3 Things Disney Isn’t Doing to Help the Crowds

Disney can get crowded, and I mean Crowded with a capital C! Sometimes, especially during peak seasons and holidays, wait times creep up to more than two hours and the crowds become so dense that it is hard to navigate within the parks. On top of this, after a long, crowded day at the parks, it often seems impossible to get back to your resort at the end of the night.

Epcot Crowds during Food and Wine Festival

Something has to give at some point… right? Sadly, even though Disney is aware of the crowd problem, it is NOT doing these three things that might help lessen our crowd frustrations.

1. They Aren’t Extending Hours

The crowds are here, so why are the parks closing so early? The Magic Kingdom in particular needs to remain open for an hour or two after the last showing of Happily Ever After so that people can filter out of the parks. This would let many exit the parks more easily. This also gives guests the option to ride a few more rides before heading back to their resorts, which would diminish the crushing park-closing crowds at the Monorail station and bus depot.

Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Fireworks

As of right now the parks — at least Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — typically close once the fireworks or nighttime shows begin, meaning that unless there are Extra Magic Hours, all attractions will be closed by the time the fireworks are over. Therefore, everyone in the entire park is pouring out of the exits at the same time — there’s no reason to stay unless you want to linger a bit in the shops.

When the park remains open for Extra Magic Hours after the fireworks end, you’ll notice that there isn’t that big, frantic push to the exits. There’s a more relaxed atmosphere as folks take their time leaving. So why does Disney not extend the hours a bit like this all the time?

2. They Aren’t Offering Multiple Show Times

One showing of Fantasmic during cheerleading and Brazilian tour season? That is mind-blowing! When huge events like these take place, the park becomes too crowded to handle. What would help to alleviate these crowds is if Disney would offer multiple show times.

Cheerleaders at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Although they often add a few extra show times during the summer or for the holidays, this is something that Disney should do more often. When Disney allows for people to have options for entertainment viewing times, crowd control is easier, people leave the parks at different times, and there is more seating and better viewing at the shows.

Just saying, things would be much easier for all of us if Disney would do two showings of Happily Ever After each night. It might not be in Disney’s budget, but just imagine…

3. They Aren’t Building a Fifth Park

Sadly, as far as we know, there are no plans for a fifth theme park at Walt Disney World anytime soon. Clearly, this would help with spreading out the number of people within each park, and honestly we would LOVE to see what Disney would come up with.

In some ways, Disney has been doing the complete opposite of building a fifth park. What they have done recently is taken parks with lower guest counts, like Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and adding new, big-name attractions and lands, thus drawing larger crowds in.  Of course, we appreciate these new attractions and lands, but heck, we also loved an empty Animal Kingdom from time to time.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Wait Time

Not only has it become harder to move around the parks and to get back to our resorts at the end of the night, but wait times have skyrocketed as well. Making a fifth park, or opening some new rides that are currently under refurbishment, would really help with this.

What do you think Disney should be doing to improve crowds? Let us know in the comments below!

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23 Replies to “3 Things Disney Isn’t Doing to Help the Crowds”

  1. I understand why Disney would not want to create a new 5th WDW park due to all of the infrastructure changes that would be necessary to support it. The thing that I would like to see would be for them to add new attractions instead of replacing old attractions. They could have kept Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Great Movie Ride and built new venues for Guardians of the Galaxy and Runaway Railway. I know new venues would cost more, but I do wish they would keep existing attractions and add new ones rather than replacing. Keeping all of the existing attractions would help spread out the crowds.

  2. One other thing they are doing that they should not-Where the majority of people used to be contained in the queues, they are now roaming the streets because of Fast Pass. It havs made a direct contribution to hte overcrowding in the parks.

