One of our readers sent us this email recently, asking for clarification on a significant jump on the crowd calendar. November park hours were recently updated, and they included extended hours at the Magic Kingdom to accommodate Annual Passholder Previews of the New Fantasyland. Whenever special events affect the park hours it creates a bit of a conundrum for the stats guys. Extended park hours historically indicate an expectation of large crowds, but special events such as passholder previews don’t usually significantly affect wait times at the other attractions. Usually, the increased attention is localized at the attraction being previewed.
What to do, what to do…
We had a similar situation on February 29, 2012, when the Magic Kingdom stayed open 24 hours for “One More Disney Day.” A regular day in late February would historically be an average crowd, but this day was packed, especially once evening hit. Wait times at the headliners stayed in the range of 70-90 minutes all night long. We had guessed that despite the special event, wait times would be normal. We were wrong.
This time we want to be conservative. We do expect the the wait times to be reasonable at most attractions outside Fantasyland, but the appeal of the official preview may be a big enough draw to cause a significant influx of people to the Magic Kingdom. So, we chose to keep the high rating. Like during the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot or Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, the wait times at the attractions don’t always tell the whole story of crowds at a park.
Regardless, we strongly recommend using a touring plan and taking advantage of the 8:00am opening whenever possible on these days. Think of it as your crowd insurance. If our estimates were too high, you won’t need to stick to it. But if it turns out to be a zoo, you will be prepared to survive one more Disney day.