Earlier this month, some staff members from the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World made their annual pilgrimage to Walt Disney World where they conduct a number of in-park research "missions", where they perform a variety of tasks to test out various hypothesis and make updates to future editions of the book. One particular hypothesis was being tested by the statistician of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, Fred Hazelton, in which Hazelton attempted to determine what effect, if any, does Fantasmic! have on crowds on days when Fantasmic! is being shown versus days where it's not being shown. Most of what what discovered was what I expected, but there was also a surprise in the results as well.
First and foremost, on days when there is a Fantasmic! showing, there's a clear boost in crowd levels. According to the research done, this increase can be anywhere from "10-20% larger when a Fantasmic! show is scheduled". If you've been to the Studios on days when there is Fantasmic since the cut was made earlier this year, you've likely noticed the difference. On days when there is no showing of Fantasmic!, there's noticably less folks in the park and after Block Party Bash (3pm), many guests leave the Studios to finish out their evening elsehwere in Walt Disney World because there isn't a fireworks spectacular to cap their evening off. It boggles my mind to see Disney cut Fantasmic! shows to save money, yet clearly many park guests flee the park because there is no show that day and the result is less guests spending money in the park. I have to believe that the money they lose in guests going elsewhere has to have an effect, and in my opinion, a greater net loss than if Fantasmic! was being shown and Disney had to pay for the costs of the show.
The surprise in Hazelton's research was something I really did not expect. Hazelton conducted his research first with a day that had no Fantasmic! showing and established a baseline for the crowd level. The next day had a Fantasmic! showing at the Studios and as was noted, there was an increase in crowd numbers. The surprising thing was the very next night there was another showing of Fantasmic! (so two days in a row with Fantasmic!) and while there was an increase in guests on the second straight night of Fantasmic! when compared to the day sans Fantasmic!, the jump in guests was less than the night before. Hazelton concluded that the longer it's been since a Fantasmic! show, the more crowded it is. It certainly makes sense as there's more guests who have seen the show in their trip so the second day in a row would result in less people who have to get over to the Studios to see the show. It certainly leads me to recommend anyone who want to see Fantasmic! during their stay try to see the show on a day when Fantasmic! is being shown immediatley following a day that also had a showing of Fantasmic!, assuming it's possible.
Hazelton also compared wait times at attractions and noted a 5-15% increase in waits on days with Fantasmic! versus a day without Fantasmic!. Basically, if your goal is to experience the various attractions at the Studios, then go on a non-Fantasmic! night and return to the Studios on another day for Fantasmic! to ensure optimal touring conditions when you want to "see it all". The caveat to that is of course convenience; now, you must committ two days to the Studios and have a park hopping option and hope it all fits within the confines of your touring schedule for your trip. This may not be a viable option for everyone and I'm sure many guests will have no choice but to experience the attractions at the Studios on a Fantasmic! day because they only have time to visit the Studios once.
There is one more clear conclusion reached after reading the report and that is quite frankly that a cut in Fantasmic! makes everyone's trips to Walt Disney World more difficult. Disney is trying to save a buck at the expense of your time and it's wrong. The cuts in Fantasmic! do little but create larger problems for guests to "see it all" and I'm willing to bet that a majority of guests never bother really planning their trip before they go and simply show up at the Studios and are dissapointed to discover there is no showing of Fantasmic!. While I understand times are tougher than they've been historically, nonetheless, a cut in Fantasmic! is not the right move and I implore everyone reading this column to send a quick email to Disney GUest Relations firstname.lastname@example.org and complain about the cut in Fantasmic! and demand they restore the show to at least once every day. Even if Fantasmic! isn't your favorite show, it impacts everyone's trips and there's now data to back that up.