You are currently viewing Florida’s “Peak” Spring Break Week Was Useless at Disney World

Florida’s “Peak” Spring Break Week Was Useless at Disney World


It’s at present Spring Break ‘season’ at Walt Disney World, and there have already been attendance highs and lows in March 2024. This crowd report shares wait instances knowledge together with us attempting to make sense of why the parks have been so gradual throughout what ought to’ve been a peak week at Walt Disney World.

We received’t bury the lede. Crowd ranges have dropped precipitously since March 16, 2024. That is vital as a result of it’s a giant break week for Central Florida faculty districts, with each Seminole and Orange County having March 18-22 off for Spring Break, to not point out a ton of different counties all through the South. Throughout the identical break final 12 months, crowd ranges for Walt Disney World as an entire had been 9/10 and it was the second busiest week of the 2 month stretch, following Easter.

Consequently, I predicted in our March 2024 Crowd Calendar and Spring Break 2024 Crowd Calendar that though the season as an entire would start on March 8, it wouldn’t be till March 15 when Spring Break kicked into excessive gear and crowds acquired actually heavy. I couldn’t have presumably been extra flawed.

I can’t recall a time once I’ve been extra flawed about something, and I’m truthfully embarrassed about this. However since we level out once we’re proper about issues, turnabout is truthful play and it’s solely acceptable to personal simply how flawed I used to be right here. And it’s not simply that I anticipated this to be the second worst week of Spring Break–I predicted it’d be one of many 10 worst weeks of your complete 12 months. (It was final 12 months!)

It’s additionally not simply that I acquired this previous week flawed–it’s that I missed the mark on the week earlier than that, underestimating how dangerous March 8-15 could be, comparatively. I did word that, not like final 12 months, there was extra of a bifurcated break for Central Florida, which means that about half of districts had final week off and half had this week off. That led to the (I suppose?) partially appropriate conclusion that this week could be much less busy than its counterpart final 12 months as a consequence of Spring Break being extra diluted.

Then got here the flawed half: “Even when no different districts in your complete United States had spring break these two weeks, they’d be busy at Walt Disney World as a consequence of these space faculty methods.” I continued by explaining the outsized affect native faculty breaks have on crowds, which is a comparatively new phenomenon as a result of inhabitants explosion in Florida. For no matter it’s price, it’s not simply Florida; extra main U.S. districts outdoors of the Sunshine State had this week off than final. (Though, to be clear, most districts have subsequent week–Easter–off.)

Extra just lately, I had the prospect to again down from this forecast when Walt Disney World prolonged park hours and didn’t do a lot for the week of Orange County’s Spring Break. As an alternative, I frightened that it’d be a repeat of final 12 months’s vacation season when Walt Disney World “over” prolonged hours at first, after which backed off when precise extensions had been warranted by greater crowds.

Whereas I did concede and hoped there was one thing Disney’s inner projections confirmed that I didn’t know, our general angle was skepticism in the direction of the dearth of extensions. Because it turned out, Walt Disney World was proper–added hours had been probably not wanted primarily based on crowds. You positively would’ve been higher off going this week with shorter hours than final week with longer ones.

I did lastly concede that a few countervailing components suggesting that final week would possibly be worse than this as Genie+ started promoting out final week. The primary was the Winter 2024 Florida Resident Ticket Deal, which ended on March 15, 2024. The second was the 2 lowest tiers of Annual Passes being blocked out beginning final weekend and early this week. Even then, I underestimated simply how outsized of an affect these variables would have.

Earlier than going deeper into the dialogue of crowds, let’s dig into the information and have a look at Walt Disney World wait instances. As at all times, all graphs and stats are courtesy of thrill-data.com:

Right here’s a have a look at every day crowd ranges throughout Walt Disney World for the year-to-date. It’s really been a surprisingly busy winter at Walt Disney World, with the common wait time in January being 40 minutes and the common in February being 41 minutes, which is just down barely as in comparison with December, which averaged 42 minutes (due largely to the madness of the final two weeks). Previous to that, no month had a 40 minute common since final April.

We had anticipated this month to be even busier, however this week has pulled the common down, with most days having averages under half-hour. In per week filled with surprises, the largest was Monday, March 18. Whilst crowd patterns have been shifting in 2024, Monday has remained the busiest day, on common.

Not this week! The typical wait time at Walt Disney World this previous Monday was 24 minutes, the bottom since January 9. The final time there have been consecutive days with this low of crowds was instantly after Thanksgiving into early December of final 12 months–our favourite week of the 12 months at Walt Disney World.

