As I mentioned earlier, in the 4th Quarter Earnings call Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek admitted that capacity at the Walt Disney World theme parks has been raised to 35%. There are a couple of things that I want to say about this.
First, the way that it was worded, it sounds like this is something that has already been done. When the parks reopened, we were told that the numbers would not be released. In the middle of October, Chapek told CNBC that capacity at that time was 25%. So sometime in the past month, the number of people allowed in each park has increased. I don’t know if it was gradual, or if it happened all at once. We will probably never know.
Remember, the definition of capacity for the theme parks is how many guests are allowed to legally be in the theme park before they will allow no more guests. This is a number that has not been released either, although there are plenty of places where you can see some fairly strong estimates. A lot of people right now are comparing the crowds to a normal day in mid-November, then complaining about capacity. That isn’t what you should use as a comparison. It’s 35% of the Christmas Day crowd, not a random Thursday in November crowd.
Also, there are plenty of days when the current capacity hasn’t been reached. If you look in the three categories for Disney Park Pass reservations, there is almost always something available. It may be filled in the category that your ticket falls under, but that doesn’t mean that the parks are all full.
The park that reaches capacity most often right now is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Often, it’s full in all three categories. There are two reasons for this. First, it’s the smallest park, so it has the smallest capacity. It just holds fewer people. Second, all of the newest rides and lands are found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I know of many people who stayed away from the park for years because of all the construction. Now that both Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge are open, people want to experience the park once again.
The Christmas Season is traditionally the busiest time of year at Walt Disney World. Thanksgiving is late this year, making the season even shorter. The spots are filling up for both Theme Park Ticket Guests and Resort Guests on the Availability Calendar in December. The last two weeks of the year are full for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in both categories, and it looks like the other parks are also filling up. In the same earnings call Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy stated:
Park reservations at our reduced capacity limits are already 77% booked for Q1, with Thanksgiving week booked close to capacity.
If you’re planning on visiting during the holidays, make your reservation sooner rather than later. Capacity will surely be reached for the last couple of weeks of 2020.