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Making that trip to Orlando is a big decision and we have stressed over deciding when to go many times. Use this guide to help you determine the best time of year to visit Orlando, Florida
Orlando might be the best city in the United States for family travel, but it has so much more to offer than theme parks and animatronics. Florida’s Space Coast averaged more than a rocket launch every other week in 2020, some of the best golfing in the United States is Central Florida, not to mention, some of the best restaurants.
Whether you’re visiting Orlando to see Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Cape Canaveral, or just to relax, we have the guide to show you exactly what you must do and the best time to visit Orlando, Florida.
Be sure to also read…
When is the Best Time to Visit Orlando for a Vacation?
Orlando is busiest during school holidays and the summer. Periods when children and their parents are out of school and work are very busy for the theme park capital of the world. But outside of that there are different ideal times to visit.
For example, in late April when spring break has long passed and school is not yet out for the year, Orlando has limited traffic. This is mirrored in October, however, in the fall Orlando may be subject to inclement weather as hurricane season is still in full effect. Therefore, April is superior to October, despite similar crowd levels and temperatures.
Northerners may find the temperatures delightfully warmer than at home during winter. After the New Year’s holiday has concluded, visitors to Orlando will have run of the city between mid-January and mid-February where there is a slight uptick for Valentine’s Day.
Beginning around the second week of March through the end of the first week of April, spring break and Easter holiday periods will see very high levels of visitors to Orlando. This subsides again until mid-May when school lets out for the summer.
When school returns to session in the fall, September (just after Labor Day, the first Monday in September) through to Thanksgiving will find lighter traffic. Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November annually and the week prior to and following this day will be busier than usual. The city is then nearly abandoned until about 10-days prior to Christmas, December 25th each year.
When to Purchase Airline Tickets to Orlando
An old adage in the United States is that purchasing your tickets on a Tuesday ensures the cheapest fares. This is patently expired, false information that have not been true for decades. However, there are many good times to buy airline tickets to Orlando.
Four Months in Advance
Approximately four months prior to a trip is a good time to purchase airline tickets to Orlando, but that assumes that the travel period is not during a particularly concentrated travel period. For example, the last month of the year is a massive swing for family vacations.
During the first two weeks of December, families are getting back to work and school following the Thanksgiving break and ahead of the longer winter break for Christmas and New Year’s. The last two weeks of December are some of the busiest with Christmas Day being particularly busy especially at Walt Disney World, as counterintuitive as that might be.
The four-month window works best for summer travel in which prices are elevated from late May until early September. This is a reliable means by which to score the most reasonable prices on airline tickets despite elevated crowds in Orlando.
When to Make Hotel Reservations for Orlando
Hotels can be fickle. During the high season, a hotel will hold its pricing generally until right before that week during peak season in which they will clear inventory by lowering the price.
Unlike airfare, prices are typically treated more like a checkmark. Initially, hotel rooms will be more expensive from one year out, but then fall over the next few months as demand has not increased for your dates.
However, as rooms fill up and vacancy drops, hotels then increase their prices and narrow selection. If a hotel is able to fill most of its rooms, the prices will remain high. If the hotel is not filling rooms in the manner for which they predicted based on that time of year, they will then drastically reduce the price.
During the summer months, however, variability is lower than during the winter months. If you’re planning to travel to Orlando during peak seasons (summer or over the Christmas/New year holiday) book as early as you can. If, however, you’re traveling during an off-peak season you may be able to catch a great hotel reservation in Orlando for less than you’d expect.
The Best Beaches to Visit in Orlando
Orlando is known as “Central Florida” both because it is at the mid point of the peninsula but also because it is inland as no other major cities in Florida are. The closest beach, however, is Cocoa Beach approximately a 45-60 minute drive from Orlando proper. Merritt Island is a little bit closer but has less to do for families.
Connected to Cocoa Beach is Cape Canaveral at the north and Patrick Air Force Base to the south. Visitors to Central’s Florida’s beaches will certainly get an aeronautical show with their toes in
When to Go For a Family Vacation
Families will enjoy optimal weather, if not very high temperatures during the summer months between mid-May and early September. During the summer, theme parks operate with extended hours to give families even more time to enjoy the parks and reduce spread out visitors to avoid overcrowding.
During the hottest months of the year, the full slate of attractions are open too. That includes water parks, mini-golf and several carnival-type attractions around the city.
Several weeks in March are popular for families who have children out of school for Spring Break leading up to and surrounding the Easter holiday weekend.
Families with flexibility will enjoy excellent weather and very low crowds during the winter months, specifically following Valentine’s Day in February.
