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:

January Crowds & Park Hours

Disney publishes its park hours about 60 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 60-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 that you'll definitely want to keep checking the park hours - including while on your trip.

For many Disney World visitors, 60 days isn't enough time for planning. That's why we use historical data and current park hour trends to show the "Anticipated Hours" for dates around 61-90 days out. After Disney releases official park hours, we update the calendar above.

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.

"Crowd

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.

Here's how we think things will look for 2021:

  • January 1-3 – very busy time as people use their days off of work/school to vacation at Disney World for the holidays
  • January 4-10 – moderate crowds as we head towards the previously scheduled WDW Marathon (note: this race has been canceled, but guests with previously scheduled trips may still decide to visit WDW even without the race)
  • January 11-15 – light crowds before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
  • January 16-19 – heavy crowds for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
  • January 20-22 – light crowds as holiday breaks wind up
  • January 23-24 – weekends will likely remain busier than weekdays as Annual Passholders plan their visits around the workweek
  • January 25-29 – light crowds
  • January 30-31 – weekends will likely remain busier than weekdays as Annual Passholders plan their visits around the workweek

Prices and Discounts

If you are looking for a good deal, January is typically a prime time to snag one.

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Tickets over the busy New Years Holiday and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend are pricy. 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 6 years (which is as long as we've been tracking them).

Guide to Disney World Discounts

Special Events

Holiday decorations (resort-wide)

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.

When do the decorations come down?

Walt Disney World Marathon (resort-wide)

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.

Note: due to safety concerns, many runDisney races in 2021 have been canceled. Be sure to check the official runDisney website for the most up-to-date information.

This multi-day event includes the full and half marathons, plus a 5k and 10k race.

Festival of the Arts

The newest festival at Epcot is called Festival of the Arts, and it is one of our favorites.

"Festival

Taking place in January and February, this festival covers all things, well, art. This includes visual, culinary, and performing arts.

Overview of the International Festival of the Arts

WEATHER​

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 3os 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.

"Princesses

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.

How to handle the weather at Disney World

Thousands and thousands of guests descend on the Walt Disney World Resort over Race Weekend to run one (or more) race.

CAN YOU SWIM IN JANUARY?​

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.

"Wilderness

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.

FAQ's about the Pools at Walt Disney World

WHAT TO WEAR​

When packing for Disney World in January, layers are going to 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.

"People

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.

Ultimate Packing List for Walt Disney World

REFURBISHMENTS AND CLOSURES​

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 typically see a lot of refurbishments.

We keep track of all of those on the calendar above/below.

To see what will be closed on your trip, toggle the "attractions closings" on the calendar above/below.

WATER PARKS​

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 above/below to see what park will be open during your visit.

WHAT'S NEW?​

At this time, no major new attraction, restaurant, or show is scheduled to open in January 2021.

TIPS FOR DISNEY WORLD IN JANUARY​

  • Layers, layers layers. The weather can fluctuate greatly, so make sure you pack things you can take off and put on easily.
  • Keep checking for discounts. January is a popular month for them. And if you are flexible in your resort choice, you may be able to save a nice amount of money.
  • Be prepared for some closures. It is pretty typical for attractions like Splash Mountain to be down for routine maintenance in January.
  • New Year's and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holidays are both historically busy times of the year at Walt Disney World. Avoid them if you can.