Is It Packed: Disney World in October

Italy Pavilion” by HarshLight licensed under CC BY 2.0

Going to Disney World in October used to be a breeze – low crowds, cooler weather, and Fall festivities have been enticing to many Disney visitors. Over the years, people have figured out the secret making October one of the busier seasons at Disney World. 

Even though the crowds have become heavier throughout the years, there’s no doubt October is beautiful temperature-wise and a great time to visit Orlando if you plan everything out wisely and according to what is best for you, your friends, your family, and your guests. 

Disney World and Fall Breaks

Fall Breaks have become popular at schools throughout the years and are especially handy for those schools who have implemented year-round schooling. Southern states such as Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia have adopted Fall Breaks that last from as little to two days spanning as long as a week. 

Of course, the dates and length of the break depend on the state and school; however, you can definitely plan for heavier crowds at Disney World during the days surrounding Columbus Day weekend. Some families have also chosen to have their “Summer vacations” during the Fall to avoid the brutal humidity and high temperatures in Orlando which makes October an even more popular time to take a trip to Disney World. 

Crowd calendars and personal experience conclude that the first and last weeks of October are not as busy as the second and third weeks. There’s no doubt while looking at crowd calendars you will find that October is fairly hectic when it comes to crowds. After the first week of October is over, the crowds will begin to climb due to Fall Breaks. Once the week of Columbus Day has passed, the crowds will start to dwindle which equates to lower wait times for your favorite rides. 

As you might guess, October 31st brings plenty of visitors because of the Halloween celebrations and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, where thousands of runners congregate to have the magical run of a lifetime. Thankfully, the crowds in October don’t even come close to comparing to the thousands upon thousands of people who visit Disney World for the holidays around Christmastime. 

October at Disney World is much more bearable crowd-wise than it is toward the end of December. So, if you’re able to get out there before all the Fall Breaks start during mid-October and the events toward the end of October, you have a much better chance of avoiding the heavier crowds at Disney World. 

Popular Events at Disney World in October

October is one of Disney World’s biggest months for special events. As mentioned above, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend happens at the end of the month along with Halloween.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties are in full swing beginning in August and lasting until the first of November. Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival draws in thousands of foodies who get the chance to try dishes and treats not available at Disney World during any other time of the year. 

Undoubtedly, Halloween-time at Disney World is completely and absolutely magical. The streets are lined with fall leaves, hay bales, and jack-o-lanterns. Even your favorite treats are in the Halloween spirit and decorated with fall colors, pumpkins, spiders, ghoulish creatures, and more. For the younger visitors, there is a Disney Junior Dance Party to enjoy. 

Characters are dressed up in their own costumes for Halloween, and there are even special meet-and-greets with characters you don’t get to see during the normal, everyday Disney trip, if there is even such a thing as a “normal” trip to the most magical place on Earth. 

The only downside to all of these unique Fall festivities is that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party cost extra. It’s about $80 per person to stay for the extra hours of the party, but this $80 ticket price range is always subject to change. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party happens only a few times a week from mid-August to the first of November. 

The nights of the Halloween parties, the Magic Kingdom closes at 6:00pm EST to the guests who have not bought a ticket to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This can be frustrating to those who want to enjoy the Magic Kingdom but avoid the Halloween Party festivities. 

If you do choose to splurge and stay for the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you can stay in the park until about midnight showing the Magic Kingdom in a different, special light you won’t normally see. Some attractions are even enhanced in such a way to put you in the Halloween mood such as Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party, and NEW! Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. 

You can also enjoy other attractions that are only around during the Fall. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is filled with fireworks shows, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, The Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet, and Trick-or-Treat Throughout the Park. On the nights of the Halloween parties, regular Magic Kingdom fireworks will be replaced with the special Halloween fireworks since the park is closed at 6:00pm EST for guests not attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. 

Fall at Disney World is truly an experience like no other. The month of October brings new fireworks, enhanced rides, special shows, Halloween parties, and beautiful decorations on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom.

