First off, I want to apologize for my tardiness in this post. Life, as it does sometimes, got the better of me, and I just flat ran out of time! :) Oh well...not much you can do, I guess.
Anyway, I wanted to address a quick question that seems so benign, but can be the biggest determining factor when thinking about your Disney Vacation (or any vacation, for that matter):
When Should I travel to Disney?
The answer isn't quite as simple as you may think. For many of us, our lives and our calendars revolve around the school calendar. My daughter is in kindergarten and as a result, we are bound, to some extent, by the school holidays, and specifically the big ones (i.e. Christmas, Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Summer, etc.). My wife is a teacher in a different district so we also have to take into account her schedule as well.
Others like to travel during "off season" times. These are mainly during the school year, mid semester (either fall or spring) and generally during the week. With Disney, while there may be days that have less attendance at the parks than others, a true "off season" doesn't really exist in my opinion. Disney is a destination that is far reaching, with visitors coming from all over the world. While most of us in the United States are on basically the same school schedule for our students, many in the rest of the world are not. As a result, the patronage at Disney only slows...but never stops.
That being said, there are better times to visit than others. The first thing you should look at are the events that are happening in the parks. For instance, two of the biggest events held at Walt Disney World in Orlando are the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Happening on opposite sides of the calendar (Flower and Garden is in the spring; Food and Wine is in the fall), these events draw huge crowds during a normally slower time of the year for theme parks in general. These festivals, however, both offer some significantly special events for those interested (I'll explore those in later posts. For those interested, please visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/ or https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival/ for those festival dates/information).
Other popular events include Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween, Disney Holidays featuring the Osborne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios, Run Disney and the Disney Marathon, and the various special weekends that are not annual, but are still special (like this year, 2013, they are having a number of Star Wars weekends, and specifically on September 13, there will be a Villain Day as this is the only Friday the 13th that is happening in the 2013 calendar). These all offer special times and events, and in many cases, special rates for tickets, rooms, and vacation packages.
For our family, taking one of the holidays at the parks is our favorite time. Specifically, the week of Thanksgiving. We feel that the crowds are not too bad, the weather in south Florida is great, and we get to spend Thanksgiving in one of the most magical places on the planet! Of course, it's during a vacation time for most of the country, so it's a balance of wanting to have the magic, but at the risk of a larger than average crowd.
It's best to look at a large picture of the calendar. There are a number of resources available to help you decide on the time of year to go to the parks. It is imperative to use all of the information that is presented to make the best informed decision you can. You would never want to plan a trip, get there, and realize that you've misjudged the crowds, weather, day light, or any other variable and cause a trip that you've planned for quite some time to become less than stellar.
Some items to think about when planning when to go include:
Family/Friends Going With You
Stopping to consider all of those will ensure that you have a truly magical time at a Disney property.
Last, but certainly no least, if you have any questions, contact an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They are specially trained to help you navigate the myriad of decisions that must be made in order to plan a vacation getaway. Remember, their services are free, and you can rely on them to make the trip of a lifetime happen for you and your family.
Until next time, have a Magical Day and always look forward to your Enchantment Destination!