Christmas is formally underway at Walt Disney World! In lower than every week, the parks have already seen a few of their highest and lowest crowds of the vacation season. This wait occasions report covers the nice and dangerous of wait occasions information for November 2023 (thus far) at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, plus on-the-ground observations and predictions for what to anticipate subsequent week for Thanksgiving.
Earlier than we get going, one factor we wish to emphasize is that crowd ranges are going to vary over the course of the vacation season. Rather a lot. That a lot might be apparent from the second sentence, indicating that Walt Disney World has seen excessive and low crowds within the span of every week.
Properly, there’s much more of that to return. There’s a purpose they name it the vacation season–as a result of it’s a season of holidays. Between the beginning of November and early January, there aren’t any fewer than a half-dozen holidays and breaks which have large impacts on crowd ranges. A few of these are apparent–the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New 12 months’s Eve. Others, like Jersey Week, are decidedly much less so.
The excellent information is that in between these holidays, there are lulls in crowds. The aforementioned breaks act as magnets, of types, and persons are much less more likely to take off of labor or pull their youngsters out of college when a built-in break is simply across the nook. This makes the downtime much more pronounced, except locals and diehard Disney followers who know concerning the higher occasions to go to.
Level being, the following couple of months are going to be a curler coaster of crowds.
Let’s flip to the wait occasions information–beginning with the same old asterisks. As all the time, this information just isn’t conclusive of attendance or in-park congestion. Moreover, body of reference is a significant situation.
Walt Disney World attendance has elevated by a number of million individuals over the course of the final decade-plus by means of 2019. Then attendance plummeted for a year-plus, spiked on account of pent-up demand for two years, and is now coming again to actuality. So your particular person notion of crowds could range significantly based mostly on once you final visited.
There are additionally a number of different variables that may influence “appears like” crowds, together with however not restricted to festivals at EPCOT, climate, visitor demographics, journey 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 may be, wait occasions are nonetheless the greatest measure of crowds–and the one goal one. The choice is counting on anecdotal observations, that are far more flawed and incomplete.
It’s inconceivable for anybody to be in every single place without delay, 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 sights or loitering about. Yada yada yada. See our 2023-2024 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars for extra disclaimers concerning the limitations, strengths, weaknesses, and many others. of this sort of put up.
With that out of the way in which, let’s dig into the information and have a look at Walt Disney World wait occasions. As all the time, all graphs and stats are courtesy of Thrill-Information.com:
We’ll begin with the month-to-month numbers for Walt Disney World as a complete. At current, November is strictly equal to October and solely barely busier than the autumn offseason.
October was truly busier than November final yr, however we don’t anticipate a repeat of that. This October was down significantly year-over-year, to the purpose that October was truly slower than summer season. We’re guessing that November 2023 will find yourself being busier than this October, however far much less busy than final November. That may be per each single month this yr after January.
Above is the weekly wait occasions information for Walt Disney World. The final two bars on the correct mirror the spike for Jersey Week and Veterans Day, adopted by the drop-off after these holidaymakers went residence.
As Walt Disney World heads into Thanksgiving week, it’s secure to foretell one other massive spike. It’ll doubtless be the busiest post-Easter, however we suspect it received’t surpass that. This Easter was busier than final Thanksgiving week, when pent-up demand demand was nonetheless working sizzling. Larger wait occasions for Thanksgiving 2023 would defy all traits we’ve seen this yr.
In keeping with our personal record of the 10 Greatest and 10 Worst Weeks to Go to Walt Disney World in 2023 to 2025, one of many worst weeks of the yr begins in the present day (November 17, 2023). Our preliminary forecast referred to as for these peak season crowds persevering with by means of November 25, 2023. Now that we’re nearer to the precise dates, I’d most likely exclude 11/25 from that “worst” window. It’ll be busier than the times that comply with, however shouldn’t be as horrible as the times earlier than it.
On a optimistic be aware, that very same record has the next week as top-of-the-line of the yr. Most likely not a shock, as we’ve been speaking up the week after Thanksgiving for years. Disillusioned we received’t be experiencing it ourselves this yr, however we’ve got a Disneyland Christmas go to as a comfort prize.