If bypassing crowds is of utmost importance to you, be sure to plan around the many October festivities Disney World provides: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Fall Break, Columbus Day, and Halloween. That might sound like a lot of things to avoid, but if you plan everything out well, you will be perfectly fine and still thoroughly enjoy your visit to the happiest place on Earth. 

For those of you who are okay with heavier crowds, October is definitely your time to plan a visit to Disney World. The weather is beautiful without as much humidity and scalding heat, and the seasonal events, decorations, and characters in October make the most magical place on Earth even more ghoulishly spectacular. 

Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours are great during busier seasons such as October. They’re available early before the parks open and late before the parks close. If you really want to get in some extra time at the parks, this is definitely the time. For those of you who choose not to stay at a Disney World Resort or Hotel, it is best to avoid the parks with Extra Magic Hours during regular hours – the guests who come for the early Extra Magic Hours will typically stay throughout the day. 

The guests who want to go to Extra Magic Hours after the park is closed will usually come early so they can get the most out of the park. Whether guests plan for the early Extra Magic Hours or the ones late at night after the park closes, the park with Extra Magic Hours for that day is definitely going to be busier. This is something to think about and plan for as you pick which days you decide to visit Disney World. 

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a foodie’s dream – a trip around the world where you can try all kinds of smaller-portioned foods of all kind. This is one of the most popular festivals because of all the food you can’t typically find at Disney World. One turnoff from spending a lot of time at the Food & Wine Festival is the crowd. Many people come from across the world to come eat around Epcot’s World Showcase. 

There are so many smaller stands and areas set up that the choices can be overwhelming at times. The way they’re set up so close can make walking around the World Showcase more crowded than normal. However, Future World: A Vision For Tomorrow, which has rides such as Mission Space and Test Track, is not as crowded since the additional country stands are only in the World Showcase area. 

The great part about the Food & Wine Festival is getting to try food from even more countries than usual. Everything at the additional stands are typically in the range of $5-20, but the price range is always subject to change. Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “Those prices don’t seem too bad for Disney!” Yes, these prices are much cheaper than usual. However, the portions are very small, and you’re going to need more than just one of these little dishes. 

If you’re traveling with your family, all of these small-portioned dishes are going to add up. On top of that, if kids are coming along with you, it may be difficult to find food at these stands that would be considered normal kid’s food. If you’re visiting Disney World with kids who don’t mind eating foods like Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp, they should be perfectly fine. If they have allergies or prefer food on the kid’s menu, you might want to consider planning a trip to The Land where there is a buffet-style selection with plenty of options for kids. 

All of this being said, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is quite the experience especially if you’re visiting Disney World with adults or a family who enjoys sharing unique food together. If you’re traveling with kids or adults who aren’t as interested in the Food &Wine Festival, the rest of the parks shouldn’t be as busy except for days with Extra Magic Hours. 

Weekdays vs Weekends in October

Now you know that when you go to Disney World in October, you can expect the parks to be a little crowded. Being prepared for some waits along with planning out your Genie+ schedule and meal reservations can make your visit to Disney a lot smoother and more enjoyable. 

Another Disney World tip to keep in mind is that the parks are always the busiest on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. With Columbus Day being on a Monday in mid-October, lots of families with kids in school will take a long weekend to visit Disney World. Even weekends when it’s not Columbus Day are busier than weekdays. 

If you’re able to, visiting Disney on weekdays makes for a much more pleasant experience with less crowds. Avoiding crowds and longer wait times at Disney World in October is simple if you plan your trip around Halloween and Columbus Day as well as spending limited time at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. 

If you’re unable to visit Disney World during the week, that’s okay – there are still ways to navigate the busier crowds. As mentioned above, the Genie+ program is your best friend (even though it costs an addition fee on top of your park ticket). You can schedule your favorite rides so you’re guaranteed a shorter wait than people who simply walk on a ride without a Genie+. 

Using the Disney World app

The Disney World app is also a great feature for people living in a world where most of us have tiny computers in our pockets. On the app, you can add or change a Genie+, schedule dining reservations, and, arguably the most important, updated wait times. Not only can you view wait times for the park you’re currently in, but you can see what wait times are at other parks if you’re looking to park hop for a day or two. 

