Feedback Wanted: Crowd Calendar Appearance

by 79 Comments

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The TouringPlans.com Crowd Calendars for Walt Disney World and Disneyland are based on hundreds of thousands of wait times collected inside Disney Parks over the past 10 years and our own mathematical models of how the parks actually work.

For each park (and for each resort, as a whole) we calculate objective, transparent daily rankings (which we call “crowd levels”) on a scale of 1 to 10. And since these crowd levels are linked to wait times, we thought the Crowd Calendars would more clearly describe the crowds if they also displayed a few predicted wait times

This is where we need your help. How can we best display wait times on the Crowd Calendars?

In particular, we’d like to know:

  • Whether showing one attraction per park adequate, or does having a few give you a better sense of the park‚Äôs activity?
  • What color schemes show the data best?
  • Are small fonts acceptable for the wait times?

Please look at the samples below and vote for your favorite. Also feel free to offer other suggestions in the comments section. Thanks for making TouringPlans.com even more useful!

Option A
Option B

Option C
Option D

Which Crowd Calendar variant do you prefer?

  • Option C (50%, 317 Votes)
  • Option D (35%, 226 Votes)
  • Option A (10%, 65 Votes)
  • Option B (5%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 639

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Posted on July 10, 2012

79 Responses to “Feedback Wanted: Crowd Calendar Appearance”

  • I really like Option C. IMHO, the colored font is more eye-friendly than the shading. I also like the additional information you get with the smaller font (3 attractions vs. 1 attraction). Thank you for all you do!!

  • As a worshipper at the altar of the Touring Plan, I wouldn’t personally find it helpful to see the wait times of a park to avoid. My itinerary is already set, printed, duplicated and laminated.

    • Vicky — I was just going to say the same thing. I don’t need to see the wait times on this calendar. I almost think it should be entirely separate. I like the number crowd rating (i.e. 7 out of 10) and which park to avoid and which is best. Once I’ve used that information to determine which park I’m going to, I follow one of your touring plans.

      PS — I laminated my plans too! I thought I was the only OCD goofball who did that! We shrunk them down to a size that fit in my bag, laminated them, did a hole punch and a little ring thing in the corner. It was awesome.

      Except for the day when we were chosen to be the opening family at the MK, it worked perfectly! That day, as we were waving at the crowd and throwing confetti — and watching hundreds of people swarm into the park ahead of us — AHHHHHHHHH — my husband said “so how’s that touring plan gonna work now?” :) Totally worth it, though!

    • I chose D because the shading is easier on my eyes.

      Having said that, I agree that I really don’t need to see that info on the crowd calendar page.

      First, I can get info on projected wait times by clicking on the park link for that day.

      Second, noon standby wait time for 1 attraction (or a few) is too isolated a piece of info for it to really be that helpful.

      Third, I think it’s going to confuse people. The old crowd calendar used to be based roughly on standby wait times for certain attractions in the parks. The new crowd calendar went away from that approach and went to percentile rankings. Adding projected wait times seems to be going to back to the old way of looking at it, which doesn’t really make sense.

      • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 12:54 pm EDT

        Since 10-point scales are used in so many things in life, many folks have their own subjective notions of what a “2 out of 10″ is. As a result, some end up disappointed when they have to wait 70 minutes for Toy Story Mania on the afternoon of a day that’s “only a 2.”

        You are correct that this data is already available if you click deeper. However, our goal here is to overtly present something objective (a wait time) that makes clearer what the crowd level number means.

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 12:43 pm EDT

      Many people are greatly troubled when they are stuck visiting a “Park To Avoid” due to dining reservations or other travel constraints. Often this anxiety is unnecessary, and showing projected waits lets people know what to expect.

      In some cases, our “Park To Avoid” isn’t really that bad. As we’ve stated many times, a good touring plan is significantly more important than which park you choose to visit.

  • I don’t think I need 3 attractions to prove the “Best Park” or “Park to Avoid” recommendations.

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 12:58 pm EDT

      Our goal is not to provide additional support for our “Best Park” or “Park to Avoid” recommendations. Rather, we want to set wait time expectations to go along with the other information.

  • by Isabelle Boivin on July 10, 2012, at 9:17 am EDT

    I don’t like the colors; too much info. I think it will be better withou it

  • i like the shading b/c personally it’s easier to tell which is best park, and i like the 3 ride info on the wait times side. however would you make that section be able to minimize or maximize? that might be cool.

