easyWDW https://www.easywdw.com/easy easyWDW Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:10:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Review: Deconstructed Dish Food Studio Epcot Festival of the Arts https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/review-deconstructed-dish-canada-food-studio-epcot-festival-of-the-arts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=review-deconstructed-dish-canada-food-studio-epcot-festival-of-the-arts https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/review-deconstructed-dish-canada-food-studio-epcot-festival-of-the-arts/#respond Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:08:36 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=20831 It “feels” like this year would have been a good opportunity to go full tilt and rename this kiosk “Deconstructed Epcot,” since that’s about where we’re at. They could have served candy “progress walls” circling chocolate-dipped pretzels that resemble the exposed beams of Electric Umbrella that will eventually collapse. You could also have a number […]

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It “feels” like this year would have been a good opportunity to go full tilt and rename this kiosk “Deconstructed Epcot,” since that’s about where we’re at. They could have served candy “progress walls” circling chocolate-dipped pretzels that resemble the exposed beams of Electric Umbrella that will eventually collapse. You could also have a number of items on the menu that won’t actually come to fruition anytime soon. Perhaps a Mary Poppins Supercalifragilistic Red Umbrella Lollipop or a Multi-Level Festival Center Gingerbread House Kit.” If you buy them, you could always come back in 2035 and see if they’ve materialized. As long as you have the receipt.

The Deconstructed Dish booth has actually been deconstructed this year, at least in terms of its location, which is just off to the right of World Showcase before you arrive at Refreshment Port. That’s also along the walkway up to World Showcase on the Imagination side, across from Temporary Starbucks. If you’ve seen the equivalent of the Hawaii booth over the last few Festivals, you know where we’re at.

Deconstructed Dish has also taken apart a couple of their dishes in a slightly different manner than past years, which I would imagine is slightly easier than putting together a cohesive dish. It’s crossed my mind to call this website “Deconstructed easywdw.com” and you can figure out how to put it back together.

This year’s menu:

All three food items return in name with slightly different takes on the ingredients in the savory items. Wine can apparently not be deconstructed this year, as we lose both the red and the white, but the Rainboba and Deconstructed Breakfasts return.

Deconstructed Reuben: Rye Popover, Corned Beef, Gryuère Panna Cotta, and Brined Brussels Sprouts with Broken Thousand Island Dressing – $6.75

Here’s last year’s version.

And the one the year before that.

And now this year’s. One might argue that a Rueben is a Rueben because the ingredients work together in tandem as you take each overflowing bite. This “feels” like Corned Beef and Sides, none of the latter of which stand really out. The corned beef should bring a sourer flavor and a softer, tenderer texture, instead of requiring one of those chainsaws from one of the guys standing in the hole in the middle of Future World to cut through it. Last year, they went with a Jarlsberg Cake on the side that turned out to be more grit than anything. This year, it’s Gryuère Panna Cotta, which is kind of like if you made goopy cheese that may or may not not turn into Flubber when you’re not looking. The texture is about the same. The single half of Brussels Sprout can head in the direction of whoever likes them most. Ours was saltier and mushier than you might hope, not that there is much of it anyway. The Broken Thousand Island Dressing was oilier than you’d probably like, which is probably why they typically mix the salad dressing ingredients together. They’ve tried several different versions of this dish over the years, but it’s probably time to go in a different direction after failure three or four. Then again, we’re going on year 40 of Epcot or something and it’s still here. Potentially, the large portion of Corned Beef brings some value, but there are more cohesive dishes that are actually assembled coming up.

Taste: 3/10

Value: 4/10

Deconstructed BLT: Crispy Pork Belly, Soft-poached Egg, Brioche, Watercress Espuma, and Tomato Jam – $7.

I had the previous iteration of this under “Must Buy” for a couple of years with 9s on Taste and Value, but it’s apparently not nearly deconstructed enough as the various ingredients touch each other. Above is last year’s version.

And this year’s. The dish is likely one that depends on the freshness of the Pork Belly, which is on the left. At best, it’s a salty, rich, tender couple bites of pork. More likely, yours will come out drier, with a nice snappy exterior that gives way to a couple bites of pork that you may or may not want to try to gnaw through. The egg helps, but it would do more to mitigate some of the dryness of the pork if it sat on top as before. The brioche adds an opportunity to dab up the leftovers, but a second piece would be welcome. The Watercress Epsuma is more like a vegetable butter of questionable color than anything and the Tomato Jam lacks the citrus and sugar to differentiate it much from diced tomato. I’m not sure or why they needed to go in a different direction with this one, but the Pork Belly and Brioche sort of act like Progress Walls for the egg, which may or may not sprout up into a new attraction. So there’s that. It was disappointing compared to the last couple years.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 4/10

Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake: Whipped New York-style Cheesecake with Fresh Florida Strawberries and Sugar Cookies – $6.25

The cheesecake, which is incredibly fresh with bright, ripe berries doesn’t “feel” as substantial whipped up in this fashion, but the bold flavors are still present, and the sugar cookies provide a nice, sweet base for the bite that you’re going to have to put together yourself. It’s delicious, but it seems hard to justify for the money. It’s not as big as it might look.

Taste: 8/10

Value: 4/10

Rainboba: Sparkling Water layered with Fruit Boba and topped with a Foam Cloud – $8

This is mostly Dasani Raspberry Lemonade Sparkling Water, the many cans of which you’ll see inside of the booth.

Some sweet Boba line the bottom and then there’s a somewhat unattractive layer of sweet, frothy raspberry foam on top. Potentially, the reason you would want the drink is the fact that it has Figment printed on the other side of the thin plastic cup, along with the event logo printed on this one. It’s still a disposable cup, though, so I’m not sure how much use anybody is going to get out of it after the Festival. You could certainly wash it gently over a couple of future uses, but you’re not really getting a reusable souvenir cup here. Considering the drink is basically half a can of Dasani Sparkling Water for eight dollars, you probably want to skip this one. The dish does change colors and may be a fun aside for children you have $8 to spend on.

 Twinings of London Chai Tea Shake with Maple Syrup garnished with a Waffle Crisp and Candied Bacon – $4.50 or with Cream Bourbon for $11

I actually preferred the flavor and texture of the non-alcoholic version (GASP), which enjoyed a thicker consistency, and those tiny little ice crystals that make a drink like this sparkle on the tongue. I think the liquor in the alcoholic version melted the Shake so much that it was more like drinking milk, while not adding a whole lot of booze. Overall, the non-alcoholic version is more refreshing and the much more expensive alcoholic version isn’t going to pack much of a punch. I’d probably save the extra $6.50 and still with the booze-free option. Canada Cart and Rose & Crown are in the vicinity.

Deconstructed Dish loses a couple points for switching up dishes that probably didn’t require it. Particularly when they couldn’t come up with any dishes for Citrus Blossom in the meantime. You could do worse, and the Shake is very good. But the food is middling. You may get lucky on the Pork Belly, which can be very good when it’s fresh.

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Closing Down the Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/closing-down-the-holidays-at-disneys-animal-kingdom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=closing-down-the-holidays-at-disneys-animal-kingdom https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/closing-down-the-holidays-at-disneys-animal-kingdom/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2021 20:05:09 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=25011 All photos by Alex Westcott. Our last holiday look of the season approaches its conclusion just as the Christmas decorations come down at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and things return to normal. With Pandora opening a few years ago, Animal Kingdom has become more of a “mature” Park, with praise for Avatar – Flight of Passage […]

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All photos by Alex Westcott.

Our last holiday look of the season approaches its conclusion just as the Christmas decorations come down at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and things return to normal. With Pandora opening a few years ago, Animal Kingdom has become more of a “mature” Park, with praise for Avatar – Flight of Passage continuing to prop up attendance and drive enough interest to make the Park relevant. Interest should only increase if the sequels ever make their way into or out of the editing room.

At the moment, there’s certainly less to fill a day at the Park with Finding Nemo the Musical, Festival of the Lion King, and Rivers of Light either dark or under what is likely some amount of “re-imagining.” If you were planning on seeing all three unavailable shows, that’s about three hours cut from your itinerary. On one hand, not being able to see one of your favorites doesn’t “feel” particularly positive, but it should make itinerary planning easier as you don’t have to try to base your day around making specific showtimes at theaters across the Park. With Park Hopping reinstituted, it also makes it easier to continue the day at Epcot or another Park where you can take things a little easier after what might be a bit of a hectic morning trying to get to Flight of Passage and other priorities.

Festival of the Lion King, one of Disney’s highest-rated shows, is most likely to come back first, potentially with fewer performers on the ground. I’m not sure Finding Nemo the Musical will be recognizable when a show reopens in the Theater in the Wild, either under the same name or as a different property/show altogether. It’s both expensive to put on and the whole underwater dentist thing may not resonate with guests the same way it did five or ten years ago, even after a successful sequel. “How would you like to watch a show about misplacing your underwater child for 45 minutes” isn’t the solidest pitch, but they certainly made it work since its debut in 2006. This is the same company that sent out Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage for nine thousand years, so things may eventually return exactly as they were. It’s been about ten months since the theme park closures of March 2020, which you would think would be enough time to rework shows and scripts if Disney were actively working on them. Even adding new jokes to old shows would go a long way to making them re-watchable for returning guests. They’re probably not nearing the pace of Stephen King writing “Cujo,” but we can hope.

Potential changes also go back to Disney’s balancing act between marketing to guests who are planning that once-in-a-lifetime, blowout trip, while at the same time locking in tens of thousands of other guests to come back yearly for 70+ years through Disney Vacation Club (DVC) contracts.

On the resort front, since June 2012, Disney added bungalows and converted regular cash rooms to DVC Studios at the Polynesian Village Resort. The DVC Villas at the Grand Floridian opened in 2013 as a separate tower. Disney converted a wing of regular rooms at Wilderness Lodge to Copper Creek DVC in 2017, and then added the standalone Riviera DVC Resort in 2019. The only other resort on the docket, other than the cubbies coming to the incredibly-limited Star Wars Hotel, is “Reflections,” another potential DVC resort that may or may not be built. So in other words, we haven’t seen a new Disney-operated cash resort since Art of Animation opened in phases back in 2012, or almost nine years ago. And even that hotel is largely full of “family suites” that run $400+ a night. If that sounds like a lot, I would try to figure out a way to really like “The Little Mermaid” and the color blue.

For now, we’ll enjoy a look around.

On the cavalcade front, you could probably argue that Animal Kingdom’s setup is both the least convenient to see and least disruptive to guest flow as the characters glide along the water in their various flotillas.

The flotillas continue to make a circle around the area closest to Africa and then return the same way they departed underneath the bridge that connects DinoLand and Asia. Anyone who was able to stay awake during Rivers of Light is familiar with that entrance and exit. Once it becomes safe/cost-effective to run the nighttime spectaculars again, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Disney decides to do with the space previously occupied by Rivers of Light and the massive theater that they built for a single show that is now out of commission.

As far as the floating characters, you basically just need to find an area near the water to watch them.

You might grab a beverage or snack from Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks to the left of Everest and sit inside the old Rivers of Light theater, which is open and massive. If you want to commit to potentially spending some more money, the view from the outdoor seating area at Nomad Lounge is also a great viewing location. Any of the seating along the water behind the Tree of Life also works nicely, as does the view from behind Drinkwallah across from Yak & Yeti. The only location that would require a purchase is Nomad Lounge, though I’m sure you wouldn’t be the first person to order a round of tap waters before leaving because “meat” just sounds a little too out there.

New characters come out every 20 minutes or so as they have to make the long journey through the waterways of Harambe before returning back to DinoLand.

That’s art if I’ve ever seen it.

Animal Kingdom sees bigger jumps in wait times on holidays and holiday weeks, likely as people pick it after Park Passes fill for at least Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. Epcot can still absorb people fairly well, but even that’s less true these days with the number of performances and attractions that are currently unavailable.

Here’s the wait time chart for this past Saturday, which is in the middle of the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend:

Larger: Here.

The 36-minute average isn’t all that bad compared to a lot of weekend dates. The Park’s Saturday average over the last 14 weeks is actually just about exactly 36 minutes. But a lot of those previous Saturday waits came with Disney only loading half the rows on Everest and leaving an empty seat between parties on Flight of Passage, among other recent operational changes. Now that every row is filled at Everest, and capacity is virtually doubled at the roller coaster, you can expect waits to come down as more people are able to ride per cycle.

In other words, the wait times may be similar now to what they were six weeks ago, but there are now far more people in the Park to fill those additional seats and increase waits to those previous levels.

Here’s our too-long chart of Everest wait times since November 1st to see if we can identify a point where waits fell off:

Larger: Here.

Around December 10th is when the Studios began loading every row on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Slinky Dog Dash, despite not making any modifications to the vehicles. I’ve highlighted that date in blue above. The same is true at Everest, where Disney has somehow deemed that the height of the seats makes it safe to ride now, while it either wasn’t before November or people would rather wait 20 minutes than 40 and take their chances. Most of the safety and security protocols are an act to make you “feel” more comfortable, while basically doing nothing to actually keep you safe. Every once in a while they do find something.

Not that any of the various arms of the Walt Disney Company typically know what any of the others are doing, it seems like making a concerted effort to increase capacity at virtually no cost to the company would be ideal heading into the busy holiday season and into the New Year. Park Hopping is now back on the table beginning at 2pm most days. To be able to allow guests to Hop without concern that their next Park will be “at capacity,” is a vital part of the system. After all, if you could never hop to the Studios, which routinely runs out of Park Passes to begin the day, Disney would be issuing a lot of refunds for that add-on.

Looking at December 10th in the chart above, the 17-minute average for the day was the lowest realized since a day before this chart even starts on November 1st. You’d probably have to go back to late September to find a wait that low. I’ve color-coded the chart, probably mostly correctly, with wait times of 25 minutes or below as “green.” Waits between 25 and 35 minutes are in yellow, and then anything above that comes in red. Prior to December 10th, we saw ten green days out of 39, or 25.6%. It looks like 15 days came in yellow, or 38.4%. And 14 days were red, or 35.9%. That means that about 75% of dates between November 1st and December 9th saw an average wait of 35+ minutes.

