Heading off to Disney World these days requires a lot more planning than it took years ago. In the olden days, or perhaps the Golden Days, you could throw some bags in the car and drive to Orlando for a week or a simple weekend without doing very much in advance. In this new era of technology, you’ll need hotel reservations, Advance Dining Reservations, and ride reservations using FastPass+, if you don’t want to pay a fortune, get shut out of restaurants or stand in long lines. Disney World planning has become complicated.
Many vacation planners are well aware that travel during holidays can seriously affect the quality of your trip, since many families choose major holidays to vacation in Orlando. I’m talking about summer holidays when school is out, Christmas holidays, Spring Break, etc. It’s natural to expect these times of year to be busy. But when you start to look at a calendar to schedule your trip, you should be aware that there are other events and actually sports competitions that can have an impact on crowds and general traffic at WDW.
Many of the following competitions and events that take place on Disney property may not have that much of an impact on the amounts of people entering the theme parks. Sometimes athletes and chaperones travel to Orlando for competitions, but just covering that expense alone does not always allow for the purchase of park tickets. What they can affect your trip in particularly are the crowd levels at your resort, since in an effort to save money, many student groups stay at the Value Resorts like the All-Stars and Pop Century Resort. Cheering, chanting and people everywhere can take a toll on your sanity during what was intended to be a time to relax. If you typically choose the Value Resorts, these may be dates you want to avoid.
While Mardi Gras is not an actual event that takes place at WDW, many school children get off for several days or the entire week in southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Our coastal Alabama school system shuts down for Monday and Tuesday of Mardi Gras week every year. We live four hours away from New Orleans, but that is close enough for local cities to have their own Mardi Gras parades.
Teens from Argentina and Brazil frequently take school breaks at Disney World in large groups. There are intense discussions on the Internet about the chanting, singing and clapping that occur within these groups. While I am all about having a good time with other students on a trip, many people have complained these large 100+ teen groups (did I mention loud noise and chanting?) created tranquility issues for their time in the theme parks. The word chanting is like the opposite of the word relaxing.
Around the 1st/2nd week of November, New Jersey schools have a teachers’ convention when many families head south to Disney, a time known as “Jersey Week.” This is like the Spring Break of winter for New Jersey schools, and park attendance will definitely increase.
During “Pop Warner Week” in December, Disney hosts the The Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships. Again to save money, football players, cheerleaders, coaches and family members will pack out the Value Resorts, as well as some of the Moderate Resorts. If you can imagine almost 70 football teams and over 400 cheerleading squads there for competition, you will know to expect noise and crowds, especially on busses, and higher there park crowd levels at night when competitions are completed.
Will it be the ruination of a great vacation if you schedule a trip during these events? Absolutely not, but it’s just a good idea to be aware of what is going on at the parks and resorts so you can make an informed decision. Everybody handles crowds and kids differently.
Use this simple layout so you can see how these dates might affect your trip.
College Cheerleading & Dance Team National Championships – January 15-17, 2016
National Dance Team Championship – January 30-31, 2016
South American Tour Groups
National High School Cheerleading Championship – February 6-7, 2016
Twirlmania – February 12-15, 2016
Contest of Champions Nationals – March 4-6, 2016
International All Star Cheerleading Championship – March 12-13, 2016
Mardi Gras Holidays – February 9 is Mardi Gras day in 2016
All Star Cheerleading & Dance Worlds – April 23-25, 2016
South American Tour Groups
Jersey Week – November 10-11 in 2016
Pop Warner Super Bowl – December 5-9, 2016
National Cheer & Dance Championships – December 5-9, 2016
When people ask me why I use a travel agent to help with our trip planning, I say it’s because they are professionally trained to think of things I never in my wildest dreams would have taken into consideration. I work on planning articles, and yet I struggle to keep all the details straight.
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