Theme park timing for the most magical moments
Orlando is a tourist mecca, and with good reason. Theme parks are abundant, the weather is pleasant, and the locals are accommodating. It’s a great town even without the theme parks: clean and pretty, with botanical gardens, lakes and parks, and plenty of opportunities to experience the arts. What’s the best time to go?
Best time to visit
There’s no bad time to visit Orlando, but the best time is probably when the weather is cooler, and the tourist volume is not particularly high. Throughout the summer, tourists flood the theme parks, take over I-Drive, and generally overrun “the city beautiful.” During this time, the prices are also higher, so enduring the crowds and heat will be costly. There’s a similar uptick in tourism during spring break, but it’s not as extreme because breaks across the country are staggered so the rush doesn’t happen all at once. Between the holidays and the time school lets out, from January to April, and after the kids go back to school, from August to mid-October, Orlando is a lovely place to be. Crowds are minimal, and the weather is temperate and breezy.
Orlando seasons and the weather
Florida weather is notoriously hot, muggy and changeable, and Orlando is no exception. In the summer, the heat can be oppressive, often climbing into the 90s, and native Floridians welcome the almost daily afternoon thunderstorms for their cooling relief. Tourists exploring a theme park or strolling through downtown, however, are less appreciative of the drenching. From October to May, it’s reasonably dry, and the temperatures are lower, so it makes for a more relaxing trip.
The four seasons in Orlando are differentiated more by how the stores and theme parks decorate than anything else. Sure, some of the leaves change color in the fall, flowers bloom in the spring, the summer is hot, and the winter can be brisk. But when the temperatures from November to March have consistent highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, and from April to October, they peak in the low 90s and rarely drop below 70 degrees F, that’s really only two seasons: The hot season and the warm season.
Traffic and crowds of tourists
Here’s a tip: Stay off International Drive. That’s easier said than done for most tourists, who tend to congregate in Kissimmee, but it’s still good advice. Not only do the tourists congregate on I-Drive, but local high schoolers tend to “cruise” on it on weekends, so if the option is available to stay in another part of town, take it. If Disney is the destination, consider staying onsite – there are plenty of perks for doing so.
During rush hour, I-4 is a parking lot, so it’s good to bring a GPS and try to stick to surface streets if possible. Another good reason to bring a GPS is the rapid growth of the city: Visitors who are going back to Orlando after several years away could easily get lost because of all the changes that have taken place.
Disney World and other theme parks
The best time to visit Disney and the theme parks is basically the same as visiting any part of Orlando, with a couple of caveats. Spring break is more intense at theme parks, and events at the parks can be a draw even when crowding is a problem. Christmas, for instance, is a grand affair at Disney, and the magic of the celebration may be worth rubbing shoulders with crowds of strangers.