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Everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in January

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Walt Disney World is the most magical place on Earth, even in January, and understandably, visiting the parks—whether it be your first or tenth time—can be intimidating and somewhat overwhelming. From what to wear and how busy the parks will be to different festivals and unmissable shows, there is so much to think about when planning a Disney World holiday.

And if all that wasn’t enough, the month you decide to visit the park can actually make a huge difference for your family. 

Everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in January

I’m a massive Disney World fan, and I’ve visited the four parks (and two water parks) in various different months, meaning I’ve gained some knowledge of the weather, the crowds, and the seasonal attractions. I will be going into detail about every single month of the year, but it seemed only right to start off with January.

So, you’ll have everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in January. 

Whether January is the Disney World month for you really comes down to a lot of factors and your particular family, but, in my opinion, there is no bad time to visit Walt Disney World. So if you’re planning a Disney World vacation, then here are some tips, tricks, and everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in January. 

The average temperature in Orlando in January

The average temperature in Orlando in January ranges from highs of 21°C (70°F) to lows of 10°C (50°F). On a typical day, you can expect temperatures of 17°C, and although January is one of the cooler months to visit Orlando, there is only a slight chance of rain. 

For families with younger children who don’t need to adhere to school holidays, January is a fantastic month to visit Walt Disney World, as the temperatures are far more manageable—especially for the little ones. 

How busy is Disney World in January?

January is one of the quieter months in the Walt Disney World parks—aside from New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on the third Monday of January.

Some other events that take place in January that may bring larger crowds than the rest of the month include the runDisney marathon and the UCA College Cheerleading & Dance Team Nationals. The dates for the marathon and the cheerleading nationals vary from year to year, so it’s best to do a quick Google search and potentially opt for a non-Disney day during these events. 

As January is one of the quieter months, Disney often closes attractions and resort pools for refurbishment. When planning your visit, it’s best to double-check which attractions or pools will be closed to ensure you aren’t missing out on something high on your Disney bucket list. 

Special events at Disney World in January

Each month at Disney World brings with it special events, festivals, and exhibits. In the month of January, you can experience extended evening hours, early entry, EPCOT Festival of the Arts, and even Christmas decorations left over from the holiday period. 

Extended evening hours

Guests staying in Disney deluxe resorts can enjoy extra hours in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT on certain nights throughout the month. Be sure to ask reception at your resort which days have extended hours, as you’ll be able to walk on to the majority of the major rides throughout the two parks. 

Early entry

As with all months throughout the year, Disney offers Disney resort guests early entry, allowing them into the park 30 to 60 minutes before the general public. As with extended evening hours, this extra time in the parks when crowds are at their lowest can mean you get to ride one to two popular rides with very little wait times.

It could also mean that you get excellent photo opportunities in front of the castle, the Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, or the Tower of Terror without random people in the background. 

EPCOT Festival of the Arts

Mid-January to mid-February sees the return of the Festival of the Arts over in EPCOT. EPCOT has a few different festivals throughout the year, which bring with them beautiful decorations, unique food options, different attractions and exhibits, and shows and concerts that you won’t get to see outside the festival period. 

Unlike other EPCOT festivals like the Flower and Garden Festival, which kicks off in March through to July, and the Food and Wine Festival, which begins at the end of July in Walt Disney World EPCOT, the Festival of the Arts is often overlooked.

However, all the festivals really bring a different vibe to EPCOT, and if you’re a creative family who enjoys all things arts and crafts, then the festival itself will really be a highlight of your trip.

Christmas Decorations

There is no shame in still being in the Christmas spirit well into January, and luckily for families visiting the parks in the first few weeks of the month, there will still be Christmas decorations all around the parks. Although there won’t be any Christmas-related shows or events, the crowds in December are some of the largest the park sees.

So, if you want to experience Disney while it’s decorated for Christmas, but you don’t want to be surrounded by millions of people, then visiting the parks in January is a fantastic option.

What to wear to Disney World in January

January is one of the cooler months in Disney World, so I recommend packing a few extra layers—especially if you’re staying in the parks during the evening.

The highs of 21°C are often warm enough for shorts and a T-shirt. But as I said, it is wise to pack a jumper and maybe some trousers or leggings that you can change into if and when the temperatures drop.  Don’t forget these Disney Packing Essentials either!

Some other items of clothing I recommend include:

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • A poncho or a rain mac (you never know when the heavens will open) 
  • A sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • And, of course, your favourite Minnie Mouse ears. 

What should I pack for Disney in January?

When packing for Disney World in January, you’ll want to think about layers and clothing items that work well in both cool and warm temperatures.

I like to pack a selection of T-shirts and long-sleeve tops, as well as shorts, jeans, trousers, and jumpers that I can take on and off as the weather changes throughout the day.

Your Disney World packing list should include the following: 

  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Comfortable shoes
  • A sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Socks and underwear
  • Flip flops for days in the water parks or around the pool
  • Swimwear
  • A poncho or a raincoat
  • Towel
  • Backpack

Tips for visiting Disney World in January

Over the years, I’ve discovered many tips for visiting Disney World that really change the game. From stroller rentals and discounts to snacks and extra park hours, here are some tips for visiting Disney World in January that will make your trip as smooth as possible.

