When to go and where to stay?

by Michele
(Milford NY)

Hi Dad!

I am just beginning to plan our families first Disney World trip for fall 2014 and I have been looking at your website obsessively! I am not sure what week to pick though and I was hoping you could give me some advice. My son turns 3 October 19 so I would like to take advantage of him being free and go before that, but other than that we are flexible. I know September is hurricane season in Florida and I don’t want to have to deal with rain every day. Do you have any recommendations ?

Also I am looking at standard room at the Wilderness Lodge or Family Suite at Art of Animation and not sure which would be better. We will be traveling with my mom, so three adults and one child business we aren’t fussy about having to share a small space. Is it worth having a smaller room to stay at the nicer hotel? Price was similar so that is not a major concern. Thanks so much I love your website and I’m sure I will have more questions as i go through this process !!


Rain at EPCOT

Rain at EPCOT – Photo by ohector

Dad’s I’ve got your back Answer


Thanks for the questions. Let me assure you, I’ve got your back. I’m here and ready to jump to the rescue. You won’t find a better Dad than me to answer your questions about Walt Disney World, cause I’m a world renown expert on all thing WDW.

(OK, time to stop blowing smoke and get to the answers.)

First, when to go before mid-October. You’re probably not going to like the answer, but the best time in the fall of 2014 will be September. In fact, the whole month of September makes Dad’s top 5 weeks list for 2014.

Dads’s Best 5 Weeks to Visit WDW in 2014 page

Yes, it’s hurricane season. So what? Since 1865 (almost 159 years), there have only been about 17 hurricanes that have been within 50 miles of Orlando. SEVENTEEN in 148 years. That’s about one every 8 years.

Hurricanes also only effect the area for 24-36 hours. That’s 24-36 hours out of a season that starts June 1 and runs to November 30. So we’re talking maybe 2 days out of 180 or so. That’s a pretty small window.

So the chances of a hurricane impacting your vacation is pretty remote. It’s not enough to worry about. (I still recommend purchasing trip insurance, but for other reasons.)

So let’s take hurricanes out of the equation. They just don’t happen often enough to worry about. We do need to talk about rain. Here again, reality is sometimes hard to take.

The old song goes (listen to Dad sing, he sings good) Seems it never rains in Southern California. Oh, that was smooth.

Yes, it never rains in Southern California, but it can rain any day in Orlando. September is the end of the rainy season, but and the chances in October are 30% or so less, but still, it can rain any day at Disney World. Even if you pick the historically driest week of the year, there’s still a better chance of getting rain every day than there is getting hit by a hurricane.

The good news is for the most part, rain at Disney World comes in afternoon showers. Afternoon showers usually leads to cooler nicer evenings. That’s a good thing. It makes the humidity in Orlando manageable.

We’ve been in December (one of the driest months) and got rained on for 3 straight days. All day, every day. It was pretty miserable, but we slogged on.

I guess the bottom line is you can’t worry too much about the weather. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. There’s not a lot of difference between September and October. Not enough to worry about.

Wow, that’s a lot of words about weather.

Dads’s Walt Disney World Weather page

So it probably comes down to crowds. September wins hands down. It’s not a contest. Check it out …

Dads’s September Disney World Crowds page

Dads’s October Disney World Crowds page

See. September kills October. The best prices and lowest crowds will be in September. I’d choose a week in September.

Scar on a rock at the Art of Animation

The Art of Animation is beautiful and whimsical – Photo by Cora Bush from the Facebook page

Now about the Art of Animation versus the Wilderness Lodge. That’s a much harder choice, but again, Dad’s got your back. Let’s talk this one out too.

A Family Suite at the Art of Animation is just about the hottest ticket on the planet. These things are selling like hotcakes. I’m not a big fan of Family Suites (because I like real beds not sofa or chair beds) but it seems like I’m in a small minority.

I will say I love the look of the Art of Animation. We are tentatively planning on staying there in Christmas of 2014. But again, for a family with more the 2 adults, I’m not a fan of the Family Suites because there is only 1 real bed.

Dads’s Art of Animation page

The beautiful lobby of the Wilderness Lodge

The Wilderness Lodge is a beautiful hotel – Photo by Brett Kiger

On the other hand there is the Wilderness Lodge. Talk about beautiful. Mrs. Mom told me just yesterday that this is one of her “Bucket List” hotels. All of them are on my “Bucket List”, but I can’t wait to stay in the Wilderness Lodge. I just love the lobby and the look of the hotel. It may be the prettiest hotel at Disney World, plus you’re just a 10 minute boat ride from the Magic Kingdom.

The only problem with the Wilderness Lodge is the rooms are pretty small. They do have 2 queen beds but they only have about 340 square feet. (Compare with over 500 in the Family Suite.) But then again, thousands of families every year fit 4 into a Value Resort with just 260 square feet. You’ll want to steer away from the bunk bed rooms. I don’t think you’d want a 3 year old on the top bunk (and I bet your Mom wouldn’t want to sleep up there either.) Still the Wilderness Lodge is a great choice.

Dads’s Wilderness Lodge page

So, which one would I pick for you? It boils down to Mom sleeping on a sleeper sofa or with Junior on a queen bed. Yep, it’s that basic. Transportation favors the Wilderness Lodge but just barley. Yes, the Lodge has some fantastic restaurants, but you can eat there even if you stay at Art of Animation.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

Michele, here is your answer. September and Art of Animation (I always like more room.)

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