Our guest blogger today is Jen Zinno – Owner of Mickey Adventures. Jen has compiled a great list of advantages and disadvantages of visiting Walt Disney World in January. We hope you find it helpful – especially if you’re heading to WDW this month or planning a trip for next January! ~Terri
One of the questions I get from people most frequently is when is the ideal time to visit Disney World. I don’t think there’s one specific time that is best. There are positives and negatives to any time you might choose, and the important thing is to weigh those options and pick the time that will make the most sense for your particular family.
Recently, my family has settled on January as our ideal time. January is a unique time to visit Disney World, and we’ve come to really love it. We went both in January 2010 and January 2012 and had wonderful trip both times. What is it that makes this a great time for us? There are a number of advantages:
- Lower crowds: Except for immediately after New Year’s and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January has relatively low crowds compared to much of the year. It isn’t quite as empty as early September, but you will definitely enjoy low waits.
- Lower cost: Related to the lower crowds are cheaper trips. Most of January is considered value season at Disney World, the lowest price rack rates of the year. In addition to that, there have historically been discounts offered every January, and many times two different discounts to choose from.
- Cooler weather: If you don’t like to tour the parks in oppressive heat, January is a great time for you!
- Attention from cast members: Again because of the lower crowds, you are more likely to get personal attention from cast members and characters. We had one dinner at Garden Grill at around 7PM. At the beginning, the restaurant was relatively full, and the characters made their usual rounds. We got pictures and autographs with each. But towards the end of our meal, the restaurant had emptied out quite a bit and the characters continued to come around again. At that point, we’d done our pictures, and the kids just had a great time interacting with them. The characters were being silly with the kids, teasing them, and just having a great time. That doesn’t tend to happen during more crowded times.
- Lack of special parties: While some may not see this as an advantage, our family does. We prefer not to spend money on some of the extra evening parties (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). Because of that, we much prefer to visit at a time that isn’t offering these parties so that we don’t have to plan our schedule around it. In the past, it was frustrating to us to have many days during our trip when the Magic Kingdom closed at 7PM for a party.
Of course, as I mentioned above, no time period is perfect for everyone. So what are the disadvantages of traveling during January?
- Cooler weather: As you can see, this one is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The weather in January varies a lot. It can be beautiful and warm, or quite cold. And there can be a big variation in temperature throughout the day. Our 2012 trip had unseasonably warm weather – sunny and 80’s all week. In 2010, it was much more dreary, and frequently in the 50’s and 60’s. For our family, we would much rather risk cooler weather than deal with the 90+ degree heat with humidity. But some people do not want to go to Florida and deal with jackets, and January would not be an ideal time for them.
- Shorter park hours: Because January is a less crowded time, the parks tend to close earlier than at other times of year. This isn’t an issue for us as with young children, we don’t want to be in the parks late anyway. And we find that we can get the same amount (or more) done in that shorter period of time. But for those that prefer to tour late at night rather than in the morning, January might not be a great choice.
- Refurbishments: Disney takes advantage of the lower crowds to bring more rides down for refurbishment than at other times of year. Splash Mountain is almost always closed during that time (though we got lucky in 2012 and it was open), and there are often several other rides down as well. No matter how many rides are being refurbished though, there is still plenty to do!
- Lack of special events: Aside from the marathon in the middle of the month, none of the Disney special events happen during January. There are no special parties, no Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, etc. This one is another personal choice as to whether these are important to you.
- Water park closures: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach undergo refurbishments during the winter. Only one closes at a time, so there will always be one available. But if a particular one is important to you, be sure to check when the closures are!
The bottom line when planning any trip to Disney is that you will never do everything on a single trip. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything, and each family needs to pick what will work best for them. And to a Disney lover like me, there is no bad time to go!