Spring Break and Crowd Levels

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Spring crowd levels at the Disney parks vary from year to year. This variation is largely driven by school schedules. Crowd levels are inversely related to the percent of children in school: when most schools are on a break, high wait times are found in the parks. We track the school schedules for the 100 largest school districts, and these schedules goes into our Crowd Calendar predictions.

Different school districts use different rules when scheduling their spring breaks. Some school districts have a fixed week each year, and others adjust spring break based on Easter. In addition, some school districts have the Friday before and/or the Monday after Easter off. In 2013, Easter is early (March 31), so the spring break season is going to be early. In fact, only 30% of schools will be in session the week before Easter Sunday. This suggests to us that the parks are going to be more crowded that week than in prior years.

School Schedule 2011-2013

The above chart shows the estimated percentage of students in school. The dates for Easter are notated. We use a smoothing algorithm to adjust for weekends. Looking at the chart, it’s interesting to notice the effect a late Easter has on mid-March spring breaks. This year, with an earlier Easter the spring break season is early and condensed. Looking forward to 2014, Easter is April 20, so we expect the school schedule patterns will look like 2011.

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Posted on February 7, 2013

5 Responses to “Spring Break and Crowd Levels”

  • That explains a few things. I have a trip booked from 3/20-23. I managed to get a really good AP Rate at Riverside, and managed to book airfare from NJ at around $200–back on January 24. I’ve had a dickens of a time trying to find a rental car at MCO for something less that $56/day. So, seeing that “traffic” should pick up Friday night, I just made two separate car rentals and saved me a bit over $50, checking in one car at the Dolpin and then checking out a “new” one. That got me $24/day for Wed-Thurs-Fri and $56/day for Fri/Sat. That just paid for about 5 years of TouringPlans.com!

    You guys rock!

    • An update. I just rebooked the car shuffle shifting as follows: MCO -> Car Care Center @ MK -> MCO. My rental is now a total of $110 vs. $250 before I read this blog. WOOT!

      It’s important to check all the locations if you really want to save. With car rentals it’s easy because you can book and cancel to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content!

  • Thanks for the info! I love the stats here, what a fun thing to analyze. I’ll be sharing it with our stats teacher. ;) We’re looking forward to our (hopefully) less-crowded spring break trip this year!