Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – October 11 to 17, 2015

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How Did The Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?
How Did The Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

Last week, crowds at Walt Disney World were well above what we have seen historically for mid-October with only two parks reaching a crowd level below ‘6’ on our scale. Wait times continue to be equivalent to Thanksgiving or Easter rather than off-season. Theories to explain the sudden increase in wait times this year vary from an overall increase in travel to decreased capacity of the attractions. Regardless, this year is certainly different and we are examining how these latest crowd levels will affect the Crowd Calendar predictions for the rest of 2015 and into 2016.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, October 11, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
7
10

The Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted above average crowds at all four parks on Sunday but it did not expect to see three of the four parks reach the highest level on our scale. These wait time levels are more common for holiday periods than mid-October. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad averaged a 50-minute wait time while Space Mountain averaged 77 minutes.

Epcot
8
8
Hollywood Studios
8
10
Animal Kingdom
8
10

Monday, October 12, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
9

Perhaps more surprising than the three crowd level ’10’s on Sunday is the crowd level ‘9’ at Magic Kingdom on Monday. It is surprising because Monday’s park hours at Magic Kingdom were 9:00am to 7:00pm to make way for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the evening. Despite the shortened park hours Peter Pan’s Flight averaged 66 minutes and Pirates of the Caribbean averaged 48 minutes.

Epcot
8
8
Hollywood Studios
9
9
Animal Kingdom
8
9

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
6

Two parks had crowd levels above a ‘7’ on Tuesday however the other two were slightly less making Tuesday the least crowded day of the week up to that point. Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival kept World Showcase busy while wait times were high but manageable. Soarin’ had the highest average wait by far, at 93 minutes.

Epcot
6
7
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
5
8

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
10

After two days of shortened park hours, Magic Kingdom closed at midnight on Wednesday which brought in a lot of guests and pushed wait times to the highest level on our scale for the second time of the week. Only Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin had an average wait time below a crowd level ’10’ on our scale. Space Mountain averaged 90 minutes and Splash Mountain averaged 87. The averages last year on the equivalent day were 42 minutes and 40 minutes, respectively for those two attractions.

Epcot
4
6
Hollywood Studios
3
6
Animal Kingdom
4
7

Thursday, October 15, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
5

Thursday had the most reasonable wait times of the week although both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom had crowd levels higher than the day before. Great Movie Ride averaged 34 minutes and Toy Story Midway Mania averaged 91, both among the highest averages we will see all year.

Epcot
7
6
Hollywood Studios
4
8
Animal Kingdom
6
8

Friday, October 16, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
5
7

Wait times at Hollywood Studios were maxed out on Friday with Toy Story Midway Mania averaging a remarkable 101 minutes. Star Tours averaged 49 minutes, The Great Movie Ride 32 and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster averaged 70.

Epcot
6
6
Hollywood Studios
5
10
Animal Kingdom
6
8

Saturday, October 17, 2015

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
6
9

Considering the crowd level ’10’s we saw earlier in the week it was interesting that Saturday’s crowds were slightly lower. We still saw average wait times much higher than is normal for this time of year such as 85 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight, 74 at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and 36 minutes at DINOSAUR.

Epcot
6
5
Hollywood Studios
5
8
Animal Kingdom
6
9
What to Expect This Week
October 18 to 24, 2015

Whatever phenomena is pushing wait times higher this Fall there seems no reason to believe that it will end anytime soon. So, we expect wait times to be up this week as well. Arriving early and using a touring plan are always your best defence against higher than expected wait times.

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.

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

48 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – October 11 to 17, 2015

  • October 21, 2015 at 5:11 am
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    You guys might be well aware, but here in Indiana we have a lot of schools that have changed to a “balanced” calendar. Which means we get out for two weeks for fall break and spring break. I don’t know how many schools in the US are doing this, but this certainly makes it easier for our families to take a full vacation this time of year, when we weren’t able to before. It might be partially responsible. Just a thought.

    • October 21, 2015 at 7:03 am
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      I agree with Tania ^
      We are from Indiana and we’re there that week. We were a bit shocked how crowded it was. We were still able to get a lot done by showing up before rope drop, planning our fast passes and rides correctly. Big thanks to Touring Plans for the help! We will be using it for future trips and telling our friends and family about it too!

