As I mentioned in Disney World News and November 2015 Wait Time Trends from a couple of days ago, we are embarking on the first legitimately busy week since mid-August. And it is uglier than you probably would have thought as attraction downtime, maximum FastPass+ distribution, (probable) record crowds, and woefully inadequate capacity combine to form some pretty shocking wait times.
Yeah…This is bag check: https://twitter.com/ZombieCT/status/668806876042272768. I didn’t otherwise see a lot of other pictures from around the Park, but if you look at the wait times, it appears most of these people made it in. You’re more than welcome to link pictures that you’ve seen in the comments or post your own. As far as peak waits:
Big Thunder Mountain: 110 minutes.
Buzz Lightyear: 90 minutes.
Dumbo: 75 minutes.
Enchanted Tales: 90 minutes.
Haunted Mansion: 90 minutes.
it’s a small world: 65 minutes
Jungle Cruise: 115 minutes.
Mad Tea Party: 50 minutes.
Anna/Elsa: 145 minutes.
Cinderella/Rapunzel: 120 minutes.
Mickey: 75 minutes.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic: 40 minutes.
Peter Pan’s Flight: 135 minutes.
Pirates of the Caribbean: 105 minutes.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 170 minutes.
Space Mountain: 180 minutes.
Splash Mountain: 85 minutes.
Stitch’s Great Escape: 60 minutes.
The Barnstormer: 75 minutes.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin: 55 minutes.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 85 minutes.
Tomorrowland Speedway: 70 minutes.
Under the Sea: 60 minutes.
With 70% of an attraction’s capacity given to FastPass+, it doesn’t take a lot of people in standby to push wait times up this high. And with so many more people in the Parks than at any time over the last 3+ months, we see significantly longer standby waits even with just a handful more people in line. You may remember our Pirates of the Caribbean illustration:
Now let’s say that instead of 200 people in front of you in standby, that there are now 300. Prior to the attraction offering FastPass+, 100 people could move through Pirates in about three minutes. So with 300 people in line, your wait would be about nine minutes. Now give 70% of that capacity to FastPass+. By the time 300 people ride in standby, about 700 people will ride with FastPass+, which basically means the 300th person in standby will ride in the place of the 1,00th person in line, even if nearly all of those people with FastPass+ arrived after the person in standby. In the example above, our 200th person in line will wait about 20 minutes. But the 300th person in line will wait 30 minutes. So given significantly more people in the Park due to the holiday, we see significantly longer standby waits, even when in reality, there aren’t that many more people waiting than there were on a Monday in October.
Given maximum FastPass+ distribution, and the maximum number of people returning at the majority of attractions with priority boarding, very little capacity is owed to standby, which is why we see these startling wait times, even when attendance isn’t up all that much year over year. This is also likely why standby waits appear to be “less accurate” than they once were. If just 100 people in line can increase the wait 50% and Disney doesn’t really know the exact number of people waiting, it can be difficult to post an accurate number. Just one tour group arriving at or choosing to skip over an attraction can have a monumental impact on actual standby waits. There are few things funnier than hearing some poor tourist wish they were in the standby line “because it’s so much shorter than FastPass.” Of course, they don’t realize that the apparently short standby queue is going to take a hard left into a maze of switchbacks and standby riders are basically treated like 7th class citizens.
I’ve also included the average wait time for each attraction during each time slot on the bottom of the chart:
From about 11am through around 7:15pm, you’re looking at waiting an average of 45 minutes if you were to somehow be assigned to a random attraction with the highest waits of the day reliably occurring in the afternoon just prior to and just after the afternoon parade.
But it’s not all terrible news, the morning remains a good time to tour:
Keep in mind that this is on a morning Extra Magic Hour day from 7am-8am, which is why some wait times have already taken off come 8am. But that’s one of the reasons why the Parks with Extra Magic Hours aren’t recommended. After 9pm:
As always, the late nights are also your friend, with wait times reliably dropping in the last couple of hours of operation, particularly when it’s this late and particularly when it’s “cold,” as it has been the last couple of days.
Of course, it gets worse when your theme park only has five rides, one of which is down for a significant amount of time. Here’s the Studios:
If you’re wondering why people swear off Walt Disney World shortly after entering their first theme park, this is probably why. Rack rate at the Contemporary for a theme park view room this week is $800/night or about $5400 for a 6-night stay with tax. Even a preferred room at All-Star Movies would run you $179/night this week. It’s hard to imagine taking an early morning flight, hopping on Magical Express, and then arriving at the Studios at 3pm to find Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster down, Star Tours at 70 minutes, Great Movie Ride at 45 minutes, Tower of Terror at 150 minutes, and Toy Story Mania at 155 minutes. And those aren’t even peak waits as Star Tours hit 90, Movie Ride hit 90, and Toy Story was up all the way to 175. You might even have to wait through two full shows of Muppet Vision before getting into the theater.
There are several things going on here – obviously crowds are legitimately high. With just five rides and one show posting wait times, they’re all going to be high. And here, you’ve taken what is one of the Studios most popular rides offline for more than four hours. Everyone with a FastPass+ there can then return to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at any time later in the day, or visit any of these attractions at any time over the course of the day:
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- Tower of Terror
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
With that much downtime at Roller Coaster, you’ve got over 5,000 people with an “anytime’ FastPass+ at three of the Studios most popular rides. And when you’re already giving 70% of an attraction’s capacity to FastPass+, that many more people arriving with priority is going to cause standby waits to halt to a near standstill as Disney struggles to accommodate FastPass+ returners. And it also pushes up Roller Coaster wait times as you have more people arriving with priority over fewer operating hours.
It’s ugly. And will be for at least the next three years.
Nothing about Epcot particularly stands out, though the combined wait at Soarin’ and Test Track is five hours in the afternoon, Spaceship Earth waits are 30+ minutes through 5:30pm, Journey into Imagination hits 45 minutes, etc. But it’s all par for the course. If you’re visiting between December 25th-December 31st, double all of the waits here and you’ll have an idea about what to expect. Imagine what Soarin’ being down for six months next year is going to do here over Easter.
Animal Kingdom is, thankfully much more forgiving in the early morning, though nearly two hours of downtime at Expedition Everest certainly doesn’t help waits later in the day. Every FastPass+ attraction here is a replacement for every other FastPass+ attraction should your experience be canceled due to technical problems, so you’ve got 2,000+ people that originally had a FastPass+ for Everest now with what basically amounts to a FastPass+ at any other attraction at any time. That doesn’t have a particularly dramatic effect here, but it’s something to keep in mind. The cold weather also means very few people at Kali River Rapids and those people in turn are filing in to shows and rides elsewhere. If this was July, Kali waits would be 120+ minutes.
Finally, it may be important to note that we’re still not talking about “10’s” on the easywdw crowd scale. A “10” should have meaning and for this website, it means that that a capacity closure at one of the Parks (and usually Magic Kingdom) is likely, not that it’s a moderately crowded Monday in October. Those are typically reserved for the week after Christmas and the weeks around Easter.
Good luck out there.