Archive for May, 2005

Best Days To Visit Disney World

by on May 31, 2005

The “Best Days” page has been updated with new crowd predictions through April 2006. We’ve got almost seven complete weeks of data collected in the Magic Kingdom in 2005. The primary method used to predict future wat times was Excel’s multiple regression data analysis tool. A second method I used was Excel’s STANDARDIZE function on a couple of key statistics. Both of them were remarkably consistent, varying by more than +/- 1 fewer than 20 times out of 548 days. (We also completed the “Best Days” calendar for all of 2006.) In those cases, I averaged the two estimates. Because of rounding, I think the wait time estimates are slightly higher than what should be observed, but we’ll see how it goes for the next month before making changes.

For the rest of 2005, we used Disney’s published special events and standard Extra Magic Hours schedules when determining whether to recommend or avoid a particular park. For the 2006 calendar, I used the same rules for Disney special events. So, for example, if Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is on most Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in October 2005, I assumed they’d be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in 2006, too.

Incidentally, I went back and checked the average peak wait times for each day of the week through May 30, 2005. In order of highest wait times, here are the rankings:

1. Monday
2. Thursday
3. Sunday / Friday (a tie)
5. Saturday
6. Wednesday
7. Tuesday

There’s more than 20 minutes difference in peak wait times betweek Monday and Tuesday at the three Magic Kingdom headliner attractions. Saturday and Wednesday have moved the most in relation to our guest survey done earlier this year, while the top and bottom remain relatively unchanged. At this point, I think the day-of-week question has been settled (at least to my satisfaction), unless some extraordinary data become available.

Also, I’m still in need to some help in determining the number of each different hotel room type at some Disney resorts. Drop me a line if you’ve got a couple of free hours: len@touringplans.com.

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Disney Resort Room Research

by on May 20, 2005

I’m in need of some help in determining the number of each different hotel room type (e.g., “standard view,” “water view”) at some Disney resorts. If you’ve got a free evening or two and would like to help, drop me a line: len@touringplans.com. For now, I’m counting rooms on resort maps, which is a slow and tedious process.

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Magic Kingdom Park Wait Times

by on May 20, 2005

Sorry for the delay in posting updates. Here are the latest wait times since the last update:

Date
Predicted Peak Wait Time at MK Headliner Attractions
Actual Peak Wait Time
Tue May 10
75 minutes
55 minutes
Thu May 12
70 minutes
40 minutes
Fri May 13
75 minutes
65 minutes
Sun May 15
65 minutes
30 minutes

We should have data from the Magic Kingdom every day over the next week or so, and this will certainly help.

In looking back over the last two months, the factors that seem to best predict wait times are hotel occupancy and park hours. Look for predictions using these data for the next 6 weeks coming up later today. We’ve also got our statistician Fred Hazelton looking at the data for the first time, so that’ll certainly help.

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Lights! Motors! Action! And Soarin’ Are Top Attractions

by on May 9, 2005

Hi folks! It’s good to be back from the media event. The short summary: Lights! Motors! Action! gets 3.5 stars out of five. Excellent stunt driving and creative concept, but the pacing really drags the show down. By my estimate, there are between 6 and 8 minutes of actual stunt work in a show that lasts from 25 to 30 minutes. The rest of the time is spent explaining the stunt just performed, or setting up for the next trick. That’s just too much lull between action.

After the premier, I surveyed several members of Team Knievel, arguably America’s greatest daredevil team, on the quality of the stunt work in L! M! A!. Their response? To a man, they all pronounced the driving excellent, and were impressed with the team’s precision. Hats off to the L! M! A! drivers.

Soarin’ gets 4.5 stars out of 5. Excellent attraction. So impressive I rode it ten times. Should be perfectly suitable for most small children and senior citizens. Best seats are in the top row. The center section moves the least, but I prefer the leftmost, top row for the view.

Small World maintains its 3 star rating. Every pastel shade known to man is used throughout the attraction. It’s the only ride that you’ll ever exit and not ask “Now how’d that song go again?” Although the sound system was recently upgraded, I really couldn’t tell the difference. Then again, it could be all that Van Halen from my youth catching up with me.

And now, on to the crowd levels. For Wednesday, May 4, we predicted a crowd level of 65 minutes at the Magic Kingdom’s headliner attractions. The actual peak was 40 minutes. Crowds may have been affected by thunderstorms all day (and on Thursday), but we’ll note that and move on.

On Friday, we predicted wait times of 70 minutes at the MK, with actual wait times topping out at 50 minutes at the headliner attractions. We should head back about Saturday’s wait times sometime on Tuesday.

