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.

Available on Amazon here.

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Category — a. When to Go to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World in 2022

DISNEY WORLD IN 2022

Walt Disney World’s suite of attractions and hotels has largely re-opened, with only one significant attraction yet to re-open–Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Fantasmic is expected to open this year, and my guess is that Fantasmic will be back by summer.

Given that, I think it’s fine for first-timers who may never return to plan a visit to Walt Disney World in 2022, with the best time to visit being after Fantasmic has re-opened, but a great visit before then quite possible.

The implications of Disney’s new admissions and new wait management systems on the best ways to visit the parks are still in flux.  The value of the extra-cost components of some of these (Genie+ and the a la carte rides with reservations available for individual purchases, all covered here) is in particular still up in the air.

What it seems like so far is that almost always valuable are

  • A la carte purchase of an appointment time for Rise of the Resistance, Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot (after it opens May 27) (Disney calls this “Individual Lightning Lane”)
  • Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios pretty much any day and at Magic Kingdom on at least one day

Moreover, Early Entry is a very helpful perks for those staying at an eligible hotel pretty much anytime, and especially on busier days

I’ve just published an itinerary that takes advantage of all these new tools.  It only works for those staying in hotels eligible for both Early Entry and 7a ILL purchases.

Of more long-term interest, Disney World is shifting from a strategy designed to extract a higher proportion of the total vacation spend of an ever-increasing guest count to a strategy that uses higher prices to yield a better overall experience for a smaller number of guests.

The merits of the new strategy, and the specifics of getting from one to the other, are wildly controversial in some quarters, and in addition operationally fraught, because the incentives don’t align. I’ll have more to say about much of this, I imagine, later.

WHAT’S NEW AT DISNEY WORLD IN 2022

  • Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration will continue all year.
  • Almost all major attractions, and most minor, have re-opened. Major attractions still missing in the beginning of 2022 are Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which will be returning in a yet-to-be-specified date in 2022), and the Walt Disney World Railroad at Magic Kingdom (no return yet announced). Other attractions still missing are many meet and greets (and those that have re-opened remain distanced) and some show-style attractions. Traditional character greetings–without distancing, and with hugs and autographs–are expected to begin again on April 18.
  • The transformation of Epcot will continue with changes to its entrance and what used to be known as Future World. Joining the new-in-2021 evening show Harmonious and the also new in 2021 attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be another new attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, on May 27.
  • No other significant new attractions are confirmed to open in any park in 2022, although the Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom still has some rumors that it may open in 2022.
  • A new, totally different experience, the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, opened in March 2022.  While widely described as a hotel, I’d advise not thinking of it that way.  It is meant as a deeply immersive experience, not as a place to sleep/go to the pool/and relax while you otherwise spend most of your time at the parks.  While a component of the immersive schedule for Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser includes some time in Galaxy’s Edge at Disney Hollywood Studios, it is best thought of as something you do instead of, or before or after, a Disney World visit–kinda like a cruise–rather than as a lodging option for your Disney World visit.

DISNEY WORLD TICKET PRICING IN 2022

Disney World moved to date-based ticket pricing in 2018. For current 2022 Disney World ticket prices, see this.

DISNEY WORLD RESORT PRICING AND DEALS IN 2022

Disney World uses a combination of complicated and changing room pricing, and, on top of that, deals, to keep its resort hotel occupancy very high. Typically, rooms are more expensive—sometimes much more—during the more attractive times to go to Disney World.

Mousesavers.com has specific material on nightly prices in 2022 by hotel and within them room types here, and I have easier to use but much less detailed information on 2022 Disney World resort hotel seasonal prices here.

While pre-pandemic deals were technically available for most times of the year (you’ll find any current Disney World deals here), the number and types of rooms available became more and more restrictive over the years leading up to the pandemic.

Post-pandemic, Disney is dealing with both high demand and with continuing resort hotel capacity issues. As a result of these supply and demand issues, I don’t expect to see a lot of capacity made available for deals in 2022.

