Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – October 18 to 24, 2015

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How Did The Disney World Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?
How Did The Disney World Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

Last week, Disney World crowds continued to be up compared to the same period in previous years however the difference between what we saw and what we predicted was only one index level on our scale four of the seven days. When we missed by more than one level it was driven entirely by crowds at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. The other two parks saw crowds at or even below what we predicted each day last week. In the case of the Studios, that park continues to struggle with a lack of high capacity attractions.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar:

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, October 18, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
6

The Disney World Crowd Calendar did a great job last Sunday with each estimate coming in within one point of what we observed. The calendar’s estimates for Epcot have actually been more accurate this year than last year and that trend continued last week. Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were the most crowded, mostly because Magic Kingdom hosted another Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Epcot
6
5
Hollywood Studios
7
8
Animal Kingdom
8
8

Monday, October 19, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
10

Magic Kingdom crowds surged to a level ’10’ on Monday with average wait times like 62 minutes at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and 77 minutes at Space Mountain. These are both holiday peak-type averages, normally reserved for the busiest times of the year, not late October. The other three parks hit averages that closely matched what the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted.

Epcot
7
7
Hollywood Studios
6
8
Animal Kingdom
6
5

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
2
5

Tuesday was a good example of how Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios pushed the resort wide crowd level up from what was expected. Normally a Tuesday at Magic Kingdom with shortened park hours (due to a Halloween party) a day after a midnight closing would have very low crowds – not this year. Most notable were the averages at Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise, 28 minutes and 38 minutes respectfully.

Epcot
6
4
Hollywood Studios
4
8
Animal Kingdom
4
5

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
8

Wednesday was a similar story from the day before. Wait times at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were much higher than the other two parks. In the case of the Studios, The Great Movie Ride continued to break seasonal records with an average of 27 minutes while Star Tours hit a 34-minute average, a crowd level ‘9’ for that attraction.

Epcot
4
4
Hollywood Studios
2
6
Animal Kingdom
3
2

Thursday, October 22, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
3
5

Crowd levels settled noticeably on Thursday. Epcot and Animal Kingdom had crowd levels lower that predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar while the other two had crowd levels two points higher. Dinosaur stood out with a 16-minute wait time average, which represents a crowd level ‘1’.

Epcot
6
5
Hollywood Studios
4
6
Animal Kingdom
6
3

Friday, October 23, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
6

Once again we saw a surge on Friday driven entirely by Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Pirates of the Caribbean averaged 34 minutes which is a crowd level ‘9’ for that attraction while Space Mountain averaged only 5 minutes higher at 39. Peter Pan’s Flight had the highest average wait at 63 minutes.

Epcot
6
6
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
7
7

Saturday, October 24, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
9

Saturday’s crowds were significant at all parks except Epcot where we saw wait times one level lower than predicted. Disney Hollywood Studios hosted Morning Extra Magic Hour and two of its headliners averaged wait times higher than 80 minutes – Toy Story Midway Mania at 89 and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at 80 minutes even.

Epcot
7
6
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
6
8
What to Expect This Week
October 25 to 31, 2015

The final week of October is likely to bring festive parks as we conclude the Halloween season at Disney World. Crowds will be busy all week, especially at the Magic Kingdom’s final few Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties.

To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

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 fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

38 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – October 18 to 24, 2015

  • October 27, 2015 at 8:39 am
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    A statistician co-worker once told me that adding the price of gas to his forecast models caused his predictions to be significantly more accurate. And he was analyzing welfare fraud where you wouldn’t expect a correlation. I would think it would have a direct correlation on vacation predictors. Do you guys take gas prices into account?

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 10:29 am
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      Thanks Michelle, no we don’t specifically use gas prices as a predictor.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 8:55 am
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    With the increased crowd levels this Fall, is it safe to say there is no more “slow time” at WDW? Last year we were there the week of Columbus Day and it was crowded then. We planned to go back again next year in mid-October, but after seeing this year’s crowd levels for mid-October, we have changed our trip to early December. I realize we will run into the Pop Warner crowds then, but at least the temperatures should be more pleasant. Is there a reason for these outrageous crowd levels this Fall? Is it really just more kids out for Fall Break, or is there something more to it? I’m worried that these crowd levels are going to extend into all times of year from now on. I always use my touring plans and have never had to wait more than 35 minutes for any attraction, even in mid-July, but I’m afraid that might change soon too.

