Spring break is one of the busier ‘seasons’ at Walt Disney World. Crowd levels increase during school holidays, culminating with peak weeks in March and April 2023. Easter has some of the year’s highest wait times in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. That’s not the only week of elevated attendance…or even the worst!
Spring break season kicks off in early March as colleges and universities, and K-12 school systems take their 1-2 week breaks, but not all dates within that range are equally crowded. To the contrary, as covered in our 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars, some dates that fall within traditional spring break season are relatively good times to visit.
Our goals with this are highlighting weeks that will have the highest wait times and worst crowd levels at Walt Disney World during the 2023 spring break season. In so doing, we’ll look at school schedules for some of the largest districts that impact Walt Disney World, changes to park hours, and general travel trends for spring break to predict which dates will be “red flags” on Walt Disney World crowd calendar for March and April 2023…
If you don’t already have Disney Park Pass reservations, we’d recommend that you start by making those ASAP. While Walt Disney World theme park reservation availability has improved by leaps and bounds in the last year, there will likely be many yellow–and perhaps even some grey–dates throughout the next two months.
In particular, expect Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to end up being fully booked for many days during March and April 2023. These are the parks most likely to run out of reservations, which is currently the case with certain dates during Mardi Gras.
On a positive note, Walt Disney World has been extending park hours for March 2023, with peak season hours for pretty much the entirety of the month. These extensions signal that the internal attendance forecast is elevated for pretty much all of March, and this practice of extending hours happens with consistency whenever crowd levels are expected to be above-average to heavy. So this alone doesn’t mean much.
Walt Disney World releases boilerplate hours for all of the parks months in advance, and then extends those closings as travel dates draw nearer. As of our latest update, April 2023 hours have not yet been extended, but almost certainly will be within the next few weeks. Expect April hours to end up being nearly identical to March. The only potential exception is the very end of April, which could keep shorter hours (but probably won’t).
For most of March 2023, hours have been extended pretty significantly. Magic Kingdom is closing at 11 pm, and the other three parks have all had their opening times moved much earlier. All of this is much easier to visualize on the DisneyWorld.com calendar’s month view.
As for why crowds at Walt Disney World will be elevated in March 2023, The most straightforward explanation is that this is the week of spring break for both Osceola and Orange Counties, which are the districts in Central Florida that call Walt Disney World home. Both districts list March 14-17, 2023 as their spring breaks. Normally, the Orange County School District would have March 10, 2023 as a student holiday/teacher workday but that is NOT the case this year–it’s a hurricane makeup day.
Even if no other district in the entire United States had spring break that week, it would be incredibly busy at Walt Disney World due to those two local school systems. This catches some longtime Walt Disney World fans by surprise, as local school districts did not have such an outsized impact on park attendance a decade or so ago.
However, Central Florida has seen a population explosion in the last several years, with these two counties in particular seeing an influx of remote workers and upper middle class families who visit Walt Disney World in strong numbers. As we’ve seen time and time again in the last few years, holiday breaks in Orange and Osceola Counties now have significant impacts on attendance at Walt Disney World. And in actuality, many other school districts around the United States will also have breaks coinciding with this same week.
We don’t have the time, resources, or inclination to comb through the schedules of every single school district in the United States. If we did, it would probably reveal a range of breaks in the next two months, with the bulk from mid-March through mid-April 2023.
With that said, there are a several specific districts in Florida that are among the largest in the country and have an outsized impact on attendance at Walt Disney World. In a normal year, those districts and their respective spring breaks around the following timeframes:
Miami-Dade County Public Schools: March 20-24, 2023
Broward County Public Schools: March 20-24, 2023
Hillsborough County Public Schools: March 13-17, 2023
Palm Beach County Public Schools: March 20-24, 2023
Duval County Public Schools: March 13-17, 2023
Here are other major school districts and their normal spring break dates that could significantly impact crowd levels at Walt Disney World:
Houston Independent School District: March 13-17, 2023
Dallas Independent School District: March 13-17, 2023
Gwinnett County Public Schools: April 3-7, 2023
Chicago Public Schools: April 3-7, 2023
Fairfax County Public Schools: April 3-7, 2023
This is not an exhaustive list of spring break schedules. These 12 school districts were selected because they’re among the country’s largest districts that are either near Walt Disney World or feed heavily into visitor demographics. That’s why Chicago is listed but Los Angeles Unified, Clark County (Nevada), and Honolulu’s school districts are not.
