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: Christmas 2016 and New Year’s 2016/2017

By Dave Shute


Holiday 2015-2016 Crowds at Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netDisney World sees its highest crowds and prices of the year in the later third of December and the beginning of January, in the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

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

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

In 2016, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s week than before or after, but there’s still plenty enough on break before Christmas week to wildly crowd the parks. The week after New Years in 2017 has many more kids on break than usual, so I expect it to be crowded too, especially the first part of the week.


Most 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

As a result, the period Christmas-New Years is always mobbed at Disney World, as everyone is out of school then, but the periods before and after vary from year to year depending on what day of the week Christmas falls.

In 2016, a Sunday Christmas put long-break districts in the position having to pick when to schedule their second week–before Christmas weekend, or after New Years. Enough put it before Christmas that I expect to see heavy crowds that week, even with a lot of kids shifted to the first week of January

But their’s still a ton of kids in districts that picked the first week of January for the second week of their break.  As a result, in my 2017 Disney World crowd calendar I am shifting my former forecast of that week from “moderate” crowds to “high” crowds–particularly high early in the week, and better later in the week.


Disney World Crowds Christmas-New Years 2016 - 2017 from

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including almost 280 of the largest relevant US public school districts with almost a third of total US school kids included.

(For how the database is built, see this.)

The weekends are in black and weekdays in blue.  Click the image enlarge it.

You can see that many breaks begin Saturday the 17th, with hardly any kids on break before then. More kids go on break beginning the 21st, and by the 24th everyone is on break.

Pretty much everybody stays out of school through January 2, 2017, and while most go back to school right after, almost 20% of US schoolkids remain on break through January 8.
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1 Danielle { 07.10.16 at 3:28 am }

This is useful, thanks. I was wondering if this chart could be applied to Disneyland too? Will a lot of schools still have time off the first week of January?

2 Dave { 07.11.16 at 9:00 am }

Danielle, I don’t think this chart helps. Disneyland attendance is more driven by local visits, and my weighting way diminishes California calendars as they don’t contribute much to Disney World.

3 Danielle { 07.12.16 at 2:53 am }

Thanks for that, Dave.

4 Celeste { 08.29.16 at 8:12 pm }

Hi Dave -what a useful chart! We are considering DisneyWorld in Jan. 2017 and wondering what you think might be better. Going from Wed. Jan. 4 through Monday Jan. 9 (taking a day off school on the 9th,) so as to avoid some of the crowds during the early part of that week, OR going over MLK holiday – friday Jan. 13 thru the 18 (taking off school that friday and following Wed? the first option appeals to me more because it falls on my daughter’s 6th bday, Jan. 6th. I thought that would be special for her. But if the crowds are going to be insane then we can certainly push it back a week to MLK and take an additional day off of school. thoughts?

5 Dave { 08.30.16 at 6:04 pm }

Celeste, definitely MLK weekend and after!!

6 Eivis Martinez { 11.19.16 at 3:37 pm }

I am a single mom of 4 I would love to go to Disney on Christmas Eve I have a daughter who is 15 with a drink and then I have 2 small girls I have a 10 and 11 year old I would love to go on that week it would be something experience differently instead of being in the cold in Jersey I would like to know how much are the tickets the most comfortable tickets for only for 3 days thank you so much and that day on January 17th my oldest is going for a tree removal hopefully everything goes fine but I would love her to have the experience or Christmas Day in this day up Disney thank you so much Mall Of Us Avis

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