Anecdotal reports of large crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during days with a Fantasmic show have been flooding in since January. In typical Unofficial Guide fashion we set out to not only confirm these reports but also to measure its impact.
Measuring the impact is not as simple as just observing a set of days at the Studios. We have to control for other normal variations in the crowd levels not specifically due to the Fantasmic shows. Things like park hours, Extra Magic Hour schedules, weather, hotel occupancy and seasonal affects have to be taken into consideration. Think of it as an apples to oranges problem, except in this case we are trying to compare apples without a Fantasmic show to apples with a Fantasmic show.
Some interesting results:
Again, in typical Unofficial Guide fashion we discovered the answer is: it depends. There is no doubt that a day at the Studios with a Fantasmic show is going to be more crowded than a day without a Fantasmic show. We can expect crowds to be about 10-20% larger when a Fantasmic show is scheduled. What is interesting is that the size of that increase depends on how long it has been since the last day that a Fantasmic show was performed. The longer it has been, the more crowded it is. Once again, statistics are used to prove something that seems like common sense.
What does an increase of 10-20% really mean in terms of touring
The increased crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios affect the touring of the park in a couple of different ways. Peak wait times at headliner attractions like Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster will be higher and Fastpasses will sell out sooner than normal. Also, the peak times will happen later in the day as the start time of Fantasmic approaches. Wait times at the less popular attractions like Star Tours and the Great Movie Ride will be higher as well but not to the same extent. Expect to see increased waits of 5-15%.
The challenge for us at TouringPlans.com and the Unofficial Guide is that Fantasmic is an important aspect of the guest experience when touring Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Take the Animal Kingdom for example; recommending the Animal Kingdom on a less crowded day is simple because the only difference in a guest’s experience is the lesser crowds. For the Studios it is not that simple. If our only basis for recommending the Studios is crowd level then our data tells us to always avoid the Studios on a day when there is a Fantasmic performance. But for many guests, seeing Fantasmic is not just a part of their plan but an important part. For this reason our recommended parks model does allow for an occasional recommendation of the Studios when a Fantasmic Show is scheduled.
So if you would like to see Fantasmic, pick a day when the Studios is either recommended or not mentioned as a park to avoid. If you do not plan to see Fantasmic, by all means, avoid the Studios.