We’ll try out a new style of post as we check out the day’s news, compile and compare today’s wait times, check on current Disney Park Pass availability, take note of operating hour changes, see what’s happening on the forum, consider some alternate takes from other sites, and see what else is going on.
Today’s earlier post was “The Highest of Wait Times at Walt Disney World Given Current Capacity Limits.” It may not have been as hard hitting as “Get to Know Towels at Walt Disney World,” but we are on a limited budget without that sweet unbiased travel agency money.
More news than usual came out today as Disney confirmed that the majority of the upcoming Christmas happenings will be modified at best and canceled outright at worst. Disney Parks Blog offers the full and official rundown of what to expect here.
Like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party before it, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is off this year. With no fireworks, parades, or traditional meet and greets currently in the fold, the cancellation is disappointing, but not surprising. There was no way to offer the event given the physical-distancing protocols that should continue for at least a few more months. Hopefully both events will return with a festive vengeance next year.
The Castle Dream Lights will be replaced by a rotating set of projections. Again, you can see how many people have congregated to see the lights turned on.
That also means no lighting ceremony or Frozen Holiday Wish show.
Magic Kingdom will be decorated for the holidays from November 6th through December 30th.
We can expect a multitude of seasonal treats and merchandise available on the same dates.
The Candlelight Processional at Epcot will not take place this year. This also isn’t a surprise given the seating/standing situation both on stage and in the theater. If you’re looking to add a little zip to your holiday season, I can probably upload my Bar Mitzvah video.
Characters in their holiday finest will return to Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on November 6th. The Parks Blog specifically mentions Minnie and Santa Goofy, with the likelihood that Mickey will join along with Donald. You can pull up my review of last year’s meal here. The characters should be available for socially-distanced pictures like we see at Topolino’s Terrace and Garden Grill.
Disney Springs will spread out their Christmas Trees throughout the shopping and dining district instead of confining them to the narrower Tree Trail.
Snow effects and the Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar holiday overlay will also return.
The Parks Blog specifically states that there will be no gingerbread displays this year. That likely also means no train at the Yacht Club.
Christmas Trees will still go up at many resorts along with the usual decorations. Considering a number of resorts are not officially open, it will be interesting to see what Disney does at something like Wilderness Lodge or Beach Club. The DVC portions of the resort are open, but the main resort is officially not. That could obviously change by December, particularly if people start “going there.”
Disney looks to scale back Festival of the Holidays this year, which begins on November 27th. JOYFUL!, the band that used to perform on the stage in the middle of Future World, will move to World ShowPlace, likely with a food booth or two inside. Their current stage is part of the hole in the middle of the Park.
Santa is expected to appear at each of the Parks and Disney Springs as part of festive new cavalcades. While we won’t see the full Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, characters from that processional, including the gingerbread people and toy soldiers, will march down Main Street during the day.
The PeopleMover will remain closed through at least November 21st at the moment as work potentially continues on upgrading the track, vehicles, and overall aesthetics. The refurbishment has already been pushed back a couple of times.
Today was the first day that we saw shortened hours across the Parks with the Labor Day Holiday now behind us.
Here’s today’s wait time chart for Animal Kingdom:
Animal Kingdom is the Park where we’re probably most concerned about the shortened hours now that we’re losing the 8am open that was so helpful. With the new 9am open, we do see Flight of Passage jump to 40 minutes just 15 minutes into the day, but that should still allow those guests who arrive by 8:30am to enjoy one ride with a short wait. With afternoon waits that still drop to 15 to 20 minutes, a second ride is doable most of the afternoon with the likelihood that waits towards the end of the day are exaggerated. The simulator’s 25-minute average for the day is about 90 minutes less than the same time last year.
Short waits at DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest are indicative of low overall crowds. You will note that Na’vi River Journey again posts a longer average wait than Flight of Passage with more stringent physical-distancing measures and a longer cleaning process slowing the line down.
We can see where September 8th’s wait falls in with what we’ve seen so far as the last entry in the chart:
One of these days, I will overlay these times on top of an actual calendar for easier readability. That first Saturday is July 11th and we work our way down from there.
