Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomeTourismIt Was NOT Winter's Worst Week at Disney World

It Was NOT Winter’s Worst Week at Disney World

For over a yr, we’ve been elevating ‘pink flags’ in our up to date 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar about final week as a result of confluence of holidays, particular occasions, and college breaks. On this wait instances report, we’ll see how these predictions in comparison with actuality, masking what we bought proper and flawed.

Going into final week, expectations had been extremely excessive. Along with the flagging that week for some time, we had a standalone submit at first of this yr warning that the the Worst Week of Winter is Coming at Walt Disney World. Our forecast referred to as for final week to be the busiest week of the primary quarter and mentioned it may very well be one of many 5 worst weeks of 2023–proper up there with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New 12 months’s, and the height of spring break.

That timeframe we recognized for these colossal crowds was roughly February 17 to February 26, 2023. This specific week and the weekends round it had been anticipated to be very unhealthy because of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras as soon as once more coinciding. The final time that occurred, all 4 parks hit capability, park hours had been prolonged on the final minute, and the parks skilled peak crowd ranges.

Regardless of the 2 holidays not coinciding final yr, it was a really related story. The week of Presidents’ Day was nonetheless one of many worst weeks of the yr–proper up there with the height of Spring Break, and Thanksgiving. It was surpassed by Christmas and New 12 months’s Eve by a fairly large margin, with far greater wait instances than the low to reasonable weeks earlier than it in January and February.

Specifically, the Wednesday after Presidents’ Day was the busiest day of the yr for months after, “thanks” to a ten/10 crowd stage and common wait time of 61 minutes. It was not dethroned till the Monday of Thanksgiving lastly surpassed it, with a 64 minute wait. Throughout winter break after Christmas, many different days ended up having related 61+ minute common waits. However for a number of months, no week was worse than that of Presidents’ Day.

Compounding the crowds this yr, there have been a number of cheerleading occasions on the ESPN Broad World of Sports activities on each weekends bookending the vacation and the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. That meant extra faculty breaks because of each Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day taking place concurrently, plus these sporting occasions drawing much more friends to Walt Disney World.

No less than partly, we have already got an concept of how crowds performed out at Walt Disney World over the vacation week. As mentioned in Genie+ Bought Out for the First Two Instances Ever at Walt Disney World, the paid FastPass service stopped gross sales on Presidents’ Day and the Sunday previous to it, with the paid FastPass service promoting out between midday and a couple of pm these days. This was regardless of it reaching its report value level on each–$29 per individual, earlier than tax.

On Tuesday, the worth of Genie+ dropped again all the way down to $22 per individual (pre-tax) and the paid FastPass service didn’t promote out. It stayed at that value level by means of Friday, after which dropped even additional to $20 for the weekend. Genie+ costs are often a robust indicator of inner attendance forecasts by Walt Disney World.

On account of this, you may be inclined to imagine that Walt Disney World was much less busy on Tuesday. Nevertheless, that was not the case in accordance with wait time information. Throughout everything of Walt Disney World, the common wait time was 56-57 minutes on Saturday by means of Monday–the vacation weekend days when Genie+ was $29 per individual.

Tuesday ended up being the busiest day of the vacation week, when the common wait time throughout Walt Disney World was 61 minutes. Sound acquainted? It’s primarily a repeat of final yr, proper all the way down to the identical actual wait time. The one distinction is that the height occurred on Tuesday as an alternative of Wednesday this yr, however there’s probably not any significance in that.

What’s extra attention-grabbing is what occurred the remainder of the week, and for that, we’ll flip to posted wait time information. As all the time, all graphs and stats are courtesy of

Let’s begin with the month-to-month common. Up entrance, we have to acknowledge that August by means of October 2021 are nonetheless actually skewing this. In the event you don’t recall, these are when masks guidelines had been reinstated and Delta spiked, inflicting large cancellations. At this level, these have zero bearing on present crowds, and people months ‘falling off’ the chart will assist reset crowd ranges primarily based on precise present traits.

