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.
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.