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 9:49 am
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      I would like to know if the crowd calendar estimates take into account factors like the Free Dining promo. It just seems that crowds are higher than normal during the typical “slow” periods and it seems eerily similar to the times of this promo. This is hugely popular and you can tell just by the level of difficulty one has in getting dining reservations. Disney offers promos such as these to drive up attendance and also they are attempting to level the crowds out to move those trips out of the traditionally high peak holiday times. Just an observation, but as long as these promos exist the days of the “slow” season are over. I think the calendar needs to reflect that because a lot of people base their decision on when to travel on what these estimates say.

      Reply
      • October 27, 2015 at 10:33 am
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        Yes EJ, the crowd calendar takes into account all promotions at Disney World. Free Dining has been an annual benefit to visitors in the fall but we have not seen wait times like this before during this time of year.

        Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 10:31 am
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      I think that despite the increases we have seen in 2015 there will always be times of year that are less busy than others it may just be that the gap between the busiest times and the slowest times is narrowing.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 9:37 am
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    Do you factor in school holidays from other countries? I know its half term holiday this week (and for some last week) here in the UK. When my children were at school (and my daughters had 2 weeks off school at the end of October/beginning of November) we would regularly go to WDW during these 2 weeks as the holiday was cheaper, its less busy and not so hot as it would be if we went in the main school holidays which are usually the end of July and the whole of August. We also love MNSSHP.

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 10:34 am
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      Yes Ruth, we do track some out of country school schedules but the vast majority of Disney World attendance is driven by American school schedules.

      Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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      I thought your comment was interesting, because we were there last week and I heard and met a lot of Brits on vacation. I was wondering if they had a special or something.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 9:43 am
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    After all of the super-crowded Wednesdays we’ve seen at MK in the last few weeks, I’ve been waiting for next Wednesday’s ‘2’ at Magic Kingdom to see a jump. Is the thinking that the absence of hard ticket parties during Jersey week will spread the crowds out more? I’ll be there next Wednesday, I sure hope you’re right!!

    Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 9:58 am
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    More and more, I’m thinking this is a fast pass effect. Especially when you see Pirates with a similar wait time to Space Mountain. It’s mostly rides that didn’t previously have fast pass, that are seeing the huge line increases.
    It’s not the parks are more crowded than ever. It’s simply that FP is causing longer standby lines, with most people actually using FP. I wouldn’t be surprised if FP is doubling standby lines on attractions that didn’t previously have FP.

    The take away — the fast pass system is no longer optional for efficient touring, it is a necessity in Magic Kingdom, regardless of crowd levels. Instead of have 6 20-30 minute lines over a touring period, you get 3 fast passes, and 3 40-60 minute lines.

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 10:36 am
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      I like your theory Adam, and it is backed up by our data. Fastpass+ has increased the wait time at attractions that previously did not have FASTPASS however that was also the case in the fall of 2014 and we didn’t see these high wait times. That tells us that there is more to it than that.

      Reply
      • October 27, 2015 at 10:53 am
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        Fred, could it be that fall of 2014 had a lot less people aware of and using FP+ that this fall? Another difference between last year and this year is the amount of attractions closed at Hollywood Studios, could that have some effect on lines lenght in other attractions?

        Reply
      • October 27, 2015 at 10:59 am
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        I was going to type the same comments as Adam but then I saw his post. I was there in the spring of 2014 and I saw lines at Pirates and HM that I’ve never seen in my lifetime, right when those two rides got FP+. I’ve been reading these blogs for weeks and what I haven’t seen too many comments about is the actual crowd level in the parks not the wait time. When I’ve seen park levels at a 10 you physically have a difficult time walking through the park. Is there TP people on the ground in the parks now doing research to maybe see the actual crowd level and possibly even ask people why they are there?? A random Tuesday in October should never be a 10 which is same as Easter or the summer when most of the country is on vacation.

