By Monica Pinto

You’ve decided you’re going to Disney!  Yay!!!  How exciting!  Especially if it’s your first trip.  In this series, I’m walking you through the 1, 2, 3’s of planning your Disney trip.

Magic Kingdom Guests Kick Off a Monstrous Summer with 24 Hours of MagicStep 1 was deciding whether or not to use a travel agent.

So, now that you’ve tackled that, it’s time to make your biggest decision about your trip:  When will you travel?  

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  Now, say to yourself:

“I will not feel overwhelmed.  I will not get overwhelmed.  I will not be overwhelmed.”

Now, open your eyes.  Smile – you’re going to Disney!!!

Come on – let’s go through the 1, 2, 3’s of planning your Disney trip together.

Step 2:  Deciding When To Travel

Although the days of low attendance at Walt Disney World seem to be a thing of the past, there are still sometimes during the year that are less crowded.  Of course, everything depends on your personal timetable.

There are many websites that have crowd calendars that estimate the park crowd levels on any given week or day.  I personally like to look at these websites to figure out what works best for our family and peek at their crowd predictions for the coming year:
 (This one requires a subscription fee.)

If you don’t have school-age children, you may be more flexible as to when you can travel down to the World, which changes the landscape as far as pricing since Disney’s rates are seasonal.  This can also determine how long your trip will be, whether you can travel at a less crowded time, etc.  This is the optimal scenario, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have a fabulous trip if you are only able to travel during times that have higher crowds.

One rule of thumb in determining crowd levels is that, when school is out, there’s bound to be larger crowds at Disney World.  But, if that’s the only time you can travel, that’s okay – you’ll still have a wonderful time.  You just have to be aware of the fact that there will be a lot of people there and plan accordingly.  Besides, the bright side of that is, if you can’t do everything you’d like to do, that just means you’ll need to go back.  I’d start planning your next Disney vacation as soon as possible!

So, here we go…

It looks like January and February are mostly lower crowds.

Spring break seems to draw larger crowds and higher prices.

Our first family trip to the World in 2010 was the first week of May, which everyone told me was low crowds and nice weather.  Well, …it didn’t quite work out that way, but we made the most of it.  It seemed very crowded to me, and the weather was unseasonably hot.  A lot of the cast members we chatted with agreed, but we still had a wonderful time.

Our second trip to the World was in 2012.  We decided to go the last week in August, and the crowds were low.  It was super hot, but it was our best trip to date.  We went for nine days, and although we were visited by Hurricane Isaac for one of the days, but we truly had a wonderful time.  The hurricane didn’t really affect us too much – we only lost one morning to torrential rain, but that was okay since we were enjoying a longer trip, and we took the time to sleep in.  By that afternoon, the rain had stopped, and we went on to have a wonderful time at the parks.

Unfortunately, the following year, we were unable to travel the last week in August, so we scheduled our trip for the third week in August.  BAD mistake!  The parks were overly crowded, it was unbelievably hot and humid, and if I saw one more stroller, I was going to lose my mind!  It is truly unbelievable how one week can make such a difference.

Our last trip was this past November.  Prices were lower, and they tell me crowds were lower, although it didn’t feel that way to me.  The weather was absolutely crazy.  We went from warm to cold, to lots of rain, to the arctic freeze paying a visit for a few days.  But, the one great thing about that trip was that we got to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and I loved it.

Great events also make for wonderful trips.  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are something you may be interested in.  We loved the Christmas Party and look forward to being able to attend the Halloween Party at some point.  With a child in school, that becomes difficult, but we’ll hopefully be able to attend someday.  The Epcot International Flower And Garden Festival is beautiful.  We were lucky enough to enjoy that on our first trip, and it was amazing.  We loved seeing all of the beautiful topiaries.  We can’t forget the Epcot Food And Wine Festival which usually takes place from September through October.  What can be better than eating your way through the World Showcase?  We haven’t done that one yet either, but maybe one day…

And, if you’re a Star Wars fan, Star Wars Weekends in Hollywood Studios are usually from May through June.  So, again, something to consider.

Whatever time you decide to travel to Disney World, just base it on what works best for your family and know that you’re going to have a fabulous time regardless of your travel dates.

So, now that I’ve walked you through Step 2, let’s do this once more:

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  Now, say to yourself:

“I will not feel overwhelmed.  I will not get overwhelmed.  I will not be overwhelmed.”

Open your eyes.  Smile – you’re going to Disney!!!

Now, one step at a time, let’s continue planning your trip.

~ Monica

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Come along with me to celebrate and explore all things Disney from my perspective.