By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Disney World Crowds in 2012: Spring Break 2012

By Dave Shute


Walt Disney World Spring Break crowds are governed by two and a quarter factors:

  • Public school Spring Break calendars, which are still largely framed around Easter
  • The demand of snow-belters for a break from winter weather, which peaks in March, and
  • The quarter factor, the date of President’s day.  Later President’s Days (which can range from February 15 to February 21) tend to make the first part of March better

An early Easter combines the first two factors, making for more than the usual horrible crowds in March but a great April; a late Easter spreads the first two factors out, yielding some good later March and early April weeks.

Easter 2012, on April 8,  is right in the middle of the possible range. President’s Day 2012, on February 20th, as almost as late as it can be.

As a result, 2012 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be fine the first week of March, but bad from March 10 through April 15, with the peak crowds (rated 11 on my 2012 crowd calendar) happening the weeks beginning March 10, March 31, and April 7.


Although more and more school districts are moving away from an Easter-centered Spring Break, the plurality of kids still have the week before Easter off.

As a result, the single biggest factor determining better and worse Spring Break weeks at Walt Disney World is the date of Easter–which can range from March 22 to April 25.

A later Easter has a couple of different effects: first, it spreads out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter, and second, if particularly late, will push districts that typically take the week after Easter off into the week before Easter instead, to keep from compressing their May academic calendars.  We saw this in 2011.

An earlier Easter has the opposite effects.  Districts that traditionally try to take the week after Easter off will be able to do so, and districts that don’t base their calendars on Easter will be largely  compressed into a couple of March weeks.

(The compression point partly comes from only just so much March to go around, but also from the fact that such school districts don’t like taking the week before the traditional Easter break off, as it will lead into a set of political discussions (“If we could take that week off, why not slip it a week and take before week of Easter off? What do you have against Easter??”) that they don’t want to revisit.)

The date of President’s Day–which can range from February 15 to February 21–also has an effect. Because many districts both have a spring break and also take the week of  President’s Day off, the later President’s Day is, the better early March will be–as parents  avoid taking their kids out of school the weeks after a long President’s Day break.

The effect of the various dates in 2012 is to compress 2012 school spring breaks into three weeks: those beginning March 10, March 31, and April 7.


The chart to the right illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including more than 125 of the largest relevant US public school districts.

(Click it to enlarge it; when it opens, click it again to enlarge it more.)

More kids are on break the week before Easter than any other week; the week after Easter and the week beginning 3/10 are the next highest break weeks.  I’ve rated each of these 11/highest crowds in my 2012 crowd calendar.

Next to no kids are on break between the week after President’s Day and March 10. I rate the week beginning February 25 2/lower crowds and that beginning March 3 3/low crowds.  Both of these are recommended weeks.

The later March weeks–especially the week beginning March 24–have fewer kids on break than the three weeks rated highest/11.  However, because of the snowbelt effect, I’ve rated both of these 10/higher crowds.  The week beginning March 24 may turn out better than this…but I wouldn’t bet on it!

Worth noting is that the peak 2012 price season has its first period 2/16 to 2/25, and then restarts 3/9 going to 4/14.

Price seasons aren’t crowd calendars–they are more subtle than that–but do provide a little confirmatory data…



1 Rebekah { 12.01.11 at 12:20 am }

I find your website very helpful, thank you. We have two weeks in mind, Feb. 20 or Apr. 1. Which week would you recommend? I know both are high crowds, but I’m a teacher and I vacation when my students vacation. :)Also, do you know of any discounts or promos for teachers? Thank you so much!

2 Dave { 12.01.11 at 10:31 am }

Hi Rebekah and thanks! I’d pick the Feb week. While it will be busy, the April week is a nightmare! I know of no special deals from Disney for teachers, but your state or national association may make discounts available…

3 Brian { 12.01.11 at 1:38 pm }

Thank you for the very helpful article. My wife has booked 4/5/11 to 4/11/11, how bad can we expect it to be?? I am considering changing the dates. I do not wish to spend a small fortune to be miserable with crowds.

4 Dave { 12.01.11 at 4:18 pm }

Hey Brian, it does not get much worse than your dates–only Xmas week is busier and more expensive. Almost any other period is a better choice–but see this for the best choices:

5 Lesley { 12.27.11 at 7:18 pm }

Hi Dave, my children’s spring break starts April16 this year. I believe (according to your chart) that we have lucked out and will be the missing crowds. Do you recommend this week? Thank you for your help.

6 Dave { 12.28.11 at 8:06 am }
7 Michelle { 12.29.11 at 1:31 am }

Wow, we are booked for arrival on March 3rd and leaving on March 10 of 2012. After reading your site I am so excited about our dates. We usually go toward mid to end of May so March will be new for us. I love your statistics and charts. Thank you so much!!

8 Dave { 12.29.11 at 8:30 am }

Hi Michelle! Thanks and have a great trip!

9 Amanda { 01.07.12 at 6:15 pm }

hi! Our family has already planned our trip during March 23-27. Although the Spring Break chart looks good, you still ranked this time a 10 due to the “snowbelt effect.” Could you please explain to me what this is & is this just an awful time to go. My sisters family went Thanksgiving week and said that if you didnt have an airtight itinerary, you were in big trouble. Although I’ve compiled a pretty decent itenerary, Im worried that it will be too crowded to enjoy! Help!! Love your website!!

10 Dave { 01.07.12 at 6:44 pm }

Hi Amanda. If I’m wrong, this week will be much better than a ten, for the school break reason you note. The problem is the people in colder climates who take their kids out of school and come in late March to get away from winter. These people are hard to predict but late March is a common time…

11 Amanda { 01.07.12 at 9:31 pm }

Gotcha, thanks a million! I’ll hope for the best and be prepared for the worst 🙂

12 Dave { 01.08.12 at 10:03 am }

Fingers crossed!

13 Stacey Kusterbeck { 01.11.12 at 1:28 pm }

We scheduled our trip to WDW for March 17-24. My thinking was that it was well before the Spring Break crowds but in reading your comments, I now realize this may be a mistake. It would be tricky to reschedule for early March at this point. Do you think that week will be bad enough with crowds to look into rescheduling?

