October 1st was an incredibly special and historic day. I mean, yeah, sure, WDW celebrated its 50th birthday. But I’m talking about something different. On October 1st … we at TouringPlans broke our own rules. What rules? Generally, we hold very fast to our rules about crowd levels. Crowd levels:
- Do not necessarily represent crowds. For you coding folk out there, Crowd Levels ≠ Attendance
- Do represent groupings of approximate wait times
- Do not represent the number of people milling about eating and drinking at Food & Wine
- Do help you understand how much time you might spend in line if you’re focused on attractions
- Do not account for the behavior of influencers or eBay pirates spending hours queueing up to buy exclusive merch or drink a bright drink with some pop rocks attached via clothespin
As we all know, though, rules are meant to be broken. And on a day as crazy as the 50th anniversary, we know that if we post a crowd level that represents wait times, we’ll be misleading anyone that doesn’t fully understand the definition of a crowd level. And we’d be misleading them by A LOT. So we broke the rules at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT on October 1st. We posted the crowd levels as 10 at both parks (but not Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom). But now we have the observations about crowds and data about crowd levels. So what actually happened on October 1st? Was breaking our rules the right thing to do?
Crowds on October 1st
EPCOT was pretty crowded. There were lines of people waiting to get in, and long queues for things like Space 220 and the Creations Shop throughout the day for those so-hot-right-now food and merch items. Remy distributed all of its first set of boarding passes within seconds.
But then … meh. EPCOT absorbs crowds well. When boarding groups reopened for Remy at 1 pm, they stayed available until 4 pm. Crowds ebbed and flowed in the afternoon at the popular spots. Huge amounts of crowds didn’t even really materialize.
If you followed any social media on the 1st, you know how packed it was at Magic Kingdom. Before the sun rose, there were seas of people waiting to get into the park. Gift shops were madhouses. The Wi-Fi was useless for a time (and at some points legitimately non-functional). The park ran out of FuelRods as everyone tried to recharge their devices to keep streaming for their followers. In fact, in the afternoon, one TouringPlans team member ordered food at Cosmic Ray’s, and it took over 75 minutes from the time they arrived and pressed “prepare my order” to when the food was ready. Ouch. Eventually, things got so crowded that the park reached capacity and no one was allowed to park hop over. Magic Kingdom attendance was literally as high as it could possibly be.
Crowd Levels on October 1st
So what if we hadn’t cheated the number up at EPCOT on October 1st? Based on wait times alone (which is what the crowd levels represent), what would the crowd level have been?
Actual wait times at Soarin’ didn’t go over 10 minutes. And actual wait times at Test Track and Frozen Ever After (the two attractions with the longest waits on average) both peaked at 31 minutes. The peak posted waits at all three of those attractions, and all of the other attractions in EPCOT, were well within the range to be deemed a crowd level 1 for October 1st.
And what about Magic Kingdom? Surely all of those people had to go somewhere. What were wait times like throughout the day, and what would the crowd level have been? Let’s look at a few attractions.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Longest submitted actual wait time was 45 minutes. Posted wait time never went above 65. Squarely in crowd level 1 or 2.
- Big Thunder Mountain – Longest submitted actual wait time was 16 minutes. Posted wait time never went above 25. Easily a crowd level 1.
- Buzz Lightyear – Longest submitted actual wait time was 5 minutes. Yeah, 5. Posted wait time never went above 20. Crowd level 1 for sure.
- What about something a little more “classic”? Jungle Cruise – Longest submitted actual wait time was 47 minutes. Higher than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Curious. Posted wait time topped out at 60 minutes, which bumps it up to crowd level … 2 or 3.
- Pirates of the Caribbean – Longest submitted actual wait time was 11 minutes, and that was before 9 am. Posted wait time also peaked around 9, at 50 minutes. But then settled around 20 minutes during normal “peak” hours. Crowd level 1. Maybe 2, if we’re being nice.
- Space Mountain – Longest submitted actual wait time was 14 minutes, and it was recorded at 7:14 am. Posted wait time peaked early at 25 minutes. Below crowd level 1, if that’s a thing. For most of the day, the posted wait time for the PeopleMover was longer than Space Mountain. Speaking of …
- PeopleMover – Longest submitted actual wait time was 16 minutes. Posted wait time peaked and held steady at 35 minutes for most of the afternoon and evening. You know the drill by now, right? Wrong! That sets it in crowd level 9 or 10 territory. Wow!
What Have We Learned Here?
- Sometimes breaking the rules is fun. But don’t you worry, we’re still paying attention to the data.
- There were many, many, many humans at Magic Kingdom on October 1st. Many. And the Wi-Fi infrastructure isn’t built to handle them if they’re live-streaming their entire day. And neither are the food locations, apparently.
- None of those many, many, many humans actually cared about experiencing attractions on October 1st. If we didn’t care about “crowds”, the crowd level would’ve been a 1.
- Influencers and WDW50 enthusiasts love them some PeopleMover.
Bonus content: This hot take on Magic Kingdom attendance from our own Steve Bloom
How would you have classified the crowds yesterday at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT — a 1 based on wait times for attractions or a 10 based on the sea of humanity standing around? Let us know what you think in the comments.