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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Category — 9. Spring Break and Easter at Walt Disney World

Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2020

DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS IN 2020

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.  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 can spread the first two factors out, yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2020, on April 12, is a bit late in its possible range. President’s Day 2020 is about in the middle of its possible range on February 17. As a result, my latest analysis suggests heavy crowds March 14 through April 19, 2020–although some weeks are better than others.

More specifically, 2020 spring break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Fine the week beginning February 22rd
  • OK the week beginning February 29
  • At the bad end of OK the week beginning March 7th
  • Bad the week beginning March 14th
  • Better than the week of the 14th, but not good the weeks beginning March 21 and March 28
  • Very bad the week beginning April 4
  • Bad the week beginning April 11
  • A little iffy, but probably OK the week beginning April 18
  • Fine after that until Memorial Day weekend

2020 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 spreads out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter, 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 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.

The effect of the various dates in 2020 is to compress the worst spring break dates into the period from March 14 through April 19.

ACTUAL 2020 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.

My revised 2020 Disney World Crowd Calendar shows the following:

  • The week beginning February 8, 2020 will be crowded at the end as long weekends for Presidents Day begin Thursday February 15. Overall, I give it a 5/moderate-minus rating–better earlier, worse later
  • Presidents Day week, the week beginning 2/15, has high crowds through Tuesday and pretty high crowds the rest of the week. Overall it gets a crowd ranking of 8/high-minus, worse earlier in the week and better later
  • The weeks beginning 2/22 has hardly any kids off and gets a ranking of 4 (low plus). Mardi Gras (March 25 in 2020) is much talked about but itself has little impact on the parks–as you can see in the chart, few kids get it off.
  • The week beginning February 29 has more kids on break than in recent years and has become increasingly crowded.  It has a ranking of 6/moderate
  • The week beginning March 7 has fewer kids on break than in recent years–half of Texas has moved to the next week. I am giving it a ranking of 7/moderate-plus
  • The week beginning 3/14 will be a mess.  Half of Texas, Ontario, and all the kids in the I-4 corridor are on break.  I am giving it a ranking of 10/higher.
  • The week beginning 3/21 will be a bit better.  I am giving it a ranking of 8/high
  • The week beginning 3/28 is hard to forecast. Fewer kids are on break than most March weeks, but prices are quite high this week (see below). I am giving it an overall ranking of 7/moderate plus–worse on the weekends and better mid-week. But it could be a little better, or a little worse
  • The week before Easter, beginning April 4, 2020, will have the highest crowds yet in 2020, at 11/highest
  • The week following Easter, beginning April 11, has a lot of kids on break, so it gets a 10/higher ranking
  • A lot of kids in New England are off the week beginning April 18, but hardly anyone else, so it gets a 5/moderate-minus ranking, worse earlier in the week and better later.
  • Crowds should then be fine April 22 and following until Memorial Day weekend

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 2020 CROWDS

Disney published 2020 ticket prices by first day of eligible use in late June 2019. Disney World’s current ticket pricing model 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 crowd calendar.

But for thinking about spring break 2020 today, however, there’s three different reasons why you don’t want to read too much into current comparative ticket price levels.

First, price levels for 2020 published in June went up on average less than 2% compared to the same months in 2019. This tells you not that Disney has moved away from its aggressive price hikes of recent years, but rather that at least one more price increase is coming. Disney’s March 2019 update of the 2019 prices it first released in November 2018 included some profound shifts in pricing patterns and levels, especially for holidays, so you need to take differential 2020 ticket price levels currently present with a bit of a grain of salt.

Second, there’s a mismatch between the blockout dates in the annual passes most commonly bought by Florida residents and their actual spring breaks. Both gold and silver passes block out the weeks before and after Easter, but kids in Florida are largely not much on break then—about half have Good Friday off, a few have the Monday after Easter as well, but that’s their only time off during this blockout period. Rather, kids in Florida are largely on break in 2020 in March—about 10% the week of March 7, 50% the week of March 14, and 40% the week of March 21. In particular, almost all the kids on the I-4 corridor are on break the week of March 14. So folks with these passes are more likely to be in the parks March 14 through March 29—and especially March 14 through March 22–than the prices of regular tickets might imply.

