Historically, the lowest crowds of the year at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World occur between late August when the majority of schools begin a new session until mid-September. This is still the case in recent years but the period between Easter and Memorial Day is quickly closing the gap. Since April 7, 2018 crowd levels at both Disney Resorts are lower than historical averages for the same time of year. The Crowd Calendar has tended to over-predict the crowd levels during that time, something we have not been able to say in previous updates.
As we continue to track the capacity utilization of key attractions at Disney parks there is some evidence that part of that decrease in crowd level we have observed recently is due to an increase the in operational capacity. We have seen attractions operate at 100% capacity in April and early May that were operating at 30% in January. This can have a major impact on the wait times we observe in the parks.
So let’s take a look at what this Crowd Calendar update means for those of you planning trips this summer and beyond. Spoiler alert – Toy Story Land will bring very large crowds to Disney Hollywood Studios and the impact on wait times may be felt at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kigndom as well.
Animal Kingdom attractions have been somewhat unpredictable this Spring. There is some evidence that Pandora Attractions may be dipping in average wait time. Of course, this is a dip from insane to very long waits so plan accordingly. Still, crowds in May are expected to continue to be steady at that park. Magic Kingdom also sees some days increase a level or two this month but don’t worry – a single point increase is hardly felt when using a touring plan.
After a cold and rainy spring at Disneyland, it appears that wait times on the west coast have stabilized. Our predictions have been more accurate than usual so this update doesn’t see a lot of changes in May.
June is all about Toy Story Land. Will it be as popular as Pandora? Will the new attractions draw huge crowds that spill out into the rest of the park and into the other parks? We think so, but mostly in the short term. The issue with the new Toy Story Land attractions is that the operational capacity is quite low, nothing near what Pandora can process. So if the crowds do flock to The Studios, wait times will be VERY high. Our projections for the crowd levels in June have not changed much since the last update but you will see some movement of a point or two some days.
Disneyland Resort crowd levels are actually going down on average in June although only by half a point.
Lots of July 4th visitors will visit Disney Hollywood Studios this year. Much more than normal we think. We expect to see more ’10’s at that park than maybe we have ever seen in July. Some days in the middle of the month have increased at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom too. We think that Disney’s other parks may see some spillover from frustrated guests who try to see the new attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios but leave because of the long lines.
July wait times at Disneyland Resort are expected to be similar to recent years during the same time period. As always, if we see unusual crowds at Disneyland in the summer it is likely due to unseasonal weather. That can mean lower crowds in extreme heat or extreme rain or larger crowds if the weather is more pleasant than usual.
Not a lot will change for August on this update. We see a point or two increase on some days but overall the average change is less than half a point for the month. This is normal as the crowd calendar models adjust for new park hour information and recent trends on wait times. This includes Disneyland as well, not much to report in terms of changes there.
Overall, September sees only small changes as well. We expect September to continue to be a great time to visit the resorts with low crowd levels although with fewer ‘1’s and ‘2’s than we have seen in the past. This is a trend that has been evolving since 2015.
Columbus Day weekend wait times have gone up in this latest update. Last year these days were more crowded than expected and our models are adjusting for this same period in 2018. Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios may see some ‘9’s and ’10’s that weekend.
Disneyland seems immune from the Columbus Day rush that we see at Walt Disney World however in 2017 Southern California fires kept crowds low during mid-October.
Thanksgiving will see the usual rush in 2018, no surprise there. Dates around Veterans Day are seeing an increase as well. We have under-predicted that week in recent years, plus the New Jersey Education Convention takes place that week in 2018. So, expect to face some crowd level ’10’s in November if you visit between the 10th and the 25th.
Nothing major to report for Disneyland in November, crowd levels will see only minor changes. If anything, this update sees a slight dip in average crowd for the month.
Crowd level projections for December are fairly unchanged although we did see some dates increase at Animal Kingdom for this update. Of course, late December will see very large crowds as usual. It will be interesting to see if Toy Story Land has the same staying power as Pandora did at Animal Kingdom. Currently, our models expect that the hysteria will die down by the time Christmas arrives in 2018. If we have evidence that may not be the case, we will see increases in crowd level in the coming months.
January – March 2019
Crowd levels in 2019 are going up on this update but that assumes that the operational capacity will be cut back as it was in 2018. This may be adjusted once we get closer to the fall.