August is the light at the end of the tunnel for summer season at Walt Disney World, with crowds that start to improve towards the end of the month. It’s still one of the worst months of the year to visit “thanks” to the weather, but overall, it’s better than July. Actually, the end of August is the best time of summer to visit, and even better than May. We’ll stress the same thing here that we did in our July at Walt Disney World post: “a rainy, crowded day at Walt Disney World is better than a perfect day at home.”
To underscore that point, and help relieve those of you who have already planned vacations for August: for years, it was when we visited Walt Disney World. Back when we were still in school, we took our annual Disney trip in late August. There was about a two week “secret window” (as we called it) when most K-12 students were back in school, but college classes had not yet resumed. During this week, park hours were still long, and crowds were low. Some of my fondest memories of Walt Disney World are from those 3 a.m. Extra Magic Hours closings in Magic Kingdom, strolling through a virtually deserted park.
Sure, we had to contend with the heat, humidity, and storms, but it was worth it for what was otherwise an anomaly on the calendar: a low crowds time with long hours. Disney has gotten better (or worse, from our perspective) and more sophisticated with its crowd forecasting models, and this “secret window” isn’t quite as good as it once was. Extra Magic Hours now never go that late, and every park aside from Animal Kingdom closes earlier than it used to. The last third of August still looks good from a crowd perspective, but hours have been reined in to match those lower crowds.
Late August can still be a decent time to visit Walt Disney World, but it’s not for everyone. Here’s what else you can expect from August at Walt Disney World…
In terms of weather, it’s still sweltering, intense back-sweat heat and humidity. It’s right there with August in terms of the worst weather of the year, with comfortable weather only 15% of the time–and that 15% occurs between like 2:13 and 5:49 a.m., so it doesn’t do you any good unless you’re nocturnal.
Temperatures are pretty consistent throughout August, but consistent is not synonymous with “good.” Daily lows are around 74°F everyday, and highs are around 90°F most of the month, going above 94°F or dropping below 87°F only one day in ten. Read our Tips for Beating Summer Heat & Humidity post for ways to minimize the affect of unpleasant summer weather on your vacation.
The good news? It’s in the mid-70s year round at Walt Disney World’s indoor attractions thanks to the true Disney magic: air conditioning. The bad news? Poor weather in August is exacerbated by high humidity and rain. Humidity levels exceed 94% for the majority of the month, and it rains 70% of days. August is the heart of hurricane and storm season in Florida, so you should be prepared for that.
We already blathered on about La Nina in the July at Walt Disney World post. Suffice to say, there’s still the “strong probability” of that in August, since it’s the worst month of the year for tropical storms. In addition to our standard Unique Items to Pack for Disney, you’ll want to pack the cheap 10-packs of ponchos; we’d recommend ordering 1 per person per day. Alternatively, you might just pick up some high-quality, reusable Frogg Toggs Rainsuits. Those might look dorky, but you will be thanking me by the end of the trip. Really.
Given the heat, humidity, and all of that, August is another great month for enjoying the best resort swimming pools at Walt Disney World. Likewise, it’s a great time for the water parks. You can read why we love them in our Typhoon Lagoon FAQ & Tips and Blizzard Beach FAQ & Tips posts. Both parks will have long hours in August.
Speaking of hours, park hours at Walt Disney World are long in August. Animal Kingdom’s hours have already been extended until 11 p.m. nightly, and you can expect midnight closings at Magic Kingdom (later with Extra Magic Hours) and many late evenings elsewhere, as well. Expect the currently-available hours to be extended at some point in July.
August really isn’t much different from June or July in terms of attractions. Soarin’ Around the World, Frozen Ever After, and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular will all have debuted long ago by this point. The only thing that’s uncertain is Rivers of Light, which might be ready, but we wouldn’t count on it (it probably won’t debut until Fall 2016). The rest of Animal Kingdom’s Nighttime Magic will be running, including The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic. All of these attractions/entertainment, save for the Star Wars fireworks, are now offering FastPass+.
In terms of seasonal events, there’s absolutely nothing in August. Literally–nothing. About the closest you’ll get to a special event is that the last week or so of the month, Halloween decorations will go up in Magic Kingdom. (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party doesn’t start until September.)
A couple of years ago, there was the Villains Unleashed event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (that’s when the firebreather photo above was taken, for those wondering) and before that, the Pirate and Princess Party, but neither lasted long, due to being too awesome for guests to handle…or something like that. I feel like Walt Disney World should concoct some sort of special event to throw a bone to those visiting in August. “Big Al’s Humdrum August Participation Event!” has a certain, charmingly simplistic ring to it.
For the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion, which is now available for booking August 2016 dates, but only at the end of the month (starting August 14 if you’re a Disney Visa cardholder). Since Walt Disney World uses this promotion to entice guests to visit during the off-season, there’s no need to offer it in early to mid-August when schools are on break.
Fortunately, if you’re visiting earlier in the month, you still won’t have to pay full price, because there are currently some room-only discounts available for booking through June 10, 2016 that cover travel dates in August. There are some restrictions on dates, but you can save 20-30% at many resorts (with even better offers if you’re an Annual Passholder or Florida Resident).
As far as pricing goes, early to mid-August is considered “regular” season and late August is “value” season for one-day park tickets (read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post for ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing). As far as room rates go, August is among the lower seasons.
Overall, early August is a lot like July–arguably worse due to the weather–which we consider the worst month of the year to visit Walt Disney World (you’ll want an itinerary for touring the parks). By contrast, late August is a lot like September, which is in the middle of the pack in terms of best and worst months to visit. If the heat, humidity, and storms don’t bother you, late August is a potential time to consider, but we’d recommend anyone with a slightly flexible schedule choose a different time to visit.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help.
For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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Do you like August at Walt Disney World? Do you think there should be a special event themed to Big Al? If you’ve visited in August, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!