You are currently viewing Monkey Wrenches Disrupting & Rising Crowds at Disney World in 2024

Monkey Wrenches Disrupting & Rising Crowds at Disney World in 2024


It’s been a bizarre yr for Walt Disney World crowds. Wait occasions have been rising year-over-year in 2024, reversing month-to-month declines for the primary time since January 2023. This publish takes a take a look at potential elements why this winter and now early Spring Break season have been busier than the identical dates final yr.

That is one thing we began discussing lately in Re-Revenge Journey at Walt Disney World in 2024. As of that crowd report, common year-to-date wait occasions for 2024 had been tied with 2022 (41 minutes) and up significantly as in comparison with final yr (37 minutes). With Spring Break getting off to a surprisingly sturdy begin, 2024 might quickly pull into the lead because the #1 worst yr ever at Walt Disney World for wait time ranges/crowds.

That actually was not what we anticipated. Our forecast was for pent-up demand to proceed exhausting itself, a course of that had not but absolutely performed out as of the tip of final yr. As such, we anticipated crowd ranges to drop barely by not less than the primary half of 2024. As an alternative, the other is occurring. We’ve already theorized in regards to the why of that, however this gives extra prospects, discusses them in better element, and makes an attempt to handle the chance that crowds will proceed to extend in 2024…

To start out, there are a number of elements for the bounceback that pertain to the financial system and aren’t actually distinctive to Walt Disney World. I don’t wish to gloss over these since they’re in all probability among the many finest predictors of theme park attendance. However on the similar time, I do know that is going to be lengthy and we’ve already mentioned all of these items.

In a nutshell, fears of a recession are diminishing, inflation is easing, actual wages are rising, shopper confidence is enhancing, and the inventory market is up year-to-date and has reached new report highs. It’s in all probability not profound perception to say that individuals are extra more likely to go to Walt Disney World in the event that they be ok with their monetary circumstances and their portfolios are trying good.

It was the same story, to some extent, a pair years in the past when markets had been booming. And who is aware of, possibly there’s overlap between Nvidia fanatics, Bitcoin maximalists, and Walt Disney World fandom. That might clarify a number of the exuberance and attendance!

One other previously-discussed chance is that 2024 crowds could be a slight ‘reverberation’ after the pent-up demand of 2022. That 2023 was the ‘break’ yr for households that go to Walt Disney World semi-frequently, and so they’re returning in 2024. Consider it like a ripple or the accordion impact in site visitors jams.

That is price mentioning as a result of, in terms of crowds at Walt Disney World, the massive story in the previous couple of years has been pent-up demand. First the arrival of it, then the exhaustion of it. Now, it might appear, a brand new ‘wave’ of it. These elements above and beneath could also be fueling “re-revenge journey,” a time period we made up that has a sure understated stupidity to it.

We will speculate and theorize in regards to the causes, but it surely’s pretty plain that this is occurring. For one, the wait occasions knowledge displays as a lot. Whereas it’s potential to clarify this away to some extent with prospects reminiscent of extra journey downtime or stronger Genie+ gross sales, I’m skeptical both of these (or comparable) elements differ right now versus one yr in the past. And that’s what we’re .

Past that, there are different stats that replicate comparable traits. In response to Orlando Worldwide Airport, passenger site visitors elevated by 6.5% for January (the final month for which there’s knowledge), with home passenger site visitors up 5.2% and worldwide site visitors up 15.8%. Go to Orlando has reported that resort bookings for the primary quarter of 2024 are outpacing final yr by over 5%, and advance airline ticket gross sales into Orlando are additionally up within the first quarter of 2024 by roughly 10%.

Go to Orlando forecasts resort bookings to be up 4% for the total yr, with additional will increase in 2025. That might put each years forward of 2022, the height of pent-up demand. The group expects this to be fueled largely by worldwide journey, which is projected to return to 2019 ranges for the primary time. That is all notable as final yr was down throughout the board, with decreases in income and occupancy resulting from ~2 million fewer out-of-state guests to Florida.

Because it pertains to Walt Disney World, listed here are some monkey wrenches which have been thrown into the combo that would account for the year-to-date will increase in crowds…

Worldwide Vacationers & Teams – Winter is the ‘summer season’ trip season for South America, and there was a time when it felt like Brazilian tour teams had been the dominant demographic throughout the first few months of the yr. This was particularly pronounced popping out of the Nice Recession up till 2014 (earlier than the Brazilian financial disaster), when crowds had been decrease as an entire making South American crowds proportionally better. And like cheerleaders, friends usually tend to discover teams of people that stick out for no matter cause.

