Pros and Cons of Visiting Disney Parks on Holidays

There has to be a better title than that for this blog post, right?  I tried to come up with a better one for about 20 minutes and finally gave up. With that auspicious start, let’s get to some actual content!

Holidays are obviously the most popular time to visit Disney Parks.  People have vacation time or school breaks that they can plan their vacation around, making a vacation more attainable.  While planning a visit during a non-vacation period may be more enjoyable, that is a subject for another day.  Instead I’m going to go through each holiday and tell you the pro’s and cons (in my opinion) of visiting during those times.

Grand Floridian christmas tree

I’m going to include the typical holidays that people have off work.  Sorry Groundhog Day and Valentines Day, you need more government support.  Columbus Day is left out because I don’t know when it is and also think that it’s kind of dumb.  If there are any other holidays that people have off work that I leave out, it isn’t intentional.  Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to add them in over the next few days.

I would rank the holidays in order of my preference on when to go but I don’t think that would do much good.  Opinions obviously vary on this depending on how much crowds, heat, and special events matter to you.  That’s why I decided to just go with pros and cons, so then you can make a judgement for yourself.

This post includes both Disneyland and Disney World, as their climates and crowd levels are fairly similar.  If there’s a big difference in the two resorts I’ll be sure to note it.  Alright, let’s get started!  I’ll be going through the year chronologically.

New Year’s Day (and Eve)
Pros:
Awesome Fireworks
 – New Year’s Eve is known for fireworks around the world and Disney is no different as Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and Epcot all typically do a special show to bring in the New Year.  These shows all have more pyro than the usual Disney nighttime spectaculars.
Other Special Entertainment – Each park will undoubtedly have some different events to celebrate a New Year.  Some events will be bigger than others but these do help add to the festive atmosphere.
Crowd Levels in the Following Week – Don’t get me wrong, crowd levels in the few days around New Year’s are terrible but as you progress into January (say around the 4th) people start to leave and the parks are really empty.  So, if you can start your trip on New Year’s through the following week then crowds aren’t all that bad.
Weather – The weather at both resorts would be pretty mild and probably a nice break from a cold winter if you’re living somewhere else.
Christmas Decorations are Still Up – This is a nice plus for those who can’t make it to the parks in December.  Christmas decorations tend to stay up at the Disney Parks through most of the first week in January.  It’s a nice way to see the decor without many of the huge crowds (again, assuming you can stay a few days after New Year’s).
Cons:
Crowds – Yes, this was a pro but on the actual New Year’s Eve and Day (and the week leading up to it) the crowds are terrible.  A few of the parks often close due to capacity being reached.  If you’re going at this time then don’t count on getting many rides in.  Honestly, this is one of the worst holidays to actually visit on if you want to go for the rides.
It can be Cold – Disneyland could especially get pretty chilly at night.  We were at Disney World around this time last year and were fine in jeans and a sweatshirt in the evening.  But it won’t be your typical hot southern California or Florida vacation.  Still pleasant enough for me though.
Overall – A New Year’s trip is fun for those of us who have semi-regular trips to the parks.  If you’re doing a once in a lifetime trip (or close to it) or hate crowds then I wouldn’t advise going over New Year’s because you simply can’t get very much done.

Wishes blue castle

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Pros:
Crowds – Relative to most holidays the crowds here are low.
Weather – The weather is mild in January at both resorts.  I’m going to keep these short if I’m just repeating myself!
Festival of the Arts at Epcot & Lunar New Year at California Adventure – Both coasts have a special celebration going on at this time that have drawn pretty good reviews (Festival of the Arts more so).  This is a unique thing to that time and will probably add to your enjoyment.
Cons:
Not Everyone Has the Day Off – I almost didn’t include Martin Luther King Day because many people don’t have this day off work.  Still, schools have it off so I included it.
Attractions Down for Refurbishment – Around mid-January Disney starts to close down some attractions to get them refreshed.  Martin Luther King Day might fall before that but not always.
Overall – Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good time to visit.  As I mentioned, it’s not always the easiest to get off work but if you can manage then the crowd levels are usually pretty good.  The refurbishments can at times be frustrating but that’s the biggest negative.

Carthay Circle

Presidents Day – This is the exact same as Martin Luther King Day but with more crowds and more refurbishments.  Many of the crowds are due to it being Mid-Winter Break for schools.  This is a decent time to go if you’re planning around a holiday but not great overall.