From December 10th until now, 20 days came in green, with average waits of 25 minutes or less. That’s 52.5% of the time with average waits under 25 minutes, or more than twice as many days with waits that short. Sixteen dates are yellow, or 40.5%. That’s in line with the 38.4% of days we saw before December 10th. Of course, dates after December 10th include Christmas and New Year’s, which remain some of the busiest days of the year, while dates before then included Thanksgiving and Veterans Day. But since December 10th, only two dates are coded red with an average of 36+ minutes, or 5.2%. That’s a drop of more than 30% since Disney would have begun loading every row, which “feels” significant, and a pretty clear indication that capacity did increase around that time.

Here’s a two-column chart showing the average wait for Everest before and after December 10th:

Obviously, the dates after December 10th include the busy holiday season, in addition to some less popular days in January. The same could be said for the days before with Thanksgiving Week proving popular, and other dates less so. But it certainly looks like we’ve seen a reduction in waits by about 28%.

Our best “control” attraction at Animal Kingdom is probably Na’vi River Journey, where they’ve only loaded one group per boat since the Park reopened. Since it’s possible that waits have simply dropped at Animal Kingdom overall, we’ll take a look at the averages there to see if there’s a similar drop.

Here’s the two-column chart of River Journey’s overall average waits on the same dates we used for Everest:

While waits declined at Everest by 28%, given new loading procedures and increased capacity, they went up at River Journey during the same dates, where no such capacity increase occurred. There, we see an 8.7-minute increase, up to 57.5 minutes, which isn’t far off from the ~70ish minute average of the first couple months of 2020. The 17% increase in waits over the last 2.5 months or so makes sense given the overall Park’s capacity increase that Disney already announced and our estimation that Park Pass allocation has quietly increased again. The increase in waits where capacity hasn’t changed certainly seem to support that.

Back to the “real world,” Kali River Rapids is down for its annual refurbishment, with the expectation that it will reopen when temperatures are higher beginning the first week of April. “I can’t wait.” Nope, can’t say it with a straight face.

We’ll take a walk through Maharajah Jungle Trek instead:

Maharajah is always a pleasant walk and a smart way to get away from the crowds on busier days. The aviary can get a little congested depending on the size of the fowl walking around, but that’s about the only congestion point.

While most stage shows remain dark, “Feathered Friends in Flight” continues to take the place of the old UP! A Great Bird Adventure show:

The ~25ish minute show is generally received better by older kids and adults with a renewed focus on the natural wonders of flight rather than focusing on someone dressed up like a dog who says the exact same fourteen lines whether the chickens are rummaging about appropriately or the stage is on fire and about to collapse around us. Hearing Dug exclaim, “These canaries sure are hairy!” as the façade comes crashing down in a pile of smoke and debris is hopefully more of a 2020 thing than a 2021 thing.

Probably not entirely coincidentally, we exited the theater to another flotilla passing under the bridge over to Discovery Island.

We’ll take some time to enjoy the area outside the theater and over to Africa before heading towards Kilimanjaro Safaris:

40 minutes for Safaris is still a little on the high side. We’ll enjoy some more of Animal Kingdom’s atmosphere and hope waits drop a bit in the near-term so we have an opportunity to ride. I’m guessing we’ll figure out a way to board.

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A Quick Holiday Jaunt to Disney’s Animal Kingdom https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-quick-holiday-jaunt-to-disneys-animal-kingdom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-quick-holiday-jaunt-to-disneys-animal-kingdom https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-quick-holiday-jaunt-to-disneys-animal-kingdom/#respond Sat, 16 Jan 2021 19:25:50 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=25007 All Photos by Alex Westcott. If you’re trying to identify your delinquent neighbor at the end of the street who has not yet disposed of their Christmas tree laid out oblong against the curb or put away any of their holiday decorations then there’s at least a 25% chance that Walt Disney World is the […]

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All Photos by Alex Westcott.

If you’re trying to identify your delinquent neighbor at the end of the street who has not yet disposed of their Christmas tree laid out oblong against the curb or put away any of their holiday decorations then there’s at least a 25% chance that Walt Disney World is the culprit.

Usually, Disney keeps most of the decorations up through marathon weekend, ostensibly to give those willing to pay $275+ to run the streets of Florida arbitrarily an opportunity to see something that isn’t related to Hanes t-shirts or apple juice squeezes.

Of course, all of the races were “virtual” this year. On one hand, I’m trying to be more honest in 2021. On the other hand, I’m sure everyone I interact with will be interested in hearing about my 26.2-mile journey, and the many sacrifices I had to make to reach that milestone, so I’m not sure where to go with that one. I wear the medal either way.

The decoration continuum actually plays against us for once. Usually, I’d have to trash a Magic Kingdom rope drop series because I didn’t get around to writing about it until after the pumpkins and fall colors had long been replaced by festive reindeer and candlesticks. I do actually have that post in the coffer. And I might just post the pictures.

But I guess we will just enjoy one more day of decorations. You’d have to think they would be able to find the person who knows how to condense everything down into little storable boxes by now. Or someone who knows someone who knows someone on the condensing side of the of the box operation. Or maybe they will be able to find a person who knows where the holiday decoration facilities/storage are located. The Imagineer The Zach Riddley can use his big blue flashlight from the Epcot pylons fountain to help in the search. It’s around there somewhere, buddy. There is exactly one hero and you are apparently it.

Just about everything is a little wonky these days. If we can celebrate Halloween from August 13th, then Christmas through January 15th makes a similar amount of sense. Most years, Christmas sort of gets the short end of the stick with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party running from around August 14th through as late as November 1st or 2nd. So maybe we are just seeing a level playing field this year. Or maybe there is a lot more holiday merchandise to try to move than expected.

Nothing says, “buy me weird light up plant statuettes in Pandora” than an inviting wreath. Maybe the yuletide marketing was more subliminal than I expected considering I’m currently surrounded by eight weird light up plant statuettes from Pandora, none of which I want, and none of which will change color no matter how many times I beg Siri, Alexa, Google, or a variety of Chinese knockoffs to make them anything but blue.

We’ll check out Discovery Island and the decorations as we take a right towards DinoLand:

When you are an industry titan such as myself, you have the ability to send your ummmmmmmm…”paid interns” to check out the likes of some of these drinks that will kill most of those of us 35+. Since Washington State didn’t make it to a bowl game this year, I’m surprised Disney is offering their signature drink – apple alcohol mixed with cinnamon apple alcohol. On the plus side, it’s usually good news for the pocketbook and worse news for everyone around you when all of the ingredients are booze.

Animal Kingdom is largely back to its usual quick service operating schedule with the busy holiday season behind us. If you’re planning on trying one of the “off-the-beaten path” quick services, then you probably want to make sure it will be operating during your visit. For example, Harambe Market is opening Saturday, Sunday, and Monday during this week, then closing on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ve discussed Disney “artificially” increasing capacity by opening larger venues that people may not actually intend to visit for any substantial amount of time, but also gives Disney a rational excuse to sell another ticket before they announce they’re running at closer to a maximum of 40% of capacity at next month’s earnings call.

For Animal Kingdom, you have two very good, very convenient quick service options:

  • Flame Tree Barbecue
  • Satu’li Canteen

One of those should get you through the day without consequence, but sometimes on theme park day, you just want a nasty theme park hamburger. And that’s okay. As always, enter the Restaurantosaurus, which looks to be open every day from 10:30am to 5pm whether you want it to be or not:

The ‘Osaurus has probably improved in recent memory, bringing over Columbia Harbour House’s Fried Shrimp and sticking with their very good Green Goddess Dressing on the various Cobbs Salads.

I think these are “literally” the only two quick service entrees at Animal Kingdom that we don’t have recent pictures of, here with the 11.49 “Impossible Spicy Southwestern Burger – Plant-based Burger Patty, ‘Pepper Jack’, Chipotle Sauce, Lettuce, and Tomato.” Only the cheese arrives in air quotes, so we may be in luck. This is one of the more delicate of the veggie burgers. It doesn’t taste like your typical Impossible patty; it enjoyed a milder “meat” flavor with the cheese and sauce providing a tiny, distanced pepper jack kick.

As is often the case, arugula dominated the palate. You can always try to sling some the lettuce at the other bloggers, but somehow Testa’s algorithm guarantees that you’ll be hit in the face harder and more times than you’ve ever been before, but the arugula fight is still a 1/10 since there were more serious salad shootouts among finer gentlemen in Tuscany in the early 1700s. You can’t argue science.

In my experience, Disney going with Impossible and Beyond on the vegetarian/vegan front has been a smart move, and most times when you see those sausages or burgers offered, they are pretty decent. Of course, you can’t load up at the fixin’s bar at the moment, but you can ask cast for additional condiments and they’ll see what they can do. It’s otherwise your basic Disney World vegan burger. Thoughts and prayers.

Satu'li Canteen Tofu Bowl

Satu’li Canteen’s Tofu option may be more attractive.

And Flame Tree also offers their Vegan Hot Link that packs more of a punch. But if the group is headed to Restauratntosaurus, as thousands do every day, it’s nice to see a couple decent vegetarian options. And also options just about everywhere else.

The $9 Restaurantosaurus “Cobb Salad – Fresh Greens, Cucumbers, Tomato, Hard-boiled Egg, Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Green Goddess Dressing” is also $11 with chicken. It’s a solid, fresh, light choice and quite a bit of salad for nine bucks, but you’ll have to do some work mixing it up before going to town because the dressing typically goes in first way down low. Fortunately, the House-made Green Goddess Dressing brings a garlic and herb flavor that mellows out the many components of the salad, particularly the hefty sprinkle of blue cheese on top.

Back outside at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Surprised-We’ve-Still-Got-Ya, which you would think they would just move to the hole in Epcot in Future World since it would blend in so nicely, you’ll find that it’s typically easier to purchase tickets for the various carnival games, almost all of which now sport prizes specifically themed to the Land.

Of course, we would be remiss not to hop on TriceraTop Spin. Ten minutes there is on the lengthy side, even if it’s actually just five, if that. Any amount of time is a worthwhile investment to experience the excitement of flying on a dinosaur that probably didn’t catch a whole lot of wind while waddling around back in the Cretaceous times. Going into TriceraTop roofless will also prepare you for the upcoming 12 mph jaunt through a certain extinction.

It was a busier holiday week during their visit, which means the line for DINOSAUR does start down here at 1:23pm. At least we can see the walkway up to the attraction from this particular angle far off to the right. I don’t think you could see it from the back of the line. Maybe if you turned your head. Also not good.

The queue then winds its way around the outskirts of Restaurantosaurus.

And then filters through the regular queue with 80 minutes posted, which is about as long as the wait gets. Here’s the long chart of wait times for DINOSAUR:

Larger: Here.

Interestingly(?), DINOSAUR was one of the first rides where Disney made modifications to both the loading area and the vehicle. But I have never seen them put anyone in the middle with my own eyes. We should see a more substantial drop in waits at Expedition Everest, where we know they’ve been loading every row as the trains barrel down one after the other.

Here’s a graph of the same data:

The average looks to go up and down with the weekends and the overall crowd flow, but unless the ride makes it through the weekend with relatively short waits, it’s likely business as usual.

You can see how the back of the first row has the divider, but no guests are routinely seated in the middle row. This setup is pretty standard – just two in the front row and two in back, which is a third of the vehicle’s capacity. These pairs would ordinarily be placed in the same row, at least if it was prior to March of this year. With just the one middle barrier, it’s possible that parties of five or more are put in the back two rows, since rows two and three would be traveling together regardless.


Then the on-ride reflection from the plastic.

We’ll take a look at some last-minute holiday stuff, check out Pandora at night, and see how wait times are stacking up so far in the new year as we move along.

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A Quick Holiday Goodbye to Epcot with Updated Construction https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-quick-holiday-goodbye-to-epcot-with-updated-construction/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-quick-holiday-goodbye-to-epcot-with-updated-construction https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-quick-holiday-goodbye-to-epcot-with-updated-construction/#respond Thu, 14 Jan 2021 23:32:32 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=25000 Most photos by Alex Westcott with the exception of a few of the nighttime shots of Spaceship Earth with the fountain out from behind the “progress walls.” The post ends with more recent construction photos from mid-January that I took myself, if you can believe that. It was a festive year at Epcot, all things […]

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Most photos by Alex Westcott with the exception of a few of the nighttime shots of Spaceship Earth with the fountain out from behind the “progress walls.” The post ends with more recent construction photos from mid-January that I took myself, if you can believe that.

It was a festive year at Epcot, all things considered.

The various character cavalcades were made all the more festive around World Showcase. Wintery characters like Anna and Elsa made their way around the promenade often throughout the day. They’ve since moved the Frozen characters to a sort of selfie station area in Norway as Disney has now returned to the more generic lineup of characters.

Horseback is the only way to travel around these Festivals.

The Christmas decorations actually continue to linger for the most part, even as the Festival of the Arts has taken over.

While the cavalcades are unlikely to continue after the traditional meet and greets return, they’re certainly an easy way for far more guests to see and briefly interact with the characters.

Even if it’s at a distance. Hopefully this will be the one and only year we discuss these sorts of things as we return to some semblance of normalcy in the coming months.

At Epcot, it was relatively easy to see most of the characters without needing to stand in long lines. Minnie was in plain sight in the gazebo. Mickey was in the lobby of the Pixar and Disney Short Film Festival. Joy, Wreck-It Ralph, and Vanellope were all there in the Imagination Pavilion exit area. That was less true at most of the other Parks, where meeting Mickey typically took about 45 minutes thanks to FastPass+. He was in Festival of Fantasy, of course, but the briefer cavalcades that run more often give people more of an opportunity. Minnie’s smile here is the exact same one I have when a Festival booth menu is the same as last year. I just look at it longingly.

Any interaction whatsoever with Santa would ordinarily take 20 minutes to an hour or more as he and Mrs. Clause took up residence to the right of the American Adventure building.

The carriage and wave are less personal than sitting on Santa’s lap after waiting in line for an hour, but you could always try to rush him and let you know what all you want for Christmas is Super Nintendo World. Wherever they build it in the states.

It seemed like Disney has been upping the characters available for distanced meets, which is nice. They could have cut the characters entirely, and probably not lost much if anything in terms of admission, but they opted to keep rolling them out. It certainly makes Disney “feel” more like Disney.

