The Ul­ti­mate Guide to Value, Reg­u­lar, and Peak Sea­son at WDW

WDW Magazine - - Content - BY STEPHANIE SHUSTER

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:

VALUE SEA­SON

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.

REG­U­LAR SEA­SON

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.

PEAK SEA­SON

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!

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