Saturday February 18, 2017
Predicted 4-Park Crowd Level: 9.
Sum of Predicted 4-Park Average Wait Times: 175 minutes.
Actual 4-Park Crowd Level: 9.
Sum of Actual 4-Park Average Wait Times: 182 minutes.
Weather: High of 77 and low of 66. Rain was predicted for much of the afternoon, but the Parks saw just about 90 minutes worth from around 2:30pm to around 4pm.
It’s Presidents Day Weekend and the Saturday in particular is no joke with a crowd level of “9” expected and actual waits coming in 4% higher than predicted. This was also the first weekend where Rivers of Light was officially scheduled with two shows offered nightly. This is otherwise about as long as waits get at Animal Kingdom with the exception of Kali River Rapids, where the average wait would be closer to 45 minutes given higher temperatures. As noted in this post, two weeks ago I didn’t run into a single person in standby at Expedition Everest when I got in line at 10am. Here, the posted wait is already 75 minutes. While waits were short during the morning Extra Magic Hour, 35 minutes at Safaris and 50 minutes at Everest by 9:15am is a NOPE in all caps. I was there myself from around 1pm through close and it “felt” crowded.
I posted a picture of the line at Spaceship Earth with its 60 minute wait at 11:30am on Facebook here.
That’s a far cry compared to this scene just a couple of days earlier around the same time. Anyway, there’s a short window in the first half hour of operation when waits are short and they return to lower levels in the final hour, but it’s FastPass+ at the major attractions for most of the day. The predicted overall average wait was 40 minutes. The actual of 42 minutes is close – a little higher with some downtime at Test Track.
The Studios struggled to keep up with the elevated attendance with key attractions operating at reduced capacities pushing wait times upwards. Seeing 70 minutes at Great Movie Ride and Star Tours is not good…and neither attraction should be that high. But Toy Story’s 55 minutes is about 25% higher than average, which indicates crowds that are well above average.
We were expecting 45 minutes at Magic Kingdom and ended up with 46 minutes. This was the advice with a “Very Tentative Recommendation:”
Anyone just finishing up their vacation will likely want to visit Magic Kingdom much earlier in the week when the overall crowd level is substantially lower. But the 8am open offers an extra hour of low waits in the morning for those able to truly arrive by 7:30am and potentially leave after lunch. Waits will also be low after 9pm and those able to stay through 12am will have more luck than they would with the 8pm close earlier in the week. But it can’t be overstated how busy it will “feel” from 11am-8pm. You’ll either want to spend the majority of that time back at your resort or visit only the high capacity/low priority attractions while mixing in available FastPass+ opportunities.
And that looks like what happened for the most part, though posted waits last thing at night don’t typically reflect just how short actual waits are. Astro Orbiter would not actually be 60 minutes at 11:30pm for example and Big Thunder would be a lot closer to 10 minutes than 45. But things are undeniably nutty given the “9” crowd level and the 60+ minute average wait in the afternoon. Obviously there are some “anytime” attractions and shows that aren’t listed above, but what do you do when just about everything posts a wait is showing 45+ minutes? This is about as “bad” as it gets though Easter should see longer waits and heavier crowds.
Crowds should remain this heavy for the Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend before easing a bit during the week.