It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means one thing: crowds are swelling at Walt Disney World! Even though almost every annual pass is blocked and one-day tickets are much more expensive than usual, crowds have shown up in droves this holiday season with guests eager to celebrate at the Most Magical Place on Earth.

However, even though we’ve seen some big crowds in the past, this year looks like it could be a record breaker with special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party selling out weeks in advance and wait times at attractions like Flight of Passage, Space Mountain and Test Track swelling to three and four hours right after their respective theme park opens. Even less popular rides like the Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion are pushing two hour waits most days, and even though this already sounds extreme, waits are only likely to get worse as the holiday season progresses. And here’s why:

1. Pandora – The World of Avatar is continuing its winning streak

People walking through Pandora

Image: Disney

Opinions were divided on Pandora – The World of Avatar in the run up to its spring 2017 opening, but now that this new land has been open for over half a year, it is a bona fide hit, drawing crowds even on the most moderate days, with Avatar - Flight of Passage becoming the most necessary attraction for guests to visit during a Walt Disney World visit in 2017.

Unsurprisingly, as positive word of mouth spread about this new land, guests started making plans to visit, and of course many like to use the holiday season as an excuse to visit the parks, which is probably why Avatar – Flight of Passage has been seeing four hour waits all this week, and could hit five hours as we head into New Year’s week. But that’s not all.

2. Disney offered an unprecedented amount of deals in the run up to this year’s holiday season

2017 has been a bit of a roller coaster for Walt Disney World in terms of attendance, with spring delivering better than expected attendance, but guest levels tapering off over the summer and fall. With Disney wanting to finish the year strong, the resort began offering special discounts, deals, and packages for the holiday season back in August, and budget-savvy guests were quick to take advantage of these limited-time offers (all of which have since sold out), which has led to high occupancy at Walt Disney World's hotels, and of course, packed theme parks.


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