Long lines, up to two hours or more, can be avoided with planning
When is the best time to visit Disney World and Universal Studios?
Aside from the obvious “anytime”, the off season at Disney World provides the greatest value and the shortest lines. The off season runs from the last two weeks of August through early March-- with some notable exceptions. Among the busiest weeks of the year are Thanksgiving, late December, Presidents Day and Spring Break. In between those dates you will find nearly empty parks and fantastic bargains on hotels and Disney area rental homes. Take advantage of the low crowds, low prices, short lines and cooler weather while visiting Florida theme parks including Universal Studios, Sea World, Disney World and Legoland.
Imagine being able to ride all of the biggest attractions to your heart’s content! Because of such short lines in the off season, you can ride the most popular rides like Splash Mountain, Soarin’, Toy Story Mania and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with minimal wait. No need for fast passes or the magic wristbands! No long waits in the hot sun! Low season provides many opportunities to ride your favorite rides multiple times.
Making the most of this quiet time also includes being able to relax and check out the newest attractions in the parks. You can enjoy the minimal crowds and take your time while visiting the New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. Dinner at the new Be Your Guest restaurant often requires reservations months ahead of time during high season. Riding Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios has proven to be almost impossible during the busy months due to Fast Pass running out most times by mid-day! Otherwise you have no choice but to wait in line sometimes up to 2 hours or more. The newly refurbished Test Track in EPCOT will surely be a very popular ride in the high season.
Low season is a great way for little ones to spend extra time with the characters. They will be delighted with pictures, autographs and spending a little extra time interacting with the characters without getting antsy standing in the hot sun and long lines.
At Universal Studios, imagine being able to roam freely in Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, enjoying a delicious butter beer or selecting your very own magic wand without getting stressed out that hundreds of others are trying to do the same. The newest 3-D attractions, Despicable Me, Minion Mayhem and Transformer are very popular. In the winter months, you can practically walk right on!
Other advantages begin even before you leave home. Many airlines offer discounted tickets during this time, and many hotels and vacation rental homes offer discounted rates. For instance, the specials at Disneyarearentalhome.com can be nearly half off the weekly rates for prime season. Picture your family in your spacious vacation rental home a few minutes from Disney, being able to sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast at your house before venturing out to the parks. You have no fear of trying to beat the crowds and feeling stressed out. At the end of the day, you have plenty of time to come home, have a relaxing dinner or maybe take a ride to Downtown Disney. Enjoying the heated pool, taking in a movie or bowling at Splitsville are some of the many options available because you would have already fulfilled all of the rides and attractions your family wanted to visit that day.
Off season saves you money on tickets as well. During the high season, you often need a multi-day pass to ensure that your family can enjoy all of the rides and see all of the shows. During the off season, you can probably get everything in that your family wants to see in half the time. This allows you to save the money you would have spent on additional days in one park to explore other neighboring attractions such as Sea World, LegoLand or even the beautiful Florida beaches.
Mid Novemeber and no lines at Harry Potter, by Christmas you can count on two hour lines.
In early to mid November the lines at Wizarding World are nearly non-existent. By Christmas this will be the start of a two hour wait. Certain weeks are best, early November, early December, the last three weeks of January and all of February except for President's Day week. A great resource is the calendar offered by Undercover Tourist. This helps you plan not just the week but the specific park to go to on any specific day.Plan ahead and visit Disney World in the off season if you can. You will be amazed at how much you can do in a day and still have time to enjoy the Florida sun!
Spring is a great time to visit Walt Disney World with fewer crowds, lower costs
and, of course, the weather is wonderful. From March 6 to May 19 you can also enjoy EPCOT’s 20th anniversary of the International Flower and Garden Festival. The festival is sponsored by HGTV and offers many interesting exhibits, demonstrations, and over 50 seminars on improving the landscape of your home.
The beautiful 3D character flower displays are a huge draw to this festival. In the past, displays have included 3D forms of Tinkerbell, Winnie the Pooh and friends, princesses, and, of course, Mickey. Many Pixar characters are on display as well. There will even be illuminated gardens and displays for after dark enhancement! This years festival will highlight Monsters Inc and Oz and will include a circus themed area. Only the Disney imagineers can pull this off, and they never disappoint. Children will delight in the Land of Oz play area with play equipment featuring huge flowers.
