Disney World Crowds in 2015: Summer Crowds
By Dave Shute
DISNEY WORLD 2015 SUMMER CROWDS: THE PRINCIPLES
- 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 weeks.
Later July is also the traditional South American winter break.
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 2015 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.
2015 PUBLIC SCHOOL SUMMER BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS
The beginnings of summer breaks vary more than most people think.
The chart above illuminates this.
It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 165 of the largest relevant US public school districts.
2015 school breaks are very similar to 2014 school breaks, and there’s no World Cup to depress early summer crowds as there was in 2014.
So in the absence of later school end dates from a renewed polar vortex, we can expect moderate crowds in early June, building to high levels by the beginning of July, staying high in July, and and beginning to drop again in mid-August.
In 2015 25% of kids are out by the beginning of June; the proportion builds over the rest of the month, with 75% out by June 17 and essentially all kids off by June 27, 2015.
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 I rate crowds the week beginning May 30 as 7/moderate-plus, June 6 as 8/high-minus, June 13 and 20 as 9/high, and June 27 as 10/higher. The week of July 4 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 6 and 13 may be a little better than I’m rating them, but my data sets 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 8/1/15 is rated as 8/high-minus; 8/8 is rated 7/moderate-plus, and 8/15 as 6/moderate. By 8/22/15 (my birthday!) almost all kids are back in school, and the peak of the hurricane season is clearly in place, so crowd rankings drop to 4/low-plus.