        Reply
        • October 27, 2015 at 11:15 am
          Permalink

          We are Passholders from out of state who make it in about once a month. We only do rope drop at Magic Kingdom and then use a few FPs so we never actually wait in any lines or pay much attention to wait times, but the park just feels so much more crowded. We are usually on our way out of the Magic Kingdom before 11 (on a 9 am opening day) and we are used to encountering small crowds only on the parade route and being able to breeze through the Emporium. Now folks are packed in like sardines all throughout the park by that time. We timed it. It is taking us twice as long to get out of the park as it used to. If late January and February aren’t any better this year, this will likely be our last year as Passholders. It’s just not as fun.

          Reply
      • October 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm
        Permalink

        yes, but fall of 2014 had a lower adoption rate of FP+ (just a theory). It was new, it wasn’t as well understood.
        As adoption of FP+ has grown, you get the significant increase in wait times.
        Likely being exacerbated by other factors: Closures in DHS, pushing more people to MK. Slight increases in attendance.

        So take increased FP+ adoption, some exacerbating factors, and MAYBE it is enough to explain the current crazy FP times.

        I note in many of those October “10” days, the lines for the mountains aren’t necessarily ridiculous.

        I’ve also seen some crazy fluctuations. For example, in my book, it seems Jungle Cruise and Pirates should usually have similar wait times. But there are times when I’ve peaked, and seen 60 minutes at one, and 10 minutes at the other. My hypothesis: With 70-80% of capacity going to FP, the lines can’t quickly adapt to sudden standby surges. If a tour group of 50 people suddenly gets on a standby line.. that would have only increased waits by 5-10 minutes under the old system. But under the new system, that can increase the wait by 20-30 minutes.

        In other words, because of FP, the standby lines are much much more sensitive to moderate changes in the number of people getting on line. If 10 people get on line… You may really be the 30th person to get on the ride because of FP priority. So not a huge difference in wait between being 10th and 30th…. it’s a difference of a 1 minute wait, and a 2 minute wait. But now, if you are the 20th person on the standby line.. you’re really the 60th person on the ride, it can be the difference between a 2 minute wait and a 4 minute wait… But now, if you’re the 100th person on the standby line, you are really the 300th person to ride… the difference starts to become huge, instead of a 6 minute wait, you now have a 20 minute wait. And if 150 people are on line ahead of you, instead of only a 9 minute wait, you now face a 30 minute line!
        So go from a 10 person line to a 150 person line under the old system, maybe you go from a 1 minute wait to a 10 minute wait.
        Go from a 10 person line to a 150 person line under the new system, you go from a 1 minute wait to a 30 minute wait.
        This would also explain why “1” days have become “2” days.. but “5” days have become “10” days. The lines just escalate a lot more quickly.

        What I’m really wondering…. Will Disney make adjustments to reduce this affect. Maybe give less FPs. Maybe we see off site guests limited to 2 FPs. Use less capacity for FP and increase non-FP capacity. Or is Disney happy with the changes… are guests more satisfied with their 3 FPs, even if it means all the other lines have become insane.

        Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 10:51 am
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      Agree with you Adam, I blame FP+ for messing with wait times, which is the basis of the Crowd Report calculation. The other reasons people argue: Free Dining, Resort Discounts, Hollidays in countries other than the US happen every year and have been taken into account, so, as another post in Touringplans state that’s not a factor. Just look at the FP+ return queue for Toy Story Mid-Mania at HS and you’ll know something is not working as it should.

      Reply
      • October 28, 2015 at 5:01 pm
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        TSMM has always been insane, so I can’t draw any conclusions from it.
        As you said… Free dining, resort discounts…. none of this stuff is new.

        There is though the possibility of the “straw that broke the camels back”… In other words, it is conceivable that even a small increase in crowds has pushed operations beyond what it can handle. Like a bulging damn, add a few more drops of water, and it bursts.

        Reply
    • October 28, 2015 at 2:47 pm
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      We were in Magic Kingdom on the 18th and 20th. Pirates was down for good chunks of both days and those with FP+ during the down times could come back later. That likely accounted for some high waits at that location. As it was, we only rode once this trip during our 3 days at MK even with a FP+ for it on two of those days.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 11:12 am
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    There are no more “slow seasons”. We went early December 2014 and it was way more crowded than we had ever seen. We are going back in 2 weeks and I know it will be mobbed. Hey WDW, there is only one simple solution: a FIFTH THEME PARK! Thank you please do that ASAP…:) On that note, what should the theme be? “Kingdom Of The Villains”? Thrill rides?

