EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival started up on Wednesday, and it was pretty busy!
Now, that got us wondering. If the first day of an EPCOT festival is such a big draw, what do other parks look like? To answer that question, we’re taking a look at wait times and crowd levels around Disney World yesterday and on other festival kick-offs of the past!
First up, we compared wait times in Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios between Wednesday and one week prior. Does the first day of a festival make crowds a little slighter in other parks? Let’s see!
On Wednesday, wait times in Magic Kingdom at 3PM ranged from 0 minutes to 55 minutes with Pirates of the Caribbean at the longest wait. The average wait time for all the rides in the park was 26 minutes.
The week prior, wait times in Magic Kingdom at 3PM ranged from 5 minutes to 60 minutes with Peter Pan’s Flight at the longest wait. The average wait time for all rides in the park was 32 minutes.
So, Magic Kingdom saw a six-minute reduction in average wait times during the EPCOT festival. That might not seem super significant, but when that’s the average amount that wait times in the park dropped, it means you’re probably looking at noticeably shorter waits and crowds.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
On Wednesday, wait times in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at 2PM ranged from 5 minutes to 55 minutes with Na’vi River Journey at the longest wait. The average wait time for all rides in the park was 21 minutes.
The week before, wait times in Animal Kingdom ranged from 5 minutes to 65 minutes with Na’vi River Journey still at the highest wait. The average wait time for all rides in the park was 28 minutes.
Animal Kingdom saw, on average, 7-minute lower waits during the festival. This is especially apparent when you take into account the full 10-minute drop in wait times to Na’vi River Journey. You probably still would’ve spent some time in line during the fest kick-off, but you may have felt like there were slightly fewer people in the parks.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Finally, let’s look at Disney’s most high-demand park right now. Wait times in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 3PM ranged from 25 minutes to 65 minutes with Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the top. The average wait time for every ride at that time was 37 minutes.
One week earlier, wait times in Hollywood Studios ranged from 30 minutes to 70 minutes with Slinky Dog Dash and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror coming in at that 70-minute mark. This constitutes a 49-minute average for every ride at 3PM.
There’s no doubt that you’ll spend some time in line during your Disney’s Hollywood Studios day. But, it looks like there was an 8-minute drop in the average wait time in the park. That’s significant, but it did still feel pretty busy.
Now, this may not directly correlate to the fact that there was a festival, so let’s look at the EPCOT times as well just to see if they also dropped.
On Wednesday, wait times in EPCOT at 2PM ranged from 5 minutes to 35 minutes with Test Track and Frozen Ever After at the longest wait. The average wait time for all rides in the park was 19 minutes. Do note that in the morning and evening though, Test Track’s wait was over an hour.
The week prior, wait times in EPCOT at 2PM ranged from 5 minutes to 40 minutes with Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Mission: SPACE at the longest wait. The average wait time for all rides in the park was 20 minutes.
Still, EPCOT felt MORE crowded out and about due to all the people enjoying the festival. Perhaps all of Disney World was a little bit less crowded than last week, or perhaps EPCOT guests were too busy sampling the Festival fare to get on rides.
This brings us to our next point — the crowds! We visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios yesterday during the start of the EPCOT festival to take a look at how crowded the park felt. For instance, you can see here that the line for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway wasn’t quite as long as it usually is.
The queue for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster barely reached Sunset Boulevard at times when typically it is much longer.
Our reporter even noted that this was one of the lower crowds Hollywood Studios weekdays that she’s seen in a little while. Perhaps it was because folks were over at EPCOT!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge typically feels pretty busy, but it seemed like there were fewer folks streaming through the land.
Overall, the park was still busy, but in comparison to the usual Hollywood Studios days, we felt like there were certainly fewer crowds.
This is a trend that we’ve started to notice over past festivals too. EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, for instance, tends to draw BIG crowds to that park. That can mean fewer folks left to bulk up the crowds in other parks.
This is true with other festivals as well, but we’d say the rule might be different when it comes to EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. This fest is the shortest and the holidays are a high demand time in Disney World so it is typically VERY crowded on that first day (and beyond).
BUT, it doesn’t really pull folks from the other parks. This fest kicks off right after Thanksgiving which means Disney World is going to be dealing with those Thanksgiving week crowds in most cases. We’ve noticed that wait times and crowds are high everywhere at this time — whether an EPCOT fest is kicking off or not.
What Does This Mean for YOU?
In most cases, you might see a slightly less crowded day in the parks that aren’t EPCOT when and EPCOT festival is having its first day. Other factors like time of year, weather, and more still play into this; but it does seem like the EPCOT fests have an effect.
This isn’t necessarily something to plan your trip around if you’re looking for fewer crowds, but if you’re in Walt Disney World during the start of an EPCOT festival and you’re concerned about crowds, you might want to head to another park the day an EPCOT fest starts and then head to EPCOT a few days into the fest.
On the other hand, if you want to go to that EPCOT festival on day 1 and aren’t as worried about crowds, do it! They aren’t too overwhelming, especially with capacity limits the way they are right now. You might find yourself contending with a busy day but if that’s less of a factor for you, then you can go enjoy the fest.
We’ll do our best to bring you comprehensive coverage of any big days in Disney World so that you can best plan your vacation. As always, stay tuned to DFB for the latest updates and tips!
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Do you prefer to head to an EPCOT fest on day 1 or avoid the crowds? Tell us in the comments!