If you want to avoid crowds at Disney World in February 2015 you need only to look at the dates surrounding Presidents Day (February 16), Mardi Gras (February 17) and the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (February 19-22). That’s right – all three events happen in the same week, which is a recipe for crowded parks and long lines. The last time Mardi Gras and Presidents Day were in the same week was 2012. Posted wait times at Soarin’ hit a high of 200 minutes and regularly hovered around 140.
Having these events into a single week has a silver lining of course, since it leaves the rest of February untouched by holidays and special events. The long term trend has been to see wait times higher than in the past over the same season and we expect that to continue in February. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how Disney crowds will ebb and flow this February.
Early February: The Super Bowl’s Impact on Disney Crowds
Super Bowl Sunday is February 1, 2015 and the Animal Kingdom is hosting an Extra Magic Hour in the morning from 8 to 9 a.m. Here’s a list of good places in Walt Disney World watch the Super Bowl. As you’d expect, the ESPN Club at the Boardwalk is much busier than normal, as is any restaurant with a big screen. Arrive really early to claim a good seat.
One question we get around this time of year is whether Disney World crowds leave the parks to watch the Super Bowl. As this chart shows, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that wait times drop after kickoff in a significantly different way than other Sundays in winter.
The rest of early February should have moderate crowds. In fact, the Magic Kingdom has slightly shorter park hours in 2015 versus the same days in 2014. From February 3rd through February 10th, the Magic Kingdom is open 1 less hour per day to day guests than in 2014. That’s usually an indication that Disney is expecting slightly lower crowds. It could also mean that Disney wants to wait until the last minute to see exactly what the crowd conditions are in the park, and they may extend the Magic Kingdom’s park hours accordingly.
Mid-February: Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and Mardi Gras Perfect Storm
Presidents Day is Monday, February 16 and our wait time models suggest that the real influx of holiday guests begins the week before, on Thursday, February 12, perhaps so families can get a long weekend in. The numbers also suggest the pre-Presidents day crowds will be a little larger than in 2014, the result of a higher percentage of schools being out of session. Crowds will build gradually through Valentine’s Day and into the third week of the month.
The third week of February is the busiest of the month. Holiday-level crowds will have arrived a few days before the holiday Monday and will continue the whole week, although the second half of the week has noticeably less extreme wait times. It will still be jam-packed but there will be a definite peak on the 15th through the 17th. Consider touring plans mandatory if you plan to be in the parks. Events surrounding the Disney Princess Half Marathon begin officially on Thursday, February 19 although the races don’t commence until the day after. Expect the parks to have lots of runners proudly wearing their medals on Saturday and Sunday.
Presidents Day ranks in the top 5 busiest holidays, with wait times similar to Thanksgiving Day in November. Mardi Gras (when not coinciding with Presidents Day), Valentines Day and Super Bowl Sunday are about average in terms of crowds. The chart below shows how February’s single-day holidays compare to others throughout the year (data from 2009-2014):
Late February Crowds
The final week of February brings a return to moderate crowd levels as the parks prepare for the soon-to-arrive Spring Break rush, which starts in March. In fact, from February 23 on, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have slightly fewer hours of operation in 2015 than in 2014. That could mean one of two things: either Disney is expecting slightly lower crowds versus 2014, or they’re hoping not to have to extend park hours to save on labor costs. Either way, check our Disney Crowd Calendar for the latest news on park hours.
New Crowd Calendar Infographic
Here’s a new infographic showing what February 2015 Disney crowds should be like day by day. Click on the graphic for the full-size image, and use the comments below to leave feedback.