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Disney World in January Vacation Planning Guide

The holiday season is over and it’s a new year filled with lots of opportunities to visit Walt Disney World Resort in Florida!

Fantasmic! and the Walt Disney World Railroad are finally back in action.

Plus, the TRON Lightcycle / Run roller coaster and Moana: Journey of Water attraction are both set to open later in 2023.

It’s gonna be a great year, not just a good year, my fellow Disney friends!

If you’re looking to book a trip to Disney World in January, be sure to go through this guide to ensure it’s the best time for your visit.

Or if you’ve already booked, take not of what’s closed, plus any special events going on.

Keep reading for my guide to Disney World in January, including weather, what to wear, crowd predictions, new attractions, closures, events, and more.

All dates and information subject to change throughout the year. This post will be updated frequently, but for the most up to date information on what’s closed and what’s reopened, check out my post about Disney World closures and what’s new.

Weather in Orlando in January

Photo of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts signage in the foreground with the monorail riding by in the background.
Photo by Harrison Cooney, courtesy of Disney.

January is usually the chilliest month in the Orlando area, with an average high of 71° F and low of 49° F (source).

The January weather is also dry – by Florida standards, anyway – with an average of 2.35 inches of rain (source).

As a New Englander, this weather sounds absolutely sublime to me! No sweaty, sticky days and less chance of rain? I’ll take it!

If you hate the sweltering humid weather, January will be a great time to visit for you, too.

What to wear to Disney World in January

Photo of two young women, one standing and one in a wheelchair, wearing Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary spirit jerseys to keep warm at the park.
Photo by Abigail Nilsson, courtesy of Disney.

Given the cooler temperatures, it’s important to pack layers when visiting Walt Disney World in January.

For many, low 70s or even high 60s is still shorts and t-shirt weather, while others will need a winter jacket.

You know your tolerance of temps the best, but given how erratic Florida weather can be, I do recommend packing warm and cold outfits!

For me, I usually stick to jeans and t-shirts this time of year, with a warm layer that I can easily throw on or take off.

And while I’m almost always in Birkenstock sandals at Disney, you’ll likely find me wearing sneakers instead. I hate when my feet are cold!

In short: t-shirts, jeans, shorts, sweatshirts or a light jacket, sneakers, and hats are all great picks for what to wear to Disney World in January.

Notable Walt Disney World Events in January

Although the major holiday season is over, there are a number of special events in January 2023.

Disney World’s 50th Celebration continues through March 31, 2023 with special merchandise, food, and limited-run attractions, like the interactive Fab 50 statues.

First up in January is New Year’s day, as well as 1/2, which is the federal holiday for New Year’s Day this year, both of which will no doubt result in some leftover crowds during the first week of January.

Photo of the start line at the Walt Disney World Marathon 2022 start line with fireworks bursting from the top of the sign.
Photo courtesy of Disney.

This rolls right into Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, which runs from January 4 – 8, 2023.

This runDisney race includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon race, plus a health and fitness expo, spread across 5 days.

Photo of two performers on stage at the Disney on Broadway concert series at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

Not long after the marathon weekend, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts starts on January 13. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, January 16, which is a federal holiday.

That means lots of schools and work places will have that day off – resulting in slightly heavier crowds that the rest of the month weekend.

For tips about planning your visit to the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, check out my comprehensive guide.

Artist illustration of Tiana's Bayou Adventure, a new ride coming soon to Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Disney.

Lastly, Splash Mountain closed on January 22 for its long-awaited makeover into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. It is expected to reopen in 2024, but a date has yet to be announced.

Expect tons of crowds and lines at Magic Kingdom trying to get one last ride in before it changes over forever. Honestly – I haven’t been on Splash Mountain in years and can’t wait for the new ride.

How crowded is Disney World in January?

The crowds at Disney World ebb and flow throughout the month of January.

There are a few pockets where the crowds are nice and small. Combined with the lovely January weather, it makes for a blissful visit!

Expect more crowds around January 1-2, 4-8, 13-16, and 20-22.

What’s closed at Disney World in January?

The winter months are often packed with ride and attraction closures either for refurbishment or due to cooler temperatures that would make water rides and parks unsafe.

Check out the lists below to see what’s closed at Walt Disney World Resort in January.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo of the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom with an Avatar 2 projection.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

First up, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are several closures to report.

From January 9 through mid-March, Kali River Rapids will be closed for its annual refurbishment.

In other words, ignore that infamous Deadline article filled with false rumors and inaccurate information about Kali River Rapids closing permanently. Facepalm!

