So, you’ve heard that January at Disney World has everything you crave: lower crowds, discounted prices and a more carefree easy vibe. Before you book your trip and pack your bags for a winter trip, why not take a moment to learn the ins and outs of a Disney World January vacation. There are certainly plenty of pros, but could the cons be enough to deter you?
Keep reading to find out.
Table of contents
- Disney World January Weather
- January Crowds at Disney World
- Advantages to Visiting Disney World in January
- Disadvantages to a Disney World January Trip
- Best Disney World Resorts for January Stays
- Dining and Reservations in January, Booking Popular Restaurants with Greater Ease
- What to Pack for a Disney World January Stay
- Cost-Saving Tips for January Visits: Take advantage of Discounts
- Frequently Asked Questions about Disney World in January
- More Recommended Reading
Disney World January Weather
If you’re ready to start filling your suitcase with shorts and tank tops to enjoy the Florida sun and warmth, you may have to revise that plan when visiting Disney World in January. While most January days at Disney World will be delightfully warm, it isn’t uncommon for clouds and even cooler temps to roll in.
Daily highs below 40 have been recorded in Orlando, and if it’s a cloudy day, (42% are in January) you’ll easily be reaching for a sweater and long pants to tour the parks.
The good news is, that average highs across January top out around 71 degrees and rarely fall below 59 degrees, according to Weatherspark historical data. Just remember that an average in the 70s also means there are days that are much warmer and some that are cooler.
Another plus—you only have about a 20% chance of experiencing rain in January at Disney World.
January Crowds at Disney World
While Walt Disney Parks remain rather hushed about daily attendance, those who study these things (and yes, there are organizations that do this), indicate that January receives some of the lowest crowds annually—at least most of the time.
Back when we first started traveling to Disney World, January was one of the best times to visit with walk on wait times and few people within the parks to hamper your progress from ride to ride. Then Disney realized something. All of these low attendance days weren’t bringing in revenue to do things like pay the incredible cast members or fuel expansion projects.
So, they developed an ingenious plan. Why not hold some special events to draw people to the parks?
Soon, Disney began hosting regular sporting championships during the winter months, followed shortly by the EPCOT festivals. The strategy worked and people started planning trips to Disney in the cooler seasons.
However, before you give up on a Disney World January trip, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most of these guests travel over the weekend, arriving on a Friday night and leaving on a Monday morning. Since many local residents also attend the parks at these times, you probably won’t notice the extra influx of out-of-state travelers.
And if you think you will, here’s another Disney World planning tip: book your vacation for a Monday through Saturday stay. You’ll save money and avoid the crowds.
Advantages to Visiting Disney World in January
In case you’re wondering, January is really a great time to visit Disney World. While you might encounter a cool day here and there, the weather is overall delightful, with fewer crowds and a relaxed atmosphere, particularly when compared to holidays or other peak travel times. Here are some of the advantages of taking a Disney World January trip.
January Nets Lower Prices
Lower prices and occasionally bigger discounts are par for the course in January, at least when compared to other times of year. For example, a one-day ticket comes it at around $137 in January. Compare that to April where many days top out at $152.
In addition to cheaper park tickets, Disney World resorts can offer lower rates as well. For example, 2024 rates at Disney’s All Star Movies begin at $133 for a weeknight, with the exception of the Martin Luther King Day weekend. A single night in summer may jump up to $204.
We see a similar trend at Disney’s deluxe resorts, where a January night at the Beach Club (our favorite resort) can start at $569 and reach as high as $691 during the summer.
When considering these rates, it’s important to remember that these are rack rates. A rack rate refers to the non-discounted price that a hotel establishes for each night it is open for bookings. In many cases, you can obtain discounts on the cost of your room, and this is often true for Disney World in January.
In the past, we’ve seen discounts as high as 40% off established rates, but that was more than a decade ago. Recently, a savings of 20%-30% has been more common. Disney+ subscribers and Disney Visa cardholders are usually eligible for the higher rates.
However, discounts on Disney hotels (also known as room-only discounts), aren’t the only way to save on a January stay. Disney has recently revealed a special offer for 2024 that features a dining promo card. Depending on where you stay and for how long, you could receive up to $1,000 to spend on dining at most Disney restaurants, including those located at Disney World resorts, in the parks or Disney Springs.
