We continue from the previous news update.
It turned out to be a pretty light news weekend, but I would guess Disney is banking on a little time passing to let the news of the blackened fish debuting at the Festival Favorites Holiday Kitchen ruminate. Bringing new fish to a Festival and instantly crowning it a Favorite isn’t the sort of bombshell you should be able to drop on someone without warning. There should be a law against it. It would be like McDonald’s coming out with a Classics menu featuring Steak Alfredo, Wonton Soup, and an ice cream machine that works. It’s just not what you would expect. It’s possible that the company will never make another announcement because nothing will ever be so huge. The only thing more positive would be Disney guaranteeing everyone who visits Hollywood Studios a good time, and that would cost several hundred million dollars per hour in bribes. Even at 25% capacity.
The only news we have to pass on is a newborn rhinoceros:
The rhinoceros lost its designation as world’s largest land animal in 2015 to the Walt Disney World blogger. From what I’ve heard, the rhinos aren’t too happy about it. If you’re ever on Kilimanjaro Safaris with a rhino in view, just about to take the perfect picture, only to have the animal turn around and lay down facing the opposite direction, you can be sure a blogger is on-board your vehicle with a lens that’s a little too large to justifiably bring to a theme park. They love to fake us out.
It could also just be me since it doesn’t appear to be a behavior limited to the rhinoceros. Imagine being a hippopotamus that is roughly the size of a barge, and learning that you don’t even crack the list of top five heaviest land mammals anymore because Disney released 4,912 slightly different vanilla cupcakes at the All-Star Sports last year and you’re stuck on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Lucky Brand may be the first retail establishment that reopened with the Springs back in May only to now close permanently. I feel like there is an obvious joke in there about a lack of luck in your pants, but I won’t make it. Lucky Brand was already in bankruptcy before being purchased in part by Simon Property Group, who operates other malls in the area. Next door, whatever Johnston & Murphy is may do even less business. One wonders how long some of these stores will last given the current economic climate. As it stands, I would guess most of these stores aren’t profitable and it’s more about brand awareness and reminding the average tourist that they exist than anything. Maybe a dozen stores at the Springs have closed already, though I’m not sure if Erwin Peal counts. Does a customer actually need to go inside your establishment before you technically have a store or is it the intention of selling something that counts? Anyway, I hope you didn’t come to Disney World to go shopping at Lucky Brand.
We’re not doing Halloween this year:
It would probably pose some logistical challenges if “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” merchandise was only available on the night before Christmas. The resellers wouldn’t have enough time to get your plush mailed out to you. Still, October may be on the early side. You can pull up Disney’s full post, with more pictures and release dates, here.
The “Disney Global Ambassadors Share Their Favorite Ways to Celebrate the Spookiest Season” clip may be the most wholesome 93 seconds of your day. If you started the video at the beginning of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, it would almost be over by the time you’re done riding. Multitasking. An important skill.
Here’s our familiar chart of wait times since Animal Kingdom reopened:
We see the usual, substantial bumps in wait times on Saturday and Sunday compared to the weekdays that came before them. The good news is probably that weekend waits were lower than last week. Saturday’s average of 38.1 minutes was still the second-longest since reopening, with Sunday coming in at its third-longest. Still, it’s better than forever increasing. The average for the week was also lower than last week, but still the second-longest overall.
Here’s the chart for Sunday:
The distribution looks like a busy day at Animal Kingdom with nothing specific sticking out. The 35.5-minute average is the same as the weekly average from two weeks ago and within about 4 minutes of last week’s average. If you’re trying to plan a visit on a busier day with an 8am open, you may want to study this chart and see which attractions are viable at what point in the day. By 9:45am, or not even two hours into the day, the average wait is already 35 minutes. That’s about your last chance to get to Everest or DINOSAUR before actual waits hit about 25 minutes and rise from there until about 4pm.
Here’s Epcot on Sunday:
Epcot’s overall average wait of 30 minutes is a little above-average, but a far cry from some of the busier Saturdays that we’ve seen. Nothing really stands out, other than the triple-digit waits for Test Track in the morning, which are rare. That popularity is one reason why we’re starting with Frozen and ending at Test Track with our current touring strategy. But even then, Frozen’s average wait across the day is actually longer than any other ride, even if morning waits start lower.
To the Studios:
The Studios remains your best bet if you have to visit a theme park on a Saturday or Sunday. You’ll notice that the waits on those days are typically lower than most weekdays, or, at worst, about the same. Over at Animal Kingdom, average waits go up 35% from Friday to Saturday, even given the same operating hours.
Here’s Sunday’s chart:
A 45-minute average wait is what you can expect at the Studios these days, so 43 minutes is….I guess a real treat. As always, note how much wait times fall in the evening, with the average dropping below 30 minutes after 5pm, compared to the 59 minute average at 11:30am. It would be nice if Disney would run the Rise of the Resistance signup at some point before the day of your visit, sort of like FastPass+ signups. That would eliminate a lot of the morning stress, eliminate the need for people to arrive before Park open, and give you more clarity about how your day may stack up. Of course, a lot of people who don’t get a boarding group would then cancel their reservation. Maybe Disney could put some clause in there, and if you don’t show up even after being refused a boarding group, giant Chip and Dale will come seize you in your home and drag you over. It wouldn’t be the first time that it’s happened to me. Anyway, what you see above is about best-case scenario these days with an average wait that’s lower than the last three weekly averages. Unlike Animal Kingdom, where the weekly average wait went down, the Studios’ went up for the third consecutive week to a new high of 47 minutes. And while 43 minutes is “good,” it’s also slightly higher than last week. Saturday’s average wait was virtually the same.
Magic Kingdom had a couple of reasonably good days over the weekend with waits that were lower than last week. The week’s average also dropped compared to the week before, even if it’s still the second-longest that we’ve seen since reopening.
Here’s Sunday’s chart:
Things look to be largely reasonable, with waits that build slower in the morning, making for a more pleasant experience if you’re able to get across the water before the majority of other people. You can pull up this post in case you missed it for some tips on how to do that.
Overall, last week ended up being a bit less crowded than the last two weeks. I’d expect Monday through Thursday of this week to post waits on the lower side of what we’ve recently seen, but this weekend may be a little nutty.
Current Disney Park Pass Availability
Not much has changed since we took a look a couple of days ago. Here’s Disney Resort Guests in December:
Every yellow date indicates no availability at the Studios, with the exception of Christmas Day, when Magic Kingdom is the only unavailable Park. Again, that’s very wholesome. It makes me want to go out there and rope drop Swiss Family Treehouse.
You can always pull up Disney’s version of the Park Pass calendar here.
Operating Schedule Changes
None since Friday’s update. Look for another round of changes on the 30th, along with another week’s worth of operating hours in January.
That should get you caught up.