Since I’ve been threatening summer wait times for a few weeks now, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at whether or not those crowds have materialized as we head into the second week of what is the longest stretch of near-peak-level crowds of the year.
I covered general AK touring strategies during a morning rope drop back in late April, but it would probably make some sense to return under summer conditions, perhaps with an alternative plan that begins at Expedition Everest and instead relies on FastPass+ at Kilimanjaro Safaris later in the day. The trends otherwise discussed continue here in the summer, even if afternoon waits are higher.
The morning is a little more forgiving than at the other parks. Unlike Epcot, where we see 90 minute waits develop at Test Track and Soarin’ by 9:30am, it takes a bit longer for Everest, Safaris, and Kali to take off. You still want to arrive as early as possible and ideally by 8:20am or so, but it’s not the life and death situation that Toy Story Mania might be in your head. Still, if you don’t arrive until 9am and don’t get to Safaris until 9:10am, then you’re looking at waiting about 15 minutes for the ride and not being on your way elsewhere until around 10am. And by then, Everest is already going to be 45 minutes, instead of the ten minutes it was closer to 9:15am.
Afternoon waits are another reason why this website recommends beginning the use of FP+ in the late morning. You can rock standby pretty easily here through about 11am, hitting the highest priorities first before moving on to the likes of TriceraTop Spin, It’s Tough To Be A Bug, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Wilderness Explorers, and some of the lower priority characters. Then once 11am hits, you can start using FP+ to bypass waits that are 60+ minutes long instead of 20 minutes.
Using FP+ earlier also inhibits your ability to use standby at some of the moderate priority attractions like DINOSAUR or Primeval Whirl around 10:15am. Ignoring the multiverse, or the infinite possible universes that together comprise everything that exists, for a moment, you can only be in one place at one time. So if you’re using FastPass+ for Kali at 10:15am, it means you can’t also be spending that time more intelligently using standby elsewhere. With the lack of 4th FP+ opportunities given these crowd levels, you’re going to be working against yourself trying to use FP+ at 9:30am and then trying to use kiosks for the rest of the day
There’s always a lot of talk about the 3pm showers during the summer, but evening showers are also incredibly common – usually between 7:15pm and 8:30pm or so. 7pm showers on this particular day, Tuesday the 9th, shut down the outdoor attractions until close. That can put some pressure on the indoor attractions like DINOSAUR and the Adventurers Outpost Mickey and Minnie meet and greet, though we don’t see that here with the 8pm close and crowds that are already clearing out much earlier.
Monday June 8th times are more typical of a 7pm close without the rain showers. You see the drop off in waits there in the final hour like we’ve enjoyed for years. Safaris comes down from 90 minutes to 10. Everest comes down from 60 to zero. Etc.
Still, those afternoons are ugly and Monday the 8th is about as good as it’s going to get until the third week in August. Summers are doable, but you want to optimize those first and last hours of operation, have an intelligent FP+ plan, and probably plan a relaxing lunch somewhere indoors, as good as those ribs at Harambe Market might look.
Rewinding back to when we saw a “5” for “average” overall crowds, you can get a better idea about how much longer peak and average waits are given much higher summer crowd levels. Peak waits are about double in June compared to mid-May – 60 vs. 30 at DINOSAUR, 60 vs. 40 at Everest, 90 vs. 50 at Safaris, 50 vs. 20 at Primeval Whirl.
We recently discussed one-day touring at Epcot in-depth on the Monday of Memorial Day Weekend and most of those trends continue here throughout the busy summer. One interesting phenomenon that I didn’t touch on is Mission: SPACE actually sees longer posted waits from 7pm to 9pm than it does at most other times of day. This isn’t a one-off event, as the same thing has happened every day this month. In fact, back on June 4th, Mission: SPACE was posting 70 minute waits at 8pm when Soarin’ and Test Track were both under 45. I’m not sure what the reason is – simply an inaccurate number, fewer fuselages operating in turn reducing capacity and pushing up waits, late FP+ users visiting the ride in force, the effect of so many other Future World attractions closing at 7pm, or what have you. But at least for now, I’d look at visiting Mission: SPACE from 4:30pm to 6:30pm instead of in the last couple of hours if you can’t get there earlier in the day or with FastPass+.
