Thursday, May 2, 2024

Crowd Report - New York Week (Boots on the Ground Style)


Even when I'm not in the parks, I like to look at wait time data.  That information can help be predictive, and can also show where we (and Disney) were right and wrong, once the actual crowds play out over the course of a week (or more).  I tend to post about these things here, since it doesn't necessarily need me to be at the parks in order to analyze trends.  I most recently discussed this here, if you were curious.

So even though the week of 4/20-4/26 wasn't a "big" week by most measures, I wanted to do an analysis of the crowds here since I can not only look at the data but supplement it with my own personal observations since we were there.  We can look at how our week was compared to those around it, and what factors may have contributed to these levels.  As always, the data here comes from Thrill Data.  

First, a note on the post I linked above.  I had stated that Easter is the "peak" of Spring Break season, meaning that nothing afterwards should have been as busy.  I had forgotten, however, that most Easter breaks for schools encompass the week AFTER Easter as well.  As a result, the week following Easter still saw elevated wait times, reaching its highest on Thursday 4/4 at a whopping 60 minute average.  This doesn't materially change my original point, but it will be notable when I discuss the crowds beyond that week (say, anything after 4/5).


That graphic above represents the dates of March 1 through today.  It should be clear where the "problem" times reside.  April 5 is the last day in orange - as a whole, crowds have been much better since.  Even then, there are some fluctuations, and you can see that in those larger yellow bars towards the end.  A few of these days were during the week of my recent trip.


This next graph is the weekly totals, which tell a similar story but this time the week of our trip stands out more as busier than the few weeks that preceded it (and those that have come after, so far).  This matches what I felt in actually being there - I would consider these crowds slightly elevated; not terrible, but not as good as I had hoped.  The weather had been better in those previous weeks too; though it didn't rain on our trip, the first couple of days especially were quite hot in the sun.

This one is actually easy for me to figure out - as much as I would have liked to visit in the prior few weeks, the only week that worked for us was the one we actually visited, due to the school break in New York.  This was essentially the only large state that had a break at this time (as opposed to the last couple of years, when our break coincided with Easter, along with most of the rest of the northeast states).

So I had been HOPING that New York visitors didn't move the needle, but I had been expecting it to be somewhere above "really slow" and below "peak crowd levels."  That prediction turned out to be correct.  This was a rare year for us, and I was pleased with the overall crowd levels given what we're used to.  The price for Genie+ is also a good crowd indicator, and it hadn't really moved all that much, averaging $29 for the multi-park option from right after the peak week all the way through April.  These last few days in early May have seen it drop a little, which matches the crowd levels to date.

I'll have plenty of posts about what we accomplished during this trip, but crowds were rarely an issue in terms of getting things done.  The middle of the day was always more crowded than early or late (not a bold statement!) and the crowds for the nighttime shows, particularly Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, were pretty packed.  But I think that even on low crowd level days, those tend to be the busiest places to congregate, since anyone left in the parks is going to be there.  Again, this isn't a revelation or anything.

The question really was how busy did it FEEL walking around.  In that way, I was a little surprised at how the crowds seemed over the weekend days (4/20 and 4/21 in this case).  While the trend hasn't been as apparent lately, weekends have been less busy than weekdays for a while, largely due to annual passholder block out dates.  That, coupled with 90+ degree temperatures on those days, made me think that those days would be our quietest of the trip, and I didn't really feel that when we were there.

Being on the ground, I have a few theories as to why those days were just as crowded as the weekdays that followed.  One, we were lucky (?) enough to be visiting during Dapper Day.  If you're unfamiliar, these are fan-run events not officially associated with Disney World, where people dress their best on their visit to the parks.  It was pretty surreal to see so many unique and interesting outfits.  I give them a lot of credit, since many of these outfits had a lot of layers and walking around in the Florida sun in shorts and a t-shirt is still too hot for my liking.  I didn't see a lot of these guests taking up inordinate space on attraction lines, but they were definitely making an impact on what the crowds felt like while walking around.

The other factor was that this was also the weekend of some runDisney events.  These are fairly frequent, and I wasn't sure how much they would affect crowd levels, but these guests were also pretty apparent throughout the week, especially the first few days.  They would have shirts that were from their event, as well as medals that they had earned by racing.  Again, I am impressed by anyone who gets up well before dawn to run a race, then still has the stamina to spend all day in the parks.  One of those is enough for me (and you can probably guess which one).

Overall, I was pleased with the crowd levels on our trip.  I always hope I find a week that is as quiet as it gets, but I know I'm fighting an uphill battle given our constraints with the kids.  Even if you think you picked a good week, any number of things can happen that will materially change it.  As I said, a good plan (and some Genie) will be able to handle any crowds, and our week was no exception.

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