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.



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Category — 1. Summer at Walt Disney World

Disney World Summer Crowds in 2018

Every year I analyze summer break schedules for the upcoming school year, compare them to what I’d expected, and then don’t change my crowd forecasts for the upcoming summer, because breaks turned out about the way I thought they would, and nothing else is new.

Well, for 2018 breaks did turn out the way I thought they would–but something new emerged in the summer of 2016 that seems to be happening again in the summer of 2017. I thought long and hard about this new stuff, and about changing my crowd forecast for 2018…before deciding to leave the crowd forecast the same.

Here’s the story.

DISNEY WORLD 2018 SUMMER CROWDS: THE PRINCIPLES

Walt Disney World summer crowds historically have been 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 mid-August

Over the past summer and a half, however, it seems other factors have come into play.

Summer stand-by waits in all of 2016 and so far in 2017 (I write this in mid-July) have been lower–sometimes substantially lower–than we’ve been used to. While there’s no evidence from Disney that attendance is substantially down (in April-June 2016, Disney World attendance compared to 2015 “was down 4% …with most of that decline due to the adverse impact of the shift in the Easter holiday period“; in July-September 2016 compared to 2015 , there were “increases in attendance…on a comparable fiscal period basis“), the feel of the parks in the summer–especially Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom outside of Pandora–is much more comfortable than in years past.

I can’t explain the changed experience.  I have theories, mostly about the effects of Disney’s strategic re-pricing of tickets to make the higher-demand periods like summer less attractive, particularly in the pricing of one day tickets and in Florida resident annual passes with summer block-out dates–distinctions that launched between the 2015 and 2016 summer seasons, so the timing is right.

But this is just speculation, and does not much account for other things we’ve observed in the parks this summer–lower numbers of people in the parks and more easily available FastPass+. My co-author Josh has written on all three points multiple times this summer on easyWDW.com–see this for an example.

So to make a long story short, I don’t know what is going on, nor why it is going on.  Because I don’t, I don’t know if it will happen again next summer.  So I’m not going to re-forecast 2018 summer crowds as “moderate” rather than “high.”  But I also would not argue with someone else who in fact did make such a forecast change…

So if you go in the summer of 2018, you might have a much better crowd and wait experience than  I am predicting.  You will, however, still be in Florida in the summer–and I can’t possibly recommend that…

So…back to the other two drivers of summer crowds–school breaks and the peak of the hurricane season.

Pretty much all kids are off all of July. As a result, July is the busiest summer month, and during it, the week that includes the 4th of July the busiest week.

Varied dates for when summer breaks begin means June can start well, and then build to high crowd levels–although in 2017 the beginning of June–before blockout dates kicked in, and right after Pandora opened–was the busiest part of the month.

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.

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. [Read more →]

July 14, 2017   2 Comments

End of Summer 2017 Crowds at Walt Disney World

This site’s Disney World crowd calendars always show crowds dropping off in later August.

For example, in 2017, crowd rankings go from 8/high-minus at the end of July/beginning of August down to 2/lower in early September.

This page both explain how that comes about and also reviews how the site’s crowd calendars are built.

END OF SUMMER 2017 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The highest-crowd periods at Walt Disney World all have one thing in common: they are convenient times for parents to take their kids to Orlando. That is, they are times that kids are out of school and that parents traditionally can take off of work.

What’s not so clear until you do the numbers is that actual school vacation dates are much more varied than you’d think.  And there’s no good source you can go to that explains what all these varied dates are.

So usually every year about this time one of my nieces goes to more hundreds of school district websites and captures all the key vacation dates for the upcoming academic year. This year all of my nieces are distracted by babies, so I did half this data collection myself.

(This time of year because you’d be surprised many districts don’t put their calendars up for the upcoming year until June, even late June–looking at you, Michigan.)

This year I collected data on 280 school districts with 15.3 million kids–about a third of the US school-age population. These include the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., plus 180 more of the next largest school districts mostly in the more highly-populated states east of the Mississippi–that is, the states from which in particular Walt Disney World draws its visitors.

I then create a database that shows based on district enrollment every kid who is off on every date, and weight each district based on that district’s state’s proportion of total US visits to this website (because Disney won’t tell me actual visitation by state!). See the image above for a screenshot example.

