Disney World Crowd Calendar Updates For April 2019

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Dates for Disney After Hours Events were added in May and June.
  3. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will open on August 29, 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Expect extreme crowds there for many months.
  4. Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers are now added to the list of attractions we use to assess crowd levels at the Studios.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
April 0.5 0.8 0.9 1.1
May 0.5 0.5 0.8 0.2
June 0.2 0.7 0.6 0.3
July -0.1 0.5 -0.3 -0.2
August 0.3 0.5 1.8 0.1
September 0.7 0.4 2.4* 0.2
October 1.0 0.5 2.5* 0.3
November 0.6 0.0 1.2* 0.0
December 0.5 0.0 0.8 0.3

*Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens on August 29

 

Now let’s take a look month by month:

April

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

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.

June

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.

July

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.

August

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.

September

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

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.

November

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.

December

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.

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.

28 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Updates For April 2019

  • April 1, 2019 at 2:54 pm
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    Your summary of August seems to only be addressed to post-Galaxy’s Edge opening, but that’s only 3 days of August. What is the assessment of the rest of August?

    Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 11:08 am
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      It’s true Anthony, we are so focussed on Star Wars stuff we don’t think about the rest of the month. However on this update there isn’t much to report for August. Crowd Levels remain pretty close to what they were on the previous update. If you have to visit in summer I like August as your best bet. Just be prepared for heat and thunderstorms. Seriously, it rains every day.

      Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 3:10 pm
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    I know it just opened but the wait time for Lighting MCQUEEN says 39 minutes no matter the tome of day. That seems high given opening day reports were 10-15 minutes. Could you adjust? Also, will this be in the Lines app so that we can start monitoring? I was expecting it yesterday. It’s not in MDE either.

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 5:13 pm
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    Do we really have no info on Mickey and Minne’s?

    Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 8:43 pm
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    It looks like dates for Early Morning Magic: Fantasyland have been posted, but I can’t seem to book mine for the first week of Sept. Disney says they aren’t released yet, but the website looks like they are, not to mention I see other people in Facebook groups have already purchased for later in Sept. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm
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      I would like to know more about this too.

      Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 8:50 pm
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    I don’t understand why you say to avoid Hollywood Studios after August 29th when there are many days on the crowd calendar at levels 4-6 in September and October.

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 9:12 pm
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      This blog entry seems to be quite different then then the initial feelings about Star Wars opening.

      2 weeks ago the thought was you could still do Hollywood Studios and avoid GE but still make it reasonably through the park…but now skip HS til 2020 if you didn’t have interest in seeing GE?

      Just trying to get a general plan together for my trip but not sure what to follow now…

      Reply
      • April 2, 2019 at 8:04 am
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        I agree. I’m so confused.

        Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 8:28 am
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      Those days used to be ‘1’s and ‘2’s. I think even on those ‘4’ days, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will draw huge swarms of people but the crowd calendar is only an indication of wait time at the non-Star Wars attractions.

      Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    I’m not following this line in the September description:

    “Now, in 2019, it may see some of the largest crowds ever witnessed in a theme park.”

    But the crowd calendar for September is still far lower then other times of year. They contradict each other.

    Is this a round about way to tell us that all bets are off with crowd predictions after the Star Wars opening?

    Reply
    • April 1, 2019 at 11:07 pm
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      This was my exact thought!

      Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 8:02 am
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      I’m guessing part of the issue is that Touring Plans “crowd” levels are based solely on wait times. If GE is going to be the only part of HS with absurdly high wait times, that results in a large actual crowd because of people waiting to get into GE but not 9/10 levels of wait times throughout the parks.

      Reply
      • April 2, 2019 at 8:14 am
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        That would make sense, but the August description says to skip HS until 2020 if you aren’t interested in GE. That description makes it sound like the entire park is going to be overcrowded.

        Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 8:24 am
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      No. I just wanted people to be aware of how busy Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will be. I’ve received many emails from people who want to avoid large crowds at all costs. If that’s you, yes I think you need to avoid The Studios until 2020. If you can handle the extra hype and swarms of people that come with it then I think there’s still an opportunity to tour efficiently at the Studios. The double-message is a reflection of these two types of responses I’m seeing. If you know yourself and your group you’ll be fine.

      Reply
      • April 2, 2019 at 9:50 am
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        Thanks for clearing that up, and that is good news!

