When we research the Magic Kingdom, we study its traffic patterns, asking:
1. WHICH SECTIONS OF THE PARK AND WHICH ATTRACTIONS DO GUESTS VISIT FIRST? When the park opens, guest traffic to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland is heaviest, followed by Frontierland. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train pulls more people than ever into the back reaches of the park, and because the Frozen meet and greet at Princess Fairytale Hall is such a low-capacity attraction, it's a race to get there early. The girls (and parents) dressed up like Anna and Elsa, rushing through the park, look like an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras meets The Amazing Race.
Our researchers tested the frequent claim that most people turn right into Tomorrowland and tour the Magic Kingdom in a counterclockwise sequence. We found the claim to be baseless.
2. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE PARK TO FILL UP? HOW ARE THE VISITORS DISPERSED IN THE PARK? A surge of early birds arrives before or around opening time but is quickly dispersed throughout the empty park. After the initial wave is absorbed, there's a lull lasting about an hour after opening. Then the park is inundated for about 2 hours, peaking between 10 a.m. and noon. Arrivals continue in a steady but diminishing stream until around 2 p.m. The lines we sampled were longest between 1 and 2 p.m., indicating more arrivals than departures into the early afternoon. For touring purposes, most attractions develop long lines between 10 and 11:30 a.m.
From late morning until early afternoon, guests are equally distributed through all the lands. However, guests concentrate in Fantasyland, Liberty Square, and Frontierland in late afternoon, with a decrease of visitors in Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Adventureland's Jungle Cruise and Tomorrowland's Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain continue to be crowded, but most other attractions in those lands are readily accessible.
3. HOW DO MOST VISITORS TOUR THE PARK? Do first-time visitors tour differently from repeat guests? Many first-time visitors are guided by friends or relatives familiar with the Magic Kingdom. These tours may or may not follow an orderly sequence. First-time visitors without personal guides tend to be more orderly in their touring. Many first-time visitors, however, are drawn to Cinderella Castle upon entering the park and thus begin their rotation from Fantasyland. Repeat visitors usually go directly to their favorite attractions.
4. HOW DOES FASTPASS+ AFFECT CROWD DISTRIBUTIONS? In Part Two, we discussed which attractions' average wait times were increasing or decreasing under FastPass+. When it comes to the Magic Kingdom, FastPass+ is moving guests from the right side of the park (Tomorrowland and Storybook Circus in Fantasyland) to Adventureland and the Liberty Square area, all on the left side of the park.
We've done our fair share of criticizing FastPass+, and there are still parts of it that are just plain goofy (see what we did there?). But as far as reaching its goal of more evenly distributing crowds throughout the park, FastPass+ has to be one of the big industrial-engineering-andtechnology success stories of the past few years.
5. HOW DO SPECIAL EVENTS, SUCH AS PARADES AND LIVE SHOWS, AFFECT TRAFFIC PATTERNS? Parades pull huge numbers of guests away from attractions and provide a window of opportunity for experiencing the more popular attractions with less of a wait. Castle Forecourt Stage shows also attract crowds but only slightly affect lines.
6. WHAT ARE THE TRAFFIC PATTERNS NEAR AND AT CLOSING TIME? On our sample days, in busy times and off-season at the park, departures outnumbered arrivals beginning in midafternoon. Many visitors left in late afternoon as the dinner hour approached. When the park closed early, guests departed steadily during the 2 hours before closing, with a huge exodus at closing time. When the park closed late, a huge exodus began immediately after the early-evening parade and fireworks, with a second mass departure after the late parade, continuing until closing. Because Main Street and the transportation services remain open after the other five lands close, crowds leaving at closing mainly affect conditions on Main Street and at the monorail-, ferry-, and bus-boarding areas. In the hour before closing, the other five lands are normally uncrowded.
To get a complete view of the actual traffic patterns while you're in the park, use our mobile app, Lines (touringplans.com/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.
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.