We continue from Festival Favorites, also in the World ShowPlace building.
Cider House squeezes its way in between the Festival Favorites and Farmers Feast kitchens in World ShowPlace. With the switchbacks heading just about every which way, you just sort of have to pick one and hope for the best. If you get to the front of the line and it turns out to be Electric Umbrella offering their standard day-old hamburgers, “for extra flavor and maybe more protein,” you can always fake some sort of injury and shuttle off to try again. In reality, it’s easy to find the correct line.
This is of course assuming you know the difference between World Showcase and World ShowPlace. I’ve had a number of entertaining conversations about the topic over the years:
The names are similar enough that some confusion isn’t surprising.
We’ll analyze how well Disney’s Hollywood Studios is faring these days after taking an in-depth look at how Magic Kingdom crowds and wait times have ebbed and flowed since the Parks reopened in July of 2020. The Magic Kingdom post offers a lot more background into the changes Disney has implemented over the past year, including ranking each week so far by wait time, so you may want to check that out if you missed it and compare how well you did versus other weeks. Or see if your usual week was “crazy crowded” or you managed to visit over that first summer, when it very much was not. Since we’re talking about Hollywood Studios, the answer to our first question is obviously “not well,” so if you have something else to do, that will be the main takeaway by the time this post ends.
While we have the average overall wait across all attractions for every day since the Studios reopened, we’ll largely be focusing on wait times from this year. There are a number of reasons for that that we’ll get to in a moment.
Here’s the full chart of weekly average waits for Disney’s Hollywood Studios since the Park reopened on July 15th, 2020:
The chart’s movement doesn’t necessarily differentiate itself that greatly from the Magic Kingdom chart, which we see below:
We continue from Northern Blossom.
The World ShowPlace, which Disney has historically utilized for spendy private events during times of non global-catastrophe, is open to everyone again for another Festival as Disney opts to fill in all of the available space. While the website has mocked the notion for some time – as long as the maximum number of people are within appropriate distance to board and fill a vehicle when it’s time to load, there will be no disruption in service, or change in capacity; you have to give it up to Disney for picking up some of the slack. The 6-foot social-distancing markers may keep us at a comfortable distance now. But once I hear that familiar, “Fill in the space now so that your wait will be shorter later,” you can bet that you’re going to feel like you’ve teleported from the safety and distancing of the queue for The Seas with Nemo and Friends and joined me in a packed Miami nightclub. I’m going to be right there no matter which way you look. Just in case you might need something.
Before the demolition of the middle of Future World that will bring lesser versions of every building than the one that came before it, we’d see three kiosks out in front of Club Cool, but the outdoor terrace space where Disney would ordinarily set up the kiosks is currently part of the massive hole in the ground. I think the only redeemable end to the construction woes is if Epcot is the setting for the end of “National Treasure 3,” and Disney didn’t have the money to invest in digital effects because the cash is already allocated to “Unnamed Star Wars Project 9,” coming to Disney+ this December 2026. Nic Cage actually will run that giant spherical contraption until there’s enough power for the lasers. I don’t want to give too much away.
Speaking of the demolition, if Disney had any sense whatsoever, they’d be selling the pieces of the Future World buildings as they come down and people can take a bit of the Park home without having to buy some framed pin set sometime down the line. Or I’m looking to heave concrete at other bloggers. The jury remains out. Even if a construction worker served you garden variety 40+ year-old Rubble without the traditional flambee presentation, and just a pinch of asbestos for seasoning, they’d still probably be serving better food than the Italy kiosk.
We’ve got a little bit of advertising going on with the trailer full of gear. Imagine visiting Epcot for some Fish and Chips and a Violet Lemonade and coming home with a rideable lawnmower shipped to your house. It happens. Not that I know anything about it.
We continue from Citrus Blossom.
Northern Bloom takes up residence in the cabin either just before arriving at the Canada Pavilion or just after passing through, depending on which way you’re traveling through the arctic tundra that’s capped by the 90+ degree daily highs that we’ll be seeing more and more frequently as the Festival presses forward. Refreshment Port sits just to the right of it when looking in this direction, with the prickly Pineapple Promenade and Citrus Blossom behind that in the distance, and the walkway down to Honey Bee-stro and Flavor Full down the path to the left.
