Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for August 2018

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August is here, and we continue our monthly schedule of updates to the Disney World Crowd Calendar. [See a special note at the end of this article about a change we expect to see in September that could affect touring patterns at Disney World.]

This month’s Crowd Calendar update includes changes due to what we have observed since the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and what we expect leading up to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge (the Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios), which opens in late 2019. The impact of Toy Story Land on attendance has been smaller than expected. The official announcement of Toy Story Land’s opening date didn’t occur until Fall 2018, which we think may have been too late for many people to plan a trip specifically for the opening. Or, the new attractions aren’t as popular as expected. Either way, we do not expect the same thing to happen with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. As soon as Disney sets a specific opening date for Galaxy’s Edge, we expect to see a comprehensive ad campaign and premium pricing coinciding with the opening. Galaxy’s Edge is also being built at Disneyland and will open there first. Disney will use the California early opening to build excitement for the Florida version. The novelty of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is starting to show some signs of fading. We have seen a reduction in crowd levels at Animal Kingdom in the last few months.

August 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.5 EP:5.1 HS:4.5 AK:3.9)

We have reduced the crowd levels in August. We have seen light crowds so far this summer, and we expect to see the same in August. School districts starting going back to school in early August. By the end of the month, 80% of students are back in classes. Hollywood Studios crowds levels are reduced to be in line with the rest of the resort. August 17, we see the first 2018 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. Typically the days between the parties have higher crowd levels. Many guests will avoid the Magic Kingdom on party days due to the shorter park hours.

September 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:2.6 EP:3.0 HS:2.0 AK:2.5)

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer crowds. Historically, September has some of the lowest crowd levels of the year, but we often see special promotions to counteract the dip in attendance. For instance, there are days in September with a special Annual Pass event at Toy Story Land. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starts August 30. Free dining and other hotel promotions are available, as well. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween parties continue in September, with the Magic Kingdom having higher crowds on non-party days.

October 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:3.6 EP:5.1 HS:4.7 AK:4.6)

October will see some days with summer level crowds. Many school systems have their fall breaks in October. The Food & Wine Festival continues through November 12, and Magic Kingdom has 18 Halloween parties. Days without a party will see the Magic Kingdom crowd levels in the ‘7’s and ‘8’s.

November 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.4 EP:5.3 HS:4.3 AK:4.2)

Besides Veterans Day weekend and Thanksgiving week, crowd levels will be low. The Magic Kingdom begins to offer Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Just like with the Halloween Party, the days between the parties have higher crowd levels. Many school districts have the entire week of Thanksgiving off. Crowds start growing the weekend before Thanksgiving and peak the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

December 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:5.6 EP:6.4 HS:6.1 AK:5.4)

Early December has relatively low crowd levels. Most school districts are in session through Friday, December 21. December 22 is the start of the busiest time at Walt Disney World. Crowds won’t drop until 2019 begins.

January 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.6 EP:5.0 HS:5.6 AK:4.0)

School starts back up starting January 2, with most schools back in session by January 7. There will a bump in the crowd levels for WDW Marathon Weekend (January 9-13), and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend (January 19-21).

February 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.7 EP:4.3 HS:4.6 AK:5.0)

The week of Presidents Day (February 18) and the Princess Half Marathon (February 21-24) will be the busiest time of the month. The rest of the month will see low crowd levels.

March 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:6.5 EP:6.2 HS:6.3 AK:6.1)
April 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:6.1 EP:6.6 HS:6.4 AK:6.6)

Mardi Gras (March 5) is late in 2019. Fewer schools are off Mardi Gras this year, and does not look like it will have an impact on crowd levels. Easter (April 21) is also late. A late Easter means that spring break crowds are spread across a wider time range. In 2019 the “spring break” season will span from March 10 to April 21. The weeks of March 17 and April 14 will have the highest spring break crowds.

May 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.7 EP:5.1 HS:4.3 AK:5.5)
June 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:6.5 EP:5.8 HS:5.8 AK:6.0)
July 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:5.7 EP:5.2 HS:5.1 AK:5.1)

The end of April through most of May will have low crowds. Most school districts are in session and wrapping up the school year. Memorial Day weekend going into the first week of June will have high crowds. We expect summer crowds to be moderate. Attendance will be lower than during most summers due to people postponing their visits until Galaxy’s Edge opens.

What We Are Watching

This fall we expect Disney to announce new variable ticket pricing. Just like one-day tickets, multi-day tickets will have different prices based on the dates and parks you plan to visit. The variable ticketing pricing could change guests’ travel patterns. Over the next 18 months, we expect openings of new hotels and attractions. Once opening dates are announced, we will adjust crowd levels.

Have any questions or comments about the Crowd Calendar update? Let us know in the comments.

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Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

21 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for August 2018

  • August 1, 2018 at 10:12 am

    The levels in Thanksgiving week have gone down overall (some swings minor in each direction) during last 2 updates. What are you seeing to indicate this? Just curious (obviously as someone who will be down there, its a welcome trend!)

