Re-Revenge Travel Crowds at Disney World in 2024?

The first two months of 2024 at Walt Disney World have been busy, with more crowds on the horizon for Spring Break and Easter. This wait times report shares data for February and early March 2024, plus how this compares with the last two years and why this could be the year of re-revenge travel at WDW.

As covered in last month’s crowd report, Winter Crowds Heat Up at Walt Disney World as Worst Weeks Arrive, the parks have been crowded. However, the degree to which that’s true really depends upon your frame of reference. As we’ve pointed out, winter is not off-season anymore at Walt Disney World and hasn’t been for a while.

Since around 2018, winter has had really high highs and relatively low lows. The busier dates have been driven by school breaks, runDisney races, youth sports at ESPN Wide World of Sports, conventions and other events, and just a general increase of visitors fleeing to Florida to escape cold weather at home.

The slow dates have been due to more or less the opposite of that. School going back into session (and proximity to other breaks, making parents less likely to pull kids out of school), overall lower inbound traveler numbers to Florida versus milder months, lulls in the event schedule, etc. Even as Walt Disney World crowd levels had increased as a whole for winter, there were still sweet spots for visiting.

However, the flip side is that we anticipated there being plenty of great dates to visit in Winter 2024. So long as planners didn’t go in expecting totally ‘dead’ parks with crowd levels on par with what they used to be prior to Winter 2018 (or 2021, which was an anomaly), it’d be a good time to visit.

This prediction was predicated on the expectation that travel travel would continue to burn out, with crowds dropping even lower year-over-year as compared to January and February 2023. That was a relatively “safe” crowd forecast since it had been true of every single month for the last year. Well, it’s now safe to say that was incorrect. Crowds have been heating up over the course of the last two months, reversing year-over-year declines for the first time since January 2023.

As always, what’s covered in these crowd reports is posted wait time data that’s pulled from My Disney Experience and compiled into graphs for tracking and comparing various days, weeks, months, and years. A lot can be gleaned from posted wait times, but it’s not necessarily conclusive of in-park congestion.

There are several other variables that can impact “feels like” crowds, from festivals at EPCOT to weather to guest demographics to ride breakdowns to operational efficiency to time of day or day of the week. (Literally everything on that list would be relevant in Winter 2024 thus far!) Yada yada yada…that’s just a partial list! Beyond that, wait times are often inflated, inaccurate, or otherwise manipulated by Walt Disney World.

In short, wait times are an imperfect measure of Walt Disney World’s raw attendance or crowds–which have increased by several million people over the course of the last decade-plus. With that out of the way, let’s dig into the data and look at Walt Disney World wait times. As always, all graphs and stats are courtesy of

We’ll start with a high-level look at the monthly numbers for Walt Disney World as a whole.

The last three months don’t look terrible if you’re comparing them to the first half of the graph, which has a lot of red. These months are “only” orange. However, that first half is the heart of revenge travel and 2022 ended up being the worst year ever for Walt Disney World in terms of wait times. That’s also why every month since January 2023 had been down year-over-year.

With an average wait time of 41 minutes, February 2024 had the exact same crowd level as last February and is thus the first month since January 2023 not to be down year-over-year. Part of this, admittedly, is just an easier comparison. Walt Disney World has now fully lapped the pent-up demand period, so it won’t be as difficult for months this year to be on par with or even up year-over-year.

If we instead looked back to February 2022 when the average wait time was 45 minutes, we’d see that February 2024 was still noticeably slower. (Four minutes may not sound like much, but it is when it comes to crowd levels.)

That also doesn’t tell the whole story, though. It’s not like revenge travel occurred neatly inside one calendar year and then a switch flipped, and demand returned to normal. This becomes easier to see in the weekly crowd averages; we can pinpoint when pent-up demand actually started to fizzle out.

Breaking it down by week, we can see that between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve was off the charts–slightly busier than the same week year-over-year. The following week that encompasses winter break was still really bad, but not quite as bad as last year. That’s partly a matter of timing, though; this year’s holiday breaks ended earlier.

If you look at the weeks since then, there was really only one slow week and one moderate week. The last three weeks have been above-average. With the exception of Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras, mid-January through early March 2024 has been busier than the same weeks last year.

That might not seem like a big deal, but it really is. Revenge travel was still going strong last year through Spring Break, after which point it fell off a cliff (through April 16, 2023). The wait times weren’t as bad as 2022, but they were still elevated. After Spring Break, every week was slower year-over-year in 2023. It wasn’t until Fall Break in October that crowd levels rebounded to levels last seen at the tail end of Spring Break. So not even the peak of Spring Break–we’re talking about the end of it.

