Archive for April, 2005

Walt Disney World Wait Time Estimates

by on April 30, 2005

Updated wait time estimates coming on Sunday, as well as an update on how accurate we’ve been over the past two weeks.

Below is a look at Walt Disney World Resort hotel availability on Expedia.com, as of this evening.  An entry of “1″ in the chart below means that resort (or room type) is sold out for that date. A blank entry means rooms are still available on Expedia. It looks like the weekend of 5/13-14 and Memorial Day are going to be fairly busy.

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Splash Mountain Big Thunder Wait Times

by on April 30, 2005

Sorry for the delay in getting the blog updated. Had an unscheduled business trip out of town during the week. Here are the wait times we’re certain of since the last update:

Friday, April 22: 70 minutes for Splash, 55 for Space and BTMRR
Saturday, Apr 23: 55 minutes for Splash, 50 for Space, 45 for BTMRR
Thursday, Apr 28: 90 minutes for Splash, 75 for BTMRR. Apparently some problems with the Frontierland attractions today, causing each of these to go offline at some point.
Friday, Apr 29: 60 minutes for Splash, 40 for BTMRR

We’re missing wait times for Sunday through Wednesday, but hope to have those early next week.

I’ve got updates to hotel occupancy rates and Expedia room availabilty for later tonight.

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Unofficial Guide Crowd Variables

by on April 21, 2005

The latest model I’m using has four variables as input: historical hotel occupancy rate for I-Drive and LBV hotels, number of hours the MK is open during the week, trips booked in the Unofficial Guide’s trip planner, and a measure of WDW resort room availability (or lack thereof) in Expedia, plus Swan & Dolphin and Hilton in DTD. If we compare the average of those four things with the known wait times for the past 14 days we have data for, here’s the accuracy:

Matches exactly: 4 out of 14
Predicted level is 1 more than actual: 3 out of 14
Predicted level is 1 less than actual: 6 out of 13
Predicted level is off by 2 or more: 1 out of 13 (predicted 7, was 5 – might have been weather)

The underestimation is interesting. I’m going to work with these numbers some more to see if the accuracy can be improved. If we can get it to where we predict either a specific number (e.g., 6) or a range (e.g., 6-7), that might be a good first step. In any event, here’s the average of those four numbers for the next few days

Fri Apr 22
8
Sat Apr 23
8
Sun Apr 24
6
Mon Apr 25
7
Tue Apr 26
7
Wed Apr 27
6
Thu Apr 28
6
Fri Apr 29
6
Sat Apr 30
5
Sun May 1
5
Mon May 2
5
Tue May 3
5
Wed May 4
5
Thu May 5
5
Fri May 6
5
Sat May 7
6
Sun May 8
6

Those numbers use the old Unofficial Guide scale, not the new. It might also be interesting to see if we use the weekly hours as a base, and the daily hours as a more precise estimate. I don’t think it’d work on Grad Nights, or any time the MK has a special event, so it’s tough to say right now. Just a thought.

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Unofficial Guide Crowd Calendar Thoughts

by on April 21, 2005

I think the UG’s 1 to 10 scale needs to be changed to something that represents wait times linearly. The current scale doesn’t assign wait times to numbers 1 through 6, or 10, nor does it say which park(s) it applies to. Also, as the Magic Kingdom is probably the most familiar to everyone, we’re going to use that as the standard park going forward. After we get the Magic Kingdom figured out, we’ll go back and provide guidelines on how to translate MK wait times to the other three parks.

In terms of the scale, I believe the largest standby wait time we’ve ever observed at the Magic Kingdom was 135 minutes for Splash Mountain. Anything more than that probably doesn’t need differentiation – it’s all bad. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s rare for the headliner attractions to ever have a posted wait time of 0; 5 is probably the lowest wait time you’d see. In addition, wait times are posted as multiples of 5 (i.e., 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes, and so on), therefore the wait times on our scale have to be divisible by 5. (It’d not be much good, for example, to have a “6″ on our scale be a 72 to 84 minute wait, as the numbers 72 and 84 never appear on the standby wait time displays.)

Everyone is familiar with decimal systems, so I’d prefer to keep the 1-10 scale rather than trying something like 1-8 or 1-13. Also, a smaller range means less precision (but easier predicting – maybe we should reconsider!), while a larger range probably implies an accuracy that’s just unattainable. The simplest scale I can think of is this:

1 = Peak standby wait time less than 10 minutes at headliner Magic Kingdom attractions
2 = Peak wait time of 20 minutes or less
3 = 30 minutes or less
4 = 40 minutes or less
5 = 50 minutes or less
6 = 60 minutes or less
7 = 70 minutes or less
8 = 80 minutes or less
9 = 90 minutes or less
10 = More than 90 minutes

I don’t think it’s necessary to differentiate between wait times of more than 90 minutes, again as it just seems to me to be varying levels of badness. The next-simplest alternative would be to use 15-minute increments, but this would translate a 5 on the scale to a wait time of 75 minutes, and I think most people would put that toward the upper end of their patience.

