You can pull up yesterday’s post here.
It’s a light news day, which is probably a welcome reprieve from the last few weeks.
With Regal closing 500+ of their movie theaters across the country and AMC struggling to fill seats during its reopening phase, Disney will bring Pixar’s Soul direct to Disney+ on December 25th at no additional charge to subscribers. You might remember that the company originally offered the live action version of Mulan at an additional cost of $30 per account. Soul may drive some subscription revenue for the streaming service, but even The Good Dinosaur did 332 million at the global box office. That’s about a billion short of The Incredibles 2. With Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey attached as two of the main voice actors, the guy who brought us everything from Toy Story to Up to Monsters, Inc. directing in the form of Pete Docter along with Kemp Powers, and with music written by the front man for Nine Inch Nails in Trent Reznor along with Atticus Ross (The Social Network am I right), Soul should prove to be quite the Christmas gift. At least for us at home on the couch. Disney is going to come out of it about a billion short. We can’t all be as successful as this blog.
ABC Commissary began
infecting serving guests its new menu today:
Disney Parks Blog has pictures that are probably less realistic than what you’d see in a McDonald’s ad, along with the rest of the menu, in this post. WDWNT already has a review of several of the new items here. I would guess this is the last time anyone will hear from that author. It was a good run.
ABC Commissary is currently slated to be open from just 10:30am to 4:30pm daily, which will take it out of the dinner rotation for most guests. On the plus side, if you eat there earlier in the day, it does give Disney more time to call the Centra Care van over to transport you to AdventHealth’s Urgent Care. I am sort of joking as ABC Commissary has come out with several very good entrees in the last few years along with the hundreds of misses. You can pull up the full menu here. I’d still recommend being a safe distance from the screen as you peruse the offerings. You can’t be too careful.
There is a bit of Latin flair to ABC Commissary’s menu. That does not make a tremendous amount of thematic sense, but then neither does going from Andy’s Backyard to Batuu to California over the course of a few steps.
Fairfax Fare, which remains closed on Sunset Boulevard, had served similar items prior to the March closure, and as pictured above with Empanadas, Fajitas, and Mojo Pulled Pork. One would imagine that either Fairfax Fare will reopen with its old barbecue menu, which was far more popular, or ABC Commissary will change it up again. I’m not sure what type of cuisine ABC hasn’t tried to execute so far, but edible might be a good place to start.
Disney continues to release DIY content that is far beyond the skillset of anyone who runs a Disney World blog. After trying to follow along with the video, I came away with a drawing that’s probably more startling than anything you’ll see in the Haunted Mansion. Should your artistic talent outshine my own, this looks like….well I don’t know, still impossible. It’s at least something to do while you wait for your test results at Centra Care. The doctor literally comes into the room and says to me, “Oh, I see someone’s been eating shrimp at ABC Commissary again.” “It’s my job, I insist.”
I’m not sure if anybody asked Mike Pence if he believes in dinosaurs at the VP debate, but it probably doesn’t matter since we would have just gotten his grandmother’s recipe for beans instead. Like everything else, Disney owns National Geographic, and they are trying to sell you this vacation via this series. The first of the Adventures by Disney trips starts at $866/night per adult, which is, as it turns out, the same amount that Centra Care charges to stay overnight on bad shrimp. I’d probably take the trip, dinosaurs or not.
That’s probably it.
As usual, we start with our chart of daily average waits at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since the Park reopened:
Animal Kingdom’s average wait continues to propel upwards on the renewed strength of Avatar – Flight of Passage. Today’s overall average wait time was the longest for any Thursday yet, and within a few seconds of being twice as long as the overall average for all Thursdays since the Park reopened. Look at that 5.4-minute average on the first Thursday after reopening.
Here’s the chart:
Other attractions see sharp increases as well, with DINOSAUR peaking at 65 minutes and averaging 27 minutes. That’s longer than Expedition Everest, where the peak wait was less than half that of DINOSAUR with an average of 22 minutes. Safaris’ average of 20 minutes is also well above-average. We do at least have TriceraTop Spin at its reliable five minutes and we will always ignore Na’vi River Journey. Before today, Flight of Passage had only hit triple digits on three days since reopening – on September 13th, September 27th, and September 28th. All of those days are within the last month as we’ve watched wait times rise. Those long wait times aren’t too far off reality, as I noted my own ~60-minute wait for the ride first thing in the morning in this post from the other day.
