How busy (or not) Disney World has been in July (and really all of 2023) is a hot topic the past few weeks. There have been numerous articles in high profile outlets (including CNN, which cited data from Thrill Data) to talk about it, and plenty of debate about it on Reddit and other groups. Is it possible to determine how busy Disney actually is right now?
The short answer is no. We are simply not privy to the attendance data that would tell us so. However, utilizing wait time data and other indicators, we can make a pretty good hypothesis that crowds are lower this summer. But if you are visiting the parks soon, this is good news for you!
What the Disney Wait Time Data Says
We record the Disney wait time data all day, every day directly from the My Disney Experience app. This is what Disney "posts" as the official wait time of each attraction. While the accuracy of these times vary (see below), you can assume that the same inaccuracy always exists over time, allowing you to look for trends in data over time. Think about it this way with an example: on a slower day, the posted wait time for an attraction is 10 minutes, but the actual wait time is only 5 minutes; on a busier day, the posted wait time for the same attraction is 20 minutes, but the actual wait time is 10 minutes. Disney has differentiated the busier day from the slower day with the posted wait time, even if the posted wait times are not accurate.
With this in mind, we can take a look at some of the 2023 Walt Disney World wait time data to see what trends we can find. Keep in mind that wait times in 2019 and below had FastPass+, wait times in 2021 did not have Genie+/Individual Lightning Lane until October, and wait times in 2022/2023 had Genie+/Individual Lightning Lane.
- The Big Picture (January to July since 2019)
These graphs below plot the average wait time at each point in the day for each day from 2019 to now, separated by year. If we look at how wait times to this point in the year compare going back to 2019, it is clear that this year, the purple line, is lower than last year (green line) in most cases. EPCOT is the closest to 2022, and is ahead of 2019 (likely thanks to its new attractions that had not opened at this point in 2019). Magic Kingdom wait times are down over 15% compared to 2019 and 2022. Disney's Hollywood Studios wait times this year are higher than 2019 (Rise of the Resistance likely a big contributor), but lower than last year. Disney's Animal Kingdom wait times are well down from 2019, likely with the newness of Pandora wearing off (and Flight of Passage not posting consistent 3 to 4 hour waits).
Disney's Animal Kingdom: January 1st to July 15th Wait Time Comparison
2019 was really peak for Disney's Animal Kingdom
EPCOT: January 1st to July 15th Wait Time Comparison
EPCOT had those 11 AM openings in 2021
Disney's Hollywood Studios: January 1st to July 15th Wait Time Comparison
Magic Kingdom: January 1st to July 15th Wait Time Comparison
There is a big delta between '19/'22 and '23 at the Magic Kingdom
- Near Term (June 2023 Analysis)
If we take a closer look at an individual month, we can see what attractions are causing the biggest changes to each park. Outside of the Magic Kingdom, the parks are generally offering the same attractions lineup as last year. 2022 is blue and 2023 is red in the following graphs.
All of the major attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom had lower wait times in June '23 than June '22, with Flight of Passage and the Safari causing the largest delta.
EPCOT wait times are just slightly lower in '23 than '22 except for Mission: Space and Meeting Anna & Elsa, which is well below June last year. Test Track is matching last year.
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, Rise of the Resistance, Smuggler's Run, and Tower of Terror are leading the drop in the overall wait times. Slinky Dog Dash and Runaway Railway were slightly up in June '23.
At the Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, and Haunted Mansion actually had higher wait times in June '23 than '22. Most of the other attractions were slightly less than last year. One factor reducing Magic Kingdom wait times are more ride offerings. The graph below shows the attractions (ignore Under the Sea there) that operated in June '23 but not in June '22.
- 4th of July
The 4th of July weekend this year was quite shocking. From Saturday the 1st through the 4th, wait times were below most years going back to 2014! The black line was this year. It should be noted that the current ticket deals were blocked out as were many Passholders.
For July 1st, '23 was only above '16
For July 2nd, '23 was again only ahead of '16
July 3rd '23 was a bit more average, but well below '17, '18, and '22
July 4th set a new low bar for the holiday (at least going back to 2014) for most of the day.
What Reported Wait Time Data Says
Over the past week, users have been reporting their times waiting in line across Walt Disney World. We've pulled some of the most interesting cases where the posted wait time did not match well with the actual time guests spent waiting in line. Quite a few times in the list where the wait was minimal but the posted wait time was high. If wait times were more accurate, this data seems to indicate that average wait times would actually be less than you saw in the analyses above.
- Remy's Ratatouille Adventure: Posted 60 minutes, 30 minutes Actual
- Soarin' Around the World: Posted 30 minutes, 2 minutes Actual
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Posted 20 minutes, 11 minutes Actual
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Posted 30 minutes, 20 minutes Actual
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Posted 30 minutes, 13 minutes Actual
- Peter Pan's Flight: Posted 25 minutes, 15 minutes Actual
- Space Mountain: Posted 30 minutes, 3 minutes Actual
- Meet Anna and Elsa: Posted 20 minutes, 5 minutes Actual
- Frozen Ever After: Posted 60 minutes, 52 minutes Actual
- Space Mountain: Posted 65 minutes, 37 minutes Actual
- Soarin' Around the World: Posted 10 minutes, 20 minutes Actual
- Slinky Dog Dash: Posted 95 minutes, 86 minutes Actual
- Rise of the Resistance: Posted 70 minutes, 84 minutes Actual
- Soarin' Around the World: Posted 20 minutes, 25 minutes Actual
- Remy's Ratatouille Adventure: Posted 60 minutes, 35 minutes Actual
P.S. Remember to record your wait times during your visits too. Just click the button pictured at right on any attraction page to get started
What Other Indicators Say
If demand is strong, typically there are few offers or incentives to visit the parks. Right now, there are quite a few offers and deals to entice visitors, which indicates that demand has slowed. Right now, you can visit all 4 theme parks for less than price of a single day Park Hopper ticket on days Disney deems higher demand (or reference, it cost my parents over $500 for a 1 Day Park Hopper the day before Easter this year).
Hotel & Ticket Promotions
- Hotels are offering 30% off and sometimes more this summer and fall
- Florida Residents: Purchase a 4-Day Disney Summer Magic Ticket for Just $58 Per Day, Plus Tax (Total Price: $229 Plus Tax)
- 4-Day, 4-Park Magic Ticket – $99 Per Day, Plus Tax (Total Price: $396 Plus Tax)
Park Pass Reservation Availability
- No sold out days are in sight the rest of the summer
- Many guests report being surprised at the lack of congestion at times on the parks' pathways
Based on the wait time data, current discounts, and observations, it seems logical to conclude that Disney World is less busy so far in 2023. This does not mean that the parks are empty (and they're aren't by any stretch). Certain parks and pathways in the parks will still be congested, but some may be lighter. Most restaurants will still be hard to get reservations for, but you might have a better chance than last year. You should spend less time waiting in regular standby lines than you would have last year, which should make for a more enjoyable trip. There will be cases were they are high due to delays, weather, and other things. But overall, it should be a bit less busy. If you've been holding off on a trip, now might be better than ever to go!