What Is Walt Disney World Like in January?
As hard as it may be to believe, this year is nearly half over already! Yes, we’ve firmly placed 2020 in the past and are looking forward to better times.
In fact, many Disney fans are already planning their early 2022 vacations.
What is Walt Disney World like in January? I honestly believe it’s one of the best times to visit, and I’ll explain why.
Let’s Talk about January Visits
I’ve visited Walt Disney World in January for two straight years and several times overall.
I’m always astonished by people who worry that the weather isn’t right for a vacation.
For most people in the United States and Canada, the weather in Central Florida surpasses anything you’ll experience in January.
You should think of Walt Disney World as an escape from reality, a vacation in paradise that saves you from snow and ice.
The other factor here is nearly as important. Park crowds are smaller in January than any other time on the annual park calendar except mid-September.
The lone exceptions are the holidays. January 1st and 2nd conveniently fall on Saturday and Sunday. So, normalcy will return on Monday, January 3rd.
Most guests end their visits on or around January 2nd anyway. The 2022 calendar configuration should heighten that behavior.
Also, Martin Luther King Junior Day is on January 17th, which will lead to increased crowds on that weekend.
The general rule at Disney parks is that government holidays cause more park traffic as people have extra free to visit.
In a perfect world, we’d all be at Disney, right?
Let’s Talk about the Weather
I’m about to blow your mind. For most of you, January weather means electric blankets, winter tires, and active fireplaces.
According to Weatherspark, the average high temperature in Orlando in January is…71 degrees.
You may wonder whether that’s misleading, believing that some parts of the month are colder than others.
Remarkably, the data suggests that the high temperature rarely falls below 59 degrees or above 81 degrees.
So, you’ll know what to expect when you travel to Orlando. The temperature will likely be warmer than wherever you live.
While you should always check the weather before you leave for your trip, odds are good that you’ll dress for 60-degree temperatures.
You’ll take that every time in January, won’t you?
I should mention that the winter weather does cause some ripple effects at the parks.
Wet rides like Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids usually close for part of January or February. So, that could impact your trip.
In fact, I’m merely speculating here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Splash Mountain undergoes its re-theming during the first quarter of 2022.
The weather also impacts water park availability. Disney never operates both water parks during the winter.
Either Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon won’t open during your visit, barring something unforeseen.
Then again, Typhoon Lagoon hasn’t reopened during the pandemic. That option might not have been on the table anyway.
Let’s Talk about Special Events
When you visit Walt Disney World in January, you’ll receive an additional benefit beyond small crowds.
For the past few years, Disney has hosted the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, arguably the most charming of all annual events.
At the Festival of the Arts, artisans will display their wares. Illustrators will sell unique event merchandise, while chefs will cook colorful cuisine.
Other cast members will demonstrate performance art as you walk across the park.
The other three EPCOT festivals have a basis in the 1980s or 1990s, while Festival of the Arts is still new-ish.
Disney has demonstrated more daring with it, and many loyal park guests are thrilled with the results.
In January of 2020, before the pandemic, I witnessed the largest January crowds ever. I’m convinced that was due to the growing buzz for this festival.
Alas, the 2021 version felt understated in nature as people continued to feel the effects of the demoralizing pandemic.
I cannot project how the 2022 event will go in terms of crowd size. However, this event is especially popular with Floridians.
As such, you should be fine when you visit on weekdays, especially during the day. The locals show up at dinnertime and on weekends.
Let’s Talk about January Activities in Central Florida
As you might expect, many Orlando activities take place in December. The area slows down dramatically at the start of the year.
Don’t confuse that with having nothing to do, though. For instance, the Citrus Bowl usually occurs at the start of January each year.
Also, the Orlando Magic generally play several home games at Amway Center, the home stadium.
The Major League Soccer team, Orlando City, usually doesn’t play games in January. The league skips the winter season as a rule.
All bets are off as we come out of the pandemic, though.
Also, the Florida Wedding Expo and Guitar and Music Expo are both currently scheduled for January.
Suppose you don’t mind crossing the theme park streams. In that case, Universal Orlando Resort will host Rock the Universe 2022, a Christian music festival.
Football fans may have other options as well. Miami and Tampa Bay both have solid returning rosters and could easily make the NFL playoffs.
What’s better than a Disney trip? A Disney trip combined with playoff football!
I expect that several other live events will run in January. They’re just not announced yet as planners work through the remnants of the pandemic.
Specifically, I expect Broadway to return to Orlando. The current schedule calls for one January show, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Life and Times of The Temptations.
I won’t be surprised if others get revealed soon.
Walt Disney World turns 50 on October 1st. That date marks the start of an 18-month party complete with new park amenities.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure also debuts at EPCOT on October 1st.
When I look at the end of 2021, I don’t see a time when I expect small crowds.
As such, January of 2022 represents your best chance to enjoy a Disney vacation with minimal crowds.
Also, you can avoid the inclement weather where you live by heading to Florida for a week or so.
If you’re thinking about a January visit, just go ahead and book it. You’ll be thankful that you did when winter arrives.
Feature Image Rights: Disney