Are you dreaming of the day when you can step outside and the air won’t hurt your face? If you’re wanting to take a 2023 Disney World vacation during the Spring Break season, then keep reading…
Because we’re about to dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of Spring Break in Disney World.
Disney World is a popular destination for vacations. And Spring Break is one of the most popular times to go on vacation — the kids are outta school, the weather hasn’t gotten too hot yet, and you’re itchin’ to shake off the cabin fever from the winter, slip on some shorts, and get some good ol’ vitamin D. So what happens when a popular vacation destination (Disney World) collides with a popular vacation time (Spring Break)? It might just result in the WORST WEEK to be in Disney World, but we’re gonna sort through all of the Spring Break challenges at Disney World to help you still have a great time!
Spring Break Crowds at Disney World
We’re not gonna beat around the bush here. Spring Break crowds are intense – and 2023 isn’t going to be the exception. But don’t throw in the towel yet! We’ll help you navigate those wild crowd levels.
Let’s start with rides.
Because the parks are going to be crowded, you’re going to start seeing major lines for rides EVERYWHERE. Even walk-on rides will have significant waits. During last year’s Spring Break season, The line for Flight of Passage was about 125 minutes at around 10AM. For reference, the line was so long that it extended all the way out to the bridge in Africa! That’s a whole other LAND!
In EPCOT, Spring Break crowds mix with Flower and Garden Festival crowds to merge into a sea of people! Wait times for Spaceship Earth were pushing 35 minutes while Soarin’ averaged around 50 — during other times of the year, you can often walk on to these rides with very little wait.
At Magic Kingdom, unsurprisingly, the line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train got SUPER long, super quickly. The standby line for this attraction wrapped all around Fantasyland — people were waiting all the way back by Storybook Circus!
And at Hollywood Studios, several of the most popular attractions in Disney’s Hollywood Studios had some seriously long lines — just look at the standby line for Slinky Dog Dash!
Take a (sped up) journey with us past the Slinky Dog 🐶 queue 👀 pic.twitter.com/wUtEBY202r
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) March 15, 2022
Dealing With Spring Break Waits at Disney World
So how can you still have a fun trip hitting up the rides when nearly every attraction is requiring you to wait, wait, WAIT?
1) Keep in mind that the worst crowds tend to happen in the late morning/early afternoon. This may be a good time for you to grab a snack, do some shopping, or catch one of the shows instead. The best time to hit up multiple rides is going to be in the early morning while crowds are still filling in and later in the evenings when guests are starting to go back to their rooms for the night.
You also might find a small moment of crowd relief during peak dining times (around 11:30 AM and 6:00 PM), so try planning your meals during non-peak meal times and try checking on the ride times instead. Also, skip the parades and head to popular attractions around 15 minutes before parade times. Crowds will more than likely be gathering around to watch that show during select performance times each day. Meaning there’ll be fewer people filling up the queues.
If you’re not big on watching the nighttime spectaculars, then getting in lines during evening fireworks shows at Magic Kingdom and in EPCOT, and Disney Movie Magic in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an EXCELLENT time to hit up any last-minute rides that may have been too crowded during the day.
And remember – queue lines will stay open until the parks officially close. So if you can get in line for a ride before the parks close, you won’t be kicked out of the line. Once you’re in, you’re IN – and you’ll be able to experience the ride, no matter what the projected wait time may say.
2) Disney Genie can also help pave your way to a smoother Disney day… most of the time. You can find Disney Genie on your My Disney Experience App. With the free version of this planning tool, you’ll not only be able to get a customized itinerary made with your personal preferences in mind, but you’ll also be able to study up on the “forecasted wait times” of the rides.
To do this, go to the My Disney Experience App and tap on the Tip Board. Then, switch to the park you’re visiting that day. Under the Experiences tab, you’ll see the entire list of attractions and their wait times. But, if you tap on “View Details,” you’ll be led to a graph that maps out the predicted crowd levels for that particular experience throughout the day.
