My name is N. G. and I'm from Houston, TX. Wanted to see if you could share some helpful info with me in regards to Disney World. My husband and I went with our two kids for the first time the week of Thanksgiving. It seemed like the first 2 days that we were there were fine but then it got very crowded very quickly. We had a great time. Loved it! It was MAGICAL! My only regret was not going sooner. My son turned 13 at the Magic Kingdom and I would of loved it if we had taken him when he was younger. Oh well, we've always been restrained by funds and time but we finally did it and I can't wait to do it again. So my question is when do you think would be a better time to visit Sept, Oct, or early Nov? I've read your blog and gather that maybe Oct because Sept has the weather threat. Like I said we went Nov 20th 2009 (Friday) and left the 26th (Thanksgiving Day). I thought the weather was really nice, it rained on us really bad one day but we decided to take the kids to Disneyquest in Downtown Disney so it worked out great. So I like this time of the month but don't want to run into the Thanksgiving crowds again. So would you suggest Sept, Oct or early Nov?
Thanks in advance for your time and sorry about the long email.
Hi. Thanks for your question--I love getting questions from people who read my blog.
Crowds are really low that entire time, so you can't really go wrong. It will be a big change from your experience last year. The bigger issue, I think, is the weather and what you want to do during that time. I would avoid September if I had the choice, just because I don't want to worry about hurricanes. It's true that Orlando mainly gets the outer bands, if anything, but that can still make for a pretty unpleasant vacation, as you know from living in Houston. It's also still pretty hot, but usually by mid-October, it starts to cool down (this is a relative term in Central Florida) and the weather can be beautiful. November should also be nice.
Do you know about the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot? That usually starts right around the last week in September and ends the first week in November. I probably wouldn't want to attend the first or last weekend, just because they tend to be a bit more crowded. I've also heard from those who've been going to F&W for years that it can take a while for the vendors to get their act together, so the first week isn't your best choice. During this time there's also Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, which is very popular. It starts in early September and goes until Halloween. The closer you get to Halloween, the more crowded the party. Since you have a teenager, you might want to look into Universal's Halloween party. It's generally considered "scarier" than Disney's party and is popular with teens. It might be a good time to visit Universal anyway, since the Harry Potter attraction will have opened; you can get really good deals on tickets, some of which will include transportation to and from your Disney resort to Universal.
Barring something unusual happening, the only week during this time that will be crowded is Jersey week, which is when public school teachers in New Jersey attend a teacher's convention. Since the kids are out, a lot of parents trek down to Orlando to take advantage of the great weather. This year the convention starts on November 4th and goes through that weekend. Otherwise, there may be odd days here and there where the crowds are heavier, but for the most part this is just a great time of year for crowds.
I think if I was going, I'd go in mid-October. The weather should be great and you can go to Food and Wine, which is a really fun grown-up activity (although your kids won't hate it either). You can also take in a Halloween party. Of course if you love the Christmas decorations and want to see them again this year, they are up within days of Halloween being over, so you could try the second week in November as well (again, avoiding Jersey week the first week of November). Food and Wine will be over, but you'll be there in time for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
You can make your reservation now and always change it if your plans change or if any discounts come out between now and then. Disney is very good about honoring later discounts if your reservation fits their criteria, so use a site like Mousesavers to keep up with the latest discounts. If you're thinking of going during Food and Wine and want to stay at an Epcot resort (one that will allow you to walk to Epcot), make your reservations ASAP, as those resorts will fill up quickly.
If you're having terrible Disney withdrawals and you have a MP3 player (or if you just want to listen on your computer), there are a lot of good podcasts out there. I like the DisUnplugged and WDW Today. Both are informative and funny. If you search back to the fall, you'll find a number of podcasts about Food and Wine and the halloween parties. You might also like Lou Mongello's podcast, WDW Radio. Lou is a one-man encyclopedia of Disney knowledge and he tends to get really good interviews. All of these podcasts are a good way to keep up with the latest discounts, by the way.
Let me know what you decide! Hope this helps.