    • August 1, 2018 at 10:16 am

      This summer we are seeing lower crowds than expected. Disney is discounting more rooms this fall, so we are assuming the lower than predicted crowds will continue. Everything is relative, Thanksgiving is still going to be crowded.

      • August 3, 2018 at 8:24 am

        What do you think is creating lower crowd levels? Is it higher prices, increased competition, or something related to the overall economy?

      • August 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm

        When Universal announced the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade back in 2007 they saw a HUGE drop off on annual pass sales along with other tickets because of people “waiting” until the land opened in 2010. Since that time they have been extremely cautious in announcing new projects too early. Universal has over corrected in my mind and not announcing things soon enough, such as the bare minimum of details on the Harry Potter coaster opening next year (which as far as I know has only been confirmed as “a ride is coming.”)
        So of all the contributions, Disney giving a date of “late fall 2019” for the heavily anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge couldn’t be helping them this year as you have to think people who were just considering a trip may have decided to just wait.

      • August 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        Oh yeah, right, that probably explains a good part of it. Thanks Derek.

  • August 1, 2018 at 10:15 am

    I’m very interested to see how the variable pricing works. Initially it seemed odd to decide well in advance which parks I’d be visiting on a certain day of the trip, but that is essentially already decided by the time you have to make your ADRs. As always, thanks for the continual updates.

  • August 1, 2018 at 10:24 am

    We have gone in October for the last several years, and the crowds have been MUCH heavier than when we went a few week ago (early July). I’m not sure what your model is missing, but we keep going down in October expecting 6’s, and instead experience 8-10’s.

    …. and of course, we’re going back again in October, so what does that say about us?

  • August 1, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Interesting to see the last week of October into November so low. Is WDW expecting higher crowds? They are currently canceling many EMM events on Sundays in the MK. I’m anticipating this is happening because they will subsequently open the parks now at 8am. Any thoughts?

  • August 1, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Appreciate the updates — the data behind all of this fascinates me!

  • August 1, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I’m curious has to why late Sept. keeps going down yet I can not get a studio or 1bd dvc any where. Are the crowds really a 2? Can’t get fasspasses either for avatar or slinky dog?

    • August 1, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      FastPasses availability is more a function of park hours than attendance. If attendance is 10% lower in September than June, but park hours are down 20% there are less available FastPass slots per guest. Hotel occupancy is also a poor predictor of crowd levels. Disney adjusts pricing to keep occupancy high even during slow times. We are seeing many more discounts than normal. This is a better indicator of crowd levels than hotel occupancy.

  • August 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I see you downgraded the month of November! So exciting. But I’m wondering, the first week in November, when you look at hotel availability there is almost none! How does hotel availability factor in?

  • August 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I thought the Food and Wine started August 30 not the 31st?

  • August 1, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    I thought that we started to see Disney adjust staffing levels commensurate with anticipated crowd levels or discounts offered. Do the models now account for that likely probability? Or are they based on the ‘old’ ride capacity before Disney started reducing it?

    • August 2, 2018 at 11:39 am

      We definatly saw reductions in ride capacity in early 2018. We believe it was a test to reduce costs in staffing and maintance. We have not seen the reduced ride capacity since mid-February. We believe guest feadback was poor and the test was a faulure. We hope not to see the reduced ride capacity return.

      We do track Disney promotions. Without knowing how many rooms are alotted to each promotion it is difficult to quantify how big of a discount is. Disney promotions have a bigger impact on weither if guests will stay on site or not. Disney hotel capacity is rather steady all year.

      We track park hours, and it seems that park hours for fall 2018 are reduced compared to 2016 and 2017. This is another sign that Disney is expecting lower attendance.

  • August 2, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for the informative update, Steve. Are the reported averages means or medians? Im curious whether crowd levels are normally distributed.

    • August 2, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      They are averages. Yes, the crowd levels are normally distributed.

  • August 2, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Steve, do we have any intel on how variable pricing is likely to work?
    It’s hard to see how they could come up with something that isn’t going to be either annoyingly complicated or maddeningly restrictive. It’s hard to imagine that buying a ticket would require providing in advance a list of parks and dates, not to mention the impact of park hopping.
    The most logical approach would be a “points” system for days and parks similar to booking DVC rooms, and one would buy a ticket with, say “128 points”. But then you’d have to explain that to a public who just wants to buy a ticket and go to the parks.

    • August 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      We don’t know how it will work. Magic Your Way tickets are already confusing to some people. Your “points” system seems like a good approach, and Disney could give a volume discount for the more days/points you purchase. However they do it, I expect getting through the touch-stiles is going to be slower with people have the wrong tickets.

  • August 2, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    I love this information. We are going in the mid-September window and are tracking it closely.

    One trend I noticed on the ride-specific times is that many of the Magic Kingdom ride wait times are dropping, but Winnie The Pooh is staying high. Is this ride showing a trend in actually gaining popularity?


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