Disney World No Longer a Ghost Town, Chaotic Crowds “Getting Worse”

in Walt Disney World

Crowds in Magic Kingdom pre-pandemic

Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr

If you were thinking of visiting a Walt Disney World Resort while it’s a “ghost town,” it’s too late – the crowds have returned.

Over the past few months, the crowd situation at Disney World has looked a little different than usual – by which we mean there have been no crowds.

Huge crowds at Magic Kingdom in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Lee Bailey via Flickr

While summer and holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day typically bring long lines to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, guests have reported sparse crowds throughout the parks. Fourth of July brought about the holiday’s smallest crowds in a decade, helped in no small part to record-high temperatures in Florida this summer.

Although Disney CEO Bob Iger denied that Disney World attendance was a problem, Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Josh D’Amaro commented that the resort was seeing a decrease in demand this year, especially compared to Disneyland Resort.

Two young female and two young male Guests enjoy Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Related: Magic Kingdom Struggling, Could Lose Title of Most-Visited Theme Park

Financially, that’s Disney’s problem. For parkgoers, however, light crowds are only ever a good thing. Who doesn’t want a 20-minute wait for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and a late-night Space Mountain walk-on?

But the era of empty parks may finally be coming to an end. The latest reports suggest that they’re only getting busier – despite the fact that the end of summer vacation typically means the opposite.

“I have been monitoring current Disney World wait times for all four parks lately,” wrote one guest on Reddit, “and to my shock the wait times have either not budged or have even got worse [than] they were a few weeks ago when all kids were still out of school.”

They also noted that “even the Virtual Queues seem to be getting harder and harder to get each day.”

Crowds in Magic Kingdom's Central Plaza area at Disney World
Credit: Disney

As some guests noted, late August is a common time for residents of the Northeast of the US to visit Florida. With summer vacation extending into September in Europe, it’s also a popular time for tourists from the UK and beyond to visit the parks.

According to Thrill Data, rides at Walt Disney World parks have taken up multiple slots on the ten attractions across the world with the longest wait times on several days this week.

Popular rides with notably long wait times (all of which are over 80 minutes) listed on the My Disney Experience app include Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Jungle Cruise, and Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, and Soarin’ Around the World and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT.

The current longest Monday wait times around the world.

Related: Disney World Left Empty as Park Attendance Crumbles

Thrill Data’s historical tool also shows that several days this week have been markedly busier than the same week in pre-pandemic years (with the exception of 2019).

Thrill Data graph of average wait times at Disney World
Credit: Thrill Data

As some guests theorized, the reason why Disney World is seeing such heavy crowds right now is because everybody’s been talking about how it isn’t busy for so long.

“Any time there’s a secret ‘hey this time of year is slow!’ people let the secret out,” said BowTie1989, “and then when enough people know about it, they make [their] trips for that time and BOOM! No more secret downtime for the parks. Look at the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it used to be some of the slowest two weeks of the year, now it’s busy from Thanksgiving straight through New Years lol.”

Have you noticed heavy crowds at Disney World over the past week? Let us know in the comments!

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