Disney World Crowds: Spring Break 2014
By Dave Shute
DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS FROM FEBRUARY THROUGH APRIL 2014
DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS: THE PRINCIPLES
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 early March and early April weeks.
Easter 2014, on April 20, is very late in the possible range. President’s Day 2014, on February 17th, is in the middle of its possible range.
As a result, 2014 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be
- Fine the last week of February and the first week of March,
- Very rough the weeks beginning March 8, 15, and 22
- Better the week beginning March 29
- Fine the week beginning April 5,
- Horrible the week of April 12
- Bad, but not horrible, the week beginning April 19
- ..and back to fine the week beginning April 26
2014 PUBLIC SCHOOL SPRING BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS
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, and, in years without a late Easter, the next biggest group has off some or all of the week following Easter.
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 see both these factors in 2014.
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 2014 is to spread most 2014 school spring breaks into five weeks: those beginning March 8, March 15, March 22, April 12, and April 19.
ACTUAL 2014 SPRING BREAKS
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 two holidays–President’s Day and Easter–are in red. Click the image to enlarge it.)
President’s Day week will be its usual mess, with a 2014 crowd ranking of 10/higher. Crowds will start to show beginning the Thursday before and remain high through the 22nd.
Next to no kids are on break between the week after President’s Day and March 7. I rate the week beginning February 22 3/low crowds. The week beginning March 1 is rated 4/low-plus crowds. Both of these are recommended weeks.
The weeks beginning March 8, 15 and 22 have a lot of kids on break, and even more visitors coming to take a break from the snow. I rate the week of the 8th as 10/higher crowds, and the next two weeks as 9/high crowds.
The week of March 29 shows a lot of kids on break, but almost 80% of the relevant districts in my sample have another long break at another time in the spring of 2014. This, combined with fewer snow visits as April emerges, lead me to give at crowd ranking of 5/moderate-minus.
As is typical, the week before the week before Easter has hardly any kids on break. So the crowd ranking for the week beginning April 5 is 3/low. This is also a recommended week.
The week before Easter, beginning April 12, will be just horrible. I’ve rated this week 11/highest crowds in my 2014 crowd calendar. Many districts that normally break the week after Easter are, because of the late Easter, breaking this week instead. Disney broke attendance records this week in 2013–I expect it to do so again this week in 2014.
The week after Easter, traditionally a mess, looks better than usual in 2014–again, because of break dates changing to earlier with the late Easter. I’ve rated crowds that week (beginning April 19) as 8/high-minus.
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