The simplest way to handle getting any deals that might be available is to make your initial booking through a travel agent, who will then–if a deal comes out for your dates–move heaven and earth to try to get you in to it.

I recommend Destinations in Florida, who has been the travel agent partner of this site for years. To book your vacation through them, contact them using the form at the end of this page.

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS IN 2022

The major question for 2022 crowds at Disney World is the balance between Disney’s practical capacity, affected by staffing, its offered capacity though its theme park reservation system, and the effectiveness and usage of the new tools Disney World is offering that might let one avoid crowds, such as its paid line-skipping offerings and its daily early entry options for guests in eligible hotels. While I could–and probably will–say a lot more about these, frankly there is not enough experience yet, especially with the  paid line-skipping offerings, to make sensible judgments.

On the premise that whatever effect all these have, they will somewhat work over the course of the 2022, I offer the following observations:

Early January 2022 will be busy through the first weekend, but better after then, with the Martin Luther King holiday weekend being the next worst dates in the month.

Presidents Day, February 21 in 2022, is as late as it can possibly be. The week that includes Presidents Day will be bad as usual. (Tons of kids in the northeast have the whole week off.) Crowds for this holiday week actually begin the Thursday before. For some reason, the weekend before President’s Day–through Monday February 14th–is blocked out in the least expensive of Disney’s newest Annual Passes. I can speculate about this, but honestly don’t know why the weekend of the 12th is blocked off.  Until more specifics emerge, I’d avoid that weekend as well.

Mardi Gras in 2022 is March 1.  A few southern school districts have it off as a single or multi-day holiday. The impact of Mardi Gras-related visitors on Disney World is overrated, so don’t worry about it. (People mix up the effects from it and the effects of President’s day breaks–many years have seen the week of Mardi Gras also influenced by crowds from President’s Day breaks, which does not happen in 2022.)

Easter in 2022 will be late in its possible range, on April 18. The patterns of spring breaks in 2022 lead me to be forecasting heavy spring break crowds March 12 through April 24.

Summer 2022 crowds I expect to be substantially higher than the crowds in the years before COVID, as people continue to make up for missed holidays in 2020 and 2021, and overseas visitors come fully back to Disney World. I expect the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot, Cosmic Rewind, to be a major draw as well.  The current opening date for Cosmic Rewind is “Summer 2022.”

Thanksgiving, November 24, 2022, is in the middle of its possible range, yielding good weeks both the two weeks before and the two weeks after.

Christmas is on a Sunday in 2022.  That that some all schools that take two weeks off for Christmas will begin their breaks on Saturday December 17, 2022, and be off through Sunday January 1, 2023 or Monday January 2, and other two-week-break schools will be off December 23 or 24 through January 8. Schools with shorter breaks will largely be out Friday December 23 or Saturday the 24th through January 1 or 2. As a result, the period from Christmas Eve through January 1, 2023 will be especially crazy, but things will also be bad the weeks before and after.

See the links for more on 2022 at Walt Disney World:

My friends at Destinations in Florida, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your vacation for you.  Contact them using the form below.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

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January 2, 2022   2 Comments

2022 Weeks to Visit Walt Disney World, Ranked in Order

OVERVIEW: THE BEST TIMES IN 2022 TO VISIT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The rankings that follow are designed for first time visitors who do not know whether or not they will return.

For visitors on a return trip, less concerned about ride closures or the peak of the hurricane season, the later January, early February, later August, and September weeks would be ranked much higher. All weeks good for returning visitors are marked in green at the far right of the image below.

The rankings are in calendar order in the image above. In the discussion below, for each category, they are in rank order within that category.

These week rankings are based on my 2022 Disney World Crowd Calendar, on Disney World’s 2022 resort hotel price seasons, and on Disney World’s 2022 ticket price calendar.

Other factors are key as well–the Christmas season, ride closure season and hurricane season in particular.

