Didn’t have the time off from work for a summer vacation? Scared that the crowds would be too much for the family, especially while trying to fight through it in 90-some degree weather in a humid place like Orlando?
I hear your pain, and I echo your concerns. As a former employee of Walt Disney World, I know that cast members look forward to greeting guests from all over the world during all seasons, and getting to make their experience a dream come true; however, it is during the fall and winter seasons, when things slow down more or less, that cast members are able to truly personalize each family’s experience and give them the time of their lives.
Take it from me – whether you go with your family, your spouse or significant other, or even just some friends – going to visit Disney World in the fall and winter seasons has many perks. Below is an explanation of the top ten reasons why you should visit during this time of year.
1. Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival
This one is a no-brainer… food is fun, and it brings people together. The thinkers at Disney soon realized this, and created a genius reason for people to attend Disney’s Epcot in the fall by adding even more international food and drink options than what is usually offered at the park. This year’s festival runs from September 19 to November 10, 2014 and offers more than 25 global marketplaces to experience. This festival, as well as the Eat to the Beat concert series, comes complimentary to guests with a valid park admission ticket. The concerts will run through the entirety of the festival, featuring different acts each day playing music from the 70s, 80s and 90s including Sugar Ray, Boyz II Men, Wilson Phillips, Smash Mouth, Sister Hazel, Fuel, Hanson, Air Supply and more.
2. Fall and winter promotions offer a more affordable vacation
Since Walt Disney World is so packed during the summer months as well as the last week of the year (being that Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are split by a week), the resort offers special deals throughout the slower periods of the year to keep their attendance up. This year, they are offering 30 percent off on select hotel rooms (during non-holiday stays), specially-priced park tickets for those in the military and much more.
3. Smaller crowds means shorter lines and more flexible dinner plans
Check the stand-by line for Splash Mountain in November, and you’ll have yourself a 30-minute wait, but check it in July, and the line will be around 180 minutes or more. Shorter lines means more fun, and less-frustrated family members. Also, you’re bound to have an easier time getting a dinner reservation for Be Our Guest Restaurant at the New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom in the slower times, rather than trying for it in the peak of summer. Showings of the Fantasmic! show at Hollywood Studios will offer a much wider array of seating options in the off-season rather than the summertime when they have to turn guests away from even a standing-room only option.
4. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties
If you or your family is anything like me, I love Halloween for the exciting costumes, the themed parties and of course, all of the candy I could ever eat in a night; however, I get scared too easily, and I hate horror movies for the nightmares that follow. The Halloween parties that Disney World holds at Magic Kingdom each year are perfect for me, since they satisfy my love for the holiday without having to create the scene of a haunted house in an old penitentiary, for instance. These parties feature the special Happy HalloWishes fireworks, the Boo-to-You Parade, Villians Mix-and-Mingle castle show, character greetings (they’ll be in their Halloween costumes, too), trick-or-treating and much more. These parties require a separate ticket and run from September 1 to October 31, 2014, and purchasing tickets ahead of time leads to discounts.
5. The weather is bearable
I know I mentioned this before, but Orlando is a great place to escape the cold weather you may be experiencing – without being unbearably hot. In the summer months, there’s a lot more time spent stopping for water and refreshments, grabbing an ice cream cone (or my personal favorite, a Dole Whip) and trying to sit for a second in the shade, just to get out of the beating sun – and this can sometimes make for an uncomfortable trip. Orlando offers anything in the fall and winter seasons, from flip flop and shorts weather to t-shirt, sneakers and jeans weather. While you might not normally take a dip in the pool in the middle of December, you might just be tempted enough to do it.
6. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Something that happens at Hollywood Studios each year is one of the most spectacular thing you will ever see during the holidays, and that is the light show on the Streets of America each night. Much like the title implies, these lights literally “dance,” perfectly synchronized to the holiday music that plays with it.
This light show was originally a single home display in Arkansas by Jennings Osborne, who shared it with Walt Disney World in 1995 and it has been an annual tradition at the resort ever since. Starting around 6 p.m., the lights are turned on and remain lit until the park closes. This year, the show runs from November 7, 2014 to January 4, 2015.
7. Fall is a great time for Disney to test new guest experiences
Since it’s a slower time of the year, the Disney team will try out different things to implement either immediately after, or during the next peak season. This year, just one of these opportunities is to ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction and receive not only the typical photo that is snapped during the 13-story fall down the elevator, but also a video of the experience using their MagicBands, a new technology that got rolled out in early 2014.
8. The décor is a sight to see, all over the resort
Aside from all of the things mentioned already, it must be mentioned that the resort, as a whole, is decorated beautifully for the fall and also the holiday season; each park and individual hotel has their own holiday theme. For instance, the Grand Floridian Resort features their own gingerbread doll house up on the mezzanine and also a full-sized one downstairs, in which treats can be bought. Also, the Beach Club resort features poinsettias, artificial snow, a happy snow family and an impressive carousel made of gingerbread with gilded horses and Disney characters. Not only are the decorations assembled by the year-round Disney Christmas Decorations staff, but the guests too! For the annual campers at the Fort Wilderness Lodge, it is a tradition to elaborately decorate their campsite – and it’s a great place for sightseeing.
9. Celebrity sightings
It’s much more common that you’ll get to see someone “famous” while staying at the Walt Disney World Resort during the winter. From the different celebrities coming to enjoy a vacation with their families, to the ones that are being featured in the annual Disney Christmas Day Parade filming in early December (to be shown on television Christmas morning), tons of celebrities file in and out of the parks during the holiday season.
10. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
This party features live entertainment such as: the Holiday Wishes fireworks show; Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade with a ton of characters, and Santa at the end; the unveiling of the Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella’s castle; the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show with the likes of Buzz Lightyear, Stitch and Mike Wazowski; the Celebrate The Seasons castle show with Mickey and the gang; and not to mention, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies throughout the entire park, with a magical “snowfall” on Main Street, USA. This event requires a separate ticket and runs from November 7 until December 19, 2014.
There you have it – I hope all of the above was reason enough for you to consider booking a trip to Disney World in the off-season, it clearly offers some advantages to going in the summertime., in my opinion.