      • October 21, 2015 at 9:17 am
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        We were there last week too, and couldn’t agree more! It was more crowded than I expected, but we used touring plans to figure out the most efficient way to get through the parks. Starting early and using fast passes later definitely helped too! It was SO helpful to have touring plans, and I also will highly recommend their services to everyone!

    • October 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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      We are in Oklahoma City & also have 2 weeks off in the fall & spring.

  • October 21, 2015 at 8:11 am
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    We were at Magic Kingdom on Saturday 10/17 and it definitely felt like a crowd level 9!! Thankfully we got to the park at Rope Drop and were able to accomplish quite a bit in the first 2.5 hours. We took a lengthy midday break and went back to the park around 5pm. Lines and waits didn’t drop significantly until around 10pm. Once again, the last two hours were very productive and enjoyable.

    I noticed a few times throughout the day that the Lines app varied quite a bit from both the posted and expected waits. It wasn’t as reliable as times I’ve used it in the past.

  • October 21, 2015 at 8:49 am
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    Do you have data on FP utilization? FP utilization has to be up as more park visitors feel comfortable setting up their FP allotment and ensure these FP’s are used, even if it is for Living with the Land, Figment, and Nemo. The learning curve of FPP is being reached. As ride capacity is finite and a higher % of those rides utilizing FPP it is logical, and expected, that standby waits would increase. Add in a modest increase in attendance and you have a perfect recipe for the current waits we now see. Disney knows this and they know the impacts this has on user, guest, experience. Thus, the potentially damning decision to take price, tiering admission costs to attendance trends, to aide in crowd control. Disney knows this. These are not knee jerk decisions, but the reality of this FP system, and the hard choices that are being made. What amazes me is that the best Disney guide book did account for this logical impact on wait times in their crowd/wait predictions. Perhaps the predictive model is relying too heavily on historic data during a changing environment rather than applying forward looking metrics & logical assumptions.

  • October 21, 2015 at 8:56 am
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    I would love to see weather comparisons for the day as well. This year in the northeast weather is much warmer than it was last year, I wonder if the same is true for central FL. If so maybe that explains the higher crowd levels?

  • October 21, 2015 at 9:02 am
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    Having 4 Not So Scary parties a week is really causing problems at MK on non party nights leaving it open past 7 only 3 nights a week. It looks like the Christmas Parties are following the same schedule, 4 a week. It is such a huge difference, I’d highly recommend avoiding the MK on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays until the parties are over. We’ve been here the past 2 weeks at the parks almost every day, it is a really big difference in crowds party vs non party nights. Epcot however last Wednesday was great because everyone was at the MK.

    • October 22, 2015 at 7:40 am
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      Great idea, Lauren. We’re checking this too.

  • October 21, 2015 at 9:18 am
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    Yes, we were there the past two weeks & Magic Kingdom was jammed on the non Mickey Halloween Party days. The others didn’t seem as crowded. Mornings were manageable on all the days we were in the park. We always got lots of attractions in by 11:00 when the crowds started streaming in. Afternoon streets were so clogged you could barely move.

  • October 21, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    I’m very interested as well to see if there is any data on FP+ utilization. We were at WDW last week and were a bit unlucky in that we used the crowd predictions and chose Sunday and Wednesday for our Magic Kingdom days. While there, trying to rationalize the unanticipated crowds, it dawned on me that other school districts in the country must be adopting a longer fall break. We are from Missouri and more schools here are doing that (as well as Indiana it appears). When you combine higher overall crowds with increased FP+ adoption, that spells disaster for the standby lines. I also heard that FP+ usage is enabling more locals to visit the parks because they can schedule a few things and dip in for a quick visit rather than risk the lines. So, in addition to getting FP+ data, can you segment the population by standard tickets vs. annual passes?

