Disney in Winter – A Complete Guide to Prepare For Winter Adventures in Orlando

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If you are someone who lives in an area where the winter temperatures are cold and snowy, can you imagine a better escape than a trip to Disney World in the winter?

Just imagine, not only are you going to a state with far better weather conditions, but you will also get the chance to experience the Most Magical Place on Earth during the winter holidays (trust me, you don’t want to miss this!). 

Walt Disney World takes the Christmas and the holiday season to a whole new level! Every park, resort, and anywhere on the Disney property is fully decked out in holiday decorations, including Christmas trees, bows, ribbons, glitter, and more. There are special shows and events, and visiting the parks during this time of year is truly something special.

Today, we will be covering everything you need to know about visiting Disney in the winter season, and if my instincts are right, something tells me you’ll be planning your winter Disney vacation by the time you’re finished reading. 

This page is part of our Disney family travel guide series – helping you prepare for a WDW and Orlando vacation!

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Winter Weather in Orlando

The state of Florida is overall a pretty warm state all year round (temperatures can be brutal in the summer months), and this includes the winter months. After all that, sunshine really makes a difference.

If you are someone who lives in a very cold climate during the winter months, you will feel like you’re in a completely different world when you enter Orlando. The average temperatures in Orlando during the months of December through February range from around 55° to 75°, with the coldest temperatures being in January-February.

It can certainly get a little chilly, particularly after the sun goes down, but it will feel like a tropical paradise if you are used to freezing or negative temperatures in the winter. It is also not unusual to experience some winter rain in Orlando throughout this time of year, so we always recommend keeping rain gear on hand as well. 

Crowds/Busy Days to Avoid in Winter

During the winter months, certain periods are considered peak seasons at Disney parks when it comes to crowd levels. Many people flock to Florida for warmer temperatures and take advantage of breaks from school and work during the holidays. As a result, the parks tend to be more crowded, which may result in longer wait times for attractions.

OG Disney in Winter - Crowds Busy Days to Avoid

A few particular days are extremely busy, and we recommend trying to avoid them if at all possible. Days to avoid include right around the actual holidays of the season, such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Disney World parks are open 365 days a year, and something is enticing about spending your holiday within a Disney park, but these days are so crowded it can be hard to navigate the parks. Wait times for almost everything in the park are incredibly long, and the park almost always hits capacity within a couple of hours of opening (meaning that you may not even be able to get into the parks on these days).

Trust us when we say you will have just as good of a time if you visit around these holidays without being there the day of.

If you are one who doesn’t care to visit during the Holiday celebrations and has flexible timing, a great time to book would be weekdays mid-January to February, as this is when Orlando experiences the lowest temperatures, the smallest crowds and ticket prices are at their cheapest.  

What to Wear/Pack for Disney in Winter

With the milder winter temperatures, you may be wondering what is best to pack for Disney in the winter months. While you probably won’t have the chance to bust out your bikini and enjoy a day on the beach, you can certainly leave your heavy winter coat at home as well.

As mentioned above, temperatures are typically in the mid-50s (around 15c) on a cold day and up to the mid-70s (21-25c) on a warmer day so we recommend wearing lighter layers that will allow you to adjust your outfit/comfortability throughout the day and as temperatures may fluctuate.

Disney Outfits in Winter For Women

Some outfit ideas for the ladies in your group include:

Outfit #1

Leggings (These are a favorite of ours) paired with a Disney t-shirt, light jacket, sneakers, and your favorite Disney ears.

Outfit #2

Cropped Jeans paired with a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, sneakers, and your favorite Disney accessories

Disney Outfits For Men in Winter

For the gents we suggest:

Outfit #1

Jeans paired with a t-shirt, lightweight jacket or hoodie, comfortable sneakers, and don’t forget the Mickey ears.

