WDW Crowd Calendar Update: October and November 2021

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Trying to predict Crowd Levels has been a challenge this year. In July it looked like we had turned the corner and things were returning to normal. Disney dropped the mask mandate; more attractions, restaurants, and hotels were opening; and attendance was up. In August and September, we saw low wait times and crowd levels. For October, with the 50th anniversary, lower COVID-19 rates, and Annual Passes being sold again, we expected more normal crowd levels.

After seeing the first week of October, we expect crowds to remain low. If COVID-19 rates stay low in Florida, the earliest we expect to see normal crowds is for the Thanksgiving break. The current update only affects October 8 – November 18. Wait time predictions and crowd levels starting November 19 are based on pre-pandemic data. If travel to Florida stays low, we will re-evaluate and update the Crowd Calendar in mid-November.

How can crowd levels be so low when…

Yes, Disney is hosting the Most World’s Most Magical Celebration. The celebration started October 1, but lasts 18 months. 2022 is going to be a better time to visit. Anticipated attractions, like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, will not open until sometime next year.


Yes, Disney hotel room availability is low. Disney’s hotel occupancy rate is high year-round. Even in normal times, Disney will manipulate the number of rooms available to keep prices high. During low crowd times, Disney will host conferences and sporting events to fill rooms. They will also schedule renovations when demand is low. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney has kept whole hotels closed.

Yes, Disney dining reservations are hard to get. We know, our Reservation Finder has over 12,000 active searches for the next 60 days. Just like hotels, Disney is not using 100% of the capacity at restaurants, and some restaurants are not open. Below are pictures from Space 220 and Boma. Even with no reservations available on the Disney website, fewer than half the tables are being seated.

Yes, Park Reservations are not available. Park reservations are easier to get than many dining reservations, but there are dates and parks that do fill up. Like hotels and restaurants, Disney is limiting park capacity. On October 2, I was at Hollywood Studios. I arrived at the park at 6:10 pm. In less than 3 hours, I did Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Slinky Dog Dash, and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, as well as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance twice.

Why is Disney limiting capacity?

The root causes of the lowered capacity are COVID-19 and profit. The pandemic has had many unintended consequences. The disruption in the supply chain has limited the goods that Disney can source. Staffing shortages have been seen across the country and are affecting Disney. The more stuff and staff they need, the more it is going to cost. When limiting capacity, Disney can charge a premium. Below is a hypothetical chart. Disney has determined there is some specific capacity that will maximize profits.

For crowds to return to normal, it is going to take more than the end of the pandemic. Disney’s costs will have to return to normal or guests will have to pay more to offset Disney’s increased costs. One thing is certain: even with progress towards “normal,” we have a long, long way to go.

Have any questions about this 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.

19 thoughts on “WDW Crowd Calendar Update: October and November 2021

  • October 7, 2021 at 8:16 pm
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    I’m surprised MK on October 31st isn’t a higher crowd calendar number since it is one of the few days out of reservations.

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    • October 7, 2021 at 10:51 pm
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      I would probably read the “crowd vs crowd calendar” post made earlier. The complication seems to be whether those crowds on Oct 31st will be packing the rides. I don’t know for sure if its a similar issue trying to be corrected but it seems like it.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2021 at 8:36 pm
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    I think an important variable that may be contributing is the likelihood of vaccine availability for the 5-11 age group in the next few weeks. I suspect there are several families postponing trips October trips knowing vaccines are around the corner. We are certainly having this debate in my home.

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  • October 7, 2021 at 10:32 pm
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    We were at HS today and waited until 1:00 to get in line for Rise, since right after RMH rope drop it was 180 minutes. We waited 120 minutes. Crowds were certainly there, today. A lot of the rides kept breaking down and it was very hot and humid. Kept our chins up, but it was far from magical. Hopefully these magical numbers that popped p starting tomorrow are valid and our next two days at AK and EP will be smooth.

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  • October 7, 2021 at 11:06 pm
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    To Steve’s point about the profit/cost balancing, there are currently zero Walt Disney World hotel room discounts available to the public. There are some limited discounts (Floridians, Disney Visa card) available for December and the usual military discount, but everything else is rack-rate at present.

    I am looking at October 15-18, which includes a weekend. There is plenty of availability, but the cheapest room is an All-Star Movies room at $200+/night (plus tax and parking, if you need it). While it’s a pretty renovated room (and “Preferred,” to boot!), that’s for a 260 sq. ft. room. Presumably It’s not worthwhile for Disney to try to fill the rooms at discounted prices.

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  • October 7, 2021 at 11:17 pm
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    Just curious if Universal Orlando parks crowds are going to be lighter than expected, also?

    I’ll be there weekend of Oct. 22-24. Current prediction looks heavy. In any case, I’ll be using the App 🙂

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  • October 7, 2021 at 11:27 pm
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    Dropping crowd levels to 1 and 3 at the worst over Columbus Day weekend and Fall breaks for many. Wow! And this is just a week or so after the 50th celebration. We head down this weekend and I’ll be shocked to get these low crowds. A couple months ago when planning on site hotels were at premium pricing and boo bash parties were sold out it seems. It’ll be interesting , and a pleasant surprise if crowds really are this low.

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  • October 8, 2021 at 11:19 am
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    Well, I hate that the pandemic has affected everything so deeply. That said, there’s little I love more than an email from Touring Plans the week before I leave for a trip, letting me know crowd levels have dropped to between 1 and 3. 🙂

    Reply
  • October 8, 2021 at 12:03 pm
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    I’m curious about the impact of RunDisney folks on the parks for that weekend. It will be my first time back at WDW in quite a few years, and I’m a ride person. But almost all of the crowd forecasts for that weekend are now WAY down. The races aren’t sold out, so I get the lower forecasts, just curious if they will really pan out.

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  • October 8, 2021 at 5:03 pm
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    I would love to say that the predictions for today were correct, but HS was packed !!! Rise was at 120 minutes the entire day until we finally gave up and left. We will see what MK looks like tomorrow.

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  • October 9, 2021 at 7:49 pm
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    Any thoughts as to why the crowd level for HS jumped up to 5 on November 1st? It was at a 2 and all the days around it are lower… trying to decide if it’s worth switching around our entire plan and dining. Is there some event we don’t know about?

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    • October 10, 2021 at 3:42 pm
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      We are also going to HS on November 1st. I can’t fathom changing our plans now that I have other reservations in place. I keep telling myself to be patient. We have two days at that park, so if we can’t get to somethings on Day 1 we’ll have a back up day. I’m also not going to do Genie +.

      Reply
  • October 10, 2021 at 12:38 pm
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    I’m curious because Disney just announced later park hours at AK and MK for the end of the month. I thought they do that when they expect higher crowds. We have a trip the last week for be month, I would love to see these low crowds!

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  • October 12, 2021 at 2:54 pm
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    This seems very inaccurate based on our experience over the last several days! It has been packed. Also, HS today was insane. Several rides today was topping 1 1/2 to 2 hours lines.

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  • November 20, 2021 at 11:18 am
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    What in the world are the current capacity limits? No one will tell us. Normally at MK it’s 90,000 per day. We ha e tickets for 12/18 and MK is sold out. Does that mean we are there with 90,000 or a reduced capacity? If it’s 90k we might sell our tickets. Thank you in advance for your response.

    Reply

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