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Disney Data Dump January 4 2023

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Welcome to 2023, Disney data friends! A time for setting goals and dreaming big dreams. A time for reviewing where we’ve been, and looking forward to hopefully-less-crowded times ahead. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically one of the very most crowded times of year at Walt Disney World as families take advantage of school vacations all at once and enjoy some holiday Disney magic. Did that trend hold true this year too? Or did winter storms and “economic softening” and illnesses make things different this year? The data will tell us!

Observed Crowd Levels 12/27 – 1/2

Observed crowd levels from December 27th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that this overall picture doesn’t immediately look as bad as I expected it to. Especially since we’re in the heart of between-holiday peak WDW travel season. But as we started to discuss last week, this overall look doesn’t paint the whole picture. Specifically, many many families use Southwest to fly their families to Orlando for Disney World vacations. And while the rest of the airlines quickly recovered from the winter storms of the previous week, Southwest continued to cancel around 2/3 of its flights through New Years Eve. Now, some families could switch airlines or make the drive instead. But there was a significant amount of travel disruption that led to delayed or cancelled vacation arrivals during this period. I believe that contributes to the decreasing crowd level we see from the 28th through the 31st.

Observed crowd levels at Hollywood Studios from December 27th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

The overall resort crowd level also doesn’t do a spectacular job of showing the pain experienced at specific parks, either. While an overall crowd level 8 might make it seem like “hey, things weren’t that bad” – at some parks, they still work. Hollywood Studios was maxing out its crowd level on a lot of days. We’ll dive even more into this when we get to wait times, to see just how wild things got on these various days.

How our predictions performed from December 27th, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023

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 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, our predictions were either spot-on or within 1 crowd level 71% of the time. Pretty spectacular compared to our historical average. 92% of the time we were within 2 crowd levels, and that means we earn an A- for our predictions this past week. That being said, we probably got a little lucky. Those travel delays depressed crowds, and we somehow were ready for it. Our biggest miss of the week was at Animal Kingdom on New Year’s Eve, when we underestimated by 3 crowd levels. We predicted a 6, and it ended up being a 9. Overall, WDW was a crowd level 8 that day, so it wasn’t like Animal Kingdom should have been a ghost town. And only 2% of ride capacity was lost due to unexpected downtime, so it wasn’t some large outage issue that caused wait times to spike.

Attraction Downtime 12/27 – 1/2

If we average out all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past week, it comes out to 3% of attractions unexpectedly being down. This is close to our historic low since we started tracking the metric in these posts. Something to be grateful for during the crowded holiday season. The park with the biggest issues was Magic Kingdom, with 3.3% of capacity its lost due to unexpected downtime. This is remarkably low and shows how tightly all of the parks were packed, all with downtimes between 2.8% and 3.3% for the past week.

The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on December 29th. On that day, 4.75% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The single worst park-day of the week was also on December 29th, at Animal Kingdom. On that day, 9% of the the capacity at that park was lost due to unexpected downtime. Animal Kingdom was open for 12 hours on that day, so 9% downtime is the equivalent of the whole park being down for almost 65 minutes – over an hour. This definitely impacted the crowd level at Animal Kingdom, which was expected to be an 8, but ended up a rare 10 for that park.

Good news – if the attractions are down, you can spend more time with the adorable Merry Menagerie characters during the holiday season!

Attraction Downtime

The worst offender was the PeopleMover, which was unexpectedly down for approximately 15% of the week. Its worst day was easily December 21st, when it was unavailable for 38% the park day. The PeopleMover didn’t come up in the morning, and wasn’t available until about 1:15 pm. It then went back down slightly after 11 pm. I say boo – anyone who wanted to start their New Year off right by being on the PeopleMover at exactly midnight should have had that opportunity!

Rope Drop Downtime

Here are this week’s problematic offenders:

  • Magic Kingdom: TTA PeopleMover (unavailable for 44% of its first hour of the day), Under the Sea (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day)
  • EPCOT: Spaceship Earth (unavailable for 18% of its first hour of the day)
  • Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash (unavailable for 22% of its first hour of the day)
  • Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day)

None of our regular offenders? The tin-foil-hat spidey sense is tingling. You’re telling me that on the most crowded week of the year, all of the important attractions that need to be up at rope drop are suddenly, magically up at rope drop? Even when they have regularly had problems every other week we’ve been tracking them? Remarkable. In the end, I hope this really was a matter of a little extra pixie dust that rewarded those who had solid rope drop plans during this crowded week.

Look at these happy faces on the PeopleMover! How could you shut it down and deny this love??