Obviously, there are more than 12 major school districts in the United States with breaks that contribute to crowds at Walt Disney World. Notably, there’s very little representation from the Northeast and Midwest. This is not to say that New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, etc. don’t have a huge impact on crowds.
To the contrary, they do–there’s a reason Jersey Week is a “thing” that crowd calendars track. Listing every single major school district’s 2023 spring break dates is simply beyond the scope of this post. (Feel free to share yours in the comments, though!)
Additionally, our focus here is on K-12 school districts, but universities have spring breaks that can cause slight spikes to attendance. Colleges usually have less of an impact on Walt Disney World crowds due to age demographics, but they don’t have zero impact. Notable examples include Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida–you get the idea.
As you can see from the above lists, one-third of the major school districts outside of Central Florida have their spring breaks March 13-17, 2023. In addition to that, Osceola and Orange Counties have their spring breaks that week. Consequently, our expectation is that this ends up being the #1 busiest week of March or April 2023 at Walt Disney World.
We anticipate that week being even busier than the week of Easter. Because March 13-17 is so “early” as compared to Easter, many Walt Disney World visitors end up being surprised that mid-March ends up being so busy. Over the years, we’ve learned that it’s a common assumption among WDW guests that ‘Easter equals spring break.’ As you can see, that’s not true.
As such, our prediction is pretty much a repeat of Worst Week of Winter 2023 at Walt Disney World. Just replace all of the references to Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras with “Spring Break 2023” and that more or less is our forward-looking prediction.
In particular, we forecast that March 11 through March 19, 2023 will be the busiest week of the quarter, and one of the worst 5 weeks of the entire year at Walt Disney World. Expect daily crowd levels of 9/10 or 10/10 at every park during this date range. Some of those 10/10 days will have particularly high wait times (not all 10/10 days are equally busy–that’s just the maximum crowd level).
We highly recommended anyone with flexibility avoid those travel dates. Again, this is due to the outsized impact Central Florida school districts have on Walt Disney World attendance, plus the early spring breaks occurring elsewhere around the country.
As for the second worst week of spring break season, that should be the tried and true: Easter 2023. Unlike that week in mid-March, the week leading up to Easter typically does not catch visitors to Walt Disney World by surprise. Anyone who does any sort of planning will see red flags around the week leading up to Easter 2023.
More specifically stated, April 1-9, 2023 will be the second busiest dates of spring break season. March 31, 2023 is a wild card–districts may have a student recess that day, contributing to greater crowds. These dates are also looking at 9/10 and 10/10 crowd levels, with the possibility of some days/parks “only” hitting 8/10. (The numerical levels aren’t particularly helpful at this point–how busy certain weeks are relative to others is the more useful information.)
Two specific days to have on your radar are April 3-4, 2023. Those two days are the return of Happily Ever After and opening date of TRON Lightcycle Run, respectively. We’d highly recommend avoiding Magic Kingdom on both of these days, and instead visiting April 5 or 6. (April 7-8, 2023 will be worse since that’s the weekend, and will thus will draw Floridians to Magic Kingdom.)
TRON Lightcycle Run currently has ongoing previews, and will through mid-March. Thus far, those have had a negligible impact on crowd levels, and we’d expect that trend to continue even as AP and DVC previews begin. No need to change your park plans on account of these.
