This year, however, is going to be a bigger challenge than usual. Easter falls on March 31st. This is a problem, because the two most common weeks for spring break are the last week in March, and the week before Easter. In 2013, those are the same week! That means that a much larger portion of school spring breaks will be condensed into the March 23-March 31 time frame.
What does this mean for you, if you're traveling Spring Break? It depends on when you're going:
If you're going any week other than March 23-March 31: This is good news! You will have lighter crowds any other week in March or April than most years, with so many Spring Breakers stuck in one week. Don't get me wrong - you still need to plan to avoid the infamous lines - the big attractions will still have 45-75 minute waits without the right strategies, but at least there will be some breathing room.
If you're going the week of March 23-March 31: This is not so good news. As you probably already noticed, hotel availability is low and prices are high. And you may be having difficulty getting dining reservations.
With so many people having the same spring break, I anticipate March 23-March 31 to be, at the very least, the second-busiest week of the year at Disney World. And it may even be worse - I would not be surprised to see crowds rivaling the busiest days of the year!
What can be done about it?
I have written several blog posts in the past about holiday crowds at Walt Disney World, and how to handle these large crowds. (See here and here for examples.) My focus on these posts has been on the Christmas-to-New-Year's timeframe. However, the tips are generally equally valid for Spring Break 2013. Please review those posts for full thoughts, but the general ideas are:
- Get to the parks early. The Magic Kingdom opens at 8am, with Extra Magic Hours at 7am, during this week. If you are staying on Disney property and can rally to be at the park before the 7am opening, you'll have a great time before the crowds build up! If you want to sleep in, you'll be waiting in lines.
- Avoid the parks mid-day. The crowds will be huge from about noon to 8pm. It's good to get away for that portion of the day. One great thing about March is the weather is terrific - use it to your advantage and go enjoy the pool at your hotel! Come back in the evening when the crowds die down.
- Use Fastpass as best as possible. Fastpass times will start going through the roof later in the day. So try to get your Fastpass-enabled attractions visited earlier in the day. One other tip - if you're going to leave the park for a break mid-day (a good idea), get a Fastpass for something like Space Mountain just before leaving. The return time will be far out (3-5 hours, or more), but no big deal. When you return, you'll have an attraction all lined up to enjoy without a wait!
- Planning is absolutely necessary. This is not the time to "wing it" - if you decide to arrive at the Magic Kingdom at 10am, you're going to be in hour-plus waits for nearly everything (possibly even the monorail to get to the park). If that sounds fun, please go ahead - I and my customers will enjoy 10 or more attractions while you're waiting in line!
If you're heading to Disney World the last week of March 2013, I wish you luck! You can avoid the worst of the lines and do everything you would like, but it takes even more planning than usual.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like help in planning your Disney vacation!