Does that mean Disney Genie is going to be accurate 100% of the time? Not really. But just like looking at a weather forecast to get an idea for the day’s weather, it may benefit you to check on those ride forecasts, just in case it leads you to less of a wait time.
Spring Break might be a time where paying extra for Disney Genie+ – or paying-per-ride for those premium experiences with the Individual Attraction Selections – may not be a bad idea to consider. ESPECIALLY if rides are the jam to your toast and you’re looking to eat a LOT of toast.
Click here for a Step-by-Step Guide to Disney Genie+
3) But let’s backtrack here for a minute or two. We mentioned just a second ago how some of the best times to hit up the rides are earlier in the morning or later on in the evening, right? So let’s take a look at the Disney World hotel perks that can help you out with this cause.
Disney World has two different benefits for its resort guests. The first is the Early Theme Park Entry – which allows any and all Disney World Resort guests, as well as Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel guests – to enter any of the parks on any day 30 minutes before the official “rope drop” time.
The second is Extended Evening Hours – which allows only Disney World Deluxe Resort guests (including Swan and Dolphin Hotel guests) to remain in the parks up to two hours after the parks officially close. This benefit is only available for select parks on select days, so you’ll need to check with the Disney World website to make sure you’re timing your Extended Evening Hours plans to align with when Disney uses them.
But we gotta level with ya here, Early Theme Park Entry can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get extra time in the park for ANY of the parks, meaning you can get to your must-do attraction first. On the other hand, many guests are gonna have the same mentality as you. Buses, Skyliner stations, and monorail lines will be PACKED.
So don’t plan on waking up with *just* enough time to get to parks 30 minutes before. Consider the time it’ll take you and your group to get ready, the morning transportation lines, the overall travel time, and the time it’ll take to go through security and scan your ticket.
Escaping Spring Break Crowds at Disney World
Even if you’re a pro at navigating the Disney crowds, sometimes being exposed to shoulder-to-shoulder people for extended periods can be overwhelming. It can also be overwhelming for guests who can get overstimulated by constant loud sounds, cramped areas, and stressful situations.
Here’s the thing: You don’t have to fight the crowds. There are multiple ways you can escape them, even if just for a bit.
First way: Track down some of the less-populated places in the parks. Though you might feel trapped in a never-ending sea of people, there are breaks in the masses if you know where to look.
In Magic Kingdom, venture to the space on the right between the Main Street USA shops. Usually, the crowds are A) Booking it down Main Street or B) Are shopping-til-they-drop, so a little nook like this is going to be overlooked (even though it’s a cute place to linger for a spell).
Shows like The Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland and The Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square are also (usually) going to be way less packed than other attractions. Plus, these 20-minute shows will give you a chance to get off your feet and relax for a while in the AC. (Overwhelmed or not, taking regular breaks like this is something WE HIGHLY recommend so you don’t hit a wall by the afternoon.)
Tom Sawyer’s Island is a great escape, too! This little island is only accessible by motorized raft. Once you’re there, you can explore different caves, cross a rope bridge, and eat at Aunt Polly’s Dockside Inn (whenever it’s open, that is).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has three different walking trails that are just as serene as they are easy-going. You’ve got the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree of Life (to let you get a closer view of all the tree’s intricate animal carvings covering its base and trunk), the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail in the Africa section of the park, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia. The Gorilla Falls and Maharajah Jungle Trails both feature animals native to their countries that you can say “hello” to in passing.
You might also want to take the Wildlife Express Train over to the other section of the park – Rafiki’s Planet Watch – for a less-busy section to explore. Here, you’ll be able to pet animals at the Affection Section, Learn how to sketch popular animated characters at the Animation Experience, and visit the veterinary treatment room at the Conservation Station.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is all about that hustle-and-bustle! But there are still places you can explore that aren’t nearly as people-y. Before you enter Toy Story Land, you can linger around Pixar Place. There’s not a lot going on here because the Incredibles Meet-and-Greet that’s usually in this section of the park isn’t currently happening. So grab yourself a Num Num Cookie and find a bench in this alleyway for a few minutes of relaxation.