With Brazil’s financial system as soon as once more enhancing, it looks as if these tour teams are as soon as once more showing in greater quantity. This isn’t a new-for-2024 pattern. I first seen tour teams returning in full power final winter. Nevertheless it appears like they’re again in even fuller power this yr, with extra vibrant baggage, flags, and shirts.

Lagging pent-up demand for worldwide journey is one factor of this, however in all probability not the total story. I might add that Walt Disney World is doing extra to entice worldwide vacationers to return with ticket and different offers. It’s additionally potential that worldwide guests from nations with weak foreign money (relative to the sturdy greenback) have now gotten used to this because the ‘new regular’ and are not suspending visits.

After all, these are simply theories. Regardless of the precise causes for a rise in worldwide vacationers, it’s occurring. Regardless that Walt Disney World doesn’t launch customer demographics (or any statistics), the airport does–and people present worldwide site visitors up considerably. It’s secure to say MCO numbers are a great proxy for WDW.

Conventions Return – The conventioneer can normally be noticed touring in herds, sometimes consisting of middle-aged males wearing apparel starting from nation membership to funeral-casual. Their monotone wardrobe is usually punctuated by Patagonia vests, and naturally, the compulsory lanyard.

I’ve already logged two stays at Coronado Springs in 2024 and on each of these events, the resort was internet hosting conventions. This isn’t out of the bizarre–internet hosting these people and their occasions is the entire cause Gran Destino Tower was constructed! Enterprise journey will regain 95% of its 2019 degree in 2024, up from 89% final yr, the U.S. Journey Affiliation forecasts. The group additionally notes that it will fluctuate by sector based mostly on views of the financial system–with the markets close to all-time highs, the quantity might climb greater. (For worldwide journey, quantity is projected to be at 98% of 2019 ranges this yr, up from 84% final yr.)

Actually, I’ve by no means gotten a great learn on how conventioneers do or don’t influence attendance at Walt Disney World. As mentioned lately in Why Are Walt Disney World Resorts Bought Out in 2024?, there are eventualities, in principle, the place sure demographics occupying resort rooms might lower crowds if these friends are less-inclined to go to the parks and successfully ‘block’ others from reserving. After all, that’s theoretical and assumes the room would’ve been booked by another person relatively than sitting empty. It additionally assumes that the choice occupant wouldn’t have stayed off-site.

What’s additionally tough about conventioneers is that, whereas they’re straightforward to identify, their households will not be. It’s totally potential {that a} good proportion of those enterprise vacationers are bringing their spouses and youngsters, and they’re visiting the parks whereas the conventioneer learns enterprise stuff. Solely anecdotal, however this might monitor to some extent, as I seen surprisingly busy buses at Coronado Springs even because the resort hosted conventions.

One ultimate factor that’s not theoretical is the conventioneers’ influence on EPCOT. Not solely is that this the park they’re most inclined to go to (each individually and as a part of group actions), however I’ve seen a number of evenings the place my favourite fireworks spots had been blocked off for personal occasions. This could possibly be issues aside from conventions, however regardless of the cause, it’s occurring extra ceaselessly and in additional places. This alone makes me assured in saying that Disney Conferences & Occasions is seeing a rebound and teams are a better contributor to crowds in not less than some parks, on some dates.

Youth Sporting Teams – That is like conventions, however for youngsters. By that, I imply that occasions hosted on the ESPN Large World of Sports activities have the same dynamic–outsized influence on sure accommodations, however presumably far much less on crowds for the reason that individuals are there for a function aside from parks.

The distinction is that youngsters, typically talking, like Walt Disney World greater than 40-something businessmen. So it’s in all probability secure to imagine youth sporting occasions do influence crowds greater than conventions. With that stated, my perspective is that the diploma to which the cheer, dance, and different sports activities contribute to crowding is massively exaggerated. Anybody who has ever been in line for Haunted Mansion behind just a few dozen tween cheerleaders in all probability vehemently disagrees, however that’s exactly the purpose. That sort of expertise sticks in recollections (belief me, been there!) and is anecdotally overweighted because of this.

No matter all that, I additionally don’t actually suppose youth sporting occasions are making a lot of a distinction on 2024 crowd ranges versus final yr. The ESPN Large World of Sports activities calendar was jam-packed final winter and spring, too. I don’t actually suppose there’s a lot lagged pent-up demand right here–actually not as a lot as conventions. Which means that, even when we disagree about how a lot these teams trigger extra crowding, we are able to presumably agree that the influence was roughly equal each this yr and final.