When To Go To Get a Discounted Rate
The best time to visit Orlando to get a discounted rate especially on admittance to theme parks and attractions is during the middle of the week and outside of peak seasons. We have highlighted those peak seasons elsewhere in this article, but to reiterate, shoulder seasons like mid-September until November, and mid-January to March are the best times to visit.
Clever visitors may want to join AAA Motor Club for discounts and seek mid-week opportunities for visits. Florida residents also receive discounts but must present proof of Florida residency to qualify.
When To Go For the Water Parks in Orlando
Orlando has several water parks, the largest of which are run by Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios.
Universal Studios’ Volcano Bay is a massive themed water park operating seasonally from February 27th, 2021 through November. In year’s past, Volcano Bay has remained open during the winter months in some years, electing to use these colder months to handle seasonal maintenance in other years.
Volcano Bay offers a number of water slides, a massive “beach” with a wave pool, a “winding” lazy river, and a water “roller coaster.” The Cabanas are big business at Volcano Bay with rental available for single cabins, family-style cabanas, and two floor monster cabanas. Like the theme Park, Universal also sells photo and dining packages for interested families.
Walt Disney World Resort offers two water parks in Orlando, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. The first is themed as a tropical paradise while the second is inspired by colder climates. Both offer extensive water-based attractions and some of the same hallmarks of Disney parks. Deepsite the water toboggan runs and ski lifts, the best time to visit is in the early summer.
All the water parks should be visited between May and August for optimal experiences. While most of the year is warm enough to warrant a visit to cool off in the water parks, late August brings thunderstorms through the end of the fall. That seasonal change leads to hurricane season in September through early November which can make the weather inconsistent and unpleasant.
When to Visit Walt Disney World
Generally, the best time to visit Orlando is during the summer months of late May to Early September. Children are out of school, parents can often find time to take planned vacations away from the office. Hours at Walt Disney World Resort are extended during the summer as well to accommodate the increased crowds. However, as a Disney World annual passholder, I can give you some insights you might not find elsewhere.
Not all families can take advantage of this, but for our family it makes more sense to let our little one sleep in and take it easy during the day opting to visit the park at dinner time and staying until close, often between 10 pm and midnight. Not all kids can stay up this late, and I understand that it can be challenging, but if they can the payoff is far greater.
After the fireworks each night at 9 pm, the park mostly clears out, especially of the youngest children. This reduces lines to nearly nothing. We have arrived in the past at special early opening hours, only available to Disney Resort guests or partner hotels. But as children are more likely to get up early rather than stay up late – the parks are packed even during this limited period.
However, based on our experience, we will ride as many rides between 8:30 pm (when families start lining up for the best view of the nightly fireworks) and even 10 pm than we rode between 8 am and 8:30 pm. If the park is open until midnight, visiting Disney can be more productive in those three hours than even two full days in the park during normal business hours.
The absolute best time to visit Disney World is mid-week (Tuesday through Thursday) in the off-season like the first two weeks of December or mid-January to March (avoid Valentine’s Day.) Visitors will find cheaper prices, fewer crowds and generally more enjoyable experiences by traveling when others don’t.
Shoulder season is April to mid-May and while a similar shoulder season occurs again in the fall, it’s during Hurricane season so late spring to early summer is the ideal time to plan a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth.
During the Halloween season (usually the month of October through the first week of November) Walt Disney World Resort offers Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Epcot’s international focus brings a variety of annual events celebrated by regular visitors. The Orlando resort’s most popular festival is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival held in mid-July until Thanksgiving. Preceding that is the short, but beautiful Garden festival, both are worth a visit.
When to Visit Universal Studios
Similar to Walt Disney World Resort, the best time to visit Universal Orlando is in spring shoulder season preceding summer beginning in mid-May. Summer are the best month for weather from late May until August. Early in September following Labor Day, is also ideal, though Hurricane season begins in September so dates may be subject to inclement weather.
In October, Universal offers Halloween Horror Nights. In contrast to Disney’s approach, this is a more mature themed Halloween, centered around the cinematic history of the Horror film genre. Universal’s catalogue of characters are on display during the event. The event is ticketed separately, and operated in the evening.
During this event period, the park will close earlier in the evening to re-open for Horror Night ticketed guests which stays open typically until midnight.
When to Visit SeaWorld
hile the other theme parks in Orlando are good to visit year-round (with some seasons better than others), SeaWorld Orlando really should be visited in the summer. The park offers large scale outdoor activities with live shows featuring sea life. It focuses on education and entertainment with the animals, introducing families to the dynamic ocean life they have on display.
