Crowd Calendar Review for October 2019

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It is mid-month and time to look back on the performance of the Walt Disney Crowd Calendar.  This post will look at crowd levels since the opening of Florida’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the end of August.

Year over year, September has the lowest crowd levels of any month. Typically Labor Day weekend is the final week of summer crowds. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian decided to disrupt travel plans for people visiting Florida during the first week of September. The rest of September followed the trend of low crowds. In fact, 24 of the 30 days of September 2019 had crowd levels that were lower than we predicted. We expected September 2019 to be slightly busier than normal due to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. If anything, the new Star Wars land scared away more people than it attracted.

September 1-30, 2019 Predicted Crowd Level Observed Crowd Level
Magic Kingdom 3.2 1.8 (-1.3)
Epcot 2.7 2.3 (-0.4)
Hollywood Studios 6.1 1.2 (-4.9)
Animal Kingdom 2.5 1.6 (-0.9)

After observing that crowds were lower than expected, we removed an inflation factor for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from our models in the last update. Wait times so far in October suggest that completely removing the inflation factor was too drastic of a response. The recent increase in crowds may be a reaction to the low crowds in September; after fans observed from afar that the parks were manageable despite the new Galaxy’s Edge, they decided to travel in October. Plus, people who were impacted by Hurricane Dorian may have rescheduled their trips to October.

October 1-15, 2019 Predicted Crowd Level Observed Crowd Level
Magic Kingdom 3.1 4.6 (1.5)
Epcot 4.6 5.2 (0.6)
Hollywood Studios 4.1 4.4 (0.3)
Animal Kingdom 4.0 4.5 (0.5)

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Below is a chart showing the hourly average posted wait time for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. In general, the wait times for Smugglers Run have been low for a new headliner attraction.

The low wait times are not an indication of a bad attraction. In this case, they are more an indication that Disney has been proactive in keeping wait times low. The attraction has a high capacity of 1,500-1,800 people per hour, plus not offering FastPass+ devotes all the capacity to the standby queue. In addition, since August 31 Hollywood Studios has been opening 3 hours early to guests staying at a hotel with Extra Magic Hours access. This gives many guests the opportunity to ride the new attraction with minimal waits.

October 2019

October has become a popular time to visit Walt Disney World. In fact, there are times in October when the crowds are higher than in the summer. The cooler temperatures, Food & Wine Festival at Epcot, and Halloween parties at Magic Kingdom attract guests to Walt Disney World. This week we expect Walt Disney World to see the highest crowds of the month since many school systems are on their fall breaks.

November 2019

Moderate crowds will continue until the week of Thanksgiving. Everything that attracts the crowds in October will continue into early November.  As far as we know, the Extra, Extra Magic Hours will end on November 2. This was a great benefit for guests, but it did not raise attendance. With fewer hours in the day to ride attractions, we will likely see a rise in wait times.


December 5, 2019

Rise of the Resistance is scheduled to open at Hollywood Studios on December 5, 2019. The hype for this Star Wars attraction is huge. Disney says the ride is one of the “most ambitious, advanced and immersive experiences ever,” and many feel that the success of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge hinges on this ride. There are rumors going around that the opening date may slip. That would be a huge public relations disaster, and I’m sure Disney is doing everything possible to get this ride open on-time.

December 2019

The last two weeks of December are the busiest time of the year at Walt Disney World. All schools are on break, and many adults are on vacation. Assuming Rise of the Resistance opens on time, early December will be crowded. Locals and other guests will visit before the holiday crowds arrive.

Next Crowd Calendar Update

We will have a new Crowd Calendar update on November 1. We will be keeping an eye on crowds in October. Also note that at some point this fall Disney will update its park hours for the end of 2020. Any big changes in operations will affect our crowd level predictions.

 

Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

6 thoughts on “Crowd Calendar Review for October 2019

  • October 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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    Thank you for posting the analysis.

    In the United States Students on Vacation graph, what is the unlabeled spike in November that goes higher than the Columbus Day spike?

    I’m curious because the first two weeks of November seem to have lower crowd projections than the mid-October “surge”, but there is a bigger spike in vacations in November than October?

    Is it that less students get a long break in October which leads to families taking a vacation to Disney vs. more people getting a single day off (e.g. Veterans Day) and the proximity to Thanksgiving which doesn’t result in the spike in crowds?

    Reply
    • October 17, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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      The spike (Monday, November 11) is Veterans Days. This is a federal holiday, and many schools are closed. Your hypothesis of it being a single day, and proximity to Thanksgiving doesn’t result in a spike in crowds is correct.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2019 at 9:02 pm
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    “Jersey Week” is the vacation spike in November. Schools are out November 5, 7, and 8th so a lot of families take the whole week off.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2019 at 2:35 am
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    A number of large school divisions in Virginia switched to a pre-Labor Day start this year, which means Spring Break is March 14-21. How do you think this will effect the crowd calendar?

    Reply
    • October 21, 2019 at 9:57 am
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      We track 125 US school districts that cover 80% of the public school student population. This gives us a good indicator when school starts, stops, and have breaks. Spring break changes from year to year. Some schools use Easter and ancor for their Spring breaks, other schools keep the same week consistent.

      When a school district changes there spring break, we will pick it up, and the models will adjust for the change.

      Reply
  • October 20, 2019 at 9:24 pm
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    I don’t think that spring break date is universal among VA districts that started before Labor Day. My district is keeping the same spring break as usual, just before Easter. We’ll be off the week of April 6th.

    Reply

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