Ever since Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened its doors, Star Wars Launch Bay over in the Animation Courtyard has seen a whole lot less traffic. So if you still want to immerse yourself in the Star Wars lore but you also want to step away from Batuu for a bit, the Launch Bay will provide you with a self-guided tour of Star Wars memorabilia you’ll probably remember from the movies!
If you’re a history buff (or you just have a deep appreciation for the man – and mouse! – who started it all), the Walt Disney Presents walkthrough exhibit through the life and career of Walt Disney and his company. You’ll see where he got his start in animation and how his parks took the world by storm through a series of displays, antique props, and models.
Because EPCOT is a park that’s so spread out, you’ll probably find it easier to breathe here in many different areas. But if you’re looking for specific escapes, try the second level of the Canada Pavilion (with the beautiful cascading waterfall), the backside of the UK Pavilion (where you might just get to hear live Mary Poppins music from the gazebo – and see Mary Poppins herself!), the Morocco Pavilion in its entirety (because there’s not a whole lot going on here currently – but it’s still a lovely place to explore and snack), and the courtyard of Katsura Grill in the Japan Pavilion (find some zen with koi fish gazing).
EPCOT also has many galleries and walkthrough exhibits in each of its pavilions that can be easily overlooked. So if you’d like to take a self-guided tour through history, as well as have a moment where the crowds aren’t nearly as pressing, try jumping into one of these little museums for a while.
If you or someone in your family has a cognitive disability, there are several rest areas that can provide you with just a little more time to break away for a bit. You can learn more about these services on the Disney World website and through the Disability Access Services section of the My Disney Experience App. But if you don’t have time to research all that BEFORE your trip and you’re needing an escape ASAP while you’re in the middle of your park day, track down a Cast Member and ask them to lead you to a break area for some much-needed downtime.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t HAVE to stay in the parks if it gets too overwhelming! You can totally go back to your hotel room to relax by the poolside, make a reservation for a nice meal at a Disney resort restaurant, enjoy the resort’s recreational activities, and even shop in Disney Springs before those evening crowds roll in.
Keeping Your Family Together In the Spring Break Crowds
Are you worried that your kid’s gonna lose you in the park during these high-level crowd days? Don’t stress, parents and guardians! There are several ways you can prepare and plan just in case YOU get separated from the group – just to put your mind at ease!
First: Wear bright clothing. Clothes that are neon colors (like that highlighter yellow, orange, or pink) are easier to spot in a crowd rather than neutral colors (like white, brown, and black).
Second: Know where Guest Relations is located, as well as where the Baby Care Centers are. When a child seems to have misplaced their guardian, Cast Members will quickly escort them to one of these locations until they’re reunited with their party. Again – if you’re struggling to find these areas on the map and you need to get to them ASAP, reach out to the nearest Cast Member, and they’ll lead you where you need to go.
Third: Discuss a meeting point beforehand, just in case. Make it something easy for all ages to track down – like meeting in front of Cinderella Castle or the Tree of Life.
And fourth: Consider purchasing temporary phone number tattoos for your kiddos to wear on the back of their hand. That way, if anything WERE to happen, you can be contacted immediately. You can purchase and customize temporary phone tattoos from places like Amazon, Etsy, and websites that specialize in temporary phone number tattoos.
Okay–let’s wrap up this crowd section once and for all! Yes, Spring Break is going to be crowded. So set your expectations ahead of time, take these specific escapes and tips to heart, and create a game plan that’ll work for you.
The Good Stuff
This is one of those times where we’re gonna ask you, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” But since we can’t hear your actual response, let’s assume you’re ready to hear a whole bunch of GOOD NEWS for your potential Spring Break escapades.
