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4 Ways Walt Disney World is Preparing to Handle Record-Breaking Crowds Long-Term

Year over year, Walt Disney World breaks records when it comes to increased attendance. Though nearby Universal Orlando Resort has been gaining in percentage growth in recent years, the four parks that make up Walt Disney World have all seen consecutive year over year growth, and the number of visitors that will flow through the #1 theme park destination in the world is expected to reach critical mass in the near future, especially with Epcot’s new Frozen ride set to debut in 2016, Pandora: The World of Avatar opening in 2017, and Star Wars Land farther out on the horizon.

Though many current guests complain that Walt Disney World is too crowded as it is, these new attractions will bring more visitors to the resort than ever before, which sounds like a recipie for disaster. Fortunately, Walt Disney World has a multi-pronged strategy for dealing with the massive influx of guests that are predicted to flood the resort over the next few years. 

1. A new entrance for Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Though Disney's Hollywood Studios is on the cusp of a major reboot that will include new attractions and a new name, it looks increasingly likely that a new entrance will be part of that plan too. Currently, the main entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios is off of World Drive, which is a terrible location that creates massive traffic backups during special events and during park closing on crowded days. 

Fortunately, it looks like work has begun on a new entrance that will help direct traffic away from World Drive. In the above image (taken via Google Earth screenshot) it is clear that trees are being cleared to make a pathway from Victory Way to the Disney's Hollywood Studios' parking lot. Though the image above is likely a few weeks old, several Cast Members have said (unofficially) that they have been informed that a new entrance is on the way soon that should relieve the traffic snarl that the World Drive entrance causes on a regular basis. 

2. Additional parking at the Magic Kingdom

A frequent factoid trotted out by tram operators when guests are en route to the Ticket and Transportation Center from the Magic Kingdom parking lot is that this lot is the second largest in the US, dwarfed only by the Mall of America parking lot. However, Walt Disney World may be giving the Mall of America lot a run for this title, as plans are in the works to expand their already massive parking lot. 

When the Richard Petty Driving Experience attraction is removed (which is rumored to happen in the very near future) work will begin on making the area formerly occupied by this third-party experience into more parking spaces. Though most guests might not see a need for extra parking spaces, those of us who have been to Walt Disney World during the holiday season know that this massive parking lot does indeed fill up. Last year, during the Christmas-New Year's period, Cast Members actually resorted to parking guests on the lawn behind the Mulan section of the parking lot, which was pretty crazy considering this grassy area is quite far from a tram stop! 

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There are 17 comments.

WDW is just too crowded period. When I was younger, growing up in FL, it was a usual weekend retreat. Now, it's just too crowded, too expensive and no longer the place I can or want to visit with my kids. Which is really sad! But the logistics of fastpass selections 60 days out, meal reservations 180 days out, eliminates spontaneity. (which I suppose is another way WDW is handling crowd control.) With the prices so steep just to enter a park, why not limit the amount of people who enter each day? Oh, I guess because WDW would loose money. But really, would a light bulb in WDW even flicker if a few thousand people reduced their attendance per day? I miss the old Disney where locals (or those with common sense) knew the drill: Summer time would be packed in the world, so you allotted more time for lines and brought plenty of water and sunscreen. October, end of January and all of February would be dead with cooler weather but you could walk on name attractions like the mountains, Malestrom, Tower of Terror with zero wait. Oh and when cool attractions like Malestrom were open (Horizons, World of Motion, 20000 leagues Under The Sea), and they didn't close em to open a stupid move-based ride in a land suppose to showcase the actual country. Paper fast passes which yes, would run out but rewarded those who got up and went to the parks early. I also miss the Disney resorts being centered around fun and theme, not catering to those who could afford "club" level and DvC. Back in the day, the Grand Floridian was considered expensive but now, you can't even book reservations in any deluxe resort with a kitchenette because they belong to DvC owners. Must be nice to be oober rich but I am just an average mom who now has to save for 5 years just to book a room at WDW. Thanks Disney. Walt would be proud. (Sarcasm)

Lucy - It sounds as though someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and expects a multi-billion dollar company to exist for your own pleasure? While I agree with you about the loss of spontaneity, I think you are off base when it comes to dissing club level and DVC resorts (Animal Kingdom Villas only has a handful of club level rooms). Not everyone wants to stay in paltry accommodations. Money makes the world go around. DVC makes money for Disney ... lots of money, which can be used for long term planning and expansion. I purchased DVC in 1994 (under $12,000). The price has tripled since then ... but I am still paying about the same price ... that's part of the perks of ownership. When times were tough for Disney some time ago, it was believed pin trading and DVC were the two things keeping Disney afloat.