As for the third worst week, our expectation is March 20-24, 2023. As with the other dates, the elevated crowds will also encompass the Saturday and Sunday both before and after that week. This is based on a mix of our sampled spring dates above and past precedent–that week is usually worse than the one after it or the week following Easter.
Speaking of which, it’s possible that March 27-31, 2023 will be a ‘sweet spot’ in the spring break season. We certainly would not recommend booking that particular week if you have a range of options, but there’s currently nothing to suggest it’ll see peak season attendance. Crowd levels should be around 7/10 given past precedent.
Although it’s not listed above, April 10-14 (plus surrounding weekends) is likely to be busier. We’ve found that this is a more common spring break for school districts in the Northeast and areas of the Midwest. Those dates tend to be the ‘last hurrah’ for spring break crowds.
It also doesn’t help that the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend is April 13-16, 2023. Race weekend participants tend to arrive a couple of days early and leave right at the end of the event–so they’ll contribute to crowds on the front half of that. For the most part, spring break season is over at Walt Disney World by April 17, 2023. Expect falling crowds just in time for Tax Day!
The one silver lining is that this year, Walt Disney World has blocked out the 2023 Florida Resident Ticket Deal for March 13-17, April 3-7, and April 10-14, 2023. This more blockouts than the last two years, which were chaotic at times as a result of the deal coinciding with spring break for certain school districts in Florida.
Still, these blockout dates are not perfect. It probably would’ve been better to target March 20-24, as more school districts have spring break that week this year than do April 10-14, 2023.
Before you worry too much or debate cancelling, let’s talk beating the crowds. First, remember how we discussed extended park hours at the top of the post? Well, those added hours are incredibly advantageous–especially the earlier opening times since most travelers don’t want to do the early wake-up call on vacation.
By simply arriving early or staying late, you can beat the worst of the midday crowds. (Of course, that’s “simple” in theory but more difficult in practice, especially if you have small children. That’s a big reason why wait times are lower first thing in the morning and later in the evenings.) Beyond that, be sure to also check out our Walt Disney World Itinerariesfor plans of attack, including options with and without Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
Suffice to say, it’s entirely possible to beat bad crowds by utilizing Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, Early Entry, Extended Evening Hours, rope drop, etc. We cover the best & worst approach for each park in Best Time-Saving Strategies for Walt Disney World. If you’re only going to read one planning post, make it that. There are great ways to beat the crowds–even on busy days–without buying Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes.
Overall, that’s about what you can expect to experience during Spring Break 2023 at Walt Disney World. To summarize, our prediction is elevated ‘feels like’ crowds from around March 11, 2023 to April 16, 2023. The worst of those crowds will almost certainly be March 11-19, 2023.
The week after that will be bad but not as bad, before a temporary reprieve with “only” above-average crowds. Then there’s the week of Easter 2023, which will be the second worst week of this year’s spring break season. We’d actively avoid those mid-March 2023 and early April 2023 dates if at all possible, especially if you have scheduling freedom.
For what it’s worth, early March tends to be fantastic. We’re huge fans of that week overlapping with the end of February, and we also wouldn’t hesitate to do the first full week of the month (March 6-10, 2023). That might have some spring break early arrivers, but it shouldn’t be bad. Then there’s April 17 through pretty much the entirety of May 2023. Those are also good dates to visit, although you start running the risk of hotter and more humid weather.
In the end, we wouldn’t necessarily avoid spring break season if you have a school-aged child and have no better options outside of summer vacation. Just be aware that attendance levels will be higher than they’ve been during January and February (minus Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras). As always, crowd levels at Walt Disney World have been increasing across the board and still surprise us from time to time. Nevertheless, we’re reasonably confident in this spring break forecast.
Have you visited Walt Disney World during spring break season in the past? What did you think of the crowds? Are you visiting this year for Easter or spring break? Any other major school districts having spring breaks during these windows? Anything else we missed that could impact crowds during March and April 2023? Do you agree or disagree with anything in our Spring Break 2023 Crowd Forecast for Walt Disney World? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!