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Saturday, December 2, 2023

One of many Worst Weeks Ends & Greatest Begins for Disney World’s Christmas Crowds

November is over, December has arrived, and Walt Disney World is kind of midway by the vacation season. Two large weeks have handed, and two extra are on the horizon. This Christmas crowds report covers the lows & highs of wait occasions knowledge for November 2023 at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, a glance again at Thanksgiving and predictions for what to anticipate subsequent.

As might be apparent from the title…or our final crowd report…crowd ranges are going to alter over the course of the vacation season. Loads. And these aren’t gradual adjustments, both, with Walt Disney World step by step shifting from one ‘season’ of crowds to a different. They’re abrupt, they’re in a single day.

Throughout Thanksgiving week, Walt Disney World actually went from peak attendance and astronomical wait occasions someday to crowd ranges of two/10 the very subsequent day. That’s a fairly sharp distinction and we’re not anticipating something fairly on that stage for the remainder of the vacation season (actually, we didn’t even anticipate that diploma of a day-to-day distinction), however it however underscores the curler coaster nature of crowd ranges. Suffice to say, you shouldn’t take a look at social media pictures or posted wait occasions someday, and assume the subsequent day will probably be about the identical. There are large variations this time of the 12 months.

There’s much more of this to return. There’s a motive they named it the vacation season–as a result of it’s a season of holidays. Between the beginning of November and early January, there are not any fewer than a half-dozen holidays and breaks which have big impacts on crowd ranges. A few of these are apparent–the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yr’s Eve. Others, like Jersey Week, are decidedly much less so. I’m certain Hallmark celebrates a number of extra that even I’m unaware of.

The excellent information is that in between these holidays, there are lulls in crowds. The breaks act as crowd magnets, of kinds, for Walt Disney World. Persons are much less more likely to take off of labor or pull their children out of faculty when a built-in break is simply across the nook. This makes the downtime much more pronounced, excluding locals and diehard Disney followers who know in regards to the higher occasions and are in a position to go to throughout them. (That second half is essential. Lots of people have the information–far fewer can act upon it!)

Level being, the subsequent month-plus goes to be a curler coaster of crowds at Walt Disney World.

Let’s flip to the wait occasions knowledge–beginning with the standard asterisks. As at all times, this knowledge just isn’t conclusive of attendance or in-park congestion. Moreover, body of reference is a serious challenge.

Walt Disney World attendance has elevated by a number of million folks over the course of the final decade-plus by 2019. Then attendance plummeted for a year-plus, spiked because of pent-up demand for two years, and is now coming again to actuality. So your particular person notion of crowds might differ significantly primarily based on if you final visited.

There are additionally a number of different variables that may impression “appears like” crowds, together with however not restricted to festivals at EPCOT, climate, visitor demographics, experience breakdowns, operational effectivity, wait occasions manipulation, and park working hours. That is only a partial record, and all of these are vital variables proper now.

Briefly, wait occasions are an imperfect measure of Walt Disney World’s uncooked attendance or crowds. Imperfect as they could be, wait occasions are nonetheless the finest measure of crowds–and the one goal one. The choice is counting on anecdotal observations, that are rather more flawed and incomplete.

It’s not possible for anybody to be in every single place directly, and arduous to know whether or not you’re in a pocket of crowds, what effectivity points exist, and whether or not company are disproportionately doing points of interest or loitering about. Yada yada yada. See our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars for extra disclaimers in regards to the limitations, strengths, weaknesses, and many others. of the sort of submit.

With that out of the best way, let’s dig into the information and take a look at Walt Disney World wait occasions. As at all times, all graphs and stats are courtesy of Thrill-Information.com:

We’ll begin with the month-to-month numbers for Walt Disney World as an entire.

Even with the busy weeks of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, November 2023 ended up having an identical crowd ranges to October, and was much less busy than June or July. It was additionally considerably slower than final November. That’s in step with each single month this 12 months after January.

Above is the weekly wait occasions knowledge for Walt Disney World.

Right here’s the place we see why November was “solely” as busy as October, and the reply is principally the lulls between vacation weeks. There are 4 yellow bars on the far proper amidst a sea of inexperienced. These are fall break (x2), Jersey Week/Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. Whereas busier than adjoining dates, these weeks additionally weren’t practically as unhealthy as final 12 months when pent-up demand was operating crimson scorching.

Our record of the 10 Greatest and 10 Worst Weeks to Go to Walt Disney World in 2023 to 2025 named final week one of many worst weeks and this week probably the greatest. We’ve been speaking up the week after Thanksgiving for years, however nonetheless get complaints from diehard Walt Disney World followers that we’re gifting away the “secret.”

As you’ll be able to see, our suggestions haven’t any bearing in anyway on crowd ranges. Perhaps I ought to really feel unhealthy that my recommendation is being ignored, however the easy truth is that the overwhelming majority of individuals journey once they can. On-line recommendation (not right here or anyplace) doesn’t form or shift attendance to any significant diploma. So in case you’re a contrarian who thinks they need to zag as a result of “everybody else is studying that they need to zig whereas others zag,” you’re overthinking it.

