Walt Disney World Crowd Report – December 22 to 28, 2013

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Our predictions did very well again this week with no park-level predictions missing by more than two index levels and no resort-wide predictions missing by more than 1. Before we pat ourselves on the back too quickly, we remind ourselves that predicting high wait times during Christmas doesn’t take a lot of science. However, we were pleased to see that our new wait time models did a great job predicting the nuances between each day. We correctly called which parks would have lower wait times and our prediction that The Studios and Animal Kingdom would trail behind Magic Kingdom and Epcot until December 27 proved correct.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day.

The Crowd Report
The Crowd Report

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
December 22 to 28, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Epcot was the busiest park on Sunday as predicted. Spaceship Earth and Mission: SPACE both reached the highest levels on our scale while the other Epcot attractions were all near the top. Soarin’ averaged 84 minutes and Test Track, 81. Magic Kingdom, the Studios and Animal Kingdom were all better choices Sunday as suggested by the Crowd Calendar although they still experienced above average crowds. The level ‘6’ observed at the Magic Kingdom was surprising given that the park was open from 8:00 am until 1:00 am, plus Extra Magic Hours in both the morning and evening.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Predictions for Monday were remarkably accurate with only one prediction missing the mark. Epcot reached a level ‘9’ again while the other parks were close behind with ‘8’ at Magic Kingdom, ‘7’ at The Studios and ‘7’ at Animal Kingdom. Monday is the first day where we start to see increasing wait times at the major attractions while super headliners remain relatively stable. This is a phenomenon that we see often during peak times where guests forego the long lines at super headliners in favor of secondary attractions like Great Movie Ride, Spaceship Earth and Primeval Whirl.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve crowds were slightly higher than normal this year with both Magic Kingdom and Epcot reaching a level ’10’. At the attraction level, the only attraction to dip below a level ‘9’ at these two parks was Winnie the Pooh. The Studios and Animal Kingdom remained better choices as expected with wait times at a level ‘8’ and ‘7’ respectively on our scale. If you want to feel the Christmas spirit at the parks but don’t want the massive crowds, these two parks will almost always be a better choice. For example, on Tuesday at the Animal Kingdom no attraction had an average posted time higher than 40 minutes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The ’10’s continued at Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Christmas day as predicted but the lower levels at The Studios and Animal Kingdom kept the resort wide level at ‘9’. Our only missed prediction was an under-prediction by one level at Animal Kingdom which came in at a level ‘7’, thanks mostly to the popularity of Dinosaur. Nothing says Christmas Day like a good old fashioned Dino-hunt. If you want to know what a level ’10’ looks like, the average posted wait times at Space Mountain and Soarin’ were 103 minutes and 106 minutes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

As crowded as it is leading up to Christmas Day, the real impact of Christmas week does not usually hit the parks until after the 25th. Many guests arrive on the 24th and 25th then hit the parks after celebrating Christmas Day. Magic Kingdom and Epcot remained at a level ’10’ on Thursday while The Studios and Animal Kingdom were held to levels ‘7’ and ‘8’ respectively. Still crowded, but better choices than the other two parks. Space Mountain stayed at an average posted time of 90 minutes, slightly less than Christmas Day but attractions like Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear and Pirates of the Caribbean were jam-packed with average posted waits in the range of 60 to 88 minutes. Again, evidence of the increased popularity of secondary attractions during peak season. However, compare that to the 16 minute average wait at The Studios’ Great Movie Ride on Thursday.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Epcot dipped to a level ‘9’ for the first time since December 23rd while Magic Kingdom remained at a level ’10’. On Friday, crowds at The Studios and Animal Kingdom started to increase to match the high numbers at the other parks earlier in the week. The Studios hit a level ‘9’ as predicted and our Animal Kingdom prediction of ‘9’ proved to be one level too high. By Friday, it becomes difficult to say that any park is a better choice than another. Each park experienced extreme wait times at most attractions (with the only exception being water rides, which depend greatly on the weather).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

We had predicted a level ‘8’ for Animal Kingdom on Saturday which brought our resort-wide number to ‘9’. As it turned out, Animal Kingdom reached a level ‘9’ which pushed the resort-wide crowd to a level ’10’. All parks were extremely busy with average wait times of 103 minutes at Space Mountain, 102 at Test Track, 126 at Toy Story Mania and 57 at Expedition Everest. It is important to remember that these figures represent the average posted times between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. At mid-day many of these headliners saw posted wait times in the 160 to 220 minute range. Yikes!


What to Expect This Week
December 29, 2013 to January 4, 2014

Simply put, the most extreme wait times of the year. Still, with some planning you can minimize the impact on your touring group. Here are some of our favorite tips for touring the parks during the most crowded week of the year.

  • The fireworks show at Magic Kingdom on December 30 is a dress rehearsal for the next night. See it and skip it on New Year’s Eve.
  • If you must do a park on New Year’s Eve, try Hollywood Studios. It is a great show with less mayhem.
  • Visit the Magic Kingdom early on New Year’s Day. Most guests are recovering from the night before and won’t make it to the park until 11:00 am.
  • Arrive early, use our holiday touring plans and expect extreme crowds.



To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.Crowd Calendar Example

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.



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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 fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

3 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Crowd Report – December 22 to 28, 2013

  • January 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    We opted to go against the advice given on touringplans and went to MK on the 22nd. We were delighted that we could walk on to most rides even after the parked opened to everyone. We were delayed on the monorail and arrived after the 8 am open to everyone opening. We walked on to Jingle Cruise. My daughter met Tinkerbell and Peri with only one group in front of her. We then used our fastpass+ to meeting Rapunzel and Snow White. We walked onto It’s a Small World and the Carousel. We had a very small wait for meeting Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. And then we used our fastpass+ to avoid the 40 minute wait to see Belle. All the while, my husband and son rode Pirates, The Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain (3 times with no wait). We did all of this before 11:30.

    The evening was more crowded with waits of 30 minutes for Tomorrowland Speedway and 35 minutes for Buzz Lightyear. But it was all magical!

    We took a break in the middle of the day at our resort (Art of Animation) which was a good idea because we planned to close out the day with fireworks at 10 pm on Main Street.

    I think our tip would be to use your fastpass+ for rides in the afternoon or later part of the day. I don’t know if that will work for everyone, but it certainly would have worked better for us.

    I still haven’t used an official touring plan but I love reading all of the posts on the website. It keeps me going between trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.

  • January 4, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Hi TouringPlans
    I’m struggling to understand the ‘Resort Crowd level’, as it seems to not correspond directly to the park crowd-levels even as an average. I’ve searched, but can’t seem to find any definition of this number – perhaps I’m just too late to the party, but I wonder if you could explain this? Thanks for your time.

    • January 5, 2014 at 10:32 am

      You are right, the resort wide numbers are not an average of each park’s level. This is a result of the way we convert each attraction’s wait times into a 1 to 10 index. For the resort we treat it as a single park with all of WDW’s attractions thrown into the hopper. But, as you noticed this can lead to some quirks.

      We are reviewing the way we compute the resort wide number to see if there is a way that makes the park levels and the resort level more relatable.


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