14 Dave { 01.11.12 at 1:54 pm }

Stacey, if it were me I’d reschedule if I could, espeiclaly if this might be my family’s only trip. That said, the week you are aiming at is very hard to forecast, and if I’m wrong, crowds will be better than I’m predicting…

15 Michelle G. { 01.16.12 at 6:04 pm }

Hi Dave. My son’s school break this year is 4/16-4/20. We were thinking of taking him out of school the week of 4/23/-4/27 and go to Disney that week because we heard that mid-april is the worst week to go due to the unbearable crowds and and at the end of april, the crowds simmer down…what would you predict for this year?

16 Dave { 01.16.12 at 6:51 pm }

Hi Michelle. Later April crowds are purely a function of the date of Easter, so the month can’t be generalized about. This year, with Easter on 4/8, I expect crowds to be substantially down by 4/15, so his regular week off should be fine. I do like the later week better, but not by a lot. See this:

17 Allen W. { 01.17.12 at 2:43 pm }

Great site. My wife and I want to take our 6-year-old (but tall for her age, well over 48″) daughter to Disney this year. Unfortunately, while her school is closed from April 6-22 (2 weeks) this year, alternate childcare is only available April 17-20th. And neither of us can really take 2 weeks in a row off from work.
So, if we want to go to Disneyworld this year, it looks like it has to be sometime in the range April 6-16, which I know (from your and other sites) is just about the worst time to do so. What advice do you have for us (besides “don’t”)? ;). Might the crowds be bearable starting around the 11th or 12th?
If it matters, my wife and I have been to DW about 15 years ago; our daughter has never been. And we’re also interested in Sea World; can you recommend any schedulign resources for them?

18 Dave { 01.17.12 at 3:38 pm }

Hi Allen. Many years the post Easter crowds start diminishing Thursday–April 12 this year. Howver, given the pattern of school breaks, I’m not predicting such this year–it may happen, but I’m not betting on it.

You can have a good time with a kid that age if you focus principally on mornings.

Avoid parks on the days they have morning extra magic hours; arrive at the turnstiles well before the park opens; ride the most popular rides first, and use FASTPASSES for the ones you can’t get to in the first hour or so. This should give you a good day up until noonish. Then grab some FASTPASSES before you leave, back to the hotel for a nap, and return for the evening fireworks and parades, also using the fastpasses you got before you left…

See also this page which while written for Xmas also applies to Easter:

I don’t have any good suggestions for Universal or Seaworld. You may find good stuff on See

19 Molly { 01.18.12 at 8:12 pm }

I am going to FL to visit my parents and thought I would go to Disney World for 2 days on the way – with my daughters who are 4 and 6. Their spring break is from the 30th of March through the 8th of April. Given what I have read and their ages, is it even worth going? I really don’t want it to be a miserable experience. We can bypass Disney World and just head to the beach. Sounds like you really know what you’re taking about!

20 Dave { 01.19.12 at 7:44 am }

Hi Molly, if you can do it March 30 and 31 it may be worth it…otherwise I’d save the money you’d spend for another visit at another time…

21 Denise { 01.19.12 at 3:03 pm }

Hi – do you include any special events in your calendar that are occurring at WDW, such as a marathon? We went to Disney one year during a really slow time, late January. We stayed at the Contemporary. What a mistake. They were sponsoring a marathon that started at 6am. There was a huge shouting crowd right below our room window. Thanks.

22 Dave { 01.19.12 at 3:27 pm }

Hi Denise, I do, if they affect crowds in the parks…what a pain to be woken that early!

23 Mike { 01.21.12 at 8:00 pm }

My family and I am going to Disney The week of March 11th which from your calendar is an absolute nightmare apparently. I am sure you know your stuff but I must admit I am a bit confussed. If spring break typically falls on or before easter week (April 8th) and Presidents day falls in late February- why is this week so crowded? I cant back out now, any suggestions?

24 Dave { 01.22.12 at 11:16 am }

Hi Mike, see the chart. While most do, many school districts don’t pay attention to the Easter calendar, and this year, those that don’t are largely off the week of the 11th…

25 Shauna { 01.25.12 at 2:10 am }

Hi Dave! You are very knowledgable in the ways of Disney. I’ve seen your chart and read through the dilemmas of others, so I’m afraid I might be in a bigger pickle than I originally thought. My family (Disney veterans-but never at spring break) & our close friends (first timmers) are going to Disney 3/31 thru 4/6. Can it be done? I’ve been at Christmas and swore to never do that again! Is there hope it won’t be quite as bad? I’m a great planner, so an itinerary doesn’t bother me. I want this to be the best possible experience for our friends and the 3 kids we are bringing along. Am I being unrealistic, and should I make other plans? Can you help me make the best of this?

26 Dave { 01.25.12 at 9:09 am }

Shauna, it won’t be as bad as Xmas…but it’s close to that bad. It can be done, through the tactics you already know–get up early, be at the turnstiles well before the parks open, ride the most popular rides first, use FASTPASSES…but by noon most days things will be miserable…If you can make other plans, I would…

27 Sam { 01.27.12 at 10:03 am }

Hi Dave! We have booked our vacation for March 7-17. I wrongly assumed that this would be a great time to go. I have already made dining reservations and its too late to change anything 🙁 We are taking our 3 young kids. Any tips or ideas? ?? Please help. Thank you

28 Dave { 01.27.12 at 2:05 pm }

Hi Sam–it varies a bit depending on how young your kids are, and whether you are staying at a WDW resort or not…but you should be fine until March 10, so you want to knock off as much as you can before then. The tenth and later you absolutely need to follow the basics: avoid morning extra magic hour parks, arrive before the park opens, ride the most popular rides first, and use FASTPASS. (These tips apply to the 7th thru the 9th as well…) Hope this helps and have a great trip…!

29 Tom { 01.31.12 at 10:39 pm }

Planning a visit to Disney World March 30 – April 1, 2012. What is your best guess as far as crowds? This will be our second visit with our kids, ages 5.5 and 2. Thanks for any advice you may have.

