The Peak Season at Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
THE WALT DISNEY WORLD PEAK SEASON
I recently posted on the 2012 Spring Break season at Walt Disney World.
Because this period is during Disney World’s “peak season,” and there’s a lot of confusion about what “peak” means, I thought I’d clarify the peak season and its implications for crowds and prices at Walt Disney World.
The key messages?
- While prices are quite high during the peak season…they get even higher! The peak season is not the peak of Disney World prices…
- While some periods of the peak season are quite crowded, some are not…and other times of the year, not in the peak season, are even more crowded! The peak season is not the peak of crowds, and some periods within it are relatively uncrowded.
THE PEAK SEASON AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
The only prices at Disney World that change a lot over the course of the year are Disney resort hotel prices.
Theme park admission ticket prices are the same all seasons of the year–although they often have an annual increase in the summer. Dining prices go up in the spring break, summer, and Christmas seasons, but only a little–a few dollars per person per night.
Hotel prices, however, are all over the map–sometimes changing three times in a month–and can vary as much as 90% for the exact same room depending on when you go to Walt Disney World. In addition to seasonal price changes, Disney World also often upcharges another $10-$50 dollars per night for weekend and holiday nights.
Disney has names for these hotel price seasons: value, regular, summer, peak, pre-holiday, holiday, mile long, thumper, etc.
However, most people can’t remember any of the names of these seasons except for the value season and the peak season, so this site’s material on Disney World resort price seasons largely ignores Disney’s season names and presents the numbers and the dates.
TYPICAL DATES AND PRICES FOR THE DISNEY WORLD PEAK SEASON
If Easter is early, Disney’s peak season goes from the Friday before President’s Day through the Saturday a week after Easter. Disney adds additional charges over President’s Day weekend itself, and from the Sunday a week before Easter through the Saturday a week after Easter.
A later Easter recently has led to a break in the peak season, after the week of President’s Day and into early March. This happened in both 2011 and 2012. I’m currently forecasting the same for 2013.
Prices in the peak season are 30-60% higher than they are during the lowest-priced seasons of the year–the value season.
Even so, prices do get higher than they are in the peak season–during the period of Christmas through New Year’s Eve, which Disney calls the holiday season, they are higher even than they are over Easter!
CROWDS DURING DISNEY WORLD’S PEAK SEASON
The peak season is not the peak of crowds at Walt Disney World–the peak of crowds is the holiday season, Christmas through New Year’s Eve.
That said, there are some very busy times during the peak season–particularly Presidents Day Week, later March, and the weeks before and after Easter.
Crowds during the rest of the peak season vary.
- For example, the time after President’s day week through the first full week of March is typically quite uncrowded–expensive, yes, but uncrowded. Disney World calls this period “moderately crowded.”
- Crowds during the rest of peak season vary based on the timing of Easter. In 2012 and 2013, no other March or early April weeks look good.
See this for more on 2012 Disney World peak season crowds, week by week.
PRICES AND CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
As noted above, this is not always the case. Disney sets its prices to maximize the total profitability of its total resort–including the profitability of Disney’s hotels.
- Late February and early March is one.
- Late July and early August is another.