Wait times at popular rides have continued to go up this year at Walt Disney World in Florida. Today’s normal, monthly update to our 2018 Disney Crowd Calendar includes small adjustments to take those higher wait times into account.
Here’s an example of those small adjustments, for Space Mountain‘s 1-to-10 scale. All of the changes are between 1 and 3 minutes:
Space Mountain
New (April 2018)
Wait Times **

Crowd Level
Previous (March 2018)
Wait Times*
0 to 42.9 minutes 1 0 to  42.1 minutes
43 to 51.4 minutes 2 42.2 to 50.4 minutes
51.5 to 59.8 minutes 3 50.5 to 58.3 minutes
59.9 to 68.3 minutes 4 58.4 to 66.4 minutes
68.4 to 76.9 minutes 5 66.5 to 74.4 minutes
76.8 to 93 minutes 6 74.5 to 90.8 minutes
93.1 to 109.3 minutes 7 90.9 to 107.2 minutes
109.4 to 125.6 minutes 8 107.3 to 123.5 minutes
125.7 to 141.8 minutes 9 123.6 to 139.9 minutes
141.9 minutes and up 10 140 minutes and up

* Based on observed average wait times from 3/2016-2/2018
** Based on observed average wait times from 4/2016-3/2018

Before this update, a wait time of 68 minutes at Space Mountain was a crowd level of 5. With this new update, the same 68-minute wait will be a crowd level of 4. This means that for some days, the projected crowd level for that day has gone down even though the projected wait time for the attractions has stayed the same.
Without these regular crowd calendar adjustments, we would see many fewer days with crowd levels 1, 2, and 3, and many more days with 9s and 10s.

A change in the ranges may cause a change in Crowd Level, but it is more common for a Crowd Level change to be caused by an update in park operations, like hard-ticket events and park hours.

Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update

The average crowd level increased less than 0.5 for the next twelve months. Animal Kingdom has the largest average increase (0.7). Pandora has maintained its popularity and is attracting more people to Animal Kingdom. Since the last Crowd Calendar update, we have confirmed party dates for August – December. Our initial assumption was that Toy Story Land would open Memorial Day weekend, but we now know the opening day is June 30.

April 15 – May 24 (Average Crowd Level 5.9)

Mid-April up to Memorial Day there is a lull in the crowds. Most students are finishing their school years. It will be interesting to see how the lack of FastPass+ for Toy Story Mania affects touring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We think the Studios will be less popular than the other three parks until Toy Story Land opens in early summer.

May 25 – June 29 (Average Crowd Level 6.9)

Memorial Day weekend starts the summer crowds at Walt Disney World. Schools that get out early in the summer will fill up the parks. June 3 is the last day for Florida Residents with Silver Annual Passes to go to the parks. Crowds at Hollywood studio will see a bump in attendance with guests hoping for a soft opening of Toy Story Land. For the May update, we hope to have Toy Story Land preview dates to help revise our predictions.

June 30 – August 16 (Average Crowd Level 6.7)

Long park hours and hot weather help moderate the crowds in the summer. Toy Story Land will take center stage and draw guests into Hollywood Studios. The Crowd Levels do not represent wait times from new attractions. Toy Story Land will be a 10 and will draw some guests from the rest of the park. A lower crowd level for Hollywood Studios does not mean low wait times at the new Toy Story Land attractions. We saw this last year when Pandora opened at Animal Kingdom.

August 17 – September 2 (Average Crowd Level 4.8)

Summer vacations are wrapping up, but the heat is not letting up. Crowd Levels will be lower. Toy Story Land will still be going strong. The lower crowd level for Hollywood Studios does not mean low wait times at the new Toy Story Land attractions.

August 17 is the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Guests typically avoid Magic Kingdom on party days because the park closes at 6 pm. These are the days when Magic Kingdom will have the lowest crowd levels. Days without a party will have a bounce-back effect, and Magic Kingdom will be the most crowded park. If you have a park hopper ticket, party days are great days to visit Magic Kingdom.

September 3 – October 5 (Average Crowd Level 3.7)

Summer vacations are over! The Florida heat is starting to let up. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is in full gear. Fifteen of the 33 days have a party. The average Magic Kingdom crowd level on party days is 2.3 and 5.0 on non-party days. Crowd Levels are low for Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Land will continue to draw guests away from the rest of the park.