How about MORE RIDES? In AK, Epcot, and particularly in HS they simply need more attractions to keep the numbers of visitors busy.

I know this is perpetuating yet another long-raised question, but with capacities like this, why not build a new park in Texas? sigh.

Dan - Walt's plan was to continue development in central Florida. The land was cheap when it was acquired nearly 50 years ago, and there's plenty of room for expansion.

While that is true, it hasn't stopped the company from building in other countries. I agree that another park in another state in the US would be a great idea. Spread it around instead of glutting an already glutted area. Walt himself thought often about opening parks in other states.

I think it will not be over crowed they are making it so that the average family can not afford Disney and there are more average than rich with the new rule with free dining it is no longer free and upping price s so that we can not buy tickets. I think it is very sad Walt wanted it so that everybody could afford Disney and now they can not.

So sad that Disneyworld is now mostly for the richest people in the world. In the 1980s I was able to afford 5 nights at thr Polynesian having the same job as I do now. .I checked the price yesterday and it was $662. 00 per night!!!!! Are they kidding. .who the hell is paying that. I couldn't believe they have the nerve to list such an outrageous price!..then to reaally get me upset I calculate that for my husband and I one day in magic kingdom and a ticket for Mickeys Halloween party will be $173.00 per person!!! Why is it like this now..the average person with a good job can't afford to spend money like this..please someone at Disney. .something has to change

I think it will not be over crowed they are making it so that the average family can not afford Disney and there are more average than rich with the new rule with free dining it is no longer free and upping price s so that we can not buy tickets. I think it is very sad Walt wanted it so that everybody could afford Disney and now they can not.

It would be nice if the Downtown Disney parking garages are a first step in having them at the theme parks. I know they aren't the prettiest thing to look at, but it would let a lot of people park closer than they do now, and provide some shade when heading to/from their cars.

Parking garages do not have to be ugly. Just like any other real estate, it's merely a matter of a design.

Sadly, Disney no longer cares about the average family. I truly love all things Disney, but they choose to forget, it is possible for a company to make millions while caring for it's customers; Disney, of all places should be an example of that.

Wow, your comments are all soooo negative. Truth everyone wants to be part of the magic...Con over crowding is unfortunately a side effect of this. I'm technically "poverty" level. I live paycheck to paycheck, owe almost 50 grand in school loans still and I still manage it. Takes hard work and lots of planing. I do a lot of side work and so do my kids to make it happen. Oh not to mention I'm single mom. So I hate hearing people say "it can't be done, it's too expensive and they don't care and make it impossible" cause you just don't want it bad enough. You spend your money on other things and that's fine not judging but your priorities are different then a true Disney lover. "If you can dream it, you can do it" and Disney gives me so many tools to make happen with Disney vacation accounts, and their travel company. I have no credit cards it's so hard to stay at any hotel with no credit card but Disney holds none of my funds when I check in and have my debit card on file. I'm pinch pennies, and craft, and get 2nd jobs and my kids recycle and help pick up my slack around the house so we can go. And it's worth every second we are there.

I'm sorry but these comments are making me LOL. We are a family of 3, live on one income of less than 40k, live off the government in no way, and we are able to afford Disney every 2 years. No, we dont stay at Deluxe resorts, but we want to go so we make due and sacrifice in other ways. It averages out to cost 100 a month. I'm sure if you make more you can afford the nicer hotels and dining plans and it wouldnt be a big deal.

Either you live with no expenses and in extremely low cost of living, I find that very hard to believe. Just our rent alone is about 14000 a year ( basic two bedroom ). That does not include water, gas, electric, gas for our one car, insurance,food, clothing, cleaning and personal care, school projects and field trips, etc.

Cheryl - The mortgage on my 2,500 square foot (4 bedroom) house in suburban Philadelphia is almost HALF of your rent payment, and will be paid off by the end of the year. Of course, I too, pay for water, natural gas, electric, gasoline, insurance, food, clothing, etc. Philadelphia is not Manhattan ($$$), but it is not rural mid-west (cheap) either. We purchased DVC in 1994 ... just returned from a 2 bedroom villa at Grand Floridian, followed by 15 night TransAtlantic cruise on the Disney Magic. Plan your vacation, and work your plan!

Disney is not too expensive and all you whiners need to grow up- our combined household income is just a little over $200,000, less than most of our social group, and somehow we are able to go to WDW. If you really pledged your allegiance and your faith to Disney, as you should, then you would do what you need to do to get there.


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