August WDW Crowd Calendar Update

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This update only includes changes for September 2020. We expect to see little change in crowds moving into September. Since the parks started opening on July 11, crowds have been at historically low levels. Until COVID-19 numbers improve in Florida, demand is going to stay low and limited attendance will continue.

Bob Chapek from the August 4  Walt Disney Company’s Q3 FY2020 Earnings Call:

Yes, this is obviously a highly uncertain time and we could tell from our reservation stream that we had ample demand to go above what the six-foot social distancing guidelines would give us. That was six weeks before we opened the park, when we announced we were opening the park and then unfortunately COVID struck again and all the numbers started going up. This gave some level of trepidation to travelers who are anxious about long-distance travel, jumping on a plane and flying to Walt Disney World.

So what we’ve seen is that we have roughly 50% of our guest base still traveling from a distance, but the other 50% coming from local markets and in state. We’ve also had a higher-than-expected level of cancellations once somebody does make a reservation because as the disease ebbs and flows, they might necessarily cancel.

So what we’ve done is used our strategy for yielding and make sure that every day we’re pretty close to the percentage of the park that we can fill and still maintain the social distancing. We just replaced local and annual passholders with some of the fall-off that we’ve necessarily seen from the long-distance travelers.

I will say that our research indicates that – and our bookings indicate that  – we should be in good shape once consumer confidence sort of returns, and so we’re very optimistic about that, but we’re very happy that we’re returning a positive net contribution, as Christine said, because that was our goal in the first place, while at the same time, operating very responsibly.

The fact that Disney is delaying the reopening of additional hotels also suggests that Disney may not need to increase park capacity any time soon. It’s possible they’ll shorten park hours as Universal Orlando did, too, if demand remains low.  (We think allowing park-hopping is a better move, if it comes to that.)

When Do Disney Parks Run Out of Park Reservations?

Park reservations are required for all guests since Walt Disney World re-opened. We’ve been tracking Park Pass Availability to see if there’s any insight on demand. Generally, guests with a hotel resort reservation and dated tickets have no problem getting a Park Pass reservation.

Park Pass reservations do sell out for Annual Passholders:

  • For EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, Park Pass reservations sell out 7 days prior to the visit, on average
  • The average for Magic Kingdom is 15 days prior
  • For Hollywood Studios, it’s 31 days.

One interesting thing is that for Labor Day weekend, Hollywood Studios Park Pass reservations are already sold out for resort guests. Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom sold out faster for Annual Passholders for Labor Day weekend. This suggests that demand for Labor Day weekend is higher.

School Re-Opening-ish

School systems nationwide are still deciding how they will re-open. The uncertainty of school schedules is going to limit the number of families willing to make travel plans. Potentially, remote learning will give families the flexibility to travel during the school year. September is probably too early to see students traveling and remote learning.

Travel Restrictions

Most international travelers are avoiding the United States or are restricted from entering without a lengthy quarantine before and after. Florida recently ended its 14-day quarantine for some travelers coming into the state from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; other states require a 14-day quarantine for travelers returning from Florida. Until travel restrictions are eased – that is, until Florida gets its COVID cases under control – crowds at Florida theme parks will remain at these historically low levels.

September

We expect September crowds to look similar to the crowds we have observed in July and August. Labor Day weekend will see a slight bump in crowds, but with limited capacity, crowds will still be low.

Beyond September

A lot of things need to change before we see normal crowds return to Walt Disney World. As long as CDC recommends social distancing, the parks must operate at reduced capacity. Influenza season and the winter may bring a second wave to the pandemic which would delay things further. It is just as likely that the parks will close again in December as seeing crowds higher than a 5. There are just simply too many unknowns.

 

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.

13 thoughts on “August WDW Crowd Calendar Update

  • August 8, 2020 at 9:05 am
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    Are your October 2020 crowd projections based on Covid or on previous years? I hate seeing an 8 for October 10 at DHS. I realize there are so many variables this year, but we’re flying in from St. Louis and Houston and trying to decide whether to hang in there or cancel — and with the park hours being reduced, an 8 sounds like we won’t be getting on a lot of rides. Thanks.

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    • August 9, 2020 at 10:31 am
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      October might see some 2’s. Without the Halloween parties this fall and the reduced park hours, it does not look like there will be much change in crowds this fall.

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  • August 8, 2020 at 1:34 pm
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    Really stinks that AP holders have to plan weeks in advance to attend a park when I am sure many of the Florida locals became used to last-minute visits.

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  • August 10, 2020 at 1:54 am
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    How do you feel it will be the week of Labor Day (Monday – Saturday)?

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    • August 10, 2020 at 11:47 am
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      Pre-pandemic the September low crowds started the Monday after Labor Day. I expect September to see lower crowds than July and August if that is possible.

      Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 8:52 am
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    Thanks, Steve. My group of 9 decided to cancel our October trip — with us flying in from St. Louis and Houston, four children who are susceptible to all the usual childhood illnesses, three of us in our 60’s, and a 37-year-old teacher who had to sign a document at work stating she would tell the school district if she left her state and why, we came to the conclusion that this October is not a good idea for us. I love Touring Plans ad will be relying on you in 2021 or 2022 when we rebook!

    Reply
  • August 10, 2020 at 10:53 am
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    As a teacher, I have to ask: what city’s school district is requiring teachers to sign something like that?

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  • August 10, 2020 at 7:53 pm
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    Houston, but I don’t know if it’s a public or private school.

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  • August 11, 2020 at 8:38 pm
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    Hi Steve, do you see more of the same with lower crowds in November or will Disney increase reservation numbers for each park heading into the latter half of November?

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    • August 12, 2020 at 11:02 am
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      I feel that we will see more of the same for the rest of 2020. Disney wants to avoid having to shut down again. If they increase capacity, the risk to castmembers and guest go up. We might see 2’s and 3’s during the holidays.

      Reply
  • August 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm
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    Thanks Steve, appreciate the information

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  • August 23, 2020 at 1:48 pm
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    I was planning a trip to begin on Wednesday after Columbus Day weekend. I know that it is usually busy in October, but I thought that the crowd levels would be lower than 5’s. When you said earlier that we might see some 2’s, did you mean mostly the regular 5’s with some 2s or mostly 1s with some 2s?

    Reply
  • August 26, 2020 at 11:13 am
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    I don’t think TP has updated Crowd Tracker levels through the Holiday Season yet, some days are showing 10s.

    Reply

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