(For more on how I build these rankings–although it’s old, it still is how I do it–see this.)

RECOMMENDED 2022 WEEKS AT DISNEY WORLD, RANKED IN ORDER

The nine recommended weeks that follow are the best weeks to visit Walt Disney World in 2022 for first tie visitors who may never return. They are lower-crowd weeks that are not in the peak hurricane or ride closure seasons.

I divide them into two groups–the first group is weeks during the holiday season, and the second group weeks the rest of the year.

Among the four holiday season weeks, the first two have the full holiday program, and the second two some of the holiday program.

  • 1: 11/26/22
  • 2: 12/3/22
  • 3: 11/12/22
  • 4: 11/5/22

Weeks 5 through 8 are mostly in the same 2022 post-Easter stretch, and share lower crowds, moderate prices, and (especially in weeks 5 and 6) nice spring weather. The first three are  in calendar order, as the weather is better earlier in this period, with humidity and rain arriving sometime in mid- to later May. Week 8 is the week that begins just after the last spring break crowds, and may see some crowding over its first weekend.

  • 5: 4/30/22
  • 6: 5/7/22
  • 7: 5/14/22
  • 8: 4/23/22 

Week 9 is the last good week before spring break, is more expensive than weeks 5-8, and may be substantially cooler than them

  • 9: 2/22/22

This completes the weeks in 2022 that are recommended for first-time visitors to Disney World who may never return.

2022 WEEKS I’M NOT SO KEEN ON

Weeks 1o-19 all have moderate crowd levels, with different prices and weather. I don’t particularly recommend moderate-crowd weeks for first time visitors, but if you have to pick one, with good plans they are quite manageable. They are also fine for returning visitors.

As always I rank these weeks first by crowd levels, then by resort hotel prices, then by ticket prices.

However, the levels I use for “resort hotel prices” is based on the simple average across all three resort types, so a week with high prices at the values, low at the moderates, and moderate at the deluxes would be evaluated the same as a week with low prices at the values, moderate at the moderates, and high at the deluxes.

So you might want to dig into the specifics (presented on the chart) to pick the best week for you based on where you are staying.

Weeks 10-12 are the lowest crowd of this moderate crowd group, with varying prices

  • 10: 6/4/22
  • 11: 5/21/22
  • 12: 12/10/22

Weeks 13-16 will be a bit busier than weeks 10-12

  • 13: 6/11/22
  • 14: 10/22/22
  • 15: 10/15/22
  • 16: 2/26/22 

Last in this group are its highest-cr0wd weeks

  • 17: 5/28/22
  • 18: 3/26/22
  • 19: 10/29/22

Weeks 20-28 have one thing in common: while low or moderate crowd weeks, they all occur during the peak of the hurricane season. Hurricanes are rare and even more rarely affect a Disney World vacation, but for first-timers who may never return, why not just avoid the risk? For returning visitors, though, the low-crowd weeks that can be found among this group can be wonderful times to visit.

These peak hurricane season weeks are ranked in order of first crowd levels, and within the same crowd level by resort hotel prices, then ticket prices.

Weeks 20-23 have some of the lowest crowds and lowest ticket prices of the year, and weeks 20 and 21 also have low hotel prices.

  • 20: 8/20/22
  • 21: 9/3/22
  • 22: 8/27/22
  • 23: 9/10/22

Week 24 has slightly higher crowds (but still low), moderate hotel prices, but very low ticket prices

  • 24: 9/17/22

…and Week 25 is similar but with slightly higher crowds and slightly higher ticket prices

  • 25: 9/24/22

Weeks 26 to 27 are the moderate-crowd weeks in this hurricane group.

  • 26: 8/13/22
  • 27: 10/1/22
  • 28: 8/6/22

2022 WEEKS TO AVOID AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

There’s two groups of weeks to avoid in 2022: high crowd weeks and weeks when some rides are often closed.

