Crowds have been overestimated a bit this week. While the total number of people in Disney World is a solid “8” on our crowd calendar scale, wait times are closer to the “6ish” range today, thanks to expanded operating hours, increased attendance at the water parks, additional staff, and ultimately fewer people than expected in the Parks. We saw lengthy waits yesterday at Epcot, the only Park that was expressly not recommended. Soarin’ was in the triple digits for most of the day and peaked in the 150-minute range. Test Track wasn’t far behind, peaking at 120 minutes and consistently in the 80-100 minute range after 10am. Waits were much more reasonable at the other Parks. Animal Kingdom, the most recommended Park, had wait times in the 30 minute range at the headlining attractions. At the same time Soarin’ was at 150 minutes, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest were in the 25-30 minute range. Hollywood Studios had elevated crowds thanks to Fantasmic, but waits were more manageable than any Fantasmic day this month, as predicted. We still saw Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster hit 60 minutes in the afternoon and Toy Story Mania was in the 90 minute range, but that’s a far cry from the 120 minute waits at Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and 150+ minute waits at Toy Story Mania that we saw on Fantasmic dates last week. Today, the recommended Parks are basically the opposite of yesterday. Let’s see what we’re dealing with.
All wait times are taken from what’s posted outside of the attraction between 1:00pm and 1:15pm. In parentheses, you’ll find yesterday’s wait time taken at the exact same time. I collect this information every day and use it to reassess the crowd predictions and recommended days in the future.
Animal Kingdom (Worst Park):
Dinosaur: 30 minutes (15 minutes)
Expedition Everest: 60 minutes (25 minutes)
It’s Tough to be a Bug: 15 minutes (5 minutes)
Kali River Rapids: 60 minutes (35 minutes)
Kilimanjaro Safaris: 80 minutes (30 minutes)
Animal Kingdom was our best Park to visit yesterday and we saw extraordinarily short afternoon waits. As expected, wait times are about twice as long at most attractions today. Although Disney no longer schedules evening Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom, Wednesdays with morning Extra Magic Hour remain the busiest day of the week. This is due to the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting the majority of Disney resort guests, but also by the natural progression of most Disney vacationers who are visiting for the week. They naturally visit the Magic Kingdom on their first full day, Epcot on their second full day, and look to one of the other Parks on their third day. Because Hollywood Studios is open longer and features Fantasmic on most Thursdays, the great majority of off-site visitors will also head to Animal Kingdom on Wednesday and wait until Thursday to visit the Studios.
Epcot (Third Recommended Park):
Living with the Land: 10 minutes (20 minutes)
Maelstrom: 15 minutes (30 minutes)
Mission Space Green Team: 10 minutes (15 minutes)
Mission Space Orange Team: 20 minutes (30 minutes)
Soarin’: 70 minutes (140 minutes)
Spaceship Earth:5 minutes (10 minutes)
Test Track: 70 minutes (100 minutes)
Epcot comes recommended today, though tomorrow it will be the most recommended Park. Waits are substantially lower than yesterday, but will be even lower tomorrow. It’s a decent day at Epcot though, especially if you follow the advice I dispense most often – arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Soarin’, Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, and Mission Space or follow one of the more compartmentalized two-day touring plans.
Hollywood Studios (Highly Recommended)
Backlot Tour: 15 minutes (20 minutes)
Great Movie Ride: 15 minutes (25 minutes)
Rock N Roller Coaster: 35 minutes (60 minutes)
Tower of Terror: 20 minutes (50 minutes)
Toy Story Mania: 70 minutes (90 minutes)
Hollywood Studios was tentatively recommended yesterday. If you read the daily analysis, you would have seen that the Studios was going to be busy due to the extended hours and Fantasmic, but would be substantially less busy than other Fantasmic days during the week. That turned out to be true. We saw pretty decent afternoon waits at the headliners on Tuesday, but those waits will be much longer on Thursday when Fantasmic is scheduled next. Considering the high overall crowd numbers, waits today are extremely low today. Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster waits will both be in the 100+ minute range tomorrow and other attractions will also have considerably longer waits throughout the day. The other benefit of visiting on a non-Fantasmic and non-Extra Magic Hours day is the fact that waits actually get shorter after 5pm because very few people arrive after 3pm. On a Fantasmic night, more and more people arrive in the afternoon, keeping waits long until close.
Magic Kingdom (Most Recommended):
Big Thunder Mountain: 40 minutes (60 minutes)
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin: 30 minutes (35 minutes)
Haunted Mansion: 25 minutes (30 minutes)
It’s A Small World: 20 minutes (20 minutes)
Peter Pan’s Flight: 50 minutes (60 minutes)
Pirates of the Caribbean: 15 minutes (20 minutes)
Space Mountain: 40 minutes (55 minutes)
Splash Mountain: 40 minutes (60 minutes)
Winnie the Pooh: 30 minutes (40 minutes)
Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park today, though it was also highly recommended yesterday. Considering the high overall crowd level, both days had relatively low afternoon waits. When Magic Kingdom was explicitly not recommended on Monday, wait times at the Mountain rides were in the triple digits and supporting rides like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and it’s a small world were in the 40+ minute range. We can expect heavier crowds again tomorrow for morning Extra Magic Hour and longer hours of operation.
All in all, the last few days have been better than expected as far as crowds and wait times are concerned. Next week should be considerably busier due to area schools getting the week off. Regardless of the crowd level, your best plan of attack is always visiting the recommended Parks, arriving prior to Park opening, and heading straight for the most popular attractions.