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Spring Break 2024

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Mad Dog

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Jan 30, 2013
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Pittsburgh area
What's going on with Spring Break this year? Lots of softness at Disney and even Universal. Crowds were very soft until March 2nd, and then erupted through Friday March 8th at Disney and even more so at Universal. Then the bottom dropped out again.On Saturday/Sunday and Monday (and Tues. morning so far) WDW is experiencing Sept. crowd levels. WDW lowest two tiers of APs are blocked as of Monday, but they weren't on Sat. & Sunday. Universal was moderate on Sat., but nosedived Sunday/ Monday, and this morning looks soft. Weather hasn't been bad. Spring break is over by April 6th, so there's not time left to recuperate. One week of heavy crowds won't cut it. This does not bode well for the summer season. Looking like all those price deals out there are reactions to internal number projection worries, for sure. Level 2's and 3's line times (Touring Plans) just aren't the types of numbers we ever see this close to Easter. (I always acknowledge line times aren't actual attendance figures, but they are strong indicators of how crowded a park 'feels')
 
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The easy answer is inflation I think. When it costs $800/month for groceries then paying out the wazoo to go ride rides and eat chain restaurant food for a week probably seems less appealing to the average family.

I’m biased because of my proximity to the parks, but I’ve always viewed them as a supplementary type of vacation that comes second to a more culturally enriching family vacation where you actually go experience something authentic or natural. With more competition for people’s disposal income now, I can easily see how the theme park vacation gets set aside. And for those families that prioritize the theme park resort as the big destination trip, why wait until Spring Break or Summer? Make the most of it and take the time off to do it when things are slower.
 
I think we'll have to see how the rest of the month goes before making a definitive statement on crowds. If we continue to see 2s and 3s on the Touring Plans calendar, obviously there's something going on. But if we compare Spring Break 2024 (March 2-April 6)* to Spring Break 2023 (March 10-April 15)**, there's not a tremendous difference in the average crowd rating (6.86 last year, 6.58 this year).

But I agree with @OrlandoGuy — if there is a legitimate slowdown, it's for the same reasons we're expecting summer to be soft (minus the weather). People have less disposable income, international travel has been a tremendous value for Americans, and the surge of attendance in 2021/22 was almost always going to see course correction.

Theme parks are a wildly expensive way to go on vacation, so it'll be interesting to see if this is a long or short-term issue for Orlando.

*I know these dates are fungible, but it's a good way to compare the same number of dates
**Ditto
 
So, from personal observation, up to this weekend Orlando was rather busy. I4 was dead yesterday, it was bizarre. It took me 15 minutes to get from Celebration to Universal at 6PM... that usually takes 30-45 minutes on any given day.

There was a significant uptick in attendance last October once the FL resident deals started to kick in, so we'll see what happens this year
 
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I’d agree it’s due to inflation, I personally don’t think it’s worth going to any park right now unless you commit to an annual pass and do 2 visits in one year to get the moneys “worth” however that is not something a lot of people are willing to commit to unless you are on a forum like us. And I’d assume there is a higher % of first time/ more casual guests during spring break and summer months compared to off season. The one plus Universal has for it is it’s much easier to get your moneys worth with an AP with 2 weekend trips compared to Disney where it’s 2 5-7 day trips. (Based on my calculations/ for the way I travel to each of them)

Even the pricing of cruises is going up but it’s been cheaper for me to go on a week cruise on a newer ship with food included then go to Universal without an AP and espcially Disney recently. And I even travel solo, so I pay double occupancy for cruises and it still makes sense for me. I canceled the Disneyland part of trip in January because for 3 days it was going to be more expensive than the week Mexican Riviera cruise I was taking before even including food/genie plus.
 
