We’ll take a (surprisingly brief) moment to check in on wait times and whether they’ve increased now that the 50th anniversary proceedings are underway. The Disney Genie+, which is the company’s new version of paid FastPass, is yet to be unveiled. But I suppose when you are stuck inside of a magical lamp for a few thousand years, a couple more weeks probably doesn’t register as being too much more punishment. Especially when we’ll be the ones getting punished once it’s finally unveiled.
We can’t say definitively that the Genie technology isn’t ready (it’s not), or if Disney doesn’t want the beginning of its celebration of 150+ new food items marred by that pesky 50th anniversary that’s basically a celebration of what’s launched on Disney+ in the last two years, but the Genie crashes harder than Baloo during KiteTails. We’re still waiting to see how much the reintroduction of priority boarding affects wait times, or what the Individual Attraction Lightning Lane selections are at each Park. But we can at least reestablish where we’re at, so we have a solid baseline on where we are currently.
We can say with certainty that wait times remain low as we head into what are traditionally two of the busier weeks of the fall with the holiday weekend and fall breaks in parts of the south. Here’s a graph that shows the weekly average among our usual 17 attractions at Magic Kingdom since the Park reopened in July of 2020:
As we can plainly see since about August 24, waits have creeped up, but they’re still much lower than the July highs, and actually lower or equal to most of the last year. I’d still expect the October waits to continue to rise throughout the next couple of weeks with the holiday and fall breaks, but we shouldn’t be looking at anything close to those July highs. At least one can hope.
If you like your long charts, here it is, with the daily average every day since Magic Kingdom reopened:
You can check the day or week of your visit and see how it compares, quantitatively, to others. I’m sure it “felt” crowded, even if you hit one of those days following the anniversary with some of the lowest waits we’ve seen.
One interesting observation is that Monday jumps by 15 minutes compared to the week before it. It’s possible that Magic Kingdom is back to being visit number one for guests arriving over the weekend with the standby queue for Rise of the Resistance now open without Lightning Lane or virtual queue availability. Previously, we surmised guests were favoring Hollywood Studios by booking multiple reservations early in their trip, and then changing plans if the 7am boarding group signup was unsuccessful. The other interesting thing is that Epcot hosted Extended Hours for Deluxe/DVC guests on Monday, so there wouldn’t be a reason for those guests to commit to a visit to Magic Kingdom without Park Hopper privileges if they planned to stay late as a Deluxe guest. On Wednesday, when Magic Kingdom did host the two hours for Deluxe/DVC guests, waits were a touch longer than Tuesday, but we’re talking about less than a minute. So either guests are unaware of the new policy or simply ignoring it.
We are concerned with morning wait times and how they affect our rope drop strategy now that Early Entry is a known entity. Here’s a look at the progression from Tuesday:
Like with morning Extra Magic Hour, the open attractions are relegated to just Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. That means if you’re not eligible for Early Entry, it makes sense to start with Frontierland and Adventureland, as eligible guests continue touring the open Lands or are at least later to arrive on the other side of the Park. Of course, some intelligent guests will be ready to rush to Big Thunder or Splash, but waits should basically be a walk-on so long as you hurry once 9am hits. That’s been the reality so far. So even if you’re ineligible for Early Entry, you can still visit some major attractions first thing without much of a wait, which is only a good thing.
As you can see, by the time 9am hits, there are formidable waits at a number of attractions, including Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and to a lesser extent, Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. The problem with a few of these attractions at the moment is that there’s no way to use the Lightning Lane advantage. And the posted waits for Jungle Cruise (56-minute average), Peter Pan’s Flight (40-minute average), and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (51 minutes), don’t really drop in that last hour. It’s likely that the three are exaggerated, but it may be unlikely that you can get in line for Jungle Cruise an hour before close, hurry to Peter Pan’s Flight, and hit Mine Train before the Park closes, even if waits are half of what’s posted. You might give it 90 minutes to be safe and try not to mind standing in line at the end of the night too much.
With Disney Enchantment, the new fireworks show, now pulling just about every guest who doesn’t read Twitter away from the rides, it’s certainly a more doable proposition. But with two days in Magic Kingdom, you likely want to end the night with Peter Pan’s Flight and then Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on one night. To play it safe, I’d get in line for Peter Pan 45 minutes before close. If that puts you in position to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train again after finishing a first ride-through with a 25-ish minute wait, enjoy Disney Enchantment from another angle that might be good away from Main Street, then you’ll be all the better for it. Or ride Mine Train again. On a second evening, do Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise, both of which should have much lower waits than what’s posted.
