With a number of recent attraction openings and capacity increases, in addition to Animal Kingdom extending its close to 11pm nightly through the first week in September, I thought it would be mildly interesting to see how wait times have progressed over the last week and through what is historically a very busy Memorial Day Weekend.
In the 147 days leading up to Memorial Day Weekend this year, Animal Kingdom had been open until 8pm on exactly 15 days, or 10.2% of the time. And it hadn’t been open past 7pm since February 17th. In the past five years, the only time the Park has been open to the general public after 8pm is on a handful of days between December 27th and December 31st and occasionally around the Easter holiday.
The chart above is from Friday May 27th, the first day that Animal Kingdom stayed open until 11pm. Disney announced that the first Jungle Book: Alive with Magic shows would take place the following day on Saturday the 28th, but they ended up adding two shows to the 27th and in a somewhat surprising move, also opened FastPass+ booking for the “soft open.”
Looking over the chart, wait times at most attractions fall off considerably as early as 5:45pm as the overall average wait falls back down under 20 minutes, which is less than half of the earlier afternoon peaks. DINOSAUR hits 10 minutes at 7:15pm and is a walk-on for the rest of the night, while it was 30+ minutes from 11:15am – 4pm. That makes sense as the indoor on-ride experience is the same no matter what time you ride. And with so much emphasis on the Jungle Book show, Tree of Life Awakenings, Discovery Island entertainment, and the “parti” and nighttime safari in Africa, little attention is paid to Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. Primeval Whirl is similar. It’s anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes for most of the afternoon before dropping to 10 minutes at 6:30pm. There’s a spike at the very end of the night, but the wait is likely inaccurate. With the 10:30pm Jungle Book show that lets out right around 10:55pm, it isn’t like anybody is racing to that attraction. But if enough people arrive with FastPass+ with just one side of the ride running, then it’s possible that actual waits of 10-15 minutes could materialize. Finally, TriceraTop Spin, also in DinoLand, would be a walk-on for most of the evening.
Disney sent mixed signals on what it was going to do at Expedition Everest during the Jungle Book show. On one hand, the last FastPass+ window offered beginning this past Friday was 7:30pm – 8:30pm, which seemed to indicate that the ride would cease operation shortly thereafter so the screams from those riding the roller coaster would not disturb guests watching the Jungle Book show on the water. On the other hand, there was nothing in the Times Guide or internal documents that stated that the ride would stop operating at 8:30pm and the ride was fully staffed throughout the night. It’s possible that Disney is taking a “wait and see” approach on the noise and logistics of keeping the ride open. If Disney offered FP+ through 11pm and then decided to stop Everest at 8:30pm, it would have an awful lot of FP+ experiences to cancel. Anyway, here during Memorial Day Weekend, wait times for Everest are uncharacteristically long during the day, hitting 65 minutes at 10am and peaking at a whopping 70 minutes at 3:15pm. Posted waits drop at 8:30pm as the theater begins to fill for Jungle Book, but at least posted waits go back up to 30 minutes as the show lets out just before 9:30pm. It would make some sense that a lot of those seeing the show would head to Everest right after as the entrance is fifteen steps away from the theater exit. Waits again drop at 10:15pm and remain low for the remainder of the night.
Disney tried to push Kali River Rapids at night in some of its marketing materials, but few people seem to be interested in getting drenched after dark. The peak wait there is 130 minutes, in addition to being 60+ minutes from 11am – 5:30pm, but it’s basically a walk-on after 7pm and would certainly see no wait after 8pm.
Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is a big piece of the nighttime enhancements at Animal Kingdom, sees the usual increase in wait times from 5 minutes at 9am to 50 by 9:45am and then 90 minutes by 10:45am. What’s interesting is the significant drop off from 4:15pm to 8:15pm when the posted wait is just 10 to 20 minutes before hitting 45 minutes by 8:45pm for the nighttime portion. We’ll be able to see if this is a “first day thing” by looking at the next few days.
Finally, the wait at Adventurers Outpost bounces around throughout the morning and afternoon. The good news perhaps is that Mickey and Minnie continue meeting through 10:30pm and you won’t wait more than a couple of minutes after 6:30pm.
Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on anecdotal wait times to get a “feel” for how they progress over the course of the day. As a non-recommended Saturday with a higher crowd level than Friday, wait times are higher as you might expect. And this should be about as “bad” as it gets over the course of the summer, particularly with the new offerings attracting the thousands of local bloggers that the website presides over.
