Expected Impact Of Irma On Crowds At Walt Disney World

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The Disney World Crowd Calendar will be updated Tuesday evening to reflect the expected impact of Hurricane Irma. In early October 2016, Disney World Parks closed as Hurricane Mathew passed over Florida, and we saw a bump in crowd levels for about two weeks after the parks reopened. We expect a similar impact this year as guests return to Disney World after Hurricane Irma.

Early September is the least busy time of the year at Disney World, so even if every guest decided to delay their trip by a week, the impact would not be as significant as a storm that occurred in mid-October. However, Irma had a widespread and sweeping effect on Florida and surrounding states on a scale not seen before.

In addition, we are hearing that Disney Parks and Resorts will announce another round of layoffs sometime before Disney’s fiscal new year turns over on October 1. In 2015 and 2016 these layoffs had a surprisingly direct effect on wait times: they went up by 10 to 15%. We don’t know much about this round of layoffs or whether they will have a similar impact on operations at the attractions.

Bottom Line: Irma and layoffs mean that the Disney World Crowd Calendar index may see a one or two point jump on many days between now and mid-October.




Update: The Crowd Calendar has now been updated (September 13).

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.

17 thoughts on “Expected Impact Of Irma On Crowds At Walt Disney World

  • September 12, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Has the September crowd calendar been updated?

    • September 13, 2017 at 8:32 am

      It looks like they still haven’t been updated.

      • September 13, 2017 at 8:40 am

        No, our new forecasts passed through our verification process last night and now the new calendar will be reviewed and published today. I don’t expect major changes, mostly increases of one index point.

  • September 13, 2017 at 6:07 am

    The numbers for my trip next week haven’t changed. Does this mean there’s no impact? (I hope!)

  • September 13, 2017 at 7:03 am

    How are you able to post “How did we do yesterday” data when they weren’t even open?

    • September 13, 2017 at 7:31 am

      The parks were open yesterday.

  • September 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I am due to arrive 9/16-9/22. I chose this week due to the low crowds. As of a few minutes ago every single room at WDW was booked for this week so I’m guessing the crowds will NOT be as I hoped and dining will be impacted as well!

    • September 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      The hotels being booked may just be from people who evacuated and need a place to stay. There’s tons of people without power in Florida. Disney hotels have power and air conditioning. Being the week after Irma, it is probably safe to say not all the people in these rooms will be going to parks.

      • September 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        Thank you

  • September 13, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I clarified with an actual person at WDW as this info was given to me by someone on a chat- it is only for the weekend every room is booked.

    • September 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Also, this is low season for the hotels so many rooms are slated for refurbishment during this time. That decreases room availability and artificially increases the occupancy rate.

  • September 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

    i have a trip scheduled for week after thanksgiving and i noticed the crowd levels increased on the new calendar. are you expecting those levels to increase more between now and then? i thought that was usually a great week to visit WDW because of low crowds?

    • September 14, 2017 at 11:34 am

      No. These updated crowd levels will not likely change between now and December, unless something out of the ordinary happens between now and then.

      • September 14, 2017 at 7:36 pm


        I’m with Jon. We’re scheduled to be down Nov. 26th and now every Disney property hotel is booked solid that week. There’s several hotels that have vacancies during Christmas week and we know how busy that time frame is. I’m thinking about bailing on our week, but I’m going to stick by your guys data.

      • September 19, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        I agree w/ Lance & Jon. We have a trip booked for the week of 12/10. Every week from thanksgiving week through the end of the week we are scheduled to be there has little resort & dining reservation availability, but the week of the 17th & the week of Christmas have quite a bit of resort reservations & dining reservations availability. I’m scratching my head over this.

  • September 14, 2017 at 10:51 am

    We are expected to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party the night of 10/20 and the crowd levels have jumped from 5 to 7! We are planning on only going to the party so will the party crowds change as well? I figured it would be busy being a Friday and so close to Halloween but I hope it isn’t unbearable!

    • September 14, 2017 at 11:33 am

      The crowd levels are for the estimated wait times between 11am and 5pm. The evening parties are ticketed events and typical have medium to large crowds each night. Watch out for long lines at character greetings but otherwise you should be fine.

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