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 1:31 pm
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      ^^^^^ THIS. Take all that space at Downtown Disney…er…Disney Springs and add a fifth gate!

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm
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    Could the impact mostly relate to the popularity of the parties at the Magic Kingdom? They’ve sold out every date, and it does seem like everyone is going to the MK in the days that don’t have parties.

    Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 3:04 pm
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    If Disney is “assisting” in pushing these wait times up, as some have suggested (reducing capacity, tweaking FastPass+, etc.), I’m left to wonder: why would they inflate wait times during the traditional slow period? Could it be to insure that there are very few “bronze” days on the schedule at all? Is this all an elaborate ruse to continue to justify money spent on the FastPass+ system?

    I’m rarely a conspiracy theorist, but times such as these make one wonder.

    And while some may be frustrated by problems with the TouringPlans predictions lately (and not without reason), I’m already thankful for the service this may provide in keeping Disney honest on their tiered assignments should that day come. It will be interesting to when days are priced in a high tier, but TP shows reports suggesting otherwise.

    Reply
    • October 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm
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      Stand-by wait time at Pirates was 45 min. I timed it and we were on the ride in 25 min. Same with Small World. Posted at 30 min and were in the boat in 15 min.

      Reply
      • October 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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        I think it’s safe to say this is common practice at Disney. They inflate the posted wait times at certain attractions to help with crowd distribution throughout the park. When you’re in the park use the TP Lines app instead of the My Disney app. Lines will give you more accurate expected wait times whereas My Disney app will just give you the posted wait times. I tested this during my last visit to WDW.

        Reply
        • October 28, 2015 at 3:49 pm
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          I worded my thoughts poorly. Meant to discuss the idea that the busier parks might be Disney purposefully creating crowds to justify the higher annual pass costs. They have said one reason for those increases is to help manage crowds in parks. But there is also the rumor of coming tiered pricing for day passes as well, with bronze, silver and gold days priced accordingly. If that day comes, gold days will be a windfall for the company (more people all paying higher prices), and bronze days a day they make less on (few people who also happen to be paying less also.) So clearly, the company will benefit by having as few bronze days as possible it would seem. And thus…if this all comes to pass, it would seem they stand to benefit for making a case that fall isn’t as slow as it used to be…

          Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm
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    We just completed a trip here and I concur with all the comments above about unprecedented levels of crowding. We live in the UK which has school holidays during the last two weeks of October and were led to believe by the crowd calendar that this was a good time to visit because of low crowds. Not so. The crowds felt as bad as they were on our last visit in late July 2014. We were especially surprised to see so many American families with school age children there during the weekdays. I can understand why people would do that but if it is widespread now the crowd calendar should take this practice into account.

    Re particular days, we were also in Epcot on Thursday October 22 and I don’t agree with the crowd level posted here at all. The headliner attractions especially Soarin had long waits early on in the day and World Showcase was absolutely inundated with people. We were at DHS on the Friday October 23 and same story. Very crowded, long waits even at Great Movie Ride. If we hadn’t used EMH that day we wouldn’t have gotten on any rides without massive waits.

    We also experienced badly crowded restaurants even though we had a reservation for all of our major meals.

    I would agree FP+ has had some effect by driving up wait times at more rides, which compounds the feeling that the park is crowded even if there are fewer people in it than on a typical summer day. But the main cause is just plain crowding. So in sum we may have to accept a new normal of crowds year around.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm
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      Yes Kristian, this is common practice and obviously happening more now than ever before. Last October we took my two nieces out of school for a week to go to WDW. But as many have said here last October wasn’t that bad as far as crowds go. It was certainly busy but quite manageable. It sounds like more people are doing this this fall though pushing crowd levels up.

