Our Walt Disney World wait time analysis shows that waits are up in the last 8 to 12 months compared to what have seen historically during the same time period. Until recently, we didn’t exactly know why. Take a look at this graph – but it takes some explaining to interpret.
In data analysis we attempt to explain the ups and downs of a variable we are interested in by looking at all the other factors that can affect the variable. Sometimes it can be helpful to isolate one of the variables to see how it (and only it) contributes to the ups and downs. But isolating a factor is difficult because the factors all interact with each other. One can not isolate the ups and downs of wait times that are due to the day of the week without also accounting for days with bad weather, for example.
Anyway, our modelling of wait times at Disney parks allows us to do this – it is called a partial dependence plot. We plot the impact of a particular factor while controlling for all the other factors. When we do this using DATE as the isolated factor what we get is a picture of the unexplained noise in the data that relates only to the date that we collected the wait times. In other words, isolating DATE gets us a picture of the long term trend of wait times.
In normal circumstances, we would expect to see something close to a flat line. According to the graph, we see wait times going up in the last few years across all four parks but especially at Magic Kingdom. So, we asked around. Turns out that Magic Kingdom implemented a hiring freeze in September 2016. That could be an explanation for the spike that we see at the end of the Magic Kingdom trend. Less staff means lower attraction capacity and higher wait times. I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar hiring freeze took place at the other parks as well.
Remember, this is not a plot of the trend of average wait times, this is a plot of the trend of wait times when you hold all important factors constant. So, the trend we see can’t be due to new attractions, good weather, extended park hours, changes in school schedules or a strong economy. We also know that attendance is relatively flat since 2015 so it can’t be that. When we do the same analysis at Universal Orlando Resort we don’t see the same trend. So, it must be something operational at the Disney parks and understaffing seems like the most plausible explanation.
Note: This analysis is for information purposes only, it is not meant to be conclusive, just some observations from the data.