Sometimes even if you do everything possible to avoid crowds and long waits in line you could still get caught in an hour-long wait for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It can be unavoidable, which is understandably frustrating after hours of planning and traveling for your trip to Disney World. 

One great feature to use if you do find yourself in an unbearably long line during the October rush is the Play Disney app. The Play Disney app allows you to play interactive games on your phone as you stand in line. If other guests have the app, you can even compete against them. It’s a great way to still be present with the people you’re waiting with while staying occupied and, hopefully, avoiding the dreaded phrase: “Are we there yet?” 

The Popularity of New Attractions

New attractions will always be busier for people who have been to Disney World many times. Sure, the older rides are nostalgic and great; but new rides just have a certain appeal. It’s a thrill to go to an attraction you have never been to before. You only get that first ride experience once, and that’s definitely something to cherish whether it’s your first time on an older ride or a brand new ride. 

Long waits in lines can take away from your trip and part of the magic that comes with visiting Disney World. If you can avoid it, try not to wait in line for more than an hour. However, sometimes the ride can be well worth the wait. 

Some rides are usually constantly busy: Soarin’, The Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. These are ones you’ll want to avoid if you’d rather not spend your time at Disney World standing in line with a bunch of strangers. Disney World wait times can be brutal, but planning is definitely key for avoiding those extra long lines. 

Mild October Weather

Anyone who has been to Orlando in the midst of the Summer months knows how awful the humidity and scorching heat are during the middle of the day. October at Disney World brings amazingly mild temperatures. Orlando is known to have an average high temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit during October. While that still seems fairly warm, the average lows are around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. These lows really do cool the air off in the morning and at night which makes a huge difference during the day. 

Even though October is nearing the end of hurricane season, you could still get some torrential downpours and afternoon showers. Rain is always possible in Orlando – it is notorious for having a fifteen-minute downpour and then clear skies for the rest of the day. That’s always a possibility, and with a little planning and packing, you will be good to go and on your way to enjoying your visit to Disney World. 


It truly is a beautiful time of the year in Orlando and has a lot of fun seasonal events to offer you. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of planning your visit to Disney World in the month of October. 

Pros of visiting Disney World in October  

  • Crowds aren’t as bad as they are around Christmastime
  • Great events that are only available in the Fall
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
  • Beautiful weather that is much more tolerable without the humidity
  • Highs are around 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lows are around 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Enhanced rides during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Extra Magic Hours for Disney World Resort or Hotel guests
  • Chance to get to some more rides and attractions without as many people around
  • Food you can’t get year-round at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival
  • Fall decorations lining Main Street in the Magic Kingdom
  • Special character meet-and-greets 
  • Regular characters with Halloween costumes
  • Characters you can only see in the Fall

Cons of visiting Disney World in October

  • Surge of crowds because of school breaks and special events
  • Fall Breaks
  • Columbus Day
  • Special events offered only in October
  • First week is peak hurricane season
  • Early park closings on nights of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
  • Magic Kingdom closes at 6:00pm EST these nights
  • Special events are ticketed
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is an extra ticket in the $80 range, but always subject to change
  • Small portions and more expensive food at Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival
  • Extra Magic Hours only for Disney World Resort or Hotel guests
  • Makes the park with Extra Magic Hours busy for the entirety of the day

Overall, it’s completely up to you and your family, friends, and guests. The pros of going to Disney World in October are great and not offered every day of the year. The cons could also be frustrating if you’re on a time-crunch or a strict budget. If your only time of the year to escape to the happiest place on Earth is in October, I would say you will have a wonderful time. 

As listed above, there are so many great things offered in October that can make your trip to Disney World even more magical. If you and your family, friends, and guests are able to take a trip during the less busy months of the year, that might be the time for you to go to Disney World. It all depends on what you value – special events, the pre-made vacation Fall Break provides, shorter wait times, cooler weather, or something else. 

There’s no right or wrong answer here because Disney World is always happy and magical, and if you plan accordingly and come with a great attitude, you will have a wonderful visit to the happiest place on Earth no matter what.  

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