Last updated on 11/22/2023
We love January at Walt Disney World. It starts off with some of the year’s heaviest crowds, but finishes with low crowds and cool temps (2 of our favorite things to have when visiting!).
Here’s what you need to know:
Yes, yes, yes. January (especially mid to late January) at Walt Disney World is an absolutely lovely time to visit. In fact, we love it so much, we visit Walt Disney World in January every year!
We are going to cover all the reasons why we recommend visiting WDW in January down below, but to kick off our discussion, here are some of the key takeaways we think you need to know about if traveling to Disney World in January.
Ok, so clearly there is a lot to love about January at Walt Disney World. But, there are a few downsides to January, too. Here are some important things to keep in mind when planning your trip:
But, in our opinion, even with these negatives, the pros for traveling to Walt Disney World in January far, FAR outweigh the cons.
Although January has a couple of big holidays that definitely make the parks busy, there are still large pockets of time when guests will find the crowd levels to be much more reasonable.
Keep in mind, however, that even if the overall crowds may be lower, it may not always feel like it.
There are several reasons for why that is and while it is all speculation, here are some things that we’ve noticed that can make the parks feel busier than they are:
But, on the positive, even if the overall wait times at attractions aren’t dramatically reduced, you can still definitely FEEL a difference in the parks.
It can be a lot easier to find a table at a quick service restaurant, the pathways and walkways in the parks aren’t as crowded, and it can be even easier to find a bench to sit on or a spot to watch the nighttime shows.
So, while traveling during a less busy time of the year may not save you a ton of time waiting in line (although we still are confident it can save you some), your overall experience is better.
To avoid the heaviest crowds in January, skip these dates:
Disney publishes its park hours about 75 days in advance, but those hours can (and very often do) change.
Note: This used to be about 180 days in advance, but since the reopening, they have transitioned to a roughly 75-day window.
As the dates get closer, it isn’t unusual for Disney to tweak either the opening or closing times. And during especially busy times of the year, they may change both.
That means to avoid having your plans sidetracked, you’ll definitely want to keep checking the park hours – including while on your trip.
When it comes to park hours – in general – the heavier the crowds, the longer the parks will be open during the day. Of course, that also means that the parks will be open fewer hours of the day during less busy times of the years.
In January, that means that you’ll typically find the parks open longer at the beginning of the year and around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
If you are looking for a good deal, January is typically a prime time to snag one.
Tickets over the busy New Year’s Holiday and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend are pricey. But if you can avoid traveling over those dates, you’ll find some of the lowest prices of the year.
Also, January has seen discounts of some sort for at least the past 7 years (which is as long as we’ve been tracking them).
While not really a “special event”, if you are traveling during the first few days of January, you’ll likely get to see many of the holiday decorations still up across the parks.
Decorations typically begin coming down on the first Monday after New Year’s.
This process takes a while, though. And, with so many resorts and parks, it usually takes a couple of weeks for all traces of the holidays to be removed and if you’re just ready for the holidays to be over, it can be frustrating to see remnants of Christmas splashed in the parks.
The most popular of all the runDisney races is the Walt Disney World Marathon, which typically takes place the first weekend after New Year’s Day.
This multi-day event includes the full and half-marathons, plus a 5k and 10k race, and thousands and thousands of guests descend on the Walt Disney World Resort over Race Weekend to run one (or more) of them.
The newest festival at Epcot is called Festival of the Arts, and it is one of our favorites.
Taking place in January and February, this festival covers all things “art”. This includes visual, culinary, and performing arts.
The cost is free with your park ticket, and we definitely think it is worth spending a little bit of time enjoying.
If you prefer cooler temperatures and low humidity, January is the month for you.
But even though the temps range from lows in the 50s to highs in the 70s, remember those are just averages.
It isn’t unusual to see those lows dip into the 30s and the highs to climb into the 80s.
Layers are a necessity during this time of the year. Even the characters wear long sleeves and jackets in January.
In addition to cool temps, January also sees some of the least amounts of rain, with an average of fewer than 3 inches per month.
That combination (cool temps, low humidity, and minimal rain) helps make January a pleasant time to visit.
Yes, you can!
The good news is that the pools across the resort are heated. And, in fact, one of Disney’s 2 water parks is also typically open in January.
But, just because you can swim doesn’t mean it won’t be chilly.
We generally hear from people that if you are from a cold climate, swimming during January isn’t bad.
However, if you are from a typically warm climate, then jumping in a pool when it is 70 degrees out might be a bit too chilly.
And, in our experience, while many kids seem oblivious to the coolness of swimming in January, the adults might find it rough.
If swimming is a must-do, your best bet is to give it a go during the middle of the day when the air temperatures are the highest.
Note: during especially cold stretches, Disney will close the pools and water parks.
When packing for Disney World in January, layers will be key.
The mornings and evenings are likely to be chilly, but you may find that short sleeves will work just fine during the middle of the day.
That’s why having things you can easily take off and put back on is essential.
Again, what climate you come from will likely determine just how heavy your layers are. In general, if traveling in January, we recommend everyone have a heavy jacket or coat.
Sweatshirts and hoodies are also good options for milder days.
In addition, we’ve had several trips where we found ourselves purchasing gloves in the parks, so we now are sure to pack those with us when we head to Walt Disney World in January.
Disney tends to save major refurbishments for times of the year when the crowds are the lowest, typically after the busy holiday season but before summer.
That means January will usually see several refurbishments.
During the colder months, Disney also typically closes Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon (one at a time) for refurbishment.
These scheduled closings typically take place between the end of October and mid-March.
Make sure you check the calendar below to see what park will be open during your visit.
At this time, no major new attraction, restaurant, or show is scheduled to open in January.
Depending on the length of your trip, here’s how many days we recommend for each park:
When it comes time to decide which days are best for each park, here are some general things to keep in mind:
1. For each day of the month, we tell you on a scale of 1-10 how busy the entire Walt Disney World Resort is when compared to other days of the year.
2. Then, for each park, you’ll see the park hours and any special events that are planned.
3. We also track refurbishments and closings (which you can toggle on and off).
4. We have a handy feature that allows you to automatically add your Advanced Dining Reservation date to your calendar.
5. And, one of the most useful features is the ability to be able to print the calendar so that you can have a paper copy for planning (or to just use as a backup).
Official park hours are usually released around 75 days in advance.
The "crowd level" compares each day to the rest of the year; it indicates how crowded the entire WDW Resort area is on a scale of 1-10.
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