      Also I absolutely agree with others that Hollywood Studios is going to be crazy crowded until they are done with the park expansion…and that could take YEARS! Once they are finished transforming the Norway Pavilion at Epcot and complete the Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom those parks will get mobbed as well. It’s nice that more families are able to travel and experience WDW. It means our economy is improving and people are able to get out more…but unfortunately it also means more crowded WDW theme parks. I love the idea of a fifth theme park, but that is a pipe dream really 😉

      Reply
  • October 27, 2015 at 5:25 pm
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    I visited WDW the first week of Sept, which was actually slow (the final slow week ever?). I’m fascinated by the ongoing reports of the long waits and big crowds during the “slow season.” I’m not even planning a trip anymore, but I cant keep myself from regularly checking back in to Touring Plans to hear what the data wizards are going to come up with.

    Reply
  • October 28, 2015 at 11:47 am
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    Can someone explain how the colour coding works as it doesn’t always seem to align with the little chevrons. I take it green and the tick means that the prediction aligns, but what does the green mean? For example, Oct 18, MK is green with actual higher than predicted, and EP, green with actual lower than predicted? which to me means that the green colour is not connected, but then some have green and others don’t. I’m pretty sure there is a connection, as it would make sense to be one.

    Would it make more sense to have actual being same as or less than prediction as green, and actual higher than prediction as red (or shades of red depending on the difference)? But keep the chevrons. To me, visually, it tells me much faster as to how accurate you guys are.

    Still love the tool and the work you guys do.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2015 at 11:55 am
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      Jason, as far as I understand green means they are accurate with a 1 point margin (doesn’t matter if it’s up or down).
      Te colors in the chart just indicate: chevron – Touring plans prediction, blue – actual crowd registered.

      Reply
      • October 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm
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        Thanks!

        I knew there was a connection.

        Reply
  • October 28, 2015 at 11:58 am
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    I also want to aknowledge the great job Touring plans does with predictions and with being honest to show when their predictions are inaccurate. That really enforces reliability.

    Reply
  • October 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm
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    Is there any way to measure whether Disney is reducing attraction throughput? Anyone who’s been on Tower of Terror when an elevator goes down can tell you how it can affect wait time. I wonder if that’s part of why wait times are higher. Doing so would allow Disney to reduce staff costs and other overhead.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm
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      Excellent observation Brian, THAT could explain a lot of things.

      Reply
  • October 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm
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    We were there last week. In our non-scientific experience a 20 minute wait for Mission Space was walk on, 40 minute wait for Little Mermaid in MK was actually 20. But 50 minute wait at Rock n Roller coaster was 50, and 30 minute wait at Star Tours was 35. So times in Hollywood studios seems accurate.

    Reply
  • October 28, 2015 at 10:16 pm
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    I see elements of truth/answers in everyone’s ideas, and I’m eagerly awaiting Touring Plans’ final thoughts. However, I do disagree with people who think that there “aren’t that many more people” in the parks right now. We were at WDW the week of October 11. Wednesday, October 14, was truly insane at MK. There were people everywhere. In every queue, restaurant, walking path, etc. An hour before the Electrical Parade, crowds were 12-deep to see it. In addition, WDW must have known the crowds were going to be huge: the park was open for EMH before and after, so park hours for Disney resort guests were 8 am to 2 am. This was not a couple of thousand more people. For that week, in particular, I think the “perfect storm” of U.S. school holidays hit. For example, in MN (where we live), we always have a 2-day Fall Break, usually the week AFTER Columbus Day. This year it landed the week of. The school that I teach at gives that entire week off to students. Every school district varies in our state. Other comments pointed out that many schools across the nation have moved, in the last year or two, to a more “balanced calendar”–which means fewer weeks off in the summer with 2-3 week periods of vacation each season (and the weeks of Columbus Day and week before/after being their fall breaks). I know TP takes school calendars into account, but do you all really look at EVERY school district’s calendar and update every year? School districts are independent, and I know our suburban districts operate on a much, much different schedule than our city schools. So this would be a school calendar change that is different than what previous years saw. (FTR, next year MN will be the week following Columbus Day again.) I do agree, though, that having 4 nights of MNSSHP coupled with only a handful of rides open at HS and AK also played a huge role in pushing crowds to MK on certain days. And we found the crowds manageable at other parks–big, big crowds, but manageable.

    Reply

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