30 Dave { 02.01.12 at 7:52 am }

Hi Tom, that’s one of the 4 or 5 busiest weekends of the year, because Easter is the next week. To have fun wihtoutn horrible waits, avoid parks with morning extra magic hours, be at the gates well before the parks open, ride the most popular rides first, and use FASTPASSES.

31 Christy { 02.07.12 at 12:53 pm }

Yes we are about to book our VERY FIRST trip to wdw to arrive March 25 and leave March 30 while actually going to the parks March 26-29. My husband is already dreading the crowds but I have begged and pleaded to lets give our daughters ages 8 and 11 one wdw vacation. Now I am worried are these dates just awful to go I mean will we still enjoy it? They are out of school 2weeks that week and the first week of April well I know for sure not to plan April. So can you give me a little feel good about these days we have planned for the park? We have never been so therefore dont know how to go about planning days as of now its just get up hit a park a day I am so excited for my girls we are leaving it a surprise for them but now I am just not sure? If we plan not to go during this time it would be Oct before we could reschedule and I dont think I can wait that long 🙂

32 Dave { 02.07.12 at 3:42 pm }

Hi Christy–I fear it will be very busy, but as I note on the page I may be wrong!

The trick on a busy day is to avoid extra magic hours days, arrive at the park well befroe it opens, ride the most popular rides first, and then use fastpasses.

On your dates, I’d suggest Epcot the 26th, Hollywood Studios the 27th, Magic Kingdom the 28th, and Animal Kingdom the 29th.

Hope this helps and have a great trip!


33 Joan { 02.07.12 at 5:56 pm }

Hi, we have to go the week of April 7-14. Only planning to go to Magic Kingdom one day. Can you recommend which day of the week might be best.

34 Dave { 02.07.12 at 8:34 pm }

Hi Joan, the week after Easter is one of the 4 or 5 busiest weeks of the year. I would aim for as late in the week as you can–e.g. the 13th or 14th–for your MK visit….

35 london { 02.13.12 at 1:24 pm }

Hi, your website is very helpful on trips to disneyworld. I booked my family trip from march18-24th . I will be purchasing a 4-day park hopper and plan on going to the parks on weekdays only. How will the crowds be if I plan on going to magic kingdom on monday 19th and animal kingdom on tuesday 20th (etc)??? I have a 4 year old daughter i’m hoping the lines arent too long. please help. 🙂

36 Dave { 02.13.12 at 2:59 pm }

Hi London and thanks!

I’m seeing this as a very crowded week all week long, but may be wrong. Either way, the best weekdays for MK will be Tuesday and Weds, for AK Tues, Thurs, and Fri; for Epcot Mon, Weds and Thurs, and for HS any weekday but Monday…

37 Rachel D. { 02.21.12 at 1:52 pm }

My husband and I are taking an anniversary trip to Disney World on April 15-21. Those dates have to be better than our honeymoon which was the week of July 4th 8 1/2 years ago, right? It was so crowded then!

38 Kathy { 02.21.12 at 2:48 pm }

I have two choices for our trip to Disneyland this spring break. Either April 1-3 or April 5-7. I know both will be crowded but maybe one is better?

39 Kathy { 02.21.12 at 3:02 pm }

Turns out March 18-20th might as be an option. How much better is this timeframe as opposed to beginning of April??

40 Dave { 02.22.12 at 6:31 am }

Hi Rachel! The first day or two might be crowded because of leftover Easter crowds, but otherwise you should have a wonderful time–much better than July in every way!

41 Dave { 02.22.12 at 6:32 am }

Kathy, I’m not an expert on Disneyland–I focus on Disney World–but all of Easter week will be horrible…

42 Dave { 02.22.12 at 6:32 am }

Hi Kathy, this should be better than Easter week…

43 kris { 02.22.12 at 12:18 pm }

Hi Dave,
I’ve read your predictions and the other comments and what do you mean by the crowds may be better than what you expected for march 23-26? My husband is military and gets a 4 day weekend those dates so we were hoping to be able to make a quick fun trip down…it could be the only chance we get for awhile…but do you think it will be worth it? It’s just us no kids yet 🙂

44 Dave { 02.22.12 at 1:27 pm }

Hi Kris!

What I mean is that while I am forecasting VERY high crowds, there’s a chance I’ll be wrong–and if wrong, the corwds may be as good as moderate+.

If you aren’t worried about seeing everything, lines don’t bother you, and hanging out by the pool would be fun, then it’s worth going. Otherwise I’d save the money and use it for a later visit…

45 kris { 02.22.12 at 10:51 pm }

Thank you so much!! 🙂

46 Dave { 02.23.12 at 12:44 pm }

You bet Kris, and have a great trip!

47 Kee { 02.25.12 at 10:00 am }

I wish I had stumbled upon your site 2 months ago. Our vacation for 2 rescheduled for March 8th – 14th. After reading through your article and the comments, I believe I have entered a mild state of depression as I, like many others, tried to avoid a large crowd.

Please tell me the crowd during our planned week will not be worse than summer crowds. *fingers crossed*

48 Dave { 02.25.12 at 12:24 pm }

Hi Kee, OK I’ll tell you that…but I’m lying…sadly I do think it will be quite crowded beginning the 11th. Try to see as much as you can the 8th-10th, especially the 8th and 9th…

49 tom { 02.26.12 at 12:35 pm }

We are going to Disney MArch 3rd-the 8th. Taking 3 kids ages 8,6,3. 1st Time visit for the 6 and 3. Looking at your graph we should be there at a good time. Is this the case or do we need some tips?

50 Dave { 02.26.12 at 2:08 pm }

Hi Tom! Yes, that should be a good set of dates…but regardless, it’s always a good idea to avoid parks on the days they have morning extra magic hours, to arrive before the parks open, to ride the most popular rides first, and to use the FASTPASS system…

51 Talia { 02.26.12 at 4:27 pm }

Hi Dave! We are arriving at the Wilderness Lodge March 17th. I have 4 children, my son who is 7, is in a wheelchair. Wondering what to expect, so far I am rather discouraged. Waiting in long lines could get unpleasant for us, as well as though around us. I am regretting our decision to go now…. Any insight or tips would be helpful. Thanks

52 Dave { 02.26.12 at 6:08 pm }

Is there a better time you can go? See this:

And it may be OK–I may be wrong…if you decide to still go then, let me know and I’ll give you some tips…

53 Talia { 02.26.12 at 6:19 pm }

No, that is actually spring break for us, and my husband flies for United, so that is also his scheduled vacation (it’s bid awarded, so you basically don’t get to pick your own time off). I know we can get a special pass for my son, but I’m very nervous to take him. He does not speak or walk, but can at times be quite vocal as well as grabby. Should be interesting. Do you have any info on the pass we get at guest services for him?