They really didn’t skimp out on the entertainment too much, with additional characters frequently appearing. These ladies are setting the course for Santa.

While the holiday are on their way out, I don’t think we would have seen Joy wearing a wreath of Christmas lights if she were meeting in her usual indoor spot in the Imagination Pavilion. It’s not exactly the Disneyland model of the characters mingling with guests more freely…since they’re not mingling whatsoever…it’s literally exactly the opposite of that…but it wasn’t something that Disney necessarily needed to do, or announced that they would. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to see what they’ve done over the last few months and am legitimately surprised they not only kept it up, but ramped it up.

While we’ll over here, we’ll take a holiday ride on Living with the Land:

Living with the Land may be my favorite of the holiday overlays, but I’ve always been partial to foliage.

As I’m sure you saw, even Figment received a little extra holiday cheer this year.

Rocking the holiday sweater.

Since he’s not wearing pants, we can assume he has a Zoom meeting coming up. Probably with me.

Every fanboy’s reaction to the new article of clothing.

I’m sure you’ll be able to buy your own sweater for $79.99 next year, probably made with whatever the scratchiest material in the world is.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Disney made the sweater out of 100% pine needles. shopDisney (the ‘s’) is lowercase isn’t going to get it to you anyway, so it may not matter if it’s made of gold.

I don’t think we’re expecting to see too many changes inside the Seas Pavilion since our last visit, but there might be a hat with a slightly different font or something in the gift shop:

The Seas used to quietly stay open through Park close, even if the number of interactive exhibits and what not was reduced in the early evening. Living with the Land, the video upstairs, and the Imagination Pavilion would historically close at 7pm, unless evening Extra Magic Hours were scheduled, in which case the rides would continue to operate for everyone up until 9pm, and then exclusively for those eligible for EMH typically from 9pm to 11pm. These days, just about everything in Future World is open through close. That’s still usually the same number of hours – 11am to 9pm instead of 9am to 7pm – but it “feels” like there’s more opportunity since you’ll likely have other priorities earlier in the day and can then visit The Seas and other locations with virtually nobody else around.

Both Mariachi Cobre and the Voices of Liberty continue to perform during Festival of the Arts at the American Gardens Theater in the United States Pavilion. There is a little less Christmas and a little more “Lion King” now in January.

We’ll take a look at some of the festivities:

I have tried this mating technique a couple of times with what some may define as “mixed success,” while others prefer the term “complete failure.”

The theater has plenty of capacity for anyone to find comfortable seats for either show:

Personally, if the performers couldn’t safely play through the Candlelight Processional, you would have thought my slam poetry about rising fountain beverage pricing would have been a better filler than another rendition of “Santa Baby.” I’m chalking the scheduling fluke up to the fact that I didn’t go to the audition, but I think my track record speaks for itself.

Christmas decorations were probably toned down a little bit overall this year, but there was still plenty to see:

Or we at least have proof that there were a few decorations in France, if nothing else.

As we’ve discussed recently, they’ve began filling every row on Frozen Ever After, basically doubling its capacity and halving waits. Here’s our simple two-bar chart of what waits looked like before and after the change:

If you missed it, and would like to spend about 20 minutes unearthing the secret that doubling capacity lowers waits, at least until Disney raises capacity to offset the increases, you can check out “Walt Disney World Starts Filling Every Row on Attractions Among the Heaviest Christmas Crowds of the Year.” The good news being that Frozen waits are now about half of what they had been. The ride used to average about 80 minutes in the month leading up to the change. Now we’re under 40 minutes.

We can see if that trend has continued into January:

Larger: Here.

Considering I probably wouldn’t bring the point up again if the website’s hypothesis no longer reflected reality, but you can see waits are much lower, particularly after much of the Christmas crowd level on the 2nd and 3rd of January. On weekdays so far in early January, the overall average has come in around 30 minutes, if that. The attraction actually experienced one of its worst days ever, at least so far as its operation is concerned, on the 8th. It was only up at the end of the night, when the cool temperatures had already pushed a lot of people home.

Waits to enter the Mexico Pavilion and then eventually make it down the ramp inside remain in the afternoon most days, particularly on the weekends. You’ll likely want to head over there after your headliner choice.

The wait to get inside is typically five to twenty minutes to enter and then you can take your time inside so everyone else ends up waiting longer. It’s sort of like the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs meet and greet during something like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, if anybody remembers that thing. If you’re going to wait longer than you’d like for the opportunity to do something, you’re only going to take longer to complete the operation yourself. If you wait 2+ hours to meet the Dwarfs, you’re going to get a picture with every conceivable mixture of group members. And that’s why the wait is as long as it is.

Once you enter the actual queue for Gran Fiesta Tour, the wait is posted at five to ten minutes, even if people are waiting an hour to get inside to enter the queue.

Sometimes you have to bring your own Donald.

We’ll let Alex walk us out, only to head back in ourselves:

And with that, the Festival of the Holidays ends, with the 7-day Festival moratorium holding the Festival of the Holidays off until January 8th.

All things considered, Epcot/EPCOT did just about everything they could for the holidays given the present conditions. We all missed the holiday performers, Candlelight Processional, and special holiday entertainment, but there wasn’t much of an opportunity to pull the majority of it off safely. Hopefully none of this will be an issue next year and we can order our 4-ounce beers from the Yukon booth without having to try to yell “the little cup of the Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire” through a felt mask, ideally at a charming  French Canadian cast member instead of Chad from Colorado. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with you, Chad.

We’ll take a look at wait times from January 8th, 2021, the first day of the Festival of the Arts, while we’re here:

Larger: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports16/epcot_january_8_2020.jpg

As previously mentioned, Frozen was down almost all day, putting some pressure on other attractions. But the 25-minute overall average wait is just two minutes shy of what we experienced on Christmas Day, and the same as this past Monday, when waits were significantly higher at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. The Frozen downtime makes just about everyone who was trying to decide whether to go there or Test Track headed to the sim track first since there was no other reasonable choice. Higher early waits at Test Track lead to higher waits at Mission: SPACE, as the simulator isn’t ready for an influx of astronauts that early. Who is though?

It also looks like Test Track went down at the very end of the night, which means you wouldn’t be able to get in line last thing. The website’s overarching advice is to do Test Track first if it’s operating and you arrive early enough, which is typically about an hour before official Park open these days. Otherwise, one of Disney’s least-reliable attractions is liable to be closed for technical difficulties later, and you won’t be able to ride last thing, as you wouldn’t have been able to on this particular day. I’m, not sure what, if any, compensation Disney would give you if you calmly passed along your disappointment about not being able to experience Frozen. If you’re visiting the Park on a second day, they may offer a set of the equivalent of FastPasses. Of course, they can’t exactly do that for everybody. And with the ride closed completely most of the day, nobody really spent time waiting in the actual queue, so Disney may not be feeling quite as generous. But you can always ask, and with the way Disney funnels guests out of the Park, you’re probably passing by Guest Services anyway.

One side note: If you ever need to talk to Guest Relations, you want to de-blogger yourself as much as possible. This means leaving cameras and any external phone chargers with another family member. Showing up in no shorts is better than arriving in cargos, so take those off beforehand, whether you’re wearing anything underneath or not. No bucket hats. If you’re wearing a fisherman’s shirt, make sure you at least have some hooks or bait in view. Carrying an actual fish with you is always better as they’ll want you to be on your way as soon as possible, and are far more likely to capitulate to your demands, at least in my experience. I wouldn’t say no to a guy holding a fresh bass that is obviously about to be blackened as a Festival Favorite.

We’ll change gears slightly as we focus on what’s happening now, even as the majority of the Christmas decorations are still up around the Park.

The walls down at the front of the Park, for the most part, make for a huge improvement in the arrival experience.

You’ll still need to take the right towards Future World West/Soarin’/Seas/Imagination or a left for Frozen/Test Track/General Confusion after passing Spaceship Earth, and pass through a corridor.

But the opening of the front of the Park is much more welcoming than the giant walls we had seen for about five months.

This is where you’ll take the right towards The Seas with Spaceship Earth directly above us. You can see how gutted these buildings are.

We should be looking at what used to be the Art of Disney? Soon it will just be a large area for activities.

If you hadn’t visited before the walls came down up front, you may not appreciate just how nice it is to enter the Park now.

Back up in World Showcase, the Jammitors don’t even chase you down in their truck, but it certainly feels like they do with these omnipresent ovens that double as some sort of drum. I guess if you hit just about anything it makes noise. I grab my La Fin Du Monde from the Canada Cart and sprint in whichever direction seems to make less sense. Granted, I don’t move very fast these days, so a new jammity set inevitably begins before I’m out of range. I usually joke that after I’m unable to walk, which will be in 6-8 weeks if Chef Mickey’s keeps changing the colors of sprinkles on its waffles, I will just ride in the scooter and the pictures will be about six inches lower. Talk about a fresh perspective.

Much wider: Here.

The barges for the upcoming HarMONious show are a major discussion point.

There will be four on the water that look like this and then the gigantic ring of water barge coming in as well. Eventually, they’ll work as a fountain show, potentially blocking views even more.

The “rumor” is that the barges will be out there all day, rather than being driven in from backstage in the late afternoon.

Since I’m rude, I made this:

Hopefully there will be a way to “hide” the barges in certain spots around World Showcase, even if water seems to be the answer to everything. Use it while you’ve got it, I suppose.

The barges should be equipped with a number of lighting elements and arms that I’m assuming point to the exit so you can get out of there sooner rather than later.

Personally, I found the whole avant garde musical score and history of the world told through the seldom shooting of fireworks during IllumiNations a little too cerebral. Hopefully HarMONIoUs is just Aladdin, since Morocco needs all the help they can get.

In case you’re keeping track at home, the large hole in the middle of the Park is still there with almost everything inside these (progress) walls gutted.

Something I will always wonder is if they would have gone through with this project of tearing down the middle of Future World if they weren’t partway through before the March closures. Electric Umbrella isn’t exactly Commander’s Palace, but there is something to say for the theme park hamburger on theme park day. Sometimes you just want to feel bad about yourself or enjoy the comforts of a piece of meat that may or may not arrive in bags by the thousand.

Temporary Mouse Gear retains an evening line just to head inside and shop, even with mobile order designed to speed things up. You shouldn’t run into one earlier in the afternoon. And there are still a lot of stores.

Heavy façade work continues outside the future home of Cosmic Rewind, where apparently the Home Depot was having a sale on plywood when they were out in the van buying the fountains for the Moana walk-through.

We will say goodbye to the decorations at Animal Kingdom and then see if we can get half way through the Festival reviews before it ends.

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Walt Disney World Christmas Crowds About What You Would Expect Given Capacity Constraints https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-christmas-crowds-about-what-you-would-expect-given-capacity-constraints/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-christmas-crowds-about-what-you-would-expect-given-capacity-constraints https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-christmas-crowds-about-what-you-would-expect-given-capacity-constraints/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2021 20:09:01 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24996 Earlier this week, the website published a post titled, Walt Disney World Starts Filling Every Row on Attractions Among the Heaviest Christmas Crowds of the Year. We took a look at a number of attractions where Disney recently began seating guests in every row, even on vehicles where they’ve made no safety modifications. Considering the […]

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Earlier this week, the website published a post titled, Walt Disney World Starts Filling Every Row on Attractions Among the Heaviest Christmas Crowds of the Year. We took a look at a number of attractions where Disney recently began seating guests in every row, even on vehicles where they’ve made no safety modifications.

Considering the lengths they’ve gone through to modify some vehicles, it seems at best a bit arbitrary that someone would wake up on December 10th and decide that every row on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, and others can now be filled, while it was previously unsafe to do so from the middle of July until then.

The capacity changes do create a bit of a wrinkle in our collected wait times over the last several months, as it’s no longer an apples to apples comparison at a number of attractions with double capacity. Attendance continues to go up, even if wait times at several attractions are down.

Here’s our simple chart of average waits before and after Disney installed the barriers on Runaway Railway and began filling every row:

Lower wait times at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway after Disney installed the barriers aren’t indicative of lower attendance or decreased interest. More people can simply ride per hour, and with attendance still severely limited by the Park Pass system, wait times haven’t “recovered” from what they were as recently as early November when the average wait was routinely above 80 minutes.

But while Christmas Week wait times may not offer any earth-shattering revelations, they’re still worth taking a look at, as they should represent peak waits given current attraction and Park Pass capacity limits. For most the part, Christmas Day will actually have some of the shortest waits of the week at most of the Parks, but other days during the season see some of the highest waits of the year.

Another wrinkle, and one that I didn’t focus on in the capacity-changing post, is that Park Hopping is back as of January 1st, 2021. Disney made that announcement back on November 20th:

The ability for a ticketholder to Park Hop is based on available capacity at the subsequent Park that they’re paying more money to visit via the Park Hopper add-on, so it makes sense that Disney would be in a hurry to figure out how to increase capacity at its Parks without actually having to spend much money on adding anything new. Dispatching every Slinky and rock ‘n’ limo with every row filled costs the company nothing, but basically doubles those attractions’ capacities, among others.

Considering the Studios is the Park with the least number of Park Passes distributed per day, and the lowest attraction capacity overall, it makes sense that Disney began making modifications heading into the holiday season, knowing that they would continue to need that capacity even after attendance waned early in the new year. After all, if thousands of people decide that they want to Park Hop to Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, and they’re denied because the Park is “full,” they’re probably going to want their money back. We’ll see if we can figure out how much of an impact Park Hopping is having on wait times in a subsequent post, after we’ve collected a little more data.

For now, we’ll take a look at the wait times that we did see over the holidays and whether or not they were still the highest realized so far this year, as they historically are, even as we see attraction capacity increase. Let’s start with a look at Magic Kingdom’s average waits since the end of September with Christmas itself highlighted in festive green. I may not know the actual names of the Skellington family members, but I do know Christmas and green go together:

The results may actually be a little surprising. Magic Kingdom’s average wait on Christmas day was below the 28.6-minute average for the 14-week period, the lowest of the week, and nearly half of the average of the Tuesday prior.

