3 More Crowd Calendar Questions!

by on July 29, 2012 127 Comments

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Last week we asked y’all to weigh in on some proposed changes for the next edition of the crowd calendar.  A quick update on the results is below, along with 3 new questions.  We’d appreciate it if you could give a couple of minutes to weigh in on them.

New Recommendation Rules

We’re considering new rules for how we recommend when to visit each park.  In the hypothetical crowd calendar snippet below, we’ve coded each park green if we think that’s a good day to visit the park; red means it’s not a good day; and white means it’s somewhere in the middle.

We used 3 rules to make these recommendations:

1) A park is green if its crowd level is 3.0 or less on that day.

2) A park is green if that day has the lowest or second-lowest crowd level as compared to the 3 days before and after it.

3) A park is red if that day has the highest crowd level as compared to the 3 days before and after it.

[Note: The crowd levels aren’t real.  We adjusted them to illustrate scenarios for the questions we’re asking.]

Here’s how the rules play out.  The Magic Kingdom is green on 8/5/2015 because it’s the lowest crowd level as compared to 8/2, 8/3, 8/4, 8/6, 8/7 and 8/8.   The Magic Kingdom is neutral on 8/2 and 8/8, because there are both better and worse days near those days.

Epcot is green every day except for 8/5.  It’s red on 8/5 because 8/5 is the most crowded day as compared to 8/2, 8/3, 8/4, 8/6, 8/7 and 8/8.

Based on that, here are 3 questions to answer regarding the rules:


Is it easy to understand the calendar’s Magic Kingdom’s recommendations?


Is it easy to understand the calendar’s Epcot recommendations?


Is it easy to understand why the Magic Kingdom is green and Epcot is red on 8/5?

Leave responses in the comments section of this post, please.  And thanks again for your help.


Previous Survey Results

Question #1 asked whether the calendar had to have a “worst” park every day.  46% said yes, 46% said no, and 8% didn’t care.

Question #2 asked whether the calendar had to have a “best” park every day.  72% said yes, so that’s a clear winner.

Question #3 was on our “7-Day Rule” and asked whether each park had to be listed as a “best” park at least once every 7 days.  63% of you said no.

Question #4 asked whether switching to a red/green terminology instead of “best/worst” would improve the calendar.  31% said better, 53% said it was the same, and 16% said it was worse.


Posted on July 29, 2012

127 Responses to “3 More Crowd Calendar Questions!”

  • by Aliceinwonderla on July 30, 2012, at 10:24 am EST

    I say yes to all three. Some of the comments have said to use green for low crowds, red for high. But that would simply follow crowd calendar #’s (which you already give us) and would only give a sense of the time of year to come, not which park to visit once at WDW. Some of us have no flexibility of time of year, but want to know which is the most desirable of the crowded days. The colors do help. And I agree you also have to use a system where you recommend a park at least every few days. MK can’t be red all the time! If someone wants to know least crowded days, they can look at the numbers. If they want help deciding the best way to schedule all four parks during their visit, they can use the colors as a guide.

  • Yes to all 3 questions!

  • Overall, I like this format. Except, when giving it a quick scan, I still don’t think, for example, Epcot should be red on 8/5. I understand it is worse than the other days… but if you were a guest at Epcot on 8/4, 8/5, 8/6… You wouldn’t see much difference between the days under this hypothetical. RED is a warning, it is “stay away unless you have no choice.”
    There is no reason to stay away from Epcot on 8/5… except that you would be better off at another day. But if were leaning towards doing Epcot on 8/5 (say its your birthday and you wanted to eat at an Epcot restaurant on your actual birthday), the TP advice shouldn’t scare a person away from their plans.
    So IMHO, 8/5 should be white — Thus, when looking at the overall calendar, you would see that the entire week of Epcot is green… with 8/5 being simply a day not quite as good. Not a “stay away,” just more like, “this park isn’t particularly inviting on this day.” I guess I just look at it like, there are times of year where none of the parks are necessarily red.

