TouringPlan’s Crowd Calendar is an incredibly powerful tool. It captures expected variation in crowd levels based on a huge amount of data. It’s where you want to go if you’re planning a trip far in advance and want to be sure you’re making the most of your time. You’ll learn the best days to visit WDW and each park.
But what if you don’t want to get bogged down in the data? Well, we can’t be friends. Because I love getting bogged down in the data. Ha! But there are ways to make smart decisions without digging deep into crowd trends and specific predictions. How? We have to analyze a little bit of data to give us just a high-level understanding. For today, let’s explore this question:
“Regardless of overall crowd level, is there any particular day of the week that is generally better to visit each park at Walt Disney World?”
Explain the Math!
We collect wait times from every park every day. These data are collected for each ride and include information about posted wait times and actual wait times. These can be quite different – if you’re interested in that, you can read more about it here.
I went in and pulled wait times for every ride, for every day since the beginning of 2021. I decided that I didn’t want the rides with the highest wait times to skew the park-wide trends, so I normalized the data. That’s a process where I make everything comparable on the same scale. In this case, I found the maximum daily wait for each ride individually and then normalized all other waits by dividing by the maximum.
For example, we have wait times for Splash Mountain every day. Its highest average wait time for a single day was 95 minutes on March 9th. In the normalized world, March 9th is now “100%” (95/95) for Splash Mountain. On the other end of the spectrum, on January 13th the average wait at Splash Mountain was 7 minutes! That 7 minutes is now “7%” (7/95).
I calculate these values for every ride every day, and come up with a park-wide average for each day compared to the potential maximum. If every ride was at their maximum all on the same day, the park-wide average would be 100%. That would be a day you would not want to be in the park. The overall worst day at Magic Kingdom so far this year was Valentine’s Day, a Sunday. Average waits across the whole park average 91% of their year-long maximums. Ouch. But if you went on January 13 instead, a Wednesday, you only experienced 31% of maximum waits on average. Much better.
To figure out which day of the week might be best to visit each park, I then just averaged the results for each time that day of the week occurred.
Best Day of the Week To Visit Each Park
Let’s start with the biggest outlier: Hollywood Studios. It turns out that no single day of the week is really any better or worse than any other day of the week to visit the Studios. There really is very little variation that can be attributed to the day of the week. Tuesdays have the highest average wait (68% of maximum) and Fridays have the lowest average wait (63% of maximum). But the difference between the highest and lowest is very small.
Logically, this makes sense because Park Pass Reservations almost always sell out for Hollywood Studios. As a result, wait times are much more closely tied to how Rise of the Resistance is performing on any single day than on crowd patterns. If Rise is having a bad day, wait times will be ugly – no matter what day of the week it is.
EPCOT also doesn’t experience much variance based on the day of the week. Out of any park, it has the most stereotypical “Don’t Visit on the Weekend” behavior. If you visit on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll experience an average of 52% of maximum waits. But if you confine yourself to a Tuesday-Friday visit, you’ll stay in the 44-45% range instead. Again, not huge differences. Most variation at EPCOT is due to overall crowd patterns and not the day of the week. But if you can swing a weekday visit, you’ll probably be better off.
Working our way up the chain of significance, we come to Animal Kingdom. Similar to EPCOT, if you can avoid visiting Animal Kingdom on a weekend, you should. Saturdays and Sundays average 56-57% of maximum wait. But unlike EPCOT, not all weekdays are created equal. In this case, you should probably aim for a Wednesday or a Thursday because wait times are averaging 47% of maximum instead.
Finally we reach the park where day of the week makes the most difference. At the Magic Kingdom, try to avoid Saturdays specifically. Saturdays average 71% of maximum waits. This is the highest average of any day at any park. Don’t do it! Don’t go! Sundays aren’t quite as big of a deal. But if you want to skew toward the lowest waits, you should reserve a Wednesday or Thursday. Those days average 57-58% of maximum waits.
What Does This Mean For You?
- Most variation is accounted for by overall crowd levels. If you want the very best prediction of which park to visit which day, you’ll still need to use the crowd calendar.
- Outside of that, if you visit the parks on a weekend, stick to Hollywood Studios (or maybe Magic Kingdom on a Sunday). There are no major spikes in wait times on the weekend at Studios.
- If your vacation includes a Wednesday and Thursday, you should generally pick one of those days to visit Magic Kingdom and the other to visit Animal Kingdom
- Stick to EPCOT on a Tuesday or a Friday to free up the other weekdays for the other parks.
Do you have your own theories or ways you decide which parks to visit on which day? Do you default to tracking the Crowd Calendar or going with your gut? Any ideas for a different way to slice this data? Let us know in the comments!