After a slight delay to this month’s update, we are ready to refresh the Disney World Crowd Calendar.
2020 So Far
February crowds were brutal, especially in the second half of the month. The most common crowd level we observed last month across all four parks was a level ’10’ – and it wasn’t even close. Between February 15 and 29, Magic Kingdom saw 14 days at a level ’10’. The only day that wasn’t a ’10’ during that period was a rainy Wednesday. Even with the poor weather it still hit a level ‘7’. You have to go back to Easter 2016 to find a streak of high crowd levels like what we saw last month. If our models had predicted crowd levels this high for February we would not have accepted them.
Spring Break Season Begins
As crazy as it was in February, early March has been a stark contrast. In the past few days, none of the parks saw a crowd level above a ‘5’. This is surprising given what we saw last month and that we are heading into the beginning of Spring Break season. Plus, Wednesday was the first day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the first day of regular operation for Hollywood Studios’ newest attraction – Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad. Savvy guests willing to postpone their first ride on the new attraction have stayed away from the Studios. Although Mickey and Minnie’s Railroad has seen extreme wait times (peaking at 300 minutes but settling around 90-120 minutes) the rest of the park has been quiet. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster didn’t get above a 70 minute wait on Thursday, which is quite low for that attraction.
Corona Virus and Disney World Crowds
What is on most people’s mind more than wait times at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is what impact the COVID-19 virus might have on Disney travelers and crowds at the parks. Major conferences in Orlando and Anaheim have been canceled recently. Travel industry pundits predict the virus will slow the rate of new bookings. Travel agents are reporting higher than usual rates of cancellation and travel cancellation insurance premiums have tripled for some vacations. So far, the Disney parks seem to be operating business as usual. This update to the crowd calendar does not include a major adjustment for COVID-19, although we did hold back some crowd level increases. From our perspective, the impact of the new virus to crowds is minimal at this point but may become significant very quickly. We will be watching closely and, as always, if we feel the calendar needs another update we will post about it here. If you are interested in updates to a particular date just click “Track this day” and we will notify you if the crowd level changes.
What’s On The March Update
Historically, crowds at Disney World parks were pretty similar from year to year. Recently, our observations indicate that might be changing. Our latest models include an adjustment for the short term trends we have observed in the previous weeks and months. If crowds are trending up, our models detect how much of that trend might continue and adjusts the latest forecasts. If crowds are trending down, we adjust for that too. This will allow the Crowd Calendar to react quicker to the crowd fluctuations we have seen lately. It also helps us prepare for any impact of the COVID-19 virus on the parks.
So, overall crowd levels will be going up between now and the end of April although there are also days that will go down as a result of this update. For May and beyond, not a lot will change with the exception of Magic Kingdom which will see some adjusted crowd levels based on the recently released Halloween Party schedule. For information about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween parties in 2020, check this out.
As always, we strongly recommend that you make yourself a personalized touring plan for each day that you will be in the park and refresh it on the day you arrive. A touring plan is the single best way to beat crowds, no matter how big. With crowds at Disney parks fluctuating as much as they have lately, following your plan becomes even more important.