Considering there were hundreds of people behind me, who would eventually end up waiting even longer, actual waits of 80 or more minutes are likely, even on seemingly-random weekdays when the Park doesn’t hit its current capacity limit.
Yesterday, you may remember that I spent a few paragraphs poking fun at our millionaire friends over at TouringPlans for the fact that they collect virtually no actual wait times. They actually average collecting fewer than one actual wait time per attraction per day. When you are in the business of selling an app that supposedly displays wait times that are more accurate than Disney’s, you would ideally collect more information to base those actual wait times on. Unfortunately, TouringPlans decided to omit the specific amount of actual wait times that they collected from today’s Animal Kingdom chart, after stating that they had managed to grab a total of 15 actual waits across a dozen or more attractions the day before. I’m guessing this isn’t a coincidence.
Since we can’t spend much time making fun of a number that wasn’t relayed to us, I can tell you how the TouringPlans software works. Or, at least, how it used to work, when it worked better. As you are probably aware, the My Disney Experience app displays wait times for each attraction that posts one. You can collect and store this data from the app in a multitude of ways, but most sites use the themeparks API from GitHub. For years, Disney also pushed “actual wait times” to the My Disney Experience app. The app wouldn’t display these actual waits, but you could still capture them via the script. These “actual wait times” were collected by Disney via those red cards that they used to randomly hand out to guests as they entered the queue to time how long the wait was.
A few years ago, a competing site decided that they would publish Disney’s hidden actual wait time stream in their own app and market it as being “more accurate than Disney.” Of course, Disney did exactly what anyone with at least one ounce of brainpower would do. They cut the actual wait time stream. The My Disney Experience app didn’t display the information and there was no reason for Disney to disseminate it to the public, even if it required a special script to see that data. I couldn’t tell you why Disney pushed those actual wait times out in the first place, other than it was a coding oversight or Disney was simply using the stream to collect the wait times themselves.
The loss of the actual wait times presented a big problem for TouringPlans, who used the actual wait times that Disney was unknowingly providing them as the foundation for their touring plan software. If they needed the actual wait time for Space Mountain at 10:55am, they had thousands of actual waits provided by Disney to base that number on. After Disney shut down the stream, TouringPlans basically went from having access to Disney’s actual wait times all day, every day, for every attraction, to no access to that information whatsoever overnight. I would guess that was a bad morning.
Because of the My Disney Experience app, there was no need to have anyone on the ground running around the Parks collecting wait times. Disney provided them for free, all day, every day, conveniently on the app. There was also no need to have anyone on staff collecting actual wait times because Disney provided them for free, all day, every day, too.
About two years ago now, I wrote a post titled, “Walt Disney World Early 2019 Crowd and Wait Time Trends.” As you can probably guess, it is very long, but it included this example of how bad TouringPlans’ predictions had become:
As usual, TouringPlans tried to explain away that it wasn’t their predictions that were bad, it was Disney’s posted wait times that were bad. Even if the entire operation is based on calculating crowd levels based on these supposedly erroneous posted waits. In the post linked above, you’d eventually come to the following part, which I have glamorously drawn a red shape of some kind around:
This is from February of 2019, so TouringPlans’ lack of data collection isn’t a new phenomenon as we look at a day when they specifically had to hire someone to collect some data, and then still managed to report just four actual waits at an attraction that moves through about 24,000 guests over a 12-hour day. Several people commented in yesterday’s post that they had used TouringPlans software in the past, and it had worked relatively well, but then used it more recently, and it was completely off. This would be due to the fact that TouringPlans went from having millions of relevant actual wait times to having zero of Disney’s actual wait times. Relying on Disney’s old data worked for a while, but as crowd behavior changed, and new attractions opened, the old wait times became increasingly inaccurate. There was no real way to collect enough actual wait times to make up for the millions lost.
Ideally, you would be able to crowdsource the actual wait times from your userbase. That’s why they want you to submit the actual wait times. It’s free. It wouldn’t be financially feasible to pay people to collect the data. At Magic Kingdom alone, you have over 30 attractions that post a wait. To pay a person to stand in each of those 30 lines for eight hours for just one day at $15/hour would cost $3,600. And that’s just one Park for part of one day. Across all four Parks, and across an average of 12 operating hours, you’d be paying over $10,000 a day to collect actual wait times. And even then, you wouldn’t come away with that many actual wait times at some attractions. Considering they manage to collect 15 actual waits, probably from about three different users, it’s possible that the number of people looking down at the app isn’t too high at any given time.