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I think we'll have to see how the rest of the month goes before making a definitive statement on crowds. If we continue to see 2s and 3s on the Touring Plans calendar, obviously there's something going on. But if we compare Spring Break 2024 (March 2-April 6)* to Spring Break 2023 (March 10-April 15)**, there's not a tremendous difference in the average crowd rating (6.86 last year, 6.58 this year).

But I agree with @OrlandoGuy — if there is a legitimate slowdown, it's for the same reasons we're expecting summer to be soft (minus the weather). People have less disposable income, international travel has been a tremendous value for Americans, and the surge of attendance in 2021/22 was almost always going to see course correction.

Theme parks are a wildly expensive way to go on vacation, so it'll be interesting to see if this is a long or short-term issue for Orlando.

*I know these dates are fungible, but it's a good way to compare the same number of dates
**Ditto
Looking like a bit of a trend. If I recall correctly, 2023 had a good start to Spring Break, and then it tailed off towards the end of March/most of April with a later Easter, resulting in the beginning of revenue shortfalls for both Disney and Universal throughout the rest of 2023. Last week was tremendous, that's what makes this week seem peculiar. Super big numbers to crickets overnight. It's not so much the overall average, it's going from 9 & 10's to 2's and 3's when expected crowd levels are 8's. Rarely is TP off like this, especially since projections are partly based on eastern and midwest USA schools and colleges vacation schedules and Disney ticket prices.
 
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That's for damn sure. We're doing some exploratory research on going to Japan this year.
By the end of this year we'll have been on our fifth international trip in two years. The only significant domestic travel we've done is to Orlando. That's how strong the dollar is compared to, well, just about everywhere else.
Super big numbers to crickets overnight. It's not so much the overall average, it's going from 9 & 10's to 2's and 3's when expected crowd levels are 8's. Rarely is TP off like this, especially since projections are partly based on eastern and midwest USA schools and colleges vacation schedules and Disney ticket prices.
Totally, that's why I'm curious to see if things continue to tail off or if the start to this week was a (very) strange blip.
 
Looking like a bit of a trend. If I recall correctly, 2023 had a good start to Spring Break, and then it tailed off towards the end of March/most of April with a later Easter, resulting in the beginning of revenue shortfalls for both Disney and Universal throughout the rest of 2023. Last week was tremendous, that's what makes this week seem peculiar. Super big numbers to crickets overnight. It's not so much the overall average, it's going from 9 & 10's to 2's and 3's when expected crowd levels are 8's. Rarely is TP off like this, especially since projections are partly based on eastern and midwest USA schools and colleges vacation schedules and Disney ticket prices.
Not sure the exact dates you’re looking at but the website says Universal’s Power Passes just started getting blocked out. Wonder if that one-week surge was just a lucky few locals who’s Spring Breaks lined up with valid pass windows, which are now shut down.
 
Not sure the exact dates you’re looking at but the website says Universal’s Power Passes just started getting blocked out. Wonder if that one-week surge was just a lucky few locals who’s Spring Breaks lined up with valid pass windows, which are now shut down.
That's why I mentioned that WDW went 'real soft' on Sat. & Sunday, even before the bottom two AP levels were blocked on Monday. This huge drop is really strange, for this time of year. I'd expect the week before Easter gets strong again, but these huge swings are almost unprecedented. Just like those two weeks at Dockside with 44% occupancy before last week's big attendance jump. That hotel's never had numbers approaching that level since it opened, I've been told. Disney was super busy like Universal last week, until Friday.
 
UOR tickets are $159 ($214 2 parks) for this week, jumps to $179 ($234 2 parks) next week for a 1 Day 1 Park ticket.

We've reached the point where a family of 4 has to invest $1K at a minimum to visit the parks.

I love the parks, but when you can spend a fraction of the cost for a cruise or elsewhere, with no stress of waiting in lines, hot weather, etc., the better choice becomes more apparent.
 
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And cruises know this.