Finally, ticket price differences are meant not just to incent different dates but also to capture value from demand. So you will see higher prices during highly desired dates even if these dates don’t much tie to crowding patterns. Folks who live with snow, ice, and cold have an extra set of reasons to go to Florida in February and March. For example, in 2020, the old pattern of most of Texas being on break the same early week of March is broken—about half the state is on break the week of March 7 (the typical break week for most of the state in that past), and half the state is on break the week of March 14. But ticket prices both weeks are similar, suggesting that either Disney is pricing to capture the slightly lower-crowd attractiveness of the week of March 7—or that it has not yet caught on to the Texas change.

HOTEL PRICES AS A GUIDE TO SPRING BREAK 2020 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, 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 60 day FastPass+ and EMH access perks to the rest of the on-property hotels, and two nearby hotels (the complete list is here) 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 2020 are 30-40% higher than the lowest of the year, while deluxe prices those same dates are just 5-10% higher.

A really big convention—like HIMSS in Orlando March 9- March 13 2020—can drive up prices across the entire market before, after and during the specific event. (This includes even lower priced hotels, as people get forced into booking them by there not being enough business class rooms in town to meet demand. This increased demand lets the lower-priced hotels raise prices as well.) The week of March 7 at Disney World, while not great, will be better than hotel prices imply—Texas is only half there, and HIMSS is driving hotels, but (not much) park visits.

So while Disney World hotel prices are indeed down the week of March 21st compared to the weeks before and after (ticket prices are down a bit as well), I am not seeing that necessarily meaning this will be a great week. This may be just a correction based on weak local convention bookings that week.

The week of 3/28 is an even trickier week. Both hotel and ticket prices are high, but relatively speaking, compared to weeks before and after there aren’t many kids on break—and next to none in Florida. I am going to make the call on it that it’s a moderate plus week in terms of crowds, but this is the forecast I am least comfortable about this period—it could be moderately better or a little worse.

*Groups wanting to do their events on a budget will go to the north in the winter and the south in the summer, to get the best prices—but the reason they can get the best prices is because there is so little competition for meeting space and hotel rooms.

 

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July 14, 2019   10 Comments

April 2019 at Walt Disney World

April   May    June   July   August   September   October

WHAT IS APRIL LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

Although I think the week of April 6th will be just fine, and am sure that the week of April 27th will be fine, the rest of April 2019 is a high crowd and high price month, thanks to the late Easter of 2019.

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October 24, 2018   4 Comments

March 2019 at Walt Disney World

March    April    May   June   July   August   September

WHAT IS MARCH LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

The first week of March can be a great time to go to Disney World, and is so in 2019, up until March 8. The rest of the month will mostly be lousy–with high prices and high crowds.

[Read more →]

September 23, 2018   1 Comment

Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2019

DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS IN 2019

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.  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 can spread the first two factors out, yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2019, on April 21, is very late in its possible range. President’s Day 2019 is in the middle of its possible range on February 18. As a result, my latest analysis shows a good week in each of late February and early April, an OK week in early March, but mostly bad crowds throughout March and April 2019.

More specifically, 2019 spring break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Fine the week beginning February 23rd
  • OK the week beginning March 2, but not as good as in my original draft forecast.  I’ve updated this based on co-author Josh’s work on easyWDW.com on 2017 and 2018 waits, and now have to call this a moderately crowded week, rather than a low crowd week
  • Bad the week beginning March 9th
  • Fairly bad the week beginning March 16
  • Bad the weeks beginning March 23 and March 30
  • Fine the week beginning April 6
  • Very bad the week beginning April 13
  • Bad the week beginning April 20
  • Fine after that until Memorial Day weekend

Note that you should treat my forecast for the week beginning April 6, 2019 with a bit of skepticism–if I’m wrong, it will be worse.

2019 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 spreads out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter, 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. (I don’t see much of this shift in 2019.)

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 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.

The effect of the various dates in 2019 is to spread spring break weeks out, yielding not a whole lot of good times to visit between President’s day and the week after Easter.

ACTUAL 2019 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.

