October WDW Crowd Calendar Update
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 or below 50%
- The risk of COVID-19 infection stays the same
- Health and safety measures stay in place
Changes Since Labor Day
Since Labor Day we have seen higher wait times. The 30 attractions listed below are the attractions that are used for the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar. Across all 30 attractions, the average posted wait times are up 70%. For September 2019, the average posted wait times were down 40% compared to July and August of that year. In any normal year, September wait times are lower than summer wait times. Attraction capacity has not changed since the parks have reopened, so the increased wait times can be attributed to more people in the parks.
We frequently count guests leaving attractions to determine ride capacity and we did so as recently as last weekend. Our research has found that ride capacity is down 50-60% with the current health and safety restrictions. So if attendance was the same in 2019 and 2020, wait times should be roughly doubled. With fewer activities (shorter park hours, no nighttime spectaculars, no character meet and greets, fewer shows, and fewer opened shops and restaurants) wait times should be even higher for the same number of people.
Looking at posted wait times for September after Labor Day for 2019 and 2020. The overall average change in posted wait times is close to 0%. This is evidence that attendance is at least 50% lower in September 2020 than in September 2019. We estimate attendance to be 33% in September 2020 compared to September 2019.
What To Expect In The Parks
Parks do not feel less crowded. Queues are physically much longer. The queues have social distancing so they take much more space than prior to COVID-19. With closed attractions, shops, and restaurants, there is less available space in the parks. Social distancing on Disney transportation makes getting anywhere take longer.
Since attendance numbers do not always translate to the feel in the parks, we use attraction wait times to determine the Crowd Levels. We don’t expect crowds will be going down. With what we saw in September, we are increasing Crowd Levels in this update.
With a higher percent of guests being locals, weekends are the busiest time at the parks. We expect this will hold true for the rest of 2020.
If you decide it is the right time to visit Walt Disney World, regardless of the Crowd Levels, using a Touring Plan will save you time waiting in lines. Subscribe to TouringPlans.com and get the best advice for your next trip to Walt Disney World.
9 thoughts on “October WDW Crowd Calendar Update”
THANK YOU!!! This is excellent work. Are you coming out with suggested touring plans that do not use FP+ and take into consideration advanced rope drop? I am not sure if I have seen any in particular that stand out, maybe a “Covid special” 🙂
Thanks for the update! I’d also appreciate a “COVID special” touring plan that takes into consideration Fastpasses not being available.
Ouch! The October crowd level updates are rough. Over the last two updates, some of our days have gone from 1’s to 2’s to 6’s.
Thanks for gathering the info and churning through the data, so that we are forewarned!!!
I’m also finding it difficult to choose a TouringPlan that takes into account the current Covid situation. Navigating the parks during the busier Christmas month is going to be difficult without one.
I love the idea of Covid special touring plans!
There are premium plans with “Summer/Fall 2020” in the title. Those are the “COVID” plans. You can personalize and should optimize a few days before your visit. Also re-optimize during your visit.
Are you considering the fact that a posted wait time now means ALL guests are waiting that amount of time instead of just standby guests? Unless the FastPass line is empty don’t they allow 10 FastPass guests for every 1 standby? That would suggest pre-COVID a 60 minute posted wait for a ride like Slinky Dog is really about an average 20 minute wait for all guests if the FastPass wait is say around 15 mintues. With all guests waiting in much longer average lines I feel the same posted standby wait is equivalent to a higher crowd level.
I’m confused, in an email I just got it says the beginning of Feb 2021 went from a 2 to a 1. Yet online it is still high at a 6 or 7…Which one is the more accurate?
nevermind sorry, i screwed up the dates