Monday, March 20, 2023

Spring Break Crowd Report

After a few weeks of (relative) calm at Walt Disney World recently, Spring Break season has arrived.  Last month, we took a look at crowds over President's Week, one of the busiest weeks of the year.  There were some interesting trends observed in that post, so I wanted to see if the trend we saw there carried over to another of the busiest times of year for the parks.

Spring Break is a harder time to pin down, due to schools having all different break schedules.  This generally leads to elevated crowd levels from mid-March all the way through mid-April and sometimes beyond.  Depending on where Easter and Passover fall, a lot of schools work their breaks around one or both of these holidays.  But this past week was really the start of Spring Break season, as many colleges (and local K-12 schools) were off from 3/13-3/17.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Tron Lightcycle Run Soft Open And More

A couple of months ago, Disney announced that Tron Lightcycle Run, their shiny new coaster in Magic Kingdom, would open on April 4.  In the last few weeks, there have been various previews for Tron - cast member, annual passholder, etc.  Since the previews began so early, the question for many people was whether there would be a "soft open" to the general public before April 4, and as Disney announced today, the answer is yes - a soft open will take place between March 20th and April 2nd.

A soft open is a good way to test out a new attraction before the official opening date.  Expectations are lower, and if there are any issues, people usually chalk those up to working out the bugs and are more forgiving than they would be once the actual opening day comes along.  Is that the case here?  I'm not so sure, honestly.  The question is more about why the opening was so late, rather than why the previews are so long.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Disney News: New Meet and Greets, Epcot Nighttime Update, Disney100

Picture courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Disney dropped a bunch of news tidbits today about what's coming soon to Walt Disney World.  In the post I wrote just yesterday, I talked about how there would be a lag between announcing a major project and actually seeing it come to fruition.  In the meantime, though, a bunch of other, smaller changes can happen which will breathe new life into the parks and that's what's happening here.  As I said in that post, with the 50th anniversary celebration coming to an end, it made sense to entice guests with new offerings rather than risk a lull.

To that end, let's talk about what was mentioned today.  First are some new meet and greets.  Disney has slowly worked these back into the parks as things returned to normal post-Covid.  Even if you aren't interested in meet and greets, they give the parks an alive feel, and (more cynically) soak up some crowds who are waiting in line to meet characters.  That's a win for everyone, in my opinion.  Most recently, Enchanted Tales with Belle returned to Magic Kingdom, and while it's not a meet and greet in the traditional sense, I'm happy that it's back to use its dedicated space and show off some cool technology.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: Beyond The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration


Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration (aka "The Most Magical Celebration on Earth") is ending on March 31.  If it seems like the celebration has been happening for a long time, it's because it is.  As I've said before, no one loves a celebration like Disney, and they managed to take an event that happened on October 1, 2021 stretch out for the next eighteen months.  Not that I blame them - this gave everyone a chance to join in, as they were able, over that extended timeframe.

Since we're finally nearing that end date, I thought it would be nice to take a quick look back and (more importantly) a longer look forward to what's beyond this celebration.  Since Disney World is a year round operation, there is no such thing as "down time" or "the off season" (as crowd levels will generally attest), so "what's next" is always a question the company is examining.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

President's Week Wait Times - Can They Be Predictive?


This past week was "President's Week", a vacation for many schools to commemorate President's Day, winter break, or whatever you want to call it.  This week sometimes sneaks up on people at Disney World, as either they don't realize so many schools are closed or just don't think of it as a "big" holiday, thereby assuming that crowds will be lower.  This is assuredly not the case, and President's Week is often one of the busiest weeks of the year at the parks, right up there with Christmas week, Thanksgiving and Easter/Spring Break.

I wrote about this a bit last week, as Genie+ sold out on consecutive days for the first time ever.  There are some caveats to that, as Genie+ has only been in existence for about a year and a half, and Disney is constantly making changes to "improve the guest experience" (or so they say).  The short version of that post was that it wasn't necessarily alarming that Genie+ had sold out, and that this week would be very busy regardless.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Genie+ Sells Out: Reason For Concern?

Ever since Genie+ rolled out in December of 2021, the complaints from guests have rolled in.  Genie+ is essentially a paid version of FastPass+, a service that had been included with the cost of every ticket.  Paying for something that used to be free will always rankle people.  There were also technical issues, usability issues (some of which are finally beginning to be addressed) and the sense, especially in busy times of year, that you weren't getting your money's worth out of it.

That last one is especially interesting, because Genie+ used to be one set price per person per day ($15 plus tax) but was switched to a dynamic, "date based pricing" approach.  You probably won't be surprised to learn that on the slowest days, the price of Genie+ does not fall below the original $15, but on busy days (read: most of them), the price is actually much higher (topping off at $29 plus tax - for now - seen at the holiday season last year and this current week, which is what we're discussing in depth today).

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Is An Upgraded Hotel Room Worth The Cost?


We've talked a lot on this blog about the cost of a Walt Disney World trip, and for good reason - it's one of the major determining factors in how long your trip will be, where you'll stay or even whether you can go at all.  One of the biggest costs on any trip will be your resort hotel stay - we devoted a whole post to the question of on property or off a while back.  We won't rehash all that here, but it is a good starting point if you're still deciding.

Instead, today's post is going to talk specifically about staying on property.  Whether that's at a value, moderate or deluxe resort is a different question, and again, one that has been addressed on this site numerous times.  Today we're going to get a little more granular - whichever category of resort you choose, there are other decisions that need to be made about what room type you're interested in.  And here I'm not talking about a studio versus a one bedroom (and beyond) - I trust that you've done the math of how many people are in your party and what kind of accommodations you need.

Spring Break Crowd Report