Summer Vacation Schedules

by on May 15, 2014 11 Comments

Filed under: Crowd Blog, Trip Planning

The crowd levels at the Disney theme parks are highly correlated with school schedules. Most school systems have similar national holidays, but other breaks can very significantly. For the past few years I have been doing a blog post talking about spring break. Since Easter moves around the calendar year to year spring break dates can change significantly. Summer break is less variable year to year, but there is variation between school districts. The general recommendation for a summer trip is to go early or late to avoid the highest crowds. I’m here to help quantify what early and late summer means. Traditionally summer break is between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but most schools are only out a portion of this three month span.

Below is a chart showing the percent of students in school, between June 1 and October 1, 2014. We compute a different statistic for Disney World and Disneyland; weighting the data base on schools’ population and location.

Percent of students in school

Percent of students in school

Most schools are on break between the end of June, and the middle of August. If your child’s school schedule differs from the overall trend you can avoid the peak summer crowds.

Just a reminder that school schedules is just one component that goes into the Touring Plans Crowd Calendars. Disney has their tactics to bump up attendance. There are hotel discounts for both early and late summer. For early summer there is the 24-hour Rock Your Disney Side event on May 23, and Hollywood Studios has Star Wars Weekends May 16 – June 15, 2014.

Posted on May 15, 2014

11 Responses to “Summer Vacation Schedules”

  • Do you have this information for October, when some schools/colleges have a “fall break”? We are trying to plan our family trip in October, but would like to avoid those times.

    • We do have the data for 2014-15 school schedules. I’ll do another blog post soon for fall break. Even though fall breaks have become more popular, majority of schools do not get a break in the fall.

  • Steve: Great chart, but I would recommend inverting your y-axis. People are thinking about this as an increase in attendance, and to understand the correlation, they’ll need to see the school attendance as an “increase” as well.

  • We will be there last week of May and I’m really hoping for some small crowds. I know Monday will be busy since it’s Memorial Day, but hoping rest of week will be quiet.

    • We are also going during the weekdays following memorial weekend. Crowd levels are suppose to be average but we still have to contend with GradNights. Tuesday will still probably have some of the lingerers from the holiday weekend.

  • by Roger Sauer on May 15, 2014, at 3:41 pm EST

    Very interesting graph. Having been both a parent and a school principal I have seen this issue from both sides. When we bought DVC in 1993 we were told that Florida was exploring year-round school and that Disney might have to radically rebalance vacation points to a less seasonally impacted schedule. Never happened though there have been point changes. Kids attending year-round schools do have an advantage in being able to go to WDW during less busy times.
    Another variable worth studying might be the correlation between US unemployment or economic recession and WDW attendance. My impression is that as the economy improves, attendance at parks improves (and prices rise for parks, airfare, lodging, etc.).

  • This is exactly why I planned my last visit for the second week of September. Touring Plans predicted the days I visited to be among the least crowded days of the year (and even one of the least crowded weekend days). Plus, with the Angels out of town and no conventions at the Anaheim Convention Center the hotels were willing to make deals, like tossing in a free night on top of the already discounted rates.

    This also works for other vacation things, like cruise ships. Few parents take kids out of school during the first week. Demand drops off, leaving excess supply. Prices drop. People like me without kids pick up bargains.

  • We went to Disney World last year at the beginning of June hoping to avoid the crowds. They were predicted to be low, a lot of schools weren’t out for break yet. The crowd level was not low. Some compared it to Thanksgiving! It was awful. I think it was due to the special Disney had run through June 15 last year. I don’t know if they are doing the same special this year or not?

  • I would really like to see this broken down to a week by week view, as I find it challenging to really nail down when peaks are happening. Keep up the great work!