  3. Although a 5th park sounds great to the average Disney guest, it isn’t realistic from a pocket book perspective for Disney. I do wonder if they sidelined all of these new additions to each park, going back to the Avatar Land and Fantasy Land upgrades and stretching into the 2021 plans, and created a budget for a new 5th park – would that even out? But then I realize, even if it did even out, that is a one sided look at a complex cost/profit issue. Each park needs to have steady money flow and that will mostly come from a few things: In park merchandise sales and in park food and drink sales, among other things and also reducing costs by maximizing the efficiency of staffing costs. Staffing requirements are typically determined by a number of different factors but comfort isn’t one of them. Complaints mean something if the bottom line for their operating cost/profit numbers are affected negatively but if discomfort due to high crowd volume equals complaints but doesn’t equal a negative effect on that operating cost/profit number then our comfort is a useless factor. So instead they try to monetize from these complaints by offering “paid tours” and higher priced packages such as concierge services in hotels (which give you 3 extra fastpasses for an insane premium) therefor ensuring your dollars are going to be staying in that park for a longer period of time after you’ve already sunk even more dollars into an overpriced hotel stay. The My Disney Experience app and MagicBand implementation is the gateway to Disney understanding these things at an insanely detailed scientific level while enabling them the opportunity to create high premiums and take more of our money. Because if you are uncomfortable and have deep pockets, Disney will start to create incentives to spend more for a comfortable experience knowing the base experience is now uncomfortable.

    Was that complex? You bet it was. But that only skims the surface of the reasons why Disney won’t create a 5th park or increase operating hours.

    An employee above mentioned that workers wouldn’t be able to clock out until a much later time if they keep parks open later. Sure, it would be a more comfortable exit but what is the cost of keeping a huge number of employees at the park for a few more hours to give people a comfortable exit? Stores will have to be open longer, free transportation will have to run longer and so on and so forth. Does that equate to more profit? Maybe marginally but the cost would probably be much higher.

    I’ve been going to Disney yearly (sometimes 2x a year) for thirty years. I plan the trip for my family down to the minute with fastpasses and advanced dining reservations. We used to not do that but we love Disney so much that we know better then to rely on day to day planning. Because it’s uncomfortable and planning around that helps make this a very comfortable trip, regardless of the rigid scheduling.

    Anyway – I do wish all those things could come true. But with the advent of hyper microscoping on profit and loss spreadsheets those things are just wishes (pun intended). I love Disney though and won’t stop coming back. I can’t wait to see the new additions such as Star Wars, numerous Epcot additions and most especially the Tron coaster in MK. They have me locked in and I’m ok with that, as long as my wallet can support this expensive habit.

  4. Yep – they definitely need to do some of these, or consider limiting admission during some of the peak times when they near full capacity. A friend and I went in January and I have never felt so uncomfortable and unsafe at the parks – couldn’t move an inch without bumping into someone. If there was any type of emergency situation, people would have gotten trampled. Heck, we were nearly trampled just trying to get into the parks – I was walking at a pretty good pace with the crowds and still got rammed into and had a couple of strollers run right over my feet – glad I wore sneakers.

    1. Stroller bullies. They think they own the place. They run you over. They clog the streets and the stores. They slow down every bus. They park wherever they feel like it. They expect you to part like the Red Sea when they come barreling through. Then you look inside the stroller and see some lazy obese 10 year old sitting there like King Tut with food wrappers everywhere and chocolate stains all over their face. Heck, they even wheel them right into the bathroom so little Timmy doesn’t have to burn a calorie making a wee wee. I don’t recall my parents ever offering me a stroller. If I was too tired to walk they just kept on going and told me to hitch hike back home. Our grand fathers survived the Bataan Death March, but kids today cant walk through an amusement park without whining and gasping for breath. Come on parents, raise a snowflake and they will melt like Frosty when faced with the real world.

        1. Perhaps. To those who tend to take everything literal and personal and not as the lighthearted satire it was intended to be. As Sergeant Hulka said to “Psycho” in the Bill Murry movie Stripes, “LIGHTEN UP FRANCIS”

  5. Disney has created so many EXTRA PAID before or after hour events, that is why the parks have less regular operating hours. They know what they’re doing.

