In the Magic Kingdom, Main Street U.S.A. with its shops and eateries, serves as a huge gathering place when the park opens and funnels visitors to the Central Plaza, where entrances branch off to the lands. Thus, crowds are first welcomed and entertained (on Main Street), then distributed almost equally to the lands.

At Epcot, by contrast, Spaceship Earth, the park’s premier landmark and one of its headliner attractions, is just inside the main entrance. When visitors enter the park, they almost irresistibly head for it. Hence, a bottleneck forms less than 75 yards from the turnstiles as soon as the park opens.

Early-morning crowds form in Future World because most of the park's rides and shows are there. Except at Mission: SPACE, Test Track, and Soarin', visitors are fairly equally distributed among Future World attractions. Mission: Space, Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track are the major early-morning magnets. These four biggies draw so many guests that the other attractions in Future World don’t develop long waits until 11 a.m. or later.

Between 9 and 11 a.m., crowds build in Future World. Even when World Showcase opens (usually 11 a.m.), more people are entering Future World than are leaving for the Showcase. Attendance continues building in Future World between noon and 2 p.m. World Showcase attendance builds rapidly as lunch approaches. Exhibits at the far end of World Showcase Lagoon report capacity audiences from about noon through 6:30 or 7:30 p.m.

Unofficial Tip

Visitors aware of the congestion at Spaceship Earth can take advantage of the excellent opportunities it provides for escaping waits at other Future World attractions.

The Magic Kingdom's premier attractions are situated on the far perimeters of its lands to distribute crowds evenly. Epcot’s cluster of attractions in Future World holds the greater part of the throng in the smaller part of the park. World Showcase has just one major bottleneck—Norway’s Frozen Ever After. Compared with Soarin’ and Test Track, Frozen’s long lines result more from a lack of ride capacity than guest demand. As we went to press for this edition, Frozen Ever After had been opened for less than a month and was still experiencing operational problems, resulting in posted wait times of up to 5 hours. To compensate for that and high demand for a new attraction, Disney was opening Norway (and Mexico) as soon as the park opened. That put a few thousand more people in World Showcase early in the day. But with no attractions beyond Norway open in World Showcase until 11 a.m., most families head back to Future World.

The bottom line: Crowds build all morning and into early afternoon in Future World. Not until the evening meal approaches do crowds equalize in Future World and World Showcase. Evening crowds in World Showcase, however, don’t compare in size with morning and midday crowds in Future World. Attendance throughout Epcot is normally lighter in the evening.

Some guests leave Epcot in the early evening, but the vast majority exit en masse after IllumiNations. Upward of 30,000 people head for the parking lot and monorail station at once. Still, this congestion doesn’t compare with the post-fireworks gridlock at the Magic Kingdom. One primary reason for the easier departure from Epcot is that its parking lot is adjacent to the park, not separated from it by a lake as at the Magic Kingdom. At the Magic Kingdom, departing visitors form bottlenecks at the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and main parking lot. At Epcot, they proceed directly to their cars.

Get Current and Future Wait Times with Lines

To get a complete view of the actual traffic patterns while you're in the park, use our mobile application, Lines. The app gives you current wait times and future estimates in half-hour increments for today and tomorrow. A quick glance shows how traffic patterns affect wait times throughout the day.