I think I’ll call 2023 the year of uncrowded holidays at Walt Disney World. July 4th, Labor Day, and Halloween were all almost ghost towns in Orlando – but I don’t make any promises about Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m sure things will pick right back up. Speaking of which – we’ve got a long weekend coming up, and those haven’t really slowed down at all this year.
November is shaping up to be a tale of two parks. Jersey Week and the long Veterans Day Weekend will see crowded parks, but things will empty out again until we get to the week of Thanksgiving, which should be jam-packed like always.
Observed Crowd Levels October 31 – November 6
Well that’s a trend if I’ve ever seen one. In late October, and through Halloween, crowd conditions were gorgeous and much lower than past years would have suggested. But we’re headed into Jersey Week and Veterans Day weekend, along with more fall breaks at schools around the country. That means more people in the parks and higher wait times.
Our easy-to-spot trend isn’t limited to just one park either. Wait times have been steadily increasing at every park, aided by the lull in parties at Magic Kingdom that is set to expire with the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tomorrow, November 9th.
Performance of Crowd Level Predictions
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 61% of the time. This is a bump up from the past couple of weeks, thanks to crowds “surging” back in the past couple of days. 79% of the time Touring Plans predictions were within 2 crowd levels, and that means we earn a C+ for our predictions the past week. Thing near the beginning of the week were very skewed, but then the roar at the end of the week helped even out the results. Still, the biggest miss of the week was an overestimate at EPCOT on Halloween, when Touring Plans predicted a crowd level 5, and things bottomed out to a crowd level 1.
Attraction Downtime October 31 – November 6
If we average all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past week, it comes out to 4% of attractions unexpectedly being down. The exact same as last two weeks! We’ve got a tie for parks with the worst downtime issues – Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios both had 4.7% of their capacity lost due to unexpected downtime.
The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on November 1st. On that day, 6.25% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The worst park-day of the week was at Hollywood Studios on November 1st. On that park day, 11% of the capacity was lost at the Studios due to unexpected downtime. Hollywood Studios was open for 12 hours on the 28th, so 11% downtime is the equivalent of the whole park being down for almost 80 minutes.
Attraction Downtime Worst Offenders
The worst offender of the past week was Expedition Everest, which was unexpectedly down for 18% of the past week. Thankfully, none of the other attractions at Animal Kingdom had really significant issues, so the park had a decent week anyway. Most of the attraction’s struggles were a result of the ride not coming up at park opening, and staying down for varying lengths of time. The worst day for Everest was November 3rd, when the ride was down until about 12:30 pm, but it was also down the next day until around 11 am.
Rope Drop Downtime
Here are this week’s problematic offenders:
- Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (unavailable for 26% of its first hour of the day), Haunted Mansion (unavailable for 15% of its first hour of the day), TTA PeopleMover (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (unavailable for 13% of its first hour of the day)
- EPCOT: Test Track (unavailable for 15% of its first hour of the day)
- Hollywood Studios: Rock’n’Roller Coaster (unavailable for 25% of its first hour of the day)
- Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest (unavailable for 29% of its first hour of the day)
Interesting week for rope drop downtime. Overall, the list was pretty small – but each park had one attraction with some considerable downtime. And Seven Dwarfs Mine Train shows back up on the list for the first time in several months.
Wait Times October 31 – November 6
Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, average posted wait of 78 minutes (83 minutes last week)
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, average posted wait time of 73 minutes (65 minutes last week)
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, average posted wait time of 62 minutes (55 minutes last week)
- EPCOT: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, average posted wait time of 61 minutes (64 minutes last week)
Slinky Dog Dash had a rough week last week thanks to a bunch of unexpected downtime, so this week’s decrease in overall wait time is a little bit of an anomaly. We can see that with the numbers at the rest of the headliners in the other three parks. Wait times are edging up, and they’re only going to get higher next week because this week they were dragged down by the low Halloween-time crowds.
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 37 minutes (35 minutes last week)
- Lowest: EPCOT, average park-wide posted wait of 24 minutes (21 minutes at Magic Kingdom last week)
Without party days to drag its average wait times down, Magic Kingdom loses its low wait time crown to EPCOT. For now. Expect Magic Kingdom to be back in control of this spot once the Christmas parties start up this week!
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 64% of what was posted. This is slightly up from our historical average, which means that wait times are less inflated than usual. If the posted wait time was 60 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait just over 38 minutes instead.
But the worst offender for the past week is Peter Pan’s Flight. At this one attraction, submitted actual wait times were 42% of posted wait times in the past week. That means that if Peter Pan had a 60 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited just 25 minutes instead. 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 … seth.lancaster, who submitted 69 actual wait times through the Lines App over the last 7 days! This includes 32 Lightning Lane waits, 32 Standby waits, 2 single rider waits, and 3 virtual queue waits. Thank you for all of that timing, seth.lancaster! That’s the closest anyone has come to the all-time record of 78 recorded wait times in a single week, still held by psymonds.
Looking Ahead: November 7 – 13
This week we’re dealing with the combination of Jersey Week and the Veterans Day holiday. All of this means that more kids are out of school, and more families are travelling down to Orlando for a quick vacation in the middle of the semester. Expect elevated crowds throughout the week, especially this upcoming long weekend.
Additionally, this week sees the start-up of two Christmas parties at Walt Disney World:
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom on November 9th, 10th and 13th
- Jollywood Nights on November 11th
We all know that parties at the Magic Kingdom have a HUGE impact on crowds. So far this year, the average difference between party days and non-party days has been 7 crowd levels. I don’t expect the same behavior at Hollywood Studios. Why? It all comes down to nighttime entertainment and overall park hours. Hollywood Studios only closes an hour early for Jollywood Nights, and daytime guests still have the opportunity to view Fantasmic before the holiday party begins.
All of that means we’ll soon start seeing the pendulum swing on Magic Kingdom crowds, but Hollywood Studios crowds should stay steady.
Sunshine and temperatures topping out in the mid- to upper-80s makes it look like a pretty great week to be in Orlando. I’ll be there from the 8th through the 10th, so make sure to stop and say hi if you see me!