54 Dave { 02.26.12 at 8:25 pm }

Talia–get this book ASAP PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges

It answers the pass questions and has a ton of other great help as well…

55 dave { 02.28.12 at 4:12 pm }

your site is amazing. thank you so much for putting in so much hard work, the level of detail is incredible.
we are a family of 4 with two kids under 10 travelling from the uk on april 9th until the 23rd. I’m a bit confused about how crowded our weeks will be – you rank the around 14th but all the research I’ve done suggest most schools are out in march for spring break and there is no easter holiday as such? yet the crowds are listed as very high that first week at a 10. I can’t quite work out who all these people are and if they are indeed going to be there around the 10th april onwards ….. on another note, we are staying off property and have already bought our tickets etc. we are just wondering how much to budget each day for food / snacks / souvenirs etc ?
thanks for your advice!

56 Dave { 02.28.12 at 6:00 pm }

Dave, the majority of US elemetary and secondary school spring breaks are the week before, or the week after, Easter. That’s why the chart of kids on break looks the way it does..

57 Ozelle { 03.03.12 at 6:13 am }

Hello! My boyfriend and I are thinking about attending the Magic Kingdom on March 6th and am wondering if crowds will be bad around that time frame? Thanks and a wonderful helpful website this is!

58 Dave { 03.03.12 at 8:10 am }

Hi Ozelle, I think March 6th will be a good day!

59 bren { 03.05.12 at 9:32 pm }

hello dave! my fiance and I are going to wdw 4/5 and 4/6 …. right before the week of easter… will this be a super bad time to go? thanks for your knowledge!

60 Dave { 03.06.12 at 6:13 am }

Hi Bren, yes, it will be stunningly crowded those days…

61 bren { 03.06.12 at 4:38 pm }

oh darn. well thats the only time we have off, so I will make due. Thanks! you rock.

62 Dave { 03.06.12 at 6:49 pm }

Bren, let me know if you are staying in Disney World or off-site, and the parks you want to visit, and I’ll give you some tips…

63 Molly { 03.06.12 at 11:46 pm }

How bad will March 17 and 18th be? It’s my spring break but I’m hoping since it’s the end of the week it won’t be awful.

64 Dave { 03.07.12 at 7:29 am }

Hi Molly, sorry, but I expect both days–and especially the 17th–will be quite busy.

65 Heather { 03.07.12 at 10:02 pm }

I wish I would have seen this page earlier! Flying in on Thursday April 12th, and Leaving Monday April 16th. What are your predictions for this weekend?

66 Dave { 03.08.12 at 6:34 am }

Hi Heather! Sunday and Monday should be fine…the earlier days likely will be rough…

67 Tom { 03.08.12 at 9:42 pm }

Visiting Disney World March 31 and April 1. Any suggestions as to what two parks would be best to visit and on what days? We saw MK, HS, and AK in Feb of 2011. Thanks for your help.

68 Dave { 03.09.12 at 10:16 am }

Tom, you will be hititng the Easter crowds, especially on April 1. On the 31st, the worst park will be HS; on the 1st, HS or AK will be the best.

69 Natasha { 03.09.12 at 2:45 pm }

Hi Dave,
Thank you for all the information. We have schedule a trip to Disneyworld from April 3 to April 8 of this year with two kids 9 and 7. Staying at the disney resorts. I see now that it would be the worst time in terms of the crowds. With all your advice in terms of which parks to go on what days. I can see how it might make it more manageable. However, with my kids being young and impatient with long lines and not too keen on waking up at 4:00 am everyday. Do you think is feasible to still have a good time? or should we reschedule for the end of August when we also have some time off? I was more concern about the heat then so we decided on Spring Break instead. But now, after reading all your comments I’m rethinking the dates again. Thank you in advance for your help.

70 Dave { 03.09.12 at 2:53 pm }

Natasha, I would definitely reschedule!

71 Ryan { 03.09.12 at 11:04 pm }

Great site! Only days I could get to go are tomorrow march 10th and 11th. Any idea how bad things have been/will be tomorrow? It’s me and my girlfriend, we’re in our mid twentys and haven’t been to Disneyworld in years. I guess we’ll see!

72 Dave { 03.10.12 at 7:15 am }

Good luck Ryan! I think the 10th will be better than the 11th, but both will be tough…let me know how it goes! Dabe

73 Ryan { 03.10.12 at 7:50 pm }

Morning was easy! Hopped on haunted mansion, pirates of the Caribbean no problem! Then the crowds appeared. 90 minutes for space mountain, 100 for splash mountain. Wish us luck tomorrow!

74 Philly Family { 03.10.12 at 9:44 pm }

Arriving to orlando 4/1 leavning 4/6 as only option available although after reading your website I have a huge pit in my stomach. Despite the crowds…is it still possible to have a reasonably good time with 4 adults and 3 teens during this time? I’m really panicking after reading all of your comments. I’ve heard people go for return spring break visits. What’s their secret or are they just gluttons for punishment?

75 Dave { 03.11.12 at 9:21 am }

Great, Ryan, good luck today!

76 Dave { 03.11.12 at 9:26 am }

Hi Philly Family..I wonder if you are one of my cousins (my mom and her five sisters grew up in Lebanon and met my dad in Philly…).

While some families repeat spring break trips, I doubt many families repeat an Easter week trip…it’s pretty awful.

