Crowd levels are up at Walt Disney World. On October 12, 2020, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek said in a CNBC interview that the parks remain capped at 25% of their capacity. While those two statements might sound like they’re at odds with each other, both can be true, because Chapek is referring to 25% of maximum capacity.
In normal years, the parks rarely if ever hit their maximum capacity. In a normal fall, for example, park attendance is closer to 50% of maximum capacity. And when Walt Disney World re-opened in July, attendance was closer to 5-15% of its capacity.
One thing that makes the parks feel crowded is that there is less space for people. Many restaurants and stores are either closed or have reduced capacity, and some attractions – such as stage shows – are closed. The attractions that are open are running with 50-60% of their normal capacity. And because of social distancing, their queues are often extended into walkways. Finally, shorter park hours are causing people to arrive at park opening and stay until the closing, without a mid-day break that would reduce crowds.
In mid-September we counted people in the parks and extrapolated that attendance for the month to date was around 12-15% of their maximum capacity. Based on our September estimates, Disney has room to increase attendance and still stay within Chapeks’s cap of 25%.
|Estimated September Average Daily Attendance||Maximum Capacity||Percent Capacity|
With increased attendance, we don’t expect to see any 1’s at the Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With more locals going to Walt Disney World, the weekends will be busier than weekdays. Thanksgiving will have the highest crowds since the parks re-opened.