For the past couple of years, my favorite visits have been in January - Marathon Weekend and the days following. Definitely the beginning of Value Season. At the beginning of the week, the Christmas Decorations are still up, the Train Station Mickey Mouse is still red and green, and the Dapper Dans are still dressed in their holiday attire. If you're so inclined, the Osborne Family Lights are still blaring in Disney's Hollywood Studios (usually ending the mid-marathon weekend in January).
Of course, I'm not trying to sell you on Marathon Weekend. That's for a different post entirely :) Now, I just want to share why I love Value Season. And, why I think I'll have less of an issue taking my boys out of school (when the time comes, of course!).
- No Lines. None. Well, almost none. Literally on a week day at 11 a.m., Space Mountain had no lines and my husband walked right into a waiting car (being pregnant, I hopped aboard the TTA!). Heck, Peter Pan hardly gets up to a 30 minute wait! So, in the 3 or 4 days we're in the parks, we can do everything we want with hardly any lines.
- It's cheaper! On property or off property, there are discounts for visiting when the crowds are thinner. For example - Pop Century during Value Season can run as low as $89 before any discounts while during Peak Season that same room runs around $139 and up to $174 during holiday season. That's a big chunk difference in price!
- Easier to make Dining Reservations- Unless you are trying to get into Cinderella's Royal Table for breakfast, you are less likely to need to make those ADR's 180 days in advance. Of course, that is still fun, but, sometimes it's fun to check Disney's Mobile Magic that morning to see what's available for dinner. Or, simple walk up to the front of the restaurant and ask for openings!
- Weather- Value season is generally while school is in session, so you'll be avoiding the heat of the summer (heck, in Orlando, that heat can start in March and last through November). Even with our high's being in the low 80's this past January, it was never too hot to be in the parks. Being 6 months pregnant, I was extra warm, but that's to be expected!
10 minute stand-by entrance for Buzz Light Year's Space Ranger Spin. Pretty much all day!
But, with those perks, there are things you may miss out on:
- Water Parks and Pools- if you visit in the "cooler months" there is a possibility that the water parks may not open if the weather isn't warm enough. The pools usually remain open, but do you really want to go into the pool if it's only 70 degrees? Not me!
- Refurbishments - January/February are often used to take down the big attractions going for reburb. January 2011, Splash Mountain closed for maintenance and this year, they closed Dumbo and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad the Monday after Marathon Weekend.
- Less Park Hours - During the summer, peak, and holiday seasons, the parks often offer more Extra Magic Hours and even regular operating hours are much later. Generally in January, the park closes at 9 p.m. while in the summer, it often stays open until 11 p.m. or midnight, with Extra Magic Hours sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. **Of course, with out having many people in the parks, you may feel that you don't need those extra hours, as you accomplish as much in the parks as you would in the more crowded seasons in 2 days!**