Crowd Blog

Walt Disney World Crowd Report – April 6 to 12, 2014

by on April 14, 2014

Anytime statisticians see a spike like the one we see on this week’s crowd report, they first break out in hives, then catch their breaths and look for an explanation of the outlier. The number one most common reason that our predictions miss the mark is weather. Unexpected good weather and bad weather can affect what we see in the parks, and we think that is what happened last week. On Tuesday, Central Florida experienced a severe weather warning from around noon until early evening. Then on Wednesday resort guests, off-site guests, and locals who were well-rested from missing most of Tuesday’s touring time flocked to the parks.

We feel this is a solid theory since wait times returned to expected levels on Friday and Saturday. If Tuesday’s spike was the result of an underestimate on our part, then one would expect the rest of the week to be very crowded, as well. This wasn’t the case. Also, during the day on Wednesday, Disney extended park hours to accommodate the unexpectedly large crowds.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up on other days last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report, April 6-12, 2014

 

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
April 6 to April 12, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Park-level crowds ranged between a ’3′ at The Studios and ’6′s at the Kingdoms on Sunday. Both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were one level higher than the ’5′ we predicted which pushed the resort-wide level to a level ’5′, one higher than expected. Epcot’s crowd level ’5′ was also one level higher than predicted while The Studios’ crowd level ’3′ matched our prediction.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – March 30 to April 5, 2014

by on April 7, 2014

Last week we saw crowds fade to levels lower than that of the previous week. It appears that Sunday was the last day of a Spring Break peak that was followed by busy but manageable crowds. Our predictions did very well with none missing by more than two index levels all week. We also correctly predicted differences between park crowd levels on most days.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report

 

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
March 30, 2014 to April 5, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

While predictions for Magic Kingdom (7) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (5) proved accurate on Sunday, we underpredicted Epcot and Animal Kingdom by two levels. Soarin’ averaged 86 minutes (we predicted 65) while most other attractions were only off by a few minutes. Similarly, Animal Kingdom’s higher than expected crowd level came from mostly from one attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris. We predicted a 26-minute average posted wait while the observed value was almost double, at 50 minutes. Resort-wide, the crowd level ’7′ ended up the highest level we would see all week.

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How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line – An Update

by on April 3, 2014

FastPasses

FASTPASS vs. FastPass+

Back in early February we took at look at How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line At Disney World. We saw a small increase in standby wait times for secondary attractions like Spaceship Earth and Great Movie Ride, and a small drop in standby wait times for super-headliners like Space Mountain and Expedition Everest. With 2014′s Presidents’ Day and March Spring Break crowds behind us, it’s time to take another look.

Attendance is Up, And So are Wait Times

Walt Disney World attendance increased about 4% in 2013, and attendance is up about 4% again in the first quarter of 2014, or a little more than 8% over the past two years. To put that in perspective, if the average wait at Soarin’ was 60 minutes at 2012′s crowd levels, it’d be about 65 minutes adjusted for 2014′s higher crowds. When we’re looking at the impact of FastPass+ on standby wait times, the first thing we have to do is factor out the higher attendance.

For this analysis we’re comparing standby wait times from February 1 through March 31, 2014, with data from the same months in 2012 and 2013. To factor out the 8% increase in attendance from 2012 to 2014, we’ve increased 2012′s wait times by 8%. To factor out the 4% increase in attendance from 2013 to 2014, we’ve increased 2013′s wait times by 4%. (Disney doesn’t release official attendance figures, but even if our estimate of attendance increases is off by 1-2%, the results don’t change significantly.)

For data, we get posted wait times for every attraction about every 5 minutes, from both Disney’s My Disney Experience app and from our Lines community. That works out to about 250,000 wait times just for this study.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report March 23 to 29, 2014

by on April 1, 2014

Crowds were larger last week than we expected although we did predict high crowds most days. The Animal Kingdom hit a crowd level ’10′ while other parks hit a level ’9′ on some days. Some bad weather likely affected wait times later in the week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
March 23, 2014 to March 29, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday was the first of five days last week where wait times exceeded what we expected. Hollywood Studios was a level ’6′ on our scale as predicted but the other three parks were underestimated by one level (Magic Kingdom), two levels (Animal Kingdom) and three levels (Epcot) respectively. Epcot’s level ’8′ was particularly surprising with a 24-minute average posted wait at Spaceship Earth.

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An Hour-by-Hour Look at Disney Park Crowd Levels

by on March 27, 2014

When touring a Disney theme park, two good ideas are to arrive early and take a mid-day break outside of the theme parks. Even on crowded days, arriving early means that you’ll have relatively low waits for a couple of hours, because most people sleep in on vacation. And a mid-day break means you’ll miss the hottest, most crowded part of the day.

To make this point visually, we’ve created a set of sample charts showing how the crowds build during the day, for sample days at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom.

If you move your mouse over each box, you will see the hourly crowd value. For reference, the daily park crowd level is listed on the right of the charts.

