Is It Packed: Disney World in August

Is It Packed: Disney World in August
Dinosaur” by HarshLight licensed under CC BY 2.0

For many people, August signals the end of summer and it is the perfect time for one last summer celebration before school starts again. Schools in the United States typically end their summer vacations in mid-August. 

There are some exceptions with year-round schools or elementary versus universities; however, August is consistently one of the last opportunities to savor summer vacation. Some families may try to plan beach vacations or send children away to summer camps, but a lot of families see it as their last chance of the summer to visit Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fl. 

How Busy is it?

While August in a lot of the parts of the United States signals a slow decline in temperature as the area gets ready to welcome Autumn, there is no sign of this in Orlando. August is still wildly hot, humid and sticky and it’s only emphasized when you’re walking around in a crowded theme park with thousands of other Guests. If you’re sensitive to the heat, August may not be the best time to plan a visit. 

In general, August is a busier time of the year to plan a vacation in Orlando. The first two weeks are still considered “peak” times and both admission and resort prices are likely to be higher with an increase in attendance throughout the park, making Fast Pass+ Reservations a necessity. Typically, the decline in crowds is not seen until the end of August and even then, it’s not a huge dip. 

Five Reasons not to go to Walt Disney World in August

It’s HOT. Typical weather is between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This may not seem that bad considering some locations have higher temperatures; however, there is nothing worse than heat and humidity. 

It’s extremely humid. Most days have an average of about 80% humidity. Most Guests walk an average of ten miles per day in the park. This doesn’t include the amount of time standing outdoors, in air-conditioned lines or sitting should-to-shoulder for an hour whilst waiting for a parade. 

It’s crowded. If you’re thinking about squeezing one more trip to Disney World before school starts, you’re not the only one. That’s what a lot of people want to do. It is sometimes the only time available but if you do end up going, be prepared to wait a long time for almost everything.

It’s hurricane season. Hurricanes don’t pose safety threats to Guests as much as they provide major inconveniences. For example, if there is any lightening in the area, all outdoor rides will be shut down. This includes the entirety of water parks and attractions that have outdoor sections (Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Test Track, Expedition Everest, Slinky Dog Dash and any outdoor shows, just to name a few). 

It’s expensive. August is still considered a peak time and the ticket prices reflect that. Walt Disney World no longer has ticket prices for chunks of time. Instead they provide a new ticket price that changes every day. Occasionally, this can be a good thing for Guests but most of the time, especially during busy times of the year, Guests end up paying more than ever. 

Best Times in August

If you do end up needing to plan your visit in August, I would suggest going toward the middle of the month. Mid-August is when school starts for a large portion of children so many vacationers have made their way back home and are either in school or getting ready for school to start. It is still likely to be crowded but it should be less so. 

Specifically, I would suggest the second to last week of the month. Typically, I would suggest the last week in August but Walt Disney World Resort has planned to fully open Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot tends to start around the end of August, so I would avoid the end of August if at all possible. 

Either way, be prepared to wait in long, outdoor lines. The best advice I can give when planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort is to plan. First, plan what is most important to you and your group. Make those attractions a priority and find out the best time to visit those things.

Don’t leave it up to chance when you’ll go on Splash Mountain, because chances are it will be down. In addition to prioritizing, try to drag yourself out of bed and to the parks before they open. If a park opens at 9 a.m. aim to get there by 8:30. Not only will you get to experience the opening ceremonies, you can also make a beeline for the rides that are most in demand. 

Popular Attractions

For each park these vary. In Disney’s Magic Kingdom, this is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. For Epcot, it’s Test Track. For Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s Slinky Dog Dash. Finally, for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’s Pandora’s Flights of Passage.

Also, notice that three of these four rides all take place outside. It’s not a rule but it is normal for rain and lightening to be most common in the middle of the day. Mornings are typically dry (if you don’t count humidity) and offer the best chance to get on these outdoor attractions. 

Daily Plans

After spending the morning completing all of your top-priority attractions, I highly suggest going back to your resort. Most Walt Disney World Resort Guests are dehydrated. Even if you carry a bottle of water with you (which you should ALWAYS do), the amount of sweat and walking will exponentially increase the amount of water you need.

Leaving the parks in the middle of the day allows for you to hang out by the pool, rehydrate or take a well-deserved nap. In addition, thunderstorms typically happen in the middle of the day. 

Weather in August

If you’ve never experienced a thunderstorm in Florida, they are outrageous. You might be able to see clear skies on side of the park but be soaking wet in the other. They are swift and provide few signs that it will start raining. It typically goes from sunny to torrential rain in a matter of minutes. Many people believe that this is the best time to go to the parks because everyone else will be driven out from the rain. 

Rain: Stay or Go?

