January 2012 crowds

January 2012 crowds

by Dustin
(Richmond, VA)

My family is currently in the midst of planning a trip to Walt Disney World in January 2012. The plan is to head down for 7 days in the first week of January. January 2012 is a little interesting - December 31 is a Saturday, January 1 is Sunday and January 2 is the observed holiday. My question is this: do you think crowds in January 2012 will be bearable that first week?

Assuming we can head down on Sunday, we know Sunday and Monday would be busy but do you think it will calm down for the rest of the week or do you think more people will take advantage of the 4 day week, meaning heavy crowds all week? Thanks!

Dad's sounds like you have a good handle on it Answer

January 2012 Disney World crowds should probably follow a fairly normal pattern, but ...

You are very correct that 2012 will be different from this year and last. Schools probably won't start on Monday or Tuesday, so crowds will probably be a little larger, longer than most years.

The crowds will probably be out of control over the weekend and on Monday (it will be next summer before I finish the calendar). On Tuesday and Wednesday, I'd guess they would still be very, very heavy decreasing dramatically every day through the next weekend.

In plain English, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, crowds will be huge, Wednesday will be very busy, Thursday and Friday will be moderate to small. It's amazing just how quickly the crowds will go away.

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Apr 02, 2012
Marathon Weekend
by: Amy

Hi Dad, I love your blog and have always found it very helpful in all of my planning. Thank you!! We were thinking of planning a trip December 31 - Jan 5 2013 and I noticed you have January 4 - 6 as the Marathon Weekend. On the Disney announcement they have listed the 10 - 13... I'm wondering which is correct? Will it effect crowd levels? We have been to disney before and are okay with moderately heavy crowds, but I just don't want to be blown away by wall to wall people. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on the days after new years in terms of crowds. Thanks again!

Dad's Answer

Amy, you are right, the Marathon is the 10th-13th. By the way, I've updated the January Disney World Crowds page

Jan 06, 2012
I was there
by: Moiself

If it means anything I was at WDW from Dec 24, 2011-Jan 2, 2012. We're annual passport holders and took full advantage of the kids school break.

Dec. 24 we did MK and it was great until around 2pm when you couldn't breathe without offending someone, so we took a monorail to EPCOT and it wasn't crowded at all.

Dec. 26 & 27th were fine. Crowded but not wall-to-wall. We did Animal Kingdom and EPCOT again because we were told the MK was ridiculous (it helps having friends who work there *wink wink*) The Animal Kingdom was open until 9 and after a rainstorm around 4pm the place cleared out. We rode Everest 4 times in a row with less than a 10 minute wait each time.

Dec. 28 was the worst I've ever seen WDW. Ever. And I've probably been there 100 times in the last 16 yrs. We walked into the Studios 30 minutes after opening (it took that long to get through bag check, I have photos of how nuts it was!)It took us two hours just to get to the Muppets show. We watched it and hopped a boat to EPCOT, which was crowded but more manageable because there is more to look at than do (if that makes sense).

Dec. 29 was almost as bad, but not quite. We went back to EPCOT. Aside from Soarin' and Test Track nothing was over a 30 minute wait, especially as it got closer to closing.

Dec. 30 was about the same.

We didn't go on the 31st because I know NYE is always beyond crazy.

We went to EPCOT with my parents on Jan 1 and it was beautiful! We knew to get our fastpass for Soarin' right at opening, then waited 30 minutes for test Track, did a few other things, ate lunch and went back to Soarin'. The cast member at Soarin' said the wait time was over 4 hours on NYE. That is not what I call a productive or enjoyable use of time, but hey, lots of people love it.

We went to the Studios again on Jan 2 and while it was crowded, it wasn't bad. We rode the Tower at the beginning and end of day and had 20 and 35 minute waits. The Coaster averaged 30-85 minutes throughout the day. 20ish on Star Tours. We did see a lot of street performers, and there were a lot of ppl, but again, not bad.

Now you wanna talk crazy, let's talk Downtown Disney! Hol-ey crap. If the lot by Soleil is full keep on driving, this is not a place you want to be if it's that busy.

We haven't been this week since the kids went back to school but we're going to Studios tomorrow to catch the last night of lights and to MK on Sunday :)

Jul 27, 2011
I would rethink going the first week...
by: Pamela

Don't forget about the big marathon that is going on January 5-8. There will be HUGE crowds for this, just like a holiday. I would highly suggest going after the marathon. We went to Disney 2 years ago and left the day before the race, our shuttle driver said that was a good thing because the park will be chaotic when the race weekend begins.

Dad Answers


Yes, the Disney World Marathon is always the first weekend in January. Yes, the Marathon draws a huge crowd, but, that doesn't translate with crowds in the parks. Mornings are a bit chaotic, but afternoons and evenings are pretty slow. Touringplans.com shows historically light crowds on Marathon Weekend. They agree with me.

Yes, Disney transportation gets really stressed in the mornings transferring runners then the watchers, but once the race starts, things calm down. There is another smaller rush Transportation wise after the race ends.

Crowds aren't huge, Transportation is busy.

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