The park offers more than just live-action shows featuring orcas, dolphins, and sea lions. Sea World also has several roller coasters for guests of all ages from tame to intense. There are a number of other things to do for kids, all of which center around the water. Sesame Street characters are also part of the experience.
SeaWorld Orlando is open year round but it’s not really advisable as a winter park. Plan your visit for June through August for an optimal experience. Annual passes are available from $141/year, on par with a single day ticket to one park at Disney making it a great value for interested families.
Historic Cape Canaveral has become a hotbed of activity in the last few years. There really is no bad time to visit Florida’s Space Coast (excellent branding) with the exception of three months of the year.
During Hurricane season September through November, the weather can be unpredictable and launches are often rescheduled making it difficult to see a launch. The museum, however, is open year-round offering family-friendly scientific and historical activities that encourage visitors to discover space and science.
When to See a Rocket Launch
Missions to the moon launched from pad 39A at Cape Canaveral in 1969. The Space Shuttle followed the Apollo missions then the International Space Station at which point development slowed and then came to a grinding halt.
The last mission of the Space Shuttle was in 2011 and the spaceship was retired without a replacement. But private industry has made up for decades of slow advancement. Companies like Boeing and Lockheed have teamed up to battle Elon Musk’s upstart SpaceX and, coming soon, Jeff Bezos of Amazon’s Blue Origin.
This has made it possible to see multiple rocket launches weekly from Florida’s Space Coast, Cocoa Beach. In the past it would have been easier to predict when rocket launches would take place based on seasonality and weather patterns, but now, rockets set off from the cape consistently. SpaceX alone launched 26 rockets in 2020, or one about every other week. The company has recently operated crewed flights delivering humans to the ISS for the first time nearly a decade from a US pad.
What’s more, the rocket boosters provide a second show. Following the launch, the booster rockets land themselves back on earth about ten minutes after leaving the pad, the rocket carrying onward to the heavens. It’s an amazing bonus for launch enthusiasts.
Here’s an incredible shortened video of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral about 45 minutes from Orlando and two of the boosters landing autonomously side-by-side moments later.
When To Go To Save Money
The best time to go to save money on a trip to Orlando is following Labor Day in September until Thanksgiving. The first two weeks of December are also less crowded and less expensive as are the weeks following the second week of January through the end of February. After Easter until late May, visitors can also save money on their trip to Orlando, Florida.
The Best Time to Visit Orlando When it’s Not Busy
Summer is busier than the rest of the year with elevated crowd levels. Room rates at hotels and flights into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and its secondary airport, Sanford International (SFB) are more expensive than at other times of the year.
Strong travel demand from Brazil which experiences winter during these months also contributes to significant travel volume. European families who enjoy more holiday than their American counterparts often visit during the summer months as well, heaviest in August when the offices of the continent are mostly abandoned.
Families that are able to travel earlier in May or just after Labor Day (first monday in September) will find Orlando to be much less crowded than just a few weeks later in May or earlier in September.
When to Go For a Honeymoon
For newlyweds, planning a honeymoon to Orlando can mean pools, theme parks, and fireworks, plus some of the best restaurants in the United States. Most weddings take place in the US happen in the summer and honeymoons immediately follow.
If a couple can delay their honeymoon some, the second week in September is ideal. Crowds are low, costs are lower, and newlyweds can enjoy time together without the hassles that come with visiting Orlando during peak seasons.
The best time to go for a honeymoon is September, the earlier in the month, the better to avoid inclement weather.
PRO TIP: Let the parks know you’re celebrating your honeymoon. They will make your visit even more special.
The Best Time to Visit Orlando For Good Weather
January’s Weather in Orlando
The year’s first month also happens to be the coldest one in Orlando, Florida. To many people, it will be just another balmy day. In January, the average temperature is about 15 °C, though, on some afternoons, the Mercury can climb up to as high as 21°C. It’s typically quite pleasant in the early evenings and mornings, though it can cool down to as low as 9°C from time to time.
Different types of clothing should be brought with you, including items for warm days (short sleeves, dresses, and shorts) in addition to a sweater, sweatshirt, hoodie, or long pants. Layering is something you will do in January so you can remove clothing or put it back on, based on changes in the weather.
Although it can rain in January, the average precipitation over the course of 10 days is only 57 mm. In other words, when it does rain, your plans won’t be ruined. In Orlando, the average precipitation is 57 mm while the maximum temperature is 21°C.