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

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

My revised 2019 Crowd Calendar shows the following:

  • The week beginning February 9, 2019 will be crowded at the end as long weekends for Presidents Day begin Thursday February 14. Overall I give it a 5/moderate-minus rating–better earlier, worse later
  • Presidents Day week, the week beginning 2/16, has high crowds through Tuesday and pretty high crowds the rest of the week. Overall it gets a crowd ranking of 8/high-minus, worse earlier in the week and a little better later
  • The weeks beginning 2/23 has hardly any kids off and gets a ranking of 4 (low plus)
  • The week beginning March 2 has more kids on break than in recent years, and, Josh’s data shows, has become increasingly crowded.  I am shifting its ranking to 6/moderate
  • The week beginning March 9 both has a ton of kids on break (thanks, Texas and Ontario!) and is also attractive to snowbirds. It gets a 9/high crowd rating.
  • The week beginning 3/16 has fewer kids on break than the weeks that surround it, but is still attractive to snowbirds. I’m giving it a rating of 7/moderate-plus, a little better than in my draft forecast
  • The week beginning 3/23 has the highest percentage of kids on break so far in March 2019, and gets a crowd rating of 10/higher
  • The week beginning 3/30/18 also has lots of kids on break in 2019 and gets a crowd rating of 9/high.
  • The week beginning April 6, 2019, looks great, with hardly any kids on break. I’m giving it a crowd rating of 4/low-plus. If I am wrong, it will be worse, but is unlikely to exceed the “moderate crowd” range
  • The week before Easter, beginning April 13, 2019, will have the highest crowds yet in 2019, at 11/highest
  • The week following Easter, beginning April 20, has even more kids on break than I’d initially forecast, so it gets a 9/high rating
  • Crowds should then be fine April 27 and following until Memorial Day weekend

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June 24, 2018   24 Comments

March 2018 at Walt Disney World

March   April   May  June   July   August

OVERVIEW: MARCH 2018 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews March 2018 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

The first week of March can be a great time to go to Disney World, and is so in 2018, up until March 9. The rest of the month will be lousy–with high prices and high crowds.

[Read more →]

October 2, 2017   4 Comments

Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2018

DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS IN 2018

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
  • 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 can spread the first two factors out, yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2018, on April 1, is early in its possible range. President’s Day 2018, is late, on February 19. As a result, my 2018 crowd calendar shows (mostly) bad March crowds but (mostly) good April crowds.

More specifically, 2018 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Fine the weeks beginning February 24th and March 3rd
  • Very bad the week beginning March 10th
  • Bad the week beginning March 17
  • Very bad the weeks beginning March 24 and March 31
  • Fine April 7 and later.

2018 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 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.  

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 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 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 2018 is to compress most school spring breaks into just four weeks beginning March 10 and continuing until the end of the week beginning March 31.

ACTUAL 2018 SPRING BREAKS

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 280 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.

(For how the database is built, see the this. Weekends are in black, except Easter, in red. Holidays (Mardi Gras and President’s Day) are also in red. Click the image to enlarge it.)

My 2018 Disney World crowd calendar shows this:

  • The week beginning February 10, 2018 has a minor bump early from the small number of kids with Mardi Gras off, and a larger bump later as long weekends for Presidents Day begin Thursday February 15. Overall I give it a 5/moderate-minus rating–better earlier, worse later
  • Presidents Day week, the week beginning 2/17, has high crowds through Tuesday and pretty high crowds the rest of the week. Overall it gets a crowd ranking of 8/high-minus, worse earlier in the week and better later
  • The weeks beginning 2/24 and 3/3 have hardly any kids on break and get crowd ratings of 4 (low plus) for the week of the 24th and 3/low for the week of the 3rd
  • The week beginning March 10 both has a ton of kids on break (thanks, Texas!) and is also attractive to snowbirds. It gets a 10/higher crowd rating.
  • The week beginning 3/17 has fewer kids on break than the weeks that surround it, but is still attractive to snowbirds. I’m giving it a rating of 8/high-minus crowds.
  • The week beginning 3/24 is the week before Easter and will be a zoo, as it usually is, and gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week after Easter (beginning 3/31/18) has even more kids on break in 2018 than the week before and also gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week beginning April 7, 2018, will be much better than I had thought. I’m now giving it a crowd rating of 5/moderate-minus. If I am wrong–it happens–this week will be better than I am forecasting
  • The rest of April will be just fine.

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July 10, 2017   18 Comments