The busiest week of last summer was 40 minutes. There wasn’t a single week between April 16 and October 15 higher than the average for February 2024. September had weeks as low as 25 minutes; the range for most dates in May, August, and September was 28 to 33 minutes. That’s significantly slower than the prior-year, and also than February 2024 ended up being.

That’s why we expected slightly lower levels in early 2024–because it was the uninterrupted trend since January 2023. It was safe to expect that the drop wouldn’t be as pronounced as post-Spring Break last year, but it sure seemed like Walt Disney World was going to normalize further and get closer to 2019 or earlier levels. Again, that did not happen.

Above is a look at the daily numbers over the course of the last year.

No days this winter have been even remotely on par with the weeks of Christmas, New Year’s, or even the final week of holiday break–but that’s never the case. Those are off-the-charts bad, to the point that they distort crowd levels for more normal times of the year.

A better comparison is to last year’s summer vacation or fall break. The last three weeks have been busier than any time during the summer tourist season, with many dates on par with the briefer but bad fall break window. Winter has also been much busier than the lulls during November or December.

Another thing that’s worth pointing out, which was touched on above, is that even though February 2024 was technically tied with last year for average wait time (both at 41 minutes), it was more difficult to avoid the above-average crowds. Last year, the worst wait times were largely concentrated into the week-plus around Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras.

This year, those two holidays fell in separate weeks. Unsurprisingly, neither of those weeks were as busy as the combined holiday period last year. (At least we got one prediction right!) And even outside of those weeks, February 2024 had more dates with 40+ minute average wait times. Last year, by contrast, relied on a concentrated number of 50-60 minute days to bring up the overall average, offsetting the 30-40 minute days in the first half of the month and final few days.

In other words, there were more busy days in February 2024 than February 2023, but fewer extremely busy days.

February 2024 being the first month in the last year that wasn’t down as compared to the same month in the prior-year is also significant because February 2023 was still during the period of pent-up demand, even if it didn’t reach the same heights as 2022. On multiple earnings calls last year, Disney’s CEO and/or CFO indicated that the slowdown in attendance and occupancy at Walt Disney World came after they lapped the 50th Anniversary. That “celebration” ended March 31, 2023.

The actual slowdown, as discussed above, started a few weeks after that. Which makes sense. Happily Ever After and TRON Lightcycle Run debuted in early April, and each caused a surge in crowds. While both of those offerings are still incredibly popular, the boost they gave to overall crowd levels came and went pretty quickly.

That, or the drop-off post-50th and pent-up demand period would’ve been even worse but for Happily Ever After and TRON Lightcycle Run, and those two things helped buoy attendance. Or, who knows, maybe there was lots of hype for the new menu at Lunching Pad and families planned trips around that.

It’s possible that precisely this scenario is playing out at EPCOT right now. Above is the weekly wait times data for EPCOT from the start of 2022 until now. It may not be immediately apparent since there are no sharp spikes, but EPCOT just ended its busiest 5-week stretch in the last year, and one of its worst stretches since 2022. And unlike the other busy timeframes around Thanksgiving and Christmas/NYE 2022, this 5-week window was consistently crowded. EPCOT is outperforming all other parks at Walt Disney World right now (relative to February 2023–not in absolute terms).

It’s honestly kind of wild. EPCOT debuted Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Harmonious, Beacons of Magic, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind–not to mention a bunch of smaller-scale stuff (Connections, Club Cool, Creations Shop, etc.) in late 2021 and throughout 2022.

None of that moved the needle as much as simply filling in the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️ and presenting a new nighttime spectacular that wasn’t bad/hideous. That’s very reductionist, obviously, but that’s undoubtedly the big driver. And it makes me feel vindicated in repeatedly saying that Walt Disney World was leaving money on the table by dragging its feet on the Central Spine redesign.

It’s also possible that this is entirely coincidental. Wait times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have been trending down since February 20, but I’m not going to attribute that to an icy reception to the new Coke stand, Ice Cold Hydraulics, that opened on February 20. EPCOT removing the maze of construction walls and reopening the center of the park for the first time in 4 years feels a bit different.

In any case, wait times are up year-over-year at EPCOT and (anecdotally) feels like crowds are even worse. It’s difficult to say how long it’ll sustain this momentum, but my guess is for a while. EPCOT is the local’s park and it still has more to unveil throughout this year. If CommuniCore Hall debuts, brings more substance back to events, and a new summer festival debuts…EPCOT could conceivably surpass its 2022 popularity.

Regardless, it’s still too early to call this a trend that’ll continue for the rest of the year, but signs are pointing to that being the case. Visit Orlando has reported that hotel bookings for 2024 are already outpacing last year by over 5%, and advance airline ticket sales into Orlando are also up in the first quarter of 2024 by roughly 10%.