February’s Weather in Orlando
Most states in America will experience freezing temperatures. However, February weather in Orlando typically feels like the late spring. There is no shortage of sunshine, and temperatures in the afternoon reach as high as 22°C. Of course, evenings and mornings will be a little cool, so a sweater or sweatshirt will be worn often.
You should also bring a light raincoat, as the rain in February can reach as much as 82° mm over the course of 10 days. Fortunately, rainfall durations aren’t very long in Orlando. The average precipitation in February is 82 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 22°C.
March’s Weather in Orlando
You will usually see idyllic weather in Orlando during March. Temperatures can reach 25°C during the daytime. A sweatshirt or sweater will still be necessary for chilly evenings and mornings, as the temperature can drop to 12°C. A light raincoat might also be necessary, as an average of 82 mm worth of precipitation will fall over the course of 11 days during this month.
Sea temperatures average out to 23°C, so it’s not quite ‘bathing suit weather’ (unless you are entering a heated pool or going to the beach). The average precipitation levels in Orlando are 92 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 25°C.
April’s Weather in Orlando
In April, the weather is much warmer. The temperatures get as high as 28°C. Precipitation decreases significantly, down to about 61 mm over the course of 10 days. You probably won’t need a raincoat too often. You’ll need to dress for warm weather, though you should still bring a sweatshirt or sweater, as the evenings are a little cool.
Also, it can get quite chilly on amusement park rides. The average precipitation level in Orlando is 61 mm during April, while the average maximum temperature is 28°C.
May’s Weather in Orlando
This is a quiet month in Orlando. The humidity and heat really start to rise in the spring. Temperatures in the afternoon reach a scorching 31°C. Rainfall is likely, as an average of 84 mm over the course of 11 days is to be expected. Low temperatures, on average, are a balmy 18°C.
It isn’t necessary to pack your bags for cooler weather, but a poncho or light waterproof coat would be ideal when it does rain. Besides that, the clothing you don should be along the lines of dresses, shorts, tank tops, and shirts with short sleeves. It won’t hurt to bring a bathing suit either if you plan on going to the beach or pool. Sea temperatures are about 26°C in May. The average precipitation levels are 84 mm while the average maximum temperature is 31°C.
June Weather in Orlando
The summer will be quite hot and also significantly wet. You can expect precipitation averages of about 170 mm over the course of 22 days. The summertime tends to be full of season passes for theme parks, and a rain poncho should be carried with you. You can expect the average temperature to be 32°C, though it could dip to as low as 22°C. Going to the sea won’t make you any warmer, as sea temperatures are about 28°C in June.
If you’re going to the beach, consider bringing a hat that is wide-brimmed, along with a significant amount of sunscreen. The average precipitation levels are 170 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 32°C.
July Weather in Orlando
The humidity and heat increase in the heart of summer, so heat exhaustion is something you need to be mindful of. Remaining hydrated is mandatory if you are spending time outside. Try to find shady areas to take breaks in, and go for swims often. The Mercury can climb to as high as 33°C during the afternoon, if not higher.
Rainfall can average out to 196 mm of precipitation over the course of 23 days. The clothing that you bring with you should keep you cool and dry. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen. The average precipitation levels in July are 196 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 33°C.
August Weather in Orlando
The weather in August is a lot like it is in July, as far as precipitation, heat, and humidity are concerned. It is just as hot in the afternoons, and the rainfall can reach 171 mm over the course of 24 days. Late August is generally the time when tropical storms happen.
The peak storm season is the late summer or early fall. A hurricane may be involved with the tropical storm, though this is less likely to happen in Orlando since the location is more central, and therefore a significant distance away from Florida’s coast. Still, thundershowers are something you will encounter, if not heavy rain.
When it does rain, though, the downpours are short. Simply find some shelter and wait for the downpour to end. A travel umbrella should be brought with you, as well as a rain poncho. The average precipitation levels in August are 171 mm while the average maximum temperature is 33°C.
September Weather in Orlando
The temperature starts to go down a little this month – as low as 32°C, though it will remain muggy and hot. September also happens to be the peak of the hurricane season. As such, be mindful of weather forecasts and plan for them accordingly. Although it doesn’t rain as much throughout the month, that doesn’t mean it won’t.
When it does, it’ll probably happen during the afternoon. The things you pack in September will be no different from what you bring in July and August. You’ll need either some rain ponchos, waterproof gear, and lightweight clothing. The average precipitation levels in September are 160 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 32°C.