Here’s how to do it if you must:
1. Avoid parks with morning extra magic hours
2. Arrive at the turnstile well before the published opening time
3. Ride the most popular rides first
5. Take afternoon breaks to nap and swim when crowds are at their peaks

See also this for a way to buy yourself out of trouble

77 Philly Family { 03.11.12 at 1:43 pm }

Hey…nice to hear you have Philly roots!! 🙂 Well wish us luck. I’ll update you on how we made out. Last question…Do the parks have set morning extra magic hours or can that change? PS your blog is AWESOME. Great source of info!!!

78 Dave { 03.11.12 at 1:54 pm }

Cheryl, thanks! They are set in one way, which is that once announced, they are not often canceled. However, they can be added, and/or opening hours shifted to earlier, and/or the parks simply open well before the posted times, to accomodate the crowds. Let me know how it turns out!

79 Ryan { 03.11.12 at 10:21 pm }

Epcot felt half empty today. I suspect it was the rain and winds fault but it was great anyway! I recommend if you see a day is going to be rainy (and you don’t mind getting wet) get there early and you’ll have the place to yourself! Longest wait was for the Mars ride, 10 min for the low thrills version, 25 for the full thrills. Everything else we basically walked right on.

80 jm { 03.11.12 at 11:16 pm }

Hi Dave, we are arriving on March 31st and staying at the contemporary for my husbands conference. We are traveling with our 5 and 7 year olds. I was planning on going to the parks at 3 everyday and staying until the park closes. Is this a mistake? I made dinner reservations for dinner the entire week we are there so at least our meals are scheduled. Your advice is greatly appreciated!?!

81 Dave { 03.12.12 at 1:19 pm }

Hey Ryan thanks for the update. My lowest crowd days ever have been rainy days…

82 Dave { 03.12.12 at 1:21 pm }

Hi jm! Waiting til three means you are going at the most crowded time. My advice is to be there before they open, spend the morning, go back to the hotel, sleep/swim/nap in the afternoon, and go back in the evening for dinner and the evening shows…

83 Kate { 03.13.12 at 7:24 pm }

Is this only for Disney World? what about Disneyland CA?

84 Frank { 03.13.12 at 8:51 pm }

Ok I have no other choice but to go the nightmare week after Easter
My kids have off from April 7th thru April 12th
How would you approach visiting all 4 parks?

85 Lauren { 03.13.12 at 11:41 pm }

Hi Dave, what a helpful site! I booked the All-Star Music for 3/19-3/23 for me and my boyfriend. From your research and comments, it seems like it will be crowded, but has a chance to not be as crowded as some of the other peak weeks. I’ve been to WDW many times and have seen both the crazy December holiday crowds and the empty pre-holiday no crowds, so I’m comfortable with the predicted level, but this is the first trip I’m planning myself and I’m nervous about the itinerary aspect!

We have park hopper tickets. I know you say avoid extra magic hour parks, but how bad is it for the early morning hours? I was thinking to utilize the extra magic hour park, and get out by noon, hang by the hotel pool/ downtown disney, and then go to another park in the evening. What are your suggestions? Also, what time would you suggest to go back to the parks in the evening?

Thank you so much!

86 Dave { 03.14.12 at 6:47 am }

Hi Kate, this site is 99.5% about Disney World

87 Dave { 03.14.12 at 6:50 am }

Hi Lauren! You are dead on–with a park hopper, the approach you suggest will work fine. My “avoid EMH” is for those who aren’t hopping…

For the parks with afternoon parades, there’s a big exodus at their end, so after that is when I’d return…unless you want to see the parade of course!

88 Dave { 03.14.12 at 6:56 am }

1. Avoid parks with morning extra magic hours
2. Arrive at the turnstiles well before the posted opening hours (EMH and early openings may be added at the last minute, so stay close to the schedule)
3. Ride the most popular rdies first
5. Take naps/swim in the afternoon, to avoid the peak crowds…

89 Michelle J. { 03.15.12 at 5:41 pm }

My children and I are taking our first WDW trip from fri April 6-Mon the 9th. Children are 9 and 13. We are staying at All-star resort and wondering HOW to plan our 4-day vacation? Im worried about the crowds at this point and with this being our first time ever, do you have any advice on what might work best for us? Thank you for your time!

90 Dave { 03.15.12 at 5:43 pm }

Hi Michelle! Do you have a “Park Hopper” ticket or regular tix…It’ll affect my advice…

91 Nadine { 03.15.12 at 7:25 pm }

Landed 3-10-3-17. I agree with all your advice and have used it over the years…..however, there is no way to “manage” the nightmare of this week…..too many bodies in one place (any of the 4 disney parks any time) upon morning gate opening, ran to “Soarin” and then waited a half hour in the hallway….you shouldn’t have to use a fp when a ride first opens? I have dozens of horror stories…..waited over an hour after dinner reservation time only to find out they were taking non-reservation people prior who wouldn’t leave the table after they ate. Thank goodness we have the memories of coming in mid December…..when my family enjoyed every aspect of those amazing parks with out the hordes and hordes of people. I will never come in the spring, ever, any week….won’t take that chance. We paid money to be tortured this week.

92 Dave { 03.15.12 at 7:32 pm }

Nadine I’m so sorry…anything I can do to help others avoid this–other than what I already have…?

93 Michelle { 03.16.12 at 11:01 am }

Went to Disney World the week of 3/5/12 thru 3/11/12. We picked that week due to the “recommendations” from this website. Worst mistake we made. It was more crowded than when we went in July 2011. The only highlight of the trip was the beautiful weather.

94 Dave { 03.16.12 at 11:22 am }

Michelle, I am so sorry. I was there the earlier part of the week (before you) and thought it fine, but the crowds later caught everyone I know by surprise–including Disney, who had to extend operating hours multiple times that week. Again, I am so, so sorry.

95 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.16.12 at 12:40 pm }


I am planning to go from Mar 24 – Mar 29 with my wife, and 2 daughters, 6 and 1.

Please advise how bad the crowds will be ?


96 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.16.12 at 12:45 pm }

We have 4 and a half days to see 3 parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios…

We reach Sat 03/24 at noon and we are leaving early morning Thursday 03/29…

Please advise how to plan…I have no park hopper options…

Why do you suggest not going for the EMH? thanks

97 Dave { 03.16.12 at 1:14 pm }

Hi Fakhruddin, I fear the crowds will be bad, but may be wrong–I hope I am!