It happened to be unseasonably cold on Christmas Day, but you wouldn’t think the low temperatures would be enough to keep people who have already locked into paying some of the highest prices of the year from staying back at their resort for too long. Looking over all of the Fridays in the chart above, there’s only one with a lower average, and it’s within a few seconds of Christmas back in the middle of November. In other words, Christmas was basically the best day to visit Magic Kingdom in the last 3+ months. I would guess most people didn’t have that on their bingo boards to start 2020. Interestingly, it was about 30 degrees hotter the day before, but that didn’t seem to drive crowds much higher.

Here’s the chart for Christmas 2020:

Larger: Here.

There are some longer wait times there in the middle of the day, but nothing like you would expect from Christmas, even with morning low temperatures in the 40s. The hours are longer than they have been most days since the Park reopened, but not long enough that they would distribute crowds quite this well. The fact that “it’s a small world” is posting a 60-minute wait at noon – the second longest in the Park – is probably why we’re seeing those barriers on the backs of the rows being tested at that Magic Kingdom boat ride first.

Here’s a look at the chart for Tuesday three days prior, when the average looks to be in the top 1% of wait times since reopening, and over 60% higher than the waits we saw on Christmas day:

Larger: Here.

The high temperature on December 27th was 16 degrees higher – sunny and about 70 degrees instead of 55, which would make the day more attractive. But with the Park Pass system and the natural holiday demand, there was not a lot of availability to switch around your Park Pass days that week even if you wanted to, and Christmas at Magic Kingdom was one of the first December Park Pass sellouts. But temperatures were even higher on December 24th, with a high of 82 degrees, and the 30.2-minute average was still barely higher than the overall average of 28.6 minutes for the 14-week period. Looking over the last six weeks, I see over 60 days with longer waits than Christmas.

This past Monday saw an average wait of 40 minutes, or a 60%+ increase over the Christmas holiday. Let’s take a look at that chart to see if there are any irregularities that would result in higher waits:

Larger: Here.

Nothing specific necessarily stands out, outside of the fact that wait times are considerably longer across the board. This may go back to our staffing discussion, where Disney is poised and ready to combat capacity holiday crowds. But with the Park Pass system, they know just about exactly how many people are going to be present on any given day, and they knew both Christmas and January 4th were largely unavailable under the Park Pass system. It’s possible that they wanted this Christmas to look good in an effort to bring back holiday crowds paying the highest prices of the year in late December of next year, but most people have no idea what crowds or wait times at Disney World look like on any given day, so it seems unlikely that any such effort would be successful. This past year and now into this year is such an anomaly that we’ll basically throw the data out once things return to “normal” and the Park Pass system is potentially phased out earlier than expected this year.

But the fact that crowds and waits are this unpredictable doesn’t stop the various websites from trying desperately to drive traffic to their sites via their crowd calendars. Here’s WDW Prep School’s in January:

They’ve got January 4th as a “5/10” crowd level, despite the average wait being in the top 1% of wait times since the Park reopened in July. That would make it a 10 out of 10. January 3rd, where the site has the crowd level as a 10 out of 10, saw waits that were about 25% shorter. You could probably throw darts and come away with a more accurate calendar. Worse, the site specifically tells people not to go on Thursday, when waits were considerably lower, and then recommends the Monday with much higher waits. It’s objectively terrible, inaccurate advice.

Then they’ve got Christmas and the days surrounding it as a “10/10:”

Christmas Day actually saw the second-lowest average wait in the last month, which would be a far cry from a 10/10 crowd level. So I would say that didn’t go very well. You’re really doing a disservice to your readership by disseminating information that is completely inaccurate. If you based your itinerary for your $5,000+ vacation based on these perceived, made-up crowd levels, you’d end up visiting the Parks on some of the worst days possible. To call the poor advice “dangerous” is probably a bit dramatic, but you’d probably be a little annoyed if you could have been waiting in ten-minute lines instead of sixty-minute lines, when your “expert” predicted the exact opposite.

WDW Prep School tried to get you to pay for their information for a while before realizing that nobody would. TouringPlans still charges for the privilege. This is what they have for January 4th:

Obviously, any wait times prior to the March closures are irrelevant moving forward if you’re trying to identify dates in the future with the lowest crowds or wait times. That seems like it should be the ultimate goal. People are planning for the future, and can’t teleport to the past, so only what’s happening now is relevant.

They did at least cop to the fact that wait times were one level higher than the prediction that probably changed 32 times over the course of 2020, but a wait time in the top 1% since the Parks reopened would be the definition of a 10 out of a 10. Otherwise, you just have a scale that goes from 1 to 4. You would have to adjust the numbers for what the crowd levels mean, and continue to adjust them as capacities at attractions change. They are apparently not doing that, and instead comparing the current waits to those from earlier in the year, and many years past, when there were no masks or capacity limits. It was a completely different time that is now completely irrelevant moving forward.

You could make the argument that the scale shouldn’t change so people can compare waits with past trips. But with so many changes in how you go about your day with no FastPass+, scheduled parades, stage shows, character meets, etc. going on, telling your paying subscribers that one of the busiest days since reopening is also a below-average crowd level, really isn’t helping anyone plan. They would get all of the crowd predictions wrong even if they did change their scales, so it sort of doesn’t matter what they do. But not letting your paying subscribers know that they are in for one of the busiest days of the year by assigning it a “3” doesn’t help anyone.

But it didn’t take much to figure out January 4th would be busy with local schools still out and lower-tier Passholders being able to visit for the first time after a couple weeks of blockouts.

Of course, the next question is what Christmas would look like without all of the current nonsense. Here’s a chart of Christmas Day usually looks like:

Larger: Here.

Obviously, about a million things were different back in 2019, and the preceding years, but the 62-minute average, even with longer hours and much lower waits in the evening as people waited “patiently” in the Hub for the New Year’s Eve Fireworks, is indicative of the ordinary holiday demand. The 62-minute average is easily higher than this year’s ~25 minute average and higher than any other day in 2020. Had you gone this year, waits would have been far less than half, but you probably would have wanted to bring a jacket and there were no festivities to speak of.

Bringing back this year’s Magic Kingdom chart one more time:

The averages for the week of December 20th and 27th ended up being the longest of the year at an average of a combined 34.9 minutes. But the average wait for the preceding four weeks was 30.0 minutes, or just 14% less. So in that respect, the Park Pass system “worked” to curtail crowds and keep wait times reasonable. Had you been able to go earlier in December, you would have saved a lot of money, and not missed out on any of the usual bonuses of Christmas Week, like Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, the holiday fireworks, and various stage shows, special character outfits, and other things that take over around Christmas.


One of these days I will make the long chart for Epcot, but rest assured we have them for the other Parks. Here’s Epcot’s chart for Christmas Day of this year:

Larger: Here.

The 27-minute average wait is below-average for the last month and lower than most weekends over the last 12+ weeks. So the people didn’t head there either.

Here’s what a regular Christmas looks like:

Larger: Here.

That’s about 63% higher with triple digit waits at both Frozen and Test Track with Soarin’ hitting around 90 minutes for most of the day. This year, we didn’t see any triple digit waits, and Frozen peaked at 50 minutes with an average of just 25. Thank those newly-installed barriers.

Here’s Epcot on January 4th, since we checked it out for Magic Kingdom:

Larger: Here.

We don’t see the same bump as we saw at Magic Kingdom, with the 25-minute average just about the same as the 27-minute average from Christmas. That’s the main reason why I neglected to start a long daily average wait chart for Epcot. The expectation was that any day would be just about like any other, and your touring plan really isn’t going to change regardless of the day you visit. We do see higher waits on most weekends than we saw on Christmas or on January 4th. That may be less true with Frozen’s wait basically going down to 30-50 minutes from 60-90 minutes. We’ll probably start a chart once the Ratatouille ride opens to track how that’s going. Then I can have a fresh chart and the previous data will be irrelevant given new crowd flow and the excitement over one new, solitary attraction.

Here’s Hollywood Studios:

Our Hollywood Studios chart isn’t exactly useless, but the numbers aren’t necessarily representative of crowds, with Disney increasing the capacities of several prominent attractions over the last couple of months, and specifically around December 10th. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was also down in its entirety each of the last few days that make up this chart, which decreases the Park’s overall attraction capacity with a similar number of people looking for one of an already-limited number of things to do. That’s going to push up wait times elsewhere and is the main reason for why we’ve seen 50+ minute averages over the last few days.

Like Magic Kingdom, the Studios saw its lowest averages of Christmas Week on Christmas Day and the Saturday following. Even with the capacity increase at several attractions, the 48.2-minute average for the week of December 27th is highest yet, even if it’s skewed slightly with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster closed on two of the days at the end of the week. It will be interesting to see if waits normalize around 45 minutes again, signaling another significant capacity increase with the demand to match, or if there’s more variance from week to week.

Here’s the Christmas chart from this year:

Larger: Here.

For once, the people who paid the most actually got to enjoy some of the shortest waits. Things remain pretty rough from 10am through 6pm, but it seems pretty clear that the cold temperatures were enough to turn people back, even with 5-minute waits at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the last hour of operation, both before and after the brief spurt of downtime, people neglected to head out. Bring a hat.

Here’s the chart for January 4th, with the 51.6-minute average only bested by the Saturday prior:

Larger: Here.

The 26.8% increase on January 4th over Christmas is relatively sizable, but also largely due to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s downtime. But even then, the 89-second coaster’s 41-minute average on Christmas is considerably less than it had been for about 90% of the time since the Park reopened. You can thank Disney now filling every row for those lower wait times. With so many changes at the Studios, there aren’t too many grand conclusions to come to other than to say things will be changing in the future. With Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster now operating, we’ll have even more numbers with asterisks next to them for the rest of the week.

We’ll finish up with Animal Kingdom:

Animal Kingdom is historically the least-crowded theme park on holidays, though it had done its best in 2019 to up its game with live holiday character performers, special Tree of Life projections, and new decorations, among other things. Most of the decorations were up this year, along with the projection shows, but the performers were obviously not out, as they weren’t at Epcot and the other Parks. Considering the low Christmas wait times that we’ve seen so far, Animal Kingdom’s 21.1-minute average, more than ten minutes below the average for the 14-week period, doesn’t come as a surprise. The 16.1-minute average on the Thursday is surprising, as we have to go back to a weekday in September to find an average that low, but it’s clear that the cold kept people away from Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom in particular, which is how it’s been for years. Just two days before the 16.1-minute average, we have an average of 45.9 minutes, which is among the highest that the Park has seen since reopening.

Conclusion: Bundle up early and go take advantage of lower waits at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom on colder days.

Also like Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom saw a big bump on January 4th, with a wait that was more than double Christmas, at 40.4 minutes. There isn’t another weekday during a non-holiday week that gets close to that number. About 30 minutes is as high as the average typically gets.

We’ll take a look at the Christmas chart to round things out:

Larger: Here.

There isn’t anything too surprising here, but it’s worth noting that they’re now seating guests in every row on Expedition Everest and on every seat on Flight of Passage, which helps to reduce waits there. Previously, a row was left between parties on Everest and Flight of Passage left a seat empty between every group. Na’vi River Journey is apparently still one group per boat, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide the backs are high enough that they can start filling both rows there. From our Christmas chart, River Journey’s 41-minute average is the highest in the Park, making it “the most popular ride” at Animal Kingdom based on its wait time, which is longer than Flight of Passage and on this particular day, over 2.5 times Expedition Everest. I’m not sure how many people have had the joy of the big outdoor drop on Everest when it’s 42 degrees out, but it “feels” like it’s around -42 degrees.

Here are the wait times from Christmas 2017 for comparison:

Larger: Here.

Had you visited three years ago, the average wait for Flight of Passage was 202 minutes, or more than three hours, with a peak wait of 270 minutes, which is 4.5 hours. This year, the peak wait was 55 minutes, with an average that was almost 170 minutes shorter. There aren’t too many things that I would pick in 2020 over 2017, but the morning wait for Flight of Passage would make that (short) list.

Here’s January 4th of this year for comparison:

Larger: Here.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the 40+ minute averages are the “new normal,” or a combination of lower-tier Passholder blockouts ending, local schools being out of session for one final day, another quiet capacity increase, and warmer weather. We’ll certainly know more as we move through the month with Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend and Presidents Day coming up in the near-term.

So ultimately, what are our takeaways from this Christmas? The cold morning temperatures caused a sizable number of people to stay back at their resorts into the late morning. Some number of Passholders with Park Pass reservations likely stayed home altogether. The Park Pass system also caps attendance at a pre-determined number of people whether they show up or not. Obviously, people canceling their Park Passes open them up for others to book, but it may be rare that a Passholder would remember or bother to click the buttons to complete the process.

So cold weather, combined with limited attendance via the Park Pass system, largely kept holiday crowds in check. I guess I can say I hope that isn’t true this year? My opinion may be different 191 minutes into a Flight of Passage wait.

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Walt Disney World Starts Filling Every Row on Attractions Among the Heaviest Christmas Crowds of the Year https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-increases-capacity-christmas-crowds/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-increases-capacity-christmas-crowds https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-increases-capacity-christmas-crowds/#comments Sun, 03 Jan 2021 22:46:43 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24989 We’ve been interested in keeping tabs on how and when Walt Disney World increases and decreases the capacities of its various attractions since the theme parks reopened in July. The majority of our touring strategy relies on identifying which rides build waits fastest. We visit them first whenever we’re able to arrive early enough to […]

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We’ve been interested in keeping tabs on how and when Walt Disney World increases and decreases the capacities of its various attractions since the theme parks reopened in July. The majority of our touring strategy relies on identifying which rides build waits fastest. We visit them first whenever we’re able to arrive early enough to take advantage of those shorter waits. Then, we pinpoint the next set of rides where waits will begin to rise, and ideally arrive at those attractions just before appreciable waits materialize at each. That way, we’ve minimized waits as much as possible without starting the day at Alien Swirling Saucers.

Attraction waits are largely dependent on capacity, or how many people can ride per hour. If Disney increases capacity at some attractions, and not others, then our priorities and how we move about our day will likely change, as waits drop at the attractions with the new, heftier capacities, and either stay the same or rise at attractions where capacity remains unwavering. “Popularity” also enters the equation, as people inevitably rush to the newest attractions, those that they’ve seen or heard have high waits, or (most commonly) where most other people are heading first.

