We’re officially in the period of the calm before all of the Spring Breaks. Since Easter is in April this year, some school districts that will purposefully align their March spring break with Easter have had to spread out instead. So there may not be one terrible week of the descending spring break crowds this year. Instead, late March and early April will see moderately high crowds. But has that started yet? Decidedly not. In fact, crowds this past week were somewhat shockingly low. Let’s look at that data!
Observed Crowd Levels 2/28 – 3/6
All of the spring-y green bars! What is the saying? That March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb? Well, this march is starting out very peaceful and lamb-like, and it should go much more lion-y by the end of the month. We even had a few park-specific crowd level 2 days throughout the past week, at every park other than Hollywood Studios. And no park ever went above a crowd level 6 for the entire week. If you were in Walt Disney World this first week of March, I applaud you and congratulate you one what was probably a very excellent and uncrowded vacation. I don’t even need to show park-specific graphs, because they were all just slight variations on this lovely picture.
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.
We’ve got a good news/bad news situation this week. In the past week, Touring Plans predictions were either spot-on or within 1 crowd level 43% of the time. This is historically terribly low, and the third week in a row that number has been below 60%. 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. This, too, is well below average and an all-time low. That’s the bad news. The “good” news is that all of the misses were the “happy” type – overpredictions. TouringPlans predicted a lot higher crowds this week and they just didn’t materialize. The biggest miss of the week was on March 5th. On that day, crowds at Hollywood Studios were 6 (SIX!) levels lower than expected. TouringPlans predicted a crowd level 9, and wait times were low enough to only merit a crowd level 3. That’s the lowest crowds we’ve seen in Hollywood Studios in a very, very long time.
Attraction Downtime 2/28 – 3/6
If we average out all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past two weeks, it comes out to 2.9% of attractions unexpectedly being down. This is perhaps the first time that we’ve seen a big drop in crowds without a big increase in downtime. Encouraging! The park with the biggest issues was EPCOT, with 3.6% of its capacity lost due to unexpected downtime. This is the second week in a row that EPCOT has seen the most downtime issues, after previously never “winning”. Thankfully this week’s downtime number was lower than last week’s.
The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on March 6th. On that day, 6% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The worst park-day of the week was at EPCOT, also on the 6th. One of those nice, predictable combinations of the worst overall day at the worst overall park. On that one day, 9% of the the capacity at that park was lost due to unexpected downtime. EPCOT 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 of downtime for the whole park. Thankfully, this did not appear to significantly impact crowd levels, since the park came in at a crowd level 6, exactly as predicted.
The worst offender this week was Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which was unexpectedly down for approximately 12% of the week. This is Remy’s first time getting anywhere close to the top of the downtime list. And it’s also the first time in three or four weeks that the worst offender had less than 20% downtime. The worst day for the rat was easily March 6th, when it was down for 50% of the day. It first had a hiccup and was down from around 11:45-12:45, and then crashed again a little after 4:30 pm and didn’t come back online for the rest of the day.
Rope Drop Downtime
Here are this week’s problematic offenders:
- Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean (unavailable for 45% of its first hour of the day), TTA PeopleMover (unavailable for 16% of its first hour of the day), Space Mountain (unavailable for 13% of its first hour of the day)
- EPCOT: Spaceship Earth (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day), Mission: SPACE (unavailable for 13% of its first hour of the day)
- Hollywood Studios: Rise of the Resistance (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day), Runaway Railway (unavailable for 12% of its first hour of the day)
- Animal Kingdom: No rope drop downtime issues!
Other than it being a tough week for attractions with “Space” in the name, things aren’t looking too bad here. Pirates of the Caribbean is back on the struggle bus after a pretty substantial break from appearing on this list. EPCOT downtime issues didn’t impact any attractions that people should be rope dropping there. And Rise of the Resistance still tops the list for Hollywood Studios, but its unavailability was just a third of what we saw last week.
Wait Times 2/28 – 3/6
Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park
- Hollywood Studios: Rise of the Resistance, average posted wait of 71 minutes (106 at Slinky Dog Dash minutes last week)
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, average posted wait time of 69 minutes (109 minutes last week)
- EPCOT: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, average posted wait time of 62 minutes (79 minutes last week)
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, average posted wait time of 65 minutes (84 minutes last week)
Wow. Just wow. All of these average posted wait times plummeted compared to the past week. 35 minutes lower at Hollywood Studios, 40 minutes lower at Animal Kingdom, and almost 20 minutes lower at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. If there is one section that really shows how lovely this week was, it’s this one.
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 33 minutes (last week 46 minutes)
- Lowest: Magic Kingdom, average park-wide posted wait of 22.5 minutes (last week 28 minutes at EPCOT)
Once again we see a picture of remarkably uncrowded parks compared to the end of February. The average posted wait time at Hollywood Studios was almost 30% lower than the previous week. That makes a huge difference in the course of a normal park day.
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 63% of what was posted. This is below our historical average, barely. If the posted wait time was 60 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait just under 38 minutes instead.
But the worst offender for the past week is our good friend and repeat “winner,” Peter Pan’s Flight. It has now held the title for 5 out of the past 7 weeks. At this one attraction, submitted actual wait times were only 40% of posted wait times in the past week, which means that if Peter Pan’s Flight had a 60 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited just 24 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 … ctsbiscuit, who submitted 42 actual wait times through the Lines App over the last 7 days! This includes 17 Lightning Lane waits, and 25 Standby waits. Even more impressive – all of these 42 waits really only happened in three days Thanks for your hard work, ctsbiscuit! 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 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 7th through March 13th
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. Ha! So by the time you read this, March 7th will already be in the past.
Spring Break season is starting. We’re only in the very early stages, but we can already see the impact of this transition from the only non-green bar that happened on the 6th. Between now and the 13th, a relatively small number of schools will be on spring break, so things won’t be crazy yet. Expect crowd levels to start going up to the 6 and 7 level, and then increasing as we head into the week of the 13th. At the very least, the days of crowd levels 2s and 3s should be gone for now.
Temperatures will be staying warm this week, inviting the locals that are on break to also come to the parks. Park reservations are already starting to sell out beginning on the 12th and 13th at Magic Kingdom and the 13th at Hollywood Studios. This doesn’t necessarily mean crowd levels 9 or 10, but it means some big crowds.