Predicting crowd levels at Walt Disney World is like predicting the weather. Even a 90% chance of rain means that 10% of the people will conclude that you were wrong. The difference is that rain is an absolute event: you either got wet or you didn’t. Crowds at Disney World are subject to people’s perceptions. For example, one of our subscribers sent this in:
Bought your book and subscribed to TouringPlans.com. I printed out the crowd calendar for the time we were there which was June 8th through June 16th. In my humble opinion, your recommendations could not have been worse. We were there nine days, and for the last 6, after hitting big crowds at your recommended parks, we decided to go to the parks you said to avoid. We were walking on several attractions, and had minimal waits at most others. Either EVERYONE is subscribing to your site or you need to really go back to the drawing board on how you arrived at your recommendations. I’m guessing it’s the latter. Sorry, but this subscription was a big waste of money for me. I doubt this email makes it to your website!
While we’d like to have 100% of Walt Disney World visitors be TouringPlans.com members, we, like Jim, know this is not yet the case. But, because the accuracy of our crowd estimates is really our critical mission, we wanted to give you a sense of how accurate we’ve been this summer.
Since the launch of Crowd Calendar 2.0 in June, we’ve made more than 250 predictions for the best parks to visit, and the parks to avoid. (Parks that are neither the best nor the worst are “neutral.”)
- Our success rate at picking the park to avoid is over 99%.
- Our success rate at picking the best park is approximately 80%.
When we’re not correct picking the best park, it is almost always because a “best park” turned out to be “neutral” (11% of the time) or a park that was listed as “neutral” turned out to be “best park” (9% of the time). We think a bit of fine tuning on our rules for picking the best park will increase our success rate there.
- The number of times that a park listed as “best park” should have been ”avoid park” or vice-versa, is less than 1%.
We also predict a crowd level, from 1 to 10, for each day of the year. Since June, our crowd level predictions have been accurate to within 1 index point 90% of the time. (That is, if we predict a 5.5 for a specific day, 90% of the time the actual crowd level will be between 4.5 and 6.5.) Further, the crowd level bias is 0, meaning we’re equally likely to under-predict as we are to over-predict. (This is good, because it tells us our models don’t have an inherent tendency to overestimate or underestimate crowds.)
These results are based on wait time submissions by Lines users (please – keep submitting those times!) as well as wait times collected by our own researchers.
Remember These Key Tips
Our park recommendations are based not just on low waits times but what we like to call “optimal touring conditions.” If at mid-day you walk into a park that we list as “Avoid” you may experience manageable crowds and you may even walk on to a few rides. What Jim experienced — low wait times for some attractions – is completely possible. However, park conditions like Extra Magic Hours, Special Events and park hours may have made it difficult to tour effectively that day. On average, our recommendations will give you the best chance to tour the parks under optimal conditions, seeing fireworks, parades and completing a touring plan with a minimal total amount of time spent in line.
Optimal Touring Conditions are:
- Days with sufficient park hours to complete a touring plan
- Days without Extra Magic Hour Mornings
- Days without special events
To read a full break down of “optimal touring conditions,” read our Park Recommendations page.
The accuracy of our crowd statistics is a constant focus for us, and we’re always trying to improve it. We added the per park index to allow you to look at the absolute estimates for crowd level without considering touring conditions. If you are not worried about park hours, special events or Extra Magic Hours, then use the per park index to pick your day.
PS: In case you were wondering, we made 23 park predictions during Jim’s trip, and were correct on 19 of those (82%).
Estimates for the crowd calendar are derived from the sum of the (adjusted) peak wait time for all attractions at Walt Disney World. The crowd level index represents a percentile rank of that sum for all days between June 2006 though the end of the crowd calendar.