Christmas crowds are upon us. Or upon them, I guess, as I’m sitting here in Seattle where I haven’t seen the sun in I’m not sure how many days. Maybe five. Maybe fifty. The grey skies kind of blend together into one grand amalgamation of drizzle, Christmas ham, and lopsided bowl games. But enough about me.
As I mentioned a few days ago in the Christmas Day wait times post, there’s really nothing comparable to December 26th – December 31st crowd levels with December 28th and December 31st typically being the two most crowded days of the year. And it’s really not close. I have to admit that the website sensibly chuckles every time it sees somebody trying to say that they experienced a “crowd level 10” on some random weekday in October. Yeah……..no.
On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping anybody from attributing whatever crowd number they like to any Park on any day of the week. You could say October 11th was a “7,” a “9,” a “47,” a “3,618,” or a “632,908.6.” You could say Magic Kingdom on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is going to be a “5 out of 10” or Animal Kingdom attendance is up 15% this year. You could say up is down and down is up or Donald Trump is what this country has been waiting for or the Cubs are going to win the World Series. People are wrong every day about a lot of stuff. What I think we can probably agree on, however, is that the wait times below are unlike anything outside of Easter and December 23rd – January 2nd. Presidents Day Weekend next year is going to get close. There’s Memorial Day Weekend. And a few days in June and July will get up there too.
Let’s take a look at what wait times look like on a legitimately “crowd level 10 day.” Or as I like to call it, “the new 632,908.6.”
One thing to keep in mind, though: visiting the theme parks around the holidays is still perfectly doable, thanks to long operating hours and plentiful evening entertainment. Any of the touring plans available on this site will work perfectly given an earlier start. The attraction order doesn’t change, regardless of how crowded it’s going to get come noon. It is, after all, not 8:15am that we’re concerned about. It’s 12pm. And that’s really what’s different about a low crowd level versus a high crowd level – what you can reasonably expect to do come 11am is drastically different when crowd s are heavier. You may remember the last time I followed the Magic Kingdom touring plan and saw a 30-minute wait for Big Thunder at 12:15pm in this post. Here just a couple weeks later, the wait is going to be 120 minutes at the same time. You can breeze through the morning at just about any Park on just about any day of the year regardless of crowd level or recommendation. Of course, it’s not every day that the average wait at Hollywood Studios is 136 minutes.
I only know how to do things alphabetically and chronologically, so we start with Animal Kingdom, which doesn’t typically see, “Oh !@#$ is that for real?” wait times. Still, you virtually never see DINOSAUR hit triple digits, as it does for an hour here in the afternoon, even without any downtime. DINOSAUR has actually never hit a 100-minute wait for 30 straight minutes on any other day this year. It got close on June 10th, when the wait was 90 minutes and then 100 minutes from 12:45pm to 1pm. And on June 24th from 90 minutes to 100 around the same time. But those are the only two instances of triple digit waits all year. Note that both of those instances are over the very busy summer…and not Tuesday October 20th. 46 minutes is also the longest average wait time of the year and that’s even after you include the short waits very early and very late in the day with the 8am open and 9pm close.
With its hefty capacity and very visible drop, Expedition Everest doesn’t see the same kinds of wait times as other similar roller coasters like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Still, an 80 minute peak wait is unusually high, though the ride did hit tripe digit waits on February 20th (downtime), April 1st (no downtime), April 7th (downtime), April 9th (downtime), August 12th (no downtime), and December 27th (no downtime). The February date is over Presidents Day Weekend and the April dates are around Easter. October still isn’t registering for some reason. Anyway, 80 minutes is still significant, even if it’s not the 195 we’re going to see at Space Mountain later.
Can you imagine waiting 45 minutes for It’s Tough To Be A Bug? People will often say that a day at Disney is better than a day at work. Maybe once they figure out teleportation, you can beam me to your posh San Francisco office with seventeen beers on tap and I can beam you into the extended outdoor queue for Tomorrowland Speedway on July 4th. We’ll see who hits the “teleport back” button first.
You’ve got an hour of walk-on status to start the day at Kilimanjaro Safaris, but it’s an hour or more after 10am, with triple digit waits much of the day. Once the nighttime safari comes online, those waits should be spread out a little better as the attraction is able to operate post dusk.