I suggets avoiding EMH days if you don’t have a hopper becase by afternoon the park becomes more crowded than on the equivalent non-EMH day…

There’s not much at Epcot for your kids, so I’d suggest going there on your arrival day. The Magic Kingdom will be least crowded on Tuesday and Weds. Of the days left, Sunday is best for the Studios. This gives you Monday off…or you could spend it another park–any but the Studios

98 Stephanie { 03.18.12 at 9:22 pm }

Hi Dave,
My mother and I are going over to Disney tomorrow, March 19. We will be purchasing Park Hopper passes. Do you happen to think it will be super super busy, or would be better to wait until Tuesday? We have highlighted a few attractions from each park we would like to see, if at all possible to get to all 4 parks between 9am and 12 midnight when MK closes. Any advice for us which parks to hit first? Thanks in advance! I love your site!

99 Dave { 03.19.12 at 6:41 am }

Hi Stephanie! The parks will be busy today and tomorrow. It’s theoretically possible to get to all 4 parks in a day…but I don’t think you’ll be able to see much–although it depends on what is on your lists. FASTPASSES likely will empty out by mid-afternoon for some rides, and for others have very late return times, so you’ll be stuck in very long lines…your better bet likely will be to shoot for fewer than 4…

100 Pam { 03.19.12 at 12:35 pm }

planning for a visit the week of 4/9. I know that is a disaster week so we’re thinking of arriving thursday the 12th and staying through sunday. quick question regarding park hopper vs. not. what is your recommendation if it’s going to be a busy week? also, this is my first trip with a 5 year old who is definitely princess crazy. so it looks like super early arrival at the park and fast passes are the best bet. any other suggestions?

101 Dave { 03.19.12 at 1:31 pm }

Hi Pam, since there’s not a ton at the parks other than the Magic Kingdom for a five year old, the park hopper may not be a great idea–as it raises the question of hop to where? Take a look at this:

102 Pam { 03.19.12 at 2:24 pm }

thanks so much dave. my initial instincts were to spend our time at magic kingdom and spending the afternoons by the pool. one other question. trying to decide if it is worth the extra money for a stay at caribbean beach vs. pop resort. i think caribbean beach may be more relaxing in the afternoons since it will be a crazy week. although it sounds like it will be more enjoyable for me than for my daughter! other than price savings is there a benefit for either approach?

103 Dave { 03.19.12 at 3:40 pm }

Pam, CB will be much more relaxing. Quieter, more options for more private outdoor spaces, etc. But see this and its split-stay option:

104 Pam { 03.20.12 at 3:59 pm }

Thanks so much for the info Dave. Your site is awesome! Another quick question – how do you feel about the quick service dining plan vs. just paying cash for meals along the way. We will be much more likely to grab quick food than sit for a formal meal. So this particular plan seems to fit our style. But I wondered if there are any benefits or negatives to the meal plan, particularly during a week when crowds are going to be larger.

105 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.20.12 at 4:26 pm }

Thanks a lot Dave.

Some questions:

I was planning it this way:

Sat – Epcot
Sun – Magic Kingdom with EMH starting from 12 am to 3 am at night
Mon – Studios with EMH starting at 9 pm to 1 am
Tue – Magic Kingdom
Wed – Epcot….

Please advise if the EMH at night are ok or not?

106 Dave { 03.20.12 at 4:41 pm }

Pam, you’ll find many who will say the quick service plan costs you more than careful cash purchases. Not that way for me, personally, so it boils down to how careful you are not buying more, or more expensive, cash food than you need…

107 Dave { 03.20.12 at 4:46 pm }

Fakhrudin, the days I suggest here will be much less crowded:

PM EMH builds crowds a little early in the day, and much more beginning about 4p, and the crowds don’t really clear out until 90 minutes or so into the EMH period…so they can be an overall negative…you have longer waits all day long for a payoff of about 90 mins–e.g. 1.30a til 3a–of low crowds…

108 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.20.12 at 5:54 pm }

Thanks Dave!

Sat – Epcot, Sun – Studios, Mon – Epcot, Tue and Wed – Magic Kingdom… Dont know how I will convince my daughter about that… 🙂

So basically staying at the Pop has no advantages as the EMH with base ticket is more painful 🙂

Also is food allowed in the park? We have some dietary restrictions and were planning to take some food inside…

109 Dave { 03.21.12 at 8:13 am }

Hi Fakhrudddin, food is allowed in the parks. Re Pop, there’s lots of advantages–transport being at the top, as you don’t need a rental car, and theming next–but I’m not keen on EMH unless you have park hopper tickets. The exceptions: AM EMH at AK on days it closes at 5p; evening EMH at Epcot (which aren’t on during your dates) so that you can watch Illuminations and not have to then immediately leave along with 30,000 other people. Similarly at the Studios on nights when Fantasmic shows just as the park closes…

110 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.21.12 at 10:08 am }

Thanks Dave. If I upgrade my tickets to Hopper… will I benefit as there is only 1 EMH in the am i.e. Epcot?

111 Dave { 03.21.12 at 12:46 pm }

With a hopper you could also go to HS on Sun but then to MK Sun evening for the parade, fireworks and EMH…

112 Heather { 03.23.12 at 7:14 am }

Hi Dave,
This is a wonderful site! My mom and I are bringing my kids (ages 4 and 7). We purchased two days worth of tickets and can go on any of the days from March 25-28, which is Sunday to Wednesday. I also booked a character breakfast for 7:40am at cape may in Epcot- not something we have to do. We are staying at Marriot Harbour Lake. What do you recommend?

113 Dave { 03.23.12 at 8:13 am }

Hi Heather and thanks! At those ages I’d focus on the Magic Kingdom. It will be crowded all week, but least busy Tuesday and Weds. You don’t need a ticket to do the Cape May breakfast, sinice it’s in a hotel, not a park. While you’ll be right next to Epcot, Epcot has little for kids the ages of yours compared to spending a second day at MK.

