When it comes to the best time to visit Disney World, the month I’m asked about the least is January. That’s no surprise since most guests consider visiting Disney in the winter months over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day or plan to travel to the happiest place on earth during spring break season. But, January can be a great time to visit the Disney Parks and Resorts.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the basics you’ll need to know about visiting Disney World in January. This includes taking a look at the weather, resort promotions, holidays, special events, and other important factors that will help you decide if January is a good time for you and your family to visit.
Visiting Disney World in January can be an ideal time to visit for those looking to maximize their budget and experience low crowds. But, there can be some drawbacks to visiting during this month too. Let’s take a look at the basics to help you decide if January is a good month for you to visit or not. We’ll break down all the pros and cons by looking at the weather, resort promotions, special events and holidays, and crowd calendars.
The Weather in January
Generally, weather in Orlando can be unpredictable even during a specific season, like winter.
Average temperatures range throughout the month from the mid-70s but may drop into the mid-40s during chilly evenings. With this in mind, guests visiting Disney World in January will want to make sure that they have long-sleeve shirts, jackets, and jeans on hand, in case the weather is really cool.
Because of the cooler weather, many of the water-based attractions, like Splash Mountain, are usually under refurbishment during January. And, typically, at least one of the water parks (either Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon) will also be closed for refurbishment too.
Of course, you can still get your swimming fix at your resort pool. Because swimming isn’t quite as popular during this month, chances are you won’t have to worry about crowded pools or fully booked water activities.
Even though it’s winter, there is no snow during winter months in Central Florida. But you can expect potentially rainy days.
Still, if you’re not a fan of hot weather and high humidity, January can be a perfect month to visit. Just make sure to bring some cooler weather clothes especially for the mornings and evenings. And, prepare for the possibility of a rainy day or two.
Disney Resort Promotions
If you’re looking to visit Disney in January and get a great deal, you’re in luck. Guests interested in visiting will find some of the best deals and lowest prices for resort stays and packages throughout the month.
Early January will be at a premium due to the New Year’s holiday. But, most of the month will be considered value season. Disney’s Marathon Weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. weekend are two exceptions and will bring higher rates due to increased guest capacity and resort demand.
Generally though, for those guests considering visiting in January, you’ll find the rates some of the lowest of the year, throughout most of the month.
January Special Events and Holidays
January’s special events and holidays are a bit lower than some other months. In fact, I actually prefer visiting when there aren’t a lot of extra activities or holidays so that I can experience the parks without a special event or holiday decoration and just enjoy the park in its regular way.
If you are hoping to catch the last bit of the holiday season, some holiday decorations may still be up the first week of January. Though there aren’t as many holiday happenings and special experiences, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all that Disney has to offer and still enjoy magical moments. Here are a few special events and holidays that do take place in the month of January.
New Year’s Eve/Day: New Year’s Eve and Day are both extremely busy times to visit Disney. In fact, they have some of the highest attendance of the whole year, second only to the Christmas holiday. This means you’ll be experiencing extremely high wait times for attractions and heavily crowded theme parks that may even fill to capacity.Some of the most popular experiences during New Year’s Eve and Day are the fireworks shows. Epcot, in particular, offers New Year’s Eve festivities to guests throughout the World Showcase, in addition to the impressive fireworks show at midnight.
Holiday Celebrations at Disney World: Disney’s holiday season typically ends the first week of January. With this in mind, it’s not uncommon for many of the holiday decorations to still be up the first week of January.Typically, this doesn’t impact crowds, but it’s something to consider when choosing your vacation. This is especially true if you want to get a little holiday celebration in but don’t want to visit during the busy holiday season.
Disney Marathon Weekend: The Disney World Marathon Weekend is one of the biggest runDisney events throughout the year. The marathon weekend races began in 1994 and have become an extremely popular event, especially for those runners who are looking to qualify their running times for other races outside of Disney, like the Boston Marathon.Because it is such a popular event, expect higher than normal January crowds. You’ll see an increase in wait times and crowds overall.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: This U.S. federal holiday celebrating the life and achievements of Civil Rights movement leader, Martin Luther King Jr. is observed every January on the third Monday. Because it is a national holiday, schools in the U.S. may not be in session.This means that many families will travel to Disney, especially local Florida residents, during the long weekend. Depending on the timing, this holiday may coincide with the Disney Marathon Weekend, making the parks and resorts doubly crowded.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Epcot: New to Disney in 2017 is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. This special event highlights the art of entertainment, food, and visual arts.Like the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, guests can sample foods from various kiosks, enjoy Broadway style entertainment at the American Adventure Pavilion Theatre, and take art-inspired workshops. This may impact wait times and crowds in Epcot.
Each of these holidays and special events can affect crowds, wait times, advanced dining reservations, and Fastpass+ availability. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of these other factors you’ll want to consider when visiting the Disney Parks & Resorts in January.
January Crowd Calendars
Except during the holidays and Marathon Weekend, crowds in January are typically very low. Sites like Touring Plans and Easy WDW can show you some basic crowd calendar information, including historic crowd trends. Though no one site is going to give you the exact dates and times to visit, they can give you a good idea of when to visit in January. Let’s take a look at some of the busiest and least crowded times during the month of January.
Typically, the busiest times (aka the most crowded) in January include:
New Year’s Day: One of the busiest days of the year. New Year’s is usually one of the final vacation days for many guests visiting in the U.S. before school is back in session after the holiday break. Crowds and wait times will be high, but expect the crowd levels to quickly reduce in the first week once U.S. schools are back in session.
Disney’s Marathon Weekend: Starting on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to Marathon Weekend, crowds will begin to increase. Expect fairly high wait times and crowds throughout the weekend. If you are driving a vehicle during your vacation, expect potentially significant wait times in traffic due to road closures for the races held throughout the weekend. Disney complimentary bus transportation will also see increased wait times and travel times.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: This is a U.S. federal holiday, which means you will see an increase in crowds. Many local Florida residents choose to visit Disney World during the long holiday weekend, as Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January every year.Wait times and crowds will increase, but won’t be as bad as other holiday and special events days during the month of January.
The least crowded times in January include:
- Second Week of January: New Year’s Day is over and the Marathon Weekend may be over or held the next week, depending on the yearly event calendar. Crowds and wait times are very manageable. Resort rates will be under Value Season during this time.
- Fourth Week of January: This may be your best bet when visiting Disney in January. Most of the special events and holidays have passed and most U.S. schools won’t have school closures. This is the week with the best chance of low crowds, wait times, and lowest resort rates.
What Days of the Week Are Best?
Typically, weekends will be busier in January, especially with special events and holidays. Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts has typically been held on weekends only, which means the park will be much more crowded on weekends than weekdays.
Plan to visit Epcot on Tuesdays through Thursdays for the lowest crowds and wait times. Magic Kingdom should also be visited during the week, while Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are your best bets for weekend park touring.
Overall, January is a great month to visit the Disney Parks and Resorts, if you’re looking for the lowest wait times and crowds throughout the year. As a local, it’s one of my favorite times to visit for more relaxed park touring.
While the weather and some special events and holidays may impact your travel plans, generally, you’ll find January to be a pleasant time to visit. The second and fourth weeks of the month are best for optimizing your park time while getting the best vacation deals.
Of course, you’ll want to consider your own park touring and vacation preferences before you decide if January is the right time for a Disney vacation. But, no matter what, you’re bound to have a magical vacation at Disney World during the month of January.
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