March 2012: Pity the poor parents with kids. To avoid the thickest crowds, look at a school calendar. If the kids are in school, it’s a good time to visit. If they’re out of school, it’s not.
In the busiest of busy times, the top parks – generally Disney’s Magic Kingdom – shut their doors in late morning or afternoon because they’ve reached capacity. (Not a good time to be there even if you’re lucky enough to get in.)
Note, however, that the parks tend to offer a bit more in the busy seasons. They stay open later – sometimes a lot later – and some events, such as parades, may not be scheduled in the slow season at all. In addition, Disney closes rides for maintenance, and they tend to do that in the off-season.
Hyper-busy times include, in order
- The two-week period covering Christmas and New Years
- The two-week period over Easter
- July 4 week
Next in line for busy
- • Mid-June to Labor Day
- • Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving week
- When a really big convention(s) is in town. See Avoiding Orlando vacation crowds
Best time to visit
- Every time not yet mentioned
Best of the best
- January after the Christmas holidays
- Late May (parents won’t pull kids from school)
- September (too early in the school year)
- December between Thanksgiving and Christmas
First-time Florida visitors usually return and say one of three things:
1. I can’t believe how hot it was. (summer)
2. I can’t believe how cold it was. (winter)
3. The Sunshine State my a##! It rained every day. (summer)
Here’s the deal:
Orlando’s rainy season runs from mid-May to mid-October. Expect highs around 92˚. The mornings will be beautiful, and thunderstorms will roll in between noon and 4 p.m. to cool things off. About twice per year, a high-pressure system sits somewhere nearby, canceling the daily rain and jacking the temperature up close to 100˚. The humidity tops the charts, however, and it can be miserable outdoors after 10 a.m.
The dry season runs from mid-October to mid-May, and the weather varies greatly. The average high may be 75˚, but you could hit a week of 60˚ highs and 38˚ lows. Generally, however, December-February is coldest, with March-April pleasant. Nighttime temperatures hit freezing about once per year.
The hurricane season strikes fear into the hearts of travelers, but only the very unlucky have a problem. On the off chance a storm is nearby, it rarely rises above blustery winds and sporadic (albeit heavy) rain. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 for those not willing to take a chance, however, with an increased risk in September, give or take a few weeks.
Average highs in Orlando