    On the other hand, I understand and agree with MK being green on 8/5. Although maybe should use a different shade of green? It’s certainly not green as in “smooth sailing”… but it is green as in, “This is as good as it’s going to get this week.”

    This may be making it tooooo complicated… but I kind of like the idea of 5 different colors:
    Dark Red: Stay stay away, stay away, hide your valuables and retreat!
    Light Red: Not your best bet, compared to other parks.
    White: Neutral
    Light green: As good as it’s going to get for the week.
    Dark green: Smooth sailing, short lines, no worries.

    Maybe I’m over-thinking it…

  • I understand the new look and like the color coding, but I wonder if the end user will be able to grasp the concept easily. Maybe it’s the teacher me, but I think what makes sense to us pros, sometimes is confusing to the novice. Honestly, I really had to study it to figure it out and I think something like this should be a quick read.

    Would it still work if you removed the 3 days before / after component? For me, that’s where I got lost.

  • Nice work! Love TP and Lines. An aside on the whole concept… I am working on a powerpoint for work right now, and it was pointed out to me that red/green colorblind people wouldn’t understand one of my graphs. Since this is a fairly common form of colorblindness (highly unscientific google search suggests like 10% of men are R/G colorblind?)… you might want to not use these two colors anyway and exclude some reasonable % of your consumers from understanding.

  • 1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Yes

    I have never really struggled with any of the concepts, this just highlights it all visually better.

    • Agree with this guy. This new format is really just a way to help those who did not really understand how to read the Crowd Calendar. If one understood how to read the Crowd Calendar, they could come to these red, green and white color coding conclusions themselves.

  • Yes to all three! Understand it fully! I like the color coordination for the majority of readers

  • One big problem (for me, probably not for “you”); This makes it harder to copy into Excel and do my own analyses on the crowd calendar.

    Cell colors like red and green and white don’t copy well as the data is harder to capture.

    It seems more understandable. But then I thought of trying to explain it to another person, and it was harder to do.

    Keep in mind the 1st caveat: Park choice is not the most influential choice to affect total wait time that day!! (It’s the touring plan!)
    But if you are going to make a choice of park based on crowd level, here’s the communication on that:

    Red = recommend avoiding because there’s a better day in the near past or future to go
    Green = recommend going because it’s a good day to go to that park

    White = somewhere in the middle? You didn’t formalize the actual methodology used to assign “white” to that park/day combination.

    Bigger DISLIKE: I liked comparing the parks to other parks on that day. This compares the park to itself within 3 days prior or subsequent.

    I want to see a recommendation on any given day as to which park should be the least “crowded” or least amount of wait time. I want to know that in relative terms, XX park is going to feel the least crowded “today”.

    Instead the colors are representative of whether or not a park is a “go” recommendation or an “avoid” based on that park’s crowd level with a 6 day time span or if it falls below 3.

  • Yes to all 3 questions. Very easy to follow and I like that more than 1 park can be recommended for the day.

  • by Matt New York on July 30, 2012, at 4:20 pm EST

    Very nice. For the average user, they do not need to think. They should just try to go to green parks, or white if necessary, and avoid red if possible.

    When does it go live? 🙂

  • Yes to all 3 questions.

  • Yes to all three questions.

  • I don’t like that you are only rating parks as best/worst relative to itself over a period of 7 days, instead of relative to other parks on the same day. I simply want to know for a given date which is the park with the smallest crowd and the park with the largest crowd, THAT DAY. Days before and after are less important, and if it becomes important, I’ll make that determination myself. Everyone is going to have a different schedule. They aren’t all there for 7 days. So the 7 day rule won’t help everyone.


    Is it easy to understand the calendar’s Magic Kingdom’s recommendations? – Yes


    Is it easy to understand the calendar’s Epcot recommendations? Yes, but does their have to be a Bad park for each day. But that goes against the previous question whether there has to be a bad Park. I think that you can have a day when no park is bad to go to.