But most of the developments that we saw present yesterday continue into Saturday. With more people in the Park, wait times peak higher and last a little longer into the evening, but DINOSAUR hits 60 minutes in the afternoon versus the 20 minutes-or-less after 9pm. Primeval Whirl hits 60 minutes but is a walk-on after 9pm. TriceraTop Spin sees what is probably a 20-minute actual wait for a short time in the afternoon before becoming a walk-on for most of the late afternoon and evening.
Everest wait times again peak at 75 minutes in the afternoon, but drop to a posted-20 as people enter the Jungle Book theater at 8:15pm. We see a spike at 9:30pm again as people exit the show.
Safaris again sees short posted waits in the afternoon from 2:45pm through 4:30pm. We may be seeing a bit of a lull in between those that arrived early and are park hopping or returning to their resort and those arriving late for some attractions, dinner, and the nighttime entertainment. Wait times again see a big bump once the nighttime safari gets underway, but that may be a newness thing. We’ll have to continue to monitor it. Waits do again drop off at the end of the night.
Adventurers Outpost continues seeing short flurries of longer posted waits earlier in the day, but it’s 15 minutes or less from 5pm through close.
Sunday is perhaps not the best example to keep this discussion moving forward as rain and lightning from around 8:15pm to 10pm closed outdoor attractions and caused the 9pm Jungle Book show to be canceled, which was particularly amusing since it was the Disney Parks Blog event night. The 100-minute wait times at DINOSAUR at the end of the night are what My Disney Experience was reporting, but the actual waits are likely much lower unless Disney was literally funneling every single person into the ride.
But what we’re particularly interested in is the Kilimanjaro Safaris’ behavior in the afternoon, where we don’t see such a dramatic drop in posted wait times during the afternoon. 40 minutes is better than 75 minutes, but it certainly doesn’t indicate that a 10- or 15-minute wait in the afternoon is a slam dunk.
The 10:30pm Jungle Book show was canceled on the 30th and the 9pm show on the 31st due to inclement weather, which means nearly half of the shows so far have been canceled. “You’re welcome.” – God.
We have evening rain in the vicinity again, which is going to affect wait times. Despite being indoors, DINOSAUR still manages to go down for just shy of two hours in the evening. That may have an effect on nearby Primeval Whirl, considering everyone that has a FP+ for DINO can use it at Primeval Whirl at their leisure and Disney only operates one side of that ride in the late evening, resulting in what is a 20- to 30-minute actual wait at 9:45pm. There’s always TriceraTop Spin.
We can say with some certainty now that waits are relatively short at Everest from 7:30pm to 9:15pm, but spike at 9:30pm as 1,500 people exit Jungle Book looking to forget the experience as quickly as possible. The wait time drops off more than usual at 10pm with the impending wet weather.
Kali again sees triple digit peak waits before becoming a walk-on once darkness sets in at 8:30pm.
At Safaris, the 30th is similar to what we saw on the 28th, only the wait time in the afternoon again doesn’t drop significantly enough that we’d want to get in standby. But we do see the drop off at 7pm as people are likely either waiting for the nighttime safari to start or doing something else in preparation of seeing the Jungle Book show.
So What Did We Learn About Late Night at Animal Kingdom?
It’s a bit early to come to any definitive conclusions with the heavy holiday crowds, inclement weather, and attraction downtime, but we can potentially make some preliminary conclusions about what’s likely to happen moving forward. With 14 more days of data, we can probably make some more definitive conclusions and we’ll return to it then.
The DinoLand attractions should see low waits from 8pm through Park close, but that’s also going to depend on attraction downtime in the vicinity and how close to full capacity that the rides are operating. With DINOSAUR down and Primeval Whirl running one side, Primeval Whirl is not going to be the walk-on that it would be with both attractions operating at or near full capacity. Keep in mind that TriceraTop Spin is as good of a spot as any to refresh Twitter.
There seems to be a decent amount of interest in riding Everest after dark, causing waits of 20ish minutes from 7pm to 9:30pm before waits spike for a little more than a half hour as people exit Jungle Book. But if Everest after dark is a priority, waits should be short to nonexistent in the final hour and actual waits during the first Jungle Book show should be lower than posted.
Kali River Rapids looks to be a walk-on for the last three hours of the night and particularly in the last two hours.
At Kilimanjaro Safaris, it’s more difficult to come to any definitive conclusions with so much day to day variance. Looking over the last four weeks or so is kind of useless, but here it is:
As you can see by my highlighting of posted waits of 20 minutes or less, there is some precedence for a drop in wait times about half way through the day, but potentially not enough that we would want to bank on being able to ride in the heart of the afternoon without FastPass+.
