The dates provided are according to Walt Disney World and based on history. Disney has 5 levels of crowds, but as of 2021, they will have 7 levels. The dates for 2020 and 2021 have been separated below due to this change. There is a big difference between what we consider to be crowded versus “Disney Crowded”. There are no slow times at WDW anymore. There are “less busy times”. Disney may consider it to be a “slow time”, but that is because their rooms have not sold out. And, this is how Disney prices their tickets, resort nightly rates, dining, etc. Supply and demand. The more demand, the higher the prices. As always, plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Level 5 for 2020 is the worst and most busy time to visit. If at all possible, these are the worst times to avoid in 2020, which are considered to be level 5 out of 5 levels:
- April 5 – 18, 2020
- December 24 – 31, 2020
Other really busy times that are not recommended, in addition to the above dates, and are considered Level 4 out of 5 levels:
- February 16 – April 4, 2020 (Spring/Easter Break)
- April 19 – 30, 2020 (Spring/Easter Break)
- June 11 – August 15, 2020
- November 25 – 27, 2020 (Thanksgiving)
The remaining weeks for 2020 are listed below. Level 3 of 5 is still very crowded, but not nearly as bad as levels 4 or 5. Level 2 of 5 is almost “empty” according to Disney, but still very crowded to us. Level 1 of 5 is prime time to go to Walt Disney World. Please remember that our version of slow is very different from “Disney slow”. But, trust me, all of the weeks below are WAAAAYYYY better than any of the weeks on levels 4 and 5.
Another very important thing to remember is that the weekends are never really that good year-round (especially holiday weekends). **Some weeks listed below include holidays, which will be busier than the slowest times, but, certainly, not the crazy, busy times like Christmas, summer and Spring/Easter breaks. The weekdays are always best in the weeks below.
With all of that being said, here are the weeks that are considered to be “slow” (and less expensive) according to Disney (levels 1, 2 and 3):
January–All month. **(Level 1 of 5) (Tip: Best to plan after marathon weekend and avoid holiday weekend.)
February–1 – 15 (Level 3 of 5)
May–All Month. ** (Level 3 of 5) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
June–1 – 10 (Level 3 of 5)
August–16 – 31. (Level 3 of 5)
September–All month. ** (Level 1 of 5) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
October–All month.** (Level 2 of 5) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
November–1 – 24 (Level 2 of 5) 28 – 30. (Level 2 of 5)
December–1 – 14 (Level 1 of 5) 15 – 23 (Level 2 of 5)
As I said above, Disney changed the levels for 2021. There are now 7 levels. If at all possible, these are the worst times to avoid in 2021, which are considered to be level 7 out of 7 levels:
- March 28 – April 4, 2021
- December 24 – December 31, 2021
Other really busy times in 2021 that are not recommended, in addition to the above dates, and are considered Level 6 out of 7 levels:
- February 16 – February 28, 2021 (Spring Break)
- March 1 – March 27, 2021 (Spring Break)
- April 5 – April 10, 2021 (Spring/Easter Break)
- November 24 – 26, 2021 (Thanksgiving)
Still very busy, but not as bad as levels 6 and 7. Not recommended to go during these dates, either, because some people do not have a choice and only have these times to go such as teachers. Level 5 out of 7:
- April 11 – April 30, 2021
- June 11 – August 15, 2021
I cannot emphasize enough that “Disney slow” is so different from our version of slow. October got bumped up in 2021 to another level, because it is an incredibly popular time to go to Food & Wine Festival. During F&W Festival, it is not recommended to go to Epcot Friday through Monday. Try to go to Epcot Tuesday – Thursday. If you must choose one of the other days, choose Friday or Monday.
Here are the weeks in 2021 that are considered to be “slow” (rooms not sold out and less expensive tickets, nightly resort rates, etc.) according to Disney (levels 1-4):
January–All month. **(Level 2 of 7) (Tip: plan after marathon weekend and avoid holiday weekend.)
February–1 – 15 (Level 4 of 7)
May–All month **(Level 3 of 7) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
June–1 – 10 (Level 3 of 7)
August–16 – 31 (Level 4 of 7)
September–1 – 19 **(Level 1 of 7) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
September–20 – 30 (Level 2 of 7)
October–All month **(Level 3 of 7) (Avoid holiday weekend.)
November–1 – 23 (Level 3 of 7)
November–27 – 30 (Level 3 of 7)
December–1 – 23 (Level 2 of 7)
Final thoughts, tips and personal experiences: Be mindful of holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Jr, Labor Day, etc. They can be more crowded than usual, but not too busy to change your vacation. You may just want to avoid the Magic Kingdom on the weekend and go on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. And, avoid Epcot Friday-Monday during Food & Wine Festival. In my opinion, the first week in January is pretty busy, too, because of people who are still there from Christmas week and upcoming marathon weekend. There is a significant drop in crowds from the holidays, but the rooms are packed with runners from all over the world and there is a boat load of traffic.
“Plan for the worst and hope for the best” is the best advice I can give you and the best way to go about planning your Walt Disney World vacation regardless of the time of year you decide to go. Known slow times have turned into the most busy times on certain years, because hurricanes or some force of nature caused thousands of guests to reschedule their trip, which is out of the norm, but it can happen. You could plan to go during a level 1, but it could be more busy than normal, because of some prior change. Be prepared. This way, you will be pleasantly happy with lower crowds than you expected instead of being overwhelmed with much more people than you expected. Most importantly, pack your patience and have a magical time!