When you travel to Disney World during Spring Break, you’re more than likely going to stumble across a lot of benefits you didn’t realize were going to be available around this time. Let’s give some specific examples, shall we?
Over in EPCOT, the Flower and Garden Festival will be kicking off in early March. This festival brings a rainbow of floral colors to the park, as well as character topiaries, fresh foods at the Outdoor Kitchens, upbeat entertainment (thanks to the Garden Rocks Concert Series), and a butterfly house (because who doesn’t love butterflies? — But even if you DON’T like butterflies, at least they’re contained in their own little pop-up greenhouse, right?)
From April 13-16th, Disney World will be holding their runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend. According to the Disney World website, courses for this runDisney event include “Disney Pixar Cars 5K, Disney Pixar Monsters 10K, and the Disney Pixar Toy Story 10-Miler” This is GREAT news for those who will wanna participate, but it could be an added challenge for guests, since this event will bring an even bigger influx of guests to the parks.
Let’s not forget the discounts! (I’m about to talk about Spring Break prices soon, so this is SUPER important to keep in your back pocket.) “Guests staying at select Walt Disney World hotels from April 10th – July 10th, 2023 can save up to 25%.” These types of offers tend to book up quickly, so we’ll link the Disney Discounts page so you don’t miss it!
The Bad Stuff
Sorry, we’ve gotta do it. We’ve gotta talk about the not-so-great side to a Spring Break vacation – just to lay out all the cards on the table for ya. But don’t let these potential downsides bum you out! We’ve got a few potential solutions for each of them – so let’s ride this wave together!
Disney Hotels During Spring Break
Reservations during the Spring Break season start booking MONTHS in advance. So if you really are planning on going to Disney World SOON and you haven’t secured your resort, dining reservations, or Park Pass Reservations, then you’ve gotta do that NOW. (Okay, not *now* now. Finish reading this post first. THEN make those reservations!) Many of Disney’s value hotel rooms, as well as the standard rooms for moderate and deluxe resorts, start to book FAST, leaving behind the higher-end rooms that you might not wanna splurge on.
If your trip seems to have snuck up on you and you’re having a hard time finding a Disney resort that’s not going to break the bank, consider looking into one of Disney World’s Good Neighbor Hotels. These hotels aren’t directly owned by Disney, but they are close to the property and provide many of the same benefits that Disney-owned hotels do. But the best part about them? They’re (normally) going to be even cheaper than Disney World’s value hotels. (Spoiler alert – there are over 40 Good Neighbor Hotels for you to choose from!)
Click Here For Our Ranking of Good Neighbor Hotels!
If you do want to stay in a deluxe resort during your trip but you’d like to save a little moolah in the process, then you may want to consider looking into renting DVC points through a third-party rental company. Renting DVC points means that you’re going to be paying a DVC member (AKA – a timeshare holder with Disney) for the points they use to rent their DVC rooms. Renting through a third-party DVC rental party – like David’s DVC Rentals – gives you a “middle man” to make sure the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.
Disney World Dining During Spring Break
If you’ve still got over 60 days before your Spring Break vacation to book restaurant reservations, then you’re in luck! Mark that 60-day point on your calendar and make sure you book those reservations the day of. Reservations will open at 5:45 AM EST – which will probably be your best chance at snagging the most popular restaurants.
A few of the hot-spot dining locations that book up super-duper quick are:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom
- Space 220 at EPCOT
- Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- And Oga’s Cantina at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
If it’s a little…uh… *less* than 60 days before your Disney World vacation, don’t think that you’ve missed out on ALL your reservation opportunities! You can still check and see what’s available to reserve at any time on the Disney World website by using the “Check Availability Tool on any individual Table Service restaurant’s page.”
From there, enter the size of your party and select the time (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) you’re hoping to dine during. The website will be able to show you what (if any) reservations are available.