    1. I as a worker can tell you why number one is not being done, with the amount of crowds, can you imagine what time a worker would get off if you open up the line for an hour or two after park closing. At this time it is no longer a secret that Disney inflates the ride wait time about an hour before park closes, in the hope that the line will slow, then they have a huge firework display, and hope that the line will be almost empty when 9 pm comes and the park is closes and no one can get into the line. The 60 mint line at 8, was posted 60 during the hour between 8 and 9, but in reality was probably 15 or 20 min about 9 pm and Disney can expect workers to be ready to leave the ride and get to clock out about 9:30.

      Now let’s say they have after hours, Disney knows that the first hour again is very crowded, but many people are ready to leave about 9:45 to 10 because the lines are still posted 60 min, also the they have been in the park all day and are ready to leave. By 11 when the park closes, they once again have the lines down to 15 to 20 min, again workers can leave about 10:30.

      Also remember extended hours are only good for those on property. Which could be more than 100,000 and growing due to the number of resorts and DVC and now all the hotels around that get the privilege.

      With that many there is still some control and they have it down to the waits being what they want them to be. But your are asking to open it up to everyone, that worker would not be able to get off duty at 11:30 or even 12:00 because the lines would be a real 60 min when the night runs out and no one can get into line, but you still have 60 min of people standing in line.

      Number two you may have a point to.

      Number three, in my opinion the problem is they need another park, but the real problem is, and I hate to say it, but they need to stop building DVC and selling it until they have another park or two. I assume people know how DVC works, you buy into it, some take it under a loan or out right, you pay it off right away or over 10 years, but you get to use your points every year for 50 years. Good deal. Problem is do the math Disney. You started selling Sarasota springs 25 years ago, for under $50 a point, you then added another DVC property every year or two and now have more than 12. Yes they now cost $188 per point. But how many thousands of people are over there 10 years and not paying for the resort. Yes Disney still wants them, so they try to make everyone pay for extras to make up. But they have not built a park in 21 years or more. Disney knew the numbers were coming and now they have them yet rather than build the 5th park, they have done nothing. Even if Disney announced today they were going to build the fifth park, they still have two DVC they will seek out of, and now a third one just announced, before that park will ever become reality. Some conservative math, the three new DVC resorts have say 1000 rooms, 4 people to a room, 4000 more people in the park on any day. Does not sound like much, but if you do it to all DVC resorts, you have about 25000 or more people in the parks, by 2021 it will be about 30,000 with just DVC people alone.

      Why Disney is so against a fifth park is beyond me, but there math seems to say that to gain the money they are losing, and yes they are losing money. In 2015, I bought into DVC. I paid about $19000 to buy in rough figure. That same year, I went on a vacation at Disney and spent $8000. Since that year, I have gone every year, and I now spent $1000, my older kids buy there own AP, I buy mine and my granddaughters. I also pay for the resort up keep about $600, so $1600, and I have that privilege until 2065, 50 years. Since we went to Disney every year for 20 years, I can say Disney would have gotten close to the $8000 a year every year. Some years maybe less, some years maybe more. But now instead of $8000, they get $1600. So yes the tickets are going to go up up up. And the crowds are going to go up up up. And the wait times will go up up up. Yet Disney is losing so may only thought is it is not in there interest to build a 5th park.

      1. You say you are spending $1,000 + the $600 maintenance fee annually for a total of $1,600. But to get the real annual cost you have to add the cost of the DVC and divide that by the number of years you have been a member. So, if you paid $19,000 total and owe no more money, you will divide $19,000 by the 5 years you have been a member and that comes to $3,800. So then you add that to the $1,600 and you have actually paid $5,400 per vacation. This annual (or per vacation) average will change as the maintenance fee, tickets and other expenses increase every year. And each additional year you own the DVC your annual average cost of the DVC will change depending on if it’s still basing financed or if it’s paid off or if you skip a year.

