Monday, July 27, 2009

So When Can We Pack Up And Get To The FUN?!

We're a new blog, so we'll start at the very beginning. (We hear it's a good place to start). The first two questions anyone planning a trip asks is "When should I go?" and "Where should I stay?" This post will tackle the first, and our next post will be devoted to the second.

This is a topic that is widely covered on the Interwebs and in travel guides, so we'll talk pure practicality and actual experience.

I have done my best to avoid the busy seasons at Disney. The only times I have NOT done so were when the trip was planned by someone else or for some other (higher?) purpose. In 1992, I went in August because Disney Casting told me that was the best time to come down to find work (LIES!). In 1994, I went in August because I was performing with a group for Magic Music Days, and our director chose the dates per our normal annual tour time. In 2007, I took a trip in late June. The trip was paid for by the owner of the company my husband works for. Beggars are not choosers, and I am not turning down a free trip to Disney for anything. Besides, it gave me a chance to see first-hand what it is really like down there in June.

If you have preschoolers, you are pretty much free to travel whenever you'd like. If at all possible, choose a less busy season... generally January, early February, May, September, October, and the early part of December. If you pay attention to that list, you'll notice that the times I've left out--the busy times--all correspond with a couple of key events... summer and holidays.

Many families find they really have to go in the summer because of school schedules. My family is fortunate enough to live in an area that has year-round schooling, so we are not forced into traveling during this time of year, which is a very high season for Disney crowd-wise. It's also terribly, uncomfortably hot. However, I've found that if you avoid the hottest part of the day by taking naps or enjoying the pool at the resort, this time of year is actually quite pleasant. Park hours are longer and you can take full advantage of the water parks. Not to mention, getting wet on Splash Mountain is a lot more enjoyable.

If your kids are not in school yet or are homeschooled, try to avoid June, July and August. Take advantage of not having your vacation schedule dictated to you by your school schedule. There's time enough for that. That said, the topic of whether or not to take children out of school for a trip to Disney will be one better devoted to its own post.

So when do I normally go? Generally, October or November. Food and wine are my sirens, and this is when Epcot hosts the International Food and Wine Festival. There are all sorts of extra food and beverage choices around World Showcase and the nightly entertainment is kicked up a notch with regular concerts by once-famous bands or musicians.

I also like early May. Even though I'm not really a gardener (I have a black thumb), The Flower and Garden Festival in the spring is a real treat. This is an especially good time to take your preschoolers, as there is usually a temporary playground/jungle gym of remarkable coolness and there are other exhibits that appeal to your littlest ones. These include a series of fairy houses, beautiful topiaries, and a butterfly garden.

I've been in January and in February, and although it's nice to have the parks practically to yourself, it's too chilly to swim. I like my vacations warm, thank you very much. But if you are from points north of the Mason Dixon Line, it may still be warm enough for you in Florida. And you will have the lowest crowds possible (save Presidents' Day week, which is especially busy).

If you love Christmastime, going between Thanksgiving and Christmas allows you to enjoy the parks in full, festive regalia. There are many special events during this time to keep you busy, and if you are lucky, it will be quite warm still. You can also go a little earlier in November, and if you time it right, you can catch the end of the Food and Wine Festival and the beginning of the Christmas decorations.

Going Thanksgiving week, Christmas week, or Easter week is something I have to recommend strongly you do not do whether you are with kids or without unless you have a high tolerance for crowds. And I mean high. Perhaps this year with the downturn in the economy, it will be better, but if it's your first trip, going over a big holiday week will give you many headaches and much disappointment. So far, Disney has been keeping their crowd levels up by offering excellent discounts and deals, so if you can, choose the summer before choosing a holiday.

So, if you have found us yet, tell us... when do you like to go? Leave a comment here or in our thread at Scrapping the Magic!


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about spring and fall, although I have found that my kids will manage to swim no matter when we go : )

tiptippy said...

Oh yes...May and October are our favorites too. We love the festivals. That being said, we've enjoyed ourselves year-round and find ways to avoid crowdws and have a perfectly marvelous time no matter what time of year. Joanna aka disney_a_go_go

Unknown said...

We have always preferred to go the week after Labor Day weekend. The first time we went was beacuse my wife wanted to give me an excellent birthday (Sept 8), but when we got there it was dead slow and the CM working the concierge floor at the AKL told us that the day after labor day is considered by some to be the slowest day ever and that week after is slow as well.

But over the past few years with the advent of "free dining" we've noticed the crowds getting larger as they try to get people to come during the dreaded Hurricane Season. I think the numbers will keep climbing until another hurricane hits Central Florida or another Katrina-like event occurs in the gulf.

We may need to try Jan/Feb now to get back to those low crowd levels we love so much

Unknown said...

Right after Labor Day was a beauty we discovered about 4 years ago and ever since, that's been our favorite week. I do like going when some of the special events are going on, Halloween, Food & Wine Festival, etc. You definitely have to be ready for crowds...especially weekends at the Food & Wine Fest. We are doing first ever Christmas vacation to Disney but we'll be there 2 weeks in all so hopefully the crowds don't seem to stress us out too much since we have time on our side. Other than Sept, anytime in the fall is great and we've also enjoyed Jan!

jenlar said...

Very good info! We homeschool so we usually go in May and September to avoid the crowds and summer heat.

One thing to remember about the pools is that they are heated year-round. If the kids are a little older, then you can go for a swim and then wrap up in a towel for a mad dash back to the room!

disneynorth said...

All of August isn't horrible. My family used to go to Florida during the last couple of weeks in August and the crowds seem to be thinner. I believe it is due to the fact that most southern states are back to school by then. Yes, it is still really hot at the end of the August, but it can be just as quiet as the fall. That is probably the reason why the free dining plan now starts at the end of August....

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