        I was in that same wave of people with a September trip planned and the GE announcement coming out. With 2 young kids our only real focus for HS is Toy Story Land and probably the new Cars show that opened. I’d be happy with getting in early, using the fast passes where I can, and then heading to another park.

        Since we have a very short agenda for HS I was wondering if just getting in early and getting out would give us an efficient method, or if to ensure getting a good look at Story Book Land and the rides we would be better to purchase Early Morning Magic if/when it is available?

        Reply
        • April 2, 2019 at 10:17 am
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          fwiw I’d be shocked if they end up putting in Early Morning Magic anytime soon after GE opens and I would plan for there not being any. They do it on slower days when there’s not extra magic hours, and I’d guess there to be daily extra magic hours and no such thing as slow days. If you look, MK only has them on Tuesdays through September instead of Tuesdays & Sundays and HS doesn’t have any dates past GE opening.

          The early opening scuppered our plans too; we were hoping to do EMM at HS as well. Now rearranging, although I’ve got a dedicated Star Wars fan to accommodate!

          Reply
  • April 1, 2019 at 9:21 pm
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    I’m wondering all of the above as well 🙂

    Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 8:16 am
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    Sorry for the confusion. The crowd level index is based on average wait times at key attractions between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Currently the new Star Wars attractions are not included in list of key attractions. They are too new. So yes, you may see low crowd levels for certain dates in September indicating reasonable posted times at non-Star Wars rides but the park will still be very busy. I think a savvy planner can still do the Studios but I’m hearing from a lot of nervous travellers who want to avoid large groups at all costs. Bottom line, know your group.

    Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 8:18 am
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    If the overall park won’t be that bad, that’s great but I doubt that will be the case. I’ll be going with two and four year old girls and obviously don’t mind staying out of GE. But if the overall crowds are 10s, it won’t be worth it for us to visit HS.

    Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 9:52 am
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      I’m in the same boat but with boys instead of girls. We really just want to see Toy Story Land and the new Cars show. I’m hoping that even if the park is at a 10 we can at least get a peak at those attractions, use the fast passes for what we can then just head to another park.

      Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 9:15 am
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    Does anyone have any insight on the correlation of crowd levels and how far in advance you need to get in line for the shows at HS (frozen, little mermaid, beauty and beast) to ensure you get a spot? For example, on a 4 day can you get in line 15 minutes ahead of time? And on the other end of the spectrum if it’s a 7 or an 8, how far ahead do you need to be in line? I’ve searched everywhere for this type of info. Thanks!

    Reply
    • April 2, 2019 at 11:02 am
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      Kristin, the Crowd Calendar is perfect for a problem like that. Multiply the crowd level by 5 minutes to get the amount of lead time you need for the shows. So for a ‘4’ day plan to arrive 20 minutes ahead, for a ‘9’ or ’10’ day you need to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before show time.

      Reply
      • April 2, 2019 at 11:20 am
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        Ahh that’s awesome, thank you!

        Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 2:56 pm
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    What about the projected wait times for Millennium Falcon in September? What are those based on? Best educated guess? Do you think school being in session will do anything to slow things down just for a bit? Pandora and Toy Story Land both opened during summer so I’m curious if it being the first couple of weeks of school might be a slight speed bump. I’m really having a hard time finding out what to do. I have three kids who are 9, 5, 4. The five year old boy is a huge Star Wars fan so I would hate to move things to late August. But I also fear that if by keeping my trip for 9/7 – 9/13 that HS and Toy Story Land may be ruined for us. Do you think moving things back to 9/22 – 9/28 will make any difference?

    Reply
  • April 3, 2019 at 4:15 am
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    so just to clarify, studios has gone from a 3 to 5 on May 7th but this is largely due to slinky dog and saucers being factored in to the overall crowd tracker?

    Reply
  • April 15, 2019 at 11:33 am
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    Hi! I’m just curious about my recent trip, April 6-10. Just before my trip I got an alert from Touring Plans increasing overall crowd estimates 1-2 points, to 8’s almost every day. Yikes! But now I see the “observed crowds” were mostly 2-3’s. This is even lower than the original, pre-adjustment forecast. So the very-last-minute crowd calendar adjustment confuses me. Can you explain?

    It was a runDisney weekend which in theory Disney tries to schedule for “slower” times (not always possible). It was not really the most popular days forSpring Break, nor Easter.

    I expected low crowds and that’s what I got. Why did the crowd calendar miscalculate, and then further miscalculate less than a week out? Thanks!

    Reply

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