With Memorial Day now in the books, we can start to get an idea of just how busy (or not) the holiday season was at Walt Disney World. Crowds didn’t materialize like they have in the past, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have been paying attention.
As we previously covered, Disney World executives expected a slowing of crowds at Walt Disney World this summer. The exact quote from Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro was a “moderation” in crowds following elevated demand for the 50th Anniversary celebration that ran from October 1, 2021 through March 31, 2023. If a wide-open Disney Park Pass reservation calendar wasn’t proof enough, Disney World only applied a modest price increase for the Disney Genie+ skip-the-line service. Pricing for the service is based on demand, so it serves as a sort of canary in the coal mine, all things equal.
Zooming out a bit, we have seen the introduction of various hotel and ticket discounts for the summer season that would suggest that Disney World is pulling the pricing lever to try and entice visitation.
Back to Memorial Day and a look at average wait times across the four Walt Disney World theme parks. Average wait times at Walt Disney World were below previous Memorial Day averages, and even to the point that we’d call it “slow” in comparison. We’ll utilize data from thrill-data.com to find average wait times across all four Walt Disney World theme parks for Memorial Day Weekend (Friday through Monday) going back to 2016.
A few caveats before we dive in. Disney World has told guests not to trust its posted wait times because they may be inflated or underreported when compared to actual wait times. That said, it’s the best metric we have to judge crowds by when it comes to actual, numerical values. The hope is that if Disney World inflates wait times in 2023, it similarly inflated wait times in 2018.
Another caveat is that we have no data from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic closures, and data from 2021 will skew averages due to pandemic-era operational adjustments and possible travel impacts. Where it makes sense, we’ll toss out data from 2021, but unless noted, we’ve kept it in.
Ok, with that out of the way, let’s try to put our finger on just how “slow” it was at Walt Disney World this Memorial Day. The average wait time at Disney World during Memorial Day Weekend going back to 2016 is just over 31 minutes. If we throw out 2021, it’s 32.6 minutes, and if we throw out 2016, it’s over 33 minutes. Last year, the average wait time during Memorial Day Weekend was 34.5 minutes. In 2023, the average wait time was 29.25 minutes. Here’s how it stacks up:
- 2023 down 6.2% vs 6-year average
- 2023 down 10.8% vs 6-year average (minus 2021)
- 2023 down 14.5% vs 5-year average (minus 2021)
- 2023 down 16.5% vs 2022
Ultimately, Memorial Day Weekend 2023 was certainly slower than last year, and noticeably below pandemic-impacted years. The average wait time of under 30 minutes is the first time that it has been below 30 minutes since 2016, not counting the pandemic era. That’s not to say that you didn’t wait in a long line this past weekend, because some peak wait times were still unpleasant, but on the whole, average wait times were off of their averages.
So, what does this mean for your summer vacation? In short, expect lower wait times, but not exactly a ghost town. Summer has lost some of its luster in recent years, and we expect that trend to continue and possibly be slightly accelerated due to market conditions.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!