Talking of which, right here’s the weekly have a look at crowd ranges. From the primary week of Spring Break to the second, common wait instances dropped by a whopping 17 minutes. (We anticipated a rise of about 3 minutes–which means a 20 minute anticipated vs. precise unfold.)

This stage of week-to-week drop is exceedingly uncommon–not even Thanksgiving to the week after or New 12 months’s to the week after noticed this massive of drops. Normally it takes two weeks to ‘stair step down’ from near-peak to low season.

This previous week’s crowd stage is the bottom since early-to-mid September 2023. Going again to 2022, there hasn’t been a single week this gradual that’s not within the month of September. Even a few of the nice weeks in 2023 and early 2022 had been all busier than this previous week. When you advised me there was a ‘September-level’ week that will happen someday this 12 months, I’d’ve guessed Could or August or early December–positively not the center of Spring Break season.

It’s most likely price contextualizing this with precise attraction averages, since I can already anticipate some individuals who had been at Walt Disney World utilizing a random 1 p.m. posted wait time of 80 minutes to justify the conclusion that it was really very busy.

On this context, “useless” doesn’t imply that nobody else was within the park or you can do snow angels on Primary Avenue. It means September-caliber crowds, which is traditionally the slowest month of the 12 months. So uncrowded that, for probably the most half, you wouldn’t want to make use of Lightning Lanes. A great way to explain “useless” is thus that, with a modicum of savvy technique, you can do the parks through standby strains with minimal waits at 95% of rides.

When it comes to averages, the one attraction in Magic Kingdom above an hour was Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice (72) minutes. This really isn’t that nice of a posted wait, and implies a most within the triple-digits. However nothing else had a mean above an hour. And to make sure, I used to be (enviously) spot-checking wait instances in Magic Kingdom and I noticed instances when SDMT was 45 minutes and the whole lot else was under 30 (together with House Mountain with a 15 minute noon posted wait!).

Disney’s Hollywood Studios was residence to the best common, with Slinky Canine Sprint at 81 minutes. Once more, not nice. However that is the kind of week that will usually have triple-digit averages for 3-4 rides at DHS and 60+ minute waits for one more 3-4 rides. Nothing else was over an hour, on common.

On multiple event, I noticed posted wait instances of half-hour for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and even much less for different headliners. Actually September stuff.

At Animal Kingdom, Flight of Passage was the one experience over an hour. Throughout a traditional Spring Break, that is one other 100+ minute wait on common. Keep in mind, it hit 3-4 hours a number of instances through the week of New 12 months’s Eve. A median of 65 minutes is admittedly uncommon, even when it would nonetheless appear to be a very long time. It’s actually not for that experience.

Nothing else at Animal Kingdom was over an hour. This most likely means you can’ve hit virtually the whole lot as a walk-on (or almost so) through the first or final 2 hours of the day. And Animal Kingdom has been atypically dangerous to this point this 12 months–to the purpose that we’ve eased up our “no Genie+” stance, because it has (had) develop into extra invaluable.

EPCOT had one experience over an hour: Frozen Ever After. Whereas that’s not so wonderful, each Take a look at Monitor and Remy’s Ratatouille Journey being under 60 minutes is a large win.

With that stated, this says nothing about congestion or “appears like” crowds at EPCOT. I’m guessing in addition they weren’t dangerous given the blockouts and demographics, however you by no means actually know. If somebody advised me EPCOT felt depressing regardless of these common wait instances, I’d be inclined to consider them. EPCOT is at all times a wild card with the potential for a disconnect between crowd ranges (through wait instances) and congestion, particularly when climate is delicate and there’s a competition.

Subsequent, we’ll try to dissect why crowds had been so unexpectedly low through the mid-March Spring Break window. All the following concerns are additionally components mentioned in Monkey Wrenches Disrupting & Growing Crowds at Walt Disney World in 2024

Florida Resident Ticket Deal Ended – As famous above, the primary 2024 Floridian ticket deal of the 12 months ended on March 15. It’s virtually definitely not a coincidence that this ticket deal ended and crowds instantly dropped the following day. It’s additionally not a coincidence that crowds had been elevated through the closing week of the deal.

Throughout resident ticket offers at Disneyland, we’ve observed a ‘final hurrah’ within the week-plus previous to Californian ticket offers expiring. This has develop into constant and predictable, to the purpose the place crowds are at all times worse within the week earlier than the offers finish than the week after. That is notable as a result of they finish after they do for a cause–the next weeks are forecast to be busier as a result of arrival of vacationers, faculty breaks, and so on.