September 8th saw the longest average wait that we’ve seen on a Tuesday so far, but it’s still a big drop off from the weekend crowds. We shouldn’t be too concerned quite yet as there are still some holiday lingerers around. If we start seeing 15+ minute average waits on weekdays that begin to climb higher, then we may need to make some adjustments in our approach to touring. For now, you’ll just want to plan on moving a little quicker in the morning.
Here’s today’s chart for Epcot:
Epcot has already returned to reasonable crowd levels too, despite what is now an unfortunate 7pm close. Our official advice is to do Test Track first, followed by Frozen immediately after, and then spend some time in World Showcase for a few hours before returning to Future World. That way, you reduce backtracking and can take advantage of the shortest waits in Future World after 4pm. With Soarin’ never posting a wait longer than ten minutes, you could certainly circle back after Frozen and take care of the rest of Future World in the early afternoon for the time being. Spaceship Earth is a walk-on all day along with most of Future World’s secondary rides. The shorter hours don’t look to be having a major impact on wait times just yet.
You’ll remember that this was our chart from Labor Day on Monday:
Waits at Epcot were over twice as long just one day prior, even with the longer hours.
Here’s the Studios:
The Studios fared slightly worse. It looks like the Tower of Terror had some capacity problems out of the gate, propping up wait times to 60+ minutes quickly after opening. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster wasn’t much better off, potentially because people scoffed at the Twilight Zone and went there instead. Sometimes I wonder if Disney should throw people off by playing “Love in an Elevator” on Tower of Terror and the “Twilight Zone” song on the roller coaster.
It does appear like losing the hour in the evening is going to impact wait times and what we’re able to accomplish negatively. We don’t have a single green average wait at any point during the day. While Muppet*Vision was supposed to run through Park close at 7pm, it didn’t push a wait time after 6pm. In the past, the show has closed at 6pm, but there could have been technical difficulties causing a final hour shutdown. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Here’s Labor Day at the Studios for comparison:
That last hour, from 7pm to 8pm, used to see green wait times even with Toy Story Mania closed on this particular date. With Toy Story Mania’s usual 10-minute wait in the evening, the averages would be even lower.
Today’s 32.3-minute average is the second-longest yet and the longest when Rise of the Resistance basically operated at full capacity. That 32.7-minute average on the Saturday a couple of weeks ago sticks out. That was the day when Rise didn’t open until the late afternoon, causing thousands of people to join other lines.
Speaking of Rise of the Resistance, Disney made it through 89 groups on September 8th, or an average of just under ten per hour. We conservatively estimate that Disney will move through eight groups per hour.
While Disney has made a big deal about not increasing overall capacity as they fiddle with the Disney Park Pass system and which ticket types receive the coveted reservation spots, it’s unlikely that they lowered capacity or the number of Park Passes that they issue given the new shorter hours. With the Studios still either filling to capacity or getting close daily, it would make sense that waits will be longer moving forward given the same number of people now vying for fewer spots on the rides. The rest of the week may shape up more positively.
Here’s Magic Kingdom:
Magic Kingdom saw its busiest Tuesday since reopening, perhaps as people got one last fill before heading home from their holiday trip. Downtime at about a dozen attractions also didn’t help, in addition to losing the 6pm to 7pm hour. Rain and lightning were the culprit for the late afternoon closures, which probably also sent some people to the exit. We may have a better idea about what things look like as we follow along the rest of the week. Wednesday is typically the least crowded day of the week.
— Denise at Mousesteps (@Mousesteps) September 8, 2020
Disney also rolled out the $16 Madame Leota Sipper at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments and a number of Halloween treats, which may have brought some additional people/eBay listings to the Park.
Here’s our overall Magic Kingdom chart with the most recent Tuesday filled in:
Hopefully Wednesday comes back down to around 13 minutes.
