Let’s cut to the chase. We’re in that beautiful time of the year where spring holidays are over and school is still in session. Almost no one wants their kids to miss the last few (or 4 or 5 or 6) weeks of school, and that means fewer families travelling to Walt Disney World. I’ll be honest and say the crowds disappeared from the parks much quicker than I was expecting after the Easter week, but now they should stay very nice until summer vacations start.
Observed Crowd Levels 4/11 – 4/17
The return of the greens! In fact, this is a remarkable stretch of low crowds. We haven’t seen a three-day stretch with crowds as low as this since mid-September. Part of this is thanks to some storms artificially deflating the crowd level on April 16th as everyone avoided the parks. But even still, no one expected Spring Break crowds to evaporate quite this quickly. If we drill down to a park-by-park level, the cliff of crowds leaving gets even more noticeable.
From this picture, it’s pretty clear that the Spring Break crowds were really gone by April 13th. On that day, crowds at Animal Kingdom and EPCOT dropped from steady 8s or above to steady 5 or below. In fact, on the 17th, there was over half an hour stretch, including at 11 am, that the posted wait time at Flight of Passage was 30 minutes. We have three timed actual waits between 7:30 and 10 am on that day, and they were all between 20 and 22 minutes. Crazy-bonkers-low waits. And the same crowd drop behavior was a little slower to show up at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, where crowd levels were higher to begin with and didn’t dramatically fall until the 15th.
Each week, I’m giving you a very transparent look into how our crowd level predictions performed. Each day at each park is one data point, so this week we have 28 different crowd level predictions to evaluate each week. Any time a prediction is within one or two crowd levels, things won’t really “feel” much different than what we predicted. Being off by 3 or more crowd levels is where we’d like to be more accurate because you might feel that difference in wait times throughout the day.
In the past week, Touring Plans predictions were either spot-on or within 1 crowd level 29% of the time. This is the exact opposite of our 71% performance last week, and is very very much lower than our historical average. 61% of the time Touring Plans predictions were within 2 crowd levels, and that means we earn a D- for our predictions this past week. Ouch. The “good” news is that all of the big misses were the kind that makes humans happier – when the crowds were lower than what they were told to expect. The biggest miss of the past week was on April 16th, when the predicted crowd level for Hollywood Studios was an 8, and the actual crowd level ended up being a 2. If you were in Hollywood Studios on the 16th, I hope you had a glorious day despite the weather!
Attraction Downtime 4/11 – 4/17
If we average out all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past two weeks, it comes out to 3.1% of attractions unexpectedly being down. This is just a little bit lower than what we saw last week. And the park with the biggest issues was Hollywood Studios, with 3.7% of its capacity lost due to unexpected downtime. Every park was pretty similar in downtime, since Animal Kingdom had the lowest downtime at 2%.
The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on April 17th. On that day, 5% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The worst park-day of the week is a tie between Hollywood Studios on April 12th and EPCOT on April 17th. On those park days, 7% of the capacity at each park was lost due to unexpected downtime. Hollywood Studios was open for 13.5 hours on the 12th, so 7% downtime is the equivalent of the whole park being down for almost an hour. EPCOT was open for 12 hours on the 17th, so 7% downtime is the equivalent of that whole park being down for about 50 minutes.
The worst offender of the past week is nearby last week’s winner – Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which was unexpectedly down for approximately 26% of the past week. Thankfully this is slightly better than the 30% we saw at Pirates last week, but being down for more than a quarter of the week is still a big deal. The worst day for the Magic Carpets was on April 11th, when it was unexpectedly down for 75% of the day. But this was closely followed by April 12th, when it was down for another 62% of the day. I blame the spitting camels.
