Worst Week of Winter is Coming at Disney World

One of many busiest weeks of 2023 will quickly arrive at Walt Disney World, to the shock of many vacationers who count on winter to be low season at Walt Disney World. This put up covers dates to keep away from, why it’ll be so busy, and what to do to beat the lengthy traces and crowds in case you’re already planning a go to throughout this timeframe.

Let’s begin with the excellent news. It’s at present low season at Walt Disney World! This can be a very latest improvement and fairly the distinction to our final replace, Colossal Christmas Crowds Cap Off Walt Disney World’s Busiest Yr Ever! Now that the vacation break is over, college is again in session, and the Walt Disney World Marathon is over, wait occasions have plummeted throughout the board.

The unhealthy information is that longtime followers anticipating attendance ranges throughout mid-January or February on par with a decade in the past (and even 5 years in the past) will nonetheless be sorely disenchanted. In final 12 months’s Winter Is Not Off-Season at Walt Disney World, we clarify how January and February crowds have grown since ~2017, and what’s the brand new regular for this time of 12 months. With that stated, in case your body of reference is final 12 months as a substitute of a number of years in the past, you would possibly truly be pleasantly shocked…

Within the span of two weeks, wait occasions have basically been lower in half. The height week of the vacation season noticed common wait occasions of 61 minutes, and the next week solely dropped to 54 minutes. Understand that these are averages, bearing in mind unpopular and perpetual no-wait rides. Which means that dozens of headliners had triple-digit wait occasions

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance peaked at 320 minutes and Avatar Flight of Passage hit 240 minutes–to our data, these had been the best highs. We noticed a number of different rides at or above 180 minutes, which occurred with regularity these two weeks.

It’s additionally notable that the primary week of January was so busy. That timeframe has been getting busier and busier on account of Osceola and Orange County faculties 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. However, that is the busiest that week has ever been.

With that stated, this isn’t a typical backward-looking crowd report. Reasonably, we wish to deliver your consideration to an upcoming week that can be actually busy–most likely within the prime 5 worst weeks of the whole 12 months, and positively within the prime 10. Absent a giant shock, it will likely be essentially the most crowded window of the primary quarter of 2023.

That timeframe is roughly February 17 to February 26, 2023. This explicit week plus the weekends round it will likely be unhealthy on account of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras as soon as once more coinciding. This occurs on occasion, and at any time when it does, these weeks are notably unhealthy.

Compounding these crowds, there’s the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend from February 23 to 26. That is the fifteenth Anniversary of that standard runDisney occasion, and it way back offered out. In essence, this implies there are two standard lengthy weekends for Walt Disney World guests plus the week of Mardi Gras, all on prime of each other.

To make issues worse, reductions aren’t blocked out for these journey dates. This isn’t actually such a giant deal for room reductions, as there’s solely a lot resort stock on-site at Walt Disney World. Whether or not particular affords induce extra Florida holidays or just shift the stays between off-site and on-site resorts is debatable. (My guess is that it does transfer the needle a bit, however that on-site resort stock doesn’t have as vital of an impression on crowds as many followers consider.)

The larger impression is prone to end result from the 2023 Florida Resident Ticket Deal for Walt Disney World. Why that is blocked out for a number of weeks in March and April however not that timeframe is past me–most likely a matter of precedent or easy oversight. However, that ticket deal can even have an effect–particularly in the course of the closing dates of the 2023 EPCOT Pageant of the Arts, which is standard with locals.

Talking of which, that occasion’s finale will likewise contribute to crowds even exterior of the ticket deal. Floridians and even some non-local followers will end up for the conclusion of the more and more standard EPCOT Pageant of the Arts and the ‘grand finale’ of the Disney on Broadway live performance sequence (amongst different issues).

Different wildcards can be trip refurbishments. We already know that Splash Mountain closes completely on January 23 and that TRON Lightcycle Run gained’t be open till April 2023. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rock ‘n’ Curler Coaster goes down throughout this window and it’s additionally potential that Tower of Terror will nonetheless be at half-capacity. Hopefully extra isn’t added to the 2023 Walt Disney World Refurbishment Calendar for the second half of February.

An analogous confluence of circumstances occurred simply a few years in the past at Walt Disney World. Crowds began swelling a few days upfront of the Presidents’ Day (and so on.) lengthy weekend and bought actually heavy throughout Mardi Gras week. On our extremely scientific scale of LSU and Saints shirts noticed within the parks, mainly the whole state of Louisiana visited Walt Disney World that week.

The ultimate weekend of Mardi Gras was notably busy. All 4 Walt Disney World theme parks hit capability for all ticket varieties and Walt Disney World prolonged weekend park hours on the final minute. That got here after the corporate prolonged hours a number of occasions, and the whole hours ended up being about 3 hours per day longer than what was then regular.

