Note: This is a trial blog post intended to summarize our predictions of crowds in Walt Disney World yesterday, and how the crowds actually looked. Let us know in the comments if this sort of thing is useful, and if there’s anything else you’d like to see.
Here’s a quick recap of yesterday at Walt Disney World. Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom, Disney World’s most popular park. We had the Magic Kingdom as a “neutral” park in our crowd calendar, so it was neither the best nor worst to visit on Wednesday.
Starting with Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland, here’s our predicted waits for Astro Orbiter and the actual wait times posted.
For all graphs, the blue line represents our prediction of Disney’s posted wait times outside each attraction. The green line represents our estimate of your actual wait in line. The red dots are actual posted wait times, from that attraction, submitted by TouringPlans staff and Lines users.
Astro Orbiter isn’t a particularly popular ride. It looks like our predictions were very close in the afternoon, and slightly above – maybe 10 minutes – in the morning.
Here’s Buzz Lightyear, also in Tomorrowland:
You’ll notice that many of the wait times submitted for Tomorrowland are in the morning. This is probably because Lines users are following one of the Unofficial Guide touring plans for the Magic Kingdom, which generally have folks visiting Tomorrowland early in the day. From the graph above, our morning predictions for Buzz looked pretty good.
Here’s Space Mountain:
One thing to note: Space Mountain was reported offline around 3:15 pm yesterday, so that may have affected wait times later in the afternoon.
Here’s the Tomorrowland Speedway:
We also had a report of a 5-minute actual wait at the Speedway at 5 pm. That’s slightly lower than we would have predicted.
On to Fantasyland. Here’s the crowd level for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
Looks like we were a couple of minutes underpredicting around 10 am, and 7 or 8 minutes overpredicting around 1 pm. But Pooh was reported offline just before noon, so perhaps crowds were just returning back to the attraction at 1 pm.
Here’s the Mad Tea Party:
Pretty close all morning. We also had a report of a 7-minute actual wait just before 3 pm, meaning our predicted actual wait was closer than Disney’s posted wait estimate.
Time for a look at everyone’s favorite flying elephant, Dumbo:
See that report of a 20-minute posted wait time at 9 pm? The same user reported an actual wait of 9 minutes, so Lines was once again more accurate than Disney’s posted wait time. I’m really happy with these results: we were very close on these estimates throughout the day, and Dumbo is a favorite attraction of small children and their parents.
Wondering what the newly reopened and re-themed Barnstormer was like on Wednesday? Here are the reported wait times:
I’m not sure how accurate those posted waits of 10 minutes were at 9:15 am, especially since the posted waits dropped a little after that,. Maybe someone forgot to reset the sign last night. Also, see that report of a 20-minute posted wait at 3:30 pm? Same user reported an actual wait of 16 minutes, which is almost exactly what we predicted as an actual wait. So far it looks like chocolate bars all around for the stats team.
Off to Londontown and Peter Pan’s Flight:
Looks like we overestimated the wait here a bit before 11 am, but it evened out. And I have to give Peter Pan’s Castmembers credit: The posted wait just after 9 am was 5 minutes, and the actual wait was 5 minutes according to our Lines users. Can’t get more accurate than that.
Finishing up Fantasyland, here are the wait times for It’s a Small World:
Waits were pretty low throughout the day, just as we predicted. There was a slight uptick just before 1 pm, which we didn’t quite predict. But who doesn’t need a couple more minutes in that queue in order to memorize those catchy lyrics?
On to Liberty Square. Here’s what the Haunted Mansion looked like yesterday:
At first glance it looks like we underpredicted Mansion’s waits in the morning and afternoon. However, we got reports of actual wait times of 4 minutes around 9:45 am, 1 minute at 6:15 pm and 4 minutes at 8:30 pm. So it looks like our estimates were closer to reality than the Mansion’s Castmembers were estimating. Incidentally, having our fabulous Lines users submit actual wait times is incredibly helpful in figuring out what’s happening when our estimates don’t match Disney’s. If you’ve ever submitted an actual wait time through our mobile app Lines, thank you very much!
There are not usually long waits for either Hall of Presidents or the Liberty Belle Riverboat in Liberty Square, so we’ll move on to Frontierland. With Big Thunder down for refurbishment, Splash Mountain is the biggest game in town. Here’s what it looked like on Wednesday:
Looks like we overestimated the wait at Splash. The morning temperatures were just below 80F, so I don’t think cold weather had anything to do with it. The humidity was dropping throughout the morning, but still around 70% or so, so I don’t think that would have made the morning feel cooler than it was. I’ll ask the stats guys to take a look at this.
