Before we dive into what I’m sure will be joyful Toy Story Land coverage, we’ll stop by Disney’s Animal Kingdom to see if we can figure out whether or not there’s a definitively best day of the week to visit, at least as far as wait times are concerned.
This is a followup to our previous post, which took a look at average Magic Kingdom wait times by the day of the week. At Magic Kingdom, we learned that Saturdays really do see the highest wait times of the week. While that was expected, I think most of us were probably a little surprised to see such low wait times on Sundays for much of the year. At Magic Kingdom, Sunday wait times are 22.4% lower than Saturday wait times, on average. That’s a considerable difference. Also somewhat surprising, it turns out that, on average, wait times on Mondays are lower than other weekdays, though it’s not by a particularly significant amount. There’s just a 1.6 minute difference between Monday’s low of 41.3 minutes and Tuesday’s high of 42.9 minutes.
Here’s the chart for Animal Kingdom:
Ideally, the day of the week with the lowest wait at Animal Kingdom would be different than at Magic Kingdom. And luckily, we do see that with Wednesday seeing the lowest waits of the week at Animal Kingdom, while Sunday sees the lowest waits at Magic Kingdom. But Sunday’s waits are low here too with the 47.1 minute average proving to be the second best day of the week, even if the difference isn’t quite as dramatic as what we saw at the world’s most popular theme park.
Somewhat interestingly, waits go up as it gets later in the week with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday seeing the highest waits. At Magic Kingdom, the difference between the day with the lowest waits and highest waits was 8.3 minutes or 22.4%. At Animal Kingdom, it’s just 6.5 minutes, or 14%. For most of the year, Animal Kingdom hosts morning Extra Magic Hours on Mondays and Saturdays. Monday’s average wait of 51.2 minutes is longer than the days around it by about 3.5 minutes. Saturday, with the morning Extra Magic Hour attached, sees a wait identical to Friday and just about 15 seconds higher than Thursday.
Here’s how your typical summer day looks with wait times from this past Tuesday:
The average wait is based on eight attractions, including the two new Pandora rides. It makes some sense to eliminate Flight of Passage from the calculations because the wait time is so much higher than the other attractions and higher waits are typically due to capacity problems more so than actual attendance or demand. If Flight of Passage is down to one or two theaters for mechanical problems or what have you, then the wait time is going to skyrocket and pull the day’s average up much higher.
Disney is also typically unwilling to drop the posted wait to a more realistic number as the Park’s closing time approaches. Actual waits are typically 40 to 70 minutes at the very end of the night, as you can see from the takeaways in this post, while the posted wait remains 100+ minutes most nights. On the other hand, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to remove the Park’s most popular attraction from the calculations, so I’ve included it. On the below chart, there are a few days with a star next to the wait time to note a few dates where Na’vi River Journey wasn’t operating due to a problem with the fire suppression system. Most of those dates were in April.
Here’s the breakdown by month. Like with Magic Kingdom, the color-coding is based on the price that Disney is charging for a 1-day ticket on that date. Green indicates Value, yellow indicates Regular, and red indicates Peak:
You might remember that Disney added a morning Extra Magic Hour to just about every day from April 29th through June 30th, perhaps in an effort to alleviate the morning rush to Pandora prior to Toy Story Land opening on June 30th. During those two months, fewer people than normal are probably visiting on a Monday or Saturday specifically because of Extra Magic Hour. After all, that same morning Extra Magic Hour is offered every day. But Disney changed the schedule so late in the game that a lot of people had probably already keyed in on the days that they were visiting based on the original schedule with just two morning Extra Magic Hour days scheduled each week.
