As you plan your vacation to Disney World, you will need to keep in mind many different circumstances that can greatly impact your day. And chief among them is crowd levels. And if you’re interested in visiting Walt Disney World in the month of May, you should know that May is a month of mild weather (for Florida, at least), light crowds, and an overall lively park experience.
In this article, I will highlight all of the things you need to know about visiting Disney World in May and how to make the most of the experience, including expected crowds, how best to anticipate the weather during your vacation, special events, and how to enjoy Disney World beyond the four main parks.
Let’s first begin by discussing what you can expect in terms of crowds in May.
Anyone who has stood in a two-hour queue to get on a two-minute ride, or walked around a quick service restaurant in circles trying to find a table, knows that crowd sizes greatly impact your park experience. Those two hours spent in the ride queue are two hours lost from experiencing the magic of the parks.
As such, keeping expected crowds in mind when planning your vacation is pivotal, and thankfully, May is an excellent month to choose.
Most of the month of May experiences very light crowds, as spring break is all over and children are just finishing school up. This is usually the last calm month before the summer storm of very high crowd volumes that typically begins in June.
Therefore, if you want to go to Disney World in May, try to schedule your trip at either the very beginning or middle of the month to optimize your experience.
Cheerleading competitions often happen around May 5th, increasing crowds a bit, and Memorial Day weekend at the end of May is what really starts the summer madness. The middle of May is an excellent sweet spot with regards to navigating crowds.
However, even a light-crowd day at Disney can see long attraction lines. FastPass rules at Disney change all the time, but they can usually be booked in advance of your trip if you are staying on Disney property. Make sure you book these passes for the most popular attractions at any given park.
For example, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and It’s A Small World are Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions known to fill up fast. Make these the first rides you go to when the park opens and select your FastPasses accordingly.
Popular meet-and-greets fill up fast too, especially those involving Disney World princesses, so if you have a little one eager to meet her favorites, it is always best to use a FastPass for these. The current popular attractions do change as rides are updated and added, so be sure to do some research before making your selections.
Below, check out a Vlog uploaded to YouTube that show what a day at Disney World in May is really like:
May is the beginning of the infamous hot summers experienced in central Florida. During the hottest parts of the day, humidity is high and temperatures average in the high 80s. Unlike the deeper summer months, things do cool down to the mid-60s as the sun starts to set.
-Dress for the heat and pack a cardigan
Dress for the heat however you are comfortable: shorts, tank tops, dresses, etc. Then, bring a light cardigan or flannel shirt for when the weather cools down. You can tie it around your waist during the day or pack it in a bag. It will also be helpful to sit on during a parade to protect your skin from the baked concrete sidewalks.
Even if you do not usually wear sunscreen, you will need it. Spending all day in this kind of sun with no protection is bad for your skin and can cause painful sunburns that will make the rest of your trip much less bearable. Include some in your day bag for reapplication in the parks.
-Sunglasses, a hat, and a battery powered fan
These easy, obvious additions keep the sun out of your face, making the walks to different attractions less grueling. For added fun, you can find Disney themed items to really embrace the magic. Buying these items in the parks will always be more expensive, so be sure to pack them in advance!
Preparing for this weather, especially for out-of-town tourists who are not used to coping with heat, can be tricky. To best navigate the heat, I suggest including the following in your Disney World planning:
-Plan indoor attractions during the midday heat
As you plan your tour around the parks, keep the heat in mind. You do not want to walk from one corner of the park to another at the hottest part of the afternoon, and indoor rides and attractions will be the best bet.
For example, when at Hollywood Studios, try to schedule a FastPass for an indoor attraction like Toy Story Mania for this time, or spend it getting lunch at PizzieRizzo in Muppets Courtyard and then seeing the lovely indoor attraction Muppet Vision 3D.
If your trip is long enough, you may even want to consider heading back to the hotel when things get hot to enjoy a dip in the pool or nice afternoon nap and then return to the park in the cooler evenings.
Either way, try to stay inside during these hours.
Water is always important, but it becomes even more important when you will be on your feet a lot in this kind of heat. I always bring a water bottle with me and fill up at fountains throughout the park, but any restaurant you pass should be able to give you a free cup of water. Take advantage of this and keep your body hydrated to avoid letting an illness ruin your fun.
The best thing about going to Disney World in May, in my humble opinion, is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. This is an annual tradition that fills the park with a gorgeous celebration of spring. Hedges are cut into beautiful displays of our favorite Disney creatures, the park is scattered with topiaries featuring a wide variety of flowers and plants, and wildlife exhibits, such as a butterfly house, are common. The festival is included in your park admission, though certain associated special events might cost extra. Details of demonstrations, how-to seminars, and specific topiaries vary each year, but I have never been disappointed with a Flower & Garden experience.
Planning Your Days
May is an exciting time to enjoy a Disney theme park, but there are always options and opportunities to make the most of your vacation. When picking your specific day of arrival, ideally after the annual cheerleading competition but before Memorial Day, try planning your park days to be mid-week.
This is almost always a good idea for Disney days, as weekends are typically more crowded. This is especially true in May as the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is known to attract decent weekend crowds.
A good way to make this work is to arrive at your Disney World resort on a Tuesday or Wednesday and spend the next few days in the parks, then take the weekend to rest up and enjoy your resort before heading back for the beginning of the following week. This can often coincide with cheaper flights as well. There are not predictably specific days that are better for one park than another in May. I would suggest, though, taking advantage of the Extra Magic Hours offered with your hotel stay on any given day.
Beyond the ‘Big Four’
When planning a Disney World vacation, priority is always placed on getting to the four big parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. There is good reason for this—these parks are full of magic and are the main attractions throughout the Disney World Resort.
However, it is good to keep in mind the other attractions Disney has sprinkled throughout the resort. For example, Disney hosts two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both are opened by May, and both are very fun summer experiences. With pools and slides galore, these parks immerse you in a water-filled adventure.
I would highly recommend planning a day at either of these water parks during your May trip. It will cool you down after a few days of Florida heat, involves much less structure and planning than a day at one of the four main parks, and is a great way to relax during your trip without missing out on any of the Disney action.
Similarly, I would suggest spending some time at the outdoor shopping and dining complex on Disney property, Disney Springs. Spending an evening here is always an adventure; rummaging through fun shops, such as the fun sock store LittleMissMatched, Once Upon a Store, which is undoubtedly the best place to build your own Mr. Potato Head, or the year-round Christmas store Disney’s Days of Christmas. There are all lovely experiences and ways to get souvenirs that you don’t have to carry all day through the parks.
There are also a lot of diverse dining options, as well. If you have children, I would definitely suggest checking out the Rainforest Cafe.
All in all, May is a really great month to plan your Disney World vacation. Unique experiences like the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, mild crowd sizes, and cooler evenings make it hard to do wrong.
To optimize the experience, avoid weekends, utilize ride planning options like the FastPass system to skip lines and heat, and explore beyond the four main parks. Do all of these together and you are sure to have the most amazing time at the Happiest Place on Earth.
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If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for January
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for February
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for March
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for April
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for June
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for July
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for August
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for September
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for October
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for November
- Disney World Crowd Calendar for December