Comments? Suggestions? Drop me a line. I’d also be interested in hearing suggestions on what to call the unit of measure for crowd estimates. (“Mickeys” is already the unit of measure for tracking how far a computer mouse moves – can’t use that.)

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Space, Splash, Thunder Mountain Peak Wait Times

by on April 21, 2005

Peak wait times for Thursday, April 21 at the Magic Kingdom headliner attractions were as follows:

Space Mountain: 50 minutes
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 60minutes
Splash Mountain: 75 minutes

This rates a 7 on the Unofficial Guide’s scale. The chart below predicted an 9, while the “official” prediction was a 5.

Peak wait times for Wednesday, April 20 were as follows:

Space Mountain: 65 minutes
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 75 minutes
Splash Mountain: 60 minutes

This also rates a 7 on the Unofficial Guide scale. The chart below predicted an 8, while the “official” prediction was a 5.

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Disney World Hotel Occupancy Impact On Crowds

by on April 19, 2005

This chart shows WDW hotel occupancy for May 1-30, using Expedia as a reference. Here are the same numbers in a graph. Note that I’ve used the total number of hotel rooms in the entire resort as a rough estimate of relative crowd size. Where I’ve referenced “standard” or “garden view” rooms, more expensive rooms may still be available through Expedia (but not necessarily). By using the number of rooms in the resort, we’re trying to get a crowd estimate. In that respect, having a resort like the Pop Century sell out 2,880 rooms is almost four times more impressive than filling the Swan’s 758 rooms. I’ll see if I can dig up the number of standard rooms at each WDW resort on Wednesday to make the numbers more accurate.

In any event, that second weekend in May still looks to be quite busy. Memorial Day, in contrast, does not. But I think it’s still too early to say anything about Memorial Day, as I think a lot of folks haven’t yet booked rooms. We’ll check the same graph again on May 1 to see if the calendar change has got anyone moving.

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WDW Resort Availability And Its Impact On Disney Crowd Levels

by on April 19, 2005

A quick check of hotel availability through Expedia shows lots of WDW resorts booked the second week of May. Here’s a quick spreadsheet for May 1-14, with an “1″ representing a sold-out hotel on Expedia. What’s happening that second weekend? I thought the party was on the 5th? :-)

For the Swan and Dolphin, I called Sheraton’s reservation desk. I’ve got a call in to my brother, who works for a company that produces computer software for the hotel industry, to see what he can find out. Also have sent email to some travel agents, trying to gauge their bookings for May.

I’ll post the remainder of May’s hotel availability on Expedia later this evening.

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Weekly Data On Disney Hotel Occupancy

by on April 19, 2005

Another reader has sent in weekly data showing Disney hotel occupancy, by resort, for the next several weeks. We’re looking at those data now. Very interesting.

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Disney Crowd Level Questions And Answers

by on April 19, 2005

No Unofficial Guide researchers are available to be in the Magic Kingdom today, but we’re working with Disney and others to see if we can get wait times from the park today.  Unofficial Guide researchers and volunteers will be available starting Wednesday, through at least April 30, so we can compare wait time predictions and actuals for those days.

We’re getting lots of questions around what the different crowd levels mean, especially for those levels that don’t have an explicit wait time associated.  We may need to re-do the 1-10 scale to be more specific about wait times.  Drop me a line if you have comments or suggestions on what you’d like to see in a new scale.  Also, we should be more clear about which park we’re using as the yardstick.  I think the Magic Kingdom is the park most familiar to everyone, so we’re going to use that going forward.

Several readers have asked whether conventions and conferences impact wait times at WDW.  I’ve charted every scheduled conference and convention in Orlando from now through the end of 2005 The y axis shows the number of conference participants.  Thanks again to the Orlando Visitor and Convention Bureau for the raw data.  In most cases, the number of conference participants is below 5,000, a relatively small number.  And there are a host of factors that would lessen the impact of that many people on wait times in WDW, including:

  • Most conference participants have conferences scheduled during the day
  • Even if they had the day off, they’d probably not all go to the same theme park (or even a Disney park)
  • They’d probably not arrive at the park(s) at the same time
  • They’d probably not go on the same rides
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Wait Times At Magic Kingdom Headliner Attractions

by on April 19, 2005

Wait times at the headliner attractions seem to have peaked around 1:30 pm on Monday:

Splash Mountain: 80 minutes
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 70 minutes
Space Mountain: 75 minutes

If we take the highest value of those three, it’s an “8″ on the UG’s scale. If we take the average or median (75 for both), the day would rate a “7.” As noted below, one UG model predicted an 8, and the other predicted a 7. One day doesn’t say much, however. We’ll see how accurate the models are as the week progresses.

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