The April chart for Animal Kingdom show the expected crowd for Easter week:

Animal Kingdom April 2014

AK 4-2014

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – March 16 to 22, 2014

by on March 25, 2014

Last week our predictions performed well again, hitting the mark more than missing it. There were a couple days where a park prediction missed by two index levels but never more than that except during a stormy St Patrick’s Day Monday.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report, March 16-22, 2014

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
March 16, 2014 to March 22, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

With the exception of a slightly higher than expected crowd at The Studios, Sunday crowds were as predicted around the resort. Resort-wide our prediction of a level ’6′ was accurate. Despite the Extra Magic Hour evening which kept the Magic Kingdom open until 2:00 am for resort guests, crowds stayed one level below our prediction of ’8′ at the flagship park. Wait times at The Studios translated to a level ’6′ on our scale, we predicted a ’4′. We did however correctly predict (within 3 minutes) the average wait times at the super headliners Tower of Terror (46 minutes) and Toy Story Mania (78 minutes).

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Spring Break 2014 Crowds at Walt Disney World

by on March 23, 2014

The spring crowd levels at Disney World vary from year to year. The variation is driven by when Easter is and how schools plan their spring breaks. Different school districts use different rules when scheduling their spring breaks. Some school districts have a fixed week each year, and others adjust spring break based on Easter and Passover. Some school districts have the Friday before and/or the Monday after Easter off. When Easter is early, the spring break season is early and short. This causes the crowd levels to be higher, but for only a short time period. When Easter is late, the spring break season is spread out and has less effect on crowd levels. In 2014, Easter is late (April 20), so the spring break season is spread out. Once Easter is over, so are the spring crowds.

Crowd levels are inversely related to the percentage of children in school: when most schools are on a break, high wait times are found in the parks. We track the school schedules for the 100 largest school districts, and these schedules go into our Crowd Calendar models. The chart below shows the percentage of students in session and how the numbers change year to year.

Schools in Session 2011-2014

Another thing that is going to lower the crowd levels is the snow fall from winter. Many school system lost school days and are having to make up the snow days. Some are choosing to shorten or cancel their spring breaks or Easter breaks. The chart above does not include the effect of schools’ make-up days.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – March 9 to 15, 2014

by on March 16, 2014

Last week our predictions performed very well, hitting the mark more than missing it. Several days last week we saw our park level prediction hit the mark in three of the four parks. No prediction missed by more than two index points. This is encouraging especially because we felt a little nervous about our predictions last week given the higher than normal percentage of schools out of session for Spring Break. If you visited the parks this week while your child was out of school consider yourself lucky, we’ve seen busier weeks than this during the same week in the past.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
March 9, 2014 to March 15, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Our predictions on Sunday hit the mark resort-wide (5) at Magic Kingdom (6) and Epcot (5). We only missed by one at The Studios (’3′, predicted ’4′) and Animal Kingdom (’5′, predicted 4). Our accuracy at Magic Kingdom was impressive given that the 1:00 am closing and 3:00 am Extra Magic Hour closing would normally draw a crowd level at least as high as an ’8′.

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Crowd Calendar Update – July 4, Late Fall & Early 2015

by on March 13, 2014

Today we are publishing an update to our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar. These updates are in reaction to changes to park hours, FastPass+, and improvements to our attraction wait time models.

The majority of days on the calendar remain unchanged or adjusted by one index level (up or down). We consider these changes to be minor – no need to adjust your travel plans. In some cases the new number is an adjustment of two index levels (up or down). Even then, it may not be worth it to alter your plans, especially if you already made dining reservations in a particular park.

The more significant changes are as follows:

  • For July 4, 2014, we increased the resort-wide crowd level back up to a ’9′
  • Some park-level increases around dates in late October and early November 2014
  • Bumps in crowd levels at Magic Kingdom during late July and Christmas 2014
  • Higher levels at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during mid-April and late May
  • Some changes to resort-wide numbers in early 2015

As always, we stress that the use of a touring plan is the single best way to beat the crowds, no matter how crowded it is. Use the calendar to pick between two dates or to choose which park to visit on a particular day. The crowd calendar is subject to change, and the estimates are accurate within 2 index points 95% of the time.

For more information n what to do if the calendar has changes during your travel dates, check out our Crowd Calendar FAQ

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – March 2 to March 8, 2014

by on March 10, 2014

Last week we saw higher crowds earlier in the week and lower crowds later, including a storm-filled Thursday that kept many guests from venturing to the parks. Our predictions stayed within expected error ranges all week. We are preparing for an update to the calendar in reaction to some park hour changes, Fastpass + and some improvements in our statistical models. Watch for the update early in the week. To be notified if the calendar changes for your dates of your travel use the Crowd Tracker.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report for March 2-8, 2014

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
March 2, 2014 to March 8, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crowds came in slightly higher than expected at Epcot (a ’6′, predicted ’5′), The Studios (a ’6′, predicted ’5′) and Animal Kingdom (an ’8′, predicted ’6′). Our prediction of a level ’7′ at Magic Kingdom was correct with most attractions hitting our targets within 3 to 10 minutes. For example, Peter Pan’s Flight’s average posted time was 62 minutes, we predicted 63. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin had an average posted time of 34 minutes, we predicted 38.

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