Until we figure out a way to time the waits at the Pecos Bill’s fixin’s bar, that’s all we need to see in Frontierland for now. On to Adventureland! First stop is Pirates of the Caribbean:
Not much to see here – we said Pirates would be slow and it was. Let’s see what was happening over at Jungle Cruise.
Another attraction that it looks like we overestimated for the morning. Perhaps the stats guys were up late watching The African Queen and fell a little too in love with Humphrey Bogart. Or perhaps our estimates are exactly correct and the general public is just completely underestimating the kitchy humor of this attraction, and should be flocking to Jungle Cruise in droves. Hmmmm … perhaps I’ll ask the stats guys to take another look at their models.
Fortunately, we did much better at Magic Carpets of Aladdin:
One day when I have time, I’m going to try to explain the difference in appeal between Aladdin, Dumbo and TriceraTop Spin. Or maybe hire a grad student. I hear they’ll work for mac and cheese, which probably fits within our budget.
That’s it for the Magic Kingdom. Overall I’d say we did a pretty decent job. On to Epcot, which we had recommended as the best park to visit yesterday.
Let’s start with Soarin’, the most popular attraction in the park:
Three sample wait times isn’t a lot, and that posted wait of 5 minutes at park closing is really interesting. My sense is that there were just not a lot of people at Epcot to enter wait times.
Also in The Land pavilion is my all-time favorite boat ride through a hydroponic greenhouse. (You’d be surprised how often those appear in my line of work.) Here’s what the waits looked like at Living with The Land:
A pretty slow day. If you wanted to, I bet you could have eaten your weight in hydroponic tomatoes on the Behind the Seeds tour.
Let’s check out Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East. (Interesting side note: I toured Epcot with Sam Gennawey last weekend. Sam’s an urban designer and author of the new book Walt and the Promise of Progress City, about how urban design influenced Walt’s ideas for Epcot. Sam pointed out that the left side of Future World – Future World East – represents technology of the future, while Future World West represents the “nature” of the future. If you think about the attractions on the West side – The Seas, The Land, Imagination – and the space, car, and energy-focused attractions on the east side, it makes sense! Look for more of Sam’s insights in an upcoming Unofficial Guide podcast.)
Anyway, here’s Sum of All Thrills:
It looks like there were not a lot of people here, and our estimates of that were pretty accurate.
Before we leave Future World, let’s check out Spaceship Earth:
I like how we didn’t get estimates until 5 pm. Either people were taking the Unofficial Guide’s advice and not riding Spaceship Earth until later in the day, or they were arriving at the park for dinner in World Showcase. Both of those are fabulous ideas. Speaking of World Showcase, there are only a couple of attractions with queues worth mentioning. One of them is Norway’s Maelstrom, and here’s how it looked:
Looks like our estimates were pretty close. Moving back to Mexico, let’s see if anyone has woken up from a really bad Cinco de Mayo hangover and decided to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour:
Nope. Not many people there, and not much of a wait.
In short, we recommended Epcot as a good park to visit, and these wait times indicate that was a good suggestion. Let’s compare Epcot to the Studios, which we had recommended people avoid.
The most popular attraction in the Studios is Toy Story Mania. Here’s what the wait times looked like yesterday:
A couple of things to note here. First, notice how many more wait time submissions we had for Toy Story Mania, at the park we said would be busy, than for Soarin’, Disney World’s most popular ride, at Epcot, the park we said would have low crowds. The second thing to note: Lines users – what are y’all doing at the Studios? It was busy!
Last thing about TSM: Those posted waits in the early morning are vastly higher than actual waits. For example, two Lines users submitted actual waits of 14 and 18 minutes between 9:15 am and 9:30 am. I think the Toy Story Mania CMs may have posted higher waits than were strictly necessary in the early morning. And again, thank you to the Lines users who enter actual wait times!
