What to Know Before Booking 2023 Disney World Vacations

Walt Disney World 2023 vacation packages, resort reservations, and tickets are now on sale! Many fans begin booking and planning next year’s vacations with this release, so we’re bringing you everything that you need to know before getting started. (Updated June 8, 2022.)

This covers a multitude of topics, including when to visit to avoid crowds, saving the most money, new attractions, if or when the Disney Dining Plan will return, and more. We’re running through the key info that could influence your plans and Walt Disney World 2023 travel dates, with recommendations and reminders about past precedent that’s consistent from year to year.

In other cases, what’s addressed here is unique to 2023 at Walt Disney World. There are also plenty of unknowns, including some things we are still hoping will be back later this year, but that might not…and also might not return at the beginning of next year, or at all!

Let’s start with the basic information: bookings are now available for theme park tickets, resort hotel stays, and 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages for arrivals dates starting January 1, 2023.

Reservations can be made for arrival dates up to 499 days in the future on a rolling basis. This means that you can only reserve through October 21, 2023 as of June 8, but tomorrow that’ll move forward to October 22 and so forth. November 2023 will be bookable by later this month, and all of December 2023 will be available by late July 2022.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to relevant considerations when choosing your 2023 Walt Disney World travel dates…

When to Visit

The World’s Most Magical Celebration 50th anniversary event is now being celebrated at all four Walt Disney World theme parks throughout the rest of this year and into early 2023. As always, special events are subject to extension “by popular guest demand,” but for now, the 50th Anniversary is scheduled to end around April 1, 2023.

As much as we hate to say this, we see no reason for rushing to visit prior to the end of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. Despite the significance of the milestone, the actual celebration has been incredibly underwhelming–unless you love merchandise and statues of characters. Everything substantive that was added “for” the celebration will stick around throughout 2023 and beyond. For the most part, the 50th is just marketing–and pretty lame marketing, at that.

When determining when to visit, seasonal events cannot be overlooked–unlike the 50th, those actually do have some substance to them. You can see everything that happens throughout the year in our Calendar of Seasonal Events at Walt Disney World. While that’s the calendar for this year, the same festivities occur year in and out on approximately the same time frames.

Here, we’ll cut to the chase: Christmas is our favorite time of year at Walt Disney World. If you’re thinking of a Walt DIsney World vacation in the second half of the year, make it during the holiday season. Our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World is the best “sales pitch” for visiting in November or December.

Sticking with the back half of 2023, the other big seasonal event is Halloween. That’s mostly celebrated in Magic Kingdom and will run from mid-August 2023 through October 31. Our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide offers info & tips for Magic Kingdom’s fan-favorite Halloween-themed event. For everything else, see our Guide to Halloween at Walt Disney World.

While there isn’t much in the other parks for spook season, another staple of fall is Epcot’s annual culinary event, which will likely run from mid-July through mid-November. Read our Guide to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to learn more about that culinary celebration.

We love Halloween and that’s what makes August and September the second-best time of the year at Walt Disney World for us. Although it’s a favorite among many fans, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival has almost nothing to do with it for us–we prefer every single other Epcot event over Food & Wine.

Instead, we’d consider the biggest selling point for those two months to be crowd levels. Once school goes back into session, attendance drops at Walt Disney World. Unlike other times that have seen fluctuating attendance (e.g. January and February), this early fall slowdown is consistent year in and year out.

To that point, you might be tempted to choose your dates based on our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars if wait times and congestion are your biggest concerns. Honestly, don’t bother. 

While we put a lot of work into our crowd avoidance resources, it’s currently impossible to predict with any degree of credibility how good or bad specific dates will be in 2023 at Walt Disney World. There are simply too many variables (e.g. park reservations, pent-up demand, looming recession, etc.) to make those even remotely accurate. No one who doesn’t have a crystal ball in their possession is going to be able to offer reliable 2023 Walt Disney World crowd predictions at this point.

About the only thing we are comfortable saying is that mid-August through late September 2023 will be the best time of the year to visit from a crowd perspective. That is, unless things take a crazy turn and the “abolish schools” movement gains significant momentum. Sadly, I don’t think the Rugrats have that kind of political clout.