Still, the addition of daily morning EMH does seem to impact how wait times progress over the course of the week during May and June. In March, the average wait for Tuesday is 5.5 minutes shorter than the Monday with the morning EMH, which is a drop of 9.5%. In April, Tuesday’s wait is 6.1% shorter than Monday’s. For May, the difference is 11.5%. And in June, where the fewest people were probably visiting on Monday specifically for the morning Extra Magic Hour, the wait actually goes up 1% from Monday to Tuesday. We don’t have nearly enough “data” to say with any certainty that it’s the EMH schedule that’s the driving force for the change, but it seems interesting that there is such a large swing between Mondays and Tuesdays from March to June. Of course, a lot more is changing than just the EMH schedule with so many Annual Passholders and local visitors taking most of the summer off, whether that be due to the heat or their passes being blocked out. We’ll see if the trend reverts in July, though the opening of Toy Story Land is probably going to have a bigger effect on overall crowd flow than whether or not Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour. And of course, we can throw all of this out in 16 or 17 months with Galaxy’s Edge opening.
But even with the EMH changes in May and June, Wednesdays during those months still see lower waits and wait times towards the end of the week are typically higher than most days earlier in the week. While this is far from “proof” that the Extra Magic Hours schedule is not what’s driving a lot of people to visit a Park on a particular day anymore, it’s interesting that the distribution is similar during weeks with an Extra Magic Hour on two days or every day.
While we can make some big picture recommendations based on a lot of numbers, in a more micro sense, you never really know what the actual distribution is going to look like from week to week. During the third week in May, Saturday’s 36-minute wait is lower than the 38.3 minute average for the week. Then next week, Saturday’s wait is 25% higher than that week’s average. Of course, rain is largely to blame during that third week with Saturday May 19th seeing a lot of precipitation that ultimately keeps a lot of people home.
Here’s the same information presented in a different way:
It may be interesting that Wednesday never sees the longest waits of the week at any point so far this year, while Saturday’s waits are the longest on 12 out of 26 weeks. In addition, the 52.6 minute average that we see on Friday is the same as Saturday, but Friday only sees the longest wait of the week on three out of the 26 weeks that we’ve experienced so far.
Here’s one more chart showing Animal Kingdom wait times focusing on the month rather than the day of the week:
Wait times are distributed quite a bit differently over the first six months of the year than what we saw at Magic Kingdom.
Here’s the two Parks compared more directly:
While Magic Kingdom’s wait times rise steadily from January through March, up almost 25%, Animal Kingdom’s actually go down a half minute over the same time. Average waits at both Parks drop considerably from March to April and then again from April to May before rising considerably in June. The fact that waits at Animal Kingdom were highest in January is of some note. The disparity was also largest in January, when the difference was almost 14 minutes. In June, the difference is less than five minutes.
Certainly, spring break attendance in March and April was higher than January or February for the most part. January’s high average could be partially due to lowered capacity at most attractions – a lot of the rides there can easily operate at a reduced capacity. DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, and Kilimanjaro Safaris can operate with just one of two loading areas in service, effectively halving the number of people that can experience the attraction per hour. Expedition Everest also sometimes runs with a reduced number of vehicles.
It wouldn’t surprise me if May ends up seeing the second lowest waits of the year, property wide. September should continue to carry the shortest waits, even if they have risen in recent memory. It might be worth noting, at least across the attractions that I have somewhat arbitrarily chosen to represent the Parks as part of this “study,” that you’d wait longer at Animal Kingdom per attraction than at Magic Kingdom.
Flight of Passage wait times are the culprit there, of course. In June 2017, the average wait here was 130 minutes. You’ll be glad to learn that the wait has dropped two minutes to “just” 128 minutes in June 2k18. Over two hours in line. Say what you will about Cameron’s franchise, but the rides and the land remain just about as popular today as they were a year ago.
So what have we learned? Wednesday is typically the best day of the week to visit Animal Kingdom with waits that are consistently lower than any other day of the week. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays typically see the highest waits. It’s potentially worth avoiding Mondays as well, particularly when you consider that it’s usually one of the best days to visit Magic Kingdom with the second lowest waits of the week over there. If you are planning on taking advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hour then Monday would be better than Saturday in almost all instances.