Disney has made a number of moves over the last six weeks, and particularly during the last three, to increase capacity at certain attractions. Propensity to travel to Walt Disney World will (ideally?) increase heading into the new year, and Disney will want to be ready to meet that demand as best they can. Or, they can at least rationalize selling more tickets and open up more Park Pass spots with additional seats now available on the likes of Slinky Dog Dash, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

This post will primarily focus on what’s going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as it remains the trickiest Park to tour with the short hours, limited number of attractions, and the whole Rise of the Resistance boarding group thing. Since there will be more words and charts than either of us would like in this post already, we’ll take a closer look at the other Parks as we go about fresh touring days there, but I’ll bring up a couple examples at the end to show how much of an impact simply filling every row on a boat ride can have on wait times.

One of the best examples of Disney increasing capacity via vehicle modification is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Disney installed plastic barriers and started loading every row in each train back on November 17th, 2020. By filling every row, instead of about half on each train, you’ve effectively doubled the number of people who can ride per hour.

Not all of our charts will be this long, but we can clearly see how much shorter wait times became starting on November 17th:

Larger: Here.

The chart is color-coded, so average waits for the day of 60 minutes and below are in green, 61 to 75 minutes should be in yellow, and anything above that is red. Waits dropped about 30 minutes overnight, from the 16th to the 17th, and we haven’t seen an average wait for the day above 60 minutes since Disney increased the capacity in November. Prior to the plastic installation, the average was above 60 minutes every single day.

Below is the same data presented in a different way. What is basically the first half of the chart shows the daily averages before the plastic, and then then second half shows how much waits decreased once Disney filled more rows:

Larger: Here.

We can pretty easily visualize how much shorter waits have been at the Railway from November 17th onward.

And finally, here’s one more chart with just two columns showing the overall average wait before and after the capacity change:

That’s a 36-minute drop in the average wait, or a 45% change, from November 17th through the end of 2020. So even factoring in some of the heaviest crowds of the year over the last week or so, we still see significantly shorter waits. It makes sense given the fact that capacity has basically doubled, but it’s also important that we’re able to identify that fact and make touring strategy changes based on it.

Obviously, one question is whether waits at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are dropping across the board, somewhat independently of any fresh capacity increases at any single attraction. Waits could be down about a half hour over the last six weeks everywhere for all we know.

Fortunately, Disney never really modified the loading procedures for Toy Story Mania.

From day one back in July, Disney loaded every row of every vehicle, even when the people on the two sides were from different parties. The ride’s hourly capacity hasn’t changed in the ~5.5 months since the Park reopened, barring technical trouble. This should offer a pretty good baseline for how the Studios’ waits have evolved over the last few months, and the ride’s waits are just about as close to a “control” as we’re going to find for our ongoing analysis. If waits at Toy Story Mania drop in tandem with the other attractions, then we can probably blame a lack of demand on the falling waits rather than potential capacity increases.

Here’s a look at posted waits at Toy Story Mania for the same dates as the Railway:

Larger: Here.

We could probably do some color-coding based on standard deviations, correlation coefficients, or something else fancy-sounding, but we’d be liable to come away with exactly the wrong conclusions. Instead, we’ll take a look at the same two charts that we used for the Runaway Railway to see if waits dropped in tandem with Disney’s newest ride beginning in the middle of July:

Larger: Here.

The overall average wait at Toy Story Mania is a pretty consistent ~28 minutes, with some peaks here and there largely due to track downtime reducing the ride’s capacity for a couple of hours on some dates. The last week has seen some higher waits with Disney potentially increasing the number of Park Passes at the same time they’re increasing attraction capacities, but we certainly don’t see the same mid-November drop that we experienced at the Railway. That makes sense since the Toy Story attraction saw no change in capacity and there’s no evidence that the Studios is having any difficulty continuing to sell out of Park Passes.

Below is a two-column chart showing the average wait at Toy Story Mania before and after Disney made the change at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway:

Even with the majority of the major holidays occurring after the capacity increase at the Railway in November, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, posted waits are basically stagnant, and actually dropped in the final six weeks of the year. All of those later dates would be after the Railway capacity increase.

Let’s take a look at Slinky Dog Dash, which just recently began filling every row on each Slinky, despite no vehicle modifications.

We saw Disney install the plastic barriers in the loading area a couple of months ago, which “felt” like an indication that some sort of modification to the poor Slinky vehicles was in the works. My darkest days may have been when they removed the poor guy’s swirly tail, lest it fly off and knock the Totchos out of some poor tourist’s hands who already couldn’t find a table to sit down at after ordering from one of the two registers at Woody’s Lunch Box.

I guess since we started with long charts, we’ll stick to them. Here’s Slinky since October 1st, 2020:

Larger: Here.

More recently, Disney began increasing the capacities of other attractions by filling every row, even if no changes to the vehicle were made. Slinky started “practicing” loading the entire dog on the 10th, and went full tilt on the 11th. Between Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopening on July 15th, and the day before Disney made the capacity change, Slinky’s average for the day was under 60 minutes just seven times in about 90 days, or about 7.7% of time. Between December 9th and 30th, the average wait was under 60 minutes 13 times, or on 59% of days. That means the average was under an hour 600% more often. Those later December dates obviously include Christmas Week, when the Park would be a sellout every day, even if Disney allotted more Park Passes and sold more tickets.

Here’s the wavy chart for before and after the capacity change:

Larger: Here.

The drop isn’t nearly as significant as what we saw at the Runaway Railway for a few reasons. Obviously, most of the dates where Slinky saw the capacity increase were among the most in-demand of the year. Disney has also replenished Park Passes more often throughout December, meaning there were more people in the Park already to fill those newly-available seats. Disney didn’t increase the distribution of Park Passes quite as quickly after the Railway modification.

Ultimately, Disney’s goal is likely to increase the number of tickets they sell each day, and the number of Park Passes they allot, to bring the waits back up to their previous highs. We’ll see how often that occurs now that we’re headed into a a slightly less-crowded period.

For the sake of continuity, here are the two columns for Slinky showing the average wait before and after the capacity increase:

Of course, the goofy thing about “statistics” is that we can manipulate the data to further just about any narrative we want, without doing anything inherently unscrupulous. Transparency is one reason why I offer the raw data for the two of you who will actually look over the long wait time charts. Here, I’ve simply started the y-axis at 54 minutes. The “After” wait looks like it’s dropped by more than half at first glance, even if the drop is really about nine minutes, or less than ten-percent.

Here’s the exact same information with the y-axis starting at zero:

The decrease in wait times is still there, but it “feels” a lot less pronounced than the previous chart, because it is. Nonetheless, we do see a drop in waits, even if most of the “After” dates are from the busy holiday season.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how often we hit those higher “Before” averages. Based on the fact that waits haven’t really “recovered” at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway yet, Disney has at least shown some restraint in how many people they’re allowing in at the moment. If it was thousands more, we would see Railway waits climb back to 60, 70, and eventually 80+ minutes.

Moving on to Sunset Boulevard, Disney continues to try to increase capacity at Tower of Terror, without a whole lot of luck. There is only so much you can do with a spooky elevator tower. But with Disney filling every row on most roller coasters, even without modifications to the ride vehicles, it’s possible that what they’ve deemed “safe” has laxed quite a bit since August or September.

Here’s the long Tower of Terror chart:

Larger: Here.

And the accompanying graph:

Larger: Here.

We certainly aren’t seeing a drop in wait times here, no pun intended. If anything, it looks like they’ve really only gone up since the end of November. We haven’t seen any meaningful increase in capacity here.

Tower of Terror is obviously indoors, compared to most of the other roller coasters that are largely outdoors. I may not need to point this out, but I am not a virologist. If people wear their masks appropriately, even being indoors together like this in relatively close quarters, it may be “safe.” On the other hand, the speed of the drops on these sorts of thrill rides naturally pull a lot of masks down due to speed and that pesky gravitational pull. I’ve struggled to keep my mask up during a number of the faster drops – Expedition Everest and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster come to mind.

But if Disney elects not to increase the capacity at Tower by filling every row, or can’t find a viable solution to fill the middle row that makes people “feel” safe, increasing attendance could have a major impact on attractions where capacity isn’t increased in tandem. Tower of Terror could very well be the ride with the highest average wait moving forward. Time will tell.

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is another ride where Disney recently began filling every row. It’s also the attraction where that fact makes me the most wary. It’s indoors, people’s masks have a tendency to fall down, and you’re only a few inches from the group in front of you.

Officially, according to the CDC:

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. These droplets are released when someone with COVID-19 sneezes, coughs, or talks. Infectious droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Disney’s somewhat official reply is that the backs of the seats on these roller coasters are high enough to decrease the opportunity for that transmission. But beyond the obvious screamers in front of you, and the many droplets that come with that, you’d have to think that there are a lot of unsavory particles in that room. As far as the vehicles are concerned, nothing has changed since the Park reopened in July. Disney may be tapping into people being tired of the whole thing. A lot of people would rather wait 30 minutes than 60 minutes and take their chances over the course of the 89-second ride. “COVID on a roller coaster” isn’t a major departure from the original lyric.

Here’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in a long graph:

Larger: Here.

It looks like Disney began filling every row on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster on the 9th of December, which is right around the same date as Slinky Dog. Prior to December 9th, the day’s average was under 40 minutes just three times. After December 9th, we saw the daily average fall below 40 minutes seven times, or more than twice as often in a much shorter span with many busier days.

Here’s a look at the two-column chart for before and after the capacity change:

Since December 20th, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster only posted an average daily wait above 52 minutes twice, and both days the average was that high due to significant downtime. Prior to the December 9th capacity increase, the day’s average was above 52 minutes on 29 occasions. That’s a lot more and includes a lot less-crowded days.

You would expect the period from December 24th to December 31st to see the highest waits of the year. Here’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster during that time period. It may not be the best example with the downtime on the 30th and 31st, but we’re here, so it’s the example we’re using:

Larger: Here.

The average on the 30th is due to the fact that the ride only operated for an hour. Technical trouble continued into December 31st. And the ride has actually been down in its entirety for the last three days.

Nonetheless, Christmas week waits pale in comparison to what we saw in October, where the average every day was above 50 minutes:

Larger: Here.

Such is life when you’re basically running the ride at half-capacity.

As we assess wait times, it’s impossible to have a true “control” given so many different things can go wrong with attractions, affecting their wait times. Nonetheless, Disney has seated every alien at Swirling Saucers since the Park reopened, meaning the intended capacity hasn’t changed since July. We can see if there was a drop in waits from mid-December through the end of the month there:

Larger: Here.

And the answer looks to be no. Below, I’ve created a chart showing the average wait for Saucers before and after the capacity increase at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster:

So with no change in capacity at Saucers, the wait went up 15% at Saucers, at the same time it went down 15% at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Here’s a different look at the Tower of Terror chart, with the date where we suspect Disney increased capacity at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Slinky Dog around December 10th shooting up in red:

Larger: Here.

As we can see, waits continue to climb there for the most part. Most of the spikes earlier in the year are due to downtime, whether just one elevator is operating or the whole thing is down for an hour or two.

I didn’t think it was possible to modify the cockpits at Smugglers Run to load more than one group in each, but apparently Disney has installed plastic there, too. You’ll spend about five minutes pressing buttons in the Falcon. Currently, at least the test cockpit looks to be configured so parties of up to four are able to occupy the two pilot and gunner seats, while groups of up to two are relegated to the engineer role in the back. Previously, a party of anywhere from one lonely blogger to up to six bloggers who all actually hate each other would have occupied the same cockpit, so the ride’s capacity would have been anywhere from about 17% to up to 100% based on each individual party size.

I don’t think too many cockpits are yet outfitted with the new layout/plastic barriers, so if Disney moves forward with it, it could be a few weeks until we see a demonstrable change in waits. Here’s a look at December, anyway:

Larger: Here.

And if we can verify that at least some of the cockpits were retrofitted with the plastic as early as the 23rd, we can take a look at our two columns of averages before and after that date:

So we’re not seeing much of a change there quite yet. It may be several weeks as Disney sees how things go and ultimately decides if they want to outfit every cockpit using the new configuration or not.

But at least as far as the Studios is concerned, we’re seeing some major changes in capacities at certain attractions, effectively doubling the capacity at the following:

  1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: From mid- to late-October
  2. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – From the middle of November
  3. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: From the middle of December
  4. Slinky Dog Dash: From the middle of December
  5. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: Tests began in late December

These rides remain operating at limited capacities:

  1. Star Tours
  2. Tower of Terror

These rides have operated at basically full capacity from the start:

  1. Alien Swirling Saucers
  2. Toy Story Mania

We’ll see if more changes come to Star Tours and Tower of Terror.

And then there’s a few shows where we still see three empty seats left open for up to four guests to sit per section:

  1. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
  2. Muppet*Vision 3D
  3. Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie
  4. Walt Disney Presents
  5. Frozen Sing-Along

So we’re still in “wait and see mode” as the holidays don’t historically offer much insight into “normal” crowds. That’s different this year with the Park Pass system limiting the number of guests who can visit on any given day. One assumption could be that Disney filled every row around the holidays to help meet higher demand, but it seems unlikely that they would go back to selling fewer tickets if the demand is there and people are comfortable enough with the situation.

We’ll continue to monitor what Disney is up to and reassess our touring strategy as necessary.

Of course, there is now a new wrinkle with the potential to Park Hop after 2pm, which will have some effect on wait times as new guests arrive in the afternoon. We’ll have to give that a few weeks to see if the number of people leaving the Parks to visit another basically makes it a wash, or if people are flooding into the Studios after not being able to reserve a Park Pass there originally. If Disney keeps Epcot open until 9pm most days moving forward, I’d expect to see people headed in that direction as well.

This post already has more graphs and charts than I’d like, but the increase in capacity by filling every row isn’t relegated to the Studios:

If you’ve read one of these posts about wait times over the last ~six months, you’ve probably seen me mention that “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean have seen longer average waits than Peter Pan’s Flight since the Parks reopened. That’s another example of where Disney continued to fill every pirate ship on Peter Pan, while only filling about half the rows on the water rides.

If we see these barriers installed on boat attractions across property, and every row can be filled on Pirates or small world, then that may be good news from a wait time standpoint as the attraction capacity is now doubled. But I think we can be pretty sure that Disney is looking to sell more tickets, as they’re already discounting heavily to local Floridians for inexpensive theme park tickets good for the next few months. So two rows may open up, but there are going to be more people there to fill them.

