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    Magic Kingdom Traffic Patterns

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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 people into the back reaches of the park, while Space Mountain pulls people to the right.

Attractions That Get Crowded Early:
Frontierland Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Fantasyland Enchanted Tales with Belle
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Peter Pan's Flight
Tomorrowland Space Mountain
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Tomorrowland Speedway

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 arrive before or around opening time but are 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 among 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 visitors in Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Adventureland's 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? 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-timers without personal guides tend to be more orderly in their touring, but they also tend to be drawn to Cinderella Castle upon entering the park, and thus they begin their rotation from Fantasyland. Repeat visitors usually head straight to their favorite attractions.

4. CROWD DISTRIBUTIONS We tested a frequent claim that most people turn right into Tomorrowland and tour the Magic Kingdom counterclockwise. We found the claim to be baseless. Neither do most people turn left and start in Adventureland.

Here’s why: Magic Kingdom headliner attractions are located intentionally at opposite points around the park to distribute crowds evenly: Space Mountain on the east side, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the west, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to the north, and so on.

If, therefore, you were to start touring by heading left, you’d have low crowds in Adventureland and moderate crowds in Frontierland— but by the time you got to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, you’d run into the largest crowds of the day. A similar scenario would await you if you started by bearing right into Tomorrowland: packed crowds in the rest of the lands you visit.

Avoiding the biggest crowds in the park, then, requires the following:

  • 1. Knowing which attractions to visit, and when.
  • 2. Being willing to cross the park to save time.

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 dinnertime 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 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.

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.

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