Subsequent is a high-level take a look at the every day numbers throughout all 4 parks at Walt Disney World.

That is the place issues get fascinating. Over Thanksgiving week, wait occasions peaked on Tuesday, November 21 at 52 minutes for a crowd stage of 9/10. On Monday, Nov. 20, wait occasions hit 51 minutes, additionally a 9/10 crowd stage. On each of these days, Genie+ bought out at Magic Kingdom. Crowd ranges remained within the 8/10 vary till Friday, November 24.

I wouldn’t get hung up on these numerical scores. At present, something at or above 8/10 is peak season crowds. The size has been a bit thrown off by some completely astronomical numbers throughout that red-hot pent-up demand stretch. Relaxation assured, in case you go to on an 8/10 or larger day, you’re going to assume the parks are bonkers busy.

Regardless, crowds dropped off a cliff on Saturday, hitting 2/10 and staying at or beneath that stage on daily basis since. This isn’t tremendous stunning, as weekend pricing is prohibitive and blockouts are aggressive. Which means many locals can’t go to on Saturday or Sunday and plenty of vacationers are heading house. We’ve been discussing that pattern all 12 months lengthy. Nonetheless, we’ve got puzzled whether or not it might begin to shift over the favored vacation season. Guess not! 

For our half, we predicted that Monday could be the busiest day of the week, however suggested “to not depend out Tuesday or Wednesday” as sleeper picks for the busiest day of the week relying upon how arduous ticket occasions disrupted the attendance and wait occasions dynamic. So we technically bought the Monday name flawed (by 1 minute), however the common concept that Monday by Wednesday could be the worst of the crowds was correct.

Actually, although, I anticipated extra of a drop-off for Thursday and Friday and much less of a crowd crash for Saturday. Folks at all times begin heading house by Sunday–that’s nothing new–however to have the Saturday of a vacation weekend be so sluggish is nuts. Walt Disney World is actually behind the curve in adjusting AP blockouts and room charges. (Off-site lodge and flight costs are additionally big contributing components, however there’s nothing Disney can do about these.)

Magic Kingdom had one in every of its busiest days of your complete 12 months on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, hitting a ten/10 crowd stage.

This was completely unsurprising, as Walt Disney World made the extremely guest-unfriendly choice of scheduling Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Occasion on that Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Meaning 6 p.m. closings these days, which suggests company keep away from them and hunt down longer hours. The best way the sooner park closing time impacts crowd ranges is one thing we’ve lined at size, repeatedly.

Extra get together days from October by December than in August and September is an annual prevalence, however that is the primary time they’ve ever pulled that 3/4 days stunt throughout Thanksgiving. (Additionally price noting that there was a Jollywood Nights on that Monday.)

The even crazier factor is that, if Walt Disney World understood attendance tendencies higher, they might’ve shifted the Wednesday get together to Friday (like a traditional week). Their scheduling operated from a playbook that’s a number of years old-fashioned. (This isn’t in the least unusual. Walt Disney World is extremely reactive to altering attendance patterns, and often it takes them a number of years to regulate. It actually undercuts the “argument” some followers make that Disney is nice with knowledge and analytics. They don’t seem to be.)

Rides with the best common wait occasions in Magic Kingdom for your complete month of November:

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Prepare: 81 minutes
  2. Peter Pan’s Flight: 73 minutes
  3. Jingle Cruise: 67 minutes
  4. House Mountain: 53 minutes
  5. Haunted Mansion: 47 minutes

Subsequent up is Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom wait occasions just about mirror Walt Disney World as an entire, however at a decrease stage. It helps that Animal Kingdom has gotten some wholesome extensions to park hours, and people earlier openings plus late closings and the sooner sundown time (that means night in Pandora and Tree of Life Winter Awakenings!) definitely helps.

High common wait time rides in Animal Kingdom for November:

  1. Avatar Flight of Passage: 84 minutes
  2. Na’vi River Journey: 66 minutes
  3. Adventurers Outpost Meet & Greet: 49 minutes
  4. Kilimanjaro Safaris: 42 minutes
  5. Expedition Everest: 32 minutes

As at all times, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the busiest park at Walt Disney World as measured by common wait occasions. (Observe the completely different scales for the varied parks.)

Specifically, the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week was insanely busy–74 minute common wait time, 10/10 crowd stage, and the worst day at DHS since January 3. That is the worst day, by far, that any park has had within the post-pent-up demand “period,” if you wish to name it an period. (Interval might be the suitable time period.)

The straightforward and unsurprising motive for that is that DHS is the clear #2 precedence park for folks visiting Walt Disney World. Which means that the majority company did Magic Kingdom on Monday and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Tuesday. That was the “logical” strategy by way of park hours and likewise in step with all the things we’ve seen for the reason that begin of Occasion Season. (See Greatest & Worst Days of the Week for Every Park at Walt Disney World.) It was simply amplified as a result of vacation week.

