Orlando is one of the best places to vacation. The time you choose to visit Orlando will affect the cost, quality, and your plans. The number of tourists is high during seasonal periods, the costs rise, the demand for hotels heats up, people compete for the best restaurant reservations, and the lines at theme parks will stretch on and on.
Another important consideration is the weather. At certain times of the year, Orlando’s subtropical climate can often make your trip a little less enjoyable. Even though Orlando is known as a year-round holiday destination, the number of visitors will vary according to the season, usually depending on school vacation schedules, the type of local events and festivals being held, and the weather of course. Another factor is the number of business travelers that are in town for meetings – this tends to affect the number of available hotel rooms, the room cost, and airfare.
The travel calendar is conveniently divided into three seasons so pick the one that suits your needs the best:
- High season: March-April, mid-June till mid-August, and mid-December-early January
- Low season: May-September, November-early December, and January
- Inbetween season: February, late May till mid-June, mid-August- August, October
Orlando has a subtropical climate; the average temperatures will range from 48 degrees in January and reach a high of 92 degrees in the months of July and August. Rain showers are common year round, but normally brief in duration. From June through September, the weather is hot and steamy; sudden and heavy thunderstorms will occur almost every afternoon. Be sure to bring light clothes with moisture-wicking fabric; don’t forget a raincoat or poncho if you travel during these months. The other months are mostly milder and drier, but you might feel chilly so pack multiple layers, particularly if your trip is planned during November through April. Include an umbrella, and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) is a must have item.
If you’re planning to visit during late in the summer or early fall, be prepared that there might be a chance you encounter a tropical storm or hurricane. National Oceanographic and the Atmospheric Association says that the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts from June 1st and lasts until November 30, with a maximum activity period occurring in September. Orlando escaped being hit by any major hurricanes for years, then in 2004, a multitude of hurricanes hit, causing the parks to close.
The theme parks are wildly popular and swarmed with people – this happens whenever kids are out of school, so here is a quick breakdown of the crowd levels during major holidays:
- Spring break which falls in March and April tends to be the busiest.
- The weeks around Christmas and New Years are the second most crowded times.
- Memorial Day to Labor Day also bring a lot of visitors, this level peaks in July.
Expect to see bigger crowds out on the weekends and other holidays. Day trips are popular with Floridians and they pack the parks, mostly during special events. The most popular and exciting events are the Walt Disney World marathon and the MardiGras at Universal. Individual parks at Disney may be especially crowded on days when Disney resort visitors get early admissions.
Orlando never slows down much; you will be able to visit water parks in January even when the temperature is 50 degrees or spend your Christmas with Mickey at Magic Kingdom in Disney. During slower times, operating hours in parks are reduced and Mickey gets some rest. Disney closes one of its two water parks in the winter, but on a rotating basis, mostly for cleaning purposes. When visitor numbers are low, the major rides will be closed for maintenance.
The seasonal hotel savings are straightforward to get — the simple rule is you’ll pay less for services when there are fewer visitors in town. The most expensive time, when room rates go up is during Christmas week, and second comes spring break. During most other holidays and major local events you will find that the rates are higher. Hotels that cater mostly to business travelers may have lower rates during summer. This is due to low bookings in summer when convention bookings are not frequent.
The month of September normally sees the fewest tourists and you will get the lowest rates, but the hurricane season peaks during that time so it is bestto be avoided. The other slow months such as January, May, and November (apart from major holiday periods) will be safer bets.
The prices for attractions, parks and restaurant rates do not vary too much throughout the year.
There is no perfect answer to that question, it all depends on what your needs are. Generally you will by more likely to find a better deal and probably have your pick of airline seats along with hotel rooms if booking is made at least a month in advance. Plan to book even further ahead if you aim for peak travel-season time. It is possible to book at the last minute as well, however, you will find your options limited and you might end up paying a little more, especially during peak holiday seasons.
The famous destinations for dining are Disney’s restaurants, their shows are also popular and high in demand, some of the most fun experiences are booked solid and have long waiting periods, so if you want to take advantage of these, book early.