When Disney World is Full: Guide to Park Capacity Closing Phases

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christmas day crowd

December 25, 2019, Main Street USA at 9pm right before the fireworks show. Packed with guests!

new years eve crowd

December 31, 2019: New Years Eve crowd!

More on the story from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2019/12/31/disney-worlds-magic-kingdom-turns-away-guests-new-years-eve

Note that a park may be almost full at a Phase 3 or Phase 4 closure earlier in the day, and then drop back down to Phase 1 restriction when enough people leave and the parking lots open back up.

Always check with a WDW Crowd Forecast when planning your day.  The parks are open 365 days a year, but that doesn’t guarantee you admission!

The park least effected by crowds is Epcot.  Due to it’s size, guests can really spread out and it never reaches capacity.  The busiest day at Epcot is New Years Eve.

crowd (2)

Ugh.

Here is a full breakdown of Walt Disney World’s Capacity Closing Procedures.

Phase A Closing

No admission of guests with one day tickets, and no admission of guests even with FastPass+ reservations unless they have one of the following:

WDW Resort Guests, including The Four Seasons Resort, Swan, Dolphin or Shades of Green, Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels arriving by bus (Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, The Buena Vista Palace, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel, B Resort, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, Hilton), Golden Oak residents and guests.

WDW Premier Passport, Annual & Premium Passholders

Guests with Park Hopper tickets re-entering or crossing over from another WDW Theme Park

Guests with Memory Maker

Guests with dining reservations

Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Harmony Barber Shop or The Pirates League.

Magic Kingdom crowd estimate >40,000.

mk-on-nye crowdPhase B Closing

No admission of guests with one day tickets, and no re-entering or crossing over from another park unless they have one of the following:

WDW Resort Guests, including The Four Seasons Resort, Swan, Dolphin or Shades of Green, Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels arriving by bus (Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, The Buena Vista Palace, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel, B Resort, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, Hilton), Golden Oak residents and guests.

WDW Premier Passport, Annual & Premium Passholders

Guests with Memory Maker

Guests with dining reservations

Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Harmony Barber Shop or The Pirates League.

FastPass+ reservations and is a WDW Resort hotel guest.

Magic Kingdom crowd estimate >45,000.

new years eve

December 31, 2019: Crowds in Tomorrowland.

Phase 1 Park Closing

Guests with ‘Magic Your Way’ base tickets, or a ‘1-Day 1-Park Ticket’, Guests without an admission ticket, and Cast Members using Main Gate & Silver Passes will be turned around at the parking lot booths.

Mainly effecting Magic Kingdom on days leading up to a major holiday.

MK crowd estimate > 50,000.

A sad sign.

A sad sign.

Phase 2 Park Closing

Admission is limited to:

Disney Resort Guests (including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and guests arriving by bus from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels)

Annual, Premier and Premium Annual Passholders

Guests with Hopper tickets coming from another park

Guests re-entering the park

Guests with dining reservations

Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League

Guests using Walt Disney World Resort Transportation will be admitted.

Guests with pre-purchased 1 day Magic Kingdom tickets

Magic Kingdom crowd estimate: 55,000. Parking lot is almost full.

[Magic Kingdom was at Phase 2 Closure on July 4, 2019 by noon.]

Turning away cars.

9am:  Turning away cars at the MK toll booths.  Parking lot is almost full.

Phase 3 Park Closing

Admission is limited to:

Disney Resort Guests (including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and guests arriving by bus from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels)

Annual, Premier and Premium Annual Passholders

Guests with dining reservations

Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League

photo

December 25, 2019:  Phase 3 at MK at 11am.

MK crowd estimate: 60,000.  Parking lot is full/closed.

Wall-to-wall guests, all attractions have extremely long wait times, restaurants are packed.

Phase 4:  Wall-to-wall guests, all attractions have extremely long wait times, all restaurants are packed.

Phase 4 Park Closing (Major Holidays:  December 24/25/31, January 1st)

Closed to all newly arriving guests, aka avoid the park at all costs!!!

Magic Kingdom crowd estimate: 75,000+. Parking lot is full/closed.

Park is at capacity and would be difficult to evacuate in case of an emergency.

No more guests are admitted until a significant number of current guests leave.

Comment:  This is our least favorite time to visit the Magic Kingdom.  We’ve done it, but it’s not been a very fun experience.  We’ve only stayed for a few hours.

We feel that Disney Parks has upped the capacity level for the Magic Kingdom in the past year or two, allowing even more guests in, over 80,000+ before closing the gates.  It’s just miserable and a lot of guests have rightfully complained about Christmas Week being too busy at the Magic Kingdom.

crowdAll four Disney World theme parks have reached some level of closure in the past. As the most visited theme park in the world, Magic Kingdom is the park most likely to experience capacity-based closures during busy times of year. Due to its size, Epcot is the least likely to close, and has not done so in recent memory. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom rarely close, but their smaller capacities still make them more likely to close than Epcot.

To be specific, Magic Kingdom closes to further guests, on average, around 6 days per year. New Year’s Eve and July 4th are always two of them, often getting up to a Phase 3 closure. Two to four other days during Christmas week can be expected each year as well, although those rarely go above Phase 2. The years where Easter week falls during late-March or early-April can also see closures due to the Easter break/Spring Break overlap.

crowd (2)

Easter Sunday crowd, April 2019

crowd1

December 31, 2019: New Years Eve. Phase 4 closure at 3pm.

crowd

December 31, 2019: New Years Eve mob.

MK new years eve crowd

New Years Eve mob scene.

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beach tree Two disney sisters

When the Parks are busy, it’s fun to go resort hopping! Celebrating the holidays at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort.

We’ve written two books about our time working – and playing – as Disney Cast Members at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Both are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.

Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

book Two Girls

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

If you’d like to follow our daily Disney blog, here’s the link: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/

Have a magical day!

Two Disney Sisters

Two Girls

Two Disney Sisters.  Happy Holidays!

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Two girls wall

Once upon a time…

Two Disney Sisters

Yes, we did!!! 🙂 #TwoDisneyPrincesses

Mickey New Years Eve

3 thoughts on “When Disney World is Full: Guide to Park Capacity Closing Phases

  1. […] are also the weeks you’re most likely to encounter Park Capacity Phase Closures, especially at the Magic […]

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  2. […] etc.) is actually higher, nearing 80,000 guests at the Magic Kingdom.  Disney World already has a Crowd Phase Playbook for handling busy holiday operating days that they could use as a starting point for […]

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  3. […] etc.) is actually higher, nearing 80,000 guests at the Magic Kingdom.  Disney World already has a Crowd Phase Playbook for handling busy holiday operating days that they could use as a starting point for reopening.  […]

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