I wasn’t expecting to wither through my 11th existential crisis of 2021 while going over a Festival food review, but I had an impossible time deciding if I would prefer to be blossoming, as we were back in Citrus Country, or blooming, like we are here up north. They’re essentially the same thing, but to further complicate things, we aren’t even technically that far north, considering the majority of Canadians live south of Seattle. We’re also standing on the southern half of Epcot, which is the reasoning behind that strange upside-down map we had to continually flip back and forth for a couple of years in an effort to find our bearings. Luckily, EPCOT only has like the one ride. Then there’s the whole east/west thing with what is still Future World West to the right of the entrance, when east is usually the direction that we associate with that side of an area. It’s just a lot to take in.
Back to our ongoing crisis, it’s possible that citrus doesn’t exactly bloom. The Wikipedia page for the orange fruit mentions its blossoms, but never any potential “bloom.” “The flowers are in bloom” sounds about the same as “The flowers are blossoming.” But Citrus Blossom and Northern Bloom probably sound better than Citrus Bloom and Northern Blossom. But “Blossom” may sound more positive in both instances. Either way, whenever someone asks how I’m doing, I respond with “blossoming radiantly, Dear.” So I may or may not have emerged from Walden Pond on top, as it’s been some amount of time since anyone has asked about my status. “Obviously single,” I guess they assume.
Just the Goose Island beer is new, replacing last year’s Unibroue selection. We used to complain about pricing more often, but we may have reached the upper limit of what Disney thinks they can get away with charging. Instead, we may see portions start to decrease ever-so-slightly. Sort of like that bag of Oreo’s at the grocery store is still $3.99, but comes with 48 cookies instead of the 60 packed into the sleeves a few years ago. Just the non-alcoholic shake is up a quarter over last year. I don’t think we’ve seen more than a handful of price increases so far. Don’t tell Disney.
With Walt Disney World now open for a little over nine months since the March, 2020 closures, with Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom opening back on July 11, 2020, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios following on July 15th, 2020, I thought we’d take a look at the current trends and see if we need to make any adjustments to our plans based on any changes to attraction capacity, priority, or something else. If you’ve visited since reopening, we’ll also take a look at the ranked weekly averages and you can see if you visited during a “crazy crowded” time, relatively speaking, or you did better or worse than you thought.
Magic Kingdom, with its large number of attractions, and the fact that it’s historically the busiest theme park in the world, likely provides the best insight into our interests.
The following chart shows Magic Kingdom’s weekly average waits chronologically since last July:
The chart may take a moment to digest, but it shows how July and August of 2020 had some of the shortest waits of the year as seen on the left. The summer had been slower for a few years, but not to this extent. Waits then go up in September and move even higher during the first few weeks in October before dropping a bit in November. Disney was caught off-guard by the low initial demand and made some staffing and operating schedule changes to reduce costs, which typically push waits up. Fall crowds have also risen naturally in past years with cooler temperatures and fall breaks in parts of the country driving people towards the Vacation Kingdom of the World. We didn’t even need many of the traditional September and October events, like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, to drive waits higher. The truncated Food and Wine Festival probably didn’t help much, but shorter menus and a lack of Dining Plan snack credits weren’t enough to catapult waits back to their summer lows. October and November hit crowd estimates with Disney gloating publicly that Thanksgiving and the weeks following had either hit capacity or were nearing it during an earnings call.
Waits go up heading into the holiday season, but the averages for December of 2020 are right around those seen in March of 2021. That will be clearer in the next chart. With the Park Pass system capping attendance, and the fact that Magic Kingdom sold out most days around the December holidays and now again for spring break and Easter, it makes sense that waits would be somewhat equal without a significant increase in the attendance cap. We also see the usual January dip, perhaps in part because of newly-enforced travel restrictions from out of the country. We go from an average of around 35 minutes over Christmas to about 23 minutes in January, a drop of about a third.
One thing that is kind of interesting is that the crowds, or at least wait times, look to largely move in four-to-five week patterns where the averages are similar. It makes sense with spring breaks and holidays and such getting stretched out over a few weeks. Ordinarily, we’d see bigger increases over Christmas and New Year’s, but the Park Pass system continues to do a good job of capping crowds at somewhat reasonable levels. Or at least averages of about 35 minutes per attraction are as “bad” as things get. Back during the summer of last year, waits were about half that, to just about everyone’s surprise.
It will be interesting to see how things look after the couple of Easter spring break weeks end and people have the choice of going in late April or May with most of the current restrictions in place, or wait until the fall when temperatures are cooler, and at least the Ratatouille ride and a version of the Festival of the Lion King are open, in addition to less concern with safety protocols and increased immunization.
Here’s the same chart with what are mostly four or five week patterns highlighted: