Disney World Crowds: Christmas 2013 and New Years 2013/2014

By Dave Shute


When to Go to Disney World in 2014 from yourfirstvisit.netDisney World usually sees its highest crowds and prices of the year in the later third of December and the beginning of January, in the week that includes Christmas, and the next week that includes New Year’s Eve.

This is for a pretty basic reason: kids are out of school these weeks.

However, not every school district has the same break schedule.

In 2013/2014, more kids are out Christmas week than New Year’s week, but there’s still plenty enough on break New Year’s week to wildly crowd the parks…


Christmas at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.netMost years, there two typical sorts of breaks:

  • Long breakers–districts that take at least 2 full weeks (and three weekends) off
  • Short breakers–districts that take off as close to only December 24 to January 1 as they can

In 2013, a Wednesday Christmas, and the patterning of school breaks around it, will make it easy for many families to head to Walt Disney World either week. However, the preponderance of kids will be off Christmas week, so that week will be much worse.


Disney World Christmas and New Years School Breaks 2013-2014 from yourfirstvisit.netThe chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including more than 180 of the largest relevant US public school districts.

(For how the database is built, see this. The weekends are in black and the two holidays–Christmas and New Years Day–in red.  Click the image enlarge it.)

You can see that breaks almost all begin Saturday the 21st, with hardly any kids on break before then, and fewer than 10% of kids in school the first day or so of Christmas week.

Everybody pretty much is on break through January 1. On January 2, about 30% of kids go back to school, and the other 70% of kids are off through the following weekend.

At the simplest level, what this means is that about 30% of kids can only go to Disney World Christmas week through the Wednesday after, and 70% can go either Christmas or New Years week.

Given this, if the 70% that can go either week is randomly distributed between the two possible weeks, then about twice as many kids will be at Disney World Christmas week than late in New Years week.

As a result, I’m classing Christmas week 2013 as 11/highest crowds, and New Years week 2014 as 9/high crowds.  New Years week will start enormously crowded, then slow down just a bit after the 1st.

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1 Tom { 07.31.13 at 1:33 pm }

Still a pending on my list to visit WDW at Christmas time… 2015 perhaps?

2 Matt { 07.31.13 at 2:58 pm }

While this is sort of off the subject, on the Disboards they had a poll about spring break 2014:


This poll shows that the most popular week will be the week leading up to Easter (April 13-19), which I believe is in line with Dave’s 2014 crowd calendar.

It also shows that by the end of the following week (April 20-26), virtually everyone will have had their spring break. This is also consistent with Dave’s 2014 crowd calendar, which predicts that the spring break/Easter crowds will largely be gone by then end of the April 26-27 weekend.

Based on this information, I’ve booked a trip to start on April 26 and am feeling pretty good about it.

3 Dave { 08.01.13 at 7:52 am }

Yeah Tom, I think–with proper expectations–it should be really fun for a returning visitor…

4 Dave { 08.01.13 at 7:54 am }

Matt I have a lot more data on spring breaks that I’ve not published yet–likely next week–but it confirms your great choice!

5 Sharmon Brannen { 08.11.13 at 9:26 am }

Hey- Do you know of any reasons why the WDW resorts will be full the first week of December, other than Warner week? The resort we have booked,POFQ, was showing no rooms available well before the last round of promotions rolled out. I did some checking and was told there are very few rooms available any where on site. So my concern is crowd levels while we are there. We tried to plan carefully and choose the best time of year with lowest crowd levels and the first week of Dec. looked good, until now. Disney staff will only say that they stay busy and full and that room availability has no correlation to crowd levels! I do find that hard to believe. Now I am second guessing myself and wondering if we need to cancel. Advice? Suggestions? All are appreciated!

6 Dave { 08.12.13 at 8:38 am }

Sharmon, the staff is right–room availability is not a crowd calendar. While it is true that at the most crowded times of year, the rooms book up, the converse is not true: the resorts are routinely booked up at low crowd times too. Disney runs it seasonal pricing and deal programs to try to keep very high and consistent occupancy in it resorts, which makes staffing simpler and profitability higher.

See also my response to Kevin here on a similar question http://yourfirstvisit.net/#comment-399597

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7 Sharmon Brannen { 08.12.13 at 8:57 am }

Thanks! I needed to hear that! I, like many, have put so much into planning, I wanted to get it right! :)

8 Dave { 08.13.13 at 6:41 am }

:) Sharmon, though, do be sure you read this if you haven’t already: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/04/30/crowds-and-walt-disney-world/

9 kerry wilson { 08.18.13 at 4:28 am }

hi. we are visiting WDW for the first time this Christmas and new year, we are thinking of going to Epcot for new year, should we book a restaurant and which one would you recommend for a good view of the fireworks? we have 2 children aged 15 and 12. we are aware that it will be over crowded and are willing to put up with the crowds. thanks

10 Dave { 08.18.13 at 9:52 am }

Hi Kerry, there’s only a couple with fireworks views, and of those only one–the patio at the Rose and Corwn–takes reservations.

For sure you want to reserve now any sit-down meals you’d like to do, as they start selling out 6 months ahead, which we passed more than 5 weeks ago..

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