While the crowds may be fewer, many attractions will be shut down and you will likely be grumpy because your clothes are soaked and going from dripping wet into summer air conditioning is miserable. My advice is to beat the rain. Get everything important done in the morning when it is marginally cooler and marginally less crowded. 

Around lunch time, head back to your resort and enjoy a few hours inside or by the pool while it is either the hottest part of the day or the wettest part of the day, because it will inevitably be one of those. After rehydrating and recuperating, head back to the park for nighttime shows and to finish up a few more attractions. Your grumpy children and dehydrated bodies will thank you.  

Days of the Week

As far as the best days of the week to plan your visit, the weekdays are the best. While this is mildly less true for the summer time, it is still enough to make a difference. If you plan on spending a few days at the parks, aim for any time between Sunday evening and Friday morning. If possible, try to plan your traveling to and from Orlando on the weekends and spend time in Orlando on the weekdays. 

While a lot of Guests at the parks are from out of town, there are still locals who frequent the parks and they will likely be there on the weekends, when they aren’t working and the kids aren’t in school. You can always look at the crowd calendars but those are not always accurate. 

Crowd Calendars

Crowd calendars are calendars that try to predict attendance for each park. This can include days, weeks, months and even years. They can provide some valuable information, which might influence your planning. This is an example of a good crowd calendar. It not only tells you on a scale what is considered low, moderate and high crowds but it also tells you why you might expect to see those crowds. 

These reasons might include new attractions being opened, old attractions being closed, marathons, events, etc. It’s difficult to predict when a theme park is going to be the busiest because it is based entirely on individuals with any number of factors that influence their trip planning. Crowd calendars are a good place to start though. 

The biggest difference you might see in visiting at either end of the month versus the middle of the month is likely to be a couple of hours. Most Disney World wait times are probably going to be around an hour for the normal attractions like Haunted Mansion or Festival of the Lion King but for the more popular rides, you will likely spend upwards of two hours in line. Pandora’s Flights of Passage has been known to have one of the longest lines at around three hours during peak season. For me, there is no ride worth that wait. 

Don’t Forget the Entertainment

There are other things you could be doing, even if they aren’t attractions. Each park provides shows in the street. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has incredible acrobats and dance parties, Magic Kingdom has parades, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has events featuring Storm Troopers and Green Army men and Epcot has a show in every area! 

Future World features the Jammitors (stunt musicians who dress as custodians and play trashcans – it sounds odd but take my word for it, it’s so much fun!), the Japanese pavilion features traditional drummers, the Chinese pavilion features acrobats, the French pavilion features a short film, the Canadian pavilion features live music and each country has its own show. This doesn’t even include Festival or holiday activities!

Especially if you’ve done the attractions before, I would highly suggest wandering around the park and finding those special meet-and-greets, dance parties and other entertainment that so many Guests miss because they’re running to their next hour long wait. 

You won’t be able to do everything in a day anyway, so I would suggest prioritizing the top attractions, getting those done in the morning and then looking around for activities that don’t require waiting in line. I think you’ll be surprised how many there are. This is a great place to get started if you want to see some more unique parts of the resort. 

What to Prioritize

It’s important to know which rides are going to be the most popular. Ideally, you will be able to snag a Fast Pass+ Reservation for these attractions but if not, here is a short of the most popular and best rides. These may or may not have the longest lines but should be at the top of your list either way. 

Most Important Rides for Thrill Seekers

  1. Pandora’s Flights of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  2. Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  3. Seven Dwarves Mine Train in Disney’s Magic Kingdom (although it is smooth coaster and many children enjoy it as a first roller coaster). 
  4. Space Mountain in Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  5. Big Thunder Mountain in Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  6. Splash Mountain in Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  7. Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  8. Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  9. Slinky Dog Dash in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  10. Test Track presented by Chevrolet in EPCOT

Most Important Attractions for Families

  1. It’s a Small World in Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  2. The Haunted Mansion in Disney’s Magic Kingdom (this is a dark ride but is a cult classic and many people insist on going on it before finishing their trip)
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  4. Soarin’ Around the World at EPCOT (there is a slight chance for motion sickness but overall, it’s a very tame attraction)
  5. Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  6. Alien Swirling Saucers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  7. Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  8. Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  9. Meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie (There is one in each park. It doesn’t matter which one you go to although Disney’s Magic Kingdom has my personal favorite. These character spots are almost always air conditioned so even if you’re not huge on characters, it will give you some great photos and some time to cool down)
  10. Navi River Journey in Disney’s Animal Kingdom


So, after all of that information, is August one of the best times to visit Disney World? My personal opinion is no. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done and that you won’t have a great time but there are more ideal times to plan a visit. You’ll have to plan your priorities, aggressively stay hydrated and be willing to wait but it can be done.

August is notorious for storms, humidity, tour groups and long wait times. If you’re able, plan a trip between January and March but if you do need to plan a vacation in August, aim for the middle of the month and you’ll be able to make the most of your valuable time. 

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