Monday January 25th
Predicted Crowd Level: 3.
Actual Crowd Level: 4.
Weather: High of 70 and low of 41. No precipitation.
With the morning Extra Magic Hour, Animal Kingdom is pulling in more resort guests than most other days during the week and with the early close, there isn’t enough time in the evening for them to dissipate and bring the average lower. The morning is very good as per the crowd calendar:
Animal Kingdom is not recommended with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests and complicating morning touring. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and certain that you can arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it, then you can have a tremendous amount of success touring before 10am, but the afternoon is going to be busier than recommended days. Tomorrow is significantly better for those planning to arrive after 8am.
By 12:30pm, the average wait is 28 minutes across these attractions with 40 minutes at DINO, 40 at Everest, 50 at Safaris, and 40 at Primeval Whirl. That’s not great and plays directly to the website’s advice that while the EMH is good at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, you’re going to see higher waits that negate much of that advantage by 11:30am.
Even with three rides down at opening and Figment down most of the day, Epcot sees very low waits for the most part with an overall average of 15 minutes, which might be the lowest we’ve seen thus far. Saturday’s average with a positive recommendation was 18 minutes and Sunday’s was 16. With a lower overall crowd level and positive recommendation, we see even lower waits. Test Track’s wait would obviously be lower if it wasn’t down for an hour first thing. If this was July, we’d see 120+ minute waits for the rest of the day given that much downtime immediately after open.
It’s hard to say what would propel Toy Story Mania’s waits so high given relatively low waits elsewhere. A large tour group or two would do it, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting in a line that says 145 minutes. Turn down that average wait to a more reasonable 75 minutes, which is what you would expect with this many people in the Park, and the overall average drops to a more respectable 33 minutes. But like I’ve said over the last few days, afternoon wait times here are so long that there really isn’t much of a difference between a standby wait of 90- or 120-minutes. And it doesn’t take much more than another 150 people waiting in Toy Story’s standby line to push the wait up that much.
Magic Kingdom was not recommended. It rarely is on Mondays. These waits times still show up with lower than average crowds, but with the 9am open and early close, there isn’t a lot of time to spread the crowds out. I’m not sure how many of you have been around since the early days, but I have been doing this for something like six years now. This is what the website’s first January crowd calendar looked like:
This is what the crowd calendar said back then:
Monday January 24, 2011
Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm
Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am-9am
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm
Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm
Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm-11pm
Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm
Hollywood Studios: 9am-7pm
Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade 3pm
We’ll want to stay clear of the Animal Kingdom today. Its morning Extra Magic Hour will significantly increase crowds throughout the day, despite the fact that many Disney resort guests won’t be arriving until well after 9am. People tend to underestimate how long it will take them to get to the Parks. If you’re staying at the Polynesian, for example, you’re looking at a 30 minute drive from the resort to the Animal Kingdom, plus time for the bus to show up/time to park your car, plus time to get ready in the morning with just one shower and one or two sinks, plus time to eat breakfast etc. To get to the Animal Kingdom by 8am, you would likely need to be at the resort bus stop by 7am, which isn’t going to happen in most scenarios. While the morning Extra Magic Hour will be a great time to tour, the crowds will increase dramatically beginning around 10am and lines to the attractions will be longer throughout the rest of the day. We’re better off visiting on a day without the increased crowds from Extra Magic Hours, so we’ll plan to head to the Animal Kingdom tomorrow, when the crowd level will be the lowest of the week.
The Magic Kingdom will also be busier today than it will be for the rest of the week. We have a lot of people arriving over the weekend that will head to Magic Kingdom first thing on Monday, a 7pm Electrical Parade, and the extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours. The Electrical Parade is a big draw because there isn’t another one scheduled until Thursday and evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests because they’ll want to “take advantage” of staying on property. I would recommend skipping the Magic Kingdom during the afternoon, from about 2pm until 6pm. This will be the busiest part of the day. While your best choice would be to avoid the Magic Kingdom all together, you may be able to find success in the morning and at night because of the low overall crowds. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around noon for lunch with plans to stay until around 9-10pm. This makes the morning a great time to tour if you head to the headlining rides immediately after the Park opens. You could then take an afternoon break from 2pm-6pm and return for the parade, dinner, the fireworks, and evening Extra Magic Hours. If you’ve purchased the Park Hopper upgrade, you could also Park Hop from another Park around 5pm for dinner, the parade, the fireworks, and evening Extra Magic Hours. Either way, you’ll want to avoid the afternoon when the crowds will be at their highest level and you’ll probably want to take a relaxing break if you’re planning to be at the Magic Kingdom both early and late. I always recommend staying until the end of Extra Magic Hours because the last hour is always the least crowded. Plan to head to Fantasyland from 10-11pm because most families will have retired for the evening and it’s your best chance to ride Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, and Dumbo. It’s not uncommon for the wait to Peter Pan to be 60 minutes in the afternoon and 5 minutes during the last hour of Extra Magic Hours.
Hollywood Studios is my top choice. Last night’s Fantasmic and evening Extra Magic Hours will have been wildly popular and all those people who visited yesterday will not be returning today. We don’t have evening entertainment or Extra Magic Hours today, which means most people won’t have a reason to head to the Studios. Take advantage and enjoy short lines throughout the day. The lowest crowds are found from 9am-11am and 5pm-7pm so plan to be in the Studios for one or both of those times. You could also consider a Park Hop to Magic Kingdom for the Electrical Parade and Extra Magic Hours if you’re up for a long day.
Epcot is also highly recommended. Feel free to head in that direction if you like. Tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hour will be popular with Disney resort guests and we don’t have anything special going on today that will increase crowds.
In 2011, Magic Kingdom attendance was easily 20% lower overall and if we were to run the numbers, probably 30% lower in late January with significantly fewer South American visitors. And yet the Park is only open one extra hour in 2016 given significantly higher attendance. If you were trying to lower wait times, you might think that the most obvious answer is, “just keep the parks open later or open them earlier.” But the thing is, very few people are out and about for an 8am open and very few people are still out past 10pm. That’s why wait times are so short during those times. So other than increasing capacity by building more attractions, this is what we’re stuck with in the FastPass+ era. Maybe they will just double prices and this great national disaster will be over. Or maybe people will just max out a second credit card.
Moving on, we should see lower waits on Tuesday and some of the lowest waits of the year on Wednesday with the low overall crowd level and rain that basically lasted all day.