Putting characters behind closed doors and doubling their capacities has helped wait times property wide. I don’t know if anybody even remembers the “good old days” at Character Spot over at Epcot when Mickey was visible through the glass to every kid walking past on their way to Soarin’ or The Seas with Nemo. That caused a ton of kids to turn to their parents with demands to get in line, causing waits to increase substantially. Here at Adventurers Outpost, where there’s virtually no way to tell that Mickey and Minnie are greeting in their Christmas sweaters inside, you can just lie to your children and tell them Adventurers Outpost is a broccoli store when the wait is 50 minutes. But even with crowds of this magnitude, waits are pretty reasonable. So many people pass the building having no idea what’s inside.
If you were going to make a list of “least likely places Disney Parks Blog will interview people about their Walt Disney World trip,” I think the exit to Primeval Whirl after people waited an hour to ride would be pretty high up. With the yeti working about as well as MyMagic+ circa summer 2k14, I think it’s safe to say that Primeval Whirl is the only thing actively abominable about Animal Kingdom. Other than Joe Rohde’s ear, of course.
40 minutes at TriceraTop Spin isn’t bad…Right?…….Right?……………………………….Guys?
More like HELPcot, at least if you fast forward to Presidents Day Weekend with Soarin’ down. We’re still waiting for Epcot’s busiest day of the year on December 31st and there’s always Ellen’s Lethargy Abstention. 40 minutes at Journey into Imagination at 11am isn’t so bad with the 8am open – you should have an opportunity to get over there by around 10:30am when waits are still short. Still, it’s an average wait of 30 minutes between 11am and 6pm and I’m not sure how many people are up for that. You’ve never going to go through The Touch and Taste Lab door.
Living with the Land is up to 45 minutes by 10:45am and stays 20+ through 7pm. Nothing compared to the 180 we’re going to see at Tower of Terror next, but longer than the wait to see most people’s plants.
Like we’ve been seeing since they put a wall in front of Mickey and doubled his capacity, waits are pretty reasonable at Character Spot. Rewind three years and the wait would be 70 minutes instead of 15.
Over at Mission:LET’S STARE AT A THREE INCH SCREEN AND PRETEND WE’RE THE MARTIAN, the peak wait is 105 minutes with an average of 56. That’s not the worst of the year…the average was 62 minutes on December 22nd, 57 minutes on November 25th (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), 80 on July 9th, 75 on July 8th, and 56 minutes on May 24th (Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend). The average over all days in 2015 thus far is 24 minutes, so the average wait from December 28th would be more than double that. October is still not in the mix for some reason.
Soarin’ with an average of 119 minutes and a peak of 180 minutes. The third theater should help mitigate waits a little, though the opening of Soarin’ Around the World in Jarring Eight Second Clips While For Some Reason I’m AMAZED By The Smell Of An Orange Glade Plugin should increase demand.
Okay…so let’s say you get everyone up at 8am, you’re out the door at 9am, you’re at the bus stop at 9:10am, the bus arrives at 9:30am, you’re at Epcot at 9:50am, and you’re inside the Park at 10am. You get on The Golf Ball Roller Coaster at 10am – 35 minute wait. Not bad! You’re off the slow-moving omnimover through the history of communication at 10:50am and head to Soaring. 120 minute. TOO LONG. Maybe if you wait a while. So you go to Living with the Land. 40 minutes. Much better. You get in line at 11:05am, wait 40 minutes, and you’re off at noon. Two rides in two hours. Things are going pretty good. Back to Soaring, which is now a 150-minute wait. But you paid $100 to get in and we’re here, so…Three hours later you’re off the ride and it’s 3pm. Three rides in five hours – making good time. You learned from some lady in the queue that Express Pass doesn’t actually cost extra money so you go to the kiosk to get some. Happy with Pixar Shorts from 7pm to 8pm and Turtle Talk with Crush from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Now over to Mission to Mars at 3:15pm with a 95 minute wait. Thought it would be worse. After Gran finishes throwing up outside the exit, it’s over to Fast Track at 5pm. And it’s down. Oh well, you can drive 65 miles per hour on I-4 any day of the week as long as you travel between 4:52am and 6:18am. What’s the big deal? Now back over to The Seas where the wait is only 40 minutes. Ends up being 60 but who’s counting? The menu at Le Cellier looks good. Check on how long the wait will be – willing to wait up to an hour. Ask at the desk and feels like you asked for a day-of reservation at Dorsia. They’re not taking walk-ups, so you wait 45 minutes for Vietnamese catfish at the UK Pavilion and wait four hours for IllumiNations, only to find out that the show consists of a globe from the 1970s spinning around for 14 minutes while the grand finale is literally some guy standing on a barge lighting sparklers. Whoops, forgot about that Pixar Shorts Express Pass. Guess we’ll have to watch it on NetFlix.