The first group, ranked 29-45, should be avoided because of crowds that traditionally range from high to unbelievable.

This group includes much of the summer–later June into early August. It also includes the busy March and April spring break weeks beginning 3/12/2022, and the holiday weeks—President’s Day week, the weeks before and after Easter, Columbus Day week, Thanksgiving week, and the weeks around Christmas.

See the table above for exact rankings within these lousy weeks.

The next group includes the January and early February 2022 weeks when rides are often closed for repair or refurbishment—weeks 46-52.

Some of these weeks have among the lowest crowds and lowest prices of the year. However, this is the peak time for ride closures at Walt Disney World, especially the January weeks.

If this may be your only family visit, why go when you know likely a few of the best of Disney World will probably be closed?

 

 

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November 8, 2021   8 Comments

Disney World Crowds in 2022

2022 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The chart lower on the page shows my current forecasts for 2022 crowds by week at Walt Disney World.

2022 will be an interesting year at Disney World, with Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebrations continuing, old attractions coming back–one hopes, new attractions opening, and what I expect to be severe pent-up demand for travel and family vacations.

[Read more →]

November 2, 2021   2 Comments

Disney World Summer Crowds in 2022

SUMMER CROWDS IN 2022 AT DISNEY WORLD

In 2022 I am predicting higher summer crowds at Walt Disney World than we saw in the last few pre-COVID summers.

I am so predicting for three reasons:

  • I expect next summer to see a travel market stronger than any we have seen for years
  • In a change compared to recent practice, Disney’s current set of annual passes do not have summer blockout dates
  • July through September is in the last quarter of Disney’s fiscal year, so the financial temptation to offer higher capacity in Disney’s new reservation system will be very strong

That said, many signals are mixed, and I may well be wrong. If I am wrong, then crowds will be better than I suggest—moderate or moderate plus rather than high. But I’m OK with this, since between the heat and the hurricane season I don’t particularly recommend going in the summer anyway…

More specifically, I predict for the summer of 2022 at Disney World:

  • Moderate crowds the weeks beginning May 28, June 4, and June 11
  • High crowds the week beginning June 18 through the week beginning July 30
  • Moderate crowds the weeks beginning August 6th and August 13
  • Low crowds from the week beginning August 20 into late September

More details follow.

SCHOOL CALENDARS AND SUMMER CROWDS IN 2022 AT DISNEY WORLD

Disney World crowds used to be pretty easy to predict. All you need was a comprehensive database of school breaks, properly weighted. Times when a lot of (weighted) kids are out of school will be crowded; semester-beginning times much less so.

In the summer of 2022, as they usually do, school breaks begin in a material fashion in May, especially among southern schools east of the Mississippi. Northern schools are more likely to begin their break in June.

In 2022, about 40% of (weighted) kids are out of school by June 1, 75% by June 15, and 90% by June 25.

Early breakers start going back to school in mid-August, and pretty much everyone is back in school by the weekend after Labor Day.

The effect is that everyone is out of school in July, and many fewer are out of school in early June and even fewer in later August. Traditionally, this meant heavy crowds from mid-June through mid-August, with the peak the week during which the Fourth of July holiday was celebrated,* and the highest crowd levels overall of the summer in July.

A few years ago, however, this shifted, with overall crowd levels in the summer dropping, and later June often beating July in weekly crowds.

*If the Fourth is on a weekend, the “official” paid holiday day off at many organizations will be the weekday closest to it—the 3rd if the Fourth is on a Saturday, the 5th if on a Sunday. Because parents get to combine their time off with the holiday, the week it is celebrated thus becomes the “easiest” week to take off during the summer…

ANNUAL PASS BLOCKOUT DATES, THEME PARK RESERVATIONS, AND SUMMER CROWDS IN 2022 AT DISNEY WORLD

In 2017/2018, Disney World changed the structure of its set of Annual Pass offerings. Lower-priced Annual Passes, such as the Silver Pass, changed from having ~45 blocked-out dates per year to ~100 such blocked out days—with the big difference being the summer, when blockout days now included June into early August.

