Crowd Q&A: Marathon Weekend In January

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This letter is typical from our visitors who are planning a Walt Disney World trip during Marathon Weekend.

I booked a vacation from 1/07/2012 to 1/13/2012, and I hear the the Marathon Weekend will be when we arrive. How does this affect crowds typically? It looks like the overall crowd level isn’t that bad, but I don’t know if that is taking into account the Marathon Weekend?

Boone Martin
Galveston, Texas

One way to counteract the low attendance and low revenue of the off-season is to plan special events to bring in specific attendees who might not normally plan a trip for that time of year.  Disney has implemented this strategy well in the past few years with the Pop Warner National Championships in early December, special parties at the Magic Kingdom during Halloween and Christmas, and running races throughout the year. Of the running races, the flagship event is the Walt Disney World Marathon that takes place in early January.

We do take into account the effect of the Marathon Weekend, but it does not have a significant impact on the wait times within the theme parks. Marathon Weekend brings hordes of people to the Walt Disney World Resort at a time when crowds are historically very low. The net effect is that roads and resorts can get crowded, but the wait times in the parks are very reasonable. Plan for a little extra time to get to the parks, but once you are there, enjoy the light crowds.

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

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