One of the questions we ask out listeners whenever we do a Mouse Call on the podcast is, “What is your favorite time of year to go to Disney and why?”. Some people may tell you that it doesn’t matter. After all, a bad day at Disney is better than your best day at work, right? Well, that may be true, but I still have my favorite time of year to go to the Walt Disney World theme parks and it just so happens to be in the month of October for a number of reasons.
1. The International Food and Wine Festival
Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a fantastic event that does not require a separately purchased park admission ticket, unlike some of Walt Disney World’s other special events. You will need to purchase any food and wine selections you might want separately, though. Kiosks are set up all over Epcot’s World Showcase featuring food and wine selections from countries all over the world. These kiosks aren’t limited to the 11 countries normally featured in World Showcase. In fact, there are over 30 countries featured including Ireland, India, Spain, Thailand, and Canada.
Also included with regular park admission, is the Eat to the Beat concert series. On select nights bands perform live at the America Gardens Theater in the park. Over the years, the performers have gotten increasingly more high profile. For instance, this year will include Boyz II Men, Everclear, Sugar Ray, Christopher Cross and, Postmodern Jukebox to name a few.
In addition to the food and wine selections, there are also presentations you can purchase admission to separately that include cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, and an extraordinary feast featuring some of the most amazing food and various entertainers appropriately titled “Party for the Senses”.
Over the years, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival has become intensely popular drawing some pretty heavy crowds. It is very popular with the locals, so you typically see some of the heaviest crowds in the evenings and on weekends. I recommend, if you’re going to check it out in October, shoot for a weekday earlier in the day before the locals get off work.
2. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom’s special hard-ticketed events have become extremely popular over the last decade or so, and they have all been worth attending, if you’re able to make it. My absolute favorite, though, is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
This kid-friendly event is a special engagement that requires a separately purchased ticket apart from your normal park admission. The park closes to the regular day guests at 7:00 pm and is open until Midnight just for attendees of the Halloween Party. A special Halloween fireworks show is featured as well as a special Halloween parade led by The Headless Horseman riding on a real live jet black steed! Main St. U.S.A. is also decked out in Halloween decorations and eerie music to get you in the mood. Later in the evening, in front of Cinderella Castle, a fun villainous musical stage show takes place featuring the Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s 1993 film “Hocus Pocus” along with a nice selection of other classic Disney villains.
Guests are also welcome to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes for Trick-or-Treating all over the park. The costumes that some guests tend to wear are just as much a part of the event as the fireworks, parade, and the candy. I have seen people in costumes so amazing that other guests even stop them and ask to have their picture taken with them.
Additionally, since this is a separately ticketed event, the park generally has fewer crowds than will be present earlier in the day. It gets pretty packed as you get closer to Halloween. However, if you go during early to mid-October, you’re likely to find yourself being able to walk right on to popular attractions like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
The only downside I feel compelled to mention is the fact that the price point for this event has more than doubled since we first started attending these parties. I still get frustrated that, this party that we used to attend for less than $40 a person, is now $80 and up, depending on the night you go. Nothing significant has really been added for the price increase, either. It has just gained popularity to the point where Disney feels people are willing to pay more for it. That being said, this is such a great event that I cautiously have to admit, between the atmosphere, special fireworks and parade, stage show, Trick-or-Treating, and significantly less crowds, it’s still worth the money.
3. Decreased Crowds
Over the last several years, decreased crowds in October has become more of a hit or miss aspect, but generally Walt Disney World experiences lower than normal crowd levels during early to mid-October. While the increased popularity of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival has drawn more and more crowds to Walt Disney World in October, if you try to avoid the weekends and the later part of the month around Halloween, you should still be pleasantly surprised with the crowd levels you experience in the parks.
TouringPlans.com has a very useful crowd calendar that is created using massive amounts of statistical data collected over several years to predict crowd levels in the parks. It uses a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the least busy and 10 being the busiest) to predict the crowds at each of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks. Additionally, they also listt the amount of activity at the resort hotels. You can check out their crowd calendar at https://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/crowd-calendar.
4. Cheaper Resort Hotel Prices
With the decreased crowds comes generally less expensive resort hotel prices and greater availability. Admittedly, over the last several years, October has become less of a “value season” and more of a “regular season”, meaning the deals on resort hotel rooms aren’t as good as they once were this time of year. Again, you can thank the popularity of Food and Wine and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for that. However, since so much of the calendar year is more “peak season” than ever before in Walt Disney World, “regular season” has become the new “value season”. If you’re diligent with your search and are even willing to stay off-property, you can still find some good deals in October. I highly recommend Mousefan Travel, a proud sponsor of AATM Central and the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast, as a means of sniffing out the best dates in October with the lowest resort hotel prices.
5. Better weather
The weather in Central Florida during the month of October is generally much more bearable than the sweltering hot and humid summer months. It will still be plenty warm during the day, so you can still pack the sunscreen, shorts, and T-shirts, but the humidity tends to be lower in October. The average daily high in Orlando during the month of October is about 75 degrees with the average high being 84 degrees and the average low being 65 degrees. So, in addition to your shorts, you’ll want to be sure to pack maybe some pants and a light jacket as well. Either way, it’s far more enjoyable than the middle of August when you can practically cook your own lunch outside on the pavement.
The rainfall usually lets up a little in October as well. The summer months are more notorious for those afternoon thunder showers that sends everyone into a frenzy buying $10 ponchos. In October, you can expect an average of about 13 rainfall days, which leaves you almost 3 weeks of sunny days to enjoy.
6. It’s my anniversary!
OK. So this last reason is more personal and doesn’t really apply to everyone, but it is definitely one of my favorite reasons to visit Walt Disney World in October. This year, I’ll be celebrating 11 years of marriage to my amazing wife, and every year we try to do an “adults only” trip to Disney around this time. These trips are very different from our usual family trips down there. We do different attractions than we would do with the kids, eat at different restaurants, and move at a different pace. When Amy and I were dating, we went to Walt Disney World frequently. Some of my best memories of that point in our relationship were created right there in Walt Disney World. When we take these “adults only” trips each October to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I’m reminded of those early moments in our relationship when we had some of our best bonding experiences. In turn, I find myself eternally grateful for the time I’m spending with her there in the present and look forward to the many more years we, hopefully, will spend together in this very special place.
So, while there are those who may say there is no bad time of year to go to Walt Disney World, there are definitely times that are more pleasant than others. That time of year will be different for everyone. For some, it may be the Christmas season, because they like to look at all of the Christmas decorations in the parks and resorts. For others, it may be going during Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival in the spring. For me, though, the perfect combination of weather, smaller crowds, festivals, decor and, more affordable hotel rates come together to coincide with a very special occasion in my life. Those are the reasons why October my favorite time of year to be in Walt Disney World.