Enjoy Special Events in January
Another appeal to visiting Disney World in January is the chance to attend some of the special events offered during the winter months.
EPCOT is rapidly becoming known as the festival park. Seasonal festivals are now the norm here and January is no exception.
Guests who take a January trip will be treated to the EPCOT Festival of the Arts. If you’re into Broadway Musicals, Fine art or really any kind of creative works, this is the event for you. In addition to artful exhibits and shows, you’ll find a range of culinary treats served with a special flare.
For runners, the Run Disney Marathon takes place January 3-7 in 2024. Runners have the chance to run 26.2 miles across all 4 theme parks, cheered on of course, by Mickey, Minnie and their pals.
Lower Crowds Highlight January at Disney World
While attendance levels at Disney parks have been a little difficult to pin down since the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, lower January temps still tend to bring lower crowds to Disney World in January, when compared to more popular times to visit, such as July.
Fewer people in the parks make it possible to get more done in shorter time. That means a 4- or 5-night trip is more doable.
Dates to avoid in 2024 if You Want to Skip the Crowds
While crowds in January tend to be on the lower side, there are exceptions to this rule. The first few days of the new year tend to be more crowded as Christmas visitors thin out throughout the week. If you’re aiming for an early January visit to Disney World, think about arriving on the 3rd of the month or later.
The Friday to Monday surrounding the Martin Luther King Day holiday will also see more visitors, as many people have Monday off of school or work. If you’re planning a trip to take advantage of the holiday, consider arriving on Sunday or Monday. You can still vacation without using PTO on Monday, but you can avoid most of the crowds.
When is Martin Luther King Day? January 15 in 2024.
Christmas Decorations up Through Early Month
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Disney World during the splendor of the Christmas holiday, but didn’t want to battle the crowds, an early January trip might be a good second choice. Disney keeps many of the Christmas decorations up through the first week of January as park life settles back to normal following the Christmas frenzy. It’s good news for anyone taking a Disney World January trip. You can revel in the splendor of the holidays for another week.
On the other hand, if you’re the type who is annoyed when Christmas decorations start dotting store shelves in October, you might want to wait until later in the month to take your trip.
Book Your Vacation With Us AND Get Help With ALL YOUR PLANNING NEEDS!
Request your FREE, no-obligation vacation quote today!
Disadvantages to a Disney World January Trip
While there are some obvious benefits to visiting Disney World in Jauary, there are some drawbacks. Whether these will break your trip depends on your preferences.
Attraction Refurbishments Take Place in Off Seasons
Keeping Disney parks and all of their attractions in top shape requires constant upgrades and refurbishments. Of course, the most logical time to take care of necessary maintenance is when fewer people are in the parks and demand for rides is lower.
Unfortunately, January is one of those months when you may find some attractions at the parks or your resort offline. As of this writing, the current attractions plan to be closed during January of 2024 for refurbishment:
All Star Movies Resort
Jan 2024 — April 2024
Caribbean Beach Resort
Fuentes del Morro Pool
Jan 2024 — April 2024
Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
Doubloon Lagoon Pool
Jan 2024 — April 2024
Disney Beach Club and Yacht Club Resorts
Stormalong Bay (waterpark pool area)
January 2025 through May 2025
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Cooler Temps Could Bring You Down in January
As mentioned in the section on weather, cooler January temperatures could drain some of the fun out of your Disney World trip. If you’re the type who shivers when the sun goes behind a cloud or wears long pants and a sweater when the temps dip south oF 70, January might not be the best time to travel.
While days will most likely reach a high in the 70s, it could take most of the daylight hours to get there. That means mornings, evenings and any nighttime activities could be quite cool. I can remember wearing gloves and a hat to watch Fantasmic one evening.
On the other hand, if your heart skips a beat of gladness when the weather turns cooler, you’re going to love your time at Disney World in January.
Disney World January Hours
With lower crowds, Disney conserves resources by instituting shorter park hours. It isn’t uncommon for parks not to open until 9:00 am and be closed by 8:00 or 9:00 at night.
On a positive note, with fewer people in the parks, you’ll need far less time to accomplish the things you want to do. As a result, you won’t miss the extra hours in the day.
