Monday, April 18, 2011

Early January at the World

Christmas decorations are still up in early January!
You may or may not remember way back in June when I wrote about why I liked visiting Walt Disney World in late August.  My most recent trip, however, was scheduled around our birthdays, so we visited in early January.  And I think we like this even more than late August.

First of all, the weather in January, at least for us, was beautiful.  Most of the time it was in the 60s or 70s, and we absolutely loved it.  I've heard of horror stories where it snowed (I'm looking at you, marathon weekend 2010), but for us, the weather was pretty much perfect.  Plus it doesn't rain as much in January as in August.  And I'd rather be a little chilly than melting in the summer sun.

Second of all, almost all the Christmas decorations are still up.  Really the only decorations that end in December are the castle icicle lights and the Christmas parties.  The Osborne lights and the gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian end on the 4th or 5th of January, but you can schedule your trip, so you can still see them.  Some of the restaurants even had their Christmas menus still, which was cool.  And the best part?  Early January (pretty much as soon as January 2nd or 3rd rolls around) is value season.  So you get all the beauty of Christmas at a fraction of the Christmas prices. 

And finally, the crowds are great in January.  Not only do you get all the beauty of Christmas at a fraction of the PRICE, you also get all the beauty at a fraction of the CROWDS.  It certainly isn't dead the week after New Year's, but the crowds are likely less than half of the crowds the previous week.  Arrive at rope drop and use a touring plan, and you'll get everything done before dinner time.

The only negative thing about early January, in my opinion, is the park hours.  They're much shorter than what we were used to in August.  Sometimes Epcot closed the latest at 9.  Interestingly, this didn't bother us very much.  We were tired from waking up early anyway, and we didn't mind going to bed at 10:30.  We even had time to go swimming after the parks, but we were just too tired.  I bet it wouldn't be too cold in those heated pools!

Have you ever visited Walt Disney World in early January?  What were your favorite and least favorite things about it?  Let me know your thoughts in a comment, on Twitter (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook! 


  1. Hello -- fairly new reader here!

    My only Disney in January experience was the famed 2010 Marathon weekend. Yes it snowed, and yes it was cold! But it was a little warmer than at home (NYC), and I am NEVER sad about being in Disney World.

    Best things: very light crowds; plenty of festive spirit (both from the marathon and holiday decorations, which were still up); nice way to cure the post-holiday blues; not many kids since school was back in session; late EMH -- NO ONE sticks around! Parks are empty, easy to get prime fireworks spot and ride the rides endlessly; little need for ADRs

    Worst things: some good rides are usually down for refurb in January (Splash Mountain, etc); there was no heat in the hotel (Swan), so if you are there during a cold spell you definitely need layers; shorter park hours (but as you said, it is so easy to get things done it isn't a problem); limited fireworks/parade times

    I love seeing WDW at different times of year and I think January is a great time! And I'd recommend marathon weekend even if you aren't running. It is fun to spend a few minutes cheering the racers on during the race and congratulating them as the walk (slowly!) around the parks with their medals.

    I'm planning on going next January as a runner -- fingers crossed for slightly better weather this time!

  2. The first time we went to WDW was in January, and it forever spoiled us. The place is deserted, weather is warm (well, compared to back home in Canada anyways!), why we haven't gone back in January I can't figure out! Maybe in 2013.

  3. We always go in early February. Weather is typically warm and can be very pleasant. A bit unpredictable at times, but MUCH better than snow. Just a warning that it can be crowded at times with lots of Brazilian student tours and cheerleading competitions going on.

  4. Alison, welcome! I hope you enjoy the blog! There was no heat in the Swan? I'm pretty sure we had heat in All Star Music. I don't remember being cold at all. I agree with your pros and cons... overall it's a great time to visit! =) Good luck on having better weather!

    Crystal and Bryan, you should definitely go back in January! It's awesome!

    Anonymous commenter, I haven't been able to go in January because of school, but once I graduate, I'll definitely want to try it! There were a lot of Brazilian groups when we were there too.

  5. We have almost always gone that first week after New Year's. We spend the big night in the World and then stay for seven days or so. I love it that the parks start to empty out as the vacation goes on - it allows us to revisit places later on in the trip.

  6. Early January is one of my very favorite times to visit. The crowds are non-existent and the weather is perfect. It also extends the Christmas feeling!