If you’ve been pushing back your trip to Walt Disney World year after year telling yourself “Eh, I’ll just go next year,” 2018 is the time that you need to finally go through with it. Between a surprisingly low park attendance rate and increasing anticipation for 2019, this year could offer you the most affordable and laid-back vacation. If you need some convincing to book a trip this year, here’s a list of reasons to visit Disney World in 2018.
1. Crowds: The Calm Before the Storm
The D23 announcements were monumental in the Walt Disney Company’s arms race against the up and coming Universal Studios that had seen a record-high market share in 2017. While the arrival of countless new attractions, restaurants, resorts and experiences built an insurmountable hype among fans that has virtually eliminated Universal as a competitor in the future, Disney World is experiencing a temporary catch-22. With so many announcements expected to come in a year’s time, people are simply saving their trips until 2019. As a result, the crowds are unusually small. Even in August, I was amazed that there were 15-minute waits for Soarin’ and that I could make a same-day reservation at Le Cellier during my trip to Epcot. This will likely continue through the new year as people wait until all of the new attractions open up. Take advantage of the small crowds and short wait times before the hoards of Star Wars fans flood the parks in 2019.
Because of the lower attendance, Disney World has started launching surprising discounts and promotions that are uncharacteristic to say the least. Between signature restaurant discounts of up to 20% and park ticket discounts for longer stays among many others, this may be the year that you can visit Disney World for the best value in years. If you’re a Disney regular and want a more relaxed trip focused on dining, shopping and time at your resort, plan to visit in 2018 before these discounts disappear and prices skyrocket.
3. Free Dining
I’ll be the first to say it: Free Dining will end after 2018. This promotion that is used to bring in more guests between September and November won’t be necessary when the D23 announcements are enough to bring in people year round. With the expected crowds in 2019, this may be the last year you can capitalize on promotions like free dining. Try to book a trip in the fall so you can get a complementary dining plan with your resort stay while you can.
4. A Trip of “Lasts”
With the arrival of so many new experiences in 2019, a trip this year can be somewhat of a farewell tour full of nostalgia, especially if you were a Disney kid. With fan favorites like the Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure already gone, you never know what will be replaced next. Everyone has that favorite attraction that no one else quite appreciates the same way you do, so make sure to go experience it again in 2018 as Disney World continues to change. With constant rumors of Disney ending IllumiNations, Tomorrowland Speedway, Star Tours, Journey into Imagination and many other attractions with cult followings, you never know if it will be your favorite ride that gets replaced, so cherish them while you can.
5. Hollywood Studios Will Actually Be a Full-Day Park
With the introduction of Grand Avenue and Toy Story Land set for May 2018, this might be the first time in years that Hollywood Studios deserves a full-day visit. To make room for these expansions and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios had limited attractions and experiences for a while. But a trip to Hollywood Studios in 2018 could be completely different with new dining and shopping options like BaseLine Tap House and the highly anticipated Toy Story Land. Add these to the already exciting rides in Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Roller Coaster and unique dining experiences like Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and 50’s Prime Time Caféand Hollywood Studios is worth a full day.
6. Disney Springs
If you haven’t been to Disney World in a few years, Downtown Disney got an unbelievable transformation. You can actually park within a mile of it and in less than 30 minutes enjoy the countless dining and shopping options that have nearly doubled in recent years. With inventive and unique restaurants like Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia and BOATHOUSE, Disney Springs has emerged as the place to be when it comes to eating on property. To add to the brilliant theming and cuisine of Disney Springs dining, a few more intriguing restaurants are expected to arrive in 2018. Jaleo will offer Spanish cuisine from Chef Jose Andres, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill will offer new-age Californian food, Wine Bar George will give guests an upscale, intimate wine bar and Terralina Crafted Italian will serve authentic, home-style Italian dishes. Furthermore, the highly anticipated block of restaurants themed around turn of the century rum-running tunnels, speakeasies, and transformed electrical power plants will debut, including The Edison, Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway and Pizza Ponte. In addition to these new and exciting dining options, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire can give fans their Star Wars fix to hold them over until 2019 with this groundbreaking virtual reality experience. Whatever you’re there for, Disney Springs will surely give you a new experience during your trip.