For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Disney World Crowds in 2012: Spring Break 2012

By Dave Shute


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 later March and early April weeks.

Easter 2012, on April 8,  is right in the middle of the possible range. President’s Day 2012, on February 20th, as almost as late as it can be.

As a result, 2012 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be fine the first week of March, but bad from March 10 through April 15, with the peak crowds (rated 11 on my 2012 crowd calendar) happening the weeks beginning March 10, March 31, and April 7.


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.

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 saw this in 2011.

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 2012 is to compress 2012 school spring breaks into three weeks: those beginning March 10, March 31, and April 7.


The chart to the right illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including more than 125 of the largest relevant US public school districts.

(Click it to enlarge it; when it opens, click it again to enlarge it more.)

More kids are on break the week before Easter than any other week; the week after Easter and the week beginning 3/10 are the next highest break weeks.  I’ve rated each of these 11/highest crowds in my 2012 crowd calendar.

Next to no kids are on break between the week after President’s Day and March 10. I rate the week beginning February 25 2/lower crowds and that beginning March 3 3/low crowds.  Both of these are recommended weeks.

The later March weeks–especially the week beginning March 24–have fewer kids on break than the three weeks rated highest/11.  However, because of the snowbelt effect, I’ve rated both of these 10/higher crowds.  The week beginning March 24 may turn out better than this…but I wouldn’t bet on it!

Worth noting is that the peak 2012 price season has its first period 2/16 to 2/25, and then restarts 3/9 going to 4/14.

Price seasons aren’t crowd calendars–they are more subtle than that–but do provide a little confirmatory data…



1 Fakhruddin Shakir { 03.29.12 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Dave,


I blindly followed your instructions…and we covered Epcot in half a day, Hollywood on Sun and Magic Kingdom on Mon…

We had 2 days to relax and we did half of each in HS and MK… We did each ride at least twice…using the fastpass and rider swap option…

Just an update …they are collecting the fastpasses nowadays and we cannot reuse them…

Is there anyplace I can rate your website…. you are doing the best job…. Please carry on the good work,,,,

2 Carly { 07.31.12 at 11:08 am }

Hi, my spring break this year is march 18-24 and that’s when we were thinking to go to disney world because it’s my senior trip i chose. Some friends of mine went last spring break and said it wasn’t that bad but I’ve looked at so many sites and some say go and some say don’t go. i need help with this.

3 Dave { 07.31.12 at 2:24 pm }

Carly, that’s a tough week to forecast. I have it pegged as a higher-crowd week, but may be wrong–if I am wrong, it will be better than that…

4 Cesar { 02.08.13 at 11:24 am }

Hi, I’m going on the 25th to the 29th for, 2013 of course. Should I be scared ?

5 Dave { 02.09.13 at 1:51 pm }

Cesar, those will be the worst weeks of Spring Break. For some hints on how to cope, see this–written for Xmas, but it generally still applies:

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