Till this 12 months, that had by no means occurred at Walt Disney World to the extent that it does at Disneyland. There are occasions when ticket offers have been blocked out which have seen decrease crowds (like final Fourth of July), nevertheless it’s by no means a single-factor state of affairs. It’s the resident deal blocked out plus greater costs plus different blockouts, and so on.

Within the ‘monkey wrenches’ put up, I remarked that I’d “be keen to wager that Walt Disney World offered considerably extra Florida resident tickets in 2024 in consequence [of no weekend blockouts].” This was the massive cause why Saturday and Sundays are not the least-busy days of the week at Walt Disney World, reversing a development that began final 12 months.

Nevertheless, the diploma to which weekend crowds elevated through the ticket promo was far decrease than the diploma to which they’ve decreased–throughout the board–because the deal ended. That implies that there’s extra at play…

Annual Move Blockouts – One other factor talked about above is Annual Move blockouts. The 2 lowest tiers of APs had been legitimate many/most dates through the first week of Spring Break season, however not the second week. The Pixie Move has blockouts for the second half of the month beginning March 16, whereas the Pirate Move blockouts started March 18.

That is undoubtedly a contributing issue to the dearth of crowds this week and the excessive crowds final week–locals attempting to get their final visits in previous to being blocked out. The rationale we discounted this as one thing that will downright depress crowds is as a result of each of the identical Annual Passes had blockouts throughout Orange County’s Spring Break final 12 months–neither of those APs had been legitimate throughout that aforementioned 9/10 crowd week!

There are two explanations for a distinction. The primary is that Orange County’s Spring Break and Easter are each blocked out, simply as they had been final 12 months. Not like final 12 months, these are back-to-back weeks; that results in an extended, uninterrupted blockout window than final 12 months. However that solely explains why final week would’ve been busier–locals getting in final visits earlier than prolonged blockouts kicked in.

The higher rationalization for the distinction between final 12 months and this 12 months is solely that there are extra Floridians who’re Annual Passholders–particularly on the Pirate Move tier. Final 12 months, the one AP that was obtainable for buy at the moment was the Pixie Move. New AP gross sales for the opposite tiers didn’t resume gross sales till April 20, after an 18 month hiatus. That wrinkle clearly made a giant distinction, and one for which we didn’t correctly account. We assumed most locals already had Pixie Passes final 12 months (a part of the explanation the ‘much less busy weekends’ dynamic emerged), however apparently that was flawed.

Few Non-FL Districts on Break – To no matter extent the above blockouts had been neglected and saved locals out of the park this previous week or pushed them into the prior week, it was exacerbated by the truth that almost all faculty districts outdoors of Florida and the South merely don’t have Spring Break this early.

Many Northern and Midwestern states simply had Mid-Winter Break on the finish of February; they’re not getting one other break so quickly. However as soon as once more, this was additionally true final 12 months! Mid-Winter Break is just not a new-for-2024 invention; it additionally existed final 12 months. It was predominantly Osceola and Orange County (together with different Central Florida districts) faculties inflicting the crowds. 12 months-to-year constants ought to probably not clarify the discrepancy between the 2 years.

Conventions, Youth Sports activities & Occasions Ending – Additionally as famous within the ‘monkey wrenches’ put up, there are normally main dance and cheerleading competitions held from January till March. The largest main ones of those wrapped up on March 10, which may very well be another excuse crowds fell. I’m skeptical, as that is one other year-to-year fixed. (Additionally, I believe the affect these occasions have on crowd ranges is exaggerated.)

A presumably extra vital wildcard is conventions and group occasions. We famous that enterprise journey has rebounded in 2024, in order that’s not a 12 months to 12 months fixed. It’s totally potential, if not possible, that conference season is over for now–or at the very least on hiatus as Walt Disney World ready for the inflow of Spring Break vacationers.

Pricing – When bundle and ticket costs had been launched final 12 months, it was notable that March 2024 was the lone month when costs went up each single day (as in comparison with March 2023). A part of this was to be anticipated, because the Spring Break season could be extra consolidated into March as a result of timing of Easter.

Nonetheless, greater costs final 12 months for tickets and resorts typically discouraged crowds, as additionally famous in our evaluation of why weekends and a few holidays had been slower. This was significantly pronounced round instances that weren’t as well-liked for out of state vacationers. The rationale for that ought to be apparent–vacationers don’t have flexibility, and can trip after they have faculty or work breaks.