Because it turned out, the week of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras was one of many busiest weeks of the 12 months at Walt Disney World. (Ditto Common Orlando.) It was particularly unhealthy for Magic Kingdom the place wait occasions had been on par with the week main as much as New Yr’s Eve, and better than the week main as much as Christmas. It’s the same story when wanting again at prior years when Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras coincided.

The important thing distinction the final time this occurred is that park attendance was nonetheless being closely restricted, with Walt Disney World nonetheless throttling Park Move reservations and capping capability far under regular. That was additionally amidst what was in any other case a really gradual winter, which was largely as a result of first large winter spike in COVID instances spooking would-be vacationers. It nonetheless ended up being one of many busiest weeks of that whole 12 months.

Final 12 months, the 2 holidays didn’t overlap. Regardless of that, the week of Presidents’ Day was nonetheless one of many worst weeks of the 12 months–proper up there with the height of Spring Break, and Thanksgiving. It was surpassed by Christmas and New Yr’s Eve by a fairly extensive margin, however was nonetheless up there, with far greater wait occasions than the low to average weeks earlier than it in January and February.

We’ve been discussing this week for some time in wait time experiences and this week is a “purple flag” in our up to date 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars. Once more, we’ve predicted it will likely be the busiest week of the primary quarter of the 12 months, and possibly one of many worst 5 weeks of the whole 12 months at Walt Disney World.

However, we’re pointing it out and drawing extra direct consideration to how unhealthy February 17 to February 26, 2023 can be as a result of we’ve discovered that even with our warnings up to now, these crowds have caught Walt Disney World guests abruptly.

what they are saying? “Idiot me as soon as, strike one. However idiot me twice… strike three.” ~Michael Scott

It’s comprehensible that the spike in crowds continues to shock Walt Disney World followers regardless of there being clear precedent for the Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras spike. That is possible partially on account of experiences of low crowd ranges for the month or so beforehand lull folks right into a false sense of safety and optimism that low season developments will proceed.

In the event you’re seeing rock-bottom wait occasions one week, you most likely don’t count on these to (basically) double in a single day. And but, we’ve seen precisely that occur earlier than. It’ll most likely come near occurring once more when evaluating wait occasions from the primary half of February 2023 to the second half.

Then there’s the truth that many planners aren’t conscious that Presidents’ Day is an extended weekend that’s standard for getaways to Walt Disney World. Not many individuals have that break day work, so it most likely doesn’t register as a vacation that will meaningfully impression attendance. Presidents’ Day just isn’t precisely like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Yr’s Eve.

It’s a type of decrease profile holidays that doesn’t entice lots of consideration, however nonetheless has an outsized impression on crowds at Walt Disney World. It’s lots like Veterans Day in November.

The diploma to which a few states or a area having a faculty break can impression Walt Disney World crowd ranges is definitely fairly vital. In the event you reside in different areas of the US, you might not be conscious that Mardi Gras is a “large deal” and standard journey interval for the Southeast.

It’s additionally a preferred winter break for some Northeast college districts. In the event you don’t reside in these areas, it’s an comprehensible blind spot. The identical factor occurs with Jersey Week, which impacts crowd ranges at Walt Disney World. Individuals who reside in these areas usually know they’re standard break occasions.

Nevertheless, in case you’re a Midwesterner debating pulling your children out of faculty to flee the chilly, you may be oblivious to that–there’s no apparent or intuitive motive the primary half of February 2023 can be so significantly better than the second half!

I communicate from a point of expertise right here. I’m a local Michigander and my mother and father used to drag me out of faculty for a brief reprieve from the snow and subzero temperatures round this time of 12 months, merely focusing on dates to go to Florida based mostly on our climate at dwelling.

Furthermore, I used to be additionally clueless in regards to the impression Mardi Gras had on crowds at Walt Disney World till experiencing the week within the parks and noticing a really seen presence of LSU and Saints shirts (no such love for the poor Pelicans). That’s not a joke–you’ll discover the identical in case you go to that week!

One more reason chances are you’ll not count on February 17 to February 26, 2023 to be unhealthy is as a result of none of these dates are yellow or gray on the Disney Park Move calendar (but). In truth, everything of 2023 is at present inexperienced, which can even lull some planners right into a false sense of safety.

Whereas this was early indicator of heavy attendance post-reopening, the reservations calendars have been largely rendered out of date extra lately. Walt Disney World nonetheless makes use of them to redistribute crowds, pushing folks in direction of Animal Kingdom and EPCOT, however they usually don’t present advance warning of heavy crowds. Some dates nonetheless go gray, however that always doesn’t happen till the final minute–and a few very busy days have maintained availability.

