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“I know you guys know what you’re doing, but a 9.1 on November 14?”

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One of our readers sent us this email recently, asking for clarification on a significant jump on the crowd calendar. November park hours were recently updated, and they included extended hours at the Magic Kingdom to accommodate Annual Passholder Previews of the New Fantasyland. Whenever special events affect the park hours it creates a bit of a conundrum for the stats guys. Extended park hours historically indicate an expectation of large crowds, but special events such as passholder previews don’t usually significantly affect wait times at the other attractions. Usually, the increased attention is localized at the attraction being previewed.

What to do, what to do…

We had a similar situation on February 29, 2012, when the Magic Kingdom stayed open 24 hours for “One More Disney Day.” A regular day in late February would historically be an average crowd, but this day was packed, especially once evening hit. Wait times at the headliners stayed in the range of 70-90 minutes all night long. We had guessed that despite the special event, wait times would be normal. We were wrong.

This time we want to be conservative. We do expect the the wait times to be reasonable at most attractions outside Fantasyland, but the appeal of the official preview may be a big enough draw to cause a significant influx of people to the Magic Kingdom. So, we chose to keep the high rating. Like during the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot or Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, the wait times at the attractions don’t always tell the whole story of crowds at a park.

Regardless, we strongly recommend using a touring plan and taking advantage of the 8:00am opening whenever possible on these days. Think of it as your crowd insurance. If our estimates were too high, you won’t need to stick to it. But if it turns out to be a zoo, you will be prepared to survive one more Disney day.

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Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

19 thoughts on ““I know you guys know what you’re doing, but a 9.1 on November 14?”

  • I was in the same boat. Angry and freaked out about the jump from 1′s and 2′s to 8′s and 9s. We went to MK yesterday and it was a BREEZE! Wait times were the lowest in a long time. Crowds in the park were more conjested then we would like. But it was fantastic. Not anywhere near a 8 or 9. Don’t worry!
    Epcot and HS were more crowded in the aisles, but not on the rides. Typcial waits for Toy Story mania and such. But other stuff was easy!

  • Before leaving home, our family was very worried about the huge bump-up in numbers. I’m glad to hear an explanantion for the high numbers, and even happier to report firsthand, that so far, the crowd levels at Epcot and Hollywood Studios have been great. International side of Epcot seemed almost empty yesterday afternoon. We are off to the Studios again today; the 4 pm closing won’t bother us-more tme for a dinner at Sanaa.

  • We attended a passholder preview on Nov. 3rd, and spent some time in the rest of MK afterward in the late afternoon. The crowds were manageable and lines weren’t crazy, so I do think you’re erring on the side of caution here.

    • Thanks for the update from the 3rd. Have been keeping an eye lines today like Andrew. Maybe our trip next week isn’t ruined after all. I see the light.

  • Have plans to see Mk on 16th of nov. looks like low crowds. The 17th looks like high crowds. We are there both days. Unsure how to do a touring plan. Wonder if we should attempt to see it all on 16th and pick favorites to do again on 17th

  • I checked out Lines today and the reported waits seem just as low as they would be on a normal 1-2 crowd calendar day.

    Around 12:30PM both Buzz and Haunted Mansion were reported as walk-ons.

    Space Mountain had a 7 minute wait at 11AM.

    If this continues, it will be no problem at all on any of these passholder preview days.

  • As disappointed as I am with all of the planning, at least I know I have ADRs at MK at hard to get places so my family will not have problems finding places to eat despite the offseason crowds.

    There are two positives in this:

    1. Hollywood Studios dropped to a 1.1 crowd rating on 11/8. Flopped two days to accommodate
    2. We live in New Jersey and had no power or heat since Monday and it is not expected to come back on until sometime this week. We were fortunate to sustain no property damage but with everything going on we will happily deal with the extra crowds and warmer weather versus being in a cold, powerless house with two kids ages 3 and 2

  • Do you know how many people they are letting in for the AP previews per 4 hour session? And how can so many people get the time off of work and travel down to Florida on just a few days notice? If they don’t notify people until then 2nd, that leaves a few days for them to get here.

  • Do you anticipate additional jumps in the predicted crowd levels for this week/days with AP previews? I know that people had until tonight to make their requests for chances for the previews. I have re-arranged our park plans based on these new predictions. With very small kids in tow, waiting in line is difficult, and avoiding the crowds is why we always go to WDW in November or early December. But at least we won’t be surprised–expecting a 1-level crowd and seeing a 9 crowd.

  • That was my husband who sent in the question. Luckily, we have two Magic Kingdom days planned and that one was to do Frontierland, Adventureland and Liberty Square.

    We are getting there at 7:45 and using FPs to help us reduce waiting. Even so, we should be done by our planned lunch time.

    (Now we are down to arguing which of us can get to Big Thunder to get FPs and then to the Haunted Mansion first to meet up with the rest of our group. He says his longer legs will help. I insist that being smaller makes me better able to dodge the masses.)

    Anyway, you making a blog post about his email has made his day.

    • It sure did 🙂

      And there’s no way you can out hustle me to a FastPASS sweetheart…

  • Thank you for your response. Greatly appreciated!! We’ve changed our plans to avoid MK on the 14th but I’m disappointed that my parents will now miss MSEP as we’re only at WDW the 14th and 15th. I had hoped to take them on a walk down memory lane since they haven’t seen that parade since it was on in the late 70’s/early 80’s?

    How often does the park add additional parades on nights that they were not originally scheduled?

  • Do you expect the passholder preview crowd to impact the crowd for the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes? (I realize you are projecting based on historical events and cannot be sure) But do you expect those that come for the preiew to stay into the evening activities? I ask because we are planning to be there this exact week in November and I have noticed the passholder preiews have been scheduled for all the days that week that do not have MVMCP scheduled, leaving me no low expected crowd level evenings. So, I am trying to figure out when to schedule in time for the Main Street Electrical Parade and wishes…

    Also have you heard any indication if the new areas of Fantasyland will still be in soft opening during the days of that week that do not have the passholder preview scheduled? Or do you suspect they will close it on the days without a preview to make it a truly special event for passholders? (again I realize you are sepeculating).

    Thanks for all the information you provide!

  • I know there are real problems in the world (and this is not one of them), but I’m practically on the verge of tears, thinking of the time and money we’ve poured into this trip, for this specific date. Feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me today. 🙁

    • Ditto

      • Not to worry Nicole and Debbie, I honestly feel that if you head to the parks in the morning you should be fine. The good news is that the other parks should all be fine as well.

    • I have been losing sleep over this. This is the last year we can pull our children out of school for our vacation…had I known this week would have been packed, I would have chosen another week with low crowds. So frustrating. Thankfully, we are rope drop kind of people and will use this (as well as a touring plan) to our advantage..gotta make the best of it!

      • I’m not an expert like Fred, but I’ve been telling my wife not to lose sleep over this either. As long as you have a touring plan, it should be fine. If there are extra crowds for the preview, it is likely as Fred says concentrated in fantasyland and not really affecting the other lands.

        Especially if you are a rope drop person, you should be absolutely fine. The crowds at every other park are also still going to be just as low as you planned for 🙂

  • Fred, thank you for response. As you stated, going early and prepared will be key just in case. Most of us who are frantic right now are who were trying avoid crowds in the first place and didn’t expect to have to rely on the touringplans so much. But, I am glad that we have you guys, as we may be better prepared than most.


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