Against this, locals can time their visits to coincide with cheaper dates. These greater base ticket costs in tandem with the now-expired Florida resident deal meant it will’ve price some locals over $100 extra to go to this week than final week. (Although this can even be true throughout Easter week, the possible distinction is the vacationers with out flexibility. They normally present up throughout vacation weeks with out regard for peak season pricing. It’s the locals who transfer crowd ranges on the margins.)

For no matter it’s price, there was additionally a time limit when Walt Disney World anticipated this week to be busier than final. Costs shot up beginning March 16 and they ended the aforementioned FL resident deal and began blockouts then. Costlier costs plus blockouts are the clearest indicators that inner attendance projections are greater. Disney had clearly up to date its forecast by the point park hours had been prolonged, however decrease crowds weren’t what the corporate anticipated when pricing March 2024 or releasing the Florida resident ticket deal.

Attendance Slowdown With out “Levers”? – It’s a humiliation to get crowd predictions this flawed, however even perhaps worse is the potential of lacking the mark on general developments. We’ve just lately been discussing Re-Revenge Journey at Walt Disney World in 2024. We’ve theorized there’s a second wave or reverberation of pent-up demand that might lead to a year-over-year enhance in crowds after each month final 12 months after January was down as in comparison with 2022.

This idea is grounded in goal actuality–as of our final crowd report (which means earlier than this week), common year-to-date wait instances for 2024 had been tied with 2022 (41 minutes) and up significantly as in comparison with final 12 months (37 minutes). Spring Break had gotten off to an incredibly sturdy begin, suggesting that 2024 might pull into the lead because the #1 worst 12 months ever at Walt Disney World for wait time ranges/crowds.

It’s untimely to throw that each one out the window on the idea of 1 week, however I’m nonetheless questioning whether or not Walt Disney World has been capable of buoy or enhance numbers up till now by aggressively pulling “attendance levers” and perhaps that isn’t sustainable–and this exhibits what occurs after they let up on it. (This might additionally clarify the flurry of summer time bulletins, resembling why Disney Springs is getting a drone present or EPCOT is getting a summer time competition, most likely.)

Traditionally Busier & Worse Climate – Alongside related strains, we theorized within the ‘monkey wrenches’ put up that maybe snowbirds had been having an outsized affect in January and February. It’s potential that guests from Northern and Midwestern states with the liberty to journey throughout off-peak months are selecting the winter and upcoming shoulder season over Spring Break, summer time and early fall because of final 12 months’s brutally excessive warmth and humidity and/or extra favorable pricing.

The flip facet of that’s these identical snowbirds or out-of-state Disney followers with flexibility could be much less inclined to go to throughout what’s traditionally Spring Break season as a result of expectation of heavier crowds, greater costs, and (marginally) worse climate than winter. I personally don’t assume it is a enormous issue, nevertheless it’s additionally not nothing–particularly after the triple-digit climate final 12 months, some followers most likely modified their visiting habits.

In the end, these are all simply working theories that designate a few of the causes for decrease crowds at Walt Disney World through the ‘peak’ week of Central Florida’s Spring Break. The indisputable fact that we missed or ‘underweighted’ these components within the first place with our crowd predictions ought to alone counsel that we don’t have a agency grasp on what’s inflicting decrease attendance. There are possible variables we missed right here, too.

We apologize for whiffing so badly on this week’s crowd predictions. It might’ve been an excellent week to go to–the most effective of 2024 to this point, and doubtless the very best of your complete Spring Break season. If it makes anybody really feel any higher, we put our cash the place our mouths are, so to talk, and likewise averted visiting this week. It was on our brief listing, however we opted towards it after my firsthand expertise with heavy crowds throughout the identical week final 12 months.

As an alternative, our Spring Break go to goes to be throughout per week that may, virtually assuredly, be busier than this previous week. That’s, except one thing has gone terribly flawed and Walt Disney World is on the precipice of an excessive crowd slowdown. Easter being Easter, we most likely received’t have learn on that till subsequent month. Keep tuned, as we’ll hold you posted on predicted and precise crowd ranges at Walt Disney World…even once we get them flawed.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Study inns on our Walt Disney World Inns Evaluations web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Evaluations. To economize on tickets or decide which sort to purchase, learn our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets put up. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys put up takes a singular have a look at intelligent objects to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Trip Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the very best place to start out is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for the whole lot you’ll want to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Did you go to Walt Disney World this week or final week (or each)? What has your expertise with crowds? Shocked by the low posted wait instances through the peak week of Central Florida’s Spring Break? Any components you assume performed a job in surprisingly low crowds that we didn’t establish? Do you agree or disagree with our tackle the crowds? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to suggestions about your experiences is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!