I have no idea why people don’t enjoy their vacations here.
Overall, you could still make Epcot work with the 7am Surprise Morning and relatively short waits at most attractions for the first couple of hours, before moving up to World Showcase at 11am. But with an average wait of 52 minutes at the Future World attractions come 11am, you wouldn’t want to find yourself in standby.
If you were to look up, “What happens when 57,813 people try to ride five rides” you’d either see this chart or a picture of Hollywood Studios’ (current) exit. Even Muppet Vision 3D is posting a 50 minute wait. Imagine having to wait through three pre-shows just to get inside the building. If you were to somehow wait simultaneously in line at each of the five rides at 3:45pm, you’d wait 635 minutes. Or over 10.5 hours. And who said Hollywood Studios is a half day park? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster might be 82 seconds long, but you’re going to wait no less than 70 minutes from 8:30am through 11pm.
2027 can’t come soon enough.
You might find the original .xslx file easier to look at. Here’s a link: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports13/wdw_waits_122815.xlsx
Like Christmas Day, Magic Kingdom closed to some guests due to reaching Phase B capacity and the wait times look similar, though waits on the 28th are longer for the most part, including many attractions that see the longest peak and average waits of the entire year. That’s true at Big Thunder Mountain, where the 71-minute average wait is over twice as long as the daily average for the entire year (34 minutes) and six minutes longer than the second highest daily average (65 minutes on November 24th).
Buzz Lightyear’s average wait at 57 minutes is 16 minutes longer than Christmas Day and peaks at a whopping 115 minutes before 1pm. The average is also far and away longer than any other day so far this year. The second longest was one day prior and the average over all days is 27 minutes.
Dumbo’s average wait of 35 minutes is also well above average, though lower than November 23rd and Noveber 24th. April 6th, 7th, and 8th were also longer as were March 28th, 30th, and 31st. For some reason there aren’t any October dates.
It’s the same story at Haunted Mansion, where the average wait of 47 minutes is the longest of the year, but it’s not quite double the average over the rest of the year, which is “just” 25 minutes. Haunted Mansion actually hit its longest peak wait of the year back on Christmas Day at 125 minutes. December 31st may rival it.
We could go through the rest of the numbers and see the same trends. it’s a small world is already hitting 35 minutes at 9:30am and peaks over 60. 40 minutes is about as long as you’ll ever see Mad Tea Party. Character Meet and Greet waits are relatively reasonable for the most part – there are not a lot of people willing to wait 45+ minutes for Tinker Bell. Not to mention that by the time anybody battles back down Main Street in the middle of the day that the last thing they probably want to do is get in another line.
40 minutes for PhilharMagic, 50 for Monsters Inc., an average of 86 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight, 110 at Pirates, 100+ almost all day at Mine Train with an average of 94, 195 at Space Mountain, 150 at Splash Mountain, 40 at Stitch, 70 at Barnstormer, 80 at Winnie the Pooh, 90 at Tomorrowland Speedway, and 70 at Mermaid Ride.
Christmas with the in-laws in Fort Wayne isn’t looking so bad after all.
We reach our climax on December 31st at Epcot and Magic Kingdom in particular. Hollywood Studios won’t be far behind, though the Osborne Lights and fireworks will help mitigate wait ties. Animal Kingdom should remain manageable for the most part.
Fast forward to January 5th and this will all be behind us.