With that said, we do have a more holistic resource that should prove more useful until 2023 draws nearer: our Best & Worst Months to Do Walt Disney World. That ranks every month of the year, and recommends a few specific weeks to visit that we think are the very best weeks of the year at WDW. Those aren’t precise predictions, but rather, good rules of thumb.

Cheapest Times & Price Increases

This is often the second question readers ask, right after inquiries about crowds. Many people don’t realize it, but prices vary significantly based upon when you’re visiting. Here are the Cheapest Times to Go to Walt Disney World.

That’s an incredibly insightful post that’s well worth reading, but if you opt to skip it, a couple of things worth keeping in mind are that off-season is cheaper, and that the biggest price increases usually happen early in the year. This year, food and ticket prices increased in February. While some years have two increases (with the second usually occurring in October), that would still make January 2023 the cheapest month to visit, all else being equal.

With that said, some of the same variables come into play with pricing as do with crowds–specifically, the possibility of pent-up demand fizzling out and the economy entering a recession or some form of slowdown. Although prices have climbed steadily (and sometimes sharply) over the last several years, there’s nothing to say that can’t go in the other direction.

As longtime visitors to Walt Disney World, we’ve seen exactly that scenario play out in the past. The Great Recession was the last big example of this, but there have been minor blips here and there since (most recently as people postponed trips in the lead-up to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening).

Still, we wouldn’t recommend waiting around for a downturn and the perfect deal to come along. If recent precedent is any indication, you’re more prone to grow old waiting for that to happen. Just like with Wall Street, you can’t time the (WDW) market.

On-Site Perks

Let’s start with the ones that are probably lost forever. There is absolutely no reason to believe Disney’s Magical Express will return in 2023…or ever. Never say never, though. Enough of an economic downturn or Universal siphoning off attendance could change the equation. Just not by 2023–and probably not by 2024, either.

Second, free FastPass+ is not coming back. Again, never say never…but if you think Walt Disney World is going to give up the revenue stream of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes without its hand being forced, you’re truly living in Fantasyland. What you can expect is incremental improvements to the Genie+ service to address the currently abysmal guest satisfaction scores and the usability of the system. Those should all come well before 2023, though.

On a more positive note, Walt Disney World has confirmed that Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours will stick around through 2023. It’s our expectation that these are offerings are permanent, with no end dates in 2024 or beyond, either.

Similarly, the MagicBand Upgrade Program is almost certainly sticking around for 2023 and beyond. Although this has been plagued by inventory shortages due to supply chain disruptions, those are starting to improve. Expect this program to soon be expanded to include the MagicBand+ when that launches. Again, that’s not a 2023 thing…more like late June 2022.

Then there’s the Disney Dining Plan, which would fall into “reply hazy, ask again later” territory if this were a Magic 8 Ball. The Disney Dining Plan wasn’t mentioned in the announcement about 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package bookings, which does not bode well.

Our expectation is that the Disney Dining Plan will NOT be available for booking when the packages are released, but it’s possible that Walt Disney World could catch us by surprise and it’ll be an option for next year’s reservations starting as soon as they’re released. It’s also possible that won’t be the case, but the option will appear for modifications or new bookings in the months to come.

With that said, there are also no guarantees that the Disney Dining Plan will return by January 2023…or any time next year…or ever again! We think it’ll be back before 2023, as covered in When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return? (but we’ve been wrong on that topic more than once before.)

What’s New & Next

While we mentioned above that Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary has been underwhelming as a celebration, some of the recent additions that have coincided with it have been good. Big draws include Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Harmonious, and Space 220 Restaurant.

However, the one major addition that overshadows the rest is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. It is awesome. This Marvel roller coaster is incredibly popular and will be for years. The good news is that by January 2023, it will likely have a standby line, too! Everything you need to know is covered in our Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind FAQ & Ride Guide.

Other attractions planned for the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration have been delayed until this year or 2023. The only other BIG new ride on the horizon is TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, which will hopefully open in late 2022.

