Disney World is one of the most iconic points of interest in the United States. For decades, families have traveled to Orlando, Florida to experience this magical place that boasts four theme parks and two water parks. Planning a trip to Disney World requires fine attention to detail, but first you need to decide on the best time for your family to visit. Make your getaway easier by booking a stay at one of many vacation rentals near Disney World, which range from lovely townhouses to deluxe lofts in the downtown area. Here are a few things to consider when creating your itinerary.

1. Cost Considerations

Disney World’s surge pricing model for park admission lets people staying on-site or in local vacation rentals pay lower admission prices by traveling during the off season, but prices during the off season vary. For example, the cheapest time to visit Disney World is the slowest time of the year — in January after New Year’s Day (with the exception of the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and during the first part of February. The first portion of May, between the last week of August and mid-September (excluding Labor Day weekend), and between the end of October and mid-December (excluding Halloween, Veterans Day, and the week of Thanksgiving) also boast lower-than-peak-season rates. The most expensive times of year to visit Disney World are during the Christmas holiday and around Easter, thanks to an influx of travelers during spring break. The cost of your vacation rental also decreases during the off-peak season and increases during peak travel times.

2. Crowd Factors

Disney World gets the largest crowds when during typical school breaks — with spring break, summer vacation, Thanksgiving week, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day being the most crowded. Traveling during the park’s off-peak travel season lets you avoid large crowds. Expect the thinnest crowds during the winter, with the exception of weeks and days surrounding national holidays. During the early spring and early-to-mid fall, expect smaller crowds than peak travel season but larger crowds than the winter.

To avoid overcrowded parks during peak season, choose the day you visit each park wisely. Typically, on any given day of the week, the park that hosts the morning’s Extra Magic Hours for resort guests remains busier throughout the day. Staying in an Orlando vacation rental means that Extra Magic Hour doesn’t apply to you, so check the schedule and plan to visit each park on a day that it doesn’t have Extra Magic Hours. Also, when traveling during peak season, make your FastPass reservations as soon as possible — 30 days in advance if you’re staying off-site.

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3. Weather Concerns

If your family loves hot weather, visit during the summer, when temperatures average in the low 90s. The beginning of June through the end of September is also Orlando’s rainy season. The rain comes in spurts and doesn’t usually last long, so it shouldn’t be your main concern. Plan your day so you end up at indoor attractions during hottest part of the afternoon, when most of the area’s sporadic rainstorms occur.

If you prefer cooler temperatures, avoid planning your trip for the summer. Average temperatures in Orlando for the rest of the year hover between the low 70s and high 80s — the weather is hotter if you’re traveling closer to the summer.

4. Attraction Considerations

Disney World is open year-round. Depending on the time of year when you travel, you may encounter a ride or attraction that’s closed for maintenance. Most routine maintenance occurs during off-peak travel season. If you don’t want to risk missing your favorite rides, travel during the normal or peak seasons and avoid the winter completely. Regardless of the time of year when you travel, weather can affect the outdoor shows and open, high-speed rides at times.

5. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival

Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival spans several weeks in the fall, usually between the end of August and the beginning of November. During this time, Epcot gets pretty busy. Avoid the crowds by planning your Epcot visit on a weekday. The park sees the largest festival crowds on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays, because that’s when locals who have weekends off work attend the event. During festival weeks, the park gets busier at night than it is during the day, so plan to arrive when the park opens — use your Park Hopper pass to visit another park when the evening crowds start to roll in.

6. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place on specific nights in August, September, and October. The after-hours event requires separate admission that allows your family to stay in the park after it closes. However, you don’t need to pay for regular admission to the Magic Kingdom to attend the event. The park lets event visitors into the park as early as 4 p.m., even though the party doesn’t actually start until the park closes at 7 p.m., and most of the popular attractions remain open throughout the night. If you aren’t interested in Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but you still want to see the park decorated for Halloween, plan your visit between late August and the end of October.

7. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Like the park’s popular Halloween party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place after the Magic Kingdom closes on specific days between the second week of November and approximately a week before Christmas. You have to purchase a separate ticket for the event, but the ticket allows you to enter the park as early as early as 4 p.m. If you only want to visit during the holiday season to see the Magic Kingdom’s decorations, visit between the beginning of November and the beginning of January. If you miss Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party completely, regular admission to the Magic Kingdom from the day after the last party until New Year’s Day includes many of the party’s experiences.

8. Other Holiday Season Considerations

When planning a Disney World vacation during the holiday season, you need to consider more than Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Disney Springs, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot also hold holiday events, but they typically begin later in the year than the after-hours party at the Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ holiday spectacular begins around the second week of November and runs until the end of December. However, Holidays at Disney Springs and Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays don’t begin until the last half of November. Even though the Magic Kingdom’s holiday decorations go up at the beginning of November, the other parks aren’t fully decorated until the day after Thanksgiving.

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