For example, while new Silver Passes are no longer being sold, some previously purchased ones are still valid in the summer of 2022, and they are blocked out from June 1, 2022 through August 3, 2022.

I’ll never be able to prove it, but I am sure that the reduction is summer crowds came from this. Families with children within easy drives who like to go to Disney World a lot will find the lower-priced passes quite attractive (because they have to buy so many to cover the mob), and I believe it was the absence of visits from such families after the change in blockout dates that largely led to the drop in summer crowds…

Most of Disney’s new set of Annual Passes have blockout dates, but none are in the summer other than the Fourth of July. Rather, Disney can manage the total attendance in its parks—including the total attendance of folks with Annual Passes (of any type)—via its new Theme Park Reservation system.

The lower crowds that might be possible through the Theme Park Reservation system holds great promise for increasing guest satisfaction at Walt Disney World, while Disney’s higher prices and paid line-skipping systems may make the profitability side of the equation sufficient to satisfy investors even with lower activity.

But even more tempting, given that Disney’s fourth fiscal quarter of July through September is its last chance to punch up revenues and profitability before annual results get finalized, is opening the floodgates on capacity available July through September to take large numbers of park reservations. This gives Disney a triple revenue advantage–one from more ticket sales, one from higher food/beverage/merchandise sales, and a third from higher sales of its new paid line-bypassing systems, which are more valuable the higher base crowds are.

These days, it’s pretty damn hard for hard for the Walt Disney Company to see a dollar in someone’s pocket without at least trying to grab it. Thus, my prediction is that the combination of high demand next summer and the oncoming end of the fiscal year, in the new absence of summer Annual Pass blockout dates, will yield summer crowds in 2022 higher than we have seen the past couple of years.

TICKET PRICES AND SUMMER CROWDS IN 2022 AT DISNEY WORLD

Disney World moved to ticket prices that vary by the day in 2018. The announced intent was to reduce crowds at higher crowd periods by shifting people to lower crowd periods. Given inelasticity in demand, the secondary effect was to charge people more for the ability to access the parks during popular times.

As a result, ticket prices—especially one day ticket prices—have become a bit of a proxy for a crowd calendar.

The chart shows per-day prices for both one day and four-day ticket prices–four-day prices because, with their seven days of eligible use, they average out weekend effects that can otherwise make periods like May and September hard to interpret.

I begin the chart in April and end it in September so you can see particularly high ticket prices in April and low prices in September for comparison to summer prices.

The takeaway from ticket prices is that they are low to moderate most of the summer before dropping to very low levels in late August—specifically, August 22, my birthday, you are welcome.

The only period that crosses into what I’d consider high prices is July 1 through July 4; another somewhat higher period is July 30 through August 6, and two other periods with prices higher than the rest of the summer—but not so high as the above two weeks–are June 19 through June 30, and July 18 through July 23.

I expect to see another ticket price increase from Disney World well before the summer—probably in February—so am not overinterpreting this data. The best takeaways I can offer right now based solely on ticket prices are

  • Disney is not pricing 2022 summer tickets as though it expects high crowds, except near the Fourth of July
  • Among possible summer dates, relatively higher crowds can be inferred from later June through early August, with the first few days of July the worst.

RESORT HOTEL PRICES AND SUMMER CROWDS IN 2022 AT DISNEY WORLD

There are many people who think that Disney World’s resort hotel price seasons approximate a crowd calendar. This has never been true, and is particularly not true for the deluxes, and to a lesser extent the moderates, which compete not only in the tourism market but also in the conventions and meetings markets—which typically greatly shrink July through mid-October—as meeting planner avoid the worst of summer heat, and the peak of the hurricane season which can play havoc with flights.

Disney value resorts are much less affected by projected convention business, so they can illuminate demand a bit more.