Those numbers are not conclusive of higher attendance at Walt Disney World, but they certainly aren’t positive signals for anyone hoping for lower crowd levels. However, it is noteworthy that Disney itself did not discuss forward-looking occupancy or attendance for Walt Disney World on the most recent earnings call; silence usually means it’s not positive–if it were, they’d brag about it.

On the other hand, this might be a slight ‘reverberation’ after the pent-up demand of 2022. That 2023 was the ‘break’ year for families that visit Walt Disney World semi-frequently, and they’re returning in 2024. Fears of a recession are diminishing, inflation is easing, real wages are increasing, consumer confidence is improving, discounts are getting better, and policies are returning closer to pre-closure norms. All of these factors may be fueling “re-revenge travel,” a term we made up that has a certain understated stupidity to it.

For its part, Walt Disney World could be doing what’s necessary to incentivize fans to return, pulling the correct “levers,” and making policy changes that are viewed favorably by guests. That could all mean that Walt Disney World’s numbers are not “boast-worthy” on the company’s earnings calls, but are trending back upwards after a slow ~8 months from mid-April through mid-December of last year.

Above is a graph showing average annual wait times for Walt Disney World since 2014. It might be shocking to see 2024 tied with 2022 as the busiest year ever, but that’s incredibly misleading since we’re only 2 months into 2024. At the very least, the months of May, August and September will drag down this average. This is more to underscore the increase in wait times and crowd levels over the last decade.

The bottom line is that it could be a bounce-back year for Walt Disney World. One not on par with the stratospheric heights reached in 2022 (due to a unique set of circumstances that’ll hopefully never be repeated), but still higher than any year between 2014 and 2019. So not fully like revenge travel, but maybe a lite version of it?

Or maybe not. It’s also possible that people saw or heard about the horrendous heat and humidity last late summer or early fall off-season, and at least some of those with flexible travel dates moved their trips to winter. (Even with higher crowds, arguably a savvy move!) Speaking of the summer and beyond, there’s likely a portion of semi-regular Central Florida visitors who will hit pause on plans until Epic Universe–to the extent that happens, it’s more likely in the second half of the year. It’s also possible that the excitement for EPCOT is exhausted soon.

Finally, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure could accomplish the relatively rare feat of being a new headliner that adds more crowd-absorbing capacity than it induces demand. (Meaning that fewer people could book trips specifically for it than TRON Lightcycle Run last year, for example, and Magic Kingdom wait time averages, as a whole, could decrease even if TBA is a top 3 wait time in MK.)

All of these are merely possible factors that might have a bearing on crowd levels and wait times. These things may or may not even happen, in the first place. Not only that, but it’s not an exhaustive list–there are likely a dozen-plus contributing factors I’m possibly overlooking.

Whatever happens in the medium term over the course of 2024 with re-revenge travel at Walt Disney World (or not), we’re pretty confident that, in the near term, March 2024 only gets worse from here. In the immediate future (and recent past!), the good news is that the parks are currently in a post-Presidents’ Day lull–late February and early March remain good times to visit, at least relative to the rest of the last month and remainder of this month.

The bad news is that this will start winding down very soon. As we’ve warned before, all bets are off once Spring Break season arrives, and that’ll start around March 8, 2024. That first week won’t be terrible, but crowds will get bad the following Friday through the rest of the month. (See the March 2024 Crowd Calendar and Spring Break 2024 Crowd Calendar for more.)

That’ll amount to over 3 weeks of elevated attendance at Walt Disney World, which should be enough to make March 2024 not just tied with March 2023 in terms of crowds, but actually surpass it. That’s actually not a particularly bold bet, as Easter falling in March 2024 (as compared to April 2023) should make that a relatively foregone conclusion. On the flip side, April 2024 should be slower than April 2023 due to the absence of Easter. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how the next two months actually play out, and whether they provide any degree of certainty about the trajectory of crowd levels for the remainder of 2024. My guess is that we won’t have any more concrete answers until the second half of April and May 2024.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


Surprised or unsurprised that February 2024 was as busy as last year? Think this is going to be the year of re-revenge travel at Walt Disney World? What has your experience been with crowds at Walt Disney World thus far in Winter 2024? Have you been surprised by the wait times or congestion in January or February? Have you encountered ‘dead’ days during this time? Do you agree or disagree with our take on the crowds? If you visited WDW during January or February 2018-2020, what was your experience with wait times then (versus now)? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

21 Responses to “Re-Revenge Travel Crowds at Disney World in 2024?”
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