In any case, January/February 2022 to January/February 2023 is an apples to apples comparability. This January was a lot worse than final yr, whereas this February has been barely higher than final yr. The common wait time this month has been 42 minutes, versus 45 minutes final February. Let’s drill down a bit additional to see when weeks and days are skewing the information…

For January, it’s unsurprisingly the start of the yr. We ‘warned’ of this earlier than it occurred, however haven’t actually touched on the aftermath of winter break post-New 12 months’s Eve. In any case, you’ll be able to plainly see that week is the worst of the yr to date, with greater common wait instances than each the week of New 12 months’s Eve and this previous week. That alone makes the titular headline in our final submit flawed.

In truth, final week was “solely” a 9/10 on the group calendar primarily based on these wait instances, which places it (roughly) on par with Thanksgiving reasonably than Christmas, New 12 months’s Eve, or the post-NYE week (which is definitely each the worst week of winter and of the final 500 days). We already know there have been a number of 10/10 days over the past couple of weeks, so let’s drill down additional to see why the weekly common was solely 9/10…

Above is a have a look at day by day crowd ranges primarily based upon posted wait instances to date in 2023. As beforehand talked about, the very best bar on the correct is the Tuesday after Presidents’ Day. That’s a ten/10, and so are the Saturday by means of Monday earlier than it, and the Wednesday after it.

What’s actually skewing the information is the times following that. Specifically, yesterday was solely a 1/10! That is really not completely unprecedented, however the diploma to the dropoff is a bit staggering. Usually, the day of main runDisney occasions sees decrease wait instances–it’s an observable development that occurs with every occasion (check out January 8, the bottom bar amongst reds and oranges) and has for years. Nevertheless, I’ve by no means seen it drop all the way in which to 1/10 throughout an in any other case crowded week. That’s a brand new one to me!

It’s an analogous situation previous to the beginning of the vacation weekend, when crowd ranges had been within the 2/10 to five/10 vary. That half isn’t any shock; we didn’t anticipate (or predict) that days earlier than 2/17 can be busy. In order that week having its common dragged down was to be anticipated. However I by no means anticipated that to happen with the tail-end of the week of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras, particularly heading right into a runDisney occasion weekend that ought to’ve helped offset these heading residence from vacation break on Thursday by means of Saturday.

I don’t assume the person parks actually add a lot to assist perceive what occurred, however right here these are anyway:

The gang dynamics are fairly constant throughout the board. Wait instances spiked main into and out of Presidents’ Day, however fizzled out towards the top of that week, falling from reasonably excessive on Thursday and Friday to flat-out mild ranges on Sunday.

Regardless of that, we may declare this as a victory, as crowds did hit 10/10 for a number of consecutive days throughout what was anticipated to be the center of the vacation break. I’d hazard a guess that most individuals visiting final week felt the parks had been fairly crowded.

Personally, I’m extra centered on what we bought flawed. For one factor, the prediction was “worst week” and never “collection of 10/10 days.” My expectation was that all the week would a minimum of be on par with final yr, particularly given the timing of Mardi Gras. The truth that it wasn’t is stunning. (Truthfully, I anticipated most days final week to be excessive 10/10 days, not regular ones virtually on the cusp of 9/10.)

I’m additionally questioning why there was such a pointy drop-off main into (and out of) Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This doesn’t align with what occurred final yr, and is a bit perplexing because of this. Did extra runDisney individuals come down for the race however not go to the parks? Did folks reduce their vacation breaks brief and head residence early?

For these inclined to assume that Common Orlando pulled folks away from Walt Disney World…don’t. Crowd ranges had been 9/10 or 10/10 there Saturday by means of Tuesday, however equally dropped off after that. Basically, Common has had a comparatively quiet winter.

As we mentioned in our final crowd report, Common’s parks are as soon as once more carefully following seasonal attendance traits and tourism information for Central Florida. For a few years, typical knowledge was that Common gained market share on Walt Disney World amongst Floridians as they’ve catered to locals extra aggressively and truly promote Annual Passes. Primarily based on every little thing we noticed, that was true between Summer season 2020 and 2021. It seems to have stopped being the case in the beginning of final yr, although.

With that mentioned, it’s robust to completely clarify the decrease wait instances (comparatively talking) late final week and over the weekend at Walt Disney World. Specifically, wait instances falling because the Princess Half crowd arrived is fairly perplexing. Maybe it’s a matter of runDisney diehards not having Annual Passholders and never eager to pay for multi-day tickets. Airfare and resort prices may’ve pushed non-runners on vacation break to go away earlier.