Easter/Spring Break
Pros:
Spring – 
I think Spring is one of the best times to visit the parks.  The flowers are in bloom and there are many colors to see.  Which leads us to…
Flower and Garden in Epcot and Food and Wine in DCA – More festivals!  Most notably Flower and Garden Festival taking place in Epcot.  The park is really beautiful and even more fun to explore than usual.
Easter Festivities – I know many Spring Breaks don’t fall in line with Easter but… There are some fun Easter celebrations at both resorts.  Brunch, Easter Egg hunts, and more are offered throughout each one, especially Disney World.
Weather – Again, still pretty mild but without a risk of being cold.  You could run into some rain though.
Cons:
Crowds – Spring Break crowds are pretty bad and much worse than Presidents Day (and Martin Luther King Jr. Day).
Refurbs are Wrapping Up – Some of those aforementioned refurbishments will still be going on at this point, though most should have wrapped up by then.
Overall – Easter can be pretty busy but the later you get in April the better.  Depending on when Easter falls, this can be one of the better times to visit.

UK Epcot day

Memorial Day
Pros:
Start of Summer – Disney has started to use Memorial Day as their kickoff to the summer.  New attractions have often opened around this holiday.  So, if you want to be one of the first to ride something new then this might be the time for you.
Longer Hours – Outside of New Year’s Day, all of the holidays that I’ve mentioned so far will usually have shorter park hours than Memorial Day.
Cons:
Weather – It’s starting to get pretty hot at this point in the year.
Crowds – While not as busy as Spring Break or New Year’s, this can still be a pretty busy time to go.
Overall – I think this is a decent time to go.  Many people can’t come at this time because it’s right before school gets out but if you can do a week surrounding Memorial Day then this holiday might be the right one for you.

Epcot Spaceship Earth Mexico

4th of July
Pros:
Great Fireworks – Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and Epcot all offer special fireworks for the 4th of July and they are all great shows.
Longer Hours – The parks are open early and late at this point in the year.
Cons:
Everything Else – It’s hot, super crowded, and there aren’t many great discounts available.
Overall – Yeah, I wouldn’t go at this time if given any other option.

Red gold fireworks

Labor Day
Pros:
Crowds
– The best holiday to go for when considering crowds.  Labor Day is the least busy holiday (so it’s like an average day) and the week surrounding it is relatively empty compared to all other holidays.
Start of events at Disney World – Labor Day now offers the start of the Halloween Party and Food and Wine Festival at WDW.  These are both fun events that can be a ton of fun.  Fall decorations are up around both resorts.
Cheaper – Labor Day is easily the cheapest holiday to visit a Disney Park at.  Hotel rates are cheaper all across the board and discounts are offered for many places.
Cons:
Weather – 
It’s really freaking hot.
School just started – It’s tough to take a trip right around the time school starts.  For some this isn’t an issue but I know many teachers couldn’t do this time.
Overall – Your view of a Labor Day trip will depend on how well you handle heat.  If it’s not a big deal to you then this is the holiday in which you’ll get the most done.

River night

Halloween
Pros:
There are Parties! – 
The Halloween Party is a really fun add-on (albeit maybe overpriced) and going near Halloween will only add to the excitement.
Crowds – Not a ton of people are at the parks around Halloween.
Weather – The heat starts to die down at this point in time.
Cons:
Not a Federal Holiday – No one is getting this day off school or work.  This should automatically be disqualified from this list but I think it’s a fun time to go!
Overall – 
It’s a fun time to go and not super crowded but again, this isn’t actually a holiday so I’m kind of missing the point here.

MK Hocus Pocus Oogie Boogie pot

Thanksgiving
Pros:
Christmas and Thanksgiving – If you go to the parks around Thanksgiving, you get two holidays in one.  Decorations for Christmas will be up around the resorts and there will also be a few Thanksgiving festivities throughout the parks.  Christmas Parties will be in full effect at this point.
More Days Off – This won’t be the same for everyone but many people get the Friday off after Thanksgiving, that leads to more vacation time or having to take less time off.
Weather – Very mild and pleasant at this point.
Cons: 
Crowds – Probably the fourth most crowded holiday behind Christmas, July 4th, and New Year’s.  On the actual holiday, you won’t be able to get much done.
Expensive – Not quite as expensive as a few other holidays but this will be some of the highest prices you’ll find.

Back Main Street MK

Christmas
Pros:
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – It’s a cliché but there is a little more magic in the air at this time and that is in full effect at the Disney Parks.
Special Events Everywhere – This is easily the time of year with the most events going on.  Each park has something special to watch or go to and most of them are more than worth your time.
Weather – You’ve figured this out by now.
Cons:
Crowded – About 4 weeks before Christmas is great but unfortunately not many of us have that day off.  Christmas is extremely crowded everywhere you go.
Expensive – This is one of the most expensive times of the year to visit, if not the most expensive.
Overall – Another case of it being fun for those who go more often but the timing will be a hassle for those trying to get in a bunch of rides.

Blur castle wreath

What holiday would you visit around?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here at Wandering in Disney please subscribe to our blog and like our social media pages.  You can accomplish both of those things on the right side of this page.  If you have any Disney Parks questions please send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com or leave a comment.  We’d be happy to help!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

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