Sometimes you have some great data. And sometimes you have a great story. And on the very best of weeks, you have great data with a great story. That, my friends, is what we have this week thanks to … Bear Day. You know a piece of Disney news is a BIG DEAL when even your non-Disney friends are messaging you about it. And that’s exactly what happened with the Magic Kingdom Bear of 2023. Half of the park was closed for a few hours, and on this non-party day sandwiched by two party days, that led to an absolute explosion of wait times. I apologize to anyone that was in the park, but it was wildly entertaining watching it all unfold from home.
Observed Crowd Levels September 12 – 18
Whoa whoa whoa, we don’t want no yellow bars around here! But these two yellow bars actually give us a lot of insight. And it all has to do with days of the week – Saturdays and Mondays have some interesting behavior. Let’s look at the park-specific chart to get some more information about what those insights are.
First observation: even with increasing crowd levels overall, party days at Magic Kingdom continue to be ideal. Second observation: any non-party days surrounded by party days are disproportionately crowded. Now, the 18th can’t all be blamed on non-party day (see: bear), but it was still likely going to be a crowd level 6 even without the bear. Third observation: weekends at EPCOT are habitually more crowded than the week. Thanks, Food & Wine (and locals coming to Journey of Water, etc).
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 68% of the time. This is better than the last two weeks, but still not great compared to the rest of the summer post-crowd calendar update. 96% of the time Touring Plans predictions were within 2 crowd levels, and that means we earn an A for our predictions the past week. The good news is that misses were almost equal in both directions (so our predictions aren’t skewed), and the one 3+ miss was the Bear Day in Magic Kingdom, which feels a little unfair. We aren’t in the business of bear prediction around here. The biggest miss of the past week underestimated crowds by four crowd levels, and that was on bear day, when we predicted a crowd level 4 and it ended up being that miserable 8.
Attraction Downtime September 12 – 18
If we average all of the capacity lost due to unexpected downtime over the past week, it comes out to 4.1% of attractions unexpectedly being down. Ever-so-slightly down from the last week we looked at. The park with the biggest issues was Magic Kingdom, with 5.6% of its capacity lost due to unexpected downtime. That includes bear closures.
The worst day for attraction downtime in the past week was on September 18th. On that day, 6% of all capacity at WDW was lost due to unexpected downtime. The worst park-day of the week was at Magic Kingdom on September 18th (Bear Day). On that park day, a 11% of the capacity was lost at Magic Kingdom due to unexpected bear-related downtime. Magic Kingdom was open for 13 hours on the 18th, so 11% downtime is the equivalent of the whole park being down for almost 86 minutes. That’s a lot of lost time. And I’m sure things felt even worse for those stuck with high wait times in the rest of the park.
Attraction Downtime Worst Offenders
The worst offender of the past week was Pirates of the Caribbean, which was unexpectedly down for 18% of the past week. This is a slightly lower number than we’ve been seeing for the past couple of weeks. The worst day for Pirates was on September 12th, when it was down 29% of the day – it was open for only a few hours on an already-short party day. But there were several other days with more than 20% downtime, including Bear Day.
Rope Drop Downtime
Here are this week’s problematic offenders:
- Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean (unavailable for 32% of its first hour of the day), Haunted Mansion (unavailable for 27% of its first hour of the day), Jungle Cruise (unavailable for 20% of its first hour of the day), Space Mountain (unavailable for 19% of its first hour of the day)
- EPCOT: Test Track (unavailable for 16% of its first hour of the day), Living with the Land (unavailable for 14% of its first hour of the day)
- Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror (unavailable for 30% of its first hour of the day), Runaway Railway (unavailable for 21% of its first hour of the day), Rise of the Resistance (unavailable for 15% of its first hour of the day)
- Animal Kingdom: No rope drop downtime issues!
Magic Kingdom continues to see extensive rope drop downtime issues, beyond the massive closures on Bear Day (although those certainly didn’t help). Most of the problems are on the left side of the park, but Space Mountain continues to struggle with downtime. Thankfully, the other three parks didn’t have as many problems this week.
Wait Times September 12- 18
Attractions with the Highest Average Posted Wait at each park
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, average posted wait time of 76 minutes (65 minutes last week)
- EPCOT: Frozen Ever After, average posted wait time of 64 minutes (56 minutes last week)
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, average posted wait of 63 minutes (66 minutes last week)
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, average posted wait time of 56 minutes (51 minutes last week)
Other than at Hollywood Studios, we’re clearly seeing wait times start to edge back up. I’ve seen several other blogs and Disney sites recommend mid-September as preferable to early September for low crowds. The thought is that the week surrounding the Labor Day holiday actually draws in more families. Don’t believe them. The data shows that wait times increase through September.
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 32 minutes (29 minutes last week)
- Lowest: Magic Kingdom, average park-wide posted wait of 22 minutes (19.5 minutes last week)
Part of the Magic Kingdom inflation here is partially thanks to Bear Day. But we’re seeing the bigger differences between party days and non-party days start to appear. Eventually those party days won’t be crowd level ones anymore, but I still expect a difference of at least 3-5 crowd levels between party and non-party days.
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 very in line with our historical average. If the posted wait time was 60 minutes, you could’ve expected to wait less than 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 43% of posted wait times in the past week. Wow. That means that if Peter Pan’s Flight had a 60 minute posted wait, you probably would’ve waited under 26 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 last week was … klubetich, who submitted 37 actual wait times through the Lines App over those 7 days! This includes 28 Lightning Lane waits, 6 Standby waits, and 3 Virtual Queue waits. Thank you for all of that timing, klubetich! But this doesn’t come close to the all-time record of 78 recorded wait times in a single week, still held by psymonds.
Looking Ahead: September 19 – 25
Well, I didn’t call out any potential bear sightings last week. So maybe … protected bird species this week? I don’t know. It’s just a shot in the dark at this point.
Halloween parties will be happening at Magic Kingdom on the 19th, 22nd, and 24th. One is also scheduled for the 25th – which means crowds will be especially high in Magic Kingdom on the 23rd and 25th. Don’t go on those days. Don’t do it. Don’t.
The weather on the 20th and 21st doesn’t look great, and may lead to some downtime at outdoor attractions, but after that there’s a break in the normal rhythm of September afternoon thunderstorms for maybe the rest of the week!