2022 is sure to be a landmark year in Disney history. Not only is the Resort celebrating it’s 50th anniversary all year long (with lots of special marketing, food, souvenirs, etc meant to pull in a larger crowd), but people are starting to come out of their COVID pandemic bubbles and are ready to travel despite increased prices and decreased offerings.
Frankly, no matter when you decide to go this year, you can expect crowds and lots of them. In this guide, I’ll be walking you through all of the above so that you can make the best timing choice for your vacation. After you’ve made that decision, you might also want to check out my blog post: Beginner’s Guide to a Disney Vacation, for help on making all of the important decisions as you plan your trip!
For Those with Dictated Dates
A quick word, because I know that sometimes you just don’t get to choose when you travel. Whether you aren’t comfortable taking your children out of school, a member of your travel party is in the military, or for whatever reason at all you just don’t get to go when you want, I want to encourage you that a trip to Disney can be incredible no matter WHEN you go.
It all comes down to managing expectations.
If you go into planning your trip thinking you’re going to get everything done, you’re going to end up exhausted, upset, and disappointed. As someone who has done both the go-go-go Disney trips, and the relaxing ones … trust me, a simplified Disney trip is a lot more fun than trying to fit it all in.
Head into your trip expecting long lines, big crowds, and to only be able to do the “must dos”. Then, get the most out of your time by getting up early for rope drop. I know that sounds extreme – you’re on vacation after all – but if you can get into the park early, you can be done touring before the crowds really get going. Giving you plenty of time to head back to the hotel, nap, lounge by the pool, rest and relax.
Our general rule of thumb for our Disney trips are:
Get to the gate an hour before opening
Tour the park until around 11:00 – 11:30
Finish touring (typically see a show or two, depending on the park)
Around 1:00, head back to the hotel. Rest.
Head back around dinner time, if we feel up to it.
Go into your trip without high expectations, and you’re going to enjoy the trip of a lifetime – no matter when you go.
Dates to Keep in Mind
Whether these dates are something you want to avoid, or be sure to attend, the following are good to keep in mind when choosing dates:
March 2nd through July 4th EPCOT International Festival of the Arts
March 31st through April 3rd runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend
April 22nd Earth Day (can lead to higher crowds at Animal Kingdom)
May 4th Star Wars Day (expect higher crowds at Hollywood Studios)
Summer (Rumored Memorial Day Weekend) Guardians of the Galaxy Rewind Opens in EPCOT
July through November EPCOT Food and Wine Festival
Mid-August Fall Décor Goes Up
August through October Boo Bash/Not So Scary Halloween Parties on select evenings
Early November Christmas Décor Goes Up
November through December Very Merry Christmas Parties on select evenings
November through December EPCOT Festival of the Holidays
Oh, and if you’re a football season ticket holder ……. Don’t plan your trip over the first home game. Don’t ask me how I know. Same goes for any sport. You’ve been warned.
Most Crowded Times to Go
The general rule of thumb when it comes to knowing Disney will be crowded is:
1) If students are not in school. If school is not in session, you can expect mega-crowds.
2) If something new is opening.
3) If an event is going on. (AKA this entire year with the 50th)
If possible, avoiding April, June, July, August, Thanksgiving Week, Christmas Week, and New Years Week is best to avoid crowds.
Not necessarily anything to do with crowds – but keep the weather in mind when choosing your dates as well. Even as late in the year as October is HOT in Orlando. And that’s coming from a South Carolinian that loves heat.
Least Crowded Times to Go
Like I mentioned previously, 2022 more than ever, you can basically expect Disney to be crowded at all times. (If you skimmed this post and missed it – a combination of the 50th anniversary, plus people being desperate to get out and travel post COVID has contributed to this.)
That being said, in the past January and September have been the two best months to visit for lower crowds. Other past low crowd dates were February, October, early November, the week after Thanksgiving, and the week between Christmas and New Years. All of that provided that you are avoiding any holidays that fall within those time frames.
On top of that, if you can avoid the weekends in general, you’re going to see less crowds, and spend less money.
However, keep in mind that Disney is a business, and they don’t WANT to have a lower crowd season. They’re doing all they can to increase crowds during the above-mentioned times including things like Halloween parties beginning in AUGUST, special events, opening of new attractions, etc. during those times. All of which are things to keep an eye on when choosing your dates.
Another note on weather – While fall does tend to be less crowded, don’t forget to consider hurricane season. While it’s not common for Disney to close due to a hurricane, it has happened, and regardless, you can expect some rainy weather during hurricane season. Not the end of the world, but something to keep in mind and prepare for.
The bottom line – there are absolutely factors to consider when choosing when to visit Disney World in 2022. That being said, expect crowds, keep your expectations low, and you’re going to have an incredible magical escape! If you still have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll help you out. And if you’re gearing up to plan your next magical escape, be sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Disney Vacation blog post!