How Do Crowd Levels Relate to Total Wait Times?

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TouringPlans logoSo maybe you noticed that TouringPlans released some Crowd Calendar updates this week. And maybe you have a trip planned and are worried that your dates included some crowd level changes. Wouldn’t you like to know how the crowd levels relate to overall Disney wait times? Of course you would. And we’re here to help.

METHODOLOGY

We took two of our most popular touring plans (the One Day Plan for Adults, and the One Day Plan for Parents with Small Children) at the most popular theme park in the world (Magic Kingdom), and optimized them for days at each crowd level – 1 to 10.

With the exception of the “10” day, the Magic Kingdom opens at 9AM. The 10 day, it opens at 8AM.

We start the plan with arrival at park open.

No days have Extra Magic Hours.

Walk speed is set to Average, and the plans balance waiting and walking.

No FastPass+ reservations are used because availability depends on when you are able to reserve them.

We removed the evening fireworks and parades from the plans. Why? Because, if you stay for these, regardless of whether the day is lower crowd day or a higher crowd day, your plan will have to last until after the fireworks.

We took out the breaks in the day – how long you want to spend having lunch or resting is up to you.

We used the same days for each plan.

THE PLANS

Attraction Small Children Plan Adult Plan
Pooh Pooh
Peter Pan’s Flight Peter Pan’s Flight
Haunted Mansion Haunted Mansion
7 Dwarfs Mine Train 7 Dwarfs Mine Train
Buzz Lightyear Buzz Lightyear
Laugh Floor Laugh Floor
Pirates of the Caribbean Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirate’s Adventure Pirate’s Adventure
Tom Sawyer Island PeopleMover
Jungle Cruise Jungle Cruise
Swiss Family Treehouse Swiss Family Treehouse
Country Bears Country Bears
Small World Small World
Philharmagic Philharmagic
Tales with Belle Tiki Room
Under the Sea Under the Sea
Barnstormer Carousel of Progress
Dumbo Liberty Square Riverboat
Meet Mickey Hall of Presidents
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
Splash Mountain

FINDINGS

  • Because of the height restrictions on headliner attractions, when you tour with small children in Magic Kingdom, your waits are remarkably consistent across crowd levels – except on 10 days.
  • For the Adult plan, the total difference in wait time for the whole day from a 1 crowd level to a 5 is half an hour.
  • The total difference in wait time from a 7 to a 9 in the adult plan is 22 minutes
  • The wait time difference between a 9 and a 10 (182 minutes) is larger than the difference between a 2 and 7 (78 minutes).
  • Getting to the parks at open is still the most important thing you can do to save time in line.
  • Using our touring plans optimized for your travel dates make your waits tolerable on even the most crowded days.

GRAPHS

Download as PDF

Results for the Small Children Plan:

Crowd Level Date MK Park Hours Time to Finish (mins) Time Waiting (mins) Time Walking

1

1-13-16

9AM to 8PM

323

87

52

2

1-27-16

9AM to 8PM

323

84

55

3

1-29-16

9AM to 9PM

336

88

64

4

2-1-16

9AM to 10PM

338

96

58

5

1-31-16

9AM to 10PM

342

95

63

6

2-5-16

9AM to 11PM

347

101

62

7

1-15-16

9AM to 12AM

361

112

65

8

1-18-16

9AM to 11PM

370

122

64

9

1-17-16

9AM to 1AM

373

125

64

10

12-27-15

9AM to 11PM

598

344

70

Results for the Adults Plan:

Crowd Level Date MK Park Hours Time to Finish (mins) Time Waiting (mins) Time Walking

1

1-13-16

9AM to 8PM

445

128

69

2

1-27-17

9AM to 8PM

449

132

69

3

1-29-16

9AM to 9PM

457

137

72

4

2-1-16

9AM to 10PM

468

154

66

5

1-31-16

9AM to 10PM

475

158

69

6

2-5-16

9AM to 11PM

489

170

71

7

1-15-16

9AM to 12AM

527

213

66

8

1-18-16

9AM to 11PM

539

225

66

9

1-17-16

9AM to 1AM

549

228

73

10

12-27-15

9AM to 11PM

731

412

71

What do you think? Does this help you interpret the Crowd Calendar numbers? We’re always here to answer your questions.

Laurel Stewart

Laurel has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1971 when she was negative-15 years old and running the Disney races since 2007. Her favorite attraction is Big Thunder Mountain.

22 thoughts on “How Do Crowd Levels Relate to Total Wait Times?