If TRON Lightcycle Run does not open by early December 2022, the roller coaster probably won’t open until March 2023 at the earliest. It might not even open until Memorial Day 2023. In other words, it’ll either open as a draw for this year’s peak holiday season dates, or for next spring break or summer travel seasons.

Typically, Walt Disney World does not open attractions in the off-season, so it’s highly unlikely that TRON Lightcycle Run will open in January or February of next year. (For those still looking at this year, there’s no way it debuts before October 1, and even that month through mid-November is a long shot.)

After that, the EPCOT overhaul will wrap up in late 2023, supposedly. Moana’s Journey of Water being the only noteworthy thing still left to open as part of that, and it’ll likely open at some point next year–likely in Summer 2023.

There’s a lot more on the horizon than just those two things, including Toy Story Roundup BBQ, Play Pavilion, and more. Everything exciting being built is covered in What’s New & Coming to Walt Disney World in 2022 & 2023.

Refurbishments

Temporary attraction closures and refurbishments are par for the course at Walt Disney World. Before solidifying your travel dates, you’ll also want to check out the Walt Disney World Refurbishment Calendar to make sure any must-do attractions won’t be closed for renovations during your visit. However, it’s way too early to rely on that when planning for 2023–usually attractions are added 2-3 months before they go down.

With that said, we do know some hotel closures that are on the horizon–namely, pool refurbishments and construction projects. See our 2022-2023 Walt Disney World Hotel Construction & Refurbishments.

When to Book

We started this with “When to Visit,” so let’s bring it full circle…back to the beginning…with when to book your 2023 Walt Disney World vacation. This is really only relevant if you’re reading this on June 8, right as packages and resort reservations go live.

As with most Walt Disney World “drop days,” the phone lines will be jammed and the online system will likely slow to a crawl at peak times, with Stitch eating the occasional page here and there.

If you’re just looking to book a standard room at Pop Century, there’s no real reason to rush into a reservation. There’s enough supply for those rooms that–even with a ton of demand–literally zero 2023 dates will sell out during the entire month of June 2022. When one person books a standard room at Pop Century, there are still (literally) over 2,000 more.

If you’re trying to book a rare room or some special suite that is one-of-a-kind, it’s a totally different story. When one person books that for specific dates, it’s gone. So, if you have great taste and thus want to treat yo self with a stay in the Yosemite Suite at Wilderness Lodge, then you should probably endure those long hold times on the phone.

However, that’s not going to be relevant to 99%+ of people reading this. (Not that you don’t have great taste–you definitely do if you’re booking any room at Wilderness Lodge, and might if you’re booking anywhere else.)

If you’re at all flexible about your resort choice or room preferences, consider waiting until later in the evening (or even June 9-10) when things calm down a bit. You might save yourself some headache and frustration. Alternatively, it’s always a good idea to use a travel agent. We recommend requesting a quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, so they can do the work for you. The agents there will book your vacation and help take the stress out of planning.

Ultimately, that should cover everything you need to know about booking 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages…for now. Obviously, with next year still over 6 months away, there are still many unknowns. Hopefully, we’ll have clarity on most of these in the months to come, but if the last two years are any indications, plenty of question marks will persist even as the new year begins.

Even with all of the above said, our advice is to book Walt Disney World vacation packages within a few weeks of when they go on sale to lock-in ticket and component pricing as a safeguard against the inevitable price increases. There’s really no downside to that approach, as discounts (also an inevitability) can be applied retroactively. So if you’re already certain that you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World in 2023, booking now is a good hedge.

If you’re not certain, and are waiting to see if Walt Disney World gets its act together in any number of ways, improves the guest experience/satisfaction, brings ____ back, or stops/slows down the nickel & diming, you should probably wait. While we’re hopeful that the worst is behind us in that regard, you couldn’t be faulted for having skepticism of our optimism. 😉

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!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Will you be booking a 2023 Walt Disney World vacation package? Notice anything interesting about hotel room or package prices? Anything surprise you? Is there anything you must have–Disney Dining Plan, all-day Park Hopping, Fantasmic, no Park Pass–before you’ll book a 2023 trip? Will you be booking soon, or taking a wait and see approach? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments here? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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