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Disney ADRs And Crowd Level Predictions

by on May 2, 2005

Okay, before we get into the crowd blog, a couple of news items floating around the web: the Pinocchio Village Haus at the Magic Kingdom will apparently stop serving hamburgers on May 8. As one wag on WDWMagic.com notes, this leaves only 22 other places to get burgers.

Also, Disney’s changing the name of “Priority Seating Reservations” to “Advance Dining Arrangements.” Apparently they got tired of explaining how something with the word “reservation” in it isn’t really a reservation. And the legal department must have had issues with my idea: “I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Not-Reservations.” Thanks to Mike Scopa at Mouseplanet.com for the heads up. Not only does Mike write a Disney column for Mouseplanet, but he was recently named one of Disney’s “50 Happiest Passholders.” As I write this, he’s in WDW with his son, apparently trying to talk his way into driving the monorail. Good luck with that, Mike.

Finally, Disney’s added several sit-down and counter-service restaurants to the Magic Your Way with Dining plan, as well as new snack options. Most of Epcot is now represented, and Coronado Springs gets a boost. Check out our updated description here.

On to the crowd predictions. First, a look back at what we’ve predicted over the last couple of weeks:

Original
Prediction
Modified
Prediction
Actual
Crowd
Level
Fri Apr 15
4
6
8
Sat Apr 16
4
7
Sun Apr 17
6
6
7
Mon Apr 18
7
7
8
Tue Apr 19
5
6
n/a
Wed Apr 20
5
6
7
Thu Apr 21
5
7
7
Fri Apr 22
5
8
7
Sat Apr 23
5
8
6
Sun Apr 24
6
6
n/a
Mon Apr 25
7
7
n/a
Tue Apr 26
6
7
n/a
Wed Apr 27
5
6
n/a
Thu Apr 28
5
6
8
Fri Apr 29
4
6
6
Sat Apr 30
4
5
n/a

Recall that the “modified prediction” uses an average of four things: historical occupancy rate, number of hours the Magic Kingdom is open in a given week, trips booked for that date in the Unofficial Guide’s free Trip Planner, and WDW resort availability on Expedia.com. The original prediction is from the Guide’s “Best Days” page.

M1 predicted the correct crowd level 2 times out of 9. It was +/- 1 four times, and +/- 2 the remaining three times for which we’ve currently got data. The original method was right zero times, +/- 1 three times, +/- 2 four times, and +/- 3 or more twice. Ouch. On the other hand, M1 was +/- 1 on the crowd level 6 of 9 times, which ain’t a bad first step.

It appeared that the modified method was better than the original method we used, so we’re looking now at ways to improve on the formula used. For simplicity, let’s refer to the modified method and its components as “M1.” Our new method, M2, uses the same inputs as M1, plus the actual number of hours the Magic Kingdom is open that day. It also uses a weighted average for each input, instead of a simple average. Those weights are as follows:

Historical Hotel Occupancy Rate: 0.4
Weekly Magic Kingdom Hours: 1.0
Expedia Hotel Availability: 1.05
Unofficial Guide Trip Planner Stats: 1.4
Magic Kingdom Daily Operating Hours: 1.9

M1′s standard deviation using an unweighted average was 1.80. M2′s standard deviation with the weighted average is 1.04, so the hope is that M2 will be both more accurate and less volatile a measurement, and we can more easily make adjustments to the formula. Incidentally, the standard disclaimer applies: I’m not a statistican, and our regular statistican (the sublime Fred Hazelton) is currently booked on our new transportation and restaurant number-crunching projects for the 2006 edition.

That being said, here are M2′s crowd level predictions for May. Remember that we’re going to eventually switch to a new 1-10 scale. For now, I’ve translated to peak wait times at the MK’s headliner attractions (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad):

Date
Predicted Peak Wait Time at MK Headliner Attractions
Sun May 1
70 minutes
Mon May 2
70 minutes
Tue May 3
65 minutes
Wed May 4
65 minutes
Thu May 5
70 minutes
Fri May 6
70 minutes
Sat May 7
80 minutes
Sun May 8
70 minutes
Mon May 9
70 minutes
Tue May 10
75 minutes
Wed May 11
70 minutes
Thu May 12
70 minutes
Fri May 13
75 minutes
Sat May 14
80 minutes
Sun May 15
65 minutes
Mon May 16
70 minutes
Tue May 17
65 minutes
Wed May 18
65 minutes
Thu May 19
65 minutes
Fri May 20
75 minutes
Sat May 21
85 minutes or more
Sun May 22
85 minutes or more
Mon May 23
90 minutes or more
Tue May 24
85 minutes or more
Wed May 25
85 minutes or more
Thu May 26
80 minutes
Fri May 27
90 minutes or more
Sat May 28
90 minutes or more
Sun May 29
80 minutes
Mon May 30
70 minutes
Tue May 31
75 minutes
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