Tuesday, April 24, 2012
New Crowd Patterns in Epcot
The refurbishment of Test Track had significant impact on crowd movement and attraction wait times at Epcot during my trip last week. After closing on April 16th, Epcot was left, in essence, with one headliner attraction in Soarin'. I personally don't consider Mission Space or Spaceship Earth headliners because they do not warrant a rope drop arrival to get a minimum wait.
First, a smaller scale effect: The waits at Living with the Land jumped to 20 minutes by mid-morning. Not forced with the prospect of having to cut across the park to get on Test Track, people were far more inclined to stay in the Land Pavilion and experience to take in Living w/ the Land. I have not seen waits of twenty minutes in some time, certainly never on my trips.
Second, and more importantly to Epcot touring, is the impact of crowds at Soarin'. Although crowds were predicted to be very light at Epcot overall, the folks at TouringPlans were estimating 100+ minute waits at Soarin'. This far exceeds what you would expect on a similar day in which Test Track were open. This certainly made sense to me. By reducing the number of headliners, crowds throughout the day would be pulled in one direction and waits would build to almost unbearable levels. For the record, almost every TouringPlans wait times were right on for the entire week.
The thing is, the 100+ minute waits never happened. Waits topped out at 70 minutes and would quickly go down to 50 minutes whenever the waits would peak . Even FastPasses were available for several hours after the predicted "end" time. So, one of two things happened:
1. Less people will go to Epcot if there is only one great attraction.
2. Soarin' has been around long enough that people will balk at the idea of spending much more than an hour in line for the attraction.
Either way, it is an interesting development for anyone touring Epcot over the next several months.