October 6 – November 7 (Average Crowd Level 5.3)

Fall breaks have become popular for more schools, and Orlando is a popular destination. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is still taking place through October 31. Fifteen of the 26 days have a party. The average Magic Kingdom crowd level on party days is 3.5 and 8.0 on non-party days.

November 8 – December 21 (Average Crowd Level 5.6)

This time period has a wide range of Crowd Levels. During Veterans Day weekend and Thanksgiving, the parks are very crowded. Some schools will start their winter breaks December 15. Veterans Day is the last holiday weekend when Florida residents with Silver and Gold Annual Passes can visit the parks. December 19 is the last day of the year that Silver and Gold Annual Passholders can go to the parks.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party runs from November 8 to December 21. The party takes a break for Thanksgiving. Just like the Halloween Party, the Magic Kingdom Crowd Level is much higher on days without a party. The average Magic Kingdom crowd level on party days is 3.8 and 8.0 on non-party days.

December 22 – January 5 (Average Crowd Level 9.3)

This is the busiest time of the year. All schools are on break. For many guests, New Year’s Day will be a travel day, as people head back to school and work. Others will take it easy on January 1 after a late night.

Looking Ahead at May’s Update

We have been working collecting 2018-2019 school schedules. We will finish collecting data from 100+ school districts, allowing us to incorporate that into the crowd calendar. We also expect to have dates for previews of Toy Story Land.

13 COMMENTS

  1. This is awesome!! Thanks for all your hard work crunching the numbers!!!!! I love getting some insight on how you make these crowd calendars work!!

  2. I have a trip coming up the week of 4/29 and pretty much all the days just had their crowd levels jump.. sometimes by 2!

    It says in the blog entry that “A change in the ranges may cause a change in Crowd Level, but it is more common for a Crowd Level change to be caused by an update in park operations, like hard-ticket events and park hours.” but there don’t seem to be any change in park operations, and that seems to be a big shift for just a subtle change in ranges.

    What’s going on that would cause that?

    • The newness of Pandora at The Animal Kingdom has not worn off. The expected decay in wait times has not occurred, and the models adjusted the wait times up.

      There have been park hour changes:
      4/29
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      4/30
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      5/1
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      5/2
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      5/3
      2018-03-17: AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      2018-03-16: MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      5/4
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
      5/5
      AK opening_time updated from 9:00 AM to 8:00 AM.
      AK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM.
      MK opening_time updated from 9:00 AM to 8:00 AM.
      MK closing_time updated from 9:00 PM to 12:00 AM.

      • I understand the AK times going up then but why would all the OTHER park crowd levels go up as well? Meanwhile why would extended hours result in higher wait times? Wouldn’t that lead to the park being able to absorb more people per day, and thus decrease times?

  3. When I optimized my touring plans after the new CLs were announced, I am now scheduled to finish my plans about 15 minutes later. To put that in perspective, that is less than a one extra-minute-per-attraction average.

  4. I was at WDW last week at the crowds were the most I have ever experienced. I have been going the week after Easter for spring break for the last 10 years and I have to say this year was truly the most busiest week yet. I do not question your numbers but just visually the lines seemed so much longer and the crowds of people were crazy. There were actually CMs playing traffic cop on the walkway by Tomorrowland Speedway towards Space Mountain. You might gain a bit doing rope drop but those lines build very fast. Soarin was posted at 90 minutes by 30 minutes after opening last Monday. At 9:45, the standby line for FEA was all the way to Nine Dragons (I didn’t see the posted time because after seeing that line, I accepted defeat and turned around to go ride the Seas with Nemo). I can’t figure out the crowd / queue management at all. The key to me is using your 3 fast passes as soon as possible then constantly refresh your phone to grab more fast passes. There are no more catching rides by standby as the the large capacity and fast loader rides were a sure bet in the past during crowded times. Now, all standby queues are long thus forcing you to take what ever is available by fp+. Is Disney inflating standby times and queue lengths purposely? Are they thinking if they continue to do this folks will eventually pay for more fast passes (not just for club level) as another way to gain revenue? I can’t figure it out…. I have another trip in August and if the trend seems to continue, I will be spending my next spring break at the beach have a more relaxing, less stressful not mention less expensive week.

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