  • I like option C because it is clean looking and easy to read. I also think that having 3 attractions is best because of rides like Toy Story Mania and Soarin’ which always have long lines even when some of the other rides in the park can be walk-ons – so to me having 3 would give a better idea of what the crowds actually are.

  • I really like having this information available. I always wonder things like what actual difference a crowd level of 4 vs 6 makes for wait times, and having the wait time at noon for 3 different rides in a park helps me see that.

  • I like the shading in Option B & D. Option D seems a little busy with the ride times, but I like the info.

  • I think you’re going to get as many different comments as you have ideas since so many people will want to see what works best for them. If the Crowd Calendar is mostly a pre-planning tool, then a smaller sample of info is probably just enough to entice someone who might not have signed up to join. Once you are at the parks, the app is a great way to go and gives all the info you need for wait times.

  • Personally I liked Option A best. HOwever, I don’t think wait times need to be listed with Crowd Calender. It’s just going to confuse people when they see that DHS is the best park and AK is the park to avoid, but then you have Toy Story Mania with a posted wait time of 100minutes, but Everest is only 40 minutes. JMO

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 1:07 pm EDT

      You’re right that the waits at Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania are high pretty much every day of the year. And although it may be confusing that the Expedition Everest wait is lower, it’s reality.

      We’d rather inform people that Soarin’ has hour-plus waits before their trips (by looking at our Crowd Calendar) than have them find that out on their own after entering Epcot based on our “Best Park” recommendation.

  • I like having wait times of parks to avoid. It helps gauge how bad it will really be if you are considering that park. A park to avoid in July is not okay, but a park to avoid in September might be doable.

  • I think I like C. Red and green are more obvious than the aqua/pink. And I like the 3 rides showing just like Michelle said. Toy Story isn’t typical of the other rides in the park.

  • I LOVE the color coding! I actually voted for A b/c it looks more “tidy”, but C is FANTASTIC with all the info! Thanks and kudos!

  • I like the info about the estimated wait times, but I wouldn’t want to print it if I wanted to bring a paper copy of the crowd calendar with me. Shading is easier to read for the estimated wait times, but doesn’t add anything to the Best Parks and Parks to Avoid columns.

  • For the color blind among us, option D works great. I like seeing the top 3 attractions per park and e color scheme between C and D is much better on option D.

  • I’d actually prefer another option. I like to look at the individual parks’ crowd level projections, but I have to do this day by day which leads to lots of clicking. I think rather than having ride wait times, I would like to see the overall resort crowd level and each park’s crowd level in one view.

  • I like either C or D. Having multiple wait times is helpful. However, the caption should be “estimated minutes waiting if you ride at high noon”. It provides a much needed gravitas to the message.

  • So, if this is an “app,” could you have a little button on the side that allows you to click and make the ride times appear on the side? That way, you’d have the best of both worlds. People who find that info distracting wouldn’t have to see it. But people who wanted it, could click and there it would be.

  • Instead of listing just one or three rides at one point in the day, why not have the total wait time in the day for a standard touring plan for each of the parks for that given day? Your brilliant tool for optimising touring plans already captures total wait time. This way people can see how the difference in crowds would impact their day. If they are following your touring plans (as they should), no one should be waiting on the standby line for Toy Story, Soarin’, Everst, etc. at noon anyway.

    • I agree. Giving one to three wait times for a park is not particularly useful. Calculate the total wait for a standard touring plan and show us that. This would give a good metric to compare days. Wait times for specific attractions are easy enough to find on the site if we want them.

      Giving a chart of sample touring plan wait times for all the parks with various crowd levels would also give us a good idea of what the crowd levels actually mean for each park.

      Would anyone here actually get in a standby queue with a wait time of over an hour? My usual limit is about 30-45 minutes. More than that and I’m grabbing a fastpass or just coming back later in the day.

      • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 1:32 pm EDT

        There are lots of people who use the Crowd Calendar but do not follow Touring Plans. And there are plenty of folks who try to use Touring Plans but end up showing up at 11 a.m. or later. Our goal here is provide a comparative metric that is easy to comprehend, even if it’s not a wait time that many TouringPlans.com users will personally stand through.

