When we started regularly visiting WDW circa 2007 (the good old days?), you basically had to rely on a combination of half-baked crowd calendars and your own experience to make a good guess as to the projected wait times on your upcoming visit. You’d guess that a predicted crowd level of 5 /10 probably equaled a 15 min average wait for Spaceship Earth…and so on.
It wasn’t a terrible system, but it was sort of hard to guess just how much time you’d need to budget for an attraction when planning out your day. The toughest part was predicting how quickly wait times would build throughout the day. So…would Jungle Cruise build to a 50 min wait by 10am? or 11am?
Fast forward to 2021 and, despite all the craziness that has occurred operationally in the last year, we’re actually in a better position to predict attraction wait times than ever before.
See, a few years back, someone realized they could scrape the attraction wait time data feed that Disney is delivering from their back-end servers to the My Disney Experience app. Once scraped, sites thrill-data.com now have the ability to show both live and historical wait time data.
So, let’s say I was headed to WDW this coming weekend and planned to visit Hollywood Studios on Saturday. Let’s take a look at wait time distribution over the course of the day from last Saturday…
I think wait time data over the course of a recent day (unless that recent day is a major holiday) is the most useful. I’ve changed the above graph to show reported wait times over 15 min intervals. You want to stay away from average data as operational changes over the past year really skew the data.
From the graph, can we see…well, we can see that it was really busy at Hollywood Studios last Saturday. Anyway, we can see that Tower or Terror cranks up at a 20 min wait and bumps to 40+ mins within 15 mins. It then levels out at 45 mins until 11am or so. That tells me there’s really no advantage to hitting that attraction first thing.
On the other hand, we could rope drop Millennium Falcon and then sneak in a ride on Star Tours with near zero wait until around 9:30.
You get the point. Looking at the day’s wait time breakdown from a recent day gives you a good, up-to-date impression of how attraction wait times may wax and wane over the course of the day. We’re basically just looking for the greenest blocks to slot our day’s attraction schedule into and, obviously, they’ll be trade offs.
Is it foolproof? Of course not. There’s literally no telling what may happen to upset the operational apple cart on a given day.
That said, this data, combined with the park reservation requirement that keeps guest volume somewhat consistent, is solid info to have in your arsenal. Especially at a time when you can’t rely on Fastpass to save you in a pinch.
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