As promised, these changes in capacity are not relegated to the Studios. Frozen Ever After at Epcot recently began filling every row. Here’s that chart from October on:

Larger: Here.

It’s pretty clear when Disney introduced the boats with the barriers, as waits dropped by over half from December 17th to December 18th. Over Christmas, we even saw average waits in the low 20 minutes.

Here’s the two-column breakdown of before and after the capacity increase:

As you would expect, doubling the capacity on what is now getting to be an attraction that a lot of people have experienced had a major impact on wait times. The average went from over 71 minutes to under 40 minutes basically overnight. That’s a drop of 47% and most of those post-barrier waits were around the holidays, when crowds would be elevated.

Just to make sure that there was no sudden drop in interest at Epcot, we’ll take a look at Soarin’, where no major modifications to capacity have taken place in the last few months:

Larger: Here.

That’s the last long chart. But if you’ve visited in the last few months, you may find some interest in seeing how your visit lined up with other dates. Or it might just be a lot of scrolling.

Here’s the two column-chart for Soarin’ average both before and after the Frozen capacity increase:

So while Frozen’s waits almost dropped in half with the capacity increase, waits at Soarin’ rose over ten minutes, or more than 30% over the same time period. So we can pretty definitively say that the drop in waits at attractions that now see higher capacities aren’t due to a sudden drop in holiday crowds or interest.

So what does it all mean?

We’ll need to make some changes to our approach based on the changing wait times and capacities. For several months, we prioritized the Runaway Railway first because its average wait was the highest at the Park. Since that is no longer the case, we’ll need to make some adjustments. Smugglers Run was looking to be the new highest-priority, but if they increase capacity there, as ugly and disorienting as the plastic around the seats might be, then we’ll need to reconsider that as well.

The other thing is that Disney is not going to keep the attendance caps/Park Pass allotment the same as early November levels moving forward. That will end up changing wait times again as attendance rises. If they aren’t able to figure anything out to increase capacity at Tower of Terror – where the ride typically plummets with about seven out of ten seats empty, we’ll need to devise a plan where we either start or end the day there, even if that’s a far cry from how we’ve historically toured.

Last month, we waited here, closer to the entrance to Fantasmic than the Twilight Zone, for Tower of Terror at 5pm, at the same time the Railway’s actual wait would have been under a half hour. We would have been better off switching the two, beginning with Tower and waiting less for the Railway here. But there’s only so much you can foresee on the first or second day of a major change like that.

It also remains to be seen what kinds of complaints Disney receives over the new procedures, and if it’s cause enough to go back to the way things were at some attractions. Holiday demand was higher, and we saw longer hours to also help boost attendance, but it doesn’t take a lot of people to fill the Studios’ Park Pass allotment with its limited overall capacity, even on a random Tuesday in January.

We’ll continue to monitor wait times, and see what sorts of bends and weaves we need to make to stay ahead of the crowds and also visit the attractions when waits are lower, even if the strategies end up being a lot different than how we would have gone about our day back in 2019.

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Epcot December 2020 Update https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/epcot-december-2020-update/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=epcot-december-2020-update https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/epcot-december-2020-update/#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2020 19:19:46 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24984 All photos by Alex Westcott Since it’s apparently still there, we’ll take a walk around Epcot/EPCOT to see what is or isn’t going on. It’s artsy because it’s tilted. The (Taste of) Festival of the Holidays continues through the 31st, despite the printed literature indicating a December 30th end. Ordinarily, what used to be called […]

The post Epcot December 2020 Update appeared first on easyWDW.

All photos by Alex Westcott

Since it’s apparently still there, we’ll take a walk around Epcot/EPCOT to see what is or isn’t going on.

It’s artsy because it’s tilted.

The (Taste of) Festival of the Holidays continues through the 31st, despite the printed literature indicating a December 30th end.

Ordinarily, what used to be called Holidays Around the World and is now the Festival of the Holidays would end on December 30th, and Epcot would see its busiest day of the year on December 31st, with the exclusive fireworks and countdown to midnight luring thousands of local visitors on top of the heaviest attendance from outside the state.

None of that will be happening this year, though you may not notice with the giant barge in the middle of the lagoon blocking most of the sightlines anyway. What’s across the water will always be a surprise now. Maybe they will put multiple Pavilions on a giant turntable and flip through them throughout the day. At 2pm, you’re in Caracas. At 4pm, you’re standing in the same spot, but now surrounded by St. Petersburg. Considering they haven’t actually added a new Pavilion in *checks watch* 32 years, the turntable thing is probably not in the works. We probably won’t get a single new Pavilion after years of “rumors” about Brazil, Puerto Rico, and others having interest. At the risk of losing what little credibility I have left, it took a couple of years of visiting Epcot before I could usually remember if Italy came before or after Germany. I suppose it’s always both depending on the direction you’re walking.

Wait times have been relatively reasonable at Epcot over the last month at the same time they’ve climbed higher at the other Parks. Here’s a look at Saturday’s chart:

Larger: Here.

With Saturdays being the busiest day of the week at Epcot, on average, this looks pretty good. It does remain slightly odd that Disney is willing to keep Epcot open until 10pm this time of year, at the same time the Studios continues to struggle with its much earlier 7pm closes. You can chalk it up to beer sales and capacity continuing to make the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow more profitable later in the night, but a lot of people are pounding Michelob Ultras an hour into the day over in Hollywood. You can’t really blame them as they stand in an extended queue outside for Muppet*Vision at 10:45am.

Here’s a look at waits there on the same day:

Larger: Here.

The average wait across the attractions is 60% higher at the Studios on the same date, even on Epcot’s busiest day of the week, and one the Studios’ less crowded days. Waiting 40 minutes per attraction across ten attractions at the Studios will cost you 2.5 hours longer in line than getting in ten lines at Epcot, on average. But Disney rarely budges on the Studios’ standard 10am to 7pm day. Even the 9am opens that we see now around the holidays are an unusually early start to the day.

Unfortunately, our older data is somewhat useless with Disney constantly making changes to capacity and operations. Waits appear lower at the Studios than they might have a couple of weeks ago, but that’s largely due to the fact that they now load every row on Slinky Dog and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which almost doubles capacity on those attractions and reduces wait times by about 40%. As Disney increases the number of Park Passes they allocate with to coincide with the capacity increase, waits will inevitably go up as there are more people to fill those newly-available seats.

We will have to rearrange our attraction priorities based on the differing capacities causing waits that are quite different than the FastPass+ days prior to the March closure. Modifications to increase the number of people in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon probably aren’t possible and they haven’t been able to figure out how to increase the capacity of the elevators on Tower of Terror as most fall with about a third of the potential seats full. Those two rides now see longer waits than Slinky Dog or Runaway Railway. That would have very much not been true most days five weeks ago. Both Slinky and the Railway averaged more than 80 minutes before the capacity increases. Now, the Railway’s average is almost half of Smugglers Run, rather than the 20 minutes longer that we would have seen as recently as the middle of November.

On the Epcot front, Frozen used to average more than 70 minutes most days, but waits there have dropped in half with Disney evidently filling every row on the boat ride. That puts Test Track back on top as the clear priority. Even Soarin’ had a longer average than Frozen on Saturday, which I don’t think has happened since the Park reopened in July. So we’re still very much in flux.

As far as touring strategy goes, we probably don’t need to change our approach at Epcot too much. Doing Test Track first continues to make the most sense if you arrive an hour before the Park is officially scheduled to open and quickly scoot over there. Otherwise, riding last thing will result in the lowest wait possible. And you won’t spend that 30 to 50 minutes in line when you could be doing something else with the Park open. Like try to look around the barge. Over at Frozen, with 35 minutes posted most of the day, the actual wait is likely closer to 25. So there’s now much more opportunity to get over there and not suffer a 70+ minute wait, even earlier in the day. Of course, that will change if Disney increases Park Pass allocation and the demand is there to fill a lot more spots.

We’ll hop onboard while we’re here since Spaceship Earth is posting five minutes. It turned out to be about two:

We still haven’t received word on when the announced overhaul of Spaceship Earth will begin. Or if it will at all. Disney first announced that the refurbishment would start in late May of this year and continue for about 18 to 24 months. Disney may have realized that Guardians of the Galaxy and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be enough to drive interest without needing to spend the money to switch things up around here. Spaceship Earth is fine as is as far as I’m concerned, and they would really need Spaceship Earth open alongside Guardians to help gobble up what will be a big increase in demand. We may simply see new narration.

The future is apparently in plywood as Disney basically tore down the Ellen’s Energy Adventure building without actually removing the framework. Nothing instills confidence quite like colored duct tape indicating which pieces of metal are most likely to buckle under the weight of the roof.

The ride track is is reportedly ready to go inside with cast being pulled from other positions for vehicle testing in the near future. There’s obviously a lot of work to be done with the façade and interior effects.

Disney has not publicly acknowledged the potential existence of the PLAY! Pavilion in months as far as I know. Considering it’s basically an elaborate setup for character meets, and there are no traditional character meets currently available, it may make some sense that they don’t have a lot to say about something that they’re also not sure when it will open or what it will ultimately look like when it does. But you’ll have Test Track, Mission: SPACE, and Guardians all in the vicinity, which are all Disney thrill rides that some younger kids will either be too short to experience or not want to ride. Disney needs somewhere close by for the tykes.

But nobody has seen inside what is slated to become the PLAY! building, while Disney has made multiple updates with pictures inside the Guardians and Remy buildings. If they’re not going to do the Festival Center over the now-flattened Fountain View Starbucks/Character Spot, they may move it permanently back to the old Wonders of Life Pavilion and send the characters back out around the Park. Then again, we may still see a detailed announcement and there’s just 19 more Star Wars stories set within The Mandalorian timeline coming to Disney+ that they still need to announce first.

More low crowds as we look towards Mission: SPACE and what should be the entrance to Space 220 beyond the walls on the right. I really think they should go with a countdown, so we know how close the restaurant is to opening. It’s even themed to a rocket launch. Space 217….Space 216….the restaurant was supposed to be open at this time last year, but ran into a multitude of problems, including their head chef leaving. He probably made the mistake of visiting the Italy booth during one of the Festivals and seeing what Patina, who will eventually operate the restaurant, typically microwaves and serves guests for $10. I would go to Las Vegas too. Even if it was to be the Executive Chef of an Arby’s.

Epcot is probably the easiest Park to tour at the moment with the limited number of priorities. You’ll still need to dedicate two days to visiting to spend much time in the World Showcase and experience all of the attractions there and in Future World. We recently went through the motions and “did everything” in one day with shorter hours and higher waits. You can find the end of that series here, which will link you all the way back to the start of the day and walk you through how you want to go about things.

The basic strategy is to spend the beginning of the day in World Showcase, where crowds are lower earlier in the day. Then move down to Future World in the late afternoon when the crowds will begin to naturally migrate up to World Showcase. If you start with Test Track and then head into World Showcase on the Canada side, the wait for Frozen may even be short enough by the time you arrive that the wait will be around 20 minutes to experience it. I’d wait the time rather than having to trudge back at some point. It would be easier/more-streamlined to start the day at Frozen, but Test Track is so unreliable that you’ll probably want to ride it first if you arrive in time to experience a short wait and it’s actually operating first thing, which is far from a guarantee. I probably wouldn’t try to race up to Frozen immediately after Test Track, because the line may already be longer than it will be for most of the day, but it’s more viable now with the increased capacity.

Speaking of Test Track’s downtime at open, we can take a look at the wait time chart from the last month to see how often it happens:

Larger: Here.

With the variable opening times, it’s more difficult to pinpoint which days saw downtime first thing. But it looks like a pretty solid month of operation, even if the ride did go down at some point during the day on 22 of the last 31 days or so. It looks like the ride was down within 15 minutes of Park opening on three days, or a little less than 10% of the time. Uptime at the end of the night also looks good. And all three of the days where the ride either didn’t open with the Park or closed shortly after happened over a five day span at the end of November. So there was something going on that Disney fixed.

Also remember that the wait time chart doesn’t capture the shorter waits when the Park is open earlier than advertised. On the busiest of days, which would be around now, I’d expect to see the parking lot open an hour early. On busier days, it’s usually 45 minutes early. On less busy days, the Park usually lets the first guests inside around 30 minutes before open. Most of the major rides should be open and the waits will be shorter than the longer waits of the day that you see in the first cell of each chart.

Construction/demolition continues around the hole in the middle of Future World as the proposed Festival Center has been downgraded to an “area.”

There are fewer walls around, at least, as these restrooms recently reopened near Test Track:

It certainly looks like a (pink) retro version of the future. If you can’t have the George Jetson aesthetic at least we can take you back to the ’70s. A lot of people probably thought they were in the future during that time for one reason or another.

The Moana “Journey Through Water” walkthrough attraction is officially still happening. There probably won’t be a whole lot to it, but it may depend on what Home Depot has in stock in the garden section whenever they get over there.

They’ll have to do something with the space they’ve created by clearing the Innoventions buildings, particularly if a multi-story Festival Center doesn’t materialize. You would think you could put on a pretty classy, pretty expensive dessert party up on the roof of the proposed building that would pay for the construction in short order. A spread of hors d’oeuvres and sparkling wine would be $125 a night, easy. But the building may be too far back or the sightlines weren’t what they were expecting.

If Disney does end up downgrading the Festival Center plans significantly, the walls should come down that much sooner. Walls should be almost completely down in the front of the Park in the next few days with the fountain just about complete in front of Spaceship Earth. The walls here to the left of Temporary Mouse Gear should be around for a couple of years as Disney rebuilds Original MouseGear and freshens Electric Umbrella up, potentially to a new concept, in addition to building a permanent spot for Starbucks and whatever else they end up fitting in here.

For the foreseeable future, you’ll still be routed around Spaceship Earth either via the left walkway towards Test Track or the right walkway towards The Seas as you enter from the main entrance. But at least you won’t be walking around walls immediately after stepping foot in the Park and dodging them for the first several hundred feet. It wasn’t exactly the warmest welcome.

In the next Part, we’ll check out some subtle and not so subtle overlays in the Imagination and Land Pavilions and see what’s happening in World Showcase.

