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)|
|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)|
|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 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.
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.
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.