However, if you’re an extreme morning person or night owl, you may miss the opportunity to utilize those really early morning or late-night hours.
Best Disney World Resorts for January Stays
While there really are no bad Disney World resorts, there are a few where you might not get your full money’s worth during January. If you’re staying at either Disney World’s Beach or Yacht Club, you’ll enjoy a tranquil location right on Crescent Lake with super easy access to EPCOT. What you might not get to enjoy is the onsite water park, Stormalong Bay. Given the combination of shorter daylight and lower temps, we feel this resort is more fully enjoyed during the warmer months.
You might also want to consider booking a Magic Kingdom resort. In our experience, waiting for the monorail to whisk you back to your hotel for the night can be a bit shorter than the waits for Disney’s bus transportation. On cooler nights, you’ll be back to the warmth of your hotel a little faster, at least when you visit the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT.
If you prefer to book one of Disney’s moderate or value resorts, just be aware that all are spread out over a large area. Walking to and from the restaurants could take some time and may not be pleasant when the temperatures fall. Consider booking a preferred room at one of these hotels where you can be guaranteed a room close to the action.
Dining and Reservations in January, Booking Popular Restaurants with Greater Ease
Not much changes for a January stay at Disney when it comes to dining and making Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). You will stay be eligible to make your reservations 60 days in advance, and if you are staying at a Disney World resort, you can make those ADRs beginning 60 days prior to arrival for the length of your trip.
However, with lighter crowds, you might find it easier to make dining reservations at some of the more popular resorts.
What to Pack for a Disney World January Stay
How you pack for a Disney World January trip will depend largely on the weather. We recommend checking a weather forecast the day before you leave to determine the correct attire. Warmer temperatures may warrant a few pairs of shorts, while cooler days will obviously necessitate warmer attire.
One key tip is to dress in layers. We often wear a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve button down or sweatshirt. Mornings are often cool, but since days can warm nicely, this approach makes it easy to stay comfortable.
It’s also advisable to bring a light to medium weight jacket and maybe even gloves and a hat if you plan on being out at night. If you’re lucky, you won’t need them, but it’s better to be prepared in case you do.
Rain gear is also another essential item. We’ve rarely visited Disney World where didn’t have at least one shower to survive. A rain poncho or jacket makes it much easier to tolerate. Plus, staying dry during rain shower will also keep you warmer as temperatures cool throughout the day.
Also, consider bringing an extra pair of shoes. If one gets wet, it may take a few days to dry. With an extra pair in your suitcase, you can always start the day off with dry feet.
Last, if all this talk of cooler weather has you unpacking your bathing suit, pull it back out of the drawer. Disney pools are heated to around 82 degrees, so a January swim might easily be in the cards during your trip.
Cost-Saving Tips for January Visits: Take advantage of Discounts
While Disney World January pricing tends to be lower than many other times of the year, it is possible to save even more with discounts. Disney will often release room or package discounts to fill vacant rooms, so be on the lookout.
If you book your trip with a travel agent, be sure to ask if they will automatically rebook you to a discount rate if special offers are released after your trip. This is a service we provide, and it can save you quite a bit off the cost of your January stay.
If you book on your own, be sure to keep looking for special offers. One way to do this is to set a Google alert for Disney World discounts. You’ll then receive an email when discounts are mentioned through media sources.
When discounts are released, just hop on the phone and ask the friendly cast member to rebook you at the new rate. If there is availability at your resort during your travel dates, they will be happy to do so. Just be aware, that wait times to speak to a cast member can be quite lengthy when discounts are released, so be prepared to sit on hold.
Frequently Asked Questions about Disney World in January
Is Disney World open in January?
Yes! Except in the case of adverse events, Disney World is open 365 days a year, including January.
Is Disney World busy in January?
Compared to peak travel dates, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and spring break periods, January is far less crowded, and is often one of the less visited times of the year.
Is the weather cold at Disney World in January?
Disney World typically sees average temperatures in the low seventies during January, but nights and early mornings can be on the cool side. It is also not out of the question that a cold snap may send temperatures into the 40s for highs, but this is not the norm. It is also possible that temperatures for a day or 2 could sit in the 80s.