They aren't competing against each other. They're competing against land vacations - (which is mostly Orlando).
The cruise lines have been doing fantastic work with their cruises and private island destinations for a far better value. It's odd, since Disney is literally in the game and they know that cruise guests are far happier than at WDW. DCL isn't a value compared to other cruises... but it certainly is a far better value than WDW, even with their ridiculous pricing.
 
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It's worth considering how and why cruises are a "much better value" than land vacations. I understand travelers see them as direct competitors for their money and vacation time, but Walt Disney World couldn't compete on price even if it wanted to (which, obviously, it does not).
 
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Yeah, anybody who has already planned Spring Break trips (heck even summer), will have done so by now... if past summer is any indication, us locals are gonna have empty parks to enjoy lol
That's a good thing for me. I avoid summer in Orlando, but since this is the year we promised our 10 & 11 yr. old grandchildren a long Disney vacation, dates are limited due to school. I started as early as possible, June 6th departure, to avoid the worst heat. We've been there in late May often and it's not too bad weather wise. The only exception was a short week vacation in mid June 2021 when covid masks went off at Universal. And even that wasn't too bad. So I'm really hoping the WDW parks are slow, and I refuse to use the over complicated and phone demanding Genie+. Yes, I booked this about nine months ago.
 
Obviously I don't disagree with comments re: rising prices, but I think the schedule, particularly wrt central Florida schools, was out of whack this year. Typically in Daytona it went Bike Week the first week of March -> college Spring Break week ->weeks of family Spring Break running until weekend after Easter (whenever that fell). This year, Osceola was just after Bike Week, and then Orange and Seminole were a different week. Mixing things up, like HHN Hell Week in October last year.

Is there a noticeable pattern in Spring Break schedules in the northeast or PA/OH (the two main feeder markets)? Are they waiting for Easter week?

If this proves to be a trend, and with EU not opening until after Spring Break, Universal better book Taylor Swift for a 2025 Mardi Gras residency.
 
Obviously I don't disagree with comments re: rising prices, but I think the schedule, particularly wrt central Florida schools, was out of whack this year. Typically in Daytona it went Bike Week the first week of March -> college Spring Break week ->weeks of family Spring Break running until weekend after Easter (whenever that fell). This year, Osceola was just after Bike Week, and then Orange and Seminole were a different week. Mixing things up, like HHN Hell Week in October last year.

Is there a noticeable pattern in Spring Break schedules in the northeast or PA/OH (the two main feeder markets)? Are they waiting for Easter week?

If this proves to be a trend, and with EU not opening until after Spring Break, Universal better book Taylor Swift for a 2025 Mardi Gras residency.
In western Pa. almost all school breaks for Spring occur within the week, before or after, Easter falls. It's just about always been like that. And generally it's only a few days, two or three, off. College schedules though, are all over the map when it comes to Spring Break. .....I know that Touring Plans maps out all the spring break schedules just about everywhere. And they had WDW at around level eight (high) for most of the WDW parks this week. Same with Universal. I can't recall them hardly ever missing the mark by 5 or 6 levels.....Disney & Universal also must have anticipated better crowds since they both put limitations on their lower level AP passes for this week.
 
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Obviously I don't disagree with comments re: rising prices, but I think the schedule, particularly wrt central Florida schools, was out of whack this year. Typically in Daytona it went Bike Week the first week of March -> college Spring Break week ->weeks of family Spring Break running until weekend after Easter (whenever that fell). This year, Osceola was just after Bike Week, and then Orange and Seminole were a different week. Mixing things up, like HHN Hell Week in October last year.

Is there a noticeable pattern in Spring Break schedules in the northeast or PA/OH (the two main feeder markets)? Are they waiting for Easter week?

If this proves to be a trend, and with EU not opening until after Spring Break, Universal better book Taylor Swift for a 2025 Mardi Gras residency.
Could be that as well, a few Florida schools were out last week and the traditional Spring Break option (South Beach/Ft. Lauderdale) is pretty much a demilitarized zone at the moment.