Walt Disney World crowds have been a hot topic in recent weeks. Many of our guests have raised concerns over these levels, especially in light of the FastPass lines remaining empty. Although Disney does not publish capacity limits, it appears that the return of Happily Ever After has brought with it the return of the crowds. So today, I picked up my 21-year-old son Colby, and we headed to the Magic Kingdom just to see how heavy the crowds are if it’s having an impact on attraction lines and wait times, and to see how many attractions we could ride. Here is our story.
So we’ll start with the 6000-pound gorilla in the room: face coverings. Please note that our day in the parks was one day before the reinstatement of the indoor face-covering policy. Here is the official policy:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional for all Guests in outdoor common areas.
We noticed a significant amount of guests wearing their face coverings throughout the park (including outside). For our friends who choose to do so, or are doing so per policy, that is awesome, and you should be commended, especially in the heat. For those that have concerns, here was my experience today. As a vaccinated person, I estimated the amount of time that I would have needed to wear a face-covering to be in compliance with the policy. Of the 4 hours and 45 minutes we were in the park (more on this later), I would have needed to wear the covering a total of about one hour and ten minutes. This is the time I was indoors or in the attraction queues (not outside). So for only about 25% of the day, the face-covering would have been required, and it was all in air-conditioned areas. Honestly, your experience may vary based on the attractions you visit and your touring style, but for a day concentrated on attractions, I thought this was a reasonable number.
Living local to the Magic Kingdom, we’ve watched the crowds return over the last year. My eyes say that the crowd level today is a typical summer day’s crowd. Maybe a little less, but it was pretty steady and there were areas where it was slow-moving.
Lines and Wait Times
We arrived at the park around 10:00 am. This was an hour after opening as we did not want our “research” to be skewed by low lines at the park opening. (Yes…I called it research. It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it)
We started our touring plan by heading to Frontierland and getting in line for Splash Mountain at 10:10 am. When we arrived, the line was on the bridge nearest the plunge, and the sign said it was a 65-minute wait.
The line leads us over the bridge, through the Standby line entrance, and through the entire standby queue. Every lane was in use. When we arrived at the loading area, our stopwatch said 34 minutes.
- Posted time: 65 minutes
- Actual time: 34 minutes
Next, we were going to head next door to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Little did we know we had to go to the middle of Frontierland to get to the end of the line. Yes, the end of the line was across from Frontierland Trading Post (Between Country Bears and Liberty Tree Tavern). The posted wait time was 40 minutes. We entered the line at 11:05 a.m.
I’ll be honest with you, I figured this was grossly underestimated. I mean….look at how far we had to go!! I told Colby that I expected this to be an hour long. The line moved very steadily, and before we knew it, we were at the ride entrance. Inside, every available queue space was being used including some space I’m convinced I’ve never been in. When we arrived at the loading area, I was shocked to see our total wait time was only 25 minutes. I confirmed it against the actual time, and sure enough, that’s all it was.
- Posted time: 40 minutes
- Actual time: 25 minutes
While in Frontierland, we decided to have lunch at Pecos Bill’s. We used the awesome mobile ordering. While in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we completed our order on the phone. Once we were done with the ride, we let the app know we were at the restaurant, and it wasn’t long before we were in the restaurant eating our fajitas and nachos.
On our way to Fantasyland, we stopped by the Haunted Mansion to see if there was “room for one more” happy haunt. Our line here did stretch back to the riverboat entrance. When we entered the line at 12:05 pm, the app said that it was a 60-minute wait. Although the line moved pretty consistently, there were 2 times where it did feel as if it came to a halt. Also, the stretching room is being used which is a nice treat.
- Posted time: 60 minutes
- Actual time: 35 minutes
Our next stop in Fantasyland was Peter Pan at 12:55 pm. This one made me the most nervous as it was the longest wait time we encountered so far. It was posted as 75 minutes. The line was outside the building, but not very far outside. I felt this was going to be overstated, but I wasn’t sure by how much. Again, the line moved rather consistently, and we were on the ride in 36 minutes.
- Posted time: 75 minutes
- Actual time: 36 minutes
After a short restroom break and a Mickey Bar, we moved deeper into Fantasyland and entered the queue for Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The end of this line also extended beyond the attraction entrance at 2:02 pm. This was concerning as the queue line inside the attraction is very long and winding. I knew we’d have a lot of walking ahead of us. However, the sign was posted as 50 minutes which seemed low. The actual wait time was surprisingly only 26 minutes.
As we entered the building in the queue, we noticed some raindrops hitting the ground. Little did we know what was right around the corner.
- Posted time: 50 minutes
- Actual time: 26 minutes
Despite our grand plans to continue for another couple of hours, the summer Florida sky opened up after our voyage with the Little Mermaid. This downpour lasted a good 30-45 minutes, and we were soaked to the core. At this point, we called it a day and worked our way to the front of the park to head home.
Crowds – The crowds today were heavy. These are the crowds that show up in pictures that make people think it’s “too crowded”. However, it was very manageable. The attraction lines moved quickly, and it was a very comfortable day. The Walt Disney World crowds did not negatively impact our experience.
Wait Times – The amount of time spent in lines was surprisingly pleasing. Actual wait times were about 50% of the posted times on average. Don’t let the inflated wait times on the app scare you away. Also, don’t let the long lines be a concern either. The lines move quickly and are much better than you would expect. At one point, Colby said, “You’ve been bringing me here since I was 3, and I don’t ever remember these lines moving this quickly”. This leads me to my next point, which is totally unrelated to this blog post, but worth mentioning……
What about the FastPasses? – For most of the attractions we were on today, the wait time was around the same amount of time that one would stand in a pre-Covid FastPass line. Keep in mind that when FastPass lines are in place, the standby line typically moves very slowly, and the FastPass line is typically long due to the number of FastPasses handed out. Without the FastPasses (today), everyone was in the same line, everyone got the same priority, no one had to wait for others in lines, and the lines moved very quickly. Basically, having no FastPasses did not negatively impact our experience today.
For a fairly crowded and hot day, we got to experience 5 great and popular attractions, had a great lunch, enjoyed a Mickey Bar, got caught in the rain, and did it all in just over 4 hours. That’s pretty successful if you ask me.