  • October 21, 2015 at 11:17 am
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    WTF….
    Hopefully this is due to newer school October breaks…. If this is the “new normal”… holy cow.
    To cite Spinal Tap… come December… “it goes to 11”

  • October 21, 2015 at 11:29 am
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    We were also there all last week and the crowds were awful. When we tried to change plans and go to a different park there were no FP to be had. A couple of times we arrived a few minutes before opening to find that the park was already open and lines were already too long to wait standby. I did hear many people mentioning their kids had an October break- I guess there is no good time to go any more as schools find more and more excuses for days off!

  • October 21, 2015 at 11:40 am
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    Given that it seems the new normal is +1 to +2 higher than expected, do you think that altering your crowd calendar predictions to reflect +1 and +2 would help people plan better and utilize their touring plans subscription better.

  • October 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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    These are great comments, and great feedback. Thanks very much.

    Before we change the crowd calendar, we need to finish up an analysis of where it’s gone wrong. Fred, Steve, Seth, and I are working on that now. Once it’s done, we’ll post something here and decide where to go.

    Here’s what we know so far:

    1) Wait times are up at WDW and DL, but not Universal. Universal’s wait times seem to be down slightly, on average, even though attendance is up slightly. Uni told us they’ve made some improvements in how they dispatch rides, and this is why wait times are down.

    2) The number of people visiting the park in 2015 vs 2014, doesn’t even come close to explaining the increase in wait times.

    Attendance at WDW is up around 2-4% year over year, depending on the park. To put that in perspective, it’s about 1,000 or 2,000 people more in the Magic Kingdom on an average day. Distributed over the all the shows and rides in the park, you’d never notice that small an increase.

    3) If you look at the MK wait times, though, they’re acting like it’s an additional 8-10,000 people visiting the park. That’s a 20% increase over an average day, without opening any new lands or rides. That is *extremely* unlikely. I don’t know if a 20% year-over-year increase has ever happened at the MK. And in the middle of September, when school is in session? I would really doubt it.

    The two theories we’re looking at now are:

    1) Disney has reduced capacity at the rides. This saves labor cost and maintenance cost, but increases wait times. That can lead to more dissatisfied guests, so the question is whether the cost savings are worth it. (It’s also useful if you want to justify a move to “surge” pricing. Just sayin’.) We’re counting the number of people riding the rides now versus last year, to see if this is happening. It takes a while to collect these numbers.

    2) There have been changes to Fastpass+ allocation or use. It’s possible that Disney (or guests) have increased use of FP+, which would drive up standby times. We’re checking the advance and day-of availability to see whether the supply has increased or decreased. It’s also possible to check the standby wait time and # of people in line, to see if the Fastpass-to-Standby guest allocation has changed, and we’re looking at that too.

    3) The posted waits are artificially inflated to make the park look more crowded. We have tens of thousands of posted and actual wait times, dating back years, and this is what we’re using for the comparison. That should be done in a few days.

    I think it’s safe to say at this point, that the cause of the increased wait times is a change Disney made to its park operations. We just need to finish up the math to make the case.

    Once that’s done, and we know what Disney’s model is going forward, we’ll adjust the calendar.

    • October 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm
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      This is awesome – thank you for all you are doing! I love TP and thing you have the best planning info available. On another note, do you think you will have updates within the next couple of weeks? Would like to get my touring plans optimized and adjusted before our mid November trip. Thanks again!

      • October 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm
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        Thanks! Yes, we’re hoping by end of this month, so about 10 days.

        • October 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm
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          So glad to hear it! Thanks!

    • October 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm
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      Thanks Len. I’m a data guy and this is incredibly interesting! I know the analysis is forthcoming, but I have to think that how they are managing FP+ has a lot to do with it. I observed many standby lines with very long posted waits, but which were physically very short. A 90min wait at Space Mountain used to run out the door, but now barely reached the hallway with the interactive games. It made me wonder by what protocol the cast members allocate ride capacity to FP+ holders…is it 50%? 75%? Is it inconsistent?

      Then I considered how likely it was that any given person has a FP+ at any given time at the park. In other words, what percentage of the overall population would be theoretically eligible to access FP+ ride capacity?

