I’m not sure anybody really cares, but since I have them handy, we’ll take a look at Thanksgiving Week wait times. Specifically, we’ll take a look at Monday, the busiest day of Thanksgiving Week with a crowd level of 9, which is the highest crowd level this website assigns without the risk of Magic Kingdom closing to capacity.
There is always some confusion with the crowd levels, which are on a scale of 1-10 with 1s being the least crowded days and 10s being days where one or more of the Parks may close to capacity. Crowd levels run on a bell curve so you see fewer 1s and 10s than you do 4s, 5s, and 6s. And the crowd calendar runs on a 12-month loop so crowd levels are compared only to the six months before and after a date in question.
I’ll often see people say, “There’s really no such thing as a 2 or 3 crowd level anymore, 5 is about the minimum.” That’s not how this website operates. There are, by definition, 1s, 2s, and 3s just like there are 8s, 9s, and 10s. It’s true that those 1s and 2s are more crowded than say…2009 in the middle of a worldwide recession. International visitation, particularly from South America, also tends to bump up crowds during “low crowd times” because they don’t run on the same schedule as domestic visitors. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to start the crowd calendar at a 5 and go up to a 15. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to start at 5 and go to 10 because then you really just have a crowd calendar that goes from 1 to 5. So we stick with the 1-10 scale, keeping in mind that a “2” in 2014 is going to be considerably more crowded than a “5” would have been back in 2010. That’s just the way things are right now with the Dow at 17,500 instead of 6,500 and strong international visitation helped by the fact everything is so much cheaper here for Brazilians.
Larger: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports12/ak1124.jpg or you can download the Excel file at https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports12/wdw1121.xlsx
We have 8am openings at Animal Kingdom all week to help with the heavy overall crowds. Animal Kingdom came highly recommended and you’ll notice that there are no actual waits over 10 minutes until 9:30am, a full 90 minutes after the Park opens. Things ease again in the evening with no waits over 10 minutes after 6:30pm. Things are rough in the afternoon, but with no posted waits over 60 minutes at Everest or over 90 minutes at Safaris, today should prove to be very good compared to other days during the week. That’s going to be a bit less true with today’s (November 25th) weather. There was a tornado warning at the Parks around 10am and heavy rain has kept just about everyone away. If you’re visiting between now and about March, keep in mind that just about anything that includes animal viewing closes before dusk. This time of year, that means Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch/Wildlife Express Train close at 4:45pm. That tends to make those areas a little busier during the day because more people are squished into shorter operating hours.
Epcot both handles and doesn’t handle big crowds well. It’s true that there is a lot of physical space to stand in place and a lot of kiosks that sell $8 Bud Lights with short lines, but there are basically two rides anybody gets excited about and then a handful of minor attractions that see high wait times when Soarin’ and Test Track hit triple digits. With crowds of this magnitude, there’s no way around seeing Soarin’ and Test Track with 100+ minute peak waits, but peak and average waits are reliably lower on recommended days. And fewer people means shorter waits in a lot more places than just the major attractions – more tables available at quick services, fewer people in Mitsukoshi Department Store, “only” a 20 minute wait for Journey into Imagination, etc.
Hollywood Studios was not recommended with the evening Extra Magic Hours attracting a ton of resort guests. Things are pretty rough there. By 11am, if you want to board something that moves, you’d be in for a minimum wait of 27 minutes at Great Movie Ride. There’s a little window there in the morning where you can hit the headliners with short waits, but Toy Story waits take off immediately after the Park opens with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster already over a 60-minute actual wait by 10am and Tower of Terror not following far behind with 70+ minutes by 11am. Evening Extra Magic Hours aren’t great either even with the 10pm start. You could ride Star Tours from 10pm to around 10:20pm. But with a 20ish minute wait at Great Movie Ride at 10:30pm due to much lower staffing, that experience is going to take about 45 minutes. Then you make it to Tower of Terror around 11:10pm with a 25 minute wait. Then it’s a choice between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story Mania without time to do both. It’s not a great scenario. The Osborne Lights and Fantasmic do help, but a 60 minute wait is only a little better than 75.
Well that’s a lot of big numbers. I’d have to look it up, but I think these are the longest average and peak waits we’ve seen this year with Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean both hitting 90 minute waits, in addition to triple digit waits at Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, among others. With the 8am open, the morning remains an excellent time to tour through 10am. even on a non-recommended day. it’s a small world might peak at 70 minutes in the afternoon, but it’s less than 20 minutes until 11am. Still, there are not a lot of places to hide come 1pm, when the average wait at all attractions that post a time is a whopping 52 minutes.
