We get a lot of messages from people asking about the accuracy of the crowd calendar. The estimates we provide are based on a model that incorporates dozens of factors like park hours, parade schedules, weather, proximity of holidays, hotel occupancy and historical crowd levels. When the factors themselves change, it results in a change to our predictions. What this means is that the higher the risk for changes, the higher the chance that the predictions will change as well.
If you are planning your trip twelve months from now the calendar will give you a good sense of what to expect but it is likely that it will not be the exact crowd conditions when the time comes for you to set foot in the park. If we were that good, we’d be retired, writing the Unofficial Guide to Bahamian Beach Bars by now.
All this being said, here is the latest comparison of what our model predicted and what was actually observed in the Magic Kingdom since March 4, 2009. Before commenting on the times that the model is wrong remember that this represents the better part of my life’s work over the last 5 years. Here’ goes…
So, it seems that we’re right more than we’re wrong, which is good. There were some days in early March where we underestimated quite a bit. These are the days that even Disney had to adjust its park hours to accommodate the unexpected influx of guests. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement here. Despite measuring every thing under the sun that has to do with crowds, there is enough variability in the size of crowds to cause us to be wrong now and then.
When we’re wrong, it’s not by much. This was a sample of 21 days. Our predictions were correct almost half the time and within one 80% of the time. We were off by two index levels only four times and never off by more than two. The good news is that we’re wrong equally as often on the high side as the low, so at least the model is centered.
So use the crowd calendar whenever you need to get a feel for what size crowd you will face but understand that it comes with a certain degree of uncertainty. Hopefully, our readers will continue to send us their wait times through email or twitter so that can continue to improve.