        Calculating the total time to complete a touring plan is an interesting idea, and it may be more powerful. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a metric that would have meaning to most folks, and it would be a computationally expensive task. Although it would work for comparing a single park on different days, it would not help for comparing parks to each other. Still, it’s interesting. Maybe we can do something with optimizer calculations in the future. Thanks for suggesting that!

        • Not everyone follows the touring plans, but I agree with Jim that they would make a better metric of what to expect in the park than a few lone wait times. And, yes, I do agree that it would not be as clear to a new user. However, I don’t think that telling someone that Toy Story Mania will have a 100 minute wait at noon is particularly helpful.

          As for the options, I think I would go with either C or D with three wait times shown. Having the per-park crowd levels would be helpful as well. Maybe they could go at the top of each group of wait times.

          CL: 4/10
          Peter Pan: **
          Space Mt: **
          Big Thun: **

          That would give the crowd level metric for those of us who are used to seeing it as well as the wait time information which may be useful for new users.

        • David…I like the idea of trying to add more meaning to the crowd index. As these are percentile rankings, the difference between a 6 and 3, for example, does not indicate that the crowds would be half. Computing rates for each day based on that days specifics would be too complex and probably wouldn’t add much value. I would think just a general touring plan for each crowd level for each park should be good enough. I believe your goal is just to give people a feel for how the crowds will impact their day. Just have a disclaimer that they are estimated times. You can even use an “un-optimized” plan that just go clockwise around the park, for example, which would be a nice way of showing people how a touring plan could impact their visit. For example, I entered a touring plan clockwise with all the major rides around MK for July 12 (a park level of 8) and Sept 1 (park level of 4). For July 12, the total wait was 352 minutes. For Sept 1, it was 291 minutes. So a person on average could expect to wait 1 hour less in line on a 4 day versus an 8 day at MK. BTW, optimizing these plans brings the waits down to 220 and 138 minutes, respectively, which could also be shown to demonstrate how wonderful you are :-)

          • …the park level for July 12 is “eight”, not a smiley face with sunglasses…the problem with emoticons

    • Another issue using total wait times is that with using a Touring Plan you are directed to avoid the crowds. The total time may not be that different for different crowd levels. Take a look at my blog post that shows this. http://blog.touringplans.com/2012/05/01/what-does-a-crowd-level-feel-like/

  • You could get rid of the best/avoid columns on the page that has the predicted wait times included and simply use the color coding on the predicted wait times to indicate best/avoid parks. So you’d lose 2 columns. I agree with other posters in that it is confusing to see that HS is a park to avoid but the Toy Story wait time is predicted at 100min. I personally find that I use the resort crowd level and individual park crowd levels the most when I am taking a quick look to determine if we will be going on a certain date. Once that is figured out, then we might research the wait times, although we really really really like the actual/posted times the most :-). No matter how you ultimately decide to display it, the info is great and we love the site! Thanks!!

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 1:20 pm EDT

      Lest anyone think otherwise, the wait time data in the screenshots in this blog post are bogus.

      • Yes, particularly since TT is being refurbished… a wait time of 110 minutes is much faster than the actual wait time which is about 172,800 minutes, or November… ;-)

  • by Ryan V. (disfanryan) on July 10, 2012, at 10:42 am EDT

    Love Touring Plans. Used optimized plans on last trip. Overall, I don’t think showing the wait times for different attractions is all that important. If you look at the days that Hollywood Studios is the best park, it appears that the lines are longer their than the worst park (June 26). So this may confuse people.

  • I remember when I was planning my trip this year looking at the Crowd Calendar and wishing the opening/closing times were listed is a chart like this.

  • To be honest they are all the same to me. You know why? I am red/green color-blind. Actually they are so close in shading, my normal go to for less than friendly charts and websites, it kind of borders on insulting. Please read this link to make your charts more friendly to us.

    http://webdesign.about.com/od/accessibility/a/aa062804.htm

    I had to ask my wife the differences between these charts. But, I think I like “D” maybe you can change the red to blue? and green to yellow? I noticed another color-blind person commented that “D” is best too.

  • I like the idea of shading, but that light of a tint sort of plays weirdly on my eyes. Perhaps a bit more of a dramatic shading would make it easier to stand out.

  • I really appreciate the overall effort to translate crowd levels into wait times. I was really struck by a blog post a while back showing that wait times don’t differ that much from a 4 to an 8, for example, and I think this gets lost sometimes in the percentile ranking of the crowd levels.