Long time readers may remember that the website often mocked our friends at TouringPlans for their consistently asinine Walt Disney World crowd predictions. It was easyWDW’s New Year’s Resolution not to mention the site in 2014 and I think we’ve succeeded thus far.
A few historical examples for context:
There was this post that pointed out TouringPlans’ only recommended Park on July 4th 2013 was Magic Kingdom. For those of you considering starting your own crowd calendar website, I would advise that you not recommend Magic Kingdom on major holidays, particularly Presidents Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
Okay I guess I didn’t do quite as well with the resolution thing as I thought, but were you at the gym past the second week in January? Back to the whole holiday thing…Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is pretty rough and chances are the Studios is not going to be a “3 out of 10” on a holiday with a 9:30pm close.
Well this is pretty meta…a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot:
One of their worst predictions by far came back in November 2012 when TouringPlans thought Magic Kingdom was going to be extremely crowded after Disney extended Magic Kingdom’s hours to 8am-1am on multiple days in November for New Fantasyland previews. Of course, a “9.1” is insane.
TouringPlans is so dishonest that they came back and tried to tell us crowds really were an “8.6.” Am the only person that misses the decimal points?
Okay one more but only because it’s one of my favorites!
This is the Sunday before Easter, one of the busiest times of year. Full post that’s worth reading: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/wait-times-epcot-mediterranean-sliders-figment-habit-heroes-curtained-a-quickie-4112/. Not only is it a great example of TouringPlans’ numbers not even being in the right galaxy, but it’s a great example of them either lying to our faces after the fact about what crowds were really like or simply not understanding that a 105 minute wait at Mission Space is pretty long.
Anyway, it was brought to my attention a few days ago that TouringPlans was publishing a new series:
You can pull up the whole document here: http://tpforum.s3.amazonaws.com/10743f57dbcf86a96804d097ba2c9eb4c139740a16d91.pdf
Looking at the first page, it looks like TouringPlans has crowned themselves champions of something, though I’m not real sure what yet.
Scrolling down, it looks to be comparing TouringPlans’ wait times throughout the day with an “unknown” “competitor:”
The 9:30am thing reminds me of this website’s Cheat Sheets, which include expected wait time charts beginning at 9:30am. It uses the half hour there because there is a substantial difference at most attractions between 9am and 10am.
This competitor sucks!
Looking at the current Cheat Sheet, I noticed the numbers didn’t match up to mine. But then the Cheat Sheets were updated about two months ago on September 29th, 2014 and maybe they hadn’t gotten around to updating? Nope…the numbers don’t match up to the previous version either.
Turns out I had to plug in an external hard drive with documents that date all the way back to April 14, 2013 to find the wait times they’re using for the “competitor.”
Looks like the website’s April 2013 wait times match up exactly with our “competitor.” But maybe it’s just a coincidence? Let’s scroll down one.
And again, the wait times listed under “competitor” match easyWDW’s April 2013 Cheat Sheet exactly. Shockingly perhaps, those predictions were actually better than TouringPlans’ own November 2014 numbers.
I’m not sure how many of you remember April 2013, but it was before FastPass+ and My Disney Experience were a thing, so none of easyWDW’s numbers back then take into account FastPass+, while TouringPlans uses their latest 2014 numbers taking FP+ into account.
I wonder what would happen if we use easyWDW’s current wait times (again, published back in September):
My how things change when you don’t compare your “competitor’s” April 2013 numbers to your November 2014 numbers. And if you look above at the Epcot wait time chart for this particular day, the posted wait for Spaceship Earth was actually 10 minutes at 9:30am, which would give that slot to easyWDW and put easyWDW “ahead” overall.
I’m not sure what’s more pathetic, being disingenuous about the data you’re using or somehow still being wrong 41.7% of the time compared to wait times from over 18 months ago.
I will also mention that this is not exactly the intended use of the website’s Cheat Sheets:
As explained on the Cheat Sheet page. It’s basically to give the reader an idea about whether wait times will be short, moderate, long, or really long throughout the day.
Does it matter that easyWDW had an expected wait of 70 minutes for Jungle Cruise at 2pm (in 2013), TouringPlans had it at 50 minutes, and the posted wait was 65 minutes? No, it means you don’t want to be anywhere near the standby line at that time of day. That’s the whole point.
I’m not real sure what the deal is here. Mother always said, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” And I guess I hope that’s what’s going on there.
I attempted to reach TouringPlans directly for comment before publishing this post, but was ignored.