As park capacity continues to sit at 35%, how busy can Walt Disney World really be? In the past few weeks, Guests could walk right on some attractions. However, will that trend stay the same as long as mask guidelines are in place?
Guests have reacted to mask guidelines, seeing both the positive and negative aspects of the requirement. However, right now, masks must be enforced as a safety protocol. As Disney Parks continue to work to keep Guests safe through the continuing pandemic, how busy is Walt Disney World really?
A Slow Start to the Week
At the beginning to middle of this week (February 7 through February 13), the theme park wait times remained low. Even popular attractions such as Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Splash Mountain were under an hour in the afternoon. Just look at that low 25-minute wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight! This wait time trend is consistent with late January’s park attendance, with little to no wait times.
However, Disney World wait times began to slowly increase throughout the week. In fact, on Saturday evening, waits for Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After, and Soarin’ Around the World were still around 45 minutes.
Test Track even reached a 65-minute wait around 7:30 p.m. This could be because Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom had already closed for the day, while EPCOT and Animal Kingdom had later hours. The return of park hopping and later park hours can certainly impact wait times.
On February 14, the wait times have increased greatly, despite the 35% capacity requirement. These wait times are close to what we would see on a typical holiday weekend in normal park operation. The delayed opening of The Haunted Mansion on this holiday weekend probably caused higher wait times for other Magic Kingdom attractions during its delay.
All parks drew large crowds on Valentine’s Day, especially Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flight of Passage and Splash Mountain had quite high wait times compared to other pandemic wait times, with 125 minute and 105 minute wait times respectively.
Even Carousel of Progress had a higher wait time than usual, reaching a 30-minute wait at one point on Valentine’s Day! My Disney Experience showcased these high wait times throughout the day, and the actual wait time seems to be semi-accurate to the posted wait times. However, without the red card system in place, the wait times cannot be as closely monitored as they were pre-pandemic.
Disney World wait times typically increase on holidays — This year is not an exception.
Though the wait times are not as high as a typical year, the wait times still increased overall. The average wait time during this week increased, with an average of about 15-40 minute waits depending on the Disney Park. This is a lower average than the President’s Day weekends of the pre-pandemic past.
However, this average is actually close to the wait times from Christmastime in December 2020. This is stunning considering that wait times during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and other winter holidays are typically far higher than wait times during other parts of the year.
I personally think that Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to visit Magic Kingdom or EPCOT, but I would not have expected this much Disney Parks love on this holiday! Attendance is growing due to the holiday weekend, that much is certain. Yet, wait times and attendance seem to be increasing overall despite safety protocols.
Why are Disney World Wait Times Growing?
Overall, Disney World wait times are increasing. This attendance increase is exactly what CEO Bob Chapek hopes to see as vaccine rollout increases. Though capacity cannot expand yet, Disney World wait times are expanding within their current limits.
Why is this growth happening? As Disney emphasizes their concern for Guest safety, Guests are likely to put more trust in The Walt Disney Company. Certainly, vaccine distribution has had an effect as well. When more Disney fans have received vaccines, more Disney fans can return to the Disney Parks confidently.
I think we are already seeing some of those vaccinated Guests return as vaccines increase, and COVID-19 numbers can slowly decrease due to public immunity. Please keep in mind that even if you have been vaccinated, you must still abide by the face mask rules, which you can read more about here.
Since COVID-19 numbers are lower than they were during the winter holidays, I believe this is why we have seen a smaller holiday bring numbers close to winter holiday wait time and attendance.
What Do These Stats Mean for My Disney Vacation?
If you have a vacation planned for the upcoming weeks, you’ll likely be pleased with your wait times. Though the waits are slowly increasing, they are still far lower than your pre-pandemic Disney World wait times. These low help Guests since is currently unavailable. Even though your Disney vacation will look different, it will still be just as magical. Plus, who doesn’t love lower wait times?
With lower wait times, keep in mind that popular attractions will still have longer wait times than others. The popularity of classic, high-wait kings Flight of Passage, Space Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during this busy Valentine’s Day proves the need for a well-planned Disney vacation, even with lower pandemic wait times. However, overall you will likely spend less time in line for your favorite Disney World attraction. With less time waiting in line, you’ll have more time for that extra ride on Slinky Dog Dash — or to leisurely snack on a Dole Whip.
As you plan your Walt Disney World vacation, we recommend using a licensed travel agent to create the magic-filled vacation of your dreams. If you’re ready to plan your vacation, contact our friends over at Academy Travel for a free quote on your Disney getaway.
What do you think of these Walt Disney World wait times? Let us know in the comments!