days - Some states, like New Jersey, have consolidated their teacher in-service dates to the point that it makes a visible, though not intolerable, impact on Disney theme park attendance. Your school district may have days off that don't match up with every other school in America and those can be a golden opportunity to sneak in a Disney trip.
Dealing with Crowds
Yes, crowds may be an undeniable part of your Disney trip but that doesn't mean you have to just passively stumble along with the herd; there are steps you can take to stay ahead of the crowds and minimize lines.
Get a travel agent who specializes in Disney destinations. I know this sounds a bit self-serving but I believe in what I do. We eat, sleep and breathe all things Disney for just these circumstances. We can look at relative crowds levels for each day of your trip and help you avoid any scheduling pitfalls.
Get to the park at least 30 minutes prior to park opening. The first couple of hours are the least crowded so the early bird gets shorter lines. Why arrive so early? You have to go through security and they sometimes let people in prior to posted opening times.
Use a good theme park touring plan. I always use a touring plans, even if crowds are low, but they are absolutely indispensable during more crowded times. A good touring plan will easily reduce your line time by 3 hours per day. We provide two great options for theme park touring plans to every one of our clients at no extra cost and you can read more about that by clicking here.
Make good FastPass+ selections - you can now book up to three (3) FastPass+ reservations per day prior to arrival which saves a lot of time and extra walking in the park. If you can arrive at park opening, I recommend timing them for late morning or early afternoon. This lets you take advantage of the short standby lines when the park opens and saves the advantage of FastPass+ to where you need it most, when crowds are high.
Remember that you can book dining reservations 180 days (roughly 6 months) prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This means that, by the first day of school in most districts, dining can already be booked for Veterans Day weekend, Thanksgiving break, Christmas Break, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and Presidents Day weekend. Spring break dining reservations can be booked just weeks after Labor Day. By January, you can start making summer vacation plans. Guests with a package at an official Walt Disney World Resort hotel can book FastPass+ reservations 60 days prior to arrival - that's 30 days ahead of everyone else.
Why wait? Did you know that the deposit to secure your Walt Disney World Resort reservation is only $200 and is completely refundable up to 45 days prior to arrival? This means that you can lock in a room with no risk. We always have new discounts applied to our existing clients' qualifying reservations on the very first morning that a promotion is released so you don't even have to worry about watching for deals - once you book your trip, it's all taken care of for you.
Other Great Disney Destinations
Disney Cruise Line consistently ranks as the #1 choice in family cruises. Because they only have four ships, reservations go quickly for Christmas break, spring break, and many summer vacation cruises. The least expensive and most expensive staterooms are always the first to go. Booking early gives you plenty of time to secure passports and plan your excursions. Click here for a free, no-obligation cruise quote.
Adventures by Disney Tours are a fantastic option for special graduation trips. There are international and domestic itineraries available and booking now makes sure you get a spot on the tour of your choice. Learn more about this very special Disney product by clicking here.
Disneyland has two charming parks in California as well as easy access to beautiful beaches and other great area experiences. We'd love to help you plan a great California get-away.
Did you know that Disney has beautiful family resorts in Hawaii; Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Vero Beach, Florida? These resorts always fill during school breaks so you definitely want to book early.
Book your trip through Build A Better Mouse Trip and we'll make sure you get the best available price, expert advice, touring plans to help you avoid lines and have a wonderful vacation.
Remember that we are a Disney-focused, fee free travel agency. We book directly through Disney for your protection and so that you get every benefit that Disney has to offer. We want you to have a wonderful and memorable Disney vacation so you also receive these additional great benefits from us:
One travel agent who knows Disney in and out and who gets to know you and your priorities to work with you in every step of the trip planning process.
Expert answers and honest opinions to help you with resort, activity and restaurant selections.
We'll book Disney theme park dining reservations on your behalf - subject to availability.
Free expert mentoring sessions by phone to help you pick a great destination or for help with FASTPASS+ reservations and touring plans.
We're happy to answer any questions you have about Disney World, our services or these promotions.
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