The Crowd Calendar has been updated. Below is most of the reasoning we used in this latest update. Note that, as always, we try to recommend each park at least once in every 7-day period, so a family taking a weeklong vacation can visit each park with at least one chance of getting relatively low crowds.
We start with a couple of base assumptions:
1) Don’t recommend a park when it has EMHs or special events. Also, don’t recommend the MK on July 4 or Dec 25. I’m sure the fireworks are breathtaking. So are the crowds.
2) Recommend each park on its 1st, 2nd, or 3rd slowest days, assuming it’s not an EMH day or special event. We’re using our 2005 survey of 800 families as a basis for those “slowest days” as they proved reliable throughout all of last year.
This is a great start, and these two rules alone provide basic recommendations on most days of the year, both in terms of parks to visit and those to avoid.
One catch: From the park survey results, you’ll note that Sunday’s a bad day all around. So we add the following rule, affectionately known as “When all else fails, head to Epcot!”:
3) Recommend Epcot on Sundays – it handles crowds better than any other park. Avoid the smaller parks (Studios and Animal Kingdom) for the flip side of this reason.
That leaves us with a handful of dates for which we have no “best park” recommendations, mostly on Mondays. What to recommend on Monday? It’s one of the busiest days of the week at the Magic Kingdom, so that’s out. It’s traditionally one of the three slowest days at the Studios, but I think Disney knows this, and has compensated by frequently putting Extra
Magic Hours at the Studios on Monday 27 times during the first half of the year (13 mornings and 14 evenings). If it’s an evening EMH, I’m not that concerned about it, since all of our standard touring plans will have you through the major attractions early in the day. So the rule we’ll use is:
4) If we’ve not recommended any other park, suggest the Studios if it’s a Monday AND it’s not a morning EMH day.
The remaining dates without “Best Parks” recommendations are largely Sundays, and Mondays where the Studios has morning EMHs. Sunday, as noted above, is a bad day all around, so …
5) Recommend whatever park had its morning EMHs the day before – the “day after” rule. (This is usually the Animal Kingdom.)
6) Recommend Epcot on whatever Mondays remain, because Epcot’s a good default park (see “When all else fails” above).
Finally, we have Easter week. April’s a crazy month in that the Magic Kingdom has 23 Extra Magic Hours sessions on 19 days, so the usual “don’t visit a park on its EMH days” rule can’t apply. However, having so many EMH days in the MK works to your advantage by diluting the impact of Disney resort guests on any given day. Since there are so many EMH days to choose from, there’s no special reason (beyond personal preference) to choose one day over the other. In that case, we’re assuming guests will follow their normal park touring patterns, as shown in the survey results, and our recommendations follow from those.
So that’s not bad. Roughly half a dozen rules cover an entire year. If we’ve missed some major event or you see something awry in the Crowd Calendar, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.