In the event you’re a Midwesterner (or anybody for that matter–however a particular shoutout to my fellow Michiganders!) who’s at present freaking out since you picked February 17 to February 26, 2023 (or dates inside that window) to go to Walt Disney World: don’t. Positive, these dates can be busy. But it surely’s additionally a wonderful time of 12 months within the park with comfy climate (actually higher than what you’ll have at dwelling!)

On prime of that, following itinerary and using sensible technique is extra vital than selecting the “proper” dates. And as we’ve seen on many events up to now, even those that select dates that ought to be good have had that undermined by shocking crowds, disruptive climate, and so on.

To that finish, it’s totally potential to beat unhealthy crowds by using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, Early Entry, Prolonged Night Hours, rope drop, and so on. We cowl the very best & worst strategy for every park in Greatest Time-Saving Methods for Walt Disney World. In the event you’re solely going to learn one planning put up, make it that. There are nice methods to beat the crowds–even on busy days–with out shopping for Genie+ or Particular person Lightning Lanes.

By merely arriving early or staying late, you’ll be able to beat the worst of the noon crowds. (After all, that’s “easy” in idea however harder in observe, particularly if in case you have babies. That’s a giant motive why wait occasions are decrease very first thing within the morning and later within the evenings.) Past that, you should definitely additionally try our Walt Disney World Itineraries for plans of assault, together with choices with and with out Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

Talking of which, now we have a ~4,500 phrase Information to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for many who wish to completely grasp paid FastPass. Weeks like this, it’s positively possibility for Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT.

Lastly, I’ll draw particular consideration to the 2023 After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are solely two of those scheduled in February 2023, however oddly sufficient, one falls dead-center within the window of the worst winter crowds and the opposite is simply earlier than it begins. At current, neither of those dates are offered out (that’s prone to change very quickly).

Whereas we’re crucial of “overbuying” upcharge choices on account of FOMO and so forth, we truly love After Hours at DHS. It’s positively a splurge, however it’s one which’s truly well worth the cash. It provides a VIP vibe to the go to, and at a fraction of the value of hiring a tour information. This can be doubly or triply true in February 2023 when After Hours is much more helpful as contrasted with a traditional day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (I’m actually shocked that Walt Disney World scheduled After Hours that week–they usually don’t do these occasions when attendance projections are excessive.)

For many who are serious about a go to to Walt Disney World this winter that’s exterior the second half of February 2023, we’d suggest consulting our February 2023 Crowd Calendar and March 2023 Crowd Calendar for particular finest and worst dates. Specifically, keep away from Osceola and Orange County Okay-12 Spring Breaks. Identical goes for our April 2023 Crowd Calendar, though the spike there must be extra apparent (Easter).

The excellent news relating to the Spring Break season is that Florida’s breaks largely happen earlier this 12 months than these college districts which have Easter week off. This could unfold out crowds, slightly than the comparative consolidation of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras. (This isn’t to say Spring Break 2023 can be uncrowded. It won’t. Simply that everything of that busy season isn’t being condensed right into a single week, as is the case right here.)

Finally, we’ve been warning for over a 12 months that February 17 to 26, 2023 can be unhealthy at Walt Disney World. Though this understandably catches trip planners abruptly, this isn’t a daring prediction–it’s one backed by at the very least a decade of precedent.

The open query is simply how unhealthy it’ll find yourself being. For no matter motive, runDisney is opting to carry the Princess Half Marathon that weekend. That’s additionally not unprecedented, however it’s nonetheless a perplexing resolution given the rising crowds. There’s additionally the truth that Walt Disney World has not blocked out reductions for these dates, which can be perplexing however totally precedented. All of this might imply that Disney’s inner attendance forecasts aren’t exhibiting any trigger for concern…or it might be an entire oversight.

We suspect that it’s the latter; it wouldn’t be the primary (2nd, third…thirty third, forty fifth, and so on.) time that Walt Disney World has whiffed on crowd projections and scheduling. Suffice to say, we suggest planning your winter “low season” visits to Walt Disney World accordingly to keep away from these “shock” peak season attendance. If it’s too late for that, do what you’ll be able to to place your self to beat the potential crowds!

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about resorts on our Walt Disney World Lodges 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 Ideas for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets put up. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys put up takes a novel take 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, the very best place to start out is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for the whole lot you should know!


Have you ever visited Walt Disney World throughout when Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day coincided up to now? What did you consider the crowds? Any parks, occasions of day, or days of the week noticeably worse than the others? What’s your expectation for February 17-26, 2023? In the event you’ve visited within the weeks earlier than/after Mardi Gras, did you discover a giant distinction in crowd ranges? Do you agree or disagree with something in our crowd report? Any questions we may help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even once you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!

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