Rope Drop Downtime
Here are this week’s problematic offenders:
- Magic Kingdom: Magic Carpets of Aladdin (unavailable for 48% of its first hour of the day), Pirates of the Caribbean (unavailable for 30% of its first hour of the day), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (unavailable for 25% of its first hour of the day), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (unavailable for 22% of its first hour of the day), Barnstormer (unavailable for 19% of its first hour of the day), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (unavailable for 17% of its first hour of the day)
- EPCOT: Gran Fiesta Tour (unavailable for 26% of its first hour of the day), Test Track (unavailable for 16% of its first hour of the day)
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash (unavailable for 17% of its first hour of the day)
- Animal Kingdom: TriceraTop Spin (unavailable for 17% of its first hour of the day)
Holy Magic Kingdom problems, Batman! That is a wild number of attractions that were down more than 15% of the first hour of the day. If you were rope-dropping Magic Kingdom this week, I hope you were making the smart move and heading to Peter Pan’s Flight or Tomorrowland. The picture at EPCOT is much better than last week. Frozen Ever After and Remy both dropped off the list, and only Gran Fiesta Tour got added. If you’re rope dropping Gran Fiesta Tour, you’re doing EPCOT wrong. Same with TriceraTop Spin.
Wait Times 4/11 – 4/17
Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, average posted wait of 96 minutes (116 minutes last week)
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, average posted wait time of 93 minutes (142 minutes last week)
- EPCOT: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, average posted wait time of 71 minutes (101 minutes last week)
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, average posted wait time of 89 minutes (100 minutes last week)
Look at those decreases! Interestingly, Seven Dwarfs had the smallest drop, and Slinky Dog Dash claims the top spot, thanks to Animal Kingdom’s crowd level falling faster than Hollywood Studios.
Parks with the Highest and Lowest Average Wait
These parks likely won’t change week-to-week unless something ridiculous happens, but these data points will give us a high-level view of how wait times are trending from week to week.
- Highest: Hollywood Studios, average park-wide posted wait of 40 minutes (50 minutes last week)
- Lowest: EPCOT, average park-wide posted wait of 26.5 minutes (33 minutes at Magic Kingdom last week)
Yay more good news! That decrease of 10 minutes overall at Hollywood Studios is a big deal! And EPCOT’s crowd level dropping before Magic Kingdom’s helps it to claim the title of least crowded park.
Most Inflated Posted Wait Times
We all know that Disney inflates their posted wait times on purpose. They have many reasons for doing this. Some are totally understandable, and some are potentially more problematic. We can figure out how much posted wait times are being inflated by comparing submitted actual wait times from the Lines App and the posted wait time when the person timing their wait entered the line.
Over the past week, actual wait times in the Lines App averaged 58% of what was posted. This is WAY lower than our historical average, which means posted wait times are more inflated than normal. If the posted wait time was 60 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait under 35 minutes instead.
But the worst offender for the past week is Spaceship Earth. At this one attraction, submitted actual wait times were just 43% of posted wait times in the past week, which means that if Spaceship Earth had a 20 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited just under 9 minutes. Much less than half of what was posted. Remember to always check the Lines app for predicted actual waits instead of believing what is posted.
Actual Wait Time Rock Star
The Actual Wait Time Rock Star for the past week was … MNewb, who submitted 32 actual wait times through the Lines App over the last 7 days! This includes 17 FastPass waits, 12 Standby waits, 1 Single Rider wait, and 2 Virtual Queue waits. Thank you for all of that timing, MNewb! But you didn’t claim the all-time record, which is still held by shop.kgb, with 50 recorded wait times in a single week.
In the upcoming week, we could used any timed waits from the first hour of operations. The earlier the better!
Looking Ahead: April 18th through 24th
This week looks like it should be a spectacular time to be in Walt Disney World. Spring Break crowds have totally disappeared almost overnight. There are no special events happening that should draw more people into the parks. The weather should be decent for most of the week.
I fully expect crowds to be lower than what the crowd calendar is predicting right now. If you’re headed to the parks or there already, have an awesome week. I’ll be jealous of you from over here. That’s all you need to know.