      My guess is that nowadays, there is more ride capacity dedicated to FP+ than there was with the old FP system, and that the percentage of overall ride capacity dedicated to FP+ is disproportionate to the percentage of the attending population that actually have a FP+ at any given time. Then, having overcompensated for FP+, they are artificially strangling the standby lines.

      A follow-on effect is that with long standby waits, but physically short standby lines, keeping in mind that overall attendance is slightly higher, and given that FP+ lines are relatively fast…all means that it’s less likely any given person is actually in a line and leads to a lot more people just out and about clogging Main Street, the parades, fireworks, etc. etc..

      • October 22, 2015 at 7:51 am
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        Great ideas, Josh. We asked some of our Castmember friends how much of each ride’s capacity was typically dedicated to FP. They said that for most rides (Space, TSMM, etc), 80% went to FP+ and 20% to standby guests.

        If the FP+ line gets long, they said they can bump that to 90%.

        Those are the same numbers as a couple years ago, and only down slightly from the old FP days (which peaked at like 97% FP capacity).

        We’re checking these numbers by counting the number of people in the standby line and checking the actual wait. For example, we know the average hourly capacity of TSMM is around 1,000 people per hour. If there are 100 people in the standby line and person 101 waits 60 minutes, then 90% of the ride’s capacity is going to FP+.

        Again, this takes some time to do. But we’re working on it. (The way we’re doing it is getting someone to the very front of the standby line, then having them walk back to the end, counting people, then start the “actual wait in line” timer on Lines.)

        • October 22, 2015 at 9:57 am
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          That’s fantastic news that you have people on the ground to collect the raw data (as opposed to relying on other data sources). Now if only they could survey the people in line in addition to counting them…haha, I know that would go too far!

          I’m not sure how your model works, but as another poster points out the FP+ system does enable Disney to modify operations relatively easily and quickly…which can wreak havoc on your predictions! I wonder if there are some new parameters that can be established to help the model adapt to changes over time – machine learning style?

          In any case thanks a million for working on this problem!

        • October 22, 2015 at 11:33 pm
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          Something that may be of interest as well. After our trip in Sept 2014, I wrote a lengthy letter to Disney. Someone from their corporate operations called me back (a Cast Member trainer) and he mentioned that Disney is looking into more ways so that people will have less wait time – implying that eventually the goal may be to have almost everything be scheduled. (No idea how that would actually work though!)

          They were acknowledging that in today’s culture, people don’t wait very well. And, I agree with the idea that it’s easier to justify “surge pricing” if people are having to wait extra-long times.

    • October 21, 2015 at 2:56 pm
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      “2) There have been changes to Fastpass+ allocation or use. It’s possible that Disney (or guests) have increased use of FP+, which would drive up standby times. We’re checking the advance and day-of availability to see whether the supply has increased or decreased. It’s also possible to check the standby wait time and # of people in line, to see if the Fastpass-to-Standby guest allocation has changed, and we’re looking at that too.”

      My slightly educated guess — The surge is more people actually using FP+. I am booked for next August, I just got a mailing from Disney all about FP+, what days to log on, etc. I’m guessing FP+ is now being utilized far more than the traditional FPs were ever used, and more than the first months of the FP+.

      Disney claimed that the goal of FP+ was to increase the number of attractions guests could experience in a day. But I don’t think it really has that affect — Instead, it just pushes everyone more towards the average.

      Let’s say… that circa 2013… Someone with a good plan, taking advantage of Fastpasses… could experience 12-15 attractions at MK in a day.
      Someone who just walked in…. Started getting on the longest lines… They would only experience 5-7 attractions, as they waited 45 minutes for each mountain, etc.
      FP+ pushes everyone to 9-10 attractions per day (my numbers are rough estimations).. As now everyone gets 3 “line free” attractions. Instead of 45 minutes at each mountain, it’s only 5 minutes at each mountain, giving them an additional 2 hours to spend on other standby lines. Meanwhile, even the good planner, is now basically limited in their FPs, and getting longer lines everywhere.

      This is just my guess.

      I’m hoping I’m wrong… I’m hoping it’s a more temporary issue, like they cut back on staff, thereby cutting back on capacity. And they will realize this was a disaster, and increase capacity.

