You may have noticed that the website now publishes daily wait times posts comparing the predicted wait times to the actual posted wait times for each theme park. For example, here is the post for February 18th, 2017. Previous days are available on the left hand column of the main site or via this link, which will send you to all of the posts from the “Wait Times Recap” category. There are a number of reasons why I keep up with those wait times – the first is accountability. Each park each day has a predicted overall average wait time and you can check daily to see how accurate those predictions end up being. And the second is to keep track of wait times so we have a better idea about what to expect in the future. Third, if you’re expecting a certain crowd level or a certain predicted wait time, then you can take a look at the charts from previous days to get a better idea about what to expect.
But Frozen Ever After is left off of the Epcot charts because the wait times at that particular ride are not really indicative of the crowd level. Higher waits do often indicate higher crowds…but higher waits are also often dependent on downtime, which remains common as the ride has gone down at some point on 31 out of the 50 days so far in 2017 or 62% of the time. And because the average wait time is typically so much higher than the majority of other attractions, the higher number can unfairly skew the average of all Epcot attractions upwards.
But wait times have come down in recent memory and while Frozen still goes down on more days than it stays up, the duration of downtime has been reduced since the ride’s debut last year. Here’s a chart of Frozen Ever After wait times from late August through the middle of October of last year:
The 81-minute overall average is 13 minutes higher than this year. During this August-October period, the ride was down 13.7% of the time or 100.7 minutes over the course of a 12-hour day. This year, the ride is only down 7.7% of the time or 56.6 minutes per day. That’s a significant improvement that’s only good news for anyone riding. It’s less likely that your FastPass+ experience will be canceled/rescheduled and if you have the misfortune of finding yourself here waiting in the middle of the day, it’s less likely that you’ll have to leave the queue.
FastPass+ experiences are a little easier to come by these days, but you still want to wake up and book it as close to 7am eastern as possible whether you’re 60+ days out or exactly 30 days from the day you’re trying to book depending on eligibility. 30 days out, you should find more availability than you would have five or six months ago, though the return times are more likely to be after 5pm. Short of 30 days, you want to periodically check back as people that change their plans will intermittently open up FastPass+ availability. Last week I was able to book Frozen on two consecutive days by just refreshing availability a couple times throughout the days leading up to the date I wanted to schedule it. The more you check, the more likely you are to find a desirable experience at a desirable time.
If you need to ride in standby or would like to ride again, the best time to get in line is still last thing at night. Disney often does not reduce the posted wait under 45 minutes. But if you get in line between 8:45pm and 8:59pm, the actual wait should be under 15 minutes. When I got in line at 8:55pm one week ago from today, I waited about 15 minutes and was back out in front of the building at 9:15pm. If you decide to do that, you are obviously giving up on part or all of IllumiNations. The ride is also down at Park close on about 10% of days. So those with two days to visit Epcot are best off. If the ride is down when you try to ride on the first night then you can instead watch IllumiNations. And on the second day, you can either ride first thing or try again at the very end of the night. You’d have to have pretty terrible luck to find the ride down at Park close on two consecutive or close together dates, but it is a possibility.
Wait times during morning and evening Extra Magic Hours are also reliably shorter as FastPass+ does not come into play during those times. Disney pushes 80% of capacity to FastPass+ users which means you only need to see about 200 people in front of you in standby to find an actual wait of 60 minutes. During an EMH, 500 people in front of you will only mean about 30 minutes in line.
Otherwise, Disney has been testing a different rope drop procedure at Epcot over the last couple of weeks that works somewhat similarly to Magic Kingdom. Instead of holding guests in a few different places around the Park, they’ve instead been keeping everyone in front of Spaceship Earth until about 8:52am when guests are let go to visit the attraction of their choice. That’s not necessarily good news for those that like to arrive early as there’s now a ton of room to cover between the Spaceship Earth area and Test Track/Soarin’/Frozen and those that arrive later with the ability to run may arrive at the priority attraction earlier even if they arrive at the entrance at 8:45am rather than 8:15am.
While we’re here, let’s check out another attraction ignored by the daily wait times posts – The Royal Sommerhus Anna/Elsa Meet and Greet:
Sort of interestingly, the best time to meet the sisters is not typically early in the day, but rather between noon and 1pm or after 6pm. This is probably due to two phenomenons – the first and perhaps more obvious being that people that rush to the Frozen Ever After ride first thing next visit the Meet and Greet. The second being that because relatively few people are in World Showcase before the rest of it opens at 11am, that the capacity is reduced in the morning, which means you’ll wait longer even given fewer people in line.
So if you are interested in the meet and greet, you probably want to plan on visiting after 6pm. Here is a full review of what to expect inside. It’s very nicely done so even if you have just a passing interest in meeting them, it may be worth devoting 20 minutes to experience it.
So What Did We Learn…
- Check the daily wait time reports to see what wait times were like during the day and how close the predictions were to reality. Past dates are available in the left hand column of the main site.
- Downtime at Frozen Ever After remains common, but the duration is about half as long as last year at just under an hour a day on average.
- Wait times for the ride are about 16% lower than last fall and FastPass+ experiences are slightly easier to get. Keep checking back for additional availability including on the day of.
- If you can’t secure FastPass, riding last thing at night is your best bet. If you have to stand in line at some point during the day and don’t want to rush up to Norway or miss IllumiNations, then waits are lowest if you get in line around 10am. You’ll wait the longest between 12:30pm and 7:30pm.
- Visit the Royal Sommerhus after 6pm if you can with the shortest waits after 7pm. 12pm to 1pm is typically good too. If the line is backed up outside of the building but not to the attraction entrance then the actual wait should be under 25 minutes.