Fall 2017 dates to travel?

Our family is planning a return trip to WDW next fall. We are a family of five, soon-to-be six, so this might be our last time staying with the whole family on property as the options for six (as opposed to five plus an infant) jump way up in price. We’ve never done DDP and would like to snag “free” dining, again, since this is our last shot for a while to do that.

I’ve been deliberating since our last trip in January about when to go. I finally settled on September 13-20; the first full week after LD, maybe we’d catch the beginning of F&W, probably low crowds. We live in the south and can deal with the heat, though obviously it’s uncomfortable.

I’m wondering though if November would be better? Reading about how Avatar stuff really leaves things up in the air. If it opens in summer or even September, we really can’t count on low crowds. Also, I’m reading about how crowds were high even during the day at F&W this year (it’s been ten years since I’ve been to the festival and only found it to be crowded at night and on weekends back in the day).

Since we can’t count on low crowds, maybe counting on lower temps will make things a lot more comfortable?? Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences that can help? Thank you!

We went this year from Sept 22-28 for pretty much the exact reasons that you state: low crowds and early F&W. We had a fantastic time but have decided that next time we will be going in November. The crowds were definitely ideal (except for Saturday at Epcot - crazy!) but it was really, really hot for us New Englanders. We’ve gone a few times in September and October and once in November and the temperatures were just so much better for us in November.

The only thing to consider would be the decorations/parties. We LOVE the Halloween party and the decorations and the food and we will miss that in November. I’m looking forward to seeing Christmas decorations though! I have a feeling we will go back in the “fall” at some point for another Halloween party.

I would guess that Avatar won’t be a huge bump in overall attendance. I’d presume it would be tough for many to adjust plans at a late date to hit the open and even if it’s a monster draw it should be localized to AK. So it wouldn’t affect touring the other parks for the most and even at AK if it draws everyone to Avatar, it might be easier to tour the rest of the park. Basically I wouldn’t change plans guessing on if/when Avatar will open unless you definitely want to see Avatar on your next visit.

I’ve heard September is great as all the schools are just in session so attendance is low as no one is taking off the 2nd week of school, but it’s still hot. We’ve gone late October/early November a few times and been pleased with the crowds and the temperatures. World Showcase at Epcot can be rough due to F&W, especially if you don’t care for F&W but just want the normal stuff at WS. For us the temperature difference would likely be worth waiting for November, but if you like heat/humidity, the lower crowds would be tempting - probably can’t go to wrong either way…

Glad to hear that the crowds were good for you! Did things at Epcot seem crazy during the week/daytime, or were they okay? Kind of worried about the Frozen Ever After crowds + F&W.

Did you do the Halloween party? I was scared off reading reports… our kids are very little and it didn’t seem like a great fit for us with the late night and reported large crowds.

I went to Universal for the first and only time the day that the Harry Potter section opened and it was insane all over… I’m just scared of tons of people deciding to make last minute travel plans to see Avatar and throwing off the numbers… but maybe it would just be Floridians doing this to see AK like you said and not so much out of town visitors?

I may be totally off here, but I know I’d find it hard to make a spur of the moment big DIS trip to see Avatar if it opened. I’d expect locals and folks looking to just experience Avatar making a quick weekend trip and just hitting Avatar. But I’m guessing. I would expect long lines for Avatar, but not sure the rest of the parks would be affected negatively.

I will also point out that Harry Potter is one of the biggest & most beloved franchises in the world, while Avatar was a good 3D movie. I’ve never met anyone who absolutely LOVES Avatar.

We went to Epcot and did F&W on both Monday and Tuesday afternoon and thought that the crowds were perfectly reasonable. Most of the booths had lines 2-3 people long and there were plenty of places to sit or stand at empty tables or benches. Even the pavilion entertainment did not feel elbow to elbow at all. We did FEA on Monday for a 1:15pm FP+ and the crowds seemed fine. We did purposely stay away from Norway in the morning though.

We did not do the Halloween party this time as it was our first trip with our 1 year old. We were back in the hotel by 7:30pm on all nights. We did it in 2013 and 2014. I would probably wait until your kids could stay out at least until 10pm to make it worth it for the cost. I think it depends on the night, but I don’t think that the crowds at the party are too bad. I love the atmosphere, but again, with slightly older grade schoolers is probably best.

