When you think of your Disney World and Disney Cruise vacation, consider crowds and the lines that you might be standing in. Planning when to go is just important as planning TO go! When your kids are out of school, everyone else's is too. You don't want to spend a ton of money on a vacation only to be finding out that you're standing in line! Here are some tips on how important it is to consider when you plan on going to Disney World and Disney Cruise.
As we start planning our Disney World trip, I wanted to share with you the fruits of my labor! We're going to first start with picking when to go.
Our first Disney trip, we will have had kids ages 7, 6, 3 and 18 months. This means that two of my kids are of school age, which meant considering school calendars and sports schedules. On top of that, did you know you needed to layer on considerations like Disney Crowd Calendars and hurricane season? Yep. It's a lot to plan around, so I'm giving you some tips on when to go!
Disney World Cruise - Picking What Year To Go
As you start planning the dates at the year level, at the very earliest, I would recommend booking at least 180 days out. At 180 days, this means that you'll have time to make reservations to dining restaurants that you might want to experience as you continue your research. At this point, you don't even have to consider where you are staying.
In addition, consider what your budget is for this trip. You might want to account for how long you'll want to save up for this big trip. Doing a combination trip can put a dent int he pocket book. So as you plan at the year level for a Disney World Land and Sea vacation, make sure you consider the time for saving up that money for an experience of a lifetime.
For us, we ended up picking the early part of February to go. Yes, that meant we took the kids out of school (first and second grade) for the vacation. However, that meant we avoided hurricane season and picked the slow season to go!
Disney World Land and Sea - Picking What Month To Go
As you get down to the month level, now you'll start having to consider your own personal calendar, school/work schedules, Disney World's event calendar, Disney World's crowd calendars and hurricane schedules. This is where you might get frazzled, but stay with me. This is part of the fun. Ideally, you want to strike a balance so that you avoid crowds so that you can get the most out of your trip at Disney while also balancing the considerations of fun and special events that Disney has to offer at certain times of the year as well as Mother Nature's forecasted temperament at the time.
Personal Calendar - Obviously, you'll want to plan around big things that you have planned. This is a given.
School/Work Schedules - This kind of goes hand and hand with the Disney World Crowd Calendar. When school is out, you and EVERYONE ELSE will be wanting to take a vacation. So holiday break, spring break and summer break are pretty much guaranteed to be peak seasons for everyone else. Most of the time, the slow season are when kids are starting school - no one wants to miss the first day of school!
Disney's Event Calendar - Disney puts up various events throughout the year, which cause crowds to also fluctuate. From the Not So Scary Halloween Party (which has extended hours for guests and a parade) to having the park decorated all out in Christmas Decor (starting around November), there might be things your family really wants to see. I used a very popular Disney World travel blog that updates their annual events so that you can target any event you'd want to go to!
Disney World Crowd Calendar - What I'm going to share with you is NOT an official Disney World Crowd Calendar because Disney would never send something out like that. However, there are two terrific sources that I used to gauge how busy the parks might be. Once you start landing on your specific weeks and days, I'll have recommendations on how to use these calendars to figure out the best days to go to each park. However, you can use these calendars at a high level to pin point the month because they basically both show you what events are going on as well as their historical accounts of how busy the parks are during that time of year.
Don't get freaked out when you click these links. It seems like a lot. For now, as you plan out what month to go, just get a sense for what all is going on for that month. Don't get hung up on how busy things are on specific days.
If you pick the non-busy season, there is a chance that there will be more rides down for refurbishment. Just a thought to consider as you plan!
Hurricane Season - Hurricane Season is from June 1st through November 30th. If you do plan on going during that time of year, read this amazingly thorough blog post about all the things you need to know to prepare for going to Disney during hurricane season.
Planning What Days to Go - Disney World and Disney Cruise
While mine might not be the most cost efficient, my goal is to help you save a time waiting in lines and spend money where you need to in order to do so.
With our family of six (kids ages 7, 6, 3 and 18 months) going on our very first family vacation, we're going all out. I know, this is craziness waiting to happen. I totally get it.
I would recommend looking at which parks you plan on going to (there are four parks) and figuring out which days there are NOT extra magic hours. Next, determine if you plan on paying $75 extra for a breakfast and early entry to the parks. If not, then plan outside of the extra magic hours. If you do want to pay it, then plan your day starting waking up at 6:30 to get to the park by around 7:30 for an hour and a half of extra time before the park opens.
As a general rule of thumb, if your goal is to avoid lines, go outside of Extra Magic Hours!
Whew, that's a lot of info just to plan for when to go on a Disney World and Disney Cruise extravaganza!
I've written more on the topic of Disney Cruises in this post here as we started traveling with our family of six.