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Why were the January Crowds so big?

by Jordyn
(Covington, LA)

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“Hey Dad! We just went to Disney from January 17th-23rd and it was PACKED!!! I think it was the biggest crowd I have ever seen! Do you have any idea why this might have happened.

I saw on your blog that it was projected to be one of the slowest times and our shortest wait time was 45 mins on small rides and big ride short times ranged from 60-120 mins. We are planning to go back in a couple of years but want to try a different time.

What are your opinions?”

Why the January Crowds were bigger

Mugs from the Festival of the Arts

Blame it on Figment – Photo by Laurie Sapp

Hi Jordan,

You are correct. The January crowds have been bigger than predicted. In some cases a lot bigger. I will say, it’s not just January, but most of the last few months. Disney reported pretty big gains in earnings from the parks last quarter (ending December 30) due to higher attendance in the parks.

So what’s happening? I think there are several factors at work.

#1 – Disney marketing is being very aggressive with discounts in the international markets. They did this last year in January and February too. It’s working. International visitors are way up in the early months of the year. We ran into lots of Brazil tour groups, but not just them, we met people from lots of different countries.

#2 – The Festival of the Arts is bringing in some crowds. This year a bunch of new things were added to the festival and it’s bringing in more people. The new Broadway singers, new food booths, etc. We walk in during a flower demonstration and the thing was packed.

#3 – The economy is finally picking up steam. People are starting to think that they can spend more on a vacation. This is one of those good/bad things. It’s good that the economy is starting to hum, but it means more crowds at Disney World.

#4 – The new pricing structure is moving crowds out of the summertime and January is one of the places they are going. Summer crowds have been down significantly since Disney adjusted their pricing structure a few years ago. But overall crowds have not really changed. Those crowds have moved to months like January.

Those are the main reasons the January crowds were bigger this year in my opinion.

Try September

If you’re looking for a slow time try September. Doesn’t seem to be anything Disney can do to bump up the crowds then.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

Jordyn, I’m as surprised as you are about the big crowds in January. Shoot, I got right in the middle of them a few weeks ago when I was there.

Disney is getting better and better at spreading crowds throughout the year. Hopefully we’ll still have September.


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Comments for

Feb 15, 2018 Another possible reason
by: Loleec

I wonder if the re-booking for the hurricane cancellations added some extra crowds this year. We go the first week of February every year and this was the most crowded we have seen.

Another reason may be the crowd calendars themselves. I bet more and more people are learning to pre-plan their vacations and there are a lot of sites online showing the crowd calendars. I figure this reason would add a bump in the crowds, too.

Add them all up and you have 6 or 7 out of 10 type crowds.

Feb 13, 2018 February crowds
by: Richard

I just returned from disney world from 2/2-2/10 and it was crazy crowded then as well. I’ve gone at that same time a few years back and everything was walk on. This time 45 min on the small rides and over an hour on the big ones. However the weather was perfect so I’ll take that as the big plus. I agree September is the best but it’s just to hot.

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