Disney Reacts To Large Crowds By Increasing Park Hours At The Magic Kingdom

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Yesterday’s (March 15) crowds at the Magic Kingdom were much larger than anticipated. We had projected a crowd level of 7 but the actual crowds were a solid 10. The Magic Kingdom saw peak wait times at the Headliners in the range of 100-120 minutes. Disney was caught off guard as well and have decided to increase the park hours at the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the week. Since park hours are a key factor in our predictions for the crowd level index we will be updating our predictions for the rest of the week as well. Surely, with the increased park hours, the new crowd level index will be 10.

There are some theories that might explain why Disney has underestimated the crowds during this week. One explanation is that last minute bookings are much higher than recent years, due to economic factors. When last minute bookings increase, the time to react is shorter.

If you are in the parks this week you will need to rely on two important tips. Touring plans and park hoppers. Touring plans work best to save you time during large crowds. If you have park hoppers, visit the EMH park in the morning then hop to a recommended park in the afternoon.

If touring plans are still not part of your vacation, use Lines on your mobile phone to check wait times before you visit a park. It will help decide which park is best for your group that day.

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Posted on March 16, 2010

14 Responses to “Disney Reacts To Large Crowds By Increasing Park Hours At The Magic Kingdom”

  • It is spring break week here in Texas. There are big military bases here and lots of people taking advantage of the $99 military tickets. The base at Fort Hood can’t keep them in stock… There may be a lot of spring breakers and military personnel in FL this week.

  • holy cow. i’ve never seen the lines this long before, even right before july 4 in 2007. the big headliners are easily over an hour wait, sometimes over 2.

  • I was shocked. I have photos of Frontierland from the top deck of the Liberty Belle and I have never seen so many people. The weekend also featured perfect weather after a few very wet and cold days. When I saw a wait for the TTA I knew I had to run out of there as fast as I could.

  • ARe the 10 levels holding out to be true for the whole week?

    • Yes, although there is some evidence that the extreme crowds are fading near the end of the week.

      • How do you see this impacting next year’s calendar (I know a long way off)? In looking to March 2011, you have the equivalent week (Sunday, March 13 – Sunday March 20) at 6-7. Do you still think this is valid? Or is what happened causing you to reconsider?

  • I believe this is the second year in a row Disney has underestimated crowds during the week of 3/15. I was there last year when they seem to have been caught totally off guard by the crowd levels and had to extend park hours. It is a shame this has occured again as it really impacts people’s experience at the park. Anyone have thoughts why this seems to be consistent miss by Disney?

    • i was there last year from march 18-22 and this year from march 17-21. for those respective time periods, i did not experience anything last year like i did this year with consistent triple digit waits for the big headliners and 10/10 on the crowd calendar. so for at least the days i was there the last two years, i found last year more typical, matching my experience in march-april from 2002-2008 and this year very different.

  • Just returned tonight from a WDW trip from 3/13 – 3/21. Lines app on the iPhone was a great help; I used it nonstop and posted 100+ times. We were a Texas based spring break family of 5. I saw a lot of 100+ minute lines for Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain, but I never waited more then 20 minutes all week. We arrived at opening, followed the Plans (mainly at MK), I was constantly scooping up Fastpasses, took a lot of afternoons off, and went to MK at night 3 times. On 3/20 we rode Thunder Mountain 10 times in a row from midnight to 1am (with my kids 7 and 10). Needless to say, we slept in today.

  • I agree that this year the week of March 14-19 was much more crowded than last year’s week of March 15-20. We did following the touring plans this year, and never waited more than 30 minutes for any rides. Most wait times for us were about 20 minutes. The one ride we waited 30 minutes for was Soarin’, and that was with our fast passes (which were all distributed by 11:00am). The standby line was over 150 minutes when we returned to use our FP’s. We rode everything we wanted, several things twice.

    At one point in MK, we hit a huge bottleneck at Peter Pan & Small World. No one was moving anywhere. The crowd levels were insane!

    Thanks Touringplans.com for giving us a tool to make the peak times at Disney enjoyable!!

  • We were down from March 12-19 and saw the largest crowds we have ever seen down there. Most headliner FP’s were out by 2PM. We saw 120 min waits consistently. We used FP and waited 30 min max, but it was very hard to maneuver through the crowds. Also, even with the hoppers it did not help much since the FP’s would be already be out at the park we hopped to. We think with the cooler weather, no one was swimming at the resorts so everyone was in the parks.

  • Hmmm… I’m detecting a pattern here. I shouldn’t go anywhere near Florida in the spring.

  • March 23rd through the 27th was wonderful! The crowds didn’t appear until the 27th for the afternoon.