You can also make reservations through the My Disney Experience App or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (3463), which will connect you with a dining agent. If you’re not seeing any times available for the restaurant you’re wanting to eat at, don’t give up yet! Try checking again later on. Sometimes, other travel parties will have to cancel their dining reservations, meaning there’s the off-chance you could swipe it up!
If you have a bigger travel party, try breaking up the group between multiple tables. Restaurants will have an easier time accommodating multiple groups of 3, but they’ll have pretty limited options for groups of 9. Also – try searching for dining reservations during non-peak dining times. Reservations for restaurants book a lot quicker for prime lunch and dinner hours than they do between times like 2 PM-4 PM – so you may have a better shot!
One last dining tip: Don’t forget about the Mobile Walk-Up Wait Lists that you can access through the My Disney Experience App. If you’re struggling to find a reservation beforehand, the Mobile Walk-Up Waitlist and Last Minute Dining Reservations might be able to point you toward an open restaurant reservation the day of your visit. Although this is a super-nifty tool, we don’t recommend relying on it – especially while the crowds are so thick during Spring Break. Try securing a reservation first – or plan on dining at quick-service locations (which can also be quite tasty, depending on where you go!)
Park Pass Reservations During Spring Break
Before your visit, you will need to secure your spot in the parks by making a Park Pass Reservation. You can make these reservations AFTER you purchase your park tickets. Yeah, it’s an extra step – but Disney WILL lead you directly to where you can make your reservations right after your purchase – and the reservations themselves will only take a few minutes to secure.
Our advice? Check on the park pass availability calendar BEFORE you purchase to make sure you’re not buying a park ticket for a time when the specific park you’re wanting to visit is already filled up. Remember – Disney World tickets do have a range of times in which you can use them, so if, say, Magic Kingdom is booked on the Saturday you were planning on hitting it up, then you may want to try reserving a spot for it earlier in the week when it IS still available for reservations. You can check on the availability calendar on the same page where you can make the theme park pass purchases.
Just DON’T FORGET ABOUT THIS STEP!! Just because you have a theme park ticket or a dining reservation does NOT mean you’ll be able to get into the parks! You’ve GOTTA have your park pass reservations made, too!
So let’s say you wanna make a Park Pass Reservation for Magic Kingdom, but the ENTIRE WEEK you’ll be in Disney World is already BOOKED for this park. What then?
You’ve got a couple of options that aren’t guaranteed for success, but they CAN prove successful:
First, you can play the waiting game. No fun, we know. But just like dining reservations, Park Pass Reservations may need to be canceled by guests from time to time. So there’s still the possibility more Park Passes will become available later on if you keep checking back. Second, grab a park hopper! Let’s say Disney’s Animal Kingdom is free during your visit while Magic Kingdom isn’t. You can make a park pass reservation for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and start your day there. Then, when 2PM rolls around, you’ll be able to use your park hopper and (hopefully) be able to *hop* over to the Magic Kingdom without a Park Pass Reservation.
Again, this plan isn’t foolproof. Hopping into the second park of the day is still subject to capacity – but it might be the plan C or D you’re looking for when plans A and B let ya down.
Okay, now that you know everything you never wanted to know about Disney reservations. So let’s move on to the dreaded surge pricing convo.
Spring Break Surge Pricing at Disney World
Since Spring Break raises the demand for numerous services, you’re gonna start seeing prices spike up, up, UP.
Rideshare prices? Increased. Park tickets? Increased. Individual Attraction Selections? Increased.
Save back more money than you think you might need to accommodate for the spikes you’ll stumble across. You might find price spikes in places you were least expecting it, and you don’t want to catch your wallet by surprise. On the DFB website and our weekly DFB Latest News updates on this channel, we’ll provide you with the 411 on what we’re noticing price-wise in the parks leading up toward your vacation. That way, you can follow along with us and get a better idea of what things are going to look like cost-wise when you arrive.