We’ll cover more Animal Kingdom touring strategy in the coming days.
This is perhaps one of two websites that pointed out the likelihood that Soarin’ would reopen for a time with the original Over California film and that is exactly what happened on May 27th. The third theater opened on the same date.
And there seems to be quite a bit of interest in the original version. On day one, the wait hit 180 minutes at 9:15am and continues to be at or near triple digits for most of the day. These wait times are not an exaggeration as lines backed up outside the queue, up the escalator, and past Circle of Life first thing in the morning.
Other wait times are in line with what we expect from a busy holiday weekend.
Figment sees nominal waits for most of the day. It can hit 25 or 35 minutes when it’s distributing maximum FastPass+, but that should hopefully be less of a concern with Soairn’ back online and the incoming Frozen attractions.
Living with the Land wait times peak during lunch from 11:15am to 1pm with short waits for much of the rest of the day. Because it’s Tier 1, it’s easy to get as a 4th FP+ selection in the afternoon or evening.
Character Spot, which is only good for Mickey/Minnie/Goofy (AND NOT FOR JOY/SADNESS OR BAYMAX), is a smart use of a Tier 2 FastPass+ with the low capacity and variable wait times.
Mission: SPACE is back to a Tier 2 FP+ selection and wait times are modest for the most part. It will likely return to being the top Tier 2 FP+ priority with Spaceship Earth coming in second.
Speaking of which, FastPass+ continues to plague rides like Spaceship Earth, which hits 25 minutes at 10am and 45 minutes at 10:45am as those gingerly entering the Park head to the first long line they see. Those that can wait to ride until after 5:30pm most days don’t need to “waste” a FP+, but those planning to head up to World Showcase around 11am may want to use it to bypass the 20-30 minute waits.
Soarin’ doesn’t look to do much to help Test Track wait times, which average 77 minutes and hit 2.5 hours in the afternoon after a moment of downtime. We’ll see what changes Frozen brings, but it seems unlikely that riding Soarin’ first and then Test Track in standby immediately after with a short wait will be viable. Soarin’ should still take a minimum of about 25 minutes in the morning and Test Track is a solid ten minute walk away. It remains to be seen if Disney opens Epcot before 9am to ease crowds headed to Norway first thing. If they do, Frozen -> Test Track -> Mission: SPACE -> Other desired attractions (Spaceship Earth and Character Spot or another attraction with FP+ would make sense) -> Soarin’ with FP+ might be doable. We’ll see.
Like Spaceship Earth, Nemo waits peak from 11am to 1:15pm with so many FP+ returners visiting before heading up to World Showcase for lunch. Turtle Talk also sees some renewed interest with the addition of the Finding Dory characters. 30-minute posted waits mean you’d be waiting through at least 1.5 shows before being seated in the small theater. Like the other Future World attractions, waits drop off after 3pm as most people head north/south or whatever direction World Showcase is.
With the higher overall crowd level on Saturday, wait times are even higher with 110 minutes at Soarin’ and 87 minutes at Test Track. Disney is not yet operating all three theaters at Soarin’ all of the time, so we are not yet feeling the maximum effects of that capacity increase. 35 minutes at Turtle Talk might be the longest wait there that I’ve ever seen.
Somehow Soarin’ manages to go down for 2.5 hours and Test Track goes down for a half hour just after open, followed by 1.5 hours in the afternoon, and 2.5 hours in the evening. That results in some menacing wait times though Disney does keep Soarin’ open for an extra half hour in the evening.
And here’s Monday with the triple digit average wait at Soarin’ continuing for the third straight day. Test Track finishes at 85 minutes with a 170-minute peak wait earlier in the day after a bit of downtime.
It’s too early to say what effect the third theater will have on Soarin’s wait times, particularly if they are not operating all three theaters or offering the new version of the film. And while the old version seems to be incredibly popular, one wonders what will happen when a new show debuts. Moving forward, it’s expected that two of the theaters will be dedicated to FastPass+ while the final third of the capacity goes to standby. Of course, what we’re really waiting for is Frozen Ever After with the expectation that the opening will dramatically affect touring.
Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen at Hollywood Studios this decade is the third track at Toy Story Mania opening, in turn increasing hourly capacity from ~850 riders to ~1300. The third track, scheduled for a Memorial Day Weekend open, “soft opened” on the 24th. But we begin our discussion with a look at wait times from the day before with Toy Story’s 92-minute average wait. Other attractions are equally rough. While nobody is actually waiting 3+ hours at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, we do see a 200-minute wait pop up to go along with the constant 50+ minute wait for most of the day. Capacity cuts at Star Tours and the ride somehow going down completely in the afternoon, make for a 30-minute average wait there. Great Movie Ride’s average wait is an absurd 47 minutes with a 95-minute peak wait thanks to 1.5 hours of downtime. Tower of Terror is operating at half capacity for part of the morning, which is why you see me advocating FastPass+ there after riding Toy Story and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in standby. You never know if that 9:45am wait is going to be 20 minutes or 85.