Bringing our chart back up again:
Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain are the big three rides where shutting down one of the two loading bays can cause a dramatic increase in waits. Big Thunder’s 25-minute wait is only eight minutes shy of the holiday high, but that could be in part due to the morning downtime. Pirates also saw an hour of downtime, potentially causing waits to increase there. Space Mountain’s 14-minute average is a good indication that operations were solid there with a 20-minute peak wait. With the required six feet between parties causing lines to stretch outside much further than they would normally, it’s possible that Disney won’t try to cut capacity as much as they would if we were still required to stand on top of each other.
Overall, it looks like wait times dropped as expected, with the exception of Hollywood Studios, where the Park will continue to either sell out or get close to it most days. I would imagine Wednesday’s waits will be even lower as more people clear out.
Current Disney Park Pass System Availability
Park Pass availability for Theme Park Tickets Guests remains fairly solid with the exception of this Saturday, when evidently no Parks are currently available to book. The Studios is also booked solid from September 9th through the 13th. Any Park on any date from there on out remains available.
Disney Resort Guests are apparently in the same boat. Saturday the 12th looks to be a doozy on par with Labor Day Weekend.
It remains a mixed bag for Passholders. Most Saturdays and Sundays coming up either sold out or limited to Epcot. You can always pull up a live version of this calendar here.
Operating Hour Changes
Park hours are now available through November 21st, the Saturday leading up to the week of Thanksgiving. Current Park hours are all currently the same. Animal Kingdom is open from 9am to 5pm, Epcot from 11am to 7pm, Studios from 10am to 7pm, and Magic Kingdom from 9am to 6pm. It will be interesting to see if Disney initially posts longer hours over Thanksgiving or sticks to the conservative hours that we see now. Theoretically, longer hours would mean more capacity, but Disney would have to do something to control the afternoon peaks.
Today’s Featured Forum Thread
You have the opportunity to join the discussion as we talk about face coverings on the forum. Specifically, in this thread. I hawk these Suay masks like I own the company, but I don’t since I can barely run a Disney blog that should consist of 95% copy/pasting. I’m a big advocate of comfort and breathability when it comes to face masks over cheap cloth masks with Baby Yoda prints or sticky disposables. The Suays will get you through the Florida heat and humidity a lot better than any cotton mask. Of course, the joy of the forum is that you can disagree with me or offer your own recommendation.
Interesting Things From Around the Internet
If you find something of value that you’d like to see included in one of these roundups, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideally, this would not be your own content unless you know I like you. And if you don’t like me, I’m happy to remove any content that may be linked or embedded. Either email me or make a public stink about it on Twitter.
You can check out Bricker’s take on Labor Day Weekend crowds on DisneyTouristBlog.com here. Our opinions are slightly different because we typically have different goals in mind. I’m about short waits, easy touring, and getting out of there as quickly as possible, while they focus more on atmosphere and photography. If we ever disagree, just remember I’m right.
WDW News Today offers reviews of virtually all of the new Halloween treats that were just released:
- The Pumpkin Tiramisu at Rose’s All-American Cafe
- The Pumpkin Cheesecake Cannoli at PizzeRizzo
- The Box of Bones Eclair from Backlot Express
- The Candied Caramel Apple from Trolley Car Cafe
- And the Scar Cupcake from Creature Comforts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
I may or may not get around to reviewing most of these over the next ~6 weeks. After all, my body is a temple. A Box of Bones Eclair does not belong in it. Of course, you can very easily run a Disney food blog without actually eating anything.
— Denise at Mousesteps (@Mousesteps) September 8, 2020
Gaston’s Tavern reopened with a Grey Stuff Cupcake. You’ll remember that Be Our Guest Restaurant is currently only offering the spendy fixed price menu for both lunch and dinner. That will set you back $62/adult and $37/child.
You can pull up my review of the experience here.
You can also pull up Dave’s take on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at yourfirstvisit.net here.
The Batuu expansion for The Sims is out at your favorite retailer. Here it is on Steam. No word on whether or not beers are $14. Entertainment Weekly also offers a first look at the second season of The Mandalorian. The first episode comes to Disney+ on October 30th.
That should get you caught up with the day.