October Weather in Orlando
You will get milder crowds this month. The weather isn’t unbearably hot, but temperatures are still fairly warm. The average hovers around 29°C. Rain decreases in October, going down to 86 mm over the course of 13 days, on average. Sea temperatures will be warm enough to go for a swim, as they remain at around 27°C, for the most part. Warm weather clothing is what you should bring with you, as temperatures could reach as low as 18° (which is still very pleasant).
It won’t hurt to bring either a sweatshirt, sweater, or hoodie if you want to go on rides at theme parks at nighttime. The average precipitation levels in October are 86 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 29°C.
November Weather in October
This month tends to be characterized by dry and warm days, though the temperatures are quite pleasant. In the afternoon, it gets as high as 25°C. Precipitation levels drop to 48 mm over the course of 10 days, on average. It might be redundant to bring waterproof gear or a raincoat the closer you get to the end of the month.
The weather during the evenings is chilly, going as low as 14°C. As such, a sweatshirt, hoodie, sweater, or jacket will be necessary at nighttime. In November, the average precipitation level is 48 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 25°C.
December Weather in Orlando
This is the month where crowds start to return – particularly during the holidays. It is quite dry and warm in December, with Orlando averages remaining around 23°C. Precipitation levels are about 52 mm over the course of 10 days. The clothing you should bring with you are shorts and a short-sleeve shirt during the day, along with a sweatshirt, sweater, and pants at nighttime.
It will be fairly warm for you to go for a swim in December, as sea temperatures are about 24°C. The average precipitation level in December is 52 mm, while the average maximum temperature is 22°C.
Orlando Festivals and Events
(Festivals and Events calendar)
VRBO Citrus Bowl
Head over to Camping World Stadium to watch one of the premier college football bowl games every New Year’s Day. Typically, a highly ranked Big Ten team faces an equally tough SEC challenger. January 1st, annually.
The Creole take on Carnival celebrates the start of lent with parties in the streets and big brass bands. Universal Orlando brings the party to its pair of parks and the Universal City Walk, a shopping and entertainment zone. February 6-March 28th.
The famed NBA basketball team kicks off the season February 27th against the Utah Jazz.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Expo
Ushering in spring, Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center begins its four-month long flower and garden expo showcasing the beautiful flora. March 3rd through July 5th, 2021.
Everclear opens concert season in Orlando on April 3rd, with Trey Kennedy on April 8th and Milky Chance playing the House of Blues at Disney Springs o April 10th.
The Ballet comes to Orlando’s Bob Carr Theater on May 22nd offering some culture indoors to Central Florida.
A series of events determining winners from around the city in honor of Pride week. June 2nd, 2021.
A Chinese Cultural art and dance troupe put on their show daily from June 4th until July 4th, celebrating Sino culture.
July 4th – Independence Day
Annually, July 4th is the holiday that America celebrates its independence from England in 1776. Around the city, fireworks, outdoor BBQs and street parties will take place. Each of the theme parks hosts large celebrations for the holiday as well.
International Food & Wine Expo
Every year in the middle of July, Epcot kicks off their most celebrated event of the year. Running through the summer and fall, the event features select cuisine globally, rotating throughout the festival from different countries and regions. Epcot is nightly the epicenter of Orlando during this expo. July 15th, 2021 through November 22nd.
LEGO Movie Days
LEGOLAND Florida hosts a celebration of its LEGO Movie franchise with themed events, character interactions, and movies. Weekends through August 4th
H2O Glow Nights
Special night time swimming at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon with an exclusive bar area for adults puts a new spin on an end-of-summer. August 24th.
SeaWorld kicks off halloween season with its silly halloween events. For the adults, this event overlaps with a Craft Beer festival that begins the prior month. All September and October.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Walt Disney World Resort hosts a halloween party that celebrates dressing up and trick-or-treating built around fun for younger children. Events take place around the Magic Kingdom with special events ticketed separately from standard admission. All October.
Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Orlando takes a more dramatic approach toward Halloween. While not all of the events are distinctly adult, it is markedly scarier and built more for older children and adults rather than young children. All October.
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort
There may be no better time to visit Universal Studios than during Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The event spans both parks, holiday-themed food and drink are on offer and the event is capped with spells and a light show at the castle.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Following Thanksgiving, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party is celebrated at Walt Disney World Parks. At the Magic Kingdom, special one-off events with limited access, and exclusive hours are separately ticketed and include some food and drink as well as souvenirs.
The Best Time of Year To Visit Orlando, Florida
Whether you’re visiting the city for a honeymoon, a wedding, theme parks, for a rocket launch or anything else, the best time of year to visit Orlando, Florida is here for your review.