Snowbirds – These friends had been particularly straightforward to identify again in January, as the amount of Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Buffalo Payments workforce attire was unimaginable to overlook. There have been additionally a startling variety of hilarious, extremely smart and enticing folks within the parks, and all of them had been carrying Detroit Lions gear.

None of that is actually something new; Chiefs and Payments followers–plus Saints throughout Mardi Gras–at all times dominate. (The identical was true of the Bears and Giants once they had been good; I assume it was additionally the case for the Jets…again when Joe Namath performed.) Nevertheless, it appeared extra frequent than any yr since 2020.

Walt Disney World and Florida as an entire being fashionable with snowbirds additionally isn’t a 2024 improvement. 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 late summer season and early fall because of final yr’s brutally excessive warmth and humidity. It’s additionally totally potential that I merely seen extra friends from these states. At most, this in all probability is a minor contributing issue and never a significant reason for crowding.

South Florida – Comparable situation as snowbirds, besides coming from the other way and in-state. One factor we seen throughout firstly of the post-reopening interval was a excessive proportion of friends at each Walt Disney World and Common Orlando coming from South Florida. (They’re considerably straightforward to identify for a similar cause as snowbirds and extra.) On the time, I assumed that was resulting from reductions, comfort, and a comparative absence of vacationers from different areas.

To no matter extent that is occurring in 2024, I couldn’t clarify it. Possibly extra advertising and marketing–tv and radio advertisements–aimed toward South Florida? Ticket offers do now embody weekends, which undoubtedly is extra conducive to fast journeys to Central Florida.

Ticket Offers – Walt Disney World has launched extra ticket offers up to now in 2024 than as much as this similar level final yr. Whereas technically true, that’s barely deceptive. A type of is a water park ticket deal and two of the opposite ones simply got here out this week and aren’t legitimate till April.

The extra salient level, not less than for Walt Disney World crowds by the primary two and a half months of the yr, is that the annual winter and early spring low cost for Floridians included weekends in 2024 however was weekdays-only final yr. That’s an enormous distinction for these with 9 to five jobs or faculty schedules.

I’d be keen to guess that Walt Disney World offered considerably extra Florida resident tickets in 2024 because of this. That is additionally an enormous cause why Saturday and Sundays are not the least-busy days of the week at Walt Disney World, which is was a pattern that began final yr.

Trying ahead, there’s a brand new Florida resident ticket in addition to the Multi-day ‘Magic’ Ticket for most people, each of that are legitimate from April by late September 2024. These ticket offers will not be unprecedented–each had been additionally provided final yr. However there’s one other key distinction, identical to there was for the primary Floridian ticket deal of the yr: they’re legitimate over a month sooner than final yr, and had been introduced nearly a month earlier than that.

This most blatant final result is that this rising late Spring Break and shoulder season crowds, because the ticket offers might be legitimate for these dates whereas they weren’t final yr. Moreover, they may improve crowds throughout the board, as the sooner advance discover permits folks to plan round these tickets (very true with out-of-state vacationers and the Magic ticket) and take journeys once they in any other case wouldn’t have carried out so.

The Magic ticket was extremely fashionable final yr, however from what we noticed, that was with individuals who already had holidays deliberate. The longer lead time and eligibility window will increase the chance that individuals will take journeys resulting from this yr’s model of the identical–that means it’ll induce extra demand.

2019 Low cost Playbook – Since late final yr, we’ve seen that Walt Disney World has been pulling from what we name the “2019 low cost playbook.” The particular gives launched since then have been strikingly much like these from 2019, which was the yr of the pre-Star Wars Stoop. In reality, a number of the percentages have been barely superior to what was provided in 2019–and much better than any yr since then.

This has noticeably been the case with the room-only gives, but it surely extends far past that. Even extra obscure ones like PIN Codes and Bouncebacks and now Priceline Specific Offers are all resembling what was provided in 2019. Then there’s fan-favorite Free Eating, which made its triumphant return for the primary time since 2019–when the low cost was provided in three waves.

The extent to which all of this has had or will have an effect on crowd ranges within the theme parks is debatable. For one factor, nearly all of Walt Disney World park friends come from off-site. For an additional factor, these reductions will not be provided out of generosity, however to forestall a drop in resort occupancy–they’re primarily an offset, or aimed toward sustaining the established order. Whereas low occupancy would possible sign low crowds within the parks, the other isn’t essentially true–we’d have to know what the numbers are like at third get together accommodations round Central Florida (amongst different issues).

