Crowd Calendar 2.0 Has Arrived

by on May 19, 2010 70 Comments

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The wait is over! We previewed the new Crowd Calendar and now it is here!

Remember, Crowd Calendar 2.0…

  • incorporates wait times at allΒ WaltΒ Disney World Attractions
  • presents the crowd level in a different way
  • is a guide to help you pick the best time to go and the best parks to visit on each day

Use it to plan the best trip for your family.

Comments, questions? Read the Crowd Calendar FAQ or contact us.

Happy planning!

Posted on May 19, 2010

70 Responses to “Crowd Calendar 2.0 Has Arrived”

  • Looking at the new crowd calendar the crowd level changed for the weekend I was looking at in mid June. They went from a 8 to a 6. Was this due the way crowd calendar 2.0 is laid out now or because it was a change in projected crowd.

  • Ack, my dates went from 6s and a 4 to 7s, 8s, and 9. =(

    • Hey Amanda,

      Check the notes on the Crowd Calendar page. The scale used to report crowds has changed, not our estimates of how busy it’ll be during your trip.


  • I love it. This makes much more sense and I appreciate that it looks at all four parks. Please take some photos to show what the various levels look like. I really want to see the difference between a 1 and 10. Great job.


  • Ok, so on episode #715 of the WDW Today Podcast they recently answered my November versus December question. One thing I asked about was crowd levels, and they pulled up the crowd calendar and looked at my proposed week in November (6-15) with the crowd levels in early December. My week in Nov. had crowd ratings of 7/5/5/4/5/4/4/7/6 in order beginning on the 6th. On the new crowd calendar, the same Nov. week ratings are now 2/2/1/1/4/3/1/1/1/1. I switched to December 5-14, which had ratings of 9/4/4/4/4/4/4/4/8/4. Now, on the new calendar, the dates in December are rated 7/4/3/3/3/3/4/8/3/3. My question is this: how can the dates in November seem to have plummeted so dramatically, whilst the dates in December only shifted by -1 or -2 at most? How is it that my December week is no longer the better of the two options for crowd levels?

    My decision to switch was not just based upon crowd levels, but also on a desire to see the Christmas happenings around WDW. Thanks to great advice from the WDW Today folks along with some encouraging reader comments on the blog, we did switch our trip. I am still happy with that decision based upon the various factors discussed in the episode, and this is NOT a complaint or a negative response. I am just trying to put this new crowd calendar into a meaningful framework of reference, and I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the new estimates. I’m really trying hard not to get caught up trying to compare “apples to oranges” between the old ratings, which seem to me to be standard deviations from a mean, versus the new percentile cluster ratings.

    Overall, I am pretty excited about the new crowd calendar, and I appreciate all of the background work you guys have undertaken to make these changes.

    On another note, I mentioned before in another post that I would really like to see pictures of the crowds in the park that correspond to each new crowd level 1-10. (Like those pictures of Fantasyland in the Unofficial Guide at 9am, 11am, and 1pm – I love those. I show them to anyone who questions my plans to be there at opening.) If you added those to your textual explanation, maybe a shot of opening and another at 1pm, it would really help me to envision the density of the crowds in the new ratings. I think others might find it useful, too.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Amy,

      We like the idea of the photos during various crowd levels. That could be a great way to give people a visual image of crowd size.

      We thought long and hard about how this change might affect everyone’s planning. In the end we decided that an improvement in accuracy and relevance would be a good idea in the long term.

      Remember that the old calendar was referring directly to the Magic Kingdom Mountains while the new calendar refers to all of Walt Disney World. This is the reason for the difference. The good news, like we said on the podcast is that the both times of year have relatively low crowds. Thanks for the comments and have a great trip!

      • by Mike Schwartz on May 20, 2010, at 6:53 am EST

        I’m planning to be there the same time as Amy (Dec 5-12) and the biggest change that I noticed with the new calendar was regarding the Magic Kingdom. On the new Crowd Calendar, the MK is listed as a Park to Avoid for 6 of the 8 days I’m going to be there. Yikes! The last time I looked at the calendar, about a week and a half ago, MK was only listed as a Park to Avoid for 2 of the 8 days.

        Fred, I was wondering if you knew what factors led to that change?