      It may be in Disney’s interests to tweak the FP+ system. Maybe only give 2 FP+ per person instead of 3… or only 2 for off-site guests.

    • October 28, 2015 at 10:17 pm
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      Thank you for all you do ! I’m guessing it is the new FP system that is causing the changes. I will be looking forward to seeing what you find out.

    • October 28, 2015 at 10:24 pm
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      Thank you for all you do ! I’m guessing it is the new FP system that is causing the changes.
      We were there in August this year and I couldn’t believe that the crowd levels on some of our days went up to 9’s and 10’s. But after we were in the parks I became a believer because I think the crowd levels predicted very accurate. It was crowded on those days!

  • October 21, 2015 at 8:24 pm
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    We were there 10/1-10/11 and had several 15-25 minute waits in the FP + return line. At Kilimanjaro Safaris, the return line was physically longer than the standby line ( which ended near the stroller drop off.) They actually added switchbacks to the BTMRR return line while we there.

  • October 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm
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    Disney can change fp+ behind the scenes without anyone knowing it. I bet they played with the fp+ distribution models and threw off the balance. This will make crowd predictions based on Stan by wait times extremely difficult to calculate. They could readjust them at any time.

    • October 22, 2015 at 10:31 am
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      Good idea. Steve’s looking at the FP distributions. We’ll see what it says.

  • October 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm
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    Just some first hand thoughts on the October crowds…..Was at Disney from October 3rd to 9th. I have been in October twice before the last time 3 years ago. I have been to Disney the last 3 summers. The crowds this October were as bad as summer and it was not just the wait time for the attractions. But the crowds in general were crazy. Just walking around the parks, trying to get food, etc. was worse then when I was there the first week of June. Especially MK, which as someone has mentioned, was packed on non party nights. But with so many parties nights you had limited options. And with HS closing at 7:30, AK closed at 6 or 7 everyone would go to MK on the non party nights (which would also be an EMH night so wall to wall crowds). I will never do Disney again when parties on going on. And as a side note – I did pay the extra $ for a party which was also packed. My past party experience had been great from a crowd perspective but that was 3 years ago so that has certainly changed.

    • October 22, 2015 at 10:29 am
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      That’s an interesting observation, Cathy. We’ve heard that Disney has reduced the number of MNSSHP tickets available from 25,000 to 20,000. That should mean fewer people in the park (assuming that security is checking wristbands). If the party was indeed “packed” then something else may be happening.

      • October 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm
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        Considering the chatter on Lines about Disney NOT checking banks and people being issued refunds because there are more people in the parks than tickets sold, I’m pretty sure this is the “something else” happening. They are letting non paying guests into the parties for some reason.

  • October 21, 2015 at 11:10 pm
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    The calendar has been really off this year, with much larger crowds than expected. As a Touring Plan subscriber for several years, what weeks in 2016 do you predict to be the lowest crowds??

    • October 22, 2015 at 10:30 am
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      Thanks for subscribing, Mike! Fred’s working on an update to the calendar, which should be out by the end of the month. That’ll include 2016.

  • October 21, 2015 at 11:13 pm
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    Cathy brings up some great points that I also noticed. We were there 10/3/15 to 10/16/15. With all of those Mickey Party nights and the other parks closing early there was really nowhere to go on Party nights. The hotel pools at our resort were packed in the evenings, something I hadn’t seen on our previous vacations that weren’t during these party times. So then the MK non party nights became like a make up day increasing the crowds in the afternoon & evening. And the walkways were really crowded, almost continuously. Perhaps attendance didn’t really increase significantly, as Len suggests, but for some reason huge crowds were pushed into the walkways. I hadn’t been to WDW in three years, but I did notice that entertainment had decreased significantly. That and the ending of parades in the non MK parks may be also contributing to these issues.

  • October 22, 2015 at 10:35 am
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    We had Seth in the MK yesterday to count people in line and gather FP info.

    It looks like Disney hasn’t significantly changed the ratio of FP guests to standby. A few years ago, ride CMs were instructed to give 80% of the ride’s capacity to FP guests as a starting point, and increase it to 90% if the line got really long.