Check for discounts 

Ticket prices to Disney World can really break the bank, especially if you’re a larger family with kids over the age of three. Luckily in January, ticket prices are some of the lowest they’ll ever be, meaning you can snag a great deal outside of the New Year’s and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday periods. 

Pack layers

As January is one of the cooler months in Orlando, I suggest packing layers as you don’t want to be stuck in a queue shivering in just a T-shirt and shorts.

Although being cold is an amazing excuse to purchase a Disney-branded jumper or jacket, we all know Disney merchandise isn’t cheap, so do yourself—and your wallet a favour—and pack a jumper, long pants, and maybe even a blanket that you can wrap around your little ones in their stroller. 

Make use of the extra park hours

Resort guests get extra hours in the park, some on select nights and others before the park’s official opening times. I can’t stress enough how much you can get done in these extra hours, and they really make all the difference when it comes to the most popular rides.

If you can, plan to do your top must-ride attractions in these hours so you can enjoy the remainder of your day strolling through the parks as opposed to waiting in 60-minute+ queues. 

Take or rent a stroller

Disney World is huge, and walking around the parks all day really takes it out of you. Something I discovered a long time ago is that no matter how old your kids are, you should always rent or take a stroller.

Not only can you load all your bags, merchandise, and extra layers into the stroller, but you’ll also somewhat eliminate whingeing from tired children who don’t want to stand or walk any further.

Disney has hard shell plastic strollers which are extremely roomy (to be honest, I think an adult could fit in them), and for a fee of $18 for a single and $36, they’re well worth it. Alternatively, you can take your own stroller to the parks as long as they’re smaller than 31” (79 cm) in width and 52” (132cm) in length.

Pack water and snacks

Many people think they aren’t allowed to take snacks and water into the parks, but I’m here to tell you, you can! And trust me, you totally should. 

A bottle of water in Disney World can cost around $3.50 (£2.82), which quickly adds up throughout your trip. Instead, what I recommend doing is heading to Walmart or Target before entering the parks to purchase a box of 24 waters.

After all, those 24 waters will be the same price as one bottle in Disney World, so you’ll really be saving your money on something so simple as water. 

Alternatively, take along a refillable water bottle and fill it up in the water bottle refill stations that are dotted throughout the parks. 

Make use of the Disney World app

The Walt Disney World app is a handy little tool that has tons of information about all four of the Disney World parks. From park times, show times, and attraction wait times, to lightning lane, virtual queue, and the Genie+ service everything you need is all in one place.

Additionally, the app has an interactive map that will give you directions to attractions, the option to order food for pick up, and your Disney PhotoPass photos, among many other things. 

Lightning Lane and Genie+

As January in Disney World is relatively quiet, you may not need to purchase Disney Genie+ or even Lightning Lanes. Of course, if a ride you’ve been dying to go on has a long wait time, then a Lightning Lane may be worth your while, but for the most part, I recommend holding off on purchasing either until you’re in the parks and you know how long the attraction wait times actually are. 

Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Queue Cheat Sheet
Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Queue Cheat Sheet

Plan your days in the parks

It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and forget everything you set out to do during your day in the park. I highly recommend doing some research before you visit to find out which rides you want to go on, which snacks you want to eat, which characters you want to meet, and what restaurants you’d like to eat in. 

With the restaurants, you can book reservations up to 60 days in advance, and if there are specific restaurants you do want to visit, you need to be on the ball as reservations book out fast. 

FAQs 

How busy is Orlando in January?

January in Orlando can be both quiet and busy. In the first week after New Year’s, crowds in Orlando are large as opposed to later on in the month when it becomes one of the quietest periods throughout the year. 

As the average temperature in Orlando in January is fairly low and there aren’t any major holidays aside from New Year’s and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Orlando sees some of its smallest crowds, making it a great time to visit both Disney World and the surrounding area

What to wear to Disney in January? 

If you’re visiting Disney World in January, you’ll want to pack layers as well as warm-weather clothing. Temperatures throughout the day in January vary, and especially into the evening, you’ll find that you need a jumper and a longer pair of trousers as temperatures can drop to lows of 10°C.

Pack T-shirts, long sleeve tops, trousers, shorts, a jumper, a raincoat, and comfortable shoes. You’ll also need a sunhat, sunglasses, and maybe even a coat if you don’t do well in the cold. 

Are Disney parks busy in January?

Disney World parks aren’t busy in January, aside from the first week of January and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. January brings with it one of the quietest periods in the Disney World parks, and although there are a few events like the runDisney marathon that draw in slightly larger crowds, for the most part, the parks will be quiet. 

Is Disney World worth it in January?

In my opinion, January in Disney World is worth it. Not only are prices and crowds at their lowest, but temperatures in Orlando are manageable and suitable for young children. Disney World in summer, for example, sees temperatures of up to 32°C, which isn’t ideal for little ones. 

All in all, no matter which month you choose to take a holiday to Disney World, you’re guaranteed to have an incredible time, so it really comes down to your family and your preferences on weather, crowd size, and school holidays. 

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