It will be interesting to see if the release of the Genie means more accurate posted wait times, and if Disney will actually push people to get in line for the likes of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the end of the night. We’ve always assumed Disney inflates waits at the end of the night to dissuade guests from getting in line, so they can close up shop that much earlier.
But a lot of popular rides hit actual waits of ten minutes or less with just 15 minutes to close, while Disney has historically posted 30 or more minutes outside the attraction. If Disney is going to build trust in its free Disney Genie on-the-fly itinerary and paid services, then it’s to their benefit to show accurate waits. Of course, in the long run, the savings in labor probably outweighs hundreds of guests showing up at Mine Train with two minutes to close. And it’s unlikely most guests can gauge the length of the line, and what kind of a wait that translates to, even if they see it. They know and can see that nobody in line for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh means little to no wait, but people still standing outside Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is less obvious. But if Disney continues to post inflated wait times, and sends guests to Dumbo and The Barnstormer at the end of the night, guests may abandon Disney’s itinerary optimization pretty quickly, even if they continue to opt for Genie+ Lightning Lane access.
So like with the other Parks, it’s important to identify the rides with the longest waits. At Magic Kingdom, it’s Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in that order from lowest to longest average wait. If it’s not possible because you want to watch Disney Enchantment or have other plans, then getting in line in the afternoon, when waits have peaked everywhere, is your best bet. You’ll wait a while too, but the wait won’t be significantly longer than Pirates of the Caribbean or Astro Orbiter at around 45 minutes, if you’re waiting about as long at Peter Pan’s Flight. Without Early Entry, or if you’re running late, you’ll already have accomplished those Adventureland and Frontierland attractions, so they won’t be a nighttime nuisance. Of course, this can and will change when the Genie+/- finally appears. Hopefully Jafar is more adept this time around…or less adept…or whatever keeps the genie in the lamp.
As usual, we’re curious as to whether there’s clearly a best day of the week to visit Magic Kingdom. For that, we’ll just take a look at waits over just the last six weeks or so:
And it does actually look like we see more variety than we have in some time. Let’s look at it as a (mostly nonmanipulated) chart:
We actually see things return to what we normally see in the fall, with the addition of Annual Passes now being sold again to prop up Saturday and Sunday waits. Monday and Saturday remain favorites. The numbers above include the extra 30 minutes for eligible guests, but not the two hours in the evening for Deluxe/DVC guests, since most guests aren’t eligible for that. But Wednesday and Thursday return as the clear favorites, followed closely by Tuesday and Thursday. With cooler temperatures, I’d expect Saturday waits to continue its climb, while Sunday remains around average and Monday stays high, before waits drop off during the week. We’ll see what happens as Extended Hours continue and what people ultimately decide what to do and where to go once the Genie comes online. But if you’re visiting before the Genie materializes, weekdays look most promising, with Saturdays and Mondays as days that are typically rougher. That likely won’t change this fall even with the Genie in play. The waits will just go up by a similar percent.
Now that we’ve mentioned Extended Hours, we can take a look at what to expect during those two extra hours, here from 9pm to 11pm on October 6th:
The posted waits from 9pm to 11pm, which would be the exclusive time for Disney and DVC Resort Guests, aren’t far off from what they were during Boo Bash. The good news is that waits are largely nonexistent at the majority of the attractions. The bad news is that you’re potentially looking at 30 minutes for Peter Pan’s Flight and 35 minutes for Mine Train. Those waits are probably 40% over-exaggerated, but they’re not exactly the walk-ons you’d expect from such a late night. The strategy for those attractions remains the same, visiting Peter Pan’s Flight in the last 40ish minutes and then ending with Mine Train before making a slow walk out of the Park so the rest of the guests can fill the buses before your arrival. Another bonus, if you’re eligible, is an easier time seeing Disney Enchantment before moving on to the attractions.
Overall, we’re going to have to keep an eye on wait times and see if they shoot up over the weekend and over the next couple of weeks. International travel reopening will also play a major part as early as next month
And of course, we’re still waiting on the Genie+, Individual Attraction Lightning Lanes selections and what they even are, and what priority admittance does to wait times. But hopefully we’ll have a better idea if they can figure any of that out. Once they do, we will.