It’s hard to believe but the Disney World theme parks have been reopened for ONE MONTH already! Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom welcomed guests back on July 7 for their Cast Member previews, and since then the four parks have begun their phased reopenings.
With the promise of limited capacity, we have witnessed drastically lower crowds than what we would typically see during the summer season. But how have these crowd levels changed over the last month? This is a question we’re getting more and more often from our readers and social media followers, so let’s find out!
Wait Times Are Getting A Bit Longer
We knew the crowds would be lower when the theme parks reopened, but we perhaps weren’t as prepared for seeing such short wait times! Magic Kingdom posted seemingly record-breaking wait times for all of its attractions, even the popular ones like Peter Pan’s Flight (we see you, 10-minute wait!).
Even with the temporary suspension of FastPass+, most of the attraction standby lines have been able to move at a consistent rate. So even the more popular rides with wait times of 30 or 40 minutes had lines that were moving right along.
Since the parks reopened a month ago, we have noticed a slight uptick in wait times. Across all four theme parks, wait times have seemed to stabilize at lengths that are slightly higher than the 5-10 minutes we saw on week one, but still significantly lower than what summer crowds typically yield. We’ll get into more specifics about crowds in each park shortly.
Park Pass Reservation Availability is Becoming More Difficult to Plan For
Arguably the biggest change to come about in Disney World’s phased reopening is the Park Pass Reservation System. Now, guests must have valid park admission as well as a valid Park Pass Reservation in order to enter the parks.
When the system first rolled out, reservations were in general widely available, with some early dates filling up for Annual Passholders right around the reopening dates. Since the theme parks reopened, however, Park Pass Reservations are becoming increasingly more difficult to get, at least for last-minute trips and especially for Annual Passholders.
Reservations have consistently filled up first for Annual Passholders, who, at the local level, we learned account for roughly 50% of current attendance numbers. Resort Guests and other standard Ticket Holders have been able to book reservations with more ease.
Hollywood Studios Continues to Be More Crowded
Since its reopening day, Disney’s Hollywood Studios continues to be the park that at least FEELS the most crowded. There are fewer rides open in this park than in the others, and wait times are typically much longer for the more popular attractions. We even spotted Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at one point turning guests away from queueing up in line when capacity for the line was reached!
Hollywood Studios has also consistently been the first park to show fully booked up Park Pass Reservations.
Boarding Groups for Rise of the Resistance are still notoriously difficult to obtain. In fact, it can be just as difficult to get a Boarding Group as it was before the closures began, even with the lowered capacity! While Virtual Queues and FastPass lines are on hold across the parks, for now, Rise of the Resistance is the only ride still requiring a spot in the virtual queue each day to gain admission. So even with lower crowds overall, this park still feels the most crowded — and sometimes dangerously so.
…Other Parks, Not So Much
Despite what we have been experiencing at Hollywood Studios, the other three parks have much more elbow room, especially at EPCOT and Animal Kingdom.
Those two parks have seemed to be the best options for being able to easily maintain social distancing from other guests. EPCOT’s lower crowd levels are also reflected in that it was the last park to fill up for Annual Passholders for the month of August.
We cannot say at this time if these trends will continue, but it has so far been fairly consistent on a weekly basis: Hollywood Studios is crowded, while the other three parks are much more manageable.
But Disney Springs Is A Whole Other Ballgame
That said, we do want to mention Disney Springs here as well, which is a whole other ballgame. While Disney Springs had very low crowds during its opening week in May, we’ve seen crowds steadily rise at the shopping and dining district over the past few months. And this past weekend we had reports from readers that the parking garage was full, and guests were being directed to park at a nearby hotel.
We weren’t able to confirm this ourselves, but we can definitively report that Disney Springs crowds have ticked up significantly in recent weeks — to the point that it can be difficult to socially distance while there on nights and weekends. We’re also seeing a lot less mask compliance in Disney Springs than we are in the theme parks, and we want you to be aware of that as well.
With the parks closing early and resorts closed off to many guests, it makes sense that the anyone-can-visit-anytime Disney Springs becomes the de facto dinner location for many guests. If you’re headed to Disney Springs and want to be as safe as possible, plan to go on a weekday versus in the evening or on weekends.
Despite the modest increase in crowds and wait times we’ve seen over the last month, it’s still vastly less crowded than what summer typically looks like in Disney World. This could be one of the reasons for the shortening of park hours, set to begin next month.
If you have an upcoming trip to Disney World, you can definitely expect to see on average lower crowds than what you’ve seen in the past. But, keep in mind there is also less going on. With no fireworks, parades, or character meet and greets for the time being, you’re left with just attractions, dining, and shopping to fill your time (which is still quite a bit of stuff to do!). That alone can fill up a day in the parks, especially an abbreviated day. While we cannot guarantee you’ll experience a literal “ghost town,” you should have no problem accomplishing your top priorities in each of the theme parks (but be sure to snag that Hollywood Studios Park Pass early!).
Do you have upcoming travel plans to visit Disney World? Let us know in the comments!