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Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 12/18/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-12-18-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-12-18-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-12-18-2020/#comments Sat, 19 Dec 2020 18:09:49 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24980 You can pull up the previous update here. Hopefully we will get caught up and stay caught up on the news and waits this time around, unlike the last eight times around. The website is sort of like that delinquent father on every Hallmark Christmas movie. We don’t necessarily mean to screw everything up, we just […]

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You can pull up the previous update here.

Hopefully we will get caught up and stay caught up on the news and waits this time around, unlike the last eight times around. The website is sort of like that delinquent father on every Hallmark Christmas movie. We don’t necessarily mean to screw everything up, we just follow the script they hand us.

The News

The only Imagineer that Disney both publicly acknowledges and didn’t force out during the recent purge has posted a few photos of how water works.

He is right. They are big on Plexiglass acrylic sheeting at the moment. And if there’s one thing Disney has figured out in the vicinity of Spaceship Earth, it’s water streaming down from the rafters, whether the deluge is planned or not.

If I ever have to get a real job and they ask me what I find inspiring, I think I’ll just whisper mysteriously, “stone….shadow…”

By the end of the year they say,. the fountain from Home Depot will be fully operational. I’m just looking forward to being able to fill up my $30 Star Wars Refillable Mug with Epcot water that is $10 more than the $20 Refillable Mug just because it has Star Wars characters on it instead of whatever those other Disney ones are. One does wonder if Remy and Mickey entered into a cage match which rodent would come out on top. I have a sickening feeling that it would be Mickey and he’d scream, “WHO’S NEXT?” after dismantling our Parisian friend in about four seconds immediately after. He may be inquiring about future acquisitions rather than opponents, though.

Speaking of water, or a lack thereof, Disney has moved the barges into the middle of the Lagoon.

Here they will sit throughout the day, unlike the previous fireworks launches, which Disney brought out around 4pm.

I’m sure the water fountain thing will improve things slightly, but you wonder if they won’t pull the tugboat out of retirement and try to hide these things the best they can elsewhere.

While you’re probably more likely to be assaulted by your average Disney YouTuber than your prototypical clown, Disney finally convalesced to years of complaints and replaced the clown at the end of the Luna Park Pool slide at the BoardWalk Inn with a Mickey and Friends mural of sorts. WDWMAGIC has pictures of what you can expect to find on your next visit.

People can’t handle a friendly clown at the end of a water slide, but Winnie the Pooh has been carrying a red balloon and telling kids they can float too, all the while not wearing pants, for years. The (Taste of) EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival will return next year from March 3rd through July 5th. If the Israeli Space Security Chief is right and we really have been talking to the aliens for years, I bet they think “EPCOT” is synonymous with festival. There’s no Coachella Festival on Jupiter. Just the Coachella Epcot. The July 5th end is nearly a month later than usual. It does give them a day to switch over Citrus Blossom to…Citrus Blossom at least.

Disney’s Riviera Resort, vaguely themed to the very distant Caribbean side of Western Europe, turned a year old this week. I’ve scheduled my review for mid-2021. Like Disney, I can’t commit to a season, month, or date, and the year is subject to change too.

The Electrical Water Pageant will return to Seven Seas Lagoon on December 20th.

The schedule looks to be about the same as before, though the “underwater world of mystery” has me intrigued since I’ve only seen the overwater part.

It will be interesting to see what it means for the walkway to and from the Grand Floridian and how quickly they can open and close the bridge. Hopefully it’s quick enough that I won’t have to remove my manacle, switch my cane to my other hand, and ask the young lad at the station in a condescending tone if I’m going to have to join the peasants headed to the parking lot on the lowly monorail just to get back to the Flagship Resort.

The El Mercado de Coronado Food Court at the Coronado Springs Resort and Basketball Courts has reopened. You can pull up the current hours and menu here. It’s heavy on the “Grab and Go” aspect as you’ll gather from the dinner menu.

Like any megacorporation in the hellscape that is 2020, Disney took to Twitter to announce that their free labor program still has no restart date. Should your 19-year-old “future humanitarian” wish to learn how to cook French fries under the tutelage of someone who has been baking Ore Idas at 2am every Saturday for the last 17 years, you’re welcome to send them my way now. Just so long as they pay me more than they make in rent and then spend any leftover money paying me more for whatever they can scavenge from around my apartment.

Assuming any of us survive the rush to get a PS5 this year, Disney has a new offer available beginning January 5th:

More details are available here. Typically, the room discounts will save you more money, but it depends on your room type, party size, etc. Run the numbers on the various discounts that will come out throughout the year.

Package pickup will return to the theme parks for the holidays, though delivery to the various resorts will remain unavailable. From December 20th, 2020,  through January 2nd, 2021, guests can send items bound for eBay to the Chamber of Commerce in Magic Kingdom Park, Gateway Gifts at EPCOT, Oscar’s Super Service at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and in the vicinity of Guest Services at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Much to my own dismay, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort will now reopen on March 22, 2021, which is about six weeks later than the original reopening date of February 9, 2021. I just want to know what it feels like to sleep in a bed again, even if it’s this tilted.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort will reopen May 30, 2021. (Maybe?)

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will reopen on June 6, 2021. (Probably?) Those are Disney’s official dates, but at least half of those openings have been delayed. Since the DVC wings have been open since June, you’d think they’d hit the targets.

Beginning December 20th, 2020, Disney will change the release times for boarding groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance from 7am and 2pm to 7am and 1pm. This shouldn’t have too much of an adverse effect on anyone, but it does potentially give those unable to score a spot on the ride more of an opportunity to Park Hop elsewhere before the influx of people begin arriving at 2pm beginning early next year. I have a lot of tips on securing a boarding group in this post. Just replace “2pm” with “1pm” in your brain.

Disney has taken over the Morocco Pavilion from the original operators.

I’d keep an eye on what happens to Restaurant Marrakesh, which remains closed. I’m roughly as tall as Jafar and love Baklava, so you just may see me switch roles.

Spice Road Table remains the only operating eatery in Morocco outside of the dessert and beer kiosk outside.

The menu is back to focusing on small plates, with no full entrees currently on the menu. You can pull up the entirety of it here.

Spice Road is probably the most under-appreciated stop at Walt Disney World. I could tell you this every day and nobody would go.

Whether Disney gets that across to anybody without adding Abu and Genie remains to be seen.

Beginning with guests arriving on January 1st, 2021, complimentary MagicBands will no longer be offered to guests. Disney sent out an email reminding them. Amusingly, “For Disney Resort hotel room entry, Theme Park entry, and charging purchases to your hotel room with a valid credit card, you may use a Key To The World Card provided at the Front Desk.” Your phone should theoretically open your resort room via the Disney World app, but I think we all know how well that usually goes. Disney also offers the opportunity to purchase a MagicBand prior to your arrival. Who thought 2020 would end with us rolling back to 2012 with Key to the World cards? Contactless except for the contact part.

Chances are that you’re not headed to Walt Disney World over the next three weeks, and if you are, you’re probably not bound for Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom or Lotus Blossom Cafe at Epcot. But if you are, they have variable operating hours. You can pull up Lotus Blossom here and Harambe Market here. Then change the calendar to the day of your planned visit on the right. Harambe Market typically operates on Saturdays and Sundays, while Lotus Blossom is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. That schedule should return in the middle of January.

Today’s Waits

Animal Kingdom:

We begin with our usual chart of Animal Kingdom’s average daily wait from the last 12 weeks:

With the full chart since reopening available here.

I’m sure there are still people out there who will sell you information about what day of the week is best to visit Animal Kingdom, but it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t matter, at least so long as you avoid Saturday and Sunday, when Passholders are going to help fill all the Parks. Average waits on weekdays are within two minutes of each other with variances due to holidays, attraction downtime, and other factors out of our control with nothing specific driving anyone to Animal Kingdom on any particular day, outside of the longer operating hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. And Friday remains the day to visit if you’d like to see Animal Kingdom’s nighttime lighting package, which is particularly spectacular during the holiday season, but always is inside Pandora. Here’s today’s chart:


Friday’s average was also the lowest for that day of the week in a month. Bring a jacket if it’s going to be cold and keep in mind that Florida “feels” about ten degrees colder than most other places. We see particularly low waits in the last hour thanks to what the state would consider a dire freeze. Wisconsin is playing kickball in Discovery Island in shorts and tank tops.



While I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, they must have installed the plastic barriers in between each row on Frozen Ever After, effectively doubling its capacity and dropping waits by more than half. Waits elsewhere remain reasonable for the most part with a day featuring what are now unusually long hours. The priorities look worse because we don’t pick up the lower wait times when the Park actually opens closer to 10:15am, but you’d have an opportunity to hit at least one major ride without much trouble with a 10:10am arrival. The bad news is that Disney is going to start letting more people into the Park and we’ll see waits rise along with it now that Frozen is moving through twice as many people.

Hollywood Studios:

The last 12 weeks:

Full chart.

Our averages were already thrown for a loop when Disney started filling every row on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, after installing barriers behind each row, in turn reducing wait times there by about 40%. That was enough to drive each day’s average wait down by about five minutes. It’s not like the last four or five weeks actually saw lower attendance. But now they’re also filling every row on roller coasters that don’t have barriers, including Slinky Dog Dash and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Even so, today’s average is the longest that we’ve seen in some time. While the Studios routinely ran out of Park Passes, it also offered the fewest to begin with. So even if capacity at a few attractions doubles, waits won’t go down if Disney simply lets that many more people into the Park to fill the seats. Assuming the demand is there, of course. We’ll continue to see how things shake out as Disney continues to make a lot of changes. The curious thing will be when the rides with the lowest capacities become the priorities. As far as the best day of the week to visit, the weekends remain your best bet as the Park is the most likely to sell out every day of the week, making attendance similar every day. As far as the averages from the last few months, they’re typically higher earlier in the week.

Here’s the day’s chart:


Tower of Terror and Smugglers Run now top the list of highest waits at the Park, as those are the rides that are currently among the least-modified. Smugglers is still limited to one party per cockpit and only about eight seats on each Tower elevator can be filled. The average for Slinky is a solid half hour lower than it has been and the Railway had a good day too. We also see a better distribution of crowds with the 9am open. Still, you’re looking at waiting 40 to 50 minutes just about everywhere from 9:30am through 5:30pm. And as we know, you can’t be everywhere in that final hour.

Magic Kingdom:

The last 12 weeks:

The full chart.

It looks like average waits have normalized around 29 minutes over the last couple of weeks. Thanksgiving remains the busiest week yet, but only by about a minute and a half compared to the busiest week in October. And within about four minutes of the last couple weeks. If Saturday’s average is the same as last week’s, this week’s average would be 29.2 minutes, which is in line with the last few weeks. Saturdays remain the busiest day of the week to visit, but not by a wide margin compared to Friday or Monday. As has been true for years, Wednesday is always your best bet. Or at the moment, whenever it’s going to be coldest.

Here’s the chart for Friday:


The 29.9-minute average is just about 2.5 minutes longer than the average for the past few months, and the higher number is due largely to the morning downtime at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. If morning lows are in the 50s or below, don’t be surprised if your favorite outdoor roller coaster takes a little longer to get warmed up. Pirates and small world continue to see longer waits than Peter Pan’s Flight with the whole indoor boat ride capacity thing. This is a pretty average day.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

You’ll want to pull up Disney’s calendar to see what they’re saying is available. As always, if you’re actually ready to book something, go directly through that process, as the online calendar doesn’t update in real time. The rest of the month runs the gamut of availability with all Parks available over the first four days leading up to Christmas. From the 24th on, Magic Kingdom is currently only available on the 28th, along with Epcot. On the other hand, Animal Kingdom still has availability on that Sunday the 27th, when waits there are typically longest.

Looking into January:

Magic Kingdom and the Studios are unavailable on the 1st, while just the Studios is unavailable on the 2nd. Disney replenished the rest of the month and may do so again on those first couple of days before the month is up. Availability should be wide open for the rest of the year.

Here’s Passholders in January:

Passholders see better availability for the rest of the month than you might expect with lower-tier Passes largely blocked out.

Disney replenished Passholder availability in January as well. Currently, Hollywood Studios is unavailable on the 3rd and 4th, while Animal Kingdom is somehow the only Park without availability on the 9th. Magic Kingdom on October 1st remains the only other date with no current availability.

Operating Schedule Changes:

Disney typically makes their changes on Friday afternoons. You can always pull up Disney’s official calendar here.

Here’s what we’ve got this week:

Friday, January 1st, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 9pm from 9am to 7pm

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 9pm from 9am to 7pm

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Monday, January 4th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Thursday, January 7th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Friday, January 8th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Saturday, January 9th, 2021:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 6pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 9pm from 11am to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 7pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 8pm from 9am to 6pm

Disney also added hours through March 6th, 2021 that match the first couple months of the year. They will almost certainly be extended:

  • Animal Kingdom: 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot: 11am to 7pm
  • Hollywood Studios: 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom: 9am to 6pm

Interesting Menu Changes

There are lots. You can try to make sense of the file here. We’ll try to keep a more watchful eye.

And hopefully stay more caught up.

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Review: World ShowPlace Booths at Epcot Festival of the Holidays 2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/review-world-showplace-booths-at-epcot-festival-of-the-holidays-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=review-world-showplace-booths-at-epcot-festival-of-the-holidays-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/review-world-showplace-booths-at-epcot-festival-of-the-holidays-2020/#respond Tue, 15 Dec 2020 22:42:10 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24976 We continue from Yukon. The World ShowPlace, in between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions, is host to three individual “booths,” in addition to entertainment, a store, and the new home of the Gingerbread Capital City that used to be hidden back in the corner of the lobby area inside The American Adventure. We’ll take […]

The post Review: World ShowPlace Booths at Epcot Festival of the Holidays 2020 appeared first on easyWDW.

We continue from Yukon.

The World ShowPlace, in between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions, is host to three individual “booths,” in addition to entertainment, a store, and the new home of the Gingerbread Capital City that used to be hidden back in the corner of the lobby area inside The American Adventure. We’ll take a look at the food options first and then see what else is going on in there.

You may need to move quickly through here should three gentlemen come out to The Mill Stage to play the oven.