Subsequent is a high-level have a look at the every day numbers throughout all 4 parks at Walt Disney World. Unsurprisingly, Veterans Day was very busy at Walt Disney World as have been the times earlier than it. Extra apparently is that the complete vacation weekend was fairly packed. In a standard yr, that may be a given, however we’ve been discussing how weekends have been slower this yr at Walt Disney World.
This has occurred sufficient in late October and November that we’re able to name it a brand new pattern. We’ve been anticipating the slower Saturday and Sundays phenomenon to cease (or pause) through the vacation season, and it’s secure to say that’ll proceed till round January 7, 2024. That is such a preferred time of yr with locals and diehard Walt Disney World followers that it appears inconceivable for weekends to proceed being slower.
No different actual surprises on the every day numbers, apart from yesterday (November 16) being actually sluggish. Decrease crowds have been a given, as with the prior days, however wait occasions have been down round 6-8 minutes as in comparison with what they need to’ve been in mild of adjoining days. We’re guessing that is principally a matter of the climate.
We’re going to race by means of the park by park evaluation, beginning with Magic Kingdom.
The prickly porcupine impression for Social gathering Season has returned with the beginning of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Social gathering. The best way the sooner park closing time impacts crowd ranges is one thing we’ve lined at size, repeatedly. (See Least Crowded Late 2023 Days at Magic Kingdom for dates that we suggest doing MK.)
We’re beginning to see greater crowd ranges on party-shortened days. That is to be anticipated, and is because of rising crowd ranges throughout the board and fewer choices to keep away from MVMCP because it’ll happen on extra days of the week. Count on this pattern to be particularly amplified throughout Thanksgiving week. The “good” information is that the non-party days will get even worse, making the celebration days comparatively extra enticing regardless of these greater crowd ranges.
Subsequent up is Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom wait occasions just about mirror Walt Disney World as a complete, however at a decrease degree. It undoubtedly 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.
As all the time, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the busiest park at Walt Disney World as measured by common wait occasions. (Word the completely different scales for the assorted parks.)
For November 2023, DHS has 7 rides at or above hour-long waits. This truly just isn’t as dangerous as final month, which had much more sights that have been at or above 80 minutes. Notably, not even Slinky Canine Sprint or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are in triple-digit territory.
That’ll change for Thanksgiving week. Count on much more 60-80 minute waits for normal rides, and 120+ minutes for the headliners. We extremely suggest arriving for Early Entry, taking a noon break, and returning late. Moreover or alternatively, shopping for Genie+ shall be a giant assist. It’ll be definitely worth the (greater) worth!
Lastly, we’ve got EPCOT. It was a busy vacation weekend right here, with the park having its second-busiest day since Easter.
In opposition to my higher judgment, I used to be in EPCOT on that day and, holy cow, it was madness. Technically, it was “solely” a 9/10 on the group calendar. Once more, that is as measured by wait occasions. But it was the busiest I’ve seen EPCOT outdoors of New 12 months’s Eve in a very long time. I overhead a variety of feedback to this impact, most notably from a VIP tour information (if anybody would know, it’s her!).
Clearly, a 9/10 crowd just isn’t good–there’s solely degree greater! However the strains for meals cubicles, Starbucks, DVC lounge, and just about all the things else all “signaled” that this was a ten/10 day. I feel any affordable Walt Disney World common strolling by means of the park would’ve concluded as a lot.
The one factor that signaled crowds weren’t that dangerous was journey wait occasions. To make certain, they have been excessive. I noticed a number of rides with triple-digit wait occasions. Nevertheless, I additionally noticed Check Monitor and different sights in former Future World with reasonable wait occasions later within the day. If you happen to have been solely bouncing from ride-to-ride, disregarding all the things else, EPCOT wasn’t really horrible that day.
Though not the best instance on condition that 9/10 crowd degree, this could nonetheless underscore how EPCOT is infamous for a divergence between “appears like” crowds/congestion and wait occasions. We wish to warn you, once more, that that is solely going to worsen subsequent month with the filling in of the Large EPCOT Dust Pit and debut of Luminous: Symphony of Us. Plus, the beginning of EPCOT Competition of the Holidays and Candlelight Processional.
