Crowd Blog

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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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – February 23 to March 1, 2014

by on March 3, 2014

Our resort-wide predictions were too low last week although when we missed it tended to be only at one park. We were within one or two index points for 25 of our 28 park level predictions last week and for the other three we missed twice by three index points and once by four. Our resort wide chart below clearly shows however that wait times were higher than expected. When we look at attraction level wait times we see something interesting. The majority of the time when we underpredict it is with an attraction that we would consider secondary, not the headliners. For example, we were virtually bang-on at Peter Pan’s Flight and Space Mountain but missed at Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. This may relate to Fastpass+ integration, something that we have discovered before and continue to spend time examining, watch for more blog articles about that.

In the meantime, let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

Walt Disney World Crowd Report Feb 23-Mar 1

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
February 23, 2014 to March 1, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday’s resort-wide crowd level ’3′ was the only resort-wide prediction that was spot on for the week. All parks had below average crowds including Magic Kingdom which peaked at a level ’4′. Epcot and Animal Kingdom were one level lower at ’3′ while The Studios came in as the lowest crowd level at ’2′.

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

by on February 25, 2014

Presidents’ Week began with near peak crowds on Sunday and then slowly tapered off the rest of the week, exactly as predicted by the crowd calendar. Our park-level predictions performed well with the majority hitting the mark or missing by only one or two levels.

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

The Crowd Report, February 16-22, 2014

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

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday’s crowds brought the peak wait times of Presidents’ Week, as predicted. All parks had a crowd level ’9′ except for Magic Kingdom which came in at a level ’8′. At the Animal Kingdom three attractions, Dinosaur, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Primeval Whirl reached a ’10′ on their respective attraction-level scales thanks to respective average posted times of 40, 64 and 30 minutes.

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How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line At Disney World

by on February 19, 2014

FastPass+ is having a minimal effect – so far – on lines at Walt Disney World. That’s according to our initial analysis of 330,000 standby wait times collected at Walt Disney World since FastPass+ went into effect in January. We compared those to 3.9 million standby wait times collected across Walt Disney World since 2009.

This is good news to families concerned that they’ll wait in line longer because of FastPass+’s various restrictions, and even better news to those who hoped standby lines would be shorter because of better guest distribution throughout the parks.

The results indicate FastPass+ is not causing significant changes to standby wait times:

  • Wait times are increasing less than 1 minute, on average, across all attractions at all parks
  • Super-headliner attractions have seen a small drop (under 1 minute) in standby waits

This indicates FastPass+’s impact on wait times is at the low end of Disney’s original estimates. Here’s the breakdown by park and ride type:

FastPass+ Impact on Standby Wait Times

And Now, The Math

The challenge in doing this analysis is in attributing an increase or decrease that you observe, to a particular change in circumstances. If standby times go up, can we be sure that the increase is due to the new system? In reality, it may just be due to a general increase in attendance. So we must work some statistical magic to find the partial dependence of the new FastPass+ system as it relates to standby waits. That is, holding all other factors constant, we want to find the level of increase or decrease on the standby waits due only to FastPass+.

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

by on February 17, 2014

Other than Sunday at Animal Kingdom our predictions this week proved to be accurate. We correctly predicted the upshoot in wait times arriving Friday and Saturday. Crowds are greatly affected by weather this time of year either with warm temperatures bringing out local guests to the parks or with winter storms delaying the arrival of guests that fly in from feeder cities in the north, east, and central U.S. We’ll see what effect if any, the recent weather may have on vacationers traveling during the week of Presidents’ Day.

For now, 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
February 9, 2014 to February 15, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday’s wait times at Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur and Kilimanjaro Safaris were so high that they skewed the resort-wide crowd level to a ’6′. In reality, the rest of the resort was much closer to the level ’3′ we predicted. It is not clear why these two attractions hit their maximum average wait time (36 minutes at DINOSAUR, 64 minutes at Kilimanjaro Safaris) while all other attractions stayed near the middle of the scale, most notably Expedition Everest with an average posted time of 44 minutes.

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