    We checked with CMs yesterday at Pooh, Princess Fairtytale Hall, Jungle Cruise, Buzz, and Peter Pan, and they said they were running 80%.

    CMs at Space Mountain and Small World said “we can’t tell you,” but we counted the number of people in line to figure it out. Small World was running 90% and Space Mountain 85%.

    At least in the Magic Kingdom, then, it doesn’t look like Disney has started giving more preference to FP+ users versus a few years ago.

  • October 22, 2015 at 10:49 am
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    Oh, and 7DMT was running giving 75% of its capacity to FP+.

  • October 22, 2015 at 11:03 am
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    I have to wonder…considering that FP+ capacity hasn’t changed over time…could it just be that FP+ utilization is up? Perhaps before, the 80-90% of ride capacity dedicated to FP was under-utilized shifting capacity over to the standby lines, but now that’s just not happening?

    • October 22, 2015 at 11:41 am
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      If FP utilization is up and the FP:standby ratio hasn’t changed, the consequence would be longer waits in line to use FP+. We’re checking that too.

  • October 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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    I would really like to see how some of the recent wait time patterns compare to those at busy times 15-20 years ago. I don’t know if your data goes back that far, but we got used to long lines, even at attractions that are considered “secondary”, when we visited over Easter break in the 90’s, before WDW had any FP system. Some of these patterns seem similar to those.

  • October 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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    I also wonder about whether posted wait times are more inflated than they used to be. Before FP (or for rides than didn’t have them) it was pretty easy to estimate the standby wait time based on how far back the line went. Even then, posted times always seemed to be on the high side, which makes sense because human nature says someone will be more satisfied if the wait is shorter than expected instead of longer. So, if Disney expects the wait to be 15-20 minutes, they might post 30.

    When you throw in FP, it becomes harder to post an accurate standby wit because you don’t know for sure how many people with FPs will arrive in the next 15-20 minutes. I think a ride like IASW, where the entire standby line is visible, provides a good example of this. I have seen posted waits of 25 minutes there, but the standby line is barely past the FP merge point. Other times with the same posted wait, the standby line is out into the snake lines. I wonder if the uncertainty about FP returns has caused Disney to be even more conservative about posted wait times to be sure that a guest’s actual wait does not exceed the posted time.

  • October 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm
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    Len, Just a thought, something I have brainstormed about elsewhere. The overall impact of FP+ (though I am sure you have posited this yourself, just thought I would throw it out there)

    FP+ (just like FP) allows similar sized crowed to act like much bigger crowds, and even appear on the streets to seem bigger. Fps allow people to actually count as more than one person. Because you can be virtually queued somewhere, and also actually standing in line, or in the street or in a shop, simultaneously.

    If you increase the usage of FPs, without keeping the number of rides the same its going to have a significant impact on wait times. So if instead of riding 9 rides in the old day of FP- the average guest is now riding 7 rides SB and 4 rides FP+ that’s nearly a 20% increase in demand, without a change in crowds.

    Now, in my mind, this isn’t going to have much impact in the summer or the busier times of year, and it probably isn’t going to have too terrible an impact during the slower times of year. During the busier times of year people can’t really increase the total ride capacity used very much. If all the rides capacity is used, because the parks are full, and people are still only riding 9 rides a day but now FPing 3 of them and SBing 6, there actually isn’t any increase in average wait time or the appearance of crowds.

    In the slowest times of year there just isn’t enough people in the parks to max out the capacity so lines and crowds never really build. Though We have seen some anecdotal reports that the parks LOOKED busier the past year during the lowest times, but the wait times were still great (I am sure you have seen/heard some of this too)

    It will be in those middle crowd times of year, where FP+ (and the much greater usage of FP+ over FP-) will allow a crowd of sufficient enough size, to actually start maxing out the capacity of the rides through the use of FP+ and virtual queuing.

    Simplest way I can think of it is if you imagine that literally FP+ would allow everyone to be 2 people at once (though its probably more like 1.5 or something)

    If crowds are at 100% – Capacity is used 100% regardless FP+ no impact

    If crowds are at 30% – Capacity is still only used at 60% – everything still seems great

    If Crowds are at 50% – capacity is 100% … things seem far busier than they actually are.