World Showcase can also be worse on weekends attributable to day consuming, whereas evenings are busier for individuals Park Hopping over to look at the fireworks. Briefly, individuals present up for issues aside from sights, in order that elevated attendance isn’t picked up by wait time information. We attempt to keep away from EPCOT on weekends throughout this time of yr (oops!), and that’s exactly why.
Truthfully, 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 additional hours from Animal Kingdom and provides them to EPCOT. It may open an hour earlier and keep open 2 hours later–and that may most likely pay for itself in bonus meals & beverage gross sales!
We’ve basically already began the commentary, so I’ll proceed this thread with Magic Kingdom. The next day, it was a considerably comparable story throughout filming for the ABC Christmas Day Parade and “The Great World of Disney: Magical Vacation Celebration.”
I spent that whole day in Magic Kingdom, arriving simply after opening and staying till nearly 2 am on that night time (or morning, I suppose?). Once I first approached Magic Kingdom, I instantly thought, “what have I gotten myself into?!” There have been large strains simply to enter the park, and the parade route was already packed. Some moron had given everybody a heads up that parade filming could be occurring (in equity, it wasn’t simply me–this was everywhere in the web), and roughly half of the Sunshine State descended upon Most important Road.
For just about the complete day, Most important Road and the parade route have been packed. Navigating the park was a problem at occasions. Numerous thoroughfares have been closed at occasions and site visitors turned one-way in different elements of the park. Most important Road viewing for Fortunately Ever After stuffed up about 45 minutes upfront, and bulletins have been performed encouraging company to look at from elsewhere. I ended up watching from the Rivers of America as a result of Fantasyland was closed, and even the waterfront promenade was pretty full.
The factor is, each have been proper. The entrance of Magic Kingdom was loopy and chaotic. Similar goes for areas of Fantasyland and different elements of the park impacted by the filming. Nevertheless, wait occasions as a complete have been fairly manageable. Some have been downright low! That was very true within the night, when the chillier temperatures and wind cleared issues out properly forward of that midnight closing time.
The final ~4 hours have been downright blissful, and I completed a ton of sights. I’m not in the slightest degree stunned the general crowd degree ended up being 3/10 for Magic Kingdom that day. Those that arrived early, left early, and stayed in the direction of the entrance of the park may be shocked at that quantity.
(I’m contemplating writing concerning the parade filming and/or staying till after midnight in Magic Kingdom. If there’s curiosity, please let me know–unsure what “worth” these posts truly include. I’ve ~2,000 photographs of Cinderella Fortress with cool searchlights that basically have to discover a residence!)
Finally, it’ll be fascinating to see what occurs subsequent. We’ll be watching wait occasions carefully beginning this weekend, as there needs to be a pointy spike heading into Thanksgiving. For these preserving rating at residence, final yr wait occasions elevated on the Friday by means of Sunday earlier than Thanksgiving earlier than skyrocketing on Monday. November 21, 2022 was far and away the busiest day of the yr…till it was dethroned by a number of dates between Christmas and early January.
We’re anticipating a repeat of that for Thanksgiving 2023. Monday will most likely be the busiest day of the vacation week because it’s the busiest day of just about each week, however don’t low cost Tuesday or Wednesday–these have been additionally 10/10 days final yr. Thanksgiving and Black Friday have been each 9/10 days, whereas Saturday was 6/10. By Sunday, the surge had subsided, and the week that adopted had a crowd degree of two/10. That’s exactly why it’s Our Favourite Week of the Total 12 months at Walt Disney World. The attendance wave recedes simply as rapidly because it swelled! It’ll be fascinating to look at what occurs this weekend–we’ll preserve you posted. Surf’s up!
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Ideas on the November 2023 crowds thus far at Walt Disney World? Predictions for the height of Thanksgiving week? Suppose it’ll be higher or worse than final yr, or about equally dangerous? Ideas on our forecast, evaluation, or the rest? Do you agree or disagree with something in our report? Any questions we may help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even once you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!