That’s a good point–I’m not even really a fan myself. I guess it just comes down to a few more people vs. the weather. I’m remembering the last time I went in June I swore I wouldn’t go back when it was that hot again.

Glad to hear it’s not too crazy or crowded! I’ve been reading a lot of reports that make things sound insane…

That’s kind of what I am thinking about MNSSHP–and my kids are really too little to stay out.

Our last trip was the week before Thanksgiving week and it was great. All of the park decorations were up and some of the resorts were decorated as well.

Well since you asked…

I’m not sure if your kids school schedules will dictate when you go or not but for me the absolute best week is the week immediately after Thanksgiving. The crowds are as low as crowds at Disney get these days. The weather is beautiful, cool in the morning and late and warm but not hot during the day. All of holiday theming is up and running, storytellers and Candlelight processional at Epcot, The resort trees and gingerbread displays, the Christmas parties are going, It’s really great.

This year you could book a trip that got free dining that week. in 2014 you could not, so you never know with that. I’m not a fan of the Dining plan though. Because you have to pay rack rate on your hotel room it’s not really free, and those required 18% tips at every meal add up fast, especially since you’re ordering more food than you might ordinarily if you were paying out of pocket.

September is just too hot for me. I think it’s just as warm but even more humid after a summer of daily showers than June.

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We are going the week after thanksgiving this year. I love the parks in November and December as the Xmas decor is beautiful, and as mentioned, temperatures are good (we are not used to hot weather as in the uk!). We went to Epcot during the F&W (last week of it running last year) and unfortunately it was very busy in the day and at night for us, but more in terms of navigating through lots of people. The attraction waits were not too bad.

We aren’t tied down to any school schedules, luckily! How crowded does it “feel” the week after Thanksgiving or the first week of December?

We arrived the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That day still felt pretty buy but died off a decent amount by Sunday. The rest of the week was great. The parks always ‘feel’ busy to me no matter when we go but the ride times definitely didn’t reflect that. We tossed out our touring plans most days because we were finishing way ahead of schedule. By the following Saturday when we left it was feeling much busier because they were taping the parade so there were cheerleaders and dance troops all over but really that was contained to main street. If they move the taping to November like they did last year it won’t even be an issue. Or if not just avoid MK that day.

I am second guessing my plan of going the week after Thanksgiving 2017, but your post is helping me make the decision. Deliberating between the week before Thanksgiving and the week after. Waiting for crowd calendar to catch up.

I’m still researching when to go; one thing to note for times after Thanksgiving is that unless you’re paying for the Christmas party the MK closes T, Th, F, S & S at 7. You won’t be able to see Wishes except on Monday/Wednesday. At least if the same rules apply in 2017. So that can change your plans a bit! For us we have several very young children that can’t stay out late so the Christmas party isn’t really worth it. We also usually don’t park hop but may end up having to do that so we can just hop to Wishes one of the nights it’s being shown rather than having to be in a (probably) very crowded MK for a whole day.

Just one small correction, the Christmas party doesn’t run on Saturday nights. So Saturday is a great night for a late night at MK to catch Wishes etc. as the park is usually open fairly late as well. Our most recent trips we try to hit 2 Saturdays for late nights at the Magic Kingdom.

It’s also worth nothing that the Halloween party runs starting in September with pretty much the same schedule so September thru December have party issues. And January has lots of seasonal closings of rides, water rides especially, for repair and refurb just after the busy holiday season.

Thanks for the correction. We usually go in January/February and just deal with the refurbs.

People with shorter than 7-day trips who aren’t going to the parties are probably the most impacted.

This is interesting - we are in the same conundrum & ended up booking 9/1-9/10 AND 11/10-11/19. We will cancel one but because of ADRs (Sept) & general lack of rooms (November) felt like I had to book … good news is I did manage to get all our desired ADRs for Sept last night so that’s done… now just to wait & see the 17-18 school calendar (releases end of March), FD dates, and then I guess we will actually make our decision…

I’m an annual passholder who just moved here from Iowa a year ago. This information is important because I have the perspective of an occasional long distance traveler and have the respect for the sacrifice it takes to get down here, and the perspective of a local who can go frequently on a last minute whim.