  • October 23, 2015 at 10:43 am
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    We were there from 10/16-10/21 and the crowds were large. Saturday night (10/17) we walked by TTA around 8:30 and people were queued up with probably 100 in line before the turnstile ramp. On Monday (10/19) I was talking to someone across from Columbia Harbour House at 12:15. We were just looking at the line of about 50 or so people lined up outside Columbia Harbour house waiting to get in for lunch (I had just finished lunch at Be Our Guest). I haven’t noticed that before during my fall trips over the last 10 years. We did fine with proper planning, but the crowd levels do seem heavier especially at Magic Kingdom.

  • October 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm
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    Its BUSY+++
    Whatever is or isn’t happening with FastPass+ I don’t think you can escape the fact that there seem to be more people here.
    For example, when we arrived at OIA last Friday afternoon from the UK, we were held on the aircraft for 20minutes+ because the captain had been told by the control tower that there were too many people in Immigration to allow us to safely enter!!
    Never experienced that in over 10 annual October/November visits.
    Over this last week we have certainly had the impression of bigger crowds in all the parks most times that we have gone in.
    Anecdotally, speaking with many CMs and asking them their thoughts on this, virtually all felt that there were more people visiting at this time than in previous years.
    Another regular WDW guest we spoke with said they had had great difficulty getting a room on property , with availability ONLY at one of the All Star Resorts for their current visit.
    IMHO There ARE more people here!
    Hope that “comfortable” Fall visits to WDW aren’t now a thing of the past…. will await with interest your analysis and advice on all of this!

  • October 25, 2015 at 12:11 pm
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    I’m wondering if the crowds are up because of media exposure. We were waiting until our kids were 5 and 10 regardless, but there are so many crowd calendars out there and more people using social media to research. As a first timer, I feel so informed for our mid-November trip, much more informed than our 07′ Disneyland visit. I think more and more people are doing the same.

  • October 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm
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    Just got back from a week. Definitely very large crowds at Magic Kingdom. The rest of the parks didn’t seem to be too far up, other than Expedition Everest at AK. Just more crowds walking around. I don’t know if they are inflating wait times, but fwiw, one day the posted wait was 80 min. I spoke to the cast member at the entrance. He said to expect a wait of 50-80 min. That’s a big fudge factor. But many other times when I timed my wait at other rides, I found that it was longer than the posted wait times. Go figure. But without a doubt, there are more people wandering about everywhere. They got the expanded hub at MK done just in time. Overall, I think it’s a mixed bag. 1. Halloween party on more days 2. HS is a mess. 3. AK still isn’t a full day park so people go to MK more. 4. yearly increase in attendance.

  • October 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm
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    We were in WDW from 10/6->10/15. We have been to WDW the last couple of years during fall and I have never seen the parks that full! In all parks many of the FP+ return lines were so busy that it took us 15-25 minutes to get on the ride!
    Another problem was getting new FP+ after we used the initial 3 FPs. We had our FP in the morning, so we could get new ones around lunch time. By then, either all popular attractions were unavailable or had a return time just before park closing. Therefore half of the time we only used 4 FPs a day. Before the trip my fellow travelers made fun of me for all the planning I put into the trip. At the end they were grateful! 🙂
    I had used the touring plan data about the availibilty of FP+ depending on crowd levels. Either Disney has changed their FP+ distribution spontaneously or the data is in need of an update. In particular the MK times were far off. Are those number also part of your current research?

    In any way, the money I spent on your subscription was/is an excellent investment!! Without your data I wouldn’t have been the hero that saved this vacation! Thank you for your hard work!!

  • November 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm
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    Hi Len! Any feedback on what your research is showing? Are you able to identify any operational changes that might be causing the discrepancies like you were predicting?

    • November 3, 2015 at 6:21 am
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      Hey Josh! We’re doing a series of blog posts titled “What’s Up with Wait Times at …” for each park. We’ve done DHS, Epcot, and AK, and I’m working on MK now. Have you seen those?

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