Best Time to Visit Orlando Theme Parks in 2012

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,Vacation Tips |

Given how busy the Orlando theme parks at the moment, we thought we’d put together some of our thoughts on when the best time to visit an Orlando theme park actually is. Of course, it’s subjective as what suits one person may not suit the next but for this article we’re going to assume that no-one enjoys lining up to enjoy one of those fabulous Orlando theme park rides! We think we’re pretty safe in that assumption, so just when is the easiest time to get on the most popular rides?

In order to determine when your favorite ride maybe the least busy you need to study the calendar. It goes without saying that your best chance of walking straight onto Space Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Manta, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey etc is obviously when fewer people are in the Orlando area. For that you need to know when the most folks are likely to be in Orlando and listed below are the dates when you can expect a lot of people to be in the Central Florida area.

2012 Likely Busy Times:

Now – Jan 2 – Holiday break for schools

Jan 14-16 – Martin Luther King Jr. weekend

Feb 5 – Superbowl

Feb 18-20 – President’s Day weekend

Mar 10 – 30 – Spring Break

Apr 7 -8 – Easter weekend

May 26 – 28 – Memorial Day weekend

July – Summer Holidays

July 4 – 4th of July

Aug 1-20 – Summer Holidays

Sep 1-3 – Labor Day weekend

Oct 6-8 – Columbus Day weekend

Nov 10-11 Veteran’s Day weekend

Nov 22 – Thanksgiving break for schools

Dec 23 – Jan 2 – Holiday break for schools

So that’s the list of days when you can expect attendance and the lines at the theme parks to be high but there are some other tips you might find useful in order to avoid the long lines.

Other Tips:

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are usually the least busy days.
  • Weekends can be twice as busy as weekdays
  • Saturdays are busier than Sundays
  • Good weather can cause larger attendance
  • Sporting events in Orlando bring people to the area and they go to theme parks before and after the event
  • General Rule: If school’s are on a holiday or break where you live… Orlando theme parks will be busy

Don’t despair if you really have no choice other than to visit at busy or peak times there are some advantages to this. For a start most attractions should be operational and the parks generally operate longer hours. This is very important as it enables you to enjoy the park at a slower pace rather than trying to rush around doing everything quickly. Also, if the theme park has a nighttime spectacular event running then you can be pretty sure that it will be on.

On the downside, you should note that on a busy day you will probably only get around 10-20 attractions done. Most Orlando theme parks have in the region of 50 to 60+ attractions so there is a lot you might miss out on. Wait times can be over an hour for a 3 – 15 minute ride so you can see the ratio isn’t good and this is why we recommend getting a multi day pass so you don’t feel the need to try and get everything done in one day. Remember, you are on vacation… you should be relaxing and not getting worked up about lines and other people.

So, if you can visit during a quieter time of year you’ll find that you can get a lot more done and the pace will be much nicer as you wander from one attraction straight onto the next without much of a wait time. In fact, it’s not uncommon to walk straight on to most rides and even the most popular rides only have wait times of up to 20 minutes. Also, you maybe able to complete every attraction on your hit list in a single day with some careful planning. We’d still recommend two days for some of the parks however as there are things you’ll want to do again and again!

Another factor to keep in mind is the popularity of each park. Some parks are better attended than others and here’s a list of the top parks in Orlando:

1. Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom  – 16.92 million visitors in 2010
2. Walt Disney World – Epcot – 10.83 million
3. Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom – 9.69 million
4. Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios – 9.60 million
5. Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure – 5.95 million
6. Universal Studios Florida – 5.93 million
7. SeaWorld Orlando – 5.10 million
8. Busch Gardens Tampa – 4.20 million (not Orlando but we thought it should be on the list to help planning)

As you can see, Magic Kingdom really is significantly more popular than the other theme parks and you can expect lines at most rides regardless of the time of year you visit. Again, if you keep away from peak times you’ll have a more enjoyable experience and line times will be less but you should still expect them.

These attendance numbers are also interesting for another reason and that is the fact that a lot of our guests staying in our Florida Leisure Vacation Homes often report they enjoyed a different park because it just felt less crowded. SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland Florida are the two parks we hear these comments the most often about but those who travel an hour to Busch Gardens also remark on how much they enjoyed their day out because it was quieter.

Many factors can combine to make your day more enjoyable. No two families are alike and that’s why we recommend utilizing a planning service to help plan your families vacation and the Florida Leisure concierge would be pleased to assist in this as well as helping you get discounted theme park tickets at the best rate. is the link and then navigate to “Attraction Tickets” to see the current discounted rates.

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