April is here, which means it is monthly update time. Spring Break season is in full swing now and so far we are seeing crowd levels that are higher than in years past. Part of that is a result of the inflated posted wait times we have been reporting on since January. Some dates in April will see an increase as a result of this update. The good news is that your touring plans will not likely be affected. You should re-optimize to make sure though.
Here’s a quick reminder of what’s up for the remainder of 2019:
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Train will open in Fall 2019. This will draw lots of guests to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which will inflate the wait times elsewhere at the park. This will be a popular ride for a long time, we think.
- Dates for Disney After Hours Events were added in May and June.
- Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will open on August 29, 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Expect extreme crowds there for many months.
- Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers are now added to the list of attractions we use to assess crowd levels at the Studios.
- Tower of Terror will be operating at reduced capacity starting in the Spring and lasting through the end of Summer. This means wait times will go up significantly.
- Animal Kingdom posted wait times continue to be at record levels although not due to higher numbers of people in line. You can read more on that here.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This update makes no assumptions about the opening date of Rise of the Resistance at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Once we have an official announcement it is likely that the calendar figures we need an adjustment. We still are under the assumption that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Train will open before Galaxy’s Edge, even if only a week before. That attraction will entertain a lot of guests per hour so it is likely they will have it open to take some pressure off the new Star Wars land.
What to Expect at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
We published a mid-month update to the crowd levels after hearing about the official opening dates of Galaxy’s Edge. The buzz around travel agent circles is that a significant minority (about 20%) of guests have altered their travel dates as a result of the opening. Presumably that means some have chosen to visit the parks between now and August rather than in the fall while others have chosen to visit later in 2020 or beyond, once the hype has died down a little. We think the hype will be around for a long while though, especially if Rise of the Resistance is delayed until late 2019 or 2020.
Updates to Crowd Levels
Here is a look at average crowd level changes by park as a result of April’s update:
|Magic Kingdom||Epcot||Hollywood Studios||Animal Kingdom|
*Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens on August 29
Now let’s take a look month by month:
In March we underpredicted more than overpredicted at each of the four parks by a ratio of about two to one. Posted wait times are up this Spring Break season so crowd levels are going up in April. Crowd levels are up after Easter as well, as a result of this update. Note that our last update published crowd levels of ‘1’ for April 23 and 24 for Disney Hollywood Studios. This was an error that we discovered when reviewing the numbers for this update, both of those should be a ‘4’. This won’t impact your touring plan however, the forecasts for the attractions’ wait times are correct.
May continues to be a great month to visit the resort. Crowd levels will remain moderate with this update although we may not see the ‘1’s and ‘2’s that we saw last year in May. Personally, if I had planned for a September trip but now wanted to avoid the mayhem of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, May would be my choice. I’m not sure how many travelers have the flexibility to make a change like that, however.
Crowds levels go up in June as well, but mostly by a single point. There are a few days where you will see an increase of two points. More and more families seem to be choosing June for their summer trip rather than July or August. I think this trend will be amplified as guests adjust their plans to avoid the Star Wars opening in late August.
Not a lot to report for July on this update. Last month we adjusted some figures around July 4th and this month those adjustments remain. Some dates in July actually see a single-point drop.
Although we know a lot more about August crowds now than we did on the last update we still don’t know all the details. I would like to know more about how crowd flow into Star Wars Galaxy Edge will be controlled. If access is highly limited then Hollywood Studios wait times at non-Star Wars attractions may see a significant bump, even more than we currently predict. In that case we may also see a bump at Animal Kingdom as well if a substantial number of guests decide to leave the Studios entirely. Unless you are heading to the Studios to check out Galaxy’s Edge, it is best to avoid that park until at least 2020.
This will be an interesting September for crowd levels. Since we started tracking crowd levels in 2006, September has been the least crowded time of the year, by far. Now, in 2019, it may see some of the largest crowds ever witnessed in a theme park. Crowd levels on this update are pretty stable for September, with the usual tweaking of a point here and there. The biggest changes are obviously at the Studios.
October should be interesting as well. It has become a much more popular month in recent years as guests flock to celebrate the Halloween season. The spike at Hollywood Studios continues through October (and beyond). If Rise of the Resistance opens in October, we think that could bring in another wave of guests similar to the land opening in late August.
On this update November looks similar to what was previously predicted. Some Studios dates went up a point or two but otherwise crowd predictions look stable for now. Again, this may change depending on future announcements.
I hope people aren’t planning on visiting in early December thinking that the hype at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will have died down. Once thing we learned from Pandora at Animal Kingdom is that a new land with a popular headliner can stay extremely popular for more than 18 months. I think we should expect the same for Star Wars, if not longer.
Got any questions for the stats gurus? Let us know in the comments.