With limited capacity and no FastPass+ being two major changes in a reopened Disney World, many have wondered exactly what the impact has been on the average wait time for the many rides and attractions at the four theme parks.
After visiting the parks nearly every day since the phased reopening began and checking out the various wait times for ourselves, we wanted to share some insight on what expected wait times have been versus what the reality ACTUALLY was!
Wait Times Overall
This should be music to many people’s ears: across the board, wait times are significantly shorter than we were used to seeing pre-closures. Especially during the summer months, we are accustomed to seeing some of the longest wait times of the entire year! Let us be the first to say that it doesn’t get much better than a 5-minute wait time for Flight of Passage!
We aren’t exaggerating when we say five minutes. Since the attraction first opened, Flight of Passage consistently has had one of the longest posted wait times, frequently topping 120 minutes or more! But now — it’s a walk-on.
Just because wait times are reduced, it doesn’t mean your experience in the line will be totally smooth sailing. There’s still the risk that a ride will experience downtime while you’re in line (possibly for cleaning), making your wait time slightly longer. When you remove those variables, however, waiting for an attraction at Disney World now is a much less lengthy experience than pre-closure.
Pre-Shows Are Eliminated Or Shortened
Another factor to consider is the lack of pre-shows. To accommodate physical distancing and to eliminate any chances of groups clustering together, Disney has either eliminated or shortened the pre-shows at most of their rides. That means no stretching room in Haunted Mansion!
This may lend itself to shortening the wait times even more. Cast Members no longer have to stop the line while a pre-show is in progress and instead guests can flow right through the room where the pre-show typically takes place and keep the line moving. While this could put a damper on the story of the attraction, it can also shave some time off of your average wait in line.
That said, since the parks first reopened in July, we have noticed a modest uptick in the average wait times across all four parks. While we may expect to continue to see these wait times look more “normal,” in our estimations, these are still vastly shorter times than when the parks are at “normal” capacity.
Posted Wait Times vs. Actual Wait Times
Most people look to the posted wait times at attraction entrances as well as on My Disney Experience as an indispensable tool when planning your day in the parks. But from time to time, those posted times can be a bit deceiving, with the actual wait time either being shorter or perhaps even LONGER than what the sign at the entrance to the queue says!
In our experience, the posted wait times are either accurate and match the actual amount of time we wait in line, or the posted wait time ends up being a bit higher, meaning we waited in line for LESS time than we anticipated!
In several instances, we saw posted wait times of 40 minutes and in reality we only waited 15-20 minutes, even on more popular rides like Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Tower of Terror! The line may even LOOK quite long but keep in mind that social distancing measures are in place to keep parties apart, which will naturally “stretch” the line out to make it look longer than it actually is!
If you see a wait time of 15-20 minutes, in our experience that USUALLY means walk-on or very close to walk-on.
One day recently in Magic Kingdom we waited 8 minutes for Pirates of the Caribbean when the posted wait time was 15 minutes. We also got in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with a posted 45 minute wait and ended up waiting about 25 minutes ’til boarding. Later that same day we noticed Space Mountain had a posted wait time of 15 minutes, but we got on in just 5 minutes, which is practically how long it takes to simply walk to the loading area!
On another recent trip to Hollywood Studios, we saw a posted wait time of 25 minutes for Tower of Terror and got on in 15 minutes!
But even when the wait time is accurate, we can’t argue with a 20-minute wait for Peter Pan’s Flight in the middle of the afternoon during the Summer (or, even better, a posted wait of 20 minutes that ends up being a walk-on like we saw recently!).
Rides May Be Closed For Cleaning, Which Can Affect Your Wait Time
In most circumstances, the times when the actual wait time ended up being LONGER than the posted wait time was if Cast Members end up cleaning the vehicles. This can take up to 20 minutes, depending on the ride or attraction.
This occurred when we waited in line for Muppet Vision 3D in Hollywood Studios. The posted wait time was 10 minutes (with shows running approximately every 20 minutes), but we ended up waiting for a total of 20 minutes because they had paused in between shows to clean the theater.
Some rides clean every other vehicle as they load, which keeps the line moving, however it IS at a slightly slower rate. Other rides will shut down completely while they clean, meaning you are standing in line the whole time in one place. This may be hard to avoid during your visit to the parks, so be prepared for those unexpected halts in the line!
Click here to find out what surprised us the most when it comes to Disney cleaning their ride vehicles!
When are wait times LONGER than we expected?
Despite usually waiting less time in line than we anticipated, there have been a few notable exceptions. Some lines around Disney World have taken a bit LONGER than we expected!
First, there was that line for the Splash Mountain gift shop during the preview days and earliest opening days at Magic Kingdom. The wait was HOURS long — much longer than the wait time for the ride itself! We never thought we would see the day where a line for a gift shop was longer than the wait for the actual Splash Mountain RIDE in the middle of scorching hot July!
Then there’s Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This wildly popular attraction still uses the Boarding Group system in order to ride, but it’s just as difficult to actually GET a Boarding Group as it has ever been. As of this writing, Boarding Groups are distributed at 10AM (park opening) and 2PM, but the groups still fill up within MOMENTS!
We have also seen a couple of instances where the standby lines ARE rather lengthy. For example, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway can get busy, especially earlier in the morning (we have even been turned away from getting in line if it’s at capacity!).
Most days, at park open, we’ve seen Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway posting 75-90 minute wait times but, even an hour later, the times often drop near the 45-minute mark or slightly lower and hover around there for most of the day. Recently, we hopped in line with a 30-minute wait and were on the ride within 20 minutes!
In general, Hollywood Studios appears to be the one park that seems to have longer wait times compared to the other parks — sometimes even long enough to be considered “normal” as determined by pre-closure crowd levels. After all, it does have fewer attractions to soak up guests than the other parks. The average wait time throughout the day is about 30-45 minutes or slightly higher for popular attractions, in our experience.
Keep in mind though, it’s not uncommon to see big fluctuations in wait times even over a short period of time. Popular rides like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, or even Slinky Dog Dash can jump from 15 minutes to 55 minutes and then back down again in the course of an hour! Timing can be key. Be prepared to keep those wait times handy when choosing which attractions to experience in this park.
Click here to learn more about why Hollywood Studios seems to be the odd one out during Disney World’s phased reopening.
While we cannot promise that every ride’s actual wait time will be SHORTER than their posted wait time, you should expect to find a fairly accurate estimation when in the standby queue. The lack of FastPass+ has seemed to streamline the queue experience, with the exception of Cast Members needing to temporarily pause boarding in order to sanitize the ride vehicles.
No matter how you look at it, a trip to Disney World these days means you should be able to easily fit in all that there is to do on your must-do list in a single day at each park!
Have you been to Disney World since the parks reopened? What has your experience been like when waiting in line for the attractions? Share your thoughts in the comments below!