Our predictions did very well again this week with no park-level predictions missing by more than two index levels and no resort-wide predictions missing by more than 1. Before we pat ourselves on the back too quickly, we remind ourselves that predicting high wait times during Christmas doesn’t take a lot of science. However, we were pleased to see that our new wait time models did a great job predicting the nuances between each day. We correctly called which parks would have lower wait times and our prediction that The Studios and Animal Kingdom would trail behind Magic Kingdom and Epcot until December 27 proved correct.
Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day.
|December 22 to 28, 2013|
Epcot was the busiest park on Sunday as predicted. Spaceship Earth and Mission: SPACE both reached the highest levels on our scale while the other Epcot attractions were all near the top. Soarin’ averaged 84 minutes and Test Track, 81. Magic Kingdom, the Studios and Animal Kingdom were all better choices Sunday as suggested by the Crowd Calendar although they still experienced above average crowds. The level ‘6’ observed at the Magic Kingdom was surprising given that the park was open from 8:00 am until 1:00 am, plus Extra Magic Hours in both the morning and evening.
Predictions for Monday were remarkably accurate with only one prediction missing the mark. Epcot reached a level ‘9’ again while the other parks were close behind with ‘8’ at Magic Kingdom, ‘7’ at The Studios and ‘7’ at Animal Kingdom. Monday is the first day where we start to see increasing wait times at the major attractions while super headliners remain relatively stable. This is a phenomenon that we see often during peak times where guests forego the long lines at super headliners in favor of secondary attractions like Great Movie Ride, Spaceship Earth and Primeval Whirl.
Christmas Eve crowds were slightly higher than normal this year with both Magic Kingdom and Epcot reaching a level ’10’. At the attraction level, the only attraction to dip below a level ‘9’ at these two parks was Winnie the Pooh. The Studios and Animal Kingdom remained better choices as expected with wait times at a level ‘8’ and ‘7’ respectively on our scale. If you want to feel the Christmas spirit at the parks but don’t want the massive crowds, these two parks will almost always be a better choice. For example, on Tuesday at the Animal Kingdom no attraction had an average posted time higher than 40 minutes.
The ’10’s continued at Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Christmas day as predicted but the lower levels at The Studios and Animal Kingdom kept the resort wide level at ‘9’. Our only missed prediction was an under-prediction by one level at Animal Kingdom which came in at a level ‘7’, thanks mostly to the popularity of Dinosaur. Nothing says Christmas Day like a good old fashioned Dino-hunt. If you want to know what a level ’10’ looks like, the average posted wait times at Space Mountain and Soarin’ were 103 minutes and 106 minutes.
As crowded as it is leading up to Christmas Day, the real impact of Christmas week does not usually hit the parks until after the 25th. Many guests arrive on the 24th and 25th then hit the parks after celebrating Christmas Day. Magic Kingdom and Epcot remained at a level ’10’ on Thursday while The Studios and Animal Kingdom were held to levels ‘7’ and ‘8’ respectively. Still crowded, but better choices than the other two parks. Space Mountain stayed at an average posted time of 90 minutes, slightly less than Christmas Day but attractions like Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear and Pirates of the Caribbean were jam-packed with average posted waits in the range of 60 to 88 minutes. Again, evidence of the increased popularity of secondary attractions during peak season. However, compare that to the 16 minute average wait at The Studios’ Great Movie Ride on Thursday.
Epcot dipped to a level ‘9’ for the first time since December 23rd while Magic Kingdom remained at a level ’10’. On Friday, crowds at The Studios and Animal Kingdom started to increase to match the high numbers at the other parks earlier in the week. The Studios hit a level ‘9’ as predicted and our Animal Kingdom prediction of ‘9’ proved to be one level too high. By Friday, it becomes difficult to say that any park is a better choice than another. Each park experienced extreme wait times at most attractions (with the only exception being water rides, which depend greatly on the weather).
We had predicted a level ‘8’ for Animal Kingdom on Saturday which brought our resort-wide number to ‘9’. As it turned out, Animal Kingdom reached a level ‘9’ which pushed the resort-wide crowd to a level ’10’. All parks were extremely busy with average wait times of 103 minutes at Space Mountain, 102 at Test Track, 126 at Toy Story Mania and 57 at Expedition Everest. It is important to remember that these figures represent the average posted times between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. At mid-day many of these headliners saw posted wait times in the 160 to 220 minute range. Yikes!
|December 29, 2013 to January 4, 2014|
Simply put, the most extreme wait times of the year. Still, with some planning you can minimize the impact on your touring group. Here are some of our favorite tips for touring the parks during the most crowded week of the year.
- The fireworks show at Magic Kingdom on December 30 is a dress rehearsal for the next night. See it and skip it on New Year’s Eve.
- If you must do a park on New Year’s Eve, try Hollywood Studios. It is a great show with less mayhem.
- Visit the Magic Kingdom early on New Year’s Day. Most guests are recovering from the night before and won’t make it to the park until 11:00 am.
- Arrive early, use our holiday touring plans and expect extreme crowds.
To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.
To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.