The Ultimate Guide to Value, Regular, and Peak Season at WDW
When is the BEST time to go to Walt Disney World? That’s a pretty loaded question, and if you asked a hundred people, you’d get a hundred answers. Now that Disney has imposed Value, Regular, and Peak season to their ticket pricing, those planning trips must consider the pros and cons of each time of year to ensure that they have the most magical trip ever.
Spoiler alert: not every family will find the same season desirable! The Value, Regular, and Peak seasons are not meant to be thought of as good-better-best. It’s more like chocolate-vanilla-strawberry! All good, but in their own way.
WDW has always had huge variation in their room pricing over the years. Sure, Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Resorts give you a ballpark figure to consider, but the exact dates that you plan your trip have a big impact on the actual price. Weekends, holidays, school breaks, festivals, and more, all add up to more expensive or more affordable pricing for the same rooms.
Now, tickets are no different. Well, at least single-day tickets. If you are buying a Magic Your Way package for two or more days, your cost becomes the same no matter when you visit. But for single-day visitors, the day you visit will fall into Value, Regular, and Peak pricing (and from there, the park you visit has an impact on cost too).
While the pricing difference only applies to single-day guests, the Low, Mid, and Peak season designations can really help families determine what to expect when they are planning their visit. The seasons are determined by Disney based on factors like weather, crowds, special
events, and more – with the ultimate goal of spreading crowds out throughout the year by making low season more affordable and peak season more expensive.
But they’re called Value and Peak for a reason, and crowds aren’t the only things to consider. Here are the things you should expect during Value, Regular, and Peak season at WDW:
Cost - In Value season, single-day tickets are the most affordable, which is perfect for Orlando visitors only planning to spend one day at Disney. For those staying longer, room discounts and popular package promotions like Free Dining are most often offered during these times of year – for the very good reason of trying to draw in guests during a “slow” time. If you are looking for bang for your buck, this is a great time to go.
Crowds - Value season draws the lowest crowds of the year. This doesn’t mean you’ll have the parks all to yourself, but you also won’t be waiting in three-hour lines for everything. Shorter wait times for attractions, and the ability to more easily book coveted Fastpass+ or Advanced Dining Reservations because of less competition are big perks at this time of year. But on the flip side, fewer guests mean shorter operating hours (it’s not unusual for parks to close between 5:00-9:00 PM), and more refurbishments both at resorts and on attractions.
Weather - In Value season, you’re going to take a gamble with weather. That may always be true in finicky Florida, but especially so during Disney’s Value season. It may not be so cold where you’re from, but it’s going to be chilly in Florida. In the winter, you’ll need pants and jackets, and it’s not likely you’ll be swimming at your resort. In the fall, you have hurricanes to
look out for, and even if you’re not caught in one, you can bet it will rain just about every day. You might luck out and have perfect weather during Value season – and you might like the heat or the cool temperatures – but you might also be stuck in a poncho jumping puddles for several days.
Overall, if you are on a tight budget, have the flexibility to vacation when you please, prefer lower crowds to longer hours, and don’t mind a taking gamble with the weather, Value season is for you.
Cost - The cost for single-day tickets during Regular season is pretty average, and if you’re staying for a few days or a couple of weeks, you’ll likely be able to get a discount on a room or package. You won’t see the steepest price cuts of the year, but it’s always nice to save a little something.
Crowds - Crowds at this time of the year are steady but not overwhelming. Regular season is where detailed planning pays off – studying park operating hours, per-park crowd projections from Touringplans.com, and making a solid game plan can make it feel like you’ve beat the rush. Longer park hours, fewer refurbishments, and festivals or special events designed to draw in visitors are big perks at this time of year – just avoid festivals on the weekends, when the locals come out in full force.
Weather - This is probably the best time of year to visit, weather wise. Depending on your travel dates, you’ll end up with warm days and cool evenings, or hot days and warm evenings. You can swim. You can ditch the heavy layers. You probably won’t face the brunt of Orlando’s humidity. This is what vacation weather feels like!
Overall, Regular season is for you if you want to have your cake and eat it too. You won’t face terrible weather, crowds, or costs – but be prepared that you also won’t see the best of these either.
Cost - Think WDW is pricey? Peak season is more expensive than any other time of year! Resorts are at their highest rates, discounts are rare and even if you get one, you’ll be getting a promo off of a high rate, making the savings a wash with pricing during Regular season. If you are visiting for only a day, be prepared for very high ticket prices, especially for the Magic Kingdom. Restaurants, particularly buffets, are known to mark up their pricing too.
Crowds - Crowds during Peak season range from dense to wall-to-wall to suffocating. Most of the crowds are due to national holidays and popular school breaks. Christmas, Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July are the worst culprits for driving up crowds.
More people mean it’s harder to get the Fastpass+ and ADRS you want, and getting to the parks for rope drop becomes a necessity in any plan. It’s also possible on days like Christmas and New Year’s that the parks will close to capacity… before noon! That means you risk not getting in, and facing the longest waits of the year if you do. Extra long park hours into the wee hours of the morning, more Extra Magic Hours, and more entertainment are used to ease the crowds and allow guests to experience as much as possible.
Weather - During Peak season, weather is usually okay – it’s all over the map with December being chilly and July heating up. But it’s not the worst of the year.
Overall, you probably only want to visit during Peak season if you can’t go at another time of year. It’s the priciest time of the year and you’ll wait the longest in line, but luckily the weather is usually okay and Disney does what they can to make crowds more manageable.
Every time of year may have its ups and downs, and every Disney fan certainly has their favorite time to visit. But one thing’s for sure – there’s no better place to be than Walt Disney World, no matter the season!