Wait Times 12/27 – 1/2

Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park

I commented on the average wait times from last week as being totally bonkers. And they were. But this week said “Just you wait, just you waaaaaaait”.  There wasn’t much room for Tower of Terror to increase thanks to its natural “balk” point. But Flight of Passage going up by 20, Remy going up by 30, and Seven Dwarfs going up by 22, on top of already high average posted waits, is insanity.

Keep in mind that these are averages throughout the whole day. If we narrow things in to just peak hours, Flight of Passage’s average posted wait goes up to 200 minutes. Tower of Terror’s goes up over 145.

The ill-timed closure of one of Tower of Terror’s elevator shafts suddenly made _slightly_ more sense this week when Disney announced the upcoming extended closure of its closest neighbor.

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 63 minutes (last week 58 minutes)
  • Lowest: Magic Kingdom, average park-wide posted wait of 33 minutes (last week 27.5 minutes)

Big ouch for Hollywood Studios. If you picked any random line at Studios over the past week, you could have expected to see a posted wait time of over an hour. That includes less-crowded times like early entry or during Fantasmic, and it includes lower-tier attractions like Alien Swirling Saucers, or even “attractions” like Walt Disney Presents or Vacation Fun. But when you’ve got four attractions all with an average over 90 minutes, and seven attractions with an average over 75 minutes, it’s difficult to balance that out.

Let’s remember that Hollywood Studios had crowd levels of only 9 or 10 this past week. That should mean reliably high posted wait times. Right? A crowd level 10 is a crowd level 10. No, no, Disney data fan. Because I love you so much, I have two bonus graphs for you to show that not all 10s are created equal.

Here we see the crowd levels and the average posted wait time at Hollywood Studios for each day of the past week. On crowd level 10 days, the overall average posted wait varied from 63 minutes on 12/28 to 70 minutes on 1/2. That means, even at that top crowd level, wait times were on average 11% worse on January 2nd than they were on December 28th. Just like wait times on December 28th were 10% worse than they were on January 1st (a crowd level 9). If our crowd levels went up to 11, January 2nd would have been an 11. I don’t have the real authority to say that, so I’ll just write it here instead.

If we drill in even further, we can see the average posted wait times for each attraction that averaged over 75 minutes for the entire week. Undoubtedly, 12/31 and 1/1 were the nicest days. Still not nice, but nicest. There’s not much new information here other than a few interesting notes. First, Rise of the Resistance is flatter than any other attraction. Second, on those “crowd level 11” days, the big increases came from Slinky Dog Dash … and then the sort of B-tier of Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, and Millennium Falcon. At those extra-crazy crowd levels, not only are the headliners crowded, but the next tier of attractions are overwhelmed by the numbers of people not wanting to get in headliner-length lines.

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.

From December 27th through January 2nd, actual wait times in the Lines App averaged 64% of what was posted. So if the posted wait time was 20 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait just under 13 minutes instead.

But the worst offender for the week was Living with the Land. This is the second week in the row that Living with the Land has had the most inflated posted wait times! At this one attraction, submitted actual wait times were 52% of posted wait times, which means that if Living with the Land had a 20 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited just over 10 minutes. Approximately 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 this past week was mbcollins, who submitted an impressive 41 wait times through the Lines App over the last 7 days. This includes 24 Lightning Lane waits, 14 Standby waits, and 3 Virtual Queue waits. Thanks for your hard work, mbcollins!

In the next week, we could especially use Lightning Lane wait times for character meet and greets. If you happen to be using your Genie+ reservations at those locations, make sure to time your waits for us.

Looking Ahead: January 3rd through January 9th

Since it takes time to pull data and write a post, you’ll be reading this on the 4th when the 3rd is already in the past. But we’re staying as close to real-time as possible.

Things should start calming back down over the next week. Of course, January 2nd also shouldn’t have been as crazy as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. And we’ve got the Marathon weekend included in that time too. So here’s what I’d hope to see – moderating crowds gradually headed back toward the resort-level 7s and 8s before marathon weekend.

Be prepared for some transportation and making-your-way-around-the-park headaches, especially at EPCOT on the 7th and 8th. The marathon and half-marathon both make their way through EPCOT. The park won’t open until 10 on those days, but marathoners definitely will still be wrapping up their races on the 8th after park opening. So it’s not just wait times you’ll need to be worried about that day, but also how you’ll be able to move around the park. Race days bring a lot of fun energy, especially when you are near the finish line, but it also means that you may have a more difficult time getting to specific attractions.

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: or instagram @raisingminniemes

One thought on “Disney Data Dump January 4 2023

  • After reading this article, I have the sudden urge to watch “This is Spinal Tap”…


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