Disney World in Orlando, FL is a popular amusement park destination, but due to COVID-19, closed its gates on March 16. As a result, many people postponed their trips to the park. When Disney World reopened with COVID-19 measures in place, Disney enthusiasts began to return. For now, Disney World plans to continue to cap park attendance at 25% to comply with social-distancing guidelines. When planning a trip to Disney World, there is a lot to consider: What will the weather be like? Is it better to stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa? What restaurants or shops should I go to? The most important decision, especially in the wake of COVID-19, is when to go.
We examined foot traffic at Disney World from January 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020 to find the best days to visit Mickey & Friends. In addition, we also analyzed foot traffic data to determine how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted visits to the “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Impact of COVID-19 on Foot Traffic at Disney World
Before COVID-19, visits to Disney World were consistently high year-round. Peak foot traffic occurred in March and April, during spring break, over the summer, and again during Christmas/New Year’s holidays. In mid-March of this year, however, Disney World closed to the public, and remained closed until July 11, 2020. Naturally, visits to the Florida-based theme park increased as it re-opened to visitors. Foot traffic remained relatively steady through late summer, but was nowhere near pre-COVID levels. Visits declined slightly in September, possibly due to kids being back in school.
Avoid the Holiday Rush
Holidays are typically busy at Disney World. On average, holiday foot traffic is 33% higher than non-holiday foot traffic. Disney World is known to host big events around the holidays, and many tourists visit when they have time off around the holidays.
Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days of the week for Disney World. On average, weekend traffic is 23% higher than weekday traffic. Fridays and Mondays are the busiest weekdays, probably due to visitors taking three- or four-day weekends to visit Disney World. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the least busy days. When planning your Disney trip, consider going mid-week to avoid especially long lines at rides.
Is Disney World Recovering Foot Traffic?
Average weekly foot traffic to Disney World remains 58% lower compared to pre-COVID levels. Visitors holding off on Disney World trip plans and staying at home to avoid crowds, combined with park capacity restrictions, mean significantly smaller crowds.
Planning Your Disney World Trip
In summary, here are three key takeaways if you are planning a trip to Disney World:
- Avoid going during the holiday rush if you can.
- If you have to go on a weekend, go on Sunday rather than Saturday.
- Best times for social distancing are mid-week – on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
By following these tips, you can plan a great (and hopefully less stressful) trip to Disney World.