When’s the last time you saw a zero-minute wait at Toy Story Mania like we see here at 2:15pm? With Disney distributing the same number of FastPass+ as before, standby capacity has basically been doubled until they reconfigure the FP+ distribution ratios.
As we move through Studios’ wait times, one other thing you might notice is that wait times are routinely shorter overall on the days that the Park closes at 8:30pm without fireworks. A bit of downtime hurts Roller Coaster and Toy Story here, but standby waits are about half what they were before the third track opened.
Up to Thursday, the day before Old Soarin’ reopens and the first 11pm close at Animal Kingdom. Toy Story Mania’s average is all the way down to 39 minutes or equal to Tower of Terror and almost half of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
After an hour of early evening downtime, Toy Story Mania decided to post a 300-minute wait for almost three hours before admitting that it was closer to 45 minutes at 10:30pm. Several people tweeted me about it while I was at Animal Kingdom slamming syringe after syring full of adrenaline into my heart to try to stay awake during the Jungle Book show. It’s hard to say what actual waits were during this time frame, but there’s some kind of glitch here as the ride would have gone down at 9pm for the fireworks. Otherwise, afternoon waits at Toy Story remain short.
Moving on to Saturday the 28th where heavy crowds and attraction downtime push Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s average wait to 73 minutes with a peak of 190 at 4pm while Star Tours and Great Movie Ride do well operating at or near full capacity. Tower of Terror on the other hand buckles under the pressure of only running one elevator shaft during a major holiday. With twice as many FP+ returners as the ride can handle running at half capacity, there’s no telling how long you’d wait in standby. On the other hand, you would think very few people would get in line with a posted wait that long, so maybe you’d get lucky. But all things considered, Toy Story is still doing well with the capacity increase.
Things are perhaps a little more “normal” on Sunday though Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s wait times are ridiculous, Star Tours hits 120 minutes in the afternoon and sees one of its highest averages of the year, and Great Movie Ride’s average wait of 37 minutes is high as is the 70-minute peak. But Tower of Terror at least gets its act together with an average standby wait that’s over 100 minutes shorter than the day before. Toy Story Mania’s wait time is creeping back up, potentially because of downtime at one of the tracks.
And finally Monday, which is more of the same. It will be interesting to see how Toy Story Mania wait times are affected by the third track once Disney figures out how many FP+ experiences to distribute for it. Back after Mine Train opened at Magic Kingdom, Disney fiddled with the numbers for about five months. Obviously this is not an all-new attraction so it shouldn’t be that long. Looking over the next few days, it does look like FP+ availability has increased considerably, though morning return times are still tough to come by on such short notice. But we’ve gone from “literally” no availability for days at a time to availability in about a dozen different time slots for dates as close as tomorrow. It would remain unlikely that the ride would be available as a 4th FP+, but more FP+ in circulation means they are more likely to be canceled and that is potentially good news for those that can’t refresh FastPass+ availability fast enough.
While we should get a better idea about Toy Story wait times over the next two weeks, it looks like increasing the capacity has brought 80- and 90-minute waits down to 50 to 70. The website will continue to monitor the situation.
While Magic Kingdom’s additions aren’t nearly as exciting as Animal Kingdom or Epcot, the Park may end up benefiting the most as all of those people visiting Animal Kingdom at 9pm aren’t watching the Main Street Electrical Parade and waiting for Wishes at Magic Kingdom. Epcot’s attendance had dipped double digits compared to last year during the first four months of this year, but the Park should rebound and pick up considerably this summer with the new additions.
Since I’ve covered Magic Kingdom trends in depth over the last week or so, I won’t go into a tremendous amount of depth here as the many numbers speak for themselves. But these wait times are more than reasonable for a major holiday weekend heading into summer. Jungle Book certainly pulled away thousands and thousands of people.
It’s just about the same story on Sunday with an overall average wait within one minute of Saturday. Mine Train has now been open for more than two years but still sees the longest average wait most days.
And a drop in waits on Monday with evening rain closing outdoor attractions from 9:30pm – 11:45pm.
We should have a better idea about how wait times will progress over the summer from the first week in June. Will update when those numbers come in.