If you want to visit Disney World on a budget, timing is perhaps the single most important factor to consider. The best time to visit Disney World is when crowds, prices, and temperatures are all bearable—or when there is an irresistibly great Disney vacation deal on the table.
Note that Disney World ticket prices do not fluctuate during the year, yet lodging prices do. Crowds and hotel prices are both at their highest at Disney World during the holiday and peak periods. Still, families with school kids should know that not all school breaks are created equal. If affordability is a top priority, consider avoiding these times:
Holiday Periods: The most expensive time to visit Disney World is during the Christmas holiday and Easter break. While ticket prices do not fluctuate during the year, the price of hotels (and hotel-plus-ticket packages) can be twice as high as during the regular season. Holiday periods in 2014 are Easter (Apr. 13-20, 2014) and Christmas (Dec.19, 2014-Jan. 2, 2015).
Peak Periods: After the holiday periods, the next most expensive times to visit are during peak periods, which generally coincide with other school vacations and special events. Peak periods in 2014 are: Winter Break (Feb. 13-22, 2014), Spring Break (Mar. 7-Apr. 12, 2014), post-Easter (Apr. 21-26), Summer Vacation (May 30-Aug. 2, 2014) and the week prior to the Christmas high season (Dec. 12-18, 2014).
The good news? That leaves plenty of other times when you can land a good price and encounter fewer crowds. Consider these good-value periods:
January to mid-February
Are your kids too young for kindergarten? Or do you homeschool your kids? The weeks immediately after New Year offer the very best rates of the year (Jan. 2-Feb. 12, 2014). School kids head back in class following the Christmas break, so the parks are less crowded then, too.
While Florida school kids go back to school in August, the summer value season (Aug. 3-Sept. 12, 2014) offers a good money-saving opportunity for families with kids on a different school calendar. If you live in the Northeast, for example, schools generally don’t return to class until the end of August or even after Labor Day. A caveat: Disney World can get extremely hot in the summer, so it’s imperative to book a hotel with a fantastic pool and plan to hit the parks early and late in the day.
Also less expensive than Disney World’s so-called “regular” season is the long fall season (Sept. 13-Dec. 11, 2014). While hotel prices rise slightly for holidays such as Columbus Day weekend and Halloween, they are still much less expensive than at holiday and peak times. Even Thanksgiving is less expensive than Easter and Christmas.
Note that during the low-season periods—particularly January and the fall between September and mid-December—Disney often offers packages that include a free dining plan. This can be a super offer, so keep an eye on the page of Disney vacation deals leading up to those periods.
It should go without saying that you should always do the math to compare the true cost of different deals that may be offered at the same time. For example, a package with the free dining package may not be better than a special offer delivering a 30-percent savings on lodging.