Otherwise, long waits at Test Track and Soarin’ persist virtually from park open through close, with the exception of immediately after park open and the last 30 minutes or so of operation. Test Track never drops below a 30-minute posted wait, but you can reliably walk-on absolutely first thing in the morning, as we saw over Memorial Day, and actual waits in the last 30 minutes of operation reliably only get shorter.
Journey into Imagination with Figment in particular continues to see higher peak waits that last longer into the evening. Ellen’s Energy Adventure must have suffered a capacity problem in the afternoon, resulting in 25-minute waits there, as other days around it see the usual 10-minute posted wait all day.
I mentioned the Memorial Day crowds were worse than much of the summer, which is evident from the comparison with the waits above.
And then compared to the wait times from a Monday back in May with average crowds. Back to the comparison with June 8th, you’ve got 9 minutes versus 21 at Figment. 5 versus 14 at Living with the Land. 48 versus 74 at Soarin’. But others are somewhat similar with the same average wait at Mission: Space and less significant differences at rides like Spaceship Earth (13 vs. 18), Test Track (46 vs. 57), and Character Spot (24 vs. 28).
Things are ummmmmmm not great at the Studios these days, where you might imagine a park with fewer attractions than a year ago is having trouble dealing with an ever-increasing number of people. Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania are all desperate for refurbishments that won’t be happening anytime soon. That’s why you see 150- and 200-minute waits at Tower of Terror – elevators aren’t functioning and capacity is dismal because of it, even if the attraction is “technically” still operating. You’ve also got about 90 minutes of downtime at Toy Story Mania pushing up waits into the triple digits for much of the evening as those with canceled FP+ return to the ride late. Even waits at Great Movie Ride are scary long as they hit 50 minutes by 10am and peak at 70. There just isn’t enough stuff for this many people to do.
Rewinding a few weeks, we see dramatically shorter waits on a much less crowded day. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is still hitting a 75-minute posted wait in the afternoon, but it actually drops down to 10 minutes before going back up to 60. Posted waits can be pretty goofy as people don’t want to get in line when the wait hits 60 minutes, which in turn drives the wait down. Then it says 10 minutes for too long and too many people get in line, only for the actual wait to climb back near 60.
Frozen Summer Whatever likely won’t have a substantial impact on wait times. We may see slightly lower waits before the afternoon parade, but that’s about the only impactful addition. The fireworks may help alleviate waits at Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster late at night if you can maneuver over to Sunset Boulevard in the wake of Fantasmic, but the fireworks also close Toy Story Mania and Great Movie Ride by 9pm, which reduces daily capacity.
As usual, Magic Kingdom is an awful lot of numbers, but the chart may help give you an idea about where waits take off first and how long they’ll be in the afternoon. I have a lot of thoughts on Magic Kingdom touring in this post, which also covers the 1-day touring plan. With daily 12am and 1am closes over the summer, the late nights become your best friend, particularly if you can wait the evening shower out somewhere. After 10pm, there are only three or four things you can’t virtually walk on. Morning waits are pushed up earlier with the high volume of FastPass+ returners, causing waits to jump higher much earlier than they would have a couple of years ago.
Magic Kingdom is the one park with plentiful FP+ opportunities and it makes some sense to use FP+ at an ultra-high priority/short duration ride with a return window as early as 9am-10am. Good examples are Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. You’ll already be saving 60+ minutes in line and using all three FP+ early will give you the ability to select 4th and subsequent FP+ attractions earlier when availability is higher. Keep in mind that you want to use that 9am-10am FP+ closer to 10am so you can take full advantage of shorter waits first thing.
One key to successful summer touring is the afternoon break, when crowds and temperatures peak. Once 1pm hits, there are not a lot of places to hide from long wait times and the best place you can usually be is a lounge chair at the pool. Rest should also help you stay out later in the evening, when you can again enjoy decreasing waits.
While things are going to be pretty rough for the next couple of months, you can still do very well with an intelligent touring plan, but those early morning arrivals and late stays are a lot more important than when crowds are lower and waits are more forgiving.