    However, I don’t actually find any of the options above to be helpful because anyone using a touring plan should know better than to get in the standby line for these rides at noon. A much more relevant calculation of “wait time” would seem to be time to complete the most popular one-day touring plan for each of the parks (like I believe was done for the post I referenced above).

  • I actually like seeing the wait times. Yes, I’ll make my own touring plan and wouldn’t get in those lines at noon, so it doesn’t make a big difference once I plan my trip. However, when choosing my dates, that would make a big difference for me. I have a hard time knowing what the number systems mean. Our last trip to Disneyland we chose dates that listed levels of 4 assuming that meant short waits for attractions. We were horrified at the long waits. I think we didn’t understand what the different numbers really mean. If we’d had approximate wait times, we would have picked different dates for our trip because wait time is an absolute determining factor for us in trip planning.

    • by Leslie Whitten on July 10, 2012, at 1:21 pm EDT

      I agree. The crowd levels alone are deceptive. We went to Epcot on a 4 day thinking it would be a breeze, and it was crazy packed. We waited about 30 minutes just for the Gran Fiesta Tour, which hardly ever has a wait.

  • I really liked C. The colored font is easier to read, and the multiple wait times really helps explain what each level would mean. I think you would need more than one attraction per park since some attractions are busy the majority of the time and it may be harder to differentiate between the ratings otherwise. No matter which you pick touring plans will still be my #1 planning site.

  • Given my aging eyes and my theory of lowest common denominator is safest, I found A to be the most readable, especially if I am navigating to the website on a 3.5″ screen. If you were to alter the rendering based on device/screens size/browser, then I would prefer C on my laptop or iPad, and A on my mobile devices.

    Thank you for asking!

  • What would really be nice is a composite crowd level ranking for each week (say Sat-Sat).

  • Keep it simple — I prefer not seeing the wait times at all. The wait times seem like unnecessary clutter. Additionally, wait times for individual parks do not always correlate with overall crowd levels.

    For the options listed, I chose A — limits the amount of additional information AND the text color corresponds well with the best/worst parks text color currently used.

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 1:38 pm EDT

      The fact that a park’s wait times do not necessarily mesh with what people expect based on an overall resort crowd level (or even a per-park level) is one of the reasons why we want to show a few wait times. It sets expectations better.

  • I love the idea of having this information available, but a link to another page would be more helpful. Also, I am more likely to use the resorts page looking for general time frames, and then I drill down to the specific parks. That is the point where a link to specific projected wait times would be most useful.

    I really like the notes on the right hand side – easier to isolate particular events.

  • I voted C but, if you can only show three additional items, I would prefer having two rides and adding the X out of 10 for each park in their column. I know you have a per-park crowd calendar page that shows each park but that does not show the overall crowd prediction or the best/worst park. It’d be good for me to have it all in one place.

    • I agree with Maria (although I voted for option D). I like having the per-park crowd level as the third listing. And being a bit OCD in my Disney trip planning, I like seeing the projected wait times to get a feel for the crowds.

  • I voted for Option D. If a change must be made, I prefer the different shading. WHen I create my own spreadsheets (I’m a laminater, too!) for our WDW trips, I have always used the shading technique. My group and I prefer the shading over the colored font. I think the colored font fades together making it hard to see the differences between the Best Parks and Parks to Avoid. I also agree with those that don’t need to see the extra projected wait time info. However, if that info is there, I believe that having just one attraction listed is not enough info to even bother. If the attraction projected wait time has to be listed, listing 3 attractions gives a better sampling and just makes more sense. However, I agree that seeing all of this info on a tiny smart phone screen might be difficult for some. Again, I really like the added shading. It really makes it easier to read. I see possibilities in the future for a new Projected Wait Time calendar. I can see using that calendar in the months prior to a trip, in the planning phase when you are sitting at home in front of a much larger screen. In the end, I am glad Touringplans is constantly trying to improve and upgrade an already wonderful service. It is so hard to please everyone, but the fact that you put this vote out there for us to participate in means you are trying!

  • I gravitated towards C, but have a couple of concerns.
    I agree with the comments about the colors and those that have conditions that would prevent them from seeing the colors correctly. Sometimes the green can look similar to the black on some screen. I would not use Yellow, in daylight/bright sunshine it would blend in to the white. The blue used for hyperlinks would be a good choice. Perhaps the blue font with a light green or light gray background for the parks to hit. Then use a dark orange font with a light red background for the parts to avoid.
    For the second issue, I am wondering if would be possible to list out the projected average wait time, the projected lowest wait time (and the ride), and the projected highest wait time (and the ride). To me this would give me something to scale from.

