Disney World in January 2021: How to Enjoy the Festival of Arts and Low Crowds

Disney World in January comes at the end of the popular holiday season including Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party inside Magic Kingdom. As the holiday season wraps up, Disney World in January offers festivals and low crowd levels!

Everyone has personal preferences to consider when planning the date of their Walt Disney World trip- each season will have its pros and cons and guests' choices will vary based on those. Make sure to read our Walt Disney World crowd calendar to get an idea of what to expect when picking a date to visit Walt Disney World.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in January including current events, what weather to expect, crowd level predictions, and what to pack!

Disney World Events in JanuaryDisney World on Broadway

Here are all the current events to know about impacting Disney World in January!

Holiday Events & Celebrations at Disney World

This year the holiday season will end on December 30th which is about a week earlier than usual. It's likely Disney World might keep up the decorations a little longer but chances are the holiday lights on the castle, themed character dining, and holiday cavalcades won't be running.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts will run January through February at Epcot. The festival includes a Disney on Broadway Concert Series, live performance art which includes international musical and variety acts, acrobatics, amazing living statues, marching bands, workshops, seminars, art galleries, and more! It's hard to say whether all the entertainment options offered will be available this year as Disney is doing their best to navigate park operations along with current health policies. 

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend takes place at the beginning of January. There are runs for fans of every age, including children races and a half marathon, along with a 5 and 10K. Brave runners can accept the Disney Two Course Challenge by combining the 10K and half marathon to earn the Challenge Medal. This year's event will be held virtually.

Reservations Required- Park Pass System

Advance reservations for park admission is required for Walt Disney World upon reopening as Disney navigates limited capacity restrictions to ensure a safe environment for guests and cast members.

How to Make a Reservation 

  1. Link your park tickets/admission to your Disney account. You will need valid park admission to make a reservation.
  2. Create your party. Before you make a reservation, you'll be prompted to create a party from your Family & Friends list on your account. This ensures your group has the same reservations for your trip.
  3. Select a date and park. Choose the date and time you'd like to visit from the available reservations.
  4. Review and confirm your plans. You will also be prompted to agree to a COVID-19 liability waiver.

Important Details for Making Reservations

Everything looks a bit different right now for visiting Disney World so it's important to be aware of these new policies for the reservation system and the state of the parks when they open.

  • Reservations are limited and subject to availability and are not guaranteed until a reservation is finalized.
  • At this time, Guests will be able to select one park per day; visiting more than one park per day will be temporarily unavailable upon the reopening of the theme parks due to attendance limitations.
    • Guests with existing tickets that include the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option have options available to them for ticket modifications and cancellations.
  • A park reservation must be made for each day of entry. If you have a multi-day ticket, you will be required to make a park reservation for each date of your visit.
  • It is highly recommend that you make your park reservation as soon as you complete your ticket purchase, as availability can change until the reservation is finalized.

You can read more about how to make a reservation in our opening guide. You will NOT be able to enter the park without a theme park reservation.

New Safety Policies

It's crucial to be aware of the new health policies in place from required face coverings for guests to reduced capacity measures. Here are some highlights of the new policies to help you prepare:

  • Certain Experiences Temporarily Suspended: Experiences that draw large group gatherings– such as parades and nighttime spectaculars – will return at a later date. In addition, “high-touch” experiences such as makeover opportunities, playgrounds and character meet and greets will remain temporarily unavailable. Characters are still in the parks to greet guests from a distance.
  • Reduced capacity: Walt Disney World has reduced guest capacity and an advanced reservation system in place to manage attendance. All guests are required to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance.
  • Screening and prevention support: Guests 2 years of age and older and cast members are required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. All guests and cast members will also undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park.
  • Physical distancing: Managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort.
  • Mask Relief Areas: There are designated ‘guest relaxation' areas for guests to safely remove their masks and get a break from wearing them throughout the park.
  • Reduced Operating Hours: Disney World has currently been operating with reduced hours with most of the parks closing around 7PM.

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Disney World in January Crowd CalendarCinderella Castle entrance at Disney World

January is a great time to visit Walt Disney World when it comes to crowd levels. With the exception of Martin Luther King day, which is a very busy day at any theme park, the month of January is relatively quiet at Disney World with low crowd levels. Since this is a less busy time of year you will see shortened hours and entertainment along with larger ride refurbishments so that is something to be prepared for.

Disney's Hollywood Studio's has been a popular park since Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opened earlier last year and we expect to see this trend continue since this park also has Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Plan accordingly for busier days when you visit this park.

Disney World Weather in JanuaryWalt Disney World sign

The weather at Disney World in January is fairly dry with warmer days and chilly nights making it a great time of the year to visit. The average high for Orlando in January is 72 degrees with the average low being 48 degrees. Since the weather isn't as hot, this is a great time of year to visit for those that don't enjoy heat. January is also known for being the coldest month of the year in Orlando so make sure to bring some layers to handle those night time chills.

Chances of rain in January are the lowest you typically see all year with only an average three days of rain in the month. For guests that love Disney World but are not a big fan of the rain, this makes January a great time to visit.

Tips for Visiting Disney World in January

When it comes to visiting Disney World in January, we have some tried and true hacks for having a magical time on your vacation.

What to Wear 

One of the most frequently asked guest questions is: what should I wear to Disney World? Always check the weather leading up to your trip. The good news about visiting Disney World in January is that the chance of rainfall is greatly reduced making it less necessary to wear a rain poncho daily to the parks. We still recommend bringing one so you can enjoy the water rides without getting drenched. I recommend dressing in layers and come prepared for some chilly mornings. Once the sun goes down, the evenings will feel chilly (especially when you factor in humidity) so bring some lightweight hoodies or jackets. You can always rent a locker to store jackets in during the day and go back to grab them once the day cools down.

What to Pack 

January is considered the coldest month in Orlando which is still pretty warm by some Midwestern folks' standards. The nights will get chilly as the temperature drops so bringing light layers that you can shed during the day and put back on at night is the best way to go. Because the weather can vary so much day by day, check the weather each day leading up to your trip. Come prepared based on what the forecast says.

You can read our giant packing list here to make sure you show up prepared for literally anything you need while you're visiting Disney World.

What to Expect

There are a few things you should expect when choosing January as your month to visit Disney World:

  • Prepare for Refurbishments and Reduced Entertainment- since January is considered one the slowest months of the year it's a common time for Walt Disney World to do any needed ride and entertainment refurbishments. Along with that, you will also see shortened park hours and entertainment schedules in consideration of the lower crowd levels. These are all things to be prepared for when visiting this time of year that certain rides (including possibly your favorite!) may be closed. You can check Walt Disney World's entertainment schedule leading up to your visit to get an idea of what rides may be closed.
  • Prepare for Possible Construction- at the recent D23 Expo, Disney Parks announced a huge project to completely reorganize and add to Epcot in preparation Disney World's 50th Anniversary.
  • Tips for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge- if you're planning on visiting Batuu, then make sure to read our guide on the new Star Wars themed land! There are a few experiences that have been extremely popular aside from the Millennium Falcon ride and it's good to show up prepared so you know where to go first and how to make reservations for popular experiences.

But most of all, remember to enjoy your time at the most magical place on earth!

Plan Your Disney World Vacation!

Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for a Disney Parks vacation! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:

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