The Colors of Mo’Ara face painting station in Pandora continues to be closed, but is expected to return someday.

Most of the character meet-and-greets at Animal Kingdom, mainly Pocahontas, Russell and Dug, and Lion King characters like Timon and Rafiki, are still on hold, as well.

That said, you can catch a glimpse of these characters, plus Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and other characters, on boats that float along Discovery River while circling Discovery Island.

Epcot

Photo of Spaceship Earth lit up at night with violet, fuchsia, and golden hues.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

The bulk of the closures at Epcot in January include a few restaurants and shops.

Tokyo Dining in the Japan pavilion is closed for remodeling and expected to open at some point in Summer 2023.

The Brass Bazaar, Casablanca Carpets, Marketplace in the Medina, and Restaurant Marrakesh, all in the Morocco pavilion, also remain closed without a reopening date to look forward to. It’s so sad to see such a beautiful World Showcase pavilion with such limited offerings!

Der Teddybar in Germany, El Ranchito del Norte in Mexico, the Mitsukoshi Kiosk in Japan, Sportsman’s Shoppe in United Kingdom, the Trading Post between Canada and the United Kingdom pavilions, and Village Traders between China and Germany also remain closed.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Photo from the back of the audience at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along at Disney World's Hollywood Studios.
Photo by Mariah Wild, courtesy of Disney.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Jedi Training, Star Wars Launch Bay theater, including its shops and meet-and-greets, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid remain closed with no opening date yet announced.

The Citizens of Hollywood street show has also not returned, which is a bummer because it is always a riot!

From January 9 through January 27, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along will be closed for refurbishment.

The Neighborhood Bakery in Pixar Place, where you can get the delicious num num cookie and other tasty snacks at Hollywood Studios, also remains closed. Same goes for The Incredibles meet-and-greet.

Lastly, several notable shops that remain closed are Disney Studio Store, In Character, Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost, It’s a Wonderful Shop, and Stage 1 Company Store.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Photo of Cinderella's castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom at night with a firework bursting above it.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

There are several popular attractions closed at Magic Kingdom in January.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster is closed January 9-13 for refurbishment.

Splash Mountain closes on January 23 until an unspecified date in 2024 for its transformation into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

The Enchanted Tales with Belle show remains closed through January and part of February. It is scheduled to reopen on February 19. Until then, you can meet Princess Belle at this location.

There are several meet-and-greets that are temporarily unavailable with no return date yet:

  1. Meet Gaston near his tavern
  2. Meet Alice at Mad Tea Party
  3. Meet Tinkerbell at Town Square Theater

Meet Ariel in her Grotto is currently closed but will reopen on January 22, 2023.

Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon Water Parks

Photo of Summit Plummit water slide at Disney's Blizzard Beach water park.
Photo by Amy Smith, courtesy of Disney.

Next up are the water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is currently closed for refurbishment with no opening date announced as of early January.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park remains open, though occasionally it closes if the temperatures drop too low.

Photo of a young girl playing miniature golf.
Photo courtesy of Disney.

Located next to Blizzard Beach is the Winter Summerland mini golf course, which features 2 courses: Summer and Winter.

In mid-January, Winter Summerland will start partial closure for refurbishments.

The Summer course will close from January 17 – 23, 2023. Then, the Winter course will close from January 24 – 30, 2023.

Disney Springs

At Disney Springs, the popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique remains closed.

Disney has publicly stated that it will reopen, just like the Magic Kingdom location, but hasn’t announced a date.

Resorts & other locations at Walt Disney World

1900 Park Fare, including its super popular character meals, at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa remains closed. The Perfectly Princess Tea Party at the Garden View Team room is also still closed.

Disney has not announced when either restaurant or their character experiences will return as of early January.

Lastly, the Disney Skyliner will be closed between January 22-29, 2023 for regular maintenance and refurbishment.

Will you visit Walt Disney World in January?

Overall, Disney World in January is one of my favorite times of year to visit, thanks to the lower temps and and easier crowd level to deal with.

Let us know in the comments below what your favorite time to visit Disney World is!

For more Disney World vacation planning tips, check out the posts below:

Lastly, for more monthly vacation planning guides, check out these posts:

  1. WDW in February
  2. WDW in March
  3. WDW in April
  4. WDW in May
  5. WDW in June
  6. WDW in July
  7. WDW in August
  8. WDW in September
  9. WDW in October
  10. WDW in November
  11. WDW in December

This post was originally published January 7, 2023 and last updated January 18, 2023.

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