        As always, thanks to Fred, Henry, Len, etc for all your hard work!

        • by Mike Schwartz on May 20, 2010, at 7:09 am EST

          Actually, just to answer my own question, it was probably the announcement of the MVMCP dates, which had been announced about a week before.

          But that leads me to a new question: what is the effect of after-hours hard ticket events (MNSSHP, MVMCP) on the crowds at that park for that day? I can see arguments both ways: that people without tickets would avoid the park because of its early closing time, while people who do have tickets might choose that park so they can spend all day there without traveling from park to park.

          Last September I spent the day at Magic Kingdom on a MNSSHP day (for which I didn’t have tickets) and the crowds seemed much lighter than they had been a couple of days earlier on a non-party day. But that’s very subjective. I’d love to hear the what the data say.

          Thanks again!

          • by Lisa from MA on May 20, 2010, at 8:47 am EST

            I was wondering about this too. We are going the first week of December and are planning on going to MVMCP Thur Dec 2. Is it more crowded during the day @ MK on a MVMCP night? Should we avoid MK in the morning? If so what time do you suggest we get to the party? Thanks for all of your info! Love this site!!

          • The wait times that we have for Party days seems to show that crowds are inflated in the afternoon but the mornings aren’t bad. The golden rules still apply, even if you’re going to the party, get there for opening, take a break mid-day and return for the party at night.

        • It has to do with the new rules Mike. Check out the park recommendations page for details.

      • Hey, Fred. Always love the site but, like many, I’m terribly confused by all of this. Your answer to Amy (“we decided that an improvement in accuracy and relevance would be a good idea in the long term”), contradicts your answer to Ray (“these changes are not changes in the crowd predictions”). If they are not changes in crowd predictions, how can they be more accurate?? Are the changes you made, ONLY to the scale used (as was implied to Ray) or are they BOTH changes to the scale AND changes to the predictions (as implied to Amy)? Help!

        • Hey Phil, thanks for the note, I understand the confusion. Let’s say it this way.

          Previously, we predicted wait times at the Magic Kingdom Mountains as a crowd level. It was accruate and served the purpose for many years. Now we’re using the same prediction method but for all Walt Disney World attractions.

          I mentioned that these are not changes to crowd predictions because we don’t want people to see a jump from 8 to 6 as an indication that crowds will be lighter than anticipated. the 8 crowd from the previous method is the same as the 6 crowd from this method. The jump is solely due to the change in our methodology.

          The inclusion of all the WDW attractions makes it more accurate – or perhaps the better word is more “relevant”.

          Does this make any sense at all or am I creating a statistical version of the “It’s a Small World” song?

          • So if “…the 8 crowd from the previous method is the same as the 6 crowd from this method…” how is it that during the first week in June, one 8 went to a 6, one to a 9, yet another to a 4, and other 8s to a 3?

            Just trying to understand such that I can be sure to properly adjust my itinerary.

            Thanks for all you work (Fred & Len)!

          • Hey Tyler. This is an example of how the wait times at the other parks can affect the new crowd calendar. The number goes up and down because the crowds at the other parks go up and down. Before we were talking about just the Magic Kingdom Mountians, now we include all attractions.

          • Aha! I think I understand now. Thanks.

  • Okay Fred and Len –

    Why is the calendar recommending MK on October 14 which is a morning EMH day and also a Halloween party day?

    • Check out our best park recommendations page to see the rules we use for recommending parks.

      The new rules rely less on general assumptions and more on wait time data. In slower times like October, the model is telling us that despite the EMH and Halloween Party, MK wait times are the furthest (on the low side) from average on this day compared to the other parks.

  • I was curious as to why MK is listed as a park to avoid on Memorial Day. After reading the post a couple of days ago regarding Monday being less crowded due to Sunday evening EMH, I assumed MK would be a good park to go to on Memorial Day. Now I am wondering if I should change my plans?
    Thank you,

    • Good point Amy. One of our general rules is that the Magic Kingdom should be avoided on Holidays. Perhaps we need to make exceptions for Memorial day and other days that fall on a Monday. I am going to make the change. Animal Kingdom will be the park to avoid instead.

  • Why is Epcot the park to avoid on Wednesdays in September and October? That’s the day I was going! It was previously the recommended park in version 1.0.

