My husband, two little boys, and I just returned from a greatly anticipated, fun-filled 9 night stay at the Walt Disney World Resort. We visited from May 6 – May 15 with 7 Day Magic Your Way tickets. I’ve got so much to share with you from our trip, but I figured we may as well start with the basics. Many factors played a part down to the last detail of our vacation throughout the planning process. My main considerations when planning a trip to WDW will always be weather, crowds, and rates. While early May is rarely listed on those “best times to go” lists, I’d have to argue that maybe it should be – for my family, anyway. Here’s why.
1. Rates. Room rates are higher than the value season, but not by much. We benefited from a nice discount that allowed us to move from an All-Star resort to Pop Century and add on an extra night for little to no cost. Being able to add on the extra night meant having an extra day to explore and relax versus going to the parks so many days back to back. Priceless!
2. Crowds. Any time school is in session is a better time to go where crowds are concerned. When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom in the late afternoon on a Wednesday, we had 3 FastPasses. We used those, explored the park, stopped for dinner (and a snack a couple of hours later), AND experienced 10 additional attractions between 5 and 11pm. We hadn’t planned to stay so late after a long day of travel but walking onto rides made it nearly impossible to leave. My kids fell asleep in their strollers while watching the Main Street Electrical Parade. The longest we waited in any line was 80 minutes and that was to meet Baymax and Hiro from Big Hero 6 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Aside from that long wait, we waited 40 minutes to ride Soarin’ early in the day since we could not make a FastPass+ for both Soarin’ and Test Track. We carefully selected our FastPass+ options at the 60 day mark to ensure that we got to ride the hottest rides without waiting in the longest lines. Typical wait times throughout our visit were about 20 minutes without a FastPass+ and many were far less. One quick-service food location was extremely busy and it took 15 minutes before finding a seat (granted, we chose to eat at the busiest time of day). There were a handful of times when crowds felt dense moving through the park with strollers, but overall we had a very pleasant experience.
3. Weather. Visiting Walt Disney World during the summer is not on my bucket list. The heat, humidity, and frequent pop up thundershowers can make for a miserable time, especially for young children. We had highs of about 90 degrees throughout our trip and it was hot, but the humidity was bearable for the most part. There were 2 days when we were all pretty uncomfortable and made a beeline to the pool at our first opportunity. The rest of our 9 day visit was great and we were very lucky that it didn’t rain once. We were certainly prepared with our ponchos and stroller covers (ok, they were just oversized trash bags). Late January and early February are often pinpointed as a fantastic time to visit. I have been then and the crowd levels were fantastic, however it was not warm enough (for us) to swim. My kids would feel like they were really missing out if they did not get to swim on vacation. The pool was 100% refreshing after hot days in the parks.
As a bonus, we got to experience the Flower & Garden Festival at EPCOT by visiting during this time. I would absolutely love to visit during this time of year again.
Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.