Also, try to save money where you can! Remember the hotel discount and those Good Neighbor Hotels we talked about earlier? Just saying – those will help you save a good chunk of money. Also – make sure to study up on extra expenses (like the Disney Genie +, IAS reservations, signature restaurants, and extra enhancements) to see if they’re really things you need to be budgeting for OR if you can live without them this time ‘round.
Packing and Timing for Spring Break at Disney World
So Orlando in March and April can be pretty fickle weather-wise. Somedays, it’ll be perfect. Not a cloud in the sky; a nice, tame temperature. Peaceful. Serene.
Other days? It’ll be cold. The mornings will start cold and *possibly* warm up by the afternoon, but then drop down again come nightfall. And then you’ve got your constant afternoon rainstorms that like to pop up and either last for a whopping 15 minutes or the remainder of the day, depending on Orlando’s mood.
Or maybe it’s just going to be really, really HOT during your visit. Who’s to say? Orlando’s got a mind of its own. Although rain patterns are tricky to follow, it’s still good to look at forecasts ahead of time so you can get a good idea of what the predicted temps are going to look like during your visit.
When you pack, make sure you pack clothes that you can easily shed and put away in the bag you take with you inside the parks (like jackets, hoodies, extra socks, scarfs, leggings, and hats.
So how long DOES Spring Break season last? Spring Break isn’t just one week – it’s a RANGE of them – and it tends to start in mid-March and last throughout early April. Because not every school has the same Spring Break! So you’re going to get waves of groups from different locations, depending on when the week-long break officially kicks off for them.
But if you wanna know when ORLANDO’s Spring Break week is this year (since that’s when locals will start hitting up the parks, as well), theirs will span from March 11th-19th. Don’t attempt to plan a March or April Disney World vacation before or after your school district’s Spring Break in the hopes that you’ll avoid these high-traffic crowds. Because more than likely, you’re gonna be in the thick of other Spring Break vacationers.
Spring Break isn’t unmanageable, even with those intimating crowds! Make sure to set your expectations ahead of time, figure out those “Must Do” experiences, and plan ahead! This is definitely a trip you don’t want to go into on a whim!
We’ll continue to keep you informed on everything you need to know about visiting Disney World during Spring Break (or if you’d rather avoid it!), so stay tuned for more! And if you want a handy-dandy print out of ALL of this information, just click HERE to have one sent to your email inbox!
Everything You Can Do On My Disney Experience BEFORE Your Disney World Vacation
For more information about visiting Disney World in the spring, check out these posts!
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Have you ever visited the parks during a peak time of year? Let us know in the comments!
Christine M Krueger says
What dates are considered Spring break?
Spring break is longer than one week. This article should say which week is the worst, based on past attendance. All it ever says is during spring break.
My Number One tip for anytime you go? When we were there in late 2022, we were the third party in line at the turnstile for Hollywood Studio at rope drop. By the time they opened the turnstiles, there were thousands of people lined up – mostly behind us. The family in front of us – a really nice young family – had an issue with their tickets. We helplessly watched HUNDREDS of people rush into the park while we waited at least ten to fifteen minutes for this to get straightened out. So we had to change our strategy significantly. After that, my husband got into one line and I got into the line next to him. When it became obvious one line was moving better, one of us would move over. Disney really needs to figure out a way to pull these people aside and let the others go through!!! Until they make this change, we will continue with our strategy – I won’t be caught like that again!
Soooo – what ARE the dates that are considered “Spring Break” at Disney????
Another week to not go is the week of MLK Holiday in January. Having just returned from a Disney visit that week, I was astonished at how crowded the Parks were. Many families pulled their kids from school that week despite just having Christmas break from school. I will never visit during that eeek again.
Jim S. says
Lisa: Great job! The last few weeks, DFB has been doing an even better job than usual ( is that even possible) with some superior in-depth reporting. P.S. Tell AJ you did an amazing job with this piece. 😀
DFB Gigi says
Hi Jim! We are so happy to hear you have been enjoying our articles lately. I passed your compliments along to Lisa and AJ!