We used to bring our large family to WDW for an every other year vacation. We have 9 in our family, so we never stayed onsite. We have this year with our smaller family though. So I have the perspective of staying on and offsite too.

You might consider staying offsite now that your family is getting larger. We have rented houses through VRBO, stayed at the Blue Heron, and at the Mystic Dunes in Celebration. We will be staying there, Mystic Dunes, for a family get together with our kids and their spouses and grandkids this summer, all totalling 14 now.

The reason we stayed offsite is we could get our rooms for under $150 a piece and sleep all of us, with the exception of the Mystic Dunes which came to us as we inherited my mother-in-law’s timeshare (which I wish we hadn’t due to the fees and taxes).

We always have/had kitchens/kitchenettes for making meals, and we eat off site at Sweet Tomatoes. The kids can eat until they are full at for a fraction of the costs, and get healthier food. That said, however, I know a lot of people that go to Disney for the food experience, but I always saw it as a waste of time and money. Everyone is different and I respect that.

I know, also, that some of the savings of the cost of a rental car by being offsite takes away some of the savings of staying offsite, but there are sooooo many great places to visit in Central Florida on your off days and having a rental car makes that possible. A day or two break from the parks is rejuvenating. See my non-monetized blog wdwlens.blogspot.com for ideas.

Now, about the crowds… I go probably every three weeks with my three remaining kids that haven’t left the nest. My experience this year is that there has not been one day that has thrilled me due to lack of crowds. Someone has seemed to gotten the memo that such and such a time is not crowded and now they are coming when it’s “not crowded” so now it’s crowded. Plus, touring plans lately needs another couple of years with the new pricing, and other changes to be able to be accurate. I have found their crowd levels to be quite consistently predicted to be lower than what was expected. Take this last Monday, for instance, MK was predicted to be a five and it was…an…8!!! It was horrible.

Wednesday MK was predicted to be a 4 or 5, I can’t exactly remember, but it was a 7.

On October 13th AK was predicted to be a 6 and it was a 9. And January 6 it was predicted to be a 6 and it was a 9. I have not had any luck on my days since August.

However, I have learned that a crowded day at WDW is better than no day at WDW, and one needs to lower expectations, bring your patience, and get your Fast Passes for the middle of the day when it will be hot and you don’t want to be standing in long lines. It can get hot in December too.

Get to the parks at rope drop and ride like mad people your favorite rides until 10:30. At 11:00 go off site and get lunch. Come back and ride your FP rides from 1 or 2 to 4 or 5, and then get a snack in the parks, or dinner, and then ride rides during the parades, and stay late…if you have the energy. On a 9 level day we rode Everest single rider 4 times from 7:00 until 8:00.

Pay more attention to the hourly crowd levels and plan around those as opposed to daily crowd levels because it is possible to have fun on a level 9 day if you do that. Don’t plan your several thousand dollar vacation on a prediction that may or may not happen.

Now, that being said, yes, you and I are both used to the South, but beings that we can’t depend solely on the crowd predictions, I would suggest the end of November and the beginning of December, or the end of January and the beginning of February, just because a cooler day is going to make an unexpected crowd more tolerable. Heat and crowds = misery. Don’t go during the Princess Half Marathon, or anytime after the third week of December, or the third week of March to the third week of April. And summer is out until the third week of August.

I hope I don’t sound too negative. I just don’t want you to have your bubble burst.

I have just heard so many people as I walk by murmuring because they didn’t expect the crowds. They planned to and expected to walk on. I’m afraid those days are over. I don’t mean to be a pessimist. The only way I could know for sure is to attend every day, but so far, it’s been consistently busy on the the days that were predicted to be low, so I’ve learned to use the hourly predictions to deal with it.

Also, be willing go to the old attractions to fill in, i.e. People Mover, Carousel of Progress, Country Bear. You will fill more accomplished and more satisfied the more attractions you get in, and if you aren’t standing in line for 2 hours for the Mine Train, you will feel better about what you have accomplished.

Those old attractions are still great and nostalgic.