Fortunately, readers of this weblog have had this recommendation pounded into their heads repeatedly, so nobody right here was in Magic Kingdom on Monday or Disney’s Hollywood on Tuesday…proper? RIGHT?! (Kidding, after all. Following the recommendation right here isn’t at all times possible for various causes, which is an enormous motive why it really works!)

For November, DHS had 7 rides at or above hour-long waits. Nevertheless, neither Slinky Canine Sprint (91 minute common) nor Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (79 minute common) have been in triple-digit territory. Clearly, that was not the case on that exact Tuesday–a day when 4 rides have been over 2 hours on common and three extra have been above 90 minutes–or Thanksgiving week as an entire!

Lastly, we’ve got EPCOT.

One factor you’ll discover with EPCOT is that it didn’t have the identical excessive highs for Thanksgiving week as the opposite 3 parks. We weren’t in EPCOT for Thanksgiving week, however I can say with a excessive diploma of confidence, that is meaningless. EPCOT is the native’s park and locals don’t do as many rides–and attraction wait occasions are what these crowd ranges measure.

With decorations going up and Competition of the Holidays beginning, EPCOT was assuredly congested–even when that was not mirrored within the wait time for Take a look at Observe or Frozen Ever After or no matter. It might’ve been within the traces for meals cubicles, Starbucks, DVC lounge, and just about all the things else.

We’ve performed EPCOT many occasions throughout Thanksgiving week, and even when the wait occasions didn’t sign that it was busy, I’ve by no means walked away considering, “that was pleasantly uncrowded!” EPCOT is its personal beast, and the notion of crowds actually relies upon upon a visitor’s priorities.

As soon as once more, we need to warn you that that is solely going to worsen beginning on December 5, 2023 with the filling in of the Big EPCOT Grime Pit and debut of Luminous: Symphony of Us. I’d anticipate EPCOT to have a few of its worst ‘appears like’ crowds in a very long time on the weekends in December. You may just about ignore the posted wait occasions as a measure of crowd ranges, until you’re solely there for rides…during which case, they’re a good measure of crowds! 😉

I’ve mentioned it earlier than, however I’m shocked that Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom have been getting wholesome park hours extensions…however not EPCOT. I do know this isn’t Theme Park Tycoon, but when I have been in cost, I’d take these further hours from Animal Kingdom and provides them to EPCOT. It may open an hour earlier and keep open 2 hours later–and that might most likely pay for itself in bonus meals & beverage gross sales!

In the end, it’ll be fascinating to see what occurs subsequent. In a traditional 12 months, subsequent week could be busier than this week, however nonetheless slower than Jersey Week or Thanksgiving. Final 12 months, crowd ranges rose to the ‘reasonable’ stage for that exact week (5/10 to six/10 vary); we have been within the parks then, they usually have been nonetheless fairly comfy. The distinction then was that the baseline was larger and that was a time when pent-up demand was operating scorching.

If we modify downwards primarily based on this 12 months’s crowd tendencies, subsequent week will seemingly be within the 3/10 to 4/10 vary. It’s seemingly the next week will probably be extra of the identical, with crowds probably creeping up a bit extra. Nevertheless, crowd ranges might be even decrease…and for longer. The timing of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yr’s Eve makes this 12 months a little bit of a wildcard. Final 12 months, crowds began growing from seasonal lows on December 17, hit peak season numbers on December 19, and stayed there till January 6.

Walt Disney World is getting ready for elevated crowd ranges by January 8, 2024. That’s why so many adjustments take impact on the next day, and never when the calendar first turns over into 2024. I believe they’ve most likely overshot that by a number of days, and realistically, crowd ranges will come down on January 6, 2024. That’s to not say they’re getting this “flawed.” They selected these adjustments a number of months in the past and certain needed to play issues conservatively. Regardless, they’re completely appropriate that the winter low season will start by January 9, 2024 on the newest.

As for when the subsequent peak of this vacation season begins, that’s trickier. If we’re following final 12 months’s tendencies, it’d be December 18, which is the Monday one week earlier than Christmas. It’s most likely a protected guess to foretell that day will probably be busy–it’s a Monday, in spite of everything–however I’d additionally anticipate crowd ranges to stage off and even drop on subsequent days that week. As an alternative, my cash is on December 22 being the subsequent peak in crowds at Walt Disney World, and the beginning of a 2-week stretch of the worst dates since this January–which might imply it’s busier than Easter.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about accommodations on our Walt Disney World Lodges Evaluations web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Evaluations. To save cash on tickets or decide which kind to purchase, learn our Ideas for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets submit. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys submit takes a novel take a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Trip Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, one of the best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for all the things you want to know!


Ideas on the November 2023 crowds at Walt Disney World? Predictions for the primary half of December and the weeks of Christmas and New Yr’s Eve? Suppose it’ll be higher or worse than final 12 months, or about equally unhealthy? Higher or worse than Easter? Ideas on our forecast, evaluation, or anything? Do you agree or disagree with something in our report? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even if you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!

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