Outfit #2

Joggers or long pants, paired with a t-shirt/light jacket combo or a long sleeve cotton tee, sneakers, and Mickey ears

Disney Outfits For Kids in Winter

Outfit #1

Leggings/Lightweight sweatpants (These are great for a wide range of kiddos)  paired with a t-shirt, light jacket, sneakers, and Mickey/Minnie ears

Outfit #2

Jeans paired with a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, comfortable Disney shoes/sneakers, and Mickey/Minnie ears

Other Essentials to Pack For Disney in Winter

  • Sunwear (Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the sun is gone! Don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats!)
  • Rainwear (Ponchos, Rain boots, etc.)
  • Backpack
  • Waterbottle
  • Snacks
  • Portable Fan (even in these milder temperatures, the sun can get pretty hot during the day) 
TriPole Mini Handheld Fan Battery Operated Small Personal Portable Speed Adjustable USB Rechargeable Fan Cute Design Powerful Eyelash Fan for Stylish Kids Girls Women Men Indoor Outdoor Travelling

More Top Tips for Visiting Disney in the Winter

Plan for the right time

There is a fine line between the calmer times during the winter season and the craziest times. When planning a Disney winter vacation, you want to avoid major holidays and school break times to catch smaller crowds and lower prices.

Disney parks celebrate the holidays from the beginning of November through mid-January, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the holiday festivities while avoiding the crowds on peak dates – predicted over Thanksgiving (22 November through 26 November) and Christmas (23 December through 1 January).

You will find fewer crowds after the holiday celebrations have concluded but before spring hits, typically around mid-January to the end of February. Do bear in mind a couple of dates that can impact crowd levels and accommodation availability still: 

  • runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon race event in early January
  • UCA College Cheer/Dance Comp in mid-January
  • UDS National Dance Team and Cheerleading Championship occur in mid-February

* We have found the crowd calendar predictions from WDW Prep School one of the best for planning your exact dates to visit Disney World

Don’t be afraid of swimming/water parks

While you may not be feeling brave enough to take a dip in the ocean during the winter months, that doesn’t mean you have to skip water activities. Most Disney resort pools are heated to a comfortable temperature and open year-round, so still bring a bathing suit.

Keep in mind that although the water temperatures are warm, if you are outdoors, you may still feel cold as the air temperatures are not very high. Have a towel or pool robe ready for as soon as you exit the water.

In addition to swimming pools, you can also visit one of Walt Disney World’s two water parks. Disney’s Blizzard Beach is closed for refurbishment, but Typhoon Lagoon is open and operates in the winter. (Please note: Water parks may close at short notice due to inclement weather if the temperatures drop too low)

Open Hours May Vary

Disney Parks hours are shortened during the winter months; they tend to open a little later and close a little earlier.

In the summer months, the parks open as early as 8:00 a.m. and stay open as late as 11:00 p.m., whereas in the Winter months, they typically open at 9:00 a.m. and close as early as 9:00-10:00 p.m.

Additionally, after-hours events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party may cause a variance in park hours as well. Be sure to check park hours for the days you plan to attend to ensure that you get the most out of your visit. 

Expect Ride Closures

Unfortunately, Disney does have to find time to maintain and refurbish the rides and attractions throughout the parks. Aside from the holiday season and special events, the population within the parks is typically down during the winter months and they tend to utilize this time to make those repairs/refurbishments.

This can sometimes lead to temporary closures of rides and attractions during your visit. 

Consider Special Events/After Hours Events

There are a number of special events during the holiday season that are great opportunities to add some extra magic to your agenda. Some of these events include: 

  1. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom (A special ticketed event hosted on select nights from early November to late December) 
  2. EPCOT International Festival of the Holiday (A special event hosted on select dates from late November to late December; a separate event ticket is not required, but valid park admission and a park reservation to EPCOT are necessary)
  3. Sunset Seasons Greetings Show at Hollywood Studios (2023-24 Winter dates TBC)
  4. The Merry Menagerie on Discovery Island (Animal Kingdom, 2023-24 Winter dates TBC)
  5. The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll (free to enter in the Disney Springs area)
  6. Epcot Festival of the Arts (occurs in mid-February)

Watch for special decor/theming throughout the property

The decor and detail that is put into decorating the Disney property during the holiday season is truly incredible! Honestly, you could just walk around the property and admire the Christmas decorations for hours. Every park, resort, and shop around is fully immersed in the holiday/winter season.

In addition to decor, you may also notice your favorite Disney characters and cast members are wearing their best holiday costumes, featuring Christmas sweaters, holiday dresses, and more perfect photo ops!

More Disney & Orlando Travel Advice

We hope this guide has helped inspire and guide you in planning a winter trip to Walt Disney World Resort in the cooler winter months. To assist you further in planning a trip to central Florida and the theme parks of Orlando, you may also be interested in:

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