Back to Sunset Boulevard, here were the waits for Rock ‘n Roller Coaster:
There’s a fairly large difference between the posted waits and our estimates, and I’ve asked the stats team to take a look. Perhaps the park was slightly more crowded than we thought. Also, because many families can get tour the Studios in under ten hours, you frequently see a drop in attendance at the Studios after dinner if the Studios does not have evening Extra Magic hours. And we saw this yesterday: four separate users submit actual waits of 5 minutes, 9 minutes, 8 minutes and 8 minutes between 5:40 and 6:15 pm. Granted, that’s during dinner time, when you’d expect a drop in waits as people go into restaurants, but that’s a pretty low set of waits. It’s also the basis for a good “wait out the crowds” touring plan strategy if you get to the parks later in the morning.
Staying on Sunset Boulevard, our estimates were better at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:
Back up Hollywood Boulevard, here’s how busy the Great Movie Ride [of Death – ed.] was:
This attraction hasn’t undergone a major update in … ever? Even during super busy times, it’s unusual to see the attraction with more than a 30-minute wait. Incidentally, it looks like Disney underestimated the wait at GMR in the morning. A Lines user reported a posted wait of 5 minutes around 9:30 am, and an actual wait of 14 minutes. I think our estimate was more accurate than Disney’s (again).
Moving over to Echo Lake, here’s what Star Tours looked like throughout the day:
Ah, I remember when Star Tours 2 opened and Disney was projecting six-hour waits. Those were the days! Again, it’s not that the park wasn’t busy. More people submitted wait times for Star Tours than Soarin’ at Epcot. But it’s a reflection that once you’ve been on Star Tours 2 a couple of times, you’ve seen it.
Rounding out the Studios attractions is the Backlot Tour. Here’s what it looked like yesterday:
A little busier than we expected. Fair enough – we said the park would be crowded.
Last, but not least, let’s head over to the Animal Kingdom to see what the crowds were like. We had the Animal Kingdom rated “neutral” on our crowd calendar.
We’ll start with Dinoland U.S.A. and go counter-clockwise around the Animal Kingdom. Here’s what Dinosaur looked like yesterday:
Not bad. Our estimates look great in the morning, only off by 5 minutes during the afternoon, and back in line towards the evening.
Here’s what Primeval Whirl’s queues were like:
That posted wait time of 0 minutes at 9:45 am is interesting. We had something like an estimate of 5 minutes, and it’s just a little unusual to see a 0-minute wait (to me, anyway – the stats guys may say I need to pay more attention). But overall our estimates looked pretty good.
Here’s TriceraTop Spin:
I don’t have much to say here other than every time I type “TriceraTop Spin” I want to add a “g” to the end, making it “TriceraTop Sping.” And I have no idea what a sping is. If anyone sees one for sale on eBay, let me know.
On to Africa and the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The Safaris is still a popular attraction, and it’s nice to see the new storyline de-emphasizing the “poacher” narrative. Not that we shouldn’t be aware of poaching, but if you ride the attraction more than twice, it gets a little tiresome. Incidentally, I heard Disney dropped a similar narrative at their Wild Africa Trek – if you’ve been on it recently, drop me a line and let me know. Okay, here’s the queue at the Safaris:
I have to add this: Two Lines users posted actual waits of 25 minutes at 9:18 am, and 26 minutes at 9:28 am. Once again, the actual wait time estimate (and posted!) in our mobile app Lines was a more accurate prediction of the wait than what Disney had.
Walking over to Asia to end our day at the Animal Kingdom, here’s what Kali River Rapids looked like:
Ah, that’s really interesting, and I wish we had some actual wait times to corroborate these posted times. For one thing, Splash Mountain was slower than we predicted in the morning, while Kali appears to be more crowded than we thought. I don’t think it was weather. I mean, I think the Animal Kingdom feels slightly warmer, on average, than the other parks on any given day, but not enough to explain this. Let’s keep an eye on these wait times for the next few days to see if the trend continues. Worst case is we temporarily relocate the stats team’s desks to the tiger enclosure until they get this resolved.
Finally, everyone’s favorite disable yeti is at Expedition Everest. Here’s what the lines looked like at Everest on Wednesday:
Looks like our predictions were within 5 minutes most of the day. Also, we had a user report an actual wait of 0 minutes just before 9 am, meaning Lines’ estimate of the posted and actual times was more accurate than Disney’s.
That does it for our tour around the lines at Walt Disney World for Wednesday, May 9, 2012. If you’ve made it this far, thanks very much! Please provide any comments and suggestions below. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.
See you in the parks!