For the sake of this story, I will refer to Magic Kingdom as a “she,” as though she were part of the Disney Cruise Line.
Son, I want to tell you a story. One day, Magic Kingdom was open from 8am to 1am with a great fireworks show and two awesome electric light parades. At first, this made the townspeople very happy. They rarely had an opportunity to see entertainment this spectacular and every single townsperson decided to visit. Unfortunately, when the townspeople arrived at Magic Kingdom, she was “very crowded” with long waits for all of the rides and too many people jostling for too few positions for the nighttime entertainment. This made the townspeople very sad.
The next day, Magic Kingdom was very tired and only offered 8am – 7pm hours with no fireworks or electric parades during regular hours. At first, this made the townspeople very sad. They wanted more opportunities to see the nighttime spectaculars! Very few townspeople visited Magic Kingdom, but the ones that did were very happy to find that she wasn’t very busy! Sad, Magic Kingdom tried to make up for the short day and lack of evening entertainment by tacking on a $60+ per person specially ticketed event that would feature a better parade and better fireworks! This made the lords and vassals that oppressed the serfs as a means to survive very happy. They could afford to pay the extra $60+ and enjoy the nighttime entertainment, while the majority of people spent their evening at Downtown Disney waiting for the bus back to their resort.
Good night, son.
This story, originally told to aspiring knights in the 14th century, still holds some truth today. But is there really a difference in crowd levels and wait times between “the most recommended day” and the “least recommended day?”
This past Saturday, not only was Magic Kingdom the “least recommended Park,” but there was an inordinate amount of space between Animal Kingdom (the most recommended Park) and Magic Kingdom on the crowd calendar, signifying an even greater difference in crowds than usual. The following day, Magic Kingdom was the most recommended Park. Let’s have a look.
For the sake of clarity, whenever there are two pictures in a row, the top picture will always be Saturday and the bottom picture will be from Sunday. We do have a slight time difference of about an hour in parts. I’ll try to clarify time differences and peak/normal wait times where necessary.
Park Hours posted in front of the Magic Kingdom:
On Mickey’s Party nights, the next “presentation” of Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade will be listed. When the nighttime spectaculars are offered, just the close is listed.
Immediately, the difference in wait times is already seen. 3.5 times longer at the Princesses and 2x longer for Mickey on Saturday.
Not the same look, but it should be evident that there are far more people in Tomorrowland on Saturday. This is about 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday, so the 3pm Parade is long over in both images.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. On Saturday, that’s actually the FASTPASS return line that is that far out of the building. It was so long that a cast member with a little flag was yelling at people with FASTPASSes trying to get in line, beckoning them over to the end of the line near Stich’s Great Escape. The posted wait time at Buzz on Saturday was 75 minutes, compared to 20 minutes on Sunday.
Looking at Tomorrowland. Again, it’s about 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday.
80 minute wait at Space Mountain on Saturday compared to 35 minutes on Sunday.
Haha, a 35 minute wait on Saturday and a less-than-ten-minute-wait on Sunday. Look at that mob on Saturday!
Far longer than we’d like to wait in either picture, thanks to the 4:15pm timestamp. I hate percentages, but they sound good here. The wait time is 50% higher on Saturday.
Same with Snow White.
A two hour difference in FASTPASS return times. It’s about 15 minutes later in the day on Saturday, though. FASTPASS wait times this far in advance hamper your ability to collect other FASTPASSes and would require you to stay in the Park longer should you really want to use them.
80 minutes is about as long as it gets at Peter Pan’s Flight.
Two times as long at it’s a small world on Saturday.
Sort of hard to see the wait time on Saturday…but it was 35 minutes and obviously…crazy. Actual wait time was probably even longer.
Okay…I took a lot more pictures on Saturday so the following are all from Saturday. We’ll pick it back up in a moment:
A line out to the promenade for Liberty Square Riverboat…don’t see that every day.
The always-busy Liberty Square -> Frontierland walkway.
Looks like a hoe-down!!
It features a bunch of Frontierland cast members line-dancing (with audience participation) and various characters from the Frontierland attractions.
Country Bears, Brer Bear, Horrace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, and…
The Easter Bunny. They’ll try to convince you he’s Brer Rabbit, but I’m not buying it. A better look: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2010/04/frontierland-hoedown-happening-at-magic-kingdom-park/.
Okay we’re back.
We have more deviation in time here. It’s 4:45pm on Saturday and 3:15pm on Sunday. The good news is that the wait was never longer than 30 minutes on Sunday while the wait on Saturday hit 70 minutes.
Same time of day as before. The peak wait time at Splash Mountain on Sunday was 30 minutes, compared to 90 minutes on Saturday.
50 minutes on Saturday compared to 10 minutes on Sunday at Pirates of the Caribbean.
Just a clearer picture of the wait on Saturday here. Anything above 30 minutes at Pirates is ugly.
Different looks at Caribbean Plaza, but you should have gotten the idea by now.
Jungle Cruise. 65 minutes is real ugly. 15 minutes, not so bad.
Some more pictures just from Saturday:
Back to a comparison:
Long in both cases. No way around that at the Fairies unless you visit first thing or in the last hour that they appear.
So what exactly is going on here? Basically, the “problem” is that Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on four days each week in October to accommodate Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The townspeople don’t want to visit on those dates. People inherently want to see the evening entertainment and stay in the Magic Kingdom longer, which means they “have” to visit on a day when the hours are “extended” and evening entertainment is offered. That funnels them towards only three days, Saturday being the most crowded.
It can be surprising to see how much crowds and wait times fluctuate from one day to the next. But then, that’s why we’re here.