    Is it easy to understand why the Magic Kingdom is green and Epcot is red on 8/5?
    Yes, but does their have to be a Bad park for each day. But that goes against the previous question whether there has to be a bad Park. I think that you can have a day when no park is bad to go to.

  • by Erica Barthel on July 30, 2012, at 5:05 pm EST

    #1, #2, #3, no, no, no.

  • I guess if I have to answer the questions, I’d go with yes. I don’t particularly think it is the greatest system though. Personally, I don’t care if the days prior or after at the park were good or bad. It’s not a red if it is only a 3.0 and the other days were 2.0 Nor is it a green if it is a 9.9 and the other parks days were 10. I like to know the crowd calendar numbers to help me decide if I need a touring plan or not. a .5 day doesn’t need a touring plan and a 10 day does–no matter what the color. I like the idea of knowing which park is green (a good one), red (avoid unless you’re crazy) or or white (flip a coin) compared to each other park on any day. Does that even make sense? Everyone’s beginning, middle and end are different so previous days do not matter. Let each day stand on its own.

  • by Mouskalollie on July 30, 2012, at 5:10 pm EST

    Yes to all 3 questions 🙂

  • Wow, you guys are bordering on rocket science here. Not that I would know, but it sure sounds pretty complex.
    I have to qualify my answer(s) by saying, it seems easy enough to understand, IF you take the time to read and understand how it works, but, for the casual first glance, it seems pretty confusing. For example: On 8/5, MK is green with a 9.5, but EP is red with a much lower 3.5. I could see where some just passing by quickly, might not comprehend this. Also, why would 8/2 show MK as white with a 9.8, yet on 8/5 its green with a 9.5?
    So, I answer Yes to all 3, but ONLY if reading the rules. Hopefully I’m wrong, but, I think you’re going to run into a lot of people who won’t take the time to really understand the colors/recommendations and just wind up confused. I assume this version of the chart would only be for paying members, which I guess would be one way to keep out the casual passer-by who wouldn’t take the time to understand what they were looking at.
    Still, I must say that I like the improvements you’re attempting to make here. Keep up the good work!

  • Yes to all three. Funny thing is, I did almost exactly this when planning my last WDW trip. I had the best parks in bold and worst crossed out. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At50d9tdxTnTdGxuZGZsMXMwTW9vT1AtLXRpanhWdnc

  • Yes to the first two ?s but I have to disagree about ? # 3. It would confuse me that Epcot is red at 3.5 while DHS was in the 7’s as a neutral park. I understand that the color code is relative to the preceding and succeeding days but to have a park 4 CC points higher and rating a neutral while EP is in the 3s misleads folks trying to decide what park to go to that particular day. Just saying….& thanks for all the research you do for us Len, Laurel, et al 🙂

  • Here would be the only information that my family needs:

    Green: After 11 months of studying analytical data on Touringplans.com and their 900-page book, this is the park that your Dad/Husband/Uncle is going to be waiting at the bus stop for one hour after the Mickey Wake-up call. If you would like to follow him on today’s Touring Plan, then you need to be on the bus when he leaves.

    White: This is a park that we MIGHT be using a Park-Hopper for later tonight after a three-hour break back at the hotel.

    Red: Dad/Husband/Uncle is not going here today.

  • It’s total blasphemy, but I’ve stopped using touring plans entirely (the rest of the family HATES them).

    A big reason is because we go in the bottom 20th percentile of the least crowded days of the year.

    At least the crowd calendar gives me a chance to have some lower wait times.

    1) It’s easy enough to understand MK recommendation.
    2) It’s easy enough to understand the EPCOT recommendation.
    3) It is not readily apparent on the face of it as to why a really low crowd park is red and really high park number is green. I get it when you explain how you’ve marked them red and green.

    The biggest problem with this scheme is that you have no good way of saying “X” park is better than “Y” park with the colors. I guess I would just default to whatever the lowest number is per park on any given day would be that day’s least crowded park.
    As long as that’s the case I like the coloring system.

