Disney World Hit by Worst Crowds in 19 Years, Guests Warned

in Walt Disney World

A bustling crowd walks down Main Street towards a castle at a theme park. The street is lined with shops and decorated with orange pumpkins and fall-themed decorations, while the sky overhead is overcast. The castle stands large and iconic in the background.

Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

Disney World will be hit by its worst crowds in 19 years, AAA has warned.

Attendance at Disney World has been a hot topic in the past year. While the average guest thinks of the Magic Kingdom as the “Most Crowded Place on Earth,” the reality is that visitation took a massive dip in 2023, with the guests emptying out considerably over periods that would once bring peak crowds.

A busy street filled with people walking and sitting, surrounded by buildings with colorful decorations. The area has a festive atmosphere, with trees lining the street and small flags flying atop the buildings. The sky is overcast.
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

For example, July 4 – which has historically been a terrible time to pass by Disney World – was the slowest it’s been at the parks in a decade, with the average wait time sitting at just 20 minutes by 5 p.m.

According to the wait times listed on the My Disney Experience app, some of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions – including Soarin’ at EPCOT, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios – even had wait times less than 20 minutes, with the line for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at one point hitting just five minutes.

Guests walking down Main Street, U.S.A. in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Lee (myfrozenlife), Flickr

Earlier in the year, Memorial Day Weekend also saw a drop in attendance. Instead of its usual dense crowds, videos shared online showed a much emptier Magic Kingdom Park than anticipated.

But before you get excited and start planning your last-minute Memorial Day vacation for 2024, we have some bad (or good?) news.

Crowds in Magic Kingdom pre-pandemic
Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr

AAA has predicted that this Memorial Day will be the second most traveled Memorial Day on record and the busiest since 2005 – making this the busiest travel period in 19 years. An estimated 43.8 million Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more between May 23 to May 27. Their number one destination of choice? Orlando.

The city is specifically set to welcome 2.5 million travelers over the course of the holiday weekend, with a huge percentage of that number expected to arrive by car.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”

People walk through a busy, colorful theme park area with futuristic decor and attractions. Shops and rides line the path, and various families and individuals can be seen, some with strollers and others taking photos. The atmosphere is vibrant and lively.
Credit: Christian Lambert, Unsplash

In past years (with 2023 being the exception), Magic Kingdom has taken the brunt of the crowds. Inside the Magic covered the crowds in 2022 when Main Street, U.S.A. and Adventureland, in particular, were swamped with guests.

If the weather remains as hot as it’s been so far in May – when temperatures have sat dangerously close to 100 degrees, and the heat index (which combines the temperature with humidity) hit 110 degrees – guests should also expect Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon to see more guests than usual.

Beyond Walt Disney World, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (who has had his fair share of public spats with Disney in recent years) has confirmed that guests will be able to visit Florida’s natural attractions, including 175 state parks, trails, and historic sites, for free over Memorial Day Weekend.

Do you plan on visiting Disney this Memorial Day Weekend? Let us know in the comments!

View Comments (2)