  • May 21, 2015 at 9:25 am
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    Wow I’m amazed at the 10 level and the dramatic increase of the wait time difference just from lower 8 and 9. I guess when park is at capacity (and I assume eventually people aren’t let in), it’s literally a choke point for MK (and likely all the other parks). But it’s nice to know you can still hit all the rides and not be that much different in wait times in every level (except 10 LOL) at all the other levels. The lower the wait times, it just means the more relaxed a day will be. I’m still a stickler in overall crowd volumes though. I’m not one to enjoy being nearly trampled on and practically fighting to the death to get a seat for lunch. Those things are to be considered too as the park crowd level rises.

  • May 21, 2015 at 9:30 am
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    This is very helpful! It makes it a lot clearer to see the actual time differences between these levels. Stay away from level 10’s!!

    • May 21, 2015 at 9:33 am
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      Glad it helps! The cool thing is that when you make a touring plan, we show you all this information (total time, wait time, walk time…) right there. It helps everyone compare the days they’re considering using exactly what they want to do and see, and when they want to get to the parks.

  • May 21, 2015 at 11:07 am
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    This is the article I’ve been waiting for! Thank you so much! Great stuff!

  • May 21, 2015 at 11:27 am
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    Going to use this when people on unnamed message board complain about going into a park assuming a day is a 4 but “really felt more like a 5 or 6”. When in fact, those are so close you wouldn’t notice unless you have a stop watch.

    • May 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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      I think when people are saying what it “felt like”, they’re talking about congestion in walkways, ease or difficulty of getting a table at counter-service restaurants, etc. (imho).

  • May 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm
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    Awesome! Thank you!! Can you do this for the other

    • May 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm
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      *parks too please?

  • May 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm
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    This is great information. Thank you! It is amazing how generally linear the results are from 1-9 (minor bump from 6 to 7).

    Question: Does your data also suggest whether FPP has smoothed the impact of increased crowds?

    • May 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm
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      Yes, Len did an article on this last month. Wait times are smoothing out. http://blog.touringplans.com/2015/04/07/go-west-magic-kingdom-fastpass-user/

      Between FPP and Disney’s aggressive discounting/special events in previously lower crowd seasons, we’re seeing much more level waits from attraction to attraction and from time of year to time of year. Which is, for Disney, a big win from an operational perspective. They can keep staffing more constant and see less cyclical revenue throughout the year.

  • May 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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    Laurel: Great article. Thank you!

  • May 22, 2015 at 6:56 pm
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    To my way of thinking, this is a perfect demonstration of why it was a mistake to change the 1-10 scale to a percentile. When the crowd levels directly reflected wait times, they were useful in splitting up the busier days into “crowded,” “horrible,” and “go to Gatorland” levels. Now, since the 10% of busiest days are all forced into 10s, the only meaningful distinction is between a 10 and a not-10.

  • May 23, 2015 at 10:13 am
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    Awesome article! Are some of the test dates in the future though? 2016? 2017? 🙂

    • May 25, 2015 at 4:53 pm
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      Yes, the dates are all future. We don’t optimize plans that occur in the past.

  • May 23, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    I love tables and graphs, but I have a question. When I subtract (Adult plan) the time waiting from the time to finish, each works out to about 317 min. From that, I subtract the time walking, and the mean result is about 250 min. I assume that means that for the 22 attractions, it takes about 250 min of on ride time, but that is more than 11 minutes per attraction. Many of the attractions are in the 5 min range, so this can’t be the mean ride time. What am I missing? Thanks.

    • May 25, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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      It does mean ride time. The times are all shown in your touring plan.

      • May 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm
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        My bad. Thanks Laurel. I guess some of those attraction times really are quite long (Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square Riverboat, Carousel of Progress) and can really add to the total ride time. Thanks.

  • May 23, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    Also, the total wait time on a crowd level ‘9’, for example, is about 10 min per attraction (228 min wait time divided by 22 attractions). On crowded days like this at MK, wait times for several attractions (Ie: Space, Spalash and BTMRR) later in the day are long. How can the total wait time be 228 min for the day, on a crowded day? Thanks for all the help. I’m just trying to make sense of this because the numbers don’t seem realistic

    • May 25, 2015 at 4:50 pm
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      All the waits were calculated using a touring plan and arriving at park open. If you were to wing it, or show up later, you would no doubt see longer waits. We break everything out in the touring plan by attraction if you want experiment with your own sets of attractions.

      • May 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm
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        That makes sense. Thanks again

  • June 4, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    Do you know, how the total time changes, if you use FP+ for the 3 attractions with the most wait time on each of the days?

    • June 4, 2015 at 9:24 am
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      I haven’t run this with FP+ because people make different choices. However anyone can create a touring plan with these attractions, add FP+ reservations, optimize and see the results. Everything in the article was done with tools available to anyone.

Comments are closed.