  • It might be nice to have a graph of each park with the a selection of rides and how the wait time ranges from a Crowd Level 1 to Crowd Level 10 day so you can really see how little the crowd level may change the average wait time.

    • by David Davies on July 10, 2012, at 6:59 pm EDT

      It would be impractical to put graphs on the Crowd Calendar. However, if you’re curious, we have this data (although not in graph form) available for each park. Magic Kingdom’s chart is at:

      http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/crowd-levels

      We haven’t been particularly good at drawing people’s attention to some of the data available through links on the Crowd Calendar, so that is something we may be able to step up through the revisions we’re discussing here.

  • I think that as you’re trying to convey the difference in crowd levels in the different parks on a particlar day, then you should be showing the per-park crowd level (as listed here: http://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/park-crowd-levels) not the “overall” crowd level from the calendar.

    Looking at tomorrow:
    overall crowd level from calendar: 9, best: EP, avoid: MK
    per-park crowd level: MK: 9.2, EP: 7.5, HS: 8.9, AK: 8.9

    The overall crowd level is too coarse for me, I always use the per-park crowd level in my planning.

    Also, I much prefer the current date format rather than the new one as shown in your mock-ups i.e. “Wed, Jul 11″ is better than “Jul 11 (Wed)”.

  • I agree that the per park level would be a great addition to this crowd calendar instead of having to click to that day’s page to see it. I usually copy and paste all the park levels to a spreadsheet so that I can look at them all together. It is so much easier to plan when you can look at them all at once.

  • Option C

  • I like Option C the best. The font color stands out to me better than the shading. I would like to see the expected crowd level per park but that may make the page too busy looking. The page should appear user friendly and easy to decipher to the average user. Not an easy task I’m sure. Thanks for all of your hard work!

  • I don’t think putting wait times on the Crowd Calendar is beneficial, as others have said above. If anything, maybe list an “Average Wait Time” that could be for the top 3 or 5 attractions, or something like that.

  • by Heather Louise on July 10, 2012, at 5:08 pm EDT

    I have to agree, I don’t really find the additional information very helpful. I understand wanting to prevent disappointment, but I really feel that the over abundance of information distracting rather than informative and it is slightly confusing.

  • I like the idea of having the main attraction wait times available there but also like the 1-10 scoring per park. Is there a way to show both?

  • I like option D the best. The shading helps me to quickly go back to where I was reading. I would prefer however to be able to see the predicted crowd levels at each park and 1 attraction’s max wait. It gets a little tiresome trying to copy that info to an excel spreadsheet, when I have to scroll down the page to see HS’s and AK’s estimated crowd level.

  • I think that D is the best but I think that color coding the wait times isn’t good because they are different rides so it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

  • Fanatic about using Touring Plans, the added information of 3 rides is a great feature. Happen to be a spreadsheet nut as well, IMO the shading appears easier to view on a screen.

    Thanks for all the great work done!

  • If you are going to add the extra information, I like ‘C’. I’m not sure that this extra information is much more than extra clutter on the main page.

    I like the resort level number that you had on the Lines app. That gave me some nice additional information.

  • Shaded backgrounds vs. colored words: I had a hard time seeing the shaded backgrounds in option B — and I’m only in my 20s.

    Multiple ride times: Really proves that one park is more/less busy and would help me know what I was getting myself into.

    I recently read your guide book — loved it! So helpful with our planning for our honeymoon. Thank you!

  • Love option C. The shading is harder on the eyes than the colored font. I also like having wait times listed for several rides rather than just one, so D would be my second choice. I still like to have info for parks that I am not planning to be at because we like to hop and you never know when your plans will change.
    Love your website. Thanks for all of the info. Wouldn’t plan a trip without you.

  • I really like having the wait time statistics on the calendar, voted for option C. Definitely prefer the coloured text to shaded backgrounds.

    For a variety of reasons we can’t always go to the best park and we can’t always avoid the worst park so I like to have information readily available about ALL parks

  • I actually prefer it simple how it is now. If it could be 1 click to find the wait times at 9am 11am and 1pm say for the busiest attractions that would work for me but too much info on the main page is just that, too much.

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