September WDW Crowd Calendar Update

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This Crowd Calendar update is a full update going through September 2021. To make such a long-range forecast we are making some assumptions:

  • Demand will stay low for Florida theme park travel
  • Disney will keep capacity at low levels
  • Capacity will slowly increase starting in November
  • The risk of COVID-19 infection stays the same
  • All health and safety measures stay in place

On August 26, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called theme parks reopening a “success story”, and said “we think that the capacity can be increased.” We believe Disney is operating at a level lower than the government-mandated capacity levels, so there is room to increase park attendance. The day before DeSantis’s positive comments, Disney sent out notices to some Disney World cast members that their furloughs would be extended through November. Disney has also quietly pushed back the reopening of some resorts, suggesting that the demand for more hotel rooms is not there yet. To see all the current information on closures and cancellations due to COVID-19 go to touringplans.com/coronavirus.

Today Disney announced new discounts for travel through December 25, 2020. This is a sign that Disney is trying to attract more people to Walt Disney World. Without Disney calling more cast members to work, the new discounts are intended to fill the currently available hotel rooms.

We expect to see mostly 1s in the next six weeks. Weekends will be slightly busier than weekdays. Holiday times will be slightly higher than normal weekends. With our current assumptions, we do not believe any day in 2020 will have a crowd level above a 3. If conditions improve we expect to see the first 4s and 5s over spring break in 2021.

 

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.

10 thoughts on “September WDW Crowd Calendar Update

  • September 1, 2020 at 3:36 pm
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    They need to bite the bullet and increase their “supply” of vacation by increasing their capacity. They are playing around the edges with inticement deals. That’s only helpful when you are near real capacity limits and you can’t raise them. Disney needs to start looking at reopening more like reinvesting in the parks. You want vacationers back, but they want to get the full Disney World Experience not just “most” of it. Spend the $ to open things back up, and the revenue will follow. Playing around trying to tweak demand side isn’t going to work out in the near future as they don’t have control over the demand. Just insentives to come. Disney’s financials won’t start looking better until they start normalizing operations.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2020 at 3:40 pm
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    Touring Plans has consistently underestimated mid-October crowds over the last few years, because of the increasing number of school breaks in the fall. (I’m not trying to point fingers, just commenting on the discrepancy between estimates and experienced crowds.).
    Any chance we could see something like that this year? In your monitoring of school vacations, are some states skipping breaks entirely? Or is there guidance warning off leaving one’s state?
    I ask all this because we’re about 70% of the way to canceling our October trip, but I still hold out some hope that we can make it work. I believe we can handle the covid situation at WDW, but right now, the biggest benefit to going is the low crowds. Thanks!

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  • September 1, 2020 at 4:47 pm
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    I think if there was any risk of that happening, you’d see WDW opening up more of their onsite hotels. I’ve been watching the park pass reservation availability [https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/availability-calendar/?segments=tickets,resort,passholder], and the only category that is running out most of the time is annual passholders.
    A good test could be this weekend as the 5th and 6th are the first time I think I’ve seen all three categories sell out. If you call that “worst case”, maybe just stalk the wait times that day remotely and see if you think you’d have fun/be able to do what you want on a sold out day.

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    • September 1, 2020 at 5:30 pm
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      Oh, we are tracking the Park Pass reservation system. I agree that Labor Day weekend is going to be a test for peak capacity during COVID-19. I was waiting till after Labor Day to write a blog post on the Park Pass reservation data. We have seen were Anual Passholders capacity becomes available after it was sold out. We suspect the added capacity was just shifting capacity from the two other groups.

      Reply
  • September 1, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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    I also question the low projected crowds for mid-October. If you monitor the DVC availability it is starting to look more normal (i.e. full with limited availability) in October. This has not been the case in July and August for DVC. There has been quite a bit of availability. Thus, I find it hard to believe that mid-Oct will be just the same as the crowd levels we’ve seen in the past two months.

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    • September 1, 2020 at 5:23 pm
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      How things will play out this fall is unknown. Most schools are modifying their schedules and people are not traveling as they did before the pandemic. With limited park hours, no parades or fireworks, and everything we don’t expect this fall will be any more crowded than the summer has been.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2020 at 7:36 am
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    Just to provide one type of perspective: We are DVC with points expiring Dec 1. At this point in time, we are planning a visit in November, but have yet to buy park tickets. Maybe we go for one day to Studios for Galaxy’s Edge, but I can’t see us doing much more than that when we know we will be back in 2021/ 2022 for a (hopefully) “real” visit.
    Even with reduced crowds, there has yet to be any kind of incentive for us to spend the extra $2,000 for the family park tickets… DVC version of a “Staycation”.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2020 at 9:16 am
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    What I’m am wondering about if (and when) schools start to close and become fully virtual if some families will actually use that time to vacation with the thoughts being no one else is thinking the same thing. I mean, I would hope that wouldn’t happen, but I guarantee you there will be at least a few families at Disney this fall coming from a school district that has shut down.

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  • September 3, 2020 at 7:31 am
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    October looks odd?? Every day looks the same. Surprised that AK has so much red … every single day.

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  • September 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm
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    Hi! We are going to WDW December 1-8. Since the weekends will be busier than weekdays. Which two parks will be easier to deal with on Saturday and Sunday? Thank you

    Reply

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