Planning for Christmas in July

by Fred Hazelton, contributing writer

As extremely hot weather sweeps across much of the United States it seems strange to write about the Christmas holidays, but late spring is the time of year at when we gather school schedules for the largest hundred school districts and for the 2016-2017 school year we have noticed something interesting.

This year Christmas Day occurs on a Sunday, which means many school boards were faced with the decision of whether to take a two-week break starting on December 23 or to start a week earlier on December 16. While most school districts selected the former, the split between the two dates is larger than we usually see. In a typical year 20 percent of schools are in session four days before Christmas Day, but in 2016 that rises dramatically to 50 percent. If you have children that will be on school break the week before Christmas in 2016, your advantage over the masses is magnified this year since crowds will not be as bad compared to a typical year.

Christmas-season crowds fill Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Lorree Tachell.

After New Year's Day 2017, the percentage of school districts in session is about the same as what we see historically, but the school holiday periods on the calendar are much later than usual. The percentage of schools back in session doesn't reach 90 percent until January 9, 2017. That leaves a lot of distance between the historical peak of Christmas crowds between December 29 and January 1. It may be the case that crowds will thin out a little faster than we would normally see, making it an ideal year to take the family to Walt Disney World over the hollidays.

Let's be clear however, Christmas at Walt Disney World is the single busiest time of the year, without exception. Crowds between December 23, 2016 and January 9, 2017 will be extreme. However, if you had always imagined bringing the family on a Christmas vacation to WDW, this may be the best year to do so in terms of crowds. At the very least, thinking about snowy December may help ease the summer heat.