    However, I don’t like the coloring system overall as it gives the impression that a particular park is the “best” choice that day. It’s only the best choice out of a six day time span.

    Overall, this would be a great system to have in place and I would still pay for it!!

    But I think it could be improved.

    It’s ultimately up to the authors, but like Steve Jobs said “great artists ship”. Or like facebook: working / released is better than perfect.

  • by Yasmijn (Amsterdam) on July 31, 2012, at 4:27 am EST

    It’s yes to all three questions, but it does seem weird to me that Epcot is red and MK green on 8/5. I agree with Adam that Epcot should be white. There really is no reason to stay away from there on 8/5. There’s not enough difference with previous and following days to justify this, in my opinion.

    I do like the fact that the color coding now gives a great overview of the best day to visit a particular park within your own time frame, instead of it showing the best park to visit on a particular day. If I want to know that I can just look at the numbers. That makes it easier to plan my itinerary I think.

    Keep up the great work and improvements! I love the crowd calendar!

  • Yes to all three, but I find myself trying to deliberately ignore the colors and focus on the numbers.

  • i understand all 3 now as i read the whole post, however, 7 months from now while actually using the data in the parks, i will probably have forgotten the 3 rules that you used to make the recommendations, and therefore, will not be able to interpret the table accurately.

  • by Jackie F. Cowan on July 31, 2012, at 6:55 am EST

    Yes to all three.

  • Answers to your questions are no, no and no. I’m not sure where you’re going with this. With the number system you have in place, the color coded system is redundant. It’s obvious that 8/5 is the best day to go to MK that week, it’s the lowest number.

    The words “best” and “worst” are absolutes. I think that there should be one best (green) park for each day and one worst (red) park for each day. I think the best and worst recommendations should relate only to the other parks on that particular day and not to individual parks for the rest of the week. If I’m going to WDW on August 7, 2015, I want to know what the best park to go to on that day is and what park would be the worst. Hope this makes sense.

    • I agree with Dan- I just really want to know which park is the best and which park is the worst for that particular day.
      So- while I can answer yes to all three questions- I don’t feel a need to compare to the previous days and upcoming days.

  • by Matt New York on July 31, 2012, at 10:46 am EST

    How about an app where the user can enter the days he will be in WDW, and which how many days he would like to visit each park, and then the app tells him which days to go where. I think that would be the simplest thing for the non-statisticians, or for folks who just want an easy answer without a lot of head scratching?

  • Yes to all three questions.

  • I agree that the color coding of the crowd calendar is excellent. It gives the calendar a much quicker ease of viewing when comparing parks. However, I also agree with a lot of the comments noting that it is not immediately apparent why Magic Kingdom is green and Epcot is red on 8/5. I think having an ‘*’ or a third color denoting the use of the 7-day rule would make it both quick to read for current users and easy to understand for new users.

    I’ve always thought the term “Best Park” is somewhat of a misnomer when using the 7-Day rule, because there are technically better parks to go to, although I understand why the rule is a necessity. That’s why I think that 3 colors may make the most sense.

    For Posterity:
    1) Yes
    2) Yes
    3) No

  • Len –

    I think overall, your new system leans more towards “What day is the best to visit park X” rather than “What park is best to visit on day Y.” I think the second question is the one I ask most often – if Magic Kingdom is 9+ across the board, I’m going to pick a day that best fits my schedule. Having MK recommended at 9.5 on the same day that Epcot is recommended to avoid at 3.5 does not make sense to me (so answer to question 3 is “No.”).

    Backing up to your previous survey (just to be complete), my answers are No, you don’t have to have a best and worst park each day, unless you are really going with “What’s the best park.” No, I don’t think you should advocate a park at least once every 7 days, because that is answering the “What’s the best day.” And I don’t like color coding in general.

    For the new questions:
    1) No.
    2) Yes.
    3) No.

  • Questions 1 & 2: Yes!

    Question 3: No

    They all look pretty clear when you look at the chart vertically, however when you look at it horizontally it doesn’t really seem to make sense (until you look at the rules and think about it).