It’s additionally attainable that climate is the first clarification, with little change in ‘conduct’ on the a part of runDisney individuals. A lot of the USA skilled excessive climate late final week and into the weekend, with snowstorms throughout the nation from Maine to Southern California. Many areas that didn’t expertise snow as an alternative had been handled to rain and hail. This resulted in 1000’s of flight cancellations each day beginning Thursday–and double or triple the variety of delays. That in all probability performed a major function, too.

Setting all of that apart, one factor that I do assume is de facto fascinating is the distinction between the primary week of January (the precise worst week of winter) and final week. Since 2019, the primary week has been getting busier and busier because of Osceola and Orange County colleges being out of session (and a rising variety of locals), plus the lifting of Annual Move blockouts, plus Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend within the final 4 years or so. It was actually unhealthy in early 2020 (particularly at DHS, the place many locals had been experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance for the primary time), however 2023 is the busiest that week has ever been–by far.

It’s unimaginable to “untangle” the varied variables impacting crowds in early January, however the explosion of the native inhabitants is the one factor that has modified throughout that point. Moreover, the 2023 Florida Resident Ticket Deal for Walt Disney World was NOT provided then (however was provided this previous week). This implies to me that a whole lot of locals are nonetheless Annual Passholders, getting in when gross sales reopened and never letting their passes lapse since.

I’d guess that that is an “underappreciated” demographic, particularly on websites like this one the place we hear complaints from aggrieved Annual Passholders who aren’t renewing and in addition from these new locals who’re unable to buy new passes. In the meantime, there are in all probability loads of native APs who’re doing their factor, visiting the parks, with out voicing their opinions on-line.

Given the Walt Disney World wait time information and the way it doesn’t all the time observe with Common or MCO’s traveler quantity, it’s in all probability protected to say that Walt Disney World has a really wholesome variety of Annual Passholders in Florida. (That might additionally partially clarify why AP gross sales haven’t resumed, regardless of restarting in California.)

Finally, it was nonetheless a (largely) very busy week at Walt Disney World. Anybody who hasn’t visited the parks throughout winter within the final 4 years–or didn’t understand Mardi Gras is an enormous vacation break for some faculty districts–was in all probability blown away by the excessive wait instances. A number of consecutive 10/10 days isn’t precisely uncrowded, in spite of everything.

However, Walt Disney World wait instances weren’t as excessive as we anticipated, nor had been crowds elevated for all the length of dates had been predicted. For essentially the most half, this was not unhealthy forecasting–we had historic precedent and wait time information to go by, making these predictions virtually apparent. (The one exception was Sunday–primarily based on current runDisney occasions, we should always’ve had that as a reasonable day. Even that might’ve been flawed because it was just one/10!)

If something, this could reinforce the truth that there aren’t any “positive issues” in Walt Disney World crowd predictions. Climate (each regionally and throughout the nation), flight cancellations, common airfare and resort prices, and different variables all can throw a monkey wrench into issues.

It could be clever for everybody to maintain that in thoughts when studying and relying upon our Spring Break 2023 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World. We’re pretty assured in these predictions, however nothing is ever 100% sure. And as all the time, savvy technique goes to beat selecting the “proper” dates 9 instances out of 10.

On a constructive forward-looking notice, the crowds that Walt Disney World noticed over the weekend needs to be a sneak peek of what’s in retailer for the following two weeks. Only a few main faculty districts have breaks in late February or early March, there aren’t any main occasions on the calendar, and it’s probably not a well-liked time for getaways to Florida. All issues thought of, it needs to be a very good time to go to Walt Disney World. That received’t final lengthy, as spring break kicks off in full drive beginning March 10, 2023.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about accommodations on our Walt Disney World Accommodations Opinions web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Opinions. To save cash on tickets or decide which sort to purchase, learn our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets submit. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys submit takes a singular have a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Experience Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, one of the best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for every little thing you might want to know!


Did you go to Walt Disney World throughout Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day 2023? What did you consider the crowds? Any parks, instances of day, or days of the week noticeably worse than the others? Did you discover the previous few days to be noticeably much less busy than the primary half of the week or earlier weekend? In the event you’ve visited in previous weeks earlier than/after Mardi Gras, did you discover an enormous distinction in crowd ranges? Do you agree or disagree with something in our crowd report? Any questions we can assist you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even once you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!



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