Mommy Frog's Note: After a temporary closure due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort is beginning to reopen! Disney Springs began a phased reopening May 20. Disney World will reopen its theme parks in phases starting July 11 for the general public! Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom will be the first parks to open, followed by EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios on July 15. Check here for the latest information about Disney's park reopenings and procedures.
It can be tough narrowing down when to plan your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. After all, there are many factors to consider such as crowd levels, weather, special events and more. While you can't go wrong with whatever time of year you choose, we have a few reasons why fall is our favorite time of year to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth. And we expect this fall to be an especially good time to visit Disney World — thanks to expected lower crowd levels, fun events and new ride openings (bonjour, Remy)! Hop along with us as we explore all of the fall fun waiting for you at Disney World!
Our Favorite Reasons to Visit Disney World This Fall
Lower Crowd Levels
With many frog families planning Disney World trips around summer vacation, spring break and the holidays, fewer frog squads aim for the fall following Labor Day weekend since tadpoles are hopping back to school. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any crowds, but wait times typically shrink when compared to the crowd levels during peak seasons.
Generally, September is one of the best months to go because the only holiday is Labor Day and the back-to-school season kicks off. (In Florida, public schools are already in session by late August). Crowd levels remain low until the end of the month when the Halloween crowds start creeping in. Last year, October saw higher crowds, especially around Columbus Day weekend, and many of the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween parties sold out that month. As long as you don’t mind celebrating Halloween a little early, we’d say plan for the earlier, the better if you don’t want to miss the spooky season!
Crowds usually start to calm back down from early to mid-November. Even with Veterans Day weekend, this timeframe works great if you wish to catch the holiday festivities with the least amount of crowds. The first two weeks of December have also seen historically low wait times. However, this year we might see the same crowd levels as last year (which were higher due to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’s opening) because people may be looking to rebook their spring or summer trips before the Dec. 15 use-by date. (Wholly unused Disney tickets never lose their value, which can be applied to any future tickets, even beyond the Dec. 15 use-by date extension.) For a deeper dive into fall 2020 crowds, read our predictions on how the coronavirus will impact crowd levels once the parks reopen.
Enjoyable Weather (Particularly October and November)
There’s no escaping the hot and humid weather during the summer. So, when the fall season rolls around, we always welcome the cooler temperatures with open arms. (Hellooo, spirit jerseys!) September remains fairly hot with an average high of 89 degrees Fahrenheit. While the daily afternoon thunderstorms start to decline this month, it’s still important to pack a poncho or umbrella and have a Plan B for inclement weather.
October brings warm days and cooler nights with much less rainfall than the months before. You can still wear T-shirts and shorts during the day, but we recommend packing a light sweatshirt or jacket for the evenings. November continues this trend, but keep a close eye on the weather forecast leading up to your trip. The first cold front of the season (OK, cool front, this is Florida after all) usually hoppens this month!
Hoppin’ Good Hotel Rates
Because fall is typically a slower season, you can often score a ribbeting deal at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. (And if you book through us, you’ll gain even more savings!) You have 29 hotels to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly value hotels to luxurious deluxes (or, get a mix of both at the moderates). Expect immersive theming no matter which hotel you choose. When you stay on-site, you receive exclusive perks such as Extra Magic Hours and early access to FastPass+ reservations. If you’re not toadally convinced yet, we’ve laid out even more reasons why you should stay at a Disney World Resort hotel this fall!
Currently, there is still availability in September and October at the majority of the Disney hotels. Hop on it if you’re already thinking of booking a reservation!
Toadally Fun Special Events
Some of our favorite events hoppen during the fall! Starting earlier than ever, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will kick off Aug. 13, 2020. This special Halloween-themed after hours event at Magic Kingdom gets the spooky season rolling. It’s the only time that grown-up frogs can wear full costumes at the park (and you better believe that Leap and I take advantage of it!). Not only can you collect all the free candy your heart desires, but you also have the opportunity to meet rare characters and enjoy event-exclusive entertainment, such as the Boo to You parade!
Over at EPCOT, the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival takes over the park from late August to mid-November. Wine and dine around World Showcase and Future World as you sample special food and beverage items from a hodgepodge of cultures. I’m not joking when I say that Leap trains for this event each year — who knew eating around the world can be taken as seriously as a sport? Plus, keep an eye out for this year's concert lineup! There's live music to enjoy each night of the festival. Last year, this included artists such as D'Capella, Boys II Men, Hanson and 38 Special.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party celebrates the holidays during this after hours event at Magic Kingdom. It follows almost immediately after the last Halloween party at the beginning of November. If you’re someone who blasts “All I Want for Christmas is You” at the stroke of midnight on Nov. 1 (or is that just me?), then you won’t take any issue with spreading holiday cheer “too early.”
Spectacular Seasonal Decor
Even if you’re not attending any of the special events, you can still revel at the holiday decor spread throughout the theme parks and resorts. Fall leaf Mickey wreaths, jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin-head scarecrows pop up everywhere along Main Street, U.S.A., starting in August.
As soon as Jack Skellington bids farewell, Magic Kingdom transforms into a winter wonderland overnight. The rest of the theme parks and the resorts join in with towering Christmas trees, elaborate gingerbread house displays and gorgeous garlands. Star-shaped wreaths along Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are usually the first decorations to pop up (as early as mid-October!). Most Christmas decor is in place by the week of Thanksgiving.
Tasty Fall Flavors
Is that the smell of pumpkin or peppermint in the air? Disney World serves up seasonal, sweet and savory flavors across all of its properties. While there are some event-exclusive treats for party guests, Magic Kingdom offers plenty of fall-themed snacks and desserts too. Be sure to keep up with special menus at Disney Springs restaurants! As it gets closer to the season, Disney usually releases foodie guides ahead of time so you can form a plan and get your tastebuds ready.
Exciting new rides, restaurants and more are set to open in 2020! A number of openings also hoppened right before Disney World closed due to COVID-19. Those will still be brand-new to some frog families who haven’t had a chance to experience them yet! We don’t know exactly how the temporary closures will affect any of the remaining opening dates. But some were so close to their opening dates, so we’re hopful that there won’t be any major setbacks.
The highly anticipated Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and France Pavilion expansion at EPCOT is scheduled for summer 2020. We can’t wait to scurry alongside Chef Remy on the 4D ride, and try a crepe at the new restaurant, La Creperie de Paris. At Disney Springs, Cirque du Soleil’s new show, Drawn to Life, was supposed to premiere this spring. The show’s production has been temporarily suspended but will hopfully get back on track when things return to normal.
Meanwhile, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios only a week before Disney announced the theme parks were closing. At EPCOT, Regal Eagle Smokehouse, Canada: Far and Wide, the Beauty and the Beast singalong show and Awesome Planet are all recent additions.
Are you planning a trip to Disney World in the fall? Let us know what you are looking most forward to in the comments below!