114 mark { 03.23.12 at 1:13 pm }

dave my dad booked a trip for me my wife our 3 year old son and new born baby he booked it for april 1st threw the 11th not knowing easter was such a nightmare week u have me very worried esp with a very impatient 3 year old is there any way possible it might not be as busy as people are saying and what kind of wait times am i looking at ?i am starting to think this might be a disaster…….

115 Dave { 03.23.12 at 5:52 pm }

Mark, if you can’t change your dates, you can survive…see this for the basics: and also if you can afford it consider this:

116 Louise { 03.26.12 at 9:08 am }

My son has autism so expect we will be able to get exit passes, do these lines get terribly busy too during the Easter period?

117 Mi, chelle J. { 03.26.12 at 10:14 am }

Hi Dave, YES! We have the 4-day park hopper tickets. As well as staying at the All-star resort. Our party includes myself, my fiancee and my two children- 9 & 13yrs. Any advice on how to plan around the crowds would be helpful. We will be at parks Thur-Sun. Possisbly split a day with AK & MK(since kids are older) and one day at Typhoon lagoon as well. Any suggestions on what parks for what days would be awesome! thanks so much!!

118 Mi, chelle J. { 03.26.12 at 10:23 am }

Sorry, Thur-Sun April 5-8! thanks and love this site!!

119 Dave { 03.26.12 at 2:18 pm }

Hi Louise, yes I do think it will be busy for everyone, inlcudng for those with Guest Assistance Cards…

120 Dave { 03.26.12 at 2:20 pm }

Hi Michelle, I don;t see any good days, not even any where it clearly makes more sense to use park hoppers to start at one park and then go to another. Here’s what I think will be the best days at each park–though they will still be quite crowded:

MK: 4/5 and 4/7
Epcot: 4/6 and 4/7
Hollywood Studios: Any day but 4/6; you could start there 4/6 and hop…
AK: 4/5 and 4/6. You could start there 4/7 and hop…

121 Michelle J. { 03.26.12 at 6:43 pm }

Thanks for the info. Dave! I really apprieciate your advice! We will do our best and still plan on having a blast! Thanks again!

122 Dave { 03.26.12 at 6:47 pm }

Have a great trip, Michelle, and write back when you come home and let me know how it went…

123 Rozan { 03.28.12 at 3:50 am }

Hello Dave,
I am so glad to come across your website before I made reservations. I was hoping to take my two boys ages 9 and 11 for their spring break which falls April 6-15. Part of the reason was that it was my older son’s birthday on April 8 and I was hoping to surprise him with a birthday trip. I almost reserved my flight today, but waited to see if I could find better pricing. My question is what is the best time to be at Walt Disney (without crowds) and still enjoy nice weather? Does it get hot during May and June? Also, what is the best place to stay at Walt Disney if you have two boys ages 9 and 11? I would love to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but they are very pricy. We are thinking to do hopper and stay within Disney resort. Appreciate any input you may have.

124 Dave { 03.28.12 at 5:52 am }

Hi Rozan, glad the site helped you avoid that week. For when to go, see this: especially the late April and late October weeks. For where to stay, see this:

125 Jen { 03.28.12 at 10:00 am }

Hi Dave,
We are planning on going the dreaded week before easter. right now 4/5 -4/7 although we could possibly go this weekend. Which would be better? or since they are so close it will be bad any way you slice it? it would be our first time to wdw, although we are seasoned disneyland travelers, dont know if that would help here…

126 Dave { 03.28.12 at 11:55 am }

Hi Jen, this weekend will be marginally better, but not much…WDW is already extremely crowded, but will get worse starting 4/1…

127 Alison { 03.29.12 at 11:20 am }

My family of 5 will be at WDW 4/5-4/7. We are heading out the night of 4/7 to stay with relatives that live about 15miles from disney…We are staying at Wilderness (almost stayed at Polynesian but swtiched…wished we would have read this first!) The girls are ages: 10, 5 and 3. We made a day trip to disney during a vacation when our youngest was 6m and got rained out…disney refunded our tickets so we have a one day ticket (not park hopper) for all of us (3yr old included). Our first night (Thur) we have reservations at Mickeys Backyard BBQ and on Sat we have reservations for the princess breakfast at Epcot Akershus Royal Banquet. We were thinking of maybe going to a park Thur night after dinner for fireworks or something..then spending the day at MK on Fri and after Epcot on Sat going to Animal Kindgom. Would love some thoughts…am thinking of purchasing 2 day park hopper passes so that we can go in the mornings, possible nap/swim later afternoon and head back…just looking for advice!!

128 Dave { 03.29.12 at 12:55 pm }

Hi Alison! It will be awfully crowded…but otherwise your plan sounds fine.

Suggest thurs PM you go to MK for the parade and fireworks. That way, you can do rides during the next evening you are at MK while lines are a little lower from everyone waiting for the parade etc.

129 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.29.12 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Dave,


I blindly followed your instructions…and we covered Epcot in half a day, Hollywood on Sun and Magic Kingdom on Mon…

We had 2 days to relax and we did half of each in HS and MK… We did each ride at least twice…using the fastpass and rider swap option…

Just an update …they are collecting the fastpasses nowadays and we cannot reuse them…

Is there anyplace I can rate your website…. you are doing the best job…. Please carry on the good work,,,,

130 Dave { 03.29.12 at 4:54 pm }

Hi Fakhruddin, I’m so glad the trip worked out! Glad the site helped…there’s no place I know of you can rate it, but other options are to tell your 1,000 closest friends, bookmark it as a favorite (google likes that), gush about it on facebook, write to Walt Disney World about it (this will encourage them to continue to put ads on it) take out a full page ad about it in the New York Times, and come back to the site often!

131 Deborah { 03.29.12 at 8:15 pm }

Hi! we are going to Disney World April 8-13. This is our 8th trip so we are pretty good at working the parks. Just wanted to say that I booked our room at Pop Century through Disney reservation line about 3 1/2 week s ago and was told that week is actually a little slow and that all the resorts still had openings. Again, this was about 3 weeks ago. We have been at MLK holiday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, right after Christmas thru New Year’s, late Sept./early Oct and July 4th weeks an found each time manageable if you know what you are doing. Magic Kingdom by far the most crowded park no matter when you go especially on the actual holiday date. This is our first Easter visit so hopefully will go well. We always arrive before park opens, hit major rides first or fastpass if long wait time and avoid days with extra hours. Just a few comments that may be helpful to some. Enjoy your info so please keep it up!

