Disney World Crowds in 2014: Summer Crowds
By Dave Shute
DISNEY WORLD 2014 SUMMER CROWDS: THE PRINCIPLES
Walt Disney World summer crowds are governed by two factors:
- Public school summer break calendars, which have start and end dates more varied than you’d think
- The beginning of the peak of the hurricane season, in later August
Pretty much all kids are off all of July. As a result, July is the busiest summer month, and during it, the weeks shaped by 4th of July travel the busiest week.
Later July is also the traditional South American winter break.
However, in 2014 the FIFA championships in Brazil June 12 to July 13 may absorb many soccer-mad South American fans’ vacation budgets, leading to a little less Disney World visitation in the winter break. I haven’t adjusted my crowd calendars for this, as the parks will still be plenty mobbed! But later July might be a bit better than forecast.
Varied dates for when summer breaks begin means June can start well but then build quickly to high crowd levels.
August has the opposite pattern, beginning with high crowds, but, through the combination of a trickle turning to a flood of back-to-school dates, and savvy travelers avoiding the peak of the hurricane season, it ends quite un-crowded.
Summer school calendars have been evolving to earlier August starts and as a result earlier June releases. This has made early June less good, and mid-late August, better, than in prior years. My 2014 forecasts reflect this.
Families that can only visit in the summer (for example, school teachers) should go as early in June or as late in August as their schedules permit.
2014 PUBLIC SCHOOL SUMMER BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS
The chart to the right illuminates this.
It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 180 of the largest relevant US public school districts.
2014 school breaks begin a little earlier than in 2013; and in 2013, early June was more crowded than most thought it would be. We saw this in 2012 as well. So for both these reasons I’m predicting rougher early June crowds in 2014 than in past years.
In 2014 almost 25% of kids are out by the beginning of June; the proportion builds over the rest of the month, with 75% out by June 14 and essentially all kids off by June 27, 2014.
Few families plan their vacation for their first day out of school, so there’s a lag in the effect of these dates on summer crowds that I can’t precisely quantify.
But the upshot is that early June 2014, while not too horrible, is not as good as it was just a few years ago.
I rate crowds the week beginning May 31 as 7/moderate-plus, June 7 as 8/high-minus, June 14 and 21 as 9/high, and June 28 as 10/higher. The week of July 5 is rated 11/highest, and the rest of July 9/high.
Because of the variation noted above in when people do go vs. can go, the weeks of June 7 and 14 may be a little better than I’m rating them, but my data sets and 2013 experience won’t let me draw that conclusion.
THE PEAK OF THE HURRICANE SEASON AND DISNEY WORLD 2014 SUMMER CROWDS
It peaks, however, from later August to early October.
(Click the chart; see also Weather and When to Go to Walt Disney World.)
As a result, August crowds at Walt Disney World are affected not only by the end dates of summer breaks, but also by savvy travelers avoiding this potential weather.
Hurricanes rarely impact a Disney World vacation…but savvy travelers with choices in when they can go commonly avoid this period. (Disney knows this of course, and both drops prices and commonly offers free dining during this period to change the value and risk equation.)
As a result, my crowd rankings in August start high then drop over the month. The week of 8/2/14 is rated as 8/high-minus; 8/9 is rated 7/moderate-plus, and 8/16 as 6/moderate. By 8/23 almost all kids are back in school, and the peak of the hurricane season is clearly in place, so crowd rankings drop to 3/low.
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