It’s no secret that spring break is busy at Walt Disney World. Crowd levels increase during these school holidays, normally culminating with the peak week of Easter. That holiday has some of the year’s highest wait times, attendance, and congestion in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios–but it’s not the only week of heavy crowds.
While spring break “season” kicks off in early March as universities, colleges, and K-12 school systems take their 1-2 week breaks, not all dates within that range are equally crowded. To the contrary, as covered in our 2022 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars, some dates that fall within traditional spring break season are pretty good times to visit.
Our goals with this post are highlighting some of the recent crowd levels at Walt Disney World, looking at changes to park hours, analyzing general travel trends for spring break, and trying to predict which dates will be “red flags” on Walt Disney World crowd calendar for March and April…
If you don’t already have Disney Park Pass reservations, hope you like EPCOT! (Or Animal Kingdom, but only on some days.) For the next two weeks, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are fully booked across all three buckets of Park Passes for many days.
On a positive note, Walt Disney World has been extending park hours for March and April 2022, beginning with all dates the first two weeks of the month, with even longer hours Friday through Sunday. This wasn’t particularly noteworthy, as this has been happening with consistency for the last several months.
Walt Disney World releases boilerplate hours with Magic Kingdom closing at 9 pm, EPCOT and DHS at 9 pm, and Animal Kingdom at 7 pm, and then extends those closings as travel dates draw nearer.
For most of March 2022 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.
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 14-18, 2022 as their spring breaks. Additionally, the Orange County School District calendar has March 11, 2022 as a student holiday/teacher workday.
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. As we’ve seen time and time again in the last few years, holiday breaks in Orange and Osceola Counties 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 2022 through early April 2022.
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 29 to April 2
Broward County Public Schools: March 19-26
Hillsborough County Public Schools: March 15-19
Palm Beach County Public Schools: March 15-19
Duval County Public Schools: March 8-12
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 15-19
Dallas Independent School District: March 15-19
Gwinnett County Public Schools: April 5-9
Chicago Public Schools: March 29 to April 2
Fairfax County Public Schools: March 29 to April 2
Again, this is not an exhaustive list of spring break schedules, and these districts have not been updated for 2022, so the precise dates are likely +/- 1 day. 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.
Additionally, our focus here is on K-12 school districts, but many universities have cancelled or modified their spring breaks. (Colleges usually have less of an impact on Walt Disney World crowds due to age demographics.) Notable examples include Florida State University, Ohio State University, Arizona State University, Boston University, and the University of Michigan. At these schools, students will receive several one-day “well-being breaks” without any scheduled academic activities.
It’s entirely possible that some K-12 school districts on the above list also could’ve cancelled their spring breaks. I took the effort to find the official calendar for each of the aforementioned districts, but cannot confirm they haven’t modified their plans since publishing those.
As you can see from the above lists, half of the major school districts we’ve targeted have their spring breaks March 14-18, 2022. Suffice to say, our expectation is that this ends up being the busiest week of March or April 2022 at Walt Disney World. We anticipate it being even busier than the week of Easter. (On a related note, several readers have asked what we expect Walt Disney World will do to celebrate Easter. Probably nothing aside from a few desserts, but that’s just our guess–no official announcement has been made.)
The one silver lining is that for 2022, Walt Disney World has blocked out the Florida Resident Ticket Deal for March 14 through March 18, 2022. They did not do this last year, and it was pure chaos as a result.
As such, our prediction is pretty much a repeat of Mardi Gras Crowds at Walt Disney World. Just replace all of the references to “Mardi Gras” with “Spring Break” and that more or less is our forward-looking prediction.
In particular, we forecast that March 11 through March 20, 2022 will be the busiest week of the quarter, and one of the worst 5 weeks of the entire year at Walt Disney World. We highly recommended anyone with flexibility avoid those travel dates.
Beyond that, don’t be surprised if the entirety of spring break is busier than normal at Walt Disney World. For one thing, remote work and learning are a game-changer on this front, and make it easier for guests to take “hybrid” work/play trips to Walt Disney World. This phenomenon is hardly unique to spring break, but it could be especially pronounced in the coming couple of months as more people look for a reprieve from harsher than normal winters.
Officials in South Florida are preparing for an influx of visitors in March and April, with hotel bookings already up 20% year over year. Obviously, Walt Disney World is a bit different than the beach cities, but we would anticipate similar travel trends.
Intuitively, this makes sense. Florida is always a popular spring break destination thanks to its warm weather, which may be even more attractive than normal. Additionally, Florida has garnered nationwide headlines for the last couple of years as the highest-profile state that has been “fully reopened.” While that will cause some potential visitors to steer clear of Florida, it will attract many others–including both those who have been vaccinated and those who are just generally fatigued with restrictions.
As we’ve pointed out several times, Walt Disney World is taking a more conservative and cautious approach (as are many businesses) than Florida as a whole. That doesn’t mean visitors to the state will actively avoid the Walt Disney World. during spring break trips. Some will, but many won’t know until arrival and others won’t care.
Overall, that’s about what you can expect to experience during Spring Break 2022 at Walt Disney World. To summarize, our prediction is elevated ‘feels like’ crowds from around March 11 to April 18, 2022. The worst of those crowds will almost certainly be March 11-20, 2022.
Following that, March 27 to April 3, 2022 will also be another bad week because of another runDisney event, and then the week of Easter 2022 will be even worse. We’d actively avoid those dates if at all possible, or at least leverage our Walt Disney World Park Itineraries to beat the crowds. Arriving early and having sound strategy is as important as choosing the “right” dates to visit.
Outside of those couple weeks, we wouldn’t necessarily avoid spring break season–just be aware that attendance levels will be higher than they’ve been during the January and February off-season (minus Mardi Gras). As always, crowd levels at Walt Disney World are becoming increasingly difficult to predict 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 2022? Do you agree or disagree with anything in our Spring Break 2022 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!