  • So funny, because this is very similar to what I do with your data! I put crowd levels for my specific dates in an Excel spreadsheet, then color code the “top 3” and the “bottom 3” days of my particular stay. I also determine the avg level (per park) for my stay, and I use that as a benchmark.

    The other thing I do is calculate the ratio of each day’s park crowd level to the day’s resort level – I then rank the days for that park based on this statistic. Just gives me another way to think about the crowd levels and helps me make a decision for each day.

  • No for all three questions. Difficult to understand ata quick look.

  • Yes, Yes, and no. I think every day should stand on its own and not depend on days prior or after. I just want to know on any given day which park is least crowded and which park is most crowded. If you go with the color code, they should reflect that – Red should always be the park with the highest numbers; green the lowest numbers. Otherwise, I’m ignoring the colors and looking at the numbers.

  • I agree with some comments I have already seen on here. At first glance I was confused, but after reading the explanation all three of the questions can be answered with a “yes.” However, like some others have commented, I feel like the red is a symbol for “bad” and “stay away” so I would like to see the worst Epcot day just be white. I will continue to look at the actual numbers for each day, of course, but my brain is sort of hard-wired against red! Thanks for all your hard work!

  • by Paula Gimbel on August 2, 2012, at 9:58 am EST

    Another thought: part of the problem is that each person will have a different visit length and start day (eg Mon 3/2 to Fri 3/6, vs Sat 3/7 to Sat 3/14). Ideally, the determination of whether a park is the best option for a given day would be based on the exact days that person is visiting. Unclear the programming level of effort required, but you could develop an online “app” that would allow a user to enter their personal visit dates, then the program would determine the appropriate park ranking based on the user’s specific time-frame. The algorithms needed to determine the results would be simple, but I don’t know the LOE required to build the user interface to support it…

  • I would say a qualified yes to all three – it’s easy to understand but only once you have read all the reasoning behind it.

    My concern is that the use of red,green,white on a given day is going to be read by the casual user as “Oh Epcot is red but Magic Kingdom is green , we’ll go to Magic Kingdom – despite the fact that MK is a 9.5 and Epcot is a 3.5”

    I can understand that in your system the colour coding is really only used to compare a single park on one day to the same park on days nearby BUT when you display the colours in this tabular format I think the average user is going to see it as a means of comparing all of the parks on a given day.

    I know you also display the actual crowd numbers as well but the bright green/red does dominate the display – I’m starting to think that the colour coding best/worst park system is open to too much misinterpretation and it would be better to leave it out and just let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • I think its difficult to understand at a glance, especially for a novice or first time visitor. I would prefer to see each park ranked (1-4) each day with the crowd predicitions next to it so I can make the best decision for my family for each day.

  • yes, yes, yes – good improvements.

  • I understand how you reached these determinations. But I don’t think all factors are being considered. It doesn’t matter to me which of 7 days is the best at MK when only comparing MK to itself. I want to see on any given day which park is the Best for THAT day. Comparing all four parks to each other every day helps me determine the best schedule for my trip. Also, it doesn’t take into account entertainment. For instance, at MK on the 9th and 10th it shows the 9th is green (with a 9.7 crowd level) and the 10th is red (with a 9.9 crowd level). First of all a .2 crowd difference isn’t going to be all that much of a difference and what if MSEP is on the 9th? Or EMH on the 9th and not the 10th? Wouldn’t that factor into which park I want to visit? The three color system isn’t enough explanation for my tastes. I would prefer more information. Maybe more than three colors would allow you to rank parks with a bit more detail?

  • Sorry I’m late on this. Yes to all three. What you’re doing with this makes perfect sense, i.e. a “quick visual” & is exactly what I did with a spreadsheet for my trip in April.

    The most difficult aspect is when one makes ADRs way in advance but then the crowd calendar changes, but that’s not something you can really do anything about.

    I agree that seeing the crowd for each park relative to other days before-after at the *same* park makes the most sense. Those who don’t “get” it probably never will. 😉