If you’re heading down to Walt Disney World over the next couple of weeks, prepare yourself. Things are going to get crazy. They’re pretty much already crazy. Crowds of families determined to have the best day ever are already descending upon Orlando. But that’s not new – we saw that the week of President’s Day and over winter break. What is new is that we’ve got exciting spring things starting to join the mix, like previews of TRON and Happily Ever After. Plus, bonus spring weather starting to creep in and potentially cause more downtime for outdoor attractions (I see you, Test Track). So let’s take a look at this week’s data and make some predictions about the rest of March.
Observed Crowd Levels 3/7 – 3/13
That poor lonely green bar! Actually, the presence of any green bar in mid-March is a little surprising. The spring break crowds have definitely arrived, but they’re slightly more delayed than what was originally predicted. You can see where things turn the corner, though. That weekend of March 10th, things started their real upswing. And the trend was the same at all four parks, too. Expect things to stay this way for a few weeks.
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.
Our good news/bad news situation from last week persists! In the past week, Touring Plans predictions were either spot-on or within 1 crowd level 64% of the time. This is much better than last week, but still below our historical average. 78% of the time Touring Plans predictions were within 2 crowd levels, and that means we earn a C+ for our predictions this past week. This, too, is below average, but much better than the D- from last week. That’s the bad news. The “good” news is that all of the misses were the “happy” type – overpredictions. Just like last week, TouringPlans predicted a lot higher crowds this week and they just didn’t materialize. The biggest misses of the week were on March 7th at Hollywood Studios and March 11th at EPCOT. On those days, crowds were 4 levels lower than expected. Not quite as crazy as the miss by 6 levels last week.
Attraction Downtime 3/7 – 3/13
If we average out all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past two weeks, it comes out to 4% of attractions unexpectedly being down. Very interesting that crowds are back up, and downtime is increasing as well. The park with the biggest issues was Magic Kingdom – bar far, with 6.1% of its capacity lost due to unexpected downtime. This is the biggest downtime number we’ve seen in many weeks. Any number above 5% is a big deal.
The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on March 12th. On that day, 7% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The worst park-day of the week was at Magic Kingdom, on the 13th. On that one day, 12% of the the capacity at that park was lost due to unexpected downtime. Magic Kingdom was open for 14 hours on that day, so 12% downtime is the equivalent of the whole park being down for for 100 minutes – over an hour and a half of downtime for the whole park. This did have an impact on wait times and crowd levels, since Magic Kingdom was predicted to be an 8 and ended up being a 9.
The worst offender this week was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which was unexpectedly down for approximately 33% of the week. This is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s first time getting anywhere close to the top of the downtime list. And this is also one of the largest downtime numbers we’ve seen since we started tracking months and months ago. The worst day for the wildest ride in the west was March 11th, when it was down for 61% of the day. It was up and down most of the day … but mostly down. And then it was down for 60% of the 12th as well.
Rope Drop Downtime
Here are this week’s problematic offenders:
- Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean (unavailable for 94% of its first hour of the day), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (unavailable for 23% of its first hour of the day), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (unavailable for 20% of its first hour of the day)
- EPCOT: Test Track (unavailable for 22% of its first hour of the day), The Seas with Nemo and Friends (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day)
- Hollywood Studios: No rope drop downtime issues!
- Animal Kingdom: No rope drop downtime issues!
Hold. The. Phone! Hollywood Studios had no rope drop downtime issues? That has never ever happened before ever. Maybe everyone is on their best behavior now that Rock’n’Roller Coaster is down for refurbishment. On the other hand, Magic Kingdom more than made up for Hollywood Studios’ good behavior. Pirates of the Caribbean basically never opened on time all well, and a couple of other major attractions had problems as well. No good.
Wait Times 2/28 – 3/6
Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, average posted wait of 91 minutes (71 at Rise of the Resistance minutes last week)
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, average posted wait time of 90 minutes (69 minutes last week)
- EPCOT: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, average posted wait time of 75 minutes (62 minutes last week)
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, average posted wait time of 84 minutes (65 minutes last week)
Wait times are significantly up compared to last week at every park. In fact, Remy and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are both back to the same highs we saw during the very crowded week of President’s Day. Be prepared for these numbers to be much worse in the next update!
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 41 minutes (last week 33 minutes)
- Lowest: EPCOT, average park-wide posted wait of 26 minutes (last week 22.5 minutes at Magic Kingdom)
When we look at these park-wide averages we see the real impact of the increasing crowds. Once again, EPCOT takes away the lowest-average-wait crown from Magic Kingdom, but it still has a 26 minute average wait. Hollywood Studios is back above 40 minutes on average, which my personal “Yikes, no thanks” measure.
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 62% of what was posted. This is below our historical average by a couple of percentage points. If the posted wait time was 60 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait just over 37 minutes instead.
But the worst offender for the past week is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear keep fighting over this title, and I think we’re all owed some sort of crossover movie at this point. At this one attraction, submitted actual wait times were only 45% of posted wait times in the past week, which means that if Buzz had a 30 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited just 13.5 minutes. 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 this past week was … panbuck97, who submitted 31 actual wait times through the Lines App over the last 7 days! This includes 8 Lightning Lane waits, and 23 Standby waits. Thanks for your hard work, panbuck97! 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 next week, we could still use all of the standby wait times you can get in the first 15 minutes of early entry and/or regular rope drop. We are working on identifying some potential issues or improvements that we can make. Thanks!
Looking Ahead: March 14th through March 27th
As a reminder, I’m trying to stay as real-time as possible. But I have to have time to pull data, crunch numbers, and write this lovely article each week with its 1500 or so words. So by the time you read this, March 14th will already be in the past. Bonus, I’ll be on spring break with my family next week, and that means you’ll have to wait for two weeks to get a mega recap of the Disney Data. And, no, my family won’t be going to Disney for spring break because we don’t like crowds. We’re zigging while others zag. Instead of following the flocks of people to warmer locations, we’re taking our girls on their first ever ski trip. Seeking out colder and snowier weather.
That crowd level 9 that we saw on the 13th is just the beginning of the seemingly delayed spring break season. These next two weeks see many school districts around the country taking time off from school, and that means many families will be taking advantage of that freedom and traveling down to Orlando. Spring weather is arriving in Florida as well. I mean, I know Floridians don’t really embrace seasons like we midwesterners do, but spring does at least mean rain. We’ve been in a stretch of almost zero weather-related downtime, and that will start changing over the next couple of weeks. Attractions like Test Track will start to be more of a problem than they’ve been during the winter.
If you’re in the parks sometime during these next two weeks, approach each park day with a plan. Take advantage of those early entry hours if you can!