If you visited the ShowPlace for this year’s (A Taste of) EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, then you’ll recognize the basic setup in here. You’ll find individual lines for each of the kitchens with the stage just about in the middle of the area set up for a variety of entertainment. There are quite a few tables available, making this a good stop during inclement weather. But it also won’t be an original idea as a lot of people head in from the rain and/or the cold. During most of the year, this is a nice respite from the heat. But 2020 does still have a couple more weeks up its sleeve. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see another 95-degree day and a hurricane move through before the year is up.

We’ll start with Festival Favorites:

The name may bring more oomph than “random assortment of dishes that didn’t fit in elsewhere this year.” At least in the last ten years, they’ve never even served Bass at a Festival. The menu mentions the booth where the dish was supposedly offered, but that was catfish rather than bass. I still hesitate to quote the grocery store price of any particular product, but you would expect to see a higher price tag on the bass, making the catfish more attractive on Disney’s side. Of course, Vietnamese catfish is what Yorkshire Fish in the UK Pavilion serves in their Fish and Chips, so there may be some redundancy there.

Blackened Bass, White Cheddar Grits, and Okra with Tomato and Onion Stew— $7

You’ll have to bear with me on these pictures as it’s dark inside the ShowPlace and using a Christmas Tree as background bokeh turned out to be more distracting than pretty. Despite never appearing on a menu in this form, the Bass turned out to be one of our favorite dishes at the Festival.

The fish reminded me more of the Ghost-Pepper Dusted Tilapia that may have been last seen at the 2014 Flower and Garden Festival. That means it’s spicier than the menu probably indicates. The fish brings the appropriate crispy sear with a delicate, flaky interior. I think the Bass holds up better than the Tilapia or the Catfish, but the paprika flavor does dominate the fish more than you might expect. Underneath, the creamy White Cheddar Grits offer a solid, if slightly fine consistency for a sharp cheesy base. If the fish is spicier than you’d like on its own, the Tomato and Onion Stew does a nice job of taming it alongside a couple bites of Fried Okra that will taste best when they’re hot and crispy. The dish is probably a dollar overpriced, even by Disney standards, but it is a favorite after all.

Taste: 9/10

Value: 6/10

Duck Confit and Dumplings with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fig Reduction — $8

The Duck was another…favorite as well. The portion is significant and the meat is tender and juicy as it almost falls right off the bone underneath the sweet, plum-like glaze and crispy skin. The Brussels Sprouts on the side were roasted nicely, but a little on the bland side compared to the bolder flavors of the main components. These remain two of the best dishes at the entire Festival, though they’d set you back a combined $15 and be significantly less food than an entrée from most major quick services. Then again, you could say that about most anything served at the various Festivals. And obviously, just about everything here is greatly elevated. You may as well key in on the tastier ones that you probably can’t prepare easily at home.

Taste: 9/10

Value: 7/10

Gingerbread Cookie  $2.50

The Gingerbread Cookie is about what you would expect from something purchased at the store in a plastic container alongside 11 other gingerbread friends. The cookie is just fine – it’s soft with the ginger, cinnamon, and molasses flavors potentially a little more muted than you might expect. I would have preferred a little more chew. If you’re rocking the Cookie Stroll, then you’re probably picking one of these guys up, but otherwise, I’d put the money towards the cake back at the Yukon or the Bundt Cake coming up.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 3/10

Coquito: Tropical Eggnog  — $4.25 served without the booze or $10 with Bacardi Gold Dark Rum.

This coconut-based drink is heavier on the cinnamon and cloves than it probably looks, with vanilla and condensed milk dominating the palate. The cups remain small for the money and holds about four ounces total, leaving little room for the rum or much else. But the flavors are festive and the drink is creamy and easy to drink. We liked it, though it doesn’t really pair well with either of the two main dishes offered here. It would help the gingerbread go down as it’s on the dry side.

Frozen S’mores – $4.50 served without the booze or $11 with bottom shelf vodka

I didn’t care for the texture of the whipped milk, which is kind of foamy and yucky (in my opinion). There’s only a subtle chocolate flavor amid the whipped mess, which is just topped with a handful of marshmallows and a bland graham cracker this year. You might have a better experience. In my experience, adding the vodka makes for an even foamier mess, but those who enjoy foamy milk chocolate drinks more than I are in business.

We’ll check out Holiday Hearth next:

It’s quite the assortment.

We have everything nicely bundled up here for the most part.

Red Velvet Mini Bundt Cake – $4

This is a smarter buy than most of the various cookies. I’m not usually very wild about red velvet anything, with all of the food coloring going on, but it works here with the sweet, moist cake serving as a nice base for even sweeter cream cheese frosting on top and then a festive spread of sugary delight on top of that. The price point and portion size make this an attractive proposition, but it’s quite sweet on its own. You might pair it with our favorite fish to help relieve some of the spice over there and eat the sugar here.

Taste: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Salted Caramel Spaceship Earth Cookie – $5.25

The cookie comes packaged, which may make it a prime candidate to put in your fanny pack for the ride home. The novelty factor is probably playing the biggest role here – they’ve basically just given two circular cookies legs and put some sticky caramel in between them. But the sugar crystals add a nice crispy, texture and they even threw on more sugar with the holly on top. There are better desserts available, but the cookie is pretty hefty, pretty sweet, pretty precious, and probably best shared.

Taste: 5/10

Value: 5/10

Snowball Cookies – $4

It would be funny if they added a sticker with the year on it to every dish so that we would be obligated to reorder everything every year. Or just take the sticker off. And then you would know. These Cookies are packaged up even better than the Spaceship Earth cookie, but there isn’t anything particularly “Disney” about them. Even the logo doesn’t mention Epcot. The cookies are fresh and flavorful and there are quite a few of the soft, buttery, nutty concoctions covered in powdered sugar stuffed into the generic jar. By all accounts, it’s a lot of cookie for the money considering we’re used to paying $2.5 0for just one. These are obviously smaller than the standard cookie, but there has to be a dozen of them in there for just $1.50 more than the gingerbread person. If you’re looking for something less sweet, but rather generic, these would fit the bill. They might also double as something you can throw at bloggers and then easily recollect.

Taste: 5/10

Value: 8/10

Peppermint Bark – $6.25

That is definitely a bag of average peppermint bark. It’s hard to say how much of this was put together at the last minute, but some unique packaging would certainly go a long way to making some of these more generic items compelling. The bark was more fragile than most, basically caving in on itself with each passing bite. The flavor profile is exactly what you would expect with the white chocolate and peppermint. You could certainly grab a bag if you were dying to have peppermint bark at that exact moment, but Costco does it better and the box is about three pounds.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 3/10

Stollen: Holiday Fruit Cake – $4.25

This must be it. Again, it’s packaged nicely if you want to take it on the go, but most people are probably after items that they’re planning on consuming on the premises. There’s really nothing special about this fruit cake either. it’s dry, light on the fruit, and heavy on the powdered sugar. It’s “just fine,” and a better value than most of the cookies, but I’m not sure who would find this a compelling purchase at Epcot. Maybe if it was in the shape of Living with the Land or something. Like the whole ride.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 5/10

Mouse Crunch – $6.50

This is basically the Caramel Apple Popcorn from the Food and Wine Festival served in a holiday bag alongside chocolate-covered pretzels and M&M’s. At least the last part will eventually be themed well to Disney Springs. This is perfectly skippable in my estimation. The popcorn tastes stale and there’s nothing unique about the other additions.

Taste: 3/10

Value: 3/10

Gingerbread Milkshake – $4.50 served without the booze or $11 with bottom shelf vodka

This one is actually pretty tasty, though it’s probably more ideal on a warmer afternoon than at the end of the night. The drink is creamy and thick, while still remaining easily drinkable. The addition of the gingerbread cookie is a nice touch and the Pinnacle Vodka mixes in better with the Shake, helping to reduce its chocolaty richness and adding a light flavor of marshmallow.

Hot Cocoa – $3.50 served without the booze or $11 with peppermint schnapps.

That is indeed what watery, instant hot cocoa in a small plastic cup with a tiny handle looks like. If you can figure out how to microwave water and add a packet of Nestle Hot Cocoa, and have the ability to confidently purchase some schnapps at the liquor store, then you could recreate this at home without too much trouble. I think the Gingerbread Shake is more compelling, though this may potentially be a better choice if it’s cold and you’re headed back outside. It won’t last long, typically making the Joffrey’s coffee stand just outside the ShowPlace a lot more bang for your money.

I always forget to take a picture of one menu. Apparently this year, it’s Prost! The emphasis is theirs. Here’s what’s on the menu:


  • Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50


  • M.I.A. Beer Company White Christmas IPA, Doral, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • 3 Daughters Brewing 70 Degree Winter Weizen, St. Petersburg, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • Playlalinda Brewing Co. Gingerblonde House Ale, Titusville, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • Ciderboys Mad Bark Apple Cinnamon Hard Cider, Stevens Point, WI — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • 3 Daughters Brewing Blueberry Peppercorn Hard Cider, St. Petersburg, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards 1911 Honey Crisp Hard Cider, Lafayette, NY — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
  • Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50

Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50

The small Charcuterie and Cheese Plate is reminiscent of what they served at the Appleseed Orchard during Food and Wine, this time with a lot more cracker than anything else. If there was about three times as much of the few cheeses and meats, then this would be a much better value. As it stands, you could nibble on things a bit while enjoying a drink, but I think the small size of each portion comes through in the picture. It’s certainly skippable, but grabbing one probably wouldn’t be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make, either.

Taste: 5/10

Value: 3/10

The Beers

There are no flights this year, but you can still put one together yourself, two-at-a-time, with the six-ounce pours. I like the White Christmas IPA the most, but you’ll want to head in whichever direction sounds tastiest.

Overall, they were right about the Festival Favorites with two of the better items at the Festival offered there. They may be in luck with improved facilities inside the ShowPlace, compared to the small outdoor booths where they have to cram in however much equipment they can. The Bundt Cake and Gingerbread Milkshake also stand out.

The World ShowPlace is also home to the Gingerbread Capital this year:

You can also look forward to a variety of musical performers throughout the day. Joyful! returns in this new location after performing on a stage in what is now the hole in the middle of Future World.

There are some nice backgrounds for photos inside, but it is dark:

And you’ll find most of the Festival merchandise just inside the door on the left:

That’s the World ShowPlace.

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Late Morning Touring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Winter 2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/late-morning-touring-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-winter-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=late-morning-touring-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-winter-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/late-morning-touring-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-winter-2020/#respond Mon, 14 Dec 2020 19:37:22 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24972 A very easy touring day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom continues from Parts One and Two. So far, this is what we’ve accomplished with our arrival at temperature check at 7:20am: Flight of Passage: 7:35am – 8:02am Na’vi River Journey: 8:05am – 8:24am Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:39am – 9:08am Kali River Rapids: 9:16am – 9:36am Expedition Everest: […]

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A very easy touring day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom continues from Parts One and Two. So far, this is what we’ve accomplished with our arrival at temperature check at 7:20am:

  1. Flight of Passage: 7:35am – 8:02am
  2. Na’vi River Journey: 8:05am – 8:24am
  3. Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:39am – 9:08am
  4. Kali River Rapids: 9:16am – 9:36am
  5. Expedition Everest: 9:39am – 9:54am

That’s five, sometimes lengthy attractions, completed in under two official Park hours. Our waits have averaged just a couple of minutes for the most part, even after moving purposefully slowly to Flight of Passage and Kilimanjaro Safaris as we enjoyed the decorations in the morning glow.

Everest hit triple-digit waits over the previous weekend, in large part due to excessive downtime. After it reoepend late in the day and people hurried over to ride, you can bet these markers leading to the attraction’s entrance will quickly fill.

They stretch back to DinoLand. At some point, they may have to move a line into what used to be the stands for Rivers of Light. I’m not sure if it would be more or less comfortable to slide down the benches and then be led to the attraction once you could basically walk on it versus moving very slowly somewhere closer to the ride. The line for Flight of Passage now goes back and into the theater for Festival of the Lion King. Talk about a wild time.

Crowds won’t be a problem today as we head to DinoLand for TriceraTop Spin and DINOSAUR:

TriceraTop Spin took about five minutes total in there somewhere.

DINOSAUR is posting five minutes at 10:15am. That’s unusually short for this time of day. We can take a look at posted waits here from the last month or so. This was supposed to go up on the 9th, so the last day we see on the chart is the 8th:

Larger: Here.

The average wait at 10:15am is 21 minutes, before the countdown to extinction arrives at a 40-minute average at 11:45am. You may notice that the averages are typically lower on weekdays, even with the shorter operating hours. On busier days with later closes, the ride is typically a walk-on to close out the day, though capacity reductions can come into play as well. Most people will want to spend their last hour in Pandora, getting in line for Na’vi River Journey with about an hour to close, followed by Flight of Passage. If DINO is posting a wait that’s longer than you’d like, returning two hours to close should mean a short wait most of the time. But you can also see how forgiving it is in the morning, with five minutes typically posted during at least the first two hours of official operation. With the Park typically opening 30 to 45 minutes before the stated time, you’ll have even more of an opportunity to get there in time to potentially re-ride it without much of a wait if you’d like.

We’ll be able to walk right on:

Disney installed plastic barriers behind the second row in each vehicle, but doesn’t fill it as far as I’ve seen.

We were onboard about five minutes after getting in line:

It’s now 10:26am, which means our total experience time was just 11 minutes, which may be the shortest of all time (of all time). The pre-show is just more queue, so we saved a couple of minutes with Dr. Seeker doing his thing off-camera. Hopefully you will survive your roofless trek into a storm of asteroids in about as much time.

And we’ve made it through all the rides before 10:30am. We could extend our day by walking Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, in addition to the paths around the Tree of Life. There’s the “Feathered Friends in Flight” show in the UP! theater in Asia. We’re due for lunch at some point. We could head out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for Affection Section and The Animation Experience, along with riding the Wildlife Express both ways. There’s also Wilderness Explorers and It’s Tough To Be A Bug.

But with Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, and Rivers of Light all dark, that’s at least 2.5 hours slashed off the day.

The Boneyard Playground remains closed for obvious reasons.

But DinoLand is decorated nicely for the holidays as we head out via Discovery Island:

We’ll return to Animal Kingdom for an afternoon arrival, probably after a couple more (A Taste of) EPCOT Festival of the Holidays reviews.

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