Finally, I calculate percentage of total weighted kids on break by date and use that to inform the crowd calendars.

Above are the results of this for when kids go back to school in 2017.

So you can see that

  • Kids don’t start going back to school in real numbers until Tuesday 8/8
  • More than a third are back in school by 8/17
  • About half  are back in school by Friday 8/25 and
  • Almost 70% are back in school before Labor Day (noted in red)

In 2017, pretty much all kids are back in school by the Friday after Labor Day.

Moreover, vacation patterns typically don’t have people returning from their vacation the night before school begins, so the effect of these back-to-school dates is offset into earlier August by around a week.

Thus, in the 2017 crowd calendar, the week of 7/29 is rated 8/high-minus crowds, the week of 8/5 7/moderate-plus crowds, the week of 8/12 6/moderate crowds, the week of 8/19 4/low-plus crowds, and the week of 8/26 3/low crowds.
The 2017 easy Guide

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July 9, 2017   No Comments

September 2017 at Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: SEPTEMBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews September 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

September combines low crowds with low prices, and typically also has OK room rates and free dining deals as well.

This makes it a great month for returning visitors.

But it has lousy weather, combining continuing summer heat and humidity with the peak of the hurricane season, making me not so keen on the month for first time visitors who may never return.

[Read more →]

February 15, 2017   10 Comments

August 2017 at Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: AUGUST 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

August 2017 at Disney World from yourfirstvisit.net

This page reviews August 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

There are no great times for first-timers who may never return to visit in August. Kids start going back to school in August, so crowds go down later in the month–but that’s also when the peak of the hurricane season kicks off.

Prices begin the month low at the deluxes and stay low all month long. Prices begin the month OK at the moderates, and high at the values. Values prices drop to moderate levels on 8/13, and on 8/25 prices drop to among the lowest of the year at both the values and the moderates.

For first-timers who can’t return, the best week is that beginning 8/5–higher crowds and prices than later in the month, but lower hurricane risk. For those who can return, then later in the month is best.

[Read more →]

January 18, 2017   1 Comment

July 2017 at Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: JULY 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

july-2017-at-disney-world-from-yourfirstvisit-net

This page reviews July 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

Because pretty much every US school kid is on break in July, July overall is the most crowded month at Walt Disney World.

Prices begin the month low at the deluxes, OK at the moderates, and high at the values. Moderate and value prices stay at this level all month, but at the deluxes prices drop to even lower levels on July 7.

Weather is miserably hot and humid all month long.

[Read more →]

December 23, 2016   No Comments

The Fourth of July 2017 at Walt Disney World

THE 4th OF JULY IN 2017 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The Fourth of July at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netDisney World celebrates the 4th of July at several parks–and on July 3rd as well!

Hours may change a bit later, but here’s the current scoop

On Monday, July 3, 2017, the Magic Kingdom has a special fireworks show “Fantasy in the Sky” at 9p.

On Tuesday, July 4, 2017

  • The Magic Kingdom has the same show at the same time–“Fantasy in the Sky” at 9p
  • Epcot’s Illuminations will likely have a special holiday ending added, and likely will be shifted from its normal 9p time to 10p, and

Moreover, the normal Wednesday evening Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom will happen Monday the 3rd instead.

Those following this site’s FastPass+ High Crowd Itinerary for Walt Disney World will be at Hollywood Studios the 3rd, and Magic Kingdom the 4th. I suggest that instead folks swap the itinerary on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, so they avoid parks wit fireworks entirely, because of the crowds.

If you must see fireworks, you best bet is to add a hopper to your ticket and hop to Magic Kingdom Monday evening.

FOURTH OF JULY CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

July is the most consistently crowded month at Disney World, and in the month, visits that include the 4th of July see the highest crowds.

July is the most crowded month because every US schoolkid on a typical (that is, not year-round) calendar has the entire month off.  This is not true of either June or August. Within July, many parents gravitate towards the week of the 4th for their vacations, because since the 4th is a holiday, they need to take one fewer vacation day to get a week off.

And people want to see fireworks on the 4th…so the Disney World parks offering fireworks on the 4th of July will be packed!

For more on July 2017 at Disney World, see this.
The 2017 easy Guide

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December 23, 2016   9 Comments