Value resort summer prices are in effect from May 30, 2022 through August 6, 2022. Prices in this period are lower than many holiday and spring break periods earlier in 2022, but in turn are higher than a thing you’ll see the rest of the year except over the Columbus Day weekend, Thanksgiving week and in the second half of December.

This pricing does suggest higher crowds June through early August.

Value resort prices then drop on August 7, and then drop even more August 22.

 

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October 31, 2021   No Comments

Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2022

2022 DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS

Walt Disney World spring break crowds are typically governed by two and a quarter factors:

  • Public school spring break calendars, which are still largely framed around Easter but vary more than you might think, and into which every year I put a ton of time
  • The demand of snow-belters for a break from winter weather, which peaks in March, but is harder to forecast, and
  • The quarter factor, the date of President’s Day (which can range from February 15 to February 21). Later President’s Days 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 can spread the first two factors out, some years yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2022, on April 17, is late in its possible range. President’s Day 2022 is at the end of its possible range on February 19. As a result of this and some anomalies in break schedules, my latest analysis suggests largely rough crowds March 12 through April 23, 2022–although some weeks are better than others.

More specifically, 2022 spring break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Better but still rough the week beginning February 27th
  • Much better, especially Sunday to Wednesday, the week beginning March 5
  • Very bad the week beginning March 12th
  • Better but still rough the weeks beginning March 19th, March 26, and April 2nd–the best among these being the week beginning March 26
  • Very bad the weeks beginning April 9 and April 16
  • Fine after April 23 until Memorial Day weekend

2022 PUBLIC SCHOOL SPRING BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS

Although more and more school districts are moving away from an Easter-centered Spring Break, the plurality of kids still have the weeks before Easter or following 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 can spread out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter but also don’t have a fixed break calendar, and second, if particularly late, sometimes 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.

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 many of the same later March and early April weeks.

The date of President’s Day–which can range from February 15 to February 21–also has an effect. Because many northeastern districts both have a spring break and also take the week of President’s Day off, the later President’s Day is, the better later February and early March will be–as parents in these districts avoid taking their kids out of school the weeks right after a long President’s Day break.

2022 sees some anomalies on top of this.

  • First, almost all of Florida and Texas have break the week beginning March 12
  • Second, I’m not seeing quite the drop off in demand the week after Easter often associated with a later Easter, for at least two reasons. First, this is an “earlier” later Easter, and second in 2022 the week after Easter corresponds with the week of Patriot’s Day, a common vacation week for many New England schools.

As a result, the worst weeks of spring break 2022 will be the weeks of March 12th, April 9th, and April 16th.

Often a later Easter results in a good early April week, and also a better than average week after Easter. However, in 2022 I’m not seeing either a good early April week nor a particularly good week after Easter.

ACTUAL 2022 SPRING BREAKS

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 270+ of the largest relevant US public school districts. 15.3 million kids–about a third of US school kids–are in the database, and they are weighted based on propensity to go to Disney World.

Weekends are in black, except Easter, in red. Mardi Gras and President’s Day are also in red.

Aggregated spring break calendars illuminate times when families with kids can particularly easily be in Disney World, but not their propensity to be there. Propensity factors range from the desire to get away from snow and ice to the willingness that more knowledgeable Disney World visitors may show to simply take their kids out of school—especially if doing so will avoid higher crowds on other dates. They also tell us little about people with no school age kids in their groups.

Can we get a hint of Disney’s own insights into propensity for people to visit from its own pricing patterns? Well, yes, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

TICKET PRICES AS A GUIDE TO SPRING BREAK 2022 CROWDS

Disney World’s current ticket pricing model, which presents different ticket prices for different days, is intended to a. push people from higher priced periods to lower prices periods to level out demand and improve experiences during what would otherwise be even higher-crowd periods and b. capture some value from increased demand from those people who go during higher priced periods anyway.