On this regard, previous precedent with Free Eating is instructive. This promotion has traditionally been provided throughout the low season, and has carried out an amazing job serving to Walt Disney World fill resort rooms. Even because it elevated occupancy and made Advance Eating Reservations way more tough to attain, low crowd ranges continued. That ought to go to point out that on-site resort and sit-down eating capability is a subset of park capability.

Whereas I believe Walt Disney World acquired caught a bit flat-footed final yr, scrambled to tug levers (together with reductions) to entice folks to go to and was basic behind the curve, I nonetheless don’t suppose this yr’s extra aggressive hotel-centric reductions will contribute a lot to crowding. Now the aforementioned ticket offers are one other story totally.

Park Coverage Adjustments – Originally of 2024, Walt Disney World principally eradicated theme park reservations, introduced again the Disney Eating Plan, and resumed limitless all-day Park Hopping. Subsequent up is pre-arrival Lightning Lane journey reservations, a system that ought to intently resemble FastPass+ (however paid), which is trying extra like a summer season launch at this level.

Each one in every of these items was vital to sure followers. The absence of which was a ‘deal-breaker’ with out which they wouldn’t return. We all know this as a result of loads of folks instructed us as a lot. Whereas I gained’t fall into the lure of over-representing readers of web sites like this one within the park-going inhabitants as an entire, there have been not less than some followers nonetheless sitting on the sidelines till these items returned.

When it comes to basic crowd dynamics, the largest change is the return of all-day Park Hopping. That is totally anecdotal (once more), however I’ve carried out just a few Early Entry and twine drop mornings at Animal Kingdom and left earlier than midday…and seen traces on the bus stops for different parks. So I do know I’m not the one individual ending DAK early and bouncing to different parks, as a result of I’ve actually seen it.

EPCOT Overhaul Ends – The park seeing the most important year-over-year improve in wait occasions knowledge in 2024 has been EPCOT, which ended its busiest 6-week stretch within the final yr–and one in every of its worst stretches since 2022–in late February. If wait occasions knowledge by the primary week of Spring Break season is any indication, EPCOT simply began one other stretch of excessive crowds. EPCOT is outperforming all different parks at Walt Disney World proper now (relative to 2023–not in absolute phrases).

It’s actually type of wild. EPCOT debuted Remy’s Ratatouille Journey, Harmonious, Beacons of Magic, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind–to not point out a bunch of smaller-scale stuff (Connections, Membership Cool, Creations Store, and many others.) in late 2021 and all through 2022.

None of that moved the needle as a lot as merely filling within the Large EPCOT Filth Pit™️ and presenting a brand new nighttime spectacular that wasn’t dangerous/hideous. That’s very reductionist, clearly, however that’s undoubtedly the massive driver. And it makes me really feel vindicated in repeatedly saying that Walt Disney World was leaving cash on the desk by dragging its ft on the Central Backbone redesign.

In any case, wait occasions are up year-over-year at EPCOT and (anecdotally) appears like crowds are even worse. It’s tough to say how lengthy it’ll maintain this momentum, however my guess is for some time. EPCOT is the native’s park and it nonetheless has extra to unveil all through this yr. If CommuniCore Corridor debuts, brings extra substance again to occasions, and a brand new summer season pageant debuts…EPCOT might conceivably surpass its 2022 recognition.

That is arguably the story for Walt Disney World as an entire. Whereas followers are bemoaning the dearth of brand-new additions, this yr marks the tip of a improvement cycle and a time when “all” of the brand new stuff is lastly open and development is completed. For individuals who go to occasionally each few years or once-ever (nearly all of friends!), that would make 2024 a extra enticing time to go to than the previous couple of years. Walt Disney World pulling “levers” to entice followers to return undoubtedly provides to that, that means it could possibly be a yr that all kinds of teams will go to. Or, who is aware of, the wheels might fall off after Spring Break and the remainder of the yr could possibly be even slower. We had been incorrect about winter, so there’s nothing to say we gained’t be incorrect about summer season and past.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Study accommodations on our Walt Disney World Motels Evaluations web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Evaluations. To save cash on tickets or decide which kind to purchase, learn our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets publish. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys publish takes a novel take a look at intelligent gadgets 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 begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for every thing you have to know!


Stunned or unsurprised that 2024 has been as busy or busier than final yr? Suppose that is going to be the yr of re-revenge journey at Walt Disney World? If that’s the case, what do you suppose are the primary causes? What has your expertise been with crowds at Walt Disney World up to now in 2024? Stunned by the wait occasions or congestion within the first few months of the yr? 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 beneath within the feedback!