        Bottom line, you have paid $5,400 for every annual vacation over the last five years. Better than the $8,000 you spent the last time you vacationed prior to owning your DVC. However, the only way to keep this annual average down is to take a vacaction every year for the next 45 years. And if you do that, you might have a low average annual cost, but you will have spent well over $350,000 total dollars exclusively to Disney. If the salesman had told you “you can vacation at Disney for the next 50 years , just write me a check for $350,000 today”, would you have done that?

  6. I agree with all three of your suggestions. And how can Disney not have it in their budget to open a 5th park. They are finding it to build more hotels and DVC’s to bring more people in and raising ticket prices.

  7. Well said and so true! It has been very frustrating to get anywhere on property or around in the parks for a few years now. Even fast passes don’t help much with attraction lines. When you spend over $100 a day and only get on 3-4 attractions and miss other things because of lines and transportation issues you start to wonder if Disney has lost some of it’s magic. For us it has!

  8. i totally agree with all of this. every time you turns around, they are shoehorning in yet another resort. more rooms, more people, more crowds, more waiting. but they don’t care, they are printing their own money. they have forgotten the small family guest hey used to cater to.

    now, we find ourselves between a rock and hard place. had a trip booked for labor day week of this year, then disney drops the bombshell that star wars is opening august 29th (what happened to “late fall”?). all the people who booked counting on star wars not yet being open just got stomped on, and now will get elbowed out of an entire park. completely unfair. and yet, disney doesn’t give one iota. thye just figured out a way to turn slow season into peak season.

    1. I think a 5th Park, geared toward the teenager/young adults would be awesome. More rides for their level of entertainment, along with shows for the older Disney fans. I’ve grown up with Disney and I’m just amazed how much I grow with it over the years, being in my mid 50’s I love seeing all the changes because it just keeps getting better. However; seeing more shows and something special for the young adult I think would be ideal. It’s just a thought, and maybe someday, we’ll see this in Disney’s future. I love feeling like a child when I come to visit…keep up the great work…

  9. I SO agree with everyone who wants a 5th park. Been saying it for years. They NEED to do something. The crowds are ridiculous and adding onto the existing parks does nothing to help. There is no slow season now, so they need to stop building 50 million new hotel rooms and build a new park.

  10. I think having the extended hours most days out of the week would work best and the multiple show times. Just my opinion.

  11. Last year I was in line for FoP with a Magic Kingdom manager and asked him directly about a 5th gate. He told me that there were no plans to build a 5th park as it is more cost effective to expand existing parks to increase the capacity of WDW.

  12. I get so angry with Disney because they constantly build more and more resorts to house more and more guests.. but the same 4 parks are expected to hold all these people??? It is getting more unpleasant to go to the parks with each passing year. Forget the hotels Disney, until you can fork over the dough to build a new 5th park. I suggest a Heroes and Villians themed park.

  13. The real problem is the new Fastpass system. Look at the wait times in California, nothing compared to FL. Most people were not willing to move around the park to take advantage of the old fast pass kiosks to the fullest. Now they just get one on their phones so more fast passes are out there and those without a Fastpass stand in line forever. Ease of access. I never had to wait under the old system because I would cross the park back and forth and get a Fastpass from the kiosk as soon as the next time slot opened. Now you can’t do that.

    1. So true Mike. The old FastPass system was great. The fit and in shape ruled the world. Our family traded off being the runner who took all of our tickets to the next ride and got the FastPasses.

  14. Seriously, why should they do anything about the crowds? The place is packed, the money is flowing in, and no massive crowd, no 4 hour line, or any inconvenience is keeping the WDW faithful away.

    Funny, when people post about not liking many of the new rides or the new direction WDW is heading, we get an ear full from the “gotta keep changing” crowd about how Disney is “running a business” and has to “progress and not stagnate” to make a profit. So, to all of the “Walt’s philosophy doesn’t matter any more” crowd, enjoy your new progressive WDW. You’ll be happy to know their profit is flowing in like pixie dust.