Thus in a profound sense ticket prices are a proxy for a demand calendar, which is similar to, but not quite the same as, a crowd calendar (the difference between the two comes from elasticities).

There are some clear anomalies in ticket pricing compared to school break calendars. First, the week of February 12–the week before President’s Day week–has higher prices than school breaks can argue for (this weekend is also more widely blocked out in Disney World’s annual passes than President’s Day weekend is). Also seeing higher ticket prices than underlying school breaks would suggest is the week of March 5. In contrast, prices are lower than school breaks would suggest the weeks of 2/19 and 4/16.

HOTEL PRICES AS A GUIDE TO SPRING BREAK 2022 CROWDS

Disney also varies hotel prices over the year (and much of the year, even over the week), principally by using different levels of rack rates, and also on top of that sometimes additional discounts for specific dates.

But hotel prices, while being like ticket prices broadly correlated with crowds, especially in Disney’s lower-priced hotel offerings, are also not a perfect crowd calendar.

First, hotels have a fixed capacity in a way that parks don’t, and also a very different cost structure (with very few variable costs), so the business goal is different—it’s to maximize prices that also maximize hotel utilization. There is thus much greater payoff to running the hotels, via pricing, at about the same very high occupancy rate year round.

Second, unlike the parks, there is a broad range of substitutes for the Disney hotels—and with the expansion of the former, now canceled, 60 day FastPass+ and EMH access perks in 2018 and 2019 to the rest of the on-property hotels, matched by their eligibility for the current Early Entry program, some substitutes are much better choices than they used to be. So it is as valuable to compete to fill rooms from guests who would stay at non-Disney resorts as it is to shift demand among the Disney hotels in time. In fact, it may be more valuable to compete for non-Disney property guests, as this keeps money out of the pockets of competitors, and reduces their ability to fund enhancements.

Finally, the different hotel classes see starkly different seasonal competition. The deluxes in particular compete with non-Disney hotels that see a ton of convention and meetings business much of the year. When the convention and meetings business collapses every summer (smart meeting planners don’t book conventions and meetings in the summer in Florida), many more rooms are available to the tourist trade—and prices at this whole class of hotels collapse.

The values, in contrast, don’t compete for this business, and their demand cycle is driven by family vacations. This is why Disney value resort prices in later July 2022 are 30-40% higher than the lowest of the year, while deluxe prices those same dates are just 5-10% higher.

Actual Disney World hotel prices tell a third spring break story, which doesn’t quite align with either with the story told by kids on spring breaks or the story told by tickets.

The highest priced weeks are those before and after Easter, as consistent with spring breaks but not tickets.  However, the week of March 12 is basically the same as the weeks before and after, the week of President’s Day, and the week of April 2–mismatching both ticket and break patterns. And the week of 3/27 sees lower prices than either schools or tickets would signal…

(It doesn’t matter to the analysis, but in the chart, green is All-Star Sports, lighter blue is Art of Animation Little Mermaid, darker blue Wilderness Lodge, redder orange Beach Club, yellow-orange Port Orleans Riverside, and gray Polynesian Village.)

I’ve run my Disney World crowd forecasts for spring break 2022 multiple different times using different weights among the informational contributions of school calendars, ticket prices, and hotel prices.  Most results come in within a pretty tight band of forecasts.

 

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September 27, 2021   2 Comments

Christmas Breaks in 2021 and Disney World Crowds

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS FROM LATER DECEMBER 2021 TO EARLY JANUARY 2022

Although we don’t yet know how Disney World’s new park reservation system will effect holiday crowds in late 2021/early 2022, Disney World typically 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 2021, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s than before or after.

However, because of the Saturday Christmas, in 2021 there’s hardly any kids out the week before Christmas week.

Crowds will be massive at Disney World by December 18, 2021, and will be at their worst between 12/24/2021 and 1/2/2022. Things then return quickly to low levels, and holiday crowds should be gone by January 4, 2022. [Read more →]

September 22, 2021   No Comments