There is plenty of exciting entertainment, family fun with interactive play areas for kids and a Flower Power concert series, featuring artists from the 60’s and 70’s. Food kiosks will be added in the World Showcase, as well as special menus offered by Epcot’s top chefs. There will be circus themed tents filled with carnival games and many photo opportunities with characters and even a "crashed" hot air balloon from Disney's upcoming "Oz The Great and Powerful".
There is something for all ages to enjoy, so long as you love fun, games, flowers, landscaping or whimsical topiary creations. If some in your party are not so interested, there are still many other spring time attractions for them. Enjoy the flowers and festivities while hubby is off at spring training
baseball games or playing golf
. Spring is an enchanted time of year at Epcot and one you have to see for yourself. The festival is included in the price of your Epcot Admission.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will take place starting September 19 and last until November 10, 2014. Disney has now published many of the acts and special events.
In prior years approximately 30 marketplaces lined the world showcase at Epcot offering various culinary delights and beverages. Renowned chefs will offer signature experiences during this festival and there will always be demonstrations and wine seminars and classes for the wine enthusiast. To compliment the experience, Disney offers the Eat to the Beat concert series. With three shows each night, at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00, the 2013 Eat to the Beat concert series includes the following lineup (subject to change):
· Sept 19-21 – Jo Dee Messina
· Sept. 22-23 – The Pointer Sisters
· Sept. 24-25 – Rick Springfield
· Sept. 26-27 – Christopher Cross
· Sept. 28-29 – Hanson
· Sept. 30-Oct. 2 – Air Supply
· Oct. 3-5 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
· Oct. 6-8 – Sugar Ray
· Oct. 9-10 – Fuel
· Oct. 11-12 – Sister Hazel
· Oct. 13-14 – TBD
· Oct. 15-16 – Billy Ocean
· Oct. 17-19 – Night Ranger
· Oct. 20-22 – Smash Mouth
· Oct. 23-24 – Jim Brickman
· Oct. 25-26 – Los Lonely Boys
· Oct. 27-28 – Wilson Phillips
· Oct. 29-31 – Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX
· Nov. 1-2 – 38 Special
· Nov. 3-5 – Boyz II Men
· Nov. 6-7 – David Cook
· Nov. 8-10 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy While individual events may eclipse the entertainment value of Food and Wine Festival at Disney, nothing else compares to the Food and Wine Festival for adult entertainment during a week long stay at Disney World. For a wealth of information on the food events check out http://www.disneyfoodblog.com
Disney offers few experiences that cater to adults, especially since the demise of Pleasure Island. The Food and Wine festival, while not reminiscent of Pleasure Island, is a suitable family experience but caters to adults more than children. Historically, this has always been a slow time for Disney and the Food and Wine Festival seems to help a bit. It is unquestionably one of the best times to go to Disney World if you can manage to plan a vacation at this time of year. The crowds are among the lowest of the year and the hotel and rental home prices are rock bottom. Disney's advertised rates are among the lowest of the year and the dining package is usually offered free with a full price room. For larger groups, rental homes are often priced 25% below peak times and can accommodate large families or groups for the same price as a room at a moderate Disney resort.
One concern for travelers during this time frame is hurricane season in Florida. While hurricane season runs until November 30, the busiest time is August into September. Odds of a hurricane disruption are slim and you can protect your trip with travel insurance. The weather during the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival should be pleasant with temperatures in late September averaging about 88 degrees Fahrenheit and by early November averaging about 79 degrees. September is the fourth rainiest month in Orlando while October and November are very dry.
If traveling as a couple you can stay within walking distance of Epcot by booking at the Boardwalk, Yacht Club or Beach Club. All are pricey but fun if you can afford them. You can also try the Swan or Dolphin which, while not Disney hotels, are in the park and adjacent to the Boardwalk area sharing the same boat service to the back entrance to Epcot. For larger groups, a rental home is your best bet and the entire home with pool, spa and games room will be considerably cheaper than the Disney deluxe resorts.