Since we were talking about Flight of Passage, the ride’s average wait in 2018 was 141 minutes, or over two hours and twenty minutes. Even if you paid someone to get right back in line after waiting that long the first time, you might collect five actual wait times over the course of twelve hours. Five actual wait times doesn’t do you a whole lot of good when you’re supposed to be providing more accurate actual wait times for 720 minutes a day.
In the unprecedented times we now live in, any data collected before the Parks reopened in July without FastPass+ would be irrelevant. Not that there was much data collected. Moving forward, it looks like TouringPlans will rely on calculating how far off the few actual waits they do collect are from the posted waits, and try to extrapolate that (poorly) across the course of the day using the percentage.
Anyway, we won’t focus on what TouringPlans has going on unless there is some new need. The fact that they were now racing out these charts of average waits before the day is even done after this website has been posting the same information for weeks simply caught my little eye. I would just remind you that they collect virtually no actual waits. That’s probably why their crowd calendar is based on posted waits at the same time they’ll tell you those posted waits are inaccurate. Otherwise, you’d be basing the crowd level on less than one actual wait collected per attraction per day.
It was a rough morning at Epcot. I can tell you this because I was there myself waiting for Test Track during that blank space when the ride wasn’t open. That caused a lot of people to head to nearby Mission: SPACE, which was also having technical trouble, leading to 70+ minute waits there. Test Track’s 3+ hours of downtime also sent people towards Soarin’, pushing its wait higher. Even Living with the Land is 40 minutes at one point. It’s going to be a busy weekend there.
We have a couple Thursdays in a row with what I guess you would have to call unusually short waits. Last Thursday was bizarre in that we didn’t see shorter waits across the board due to weather or anything. This Thursday’s average was lower than the previous few days, but still longer than Sunday or Saturday.
Here’s the chart:
It’s also difficult to call a day with Slinky Dog at 110 minutes out of the gate as “good,” though Alien Swirling Saucers is also five minutes at the same time. You can see how quickly people balk at the length of the Slinky line and head to one of the other Toy Story Land attractions. Waits quickly build at the secondary attractions as the overwhelming number of people in the Park look for something to do. At 19:15am, you’re looking at 65 minutes at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, 55 at Star Tours, 60 at Tower of Terror, and 50 at Toy Story Mania. as usual, waits do decrease as the day goes on and people give up and leave. One potential bummer that is the Railway goes down at the end of the night, when you may be saving it for your last attraction. That’s one big reason why you may want to initially plan two days at the Studios in advance. If you can get Rise of the Resistance and whatever else you want out of the way on the first day, then you can switch the second day to another Park. If you did miss the Railway, you may not want to start the day at the Studios on a second day, but by 1pm, waits are already 25% lower than the morning, The bad news is that they don’t drop much from there.
Here’s Magic Kingdom:
It’s the opposite story at Magic Kingdom, where we see the longest wait of any Thursday yet and the second-longest wait for the week.
Here’s the chart:
Nothing necessarily sticks out here compared to other days with similar average waits. Capacity reductions continue to come into play at attractions with variable capacities. We’ll take a specific look at Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain in one of the next updates since those are the two attractions that can push through a lot of people when both sides are operating or not keep up with demand if one side isn’t operating. Even if Disney runs those rides at full capacity within an hour of opening, we still see longer waits most of the day as so many people are backed up earlier. I’m not sure what the total cast members it takes to run both sides of Space Mountain versus just one. You obviously have the loaders, seat-belt checkers, and button-pressers, but there are probably a number of other cast keeping track of what’s going on behind the scenes. The crews, including skilled mechanics and other positions that get the rides up in the morning are also likely specialized. If they’re calling them in later to save some money, it would also explain some of the delay in getting things going. The 27-minute average is almost as long as last Saturday.
Current Park Pass Availability
We don’t see much change from yesterday. The only change may be that the 19th is now unavailable, while the 23rd is now showing availability. November and December look virtually the same as the last couple of days.
Park Pass availability has improved in places for Passholders, with all Parks available October 23rd, 24th, and 25th, and most weekdays also completely available. What specific Parks that are available on the yellow days differ, so pull up the semi-live version of the calendar here if you’re looking at overall availability.
You’ll need to pull up the calendar for which Parks are unavailable on the weekends, but at least Passholders can book something every day in November.
Operating Schedule Changes
Friday is usually the day. We should see two weeks of weekend extensions and another week of operating hours in December, which will include the week leading up to Christmas.
That should get you caught up.