132 Dave { 03.30.12 at 6:32 am }

Deborah, thanks for the update! I’ve got my fingers crossed, come back and let me know how it went. I’m wiht you that if you know how to do it–especially how to handle the mornings–anything can work!

133 Penny { 03.30.12 at 1:09 pm }

We will be at Disney from 04/19 to 04/27 and staying at the CB resort I was wondering how the crowds are during this time as I have Lyme illness and am worried about large crowds and getting around. Without having to rent a wheelchair, as I have to stop and sit a lot.

134 Dave { 03.30.12 at 1:29 pm }

Hi Penny! I expect the crowds then to be low. “Low” at Disney World, however, is still a heck of a lot, just better than other times, and CB is very spread out, so you may want to get a scooter anyway…

135 Letty { 04.04.12 at 4:59 pm }

I will be vacationing in Orlando the week of the 9th. Which day would you recommend for Epcot, 4/10 or 4/12?

136 Dave { 04.05.12 at 6:25 am }

Hi Letty! I don’t rally like either date, as Epcot has EMH which tends to drvie crowds up the rest of the day. Of the two, I’d pick the 12th…

137 Letty { 04.05.12 at 11:03 am }

I went to the website and realized that after I sent you the email. Since the 9th and 11th are non EMH days, would recommend those being better days to go for next week instead of the 12th then?

138 Dave { 04.05.12 at 12:10 pm }

Letty, yup, and of the two I’d pick the 11th as its in between two EMH days

139 MaryCatherine { 04.05.12 at 9:18 pm }

My family and I are leaving for disney tomorrow 4/06/12 and staying until 4/13/12. Im guessing this is a bad week. Very bad. But i still hope that because magic kingdom will. Be shut down maybe there wont be? Any suggestions on what you think the less crowded park will be?? Thanks!

140 Dave { 04.06.12 at 7:14 am }

Hi MaryCatherine! I doubt MK will close due to crowds. On any given day, the best parks will be the ones without extra magic hours that day…

141 Mandi { 04.06.12 at 6:15 pm }

Heading to MK on 4/10, Epcot 4/11 and HS 4/12… No other choice as our daughter will be in the parade on 4/10. Planning to take your advice and get there early! Do my plans for Epcot and HS sound ok? Or should I flip the 2? Thank you 🙂

142 Allison { 04.07.12 at 5:01 am }

Hi, I am after some advice please. I am thinking of booking a holiday to Orlando for February 2013. (14th to the 23rd). Our children are off school for February half term in the UK. I have read that you celebrate presidents day the third Monday of Feb and that some schools are on a break then. Do you think this makes for a very busy time at Disney? Also, is the weather warm?I have read contrasting reviews regarding February weather. We visited Orlando last October and the weather was great and the parks not too busy.
Many thanks.

143 Dave { 04.07.12 at 12:39 pm }

Hi Mandi–the days you’ve picked for Epcot and HS are dead on!

144 Dave { 04.07.12 at 12:42 pm }

Hi Allison. The week that includes President’s Day–the time you are targeting–is the 5th or 6th busiest week of the year–see this:

February weather is highly variable and can be quite cold–see this:

145 Pam { 04.07.12 at 6:03 pm }

I’m headed to Disney tomorrow and staying until Wednesday. Would love recommendations for which parks to hit sunday the 8th, monday the 9th, and tuesday the 10th. I have an almost 6 year old so planning for magic kingdom one full day and hopping over the course of the remaining 2 days. thanks!

146 Dave { 04.08.12 at 9:40 am }

Hi Pam, there’s no kid day at the Magic Kingdom, but Wednesday looks best. Avoid Epcot–there’s little there for a 6 year old–and avoid the Studios tomorrow and Weds, and avoid the Studios and Animal Kingdom on Weds.

147 David B { 04.08.12 at 10:36 am }

We’re heading to Disney World on a family vacation the day after Thanksgiving and staying for 10 days. Are there any discounts that Disney typically runs that time of the year- Dining Plan or Room? Awesome site!

148 Dave { 04.08.12 at 1:07 pm }

Hi David and thanks!

You won’t get a discount on your arrival date–Disney World is wildly busy then, and does not discount busy days. However, discount for arrival dates beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving are common–not guaranteed, but likely…

You can still arrive that Friday–you’d just break your reservation into two, one with a discounted arrival date, and the other for the nights before it…

149 mel { 04.08.12 at 1:09 pm }

Dave! My brother and I (no kids) have booked a cruise on the Disney Dream dept date 29apr/we are staying at the Carribean Beach hotel for 2 nights prior to the sailing..this was not booked as a package..we want to spend 1 day at the park..I was wondering if there are any discounts available for park hopper tickets with what we have booked? Thanks in advance for your advice!

150 Dave { 04.08.12 at 1:14 pm }

Mel! I dunno!

If it weren’t for the cruise, I’d say no…but I don’t know enuf about the implications of the cruise to be sure.

If you booked either the cruise or CB with a travel agent, I’d check back with them…if you didn’t, let me know, and I’ll see if I can find out some more by reaching out to TA friends…

151 Carly { 07.31.12 at 11:08 am }

Hi, my spring break this year is march 18-24 and that’s when we were thinking to go to disney world because it’s my senior trip i chose. Some friends of mine went last spring break and said it wasn’t that bad but I’ve looked at so many sites and some say go and some say don’t go. i need help with this.

152 Dave { 07.31.12 at 2:24 pm }

Carly, that’s a tough week to forecast. I have it pegged as a higher-crowd week, but may be wrong–if I am wrong, it will be better than that…

153 Cesar { 02.08.13 at 11:24 am }

Hi, I’m going on the 25th to the 29th for, 2013 of course. Should I be scared ?

154 Dave { 02.09.13 at 1:51 pm }

Cesar, those will be the worst weeks of Spring Break. For some hints on how to cope, see this–written for Xmas, but it generally still applies:

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