Disney World is going to be a little different when we get back into the parks in July.
For one, capacity is going to be significantly limited for the theme parks and rides will have all new protocols. Add in that many of the shows won’t be reopening and it gets pretty hard to imagine what Disney World will look like — especially what wait times will look like. But we need to know!
With Fastpass+ gone, how much time will we be spending in line in a reopened Disney World? And how many rides will we be able to ride?
Let’s start with what we DO know.
How many people will be in Magic Kingdom?
Magic Kingdom is Disney World’s flagship park and wait times tend to be pretty significant. We’re going to focus on Magic Kingdom to try to figure out what lines will look like in Disney World. Let’s start by talking about just how many people will actually be in the parks.
According to the Disney Parks Moms Panel, Magic Kingdom has an estimated maximum capacity between 80,000 and 100,000; but the average daily attendance for the park is around 55,000 people, per the Themed Entertainment Association.
When Shanghai Disneyland reopened, they limited the capacity to below 30% of what it was prior to the closures. A capacity cut to 30% of the Magic Kingdom’s max capacity would mean fewer than 33,000 guests each day. Taking into account that the maximum capacity is an estimate and that there may be discrepancies in demand, we’re also taking a look at the situation if capacity limitations end up with the parks at a third of attendance level. If Magic Kingdom is brought to 30% of average attendance, it will mean roughly 16,500 guests each day. That’s a pretty notable cut.
Even with fewer people, won’t the rides operate at lower capacity?
Now, just because there may be significantly fewer people in the park, this doesn’t automatically mean wait times will be nonexistent. The rides are going to be operating at lower capacity as well, so that means it will take longer to get through a ride queue and get people on the rides.
The ride capacity is going to be lowered because of the new health measures that are being introduced. Universal Orlando theme parks are seating groups in separate cars on rides with small vehicles, and with rows between groups on larger vehicles. There is also sanitation between guests for many rides. It takes only a moment, but those moments add up to affect hourly capacity.
All of the opening rides in Magic Kingdom have a total ideal hourly capacity of 38,710 guests, according to TheParkDatabase measures. That means that in a given hour, around 38,000 guests can actually fit on the Magic Kingdom attractions, not including Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Swiss Family Treehouse (for lack of conclusive capacities).
Let’s say that ride capacity is halved due to spacing guests, not running some vehicles, sanitizing and cleaning vehicles, and portions of attractions being closed. (Remember though, some attractions may be able to run at almost full capacity — think Omnimovers like Haunted Mansion or Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. So halved, in this case, is a slight overestimation.)
If ride capacities are halved, that takes these attractions from being able to accommodate 38,710 guests each hour, down to 19,355 guests. In most instances, lower ride capacity would mean longer lines — but NOT if you take the updated park capacity into account.
Will there be long lines?
Let’s see what combining these two capacity figures can show us. On a peak capacity day with ideal ride capacity, 39% of guests can be accommodated on the attractions per hour. Everyone else is in line, dining, walking around, etc. On an average day with ideal ride capacity, 70% of guests can be accommodated on the attractions.
BUT, say Magic Kingdom opens at 30% capacity (like Disneyland Shanghai) with rides running at 50% hourly capacity or higher. You’ve got 30,000 people in the park with 64% of them on rides in a given hour. That seems awfully close to an average Disney day. Disney CEO Bob Chapek has mentioned lines being crazy short, so what gives?
For one, keep in mind that even though the percentages are similar, there are still fewer people TOTAL who will be out and about in the park and in lines. On an average day, 70% of guests on rides means that approximately 16,500 people are free to be in lines in a given hour. With the capacity cut, 64% of people on rides means that only around 10,800 people are free to be in lines — and that makes a difference.
On top of that, our figures are pulled from the estimated MAX capacity of Magic Kingdom — but Disney doesn’t release those numbers officially, so the number of people in the park could be lower. We’re also using a HALVED figure for ride capacity, when, with some rides able to operate almost as they normally do, that’s on the lower side of estimations. If anything, MORE people will be able to be accommodated on rides in a given hour.
To take into account the discrepancies in Disney’s capacity figures, estimates for ride capacities, and potential demand; we’ll look at what the parks will look like operating with 30% of average attendance rather than max capacity. In this case, 117% of guests would be able to be on a ride during any given hour. That’s space on rides for almost 3000 MORE guests than there are in the parks.
That means there would be enough space on the attractions to accommodate EVERYONE in the parks. With practically no one left off of rides to dine, walk around, shop, and WAIT IN LINE. If Disney caps average capacity to 30%, there won’t be enough people to make for long waits!
Of course, some rides could still see waits in this scenario. If everyone would rather ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train than Astro Orbiter and Barnstormer, a decent wait could crop up for Mine Train. Still, with rides operating at 50% capacity, there just wouldn’t be enough people to make for long lines.
Overall, we’re looking at somewhere under 10,800 guests not accommodated on rides in a given hour, and possibly significantly under that number. That’s a pretty steep difference from the average of 16,500 people not accommodated. Take into account some of those guests dining, shopping, and walking from place to place, and it sure starts to sound like lines will be pretty short. NOW it makes sense why Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that a day in reopened Disney World will be, “quite the magical day.”
So, how many rides can you REALLY ride in a day at the reopened Disney World?
Based on the way other theme parks have opened, it seems that you’ll be able to ride a LOT of rides in a day at the reopened Disney World — like, basically all of the rides that are open in the theme park you’re visiting. The biggest limitation would be time spent just getting to each ride and navigating the parks! If the parks follow the same model we’ve mocked up for Magic Kingdom, we might have the rare experience of seeing a mostly low-wait and wait-free Disney World.
That would be a pretty crazy sight. So, we’ll be waiting eagerly to see how things pan out when the parks reopen on July 11th. You can bet we’ll report in with how things are running — and how much (or how little!) time we spend in lines.
Would you be willing to travel to Disney World right when it reopens? Tell us in the comments!