Friday January 20, 2017
Predicted 4-Park Crowd Level: 3.
Predicted Combined 4-Park Average Wait Time: 103 minutes.
Actual 4-Park Crowd Level: 3.
Actual Combined 4-Park Average Wait Time: 98 minutes.
Weather: High of 80 and low of 62. No precipitation. A nice day.
Wait times were higher at Animal Kingdom than expected – 17 minutes actual versus 13 predicted. One issue with predicting posted wait times versus predciting attendance is that you (or more accurately, I) don’t know exactly what capacity is going to be at certain attractions at certain times of day weeks or months in advance. I might be able to tell you to expect peak attendance of 16,300 people, but if capacity is half of what it’s going to be when peak attendance is 25,000 people, then you may wait longer in places on the less attended day. And to a point, that’s what we’re seeing at Primeval Whirl, where there’s no way that there’s 30 minutes worth of line if both sides of the ride are operating. It’s the same story at Safaris, where one side operating with a limited number of vehicles in the morning can lead to longer waits than later in the day, when both loading platforms are operating and more vehicles are on the road.
We were expecting 20 minutes at Epcot and ended up with 19 minutes, even if some early downtime at Test Track likely caused some higher afternoon wait times. But Soarin’ is basically a walk-on through 10am and the other attractions are near their default lows for the majority of the day. Saturday should prove considerably busier.
One other issue with capacity is the increases at Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania with the extra theater and track, respectively. To get a better idea about what to expect in 2017, I’m comparing waits on similar days over the last two years and then using those numbers along with some forward-looking factors to try to figure out what to expect. Last year, until Toy Story’s third track opened in May, wait times were about 75% higher, which obviously led to higher average waits at the Park. And then once Avatar opens at Animal Kingdom “this summer,” we’re going to have some issues predicting posted wait times there as crowd flow and operating hours see some substantial changes. But the point is that the predicted overall average wait at the Studios was 45 minutes and came in way under that at 35 minutes. Last year, Toy Story Mania’s average wait was 68 minutes and this year it was only 40 minutes, despite a similar number of people in the Park. But the March through May predictions should be improved as we have a better understanding of what wait times look like given a certain number of people in the Park.
Wait times have been consistent at Magic Kingdom this week with the wait here again at 27 minutes. It was 27 minutes on Wednesday and 26 minutes Thursday. Thursday was a bit lower with what ended up being lower attendance across all four Parks. One thing to note is just how quickly wait times increase in the morning these days with so many FastPass+ returners arriving earlier than they ever would have been able to do under legacy FASTPASS. It does make the later hours more and more attractive if you’re willing to skip Once Upon A Time and Wishes. In the first half hour of operation, the average wait is already up to 21 minutes. At night, you’ve got over an hour when the average wait is under 20 minutes.
We should see a sizable increase in crowds and wait times this weekend, particularly with the 80 degree highs and sunshine on Saturday. Sunday is supposed to be warm, but much wetter.