Maybe.. just maybe... which dates for dec-jan to avoid crowds?

So there is a slight chance we may be planning a trip to FL in dec-jan. And, trying not get too excited but also getting too excited (!!!), I’ve just started playing around with possible WDW dates. You know, just in case…

If we had the option of going (these are full days, excluding arrival/departure and possible half days):

Dec 18-21
Dec 27-30
Jan 2-5

Without going into details/itinerary/all that, what would you pick?

The major factor for me is of course crowd levels and I suspect the middle one is the least appealing due to this. But I will look up the calendars next, first I wanted to hear some preliminary thoughts.

Additionally, I’d like to hear if there is something major in addition to crowds that I should consider. I think these avoid all holiday events etc?

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None of these dates are ideal because you will be overlapping at least a couple days with most people’s vacation. However, December 18-21 strikes me as the best option, followed by January 2-5. January 2nd will be pretty busy, but the 3rd - 5th might be ok. Have you checked the crowd calendar yet? That will at least give you an idea of historical crowds on those dates.


I will do that and also check historical levels and wait times tomorrow morning :sunglasses:

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I agree with @Jeff_AZ. Maybe helpful info is that block out dates for military tickets, AP Gold are Dec 17 - Jan 1 b/c Disney considers this as winter break time; heavy crowds.


Who knows what type of Christmas parades/cavalcades Disney plans this year, but in 2019 the last day for the Christmas parade was Dec. 31. Once it was January, they switched back to regular stuff.

I vote for Dec. 18-21 for the most festive yet not the most crowded.


So looking at past crowds and my own experience…:

Dec 18-21 - seems like school vacations at least in FL start on the 21st, but I imagine the weekend before will be quite popular to travel in. The 23rd is when christmas crowds of course really kick in, but it seems to build up a few days before.

In 2019, I was in MK on dec 20th at RD and it was surprisingly quiet, very comfortable level.

The 21st (went to HS and AK) was a more busy day overall and it kicks up from there towards christmas. Based on that, I think this is a pretty good time, it’ll already be the busier season but not the super crowds.

Dec 27-30 - Ok this was pretty funny - I had totally forgotten we had nearly exactly the same dates a few years ago. I recall it was pretty busy, definitely more crowded than 10 days earlier, before christmas. It’s all CL 9-10 here, both historically and predicted. Better than dec 24-26 or dec 31st, but still very very busy.

Jan 2-5 - These dates are not looking great, looking very busy on the crowd calendars both historic and predictions. The closest I’ve gone was jan 7th-10th and it had started to ease up by then, but those first days til the 5th are still very busy.

So it’s pretty obvious that right in the beginning of our trip is the time to go. That is, if we go. best to start planning any way!!

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We have a trip booked January 1-9. I knew the first few days would be bad but I’m hoping the rest isn’t too bad. I’m not sure about schools in the US, but here the kids are back on the 3rd so I figured that might help a bit with crowds. Fingers crossed FL has the same school breaks.
If it wasn’t that week, I’d go with Dec 18-21. It will likely be busy with it being a weekend and also the first week of kids being out of school. Dec 27-30 is way too busy for us.

Edit to add: Jan 1 -9 is showing as crowd levels 4 and 5 for WDW. There is one 3 toward the middle of the trip.

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I feel like there is something off with the CL’s here. According to TP data, Jan 1st-5th have in recent years (I looked at 2018-2020) been pretty much CL10 all around, but the predictions show what you mentioned, around CL4-5. Maybe this is skewed because of Covid and this ongoing year? I’m sure there has been discussion on this but I haven’t been following very closely.

Any way, it’s of course difficult to predict 2022 as much depends on how the pandemic evolves, but if past years are any prediction, the first week of Jan would be much higher.

Maybe someone with better understanding and experience can chime in!

I think part of it is how the dates fall in the week. Sometimes it’s easy for places to add a few more days to take the rest of the week off for the break. In 2022, the 1st is on Saturday, and I can imagine a lot of places trying to resume work/school on Monday the 3rd. But this year is still very unpredictable, in terms of what numbers do and how schools/workplaces want to schedule the Christmas break (e.g. will schools still do an extra long break?).

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From our experience a couple of years ago, I agree with the earlier dates and your experience from years past. It did get progressively more crowded on the week we were there, which ended on Dec. 21.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is such a great time to be there though, even if there are some crowds (and I really dislike crowds, more than your average Liner I suspect). Christmas at WDW is just a special time. I hope it works out so that you can go.


I am sure it is hard to predict with everything going on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the first week of January 2022 is CL 4-6 after the 3rd or 4th when kids go back to school. We went early January 2020 and it was mostly CL 4-5. It might feel like more than 4-6 if the lines are long due to social distancing.

That’s interesting, TP data has almost the entire first week of 2020 as CL9-10 too. The only exception is Sat jan 4th which is listed as a CL4 at MK and CL8-9 at all the other parks. Then back to 9-10 the following day, in fact 10 everywhere else but 9 at Epcot. On Jan 7th it eases down to CL7-8.

I guess all this data needs to be taken with a grain of salt :thinking:

We went the second week in 2020. I think the first week of 2022 will be more similar to the second week was in 2020 because of the way the holiday falls and school closures etc.