Walt Disney World increases capacity: Wait times soar

Hollywood Studios was crowded on a random Monday. Elana Nichols 2020

Since my first time back to Disney after its closing, things have changed drastically. What once felt like both the happiest and safest place on Earth now feels more like a busy summer day back in 2019. It’s no secret that Disney has been extra magical lately with light crowds and the decreased capacity. Recently, Governor DeSantis encouraged “more Florida visitors” and “higher theme park capacity.” Well, it looks like both guest and park heeded the call.

Rise of the Resistance was down and Smuggler’s Run was 90 minutes. Elana Nichols 2020

We started out going to Epcot on a Saturday. It was busy, but not horrific and certainly nothing like it was in 2019 for Food and Wine. However, the real catastrophe happened when we tried out Hollywood Studios on Monday September 14. It was so crowded that most rides’ wait times were over three hours and it was actually difficult to walk through areas without getting uncomfortably close to other guests. While we did not feel comfortable staying, I will say people were wearing their masks, which was good.

People in line for guest relations on the left. It went down most of the way and wrapped around the building. Elana Nichols 2020

However, we also witnessed the guest relations lines wrapping around buildings. Apparently, there was a glitch in the system for their newest Star Wars themed ride, Rise of the Resistance. You have to reserve the ride by getting in a virtual queue on the My Disney App after entering the park. Apparently it was not working for anyone and people were upset, trying to get help from guest relations. We were also unable to secure a slot for that ride. However, that is not why we left. I truly felt like I was in a crowded Disney on a normal summer day.

Two lines so long that they converge. Elana Nichols 2020

There’s one thing that was not like a normal crowded summer day, though; the fact that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. I have been avoiding crowded places, so this was a bit heartbreaking to me. The other major difference was the absence of Fast Passes. Usually, a busy day is not the end of the world. With a Fast Pass, you are essentially holding your place in line while you are free to shop, eat, and stroll around. For some reason, Disney has increased capacity to 75%, but they have not reinstated the Fast Pass. Instead, you saw sweaty cast members holding signs for rides over 90 minutes, butting up to (and in one case, criss-crossing into) other lines that were 90 minutes, and leading into other lands. We had barely left Batuu (the newest Star Wars Land) when we saw the end of the Slinky Dog line, before we even stepped foot in Andy’s backyard.

I realize part of the issue of the long lines lies in distancing in the line and on the rides. I will say they are still doing an excellent job enforcing that, whereas other Orlando theme parks seem to have let that slide. However, it still means the line waits are even longer than they would be ordinarily.

We were barely out of Batuu when we met the end of the Slinky Dog Dash for 80 minutes. Elana Nichols 2020

I simply do not understand why Fast Passes have not been added to the equation. I also don’t understand how 75% felt like full capacity. Is it me? Was it truly capacity and not 75%? I can’t tell for sure. However, I did confirm that they are up to 75% as of this week. I can also confirm that 75% feels a bit scary, especially if you have any sort of anxiety in relation to this pandemic.

Cast members were amazing as usual. Disney is still doing an excellent job of enforcing rules and keeping things sanitary. It’s the other guests that make me nervous. However, I will be hoping for another magical day when Disney either restricts the number of guests again or reinstates the FastPass. I really don’t understand why we are trying to recreate the 1980’s and stand in long lines again. Part of the magic of Disney is getting to roam, shop, eat, and be merry. Until then, I will pine my incredible day at Magic Kingdom when I was seemingly the only one there and got to ride everything with minimal or no wait at all.

I also want to add in that I am actually happy that the crowds have increased. The higher crowds mean success for Disney. When I first went back and it was empty, I was a bit worried for the parks. So, if this is what it takes to keep them open, I am all for it!

Hopefully, the other parks will remain less crowded. My advice to you is to check the wait times before you journey into the parks. Of course, this is complicated with Rise of the Resistance. However, I know the other parks have been far less crowded. Perhaps Batuu will just have to wait until a later date.

Have you experienced Disney crowds post pandemic? Comment below!


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