    Also, is it better to go to Epcot when it is the recommended park and a level 4 or when it is the park to avoid and a level 1? (I know those are both low crowds, but I LOVE empty parks!)Thanks!!

    • In my opinion it is better to go when it is recommended and a level 4. When we say avoid a park it is usually for a good reason, even if the level is a 1.

      But πŸ™‚

      The difference between the two will be very small that time of year.

      • Thanks for the reply! :o) I am currently revamping my schedule to avoid Epcot on Wednesdays.

        Any ideas on why it is the park to avoid on Wednesdays starting the second week in September? The first Wednesday in September it is the recommended park. Is it just a popular day to visit Epcot?

  • I noticed that from July to mid-late August that every Tuesday is a “9” and in between are mostly “8” and 7″. What is the reason for Tuesday being so busy that time of year?

    • I’ve never looked at why Tuesday specifically would be busier during summer. Can’t think of anything off-hand. Perhaps it has to do with Fantasmic schedules or Spectromagic schedules. Any thoughts?

  • I’ve used the crowd calendar since my trip in 2007, and I’ve found it to be very useful. I think this new version will be even better!

    I’m looking forward to using it for my upcoming trip in December, once Disney releases the park hours.

  • Is there a vastly different algorithm in 2.0? I haven’t had an exhaustive look, but Oct 14 popped out because it had a “1” rating and the recommended park seemed odd (MK despite early EMH and Halloween party).

    • Hey Chris,

      Yeap, pretty different algorithm. Go check out our announcement post to see what the deal is.

      Also, we’ve decided to do away with some of our “experience” and focus solely on the data. Even if MK has early EMH and the party, if our data says it’s the best park to go to that day, we’re going to say so.

  • Great job on the new calendar fellas! And this time the computing infrastructure of Canada wasn’t comprimised!

  • I dig. But, I also don’t entirely grok.

    For example, Fridays during Summer. Studios is nearly always an AM EMH park on Friday. Accordingly, most Fridays it is a Park to Avoid. Except for late July and late August, when it is the Best Park.

    That there’s a head-scratcher.

  • Great job. Looking forward to seeing how a few 1’s and 2’s are when I am there in early September.

    • Hey Rob,

      They should roughly feel like 4s in our old calendar.

      Just a heads up, that a 1 won’t mean the parks are empty, but it’ll mean it’ll be as close to empty as the parks get these days.

  • Thanks so much for your hard work guys. I think the new calendar is more user friendly- and I love the highlights in particular- no more getting lost in the info!
    There seems to be a bit of panic about changed #’s, but I don’t think people should worry. Like a lunatic, I was in WDW Jun 27- July 4 ’09. We followed the touring plans and had NO wait issues at all- in fact I was wondering what the big deal was about 4th of July crowds… until we attended the MK fireworks on the 3rd πŸ™‚ I’ll never go without them again. PS. LOVE lines!

    • Agree with you, Katherine. We were there starting July 4th last year. Touring plans are great. Crowded time of year, but following the plans, we toured it ALL with minimal waits. Touring plans and FP are a grat combo!

  • Yo, Fred, how soon can we start looking for 2.1 (or maybe it’s 3.0) to be released? That’s the one with the “commentary” added to the raw data, plus the fantastic upgrade to park-specific crowd levels.
    Are we needy and impatient? You bet we are. (But also grateful.)

    • We appreciate your patience Nicholas, thanks. It’s been a busy spring already with site redesign and crowd calendar 2.0.

      We’re excited to expand the calendar but we’re not sure when it might be ready. Stay tuned…

      • Fred, somewhere there has to be a joke on co-dependence that would perfectly illustrate the realtionship of your loyal fans to the web site and its great features. πŸ˜‰

        As long as you all aren’t using a WDW map, blindfold, and darts to make your predictions, I’m sure we will all be fine. I’m in favor of the things Nicholas mentions, and will wait patiently while you guys catch your breath.

        I really do appreciate what you all do. It’s worth every penny of the subscription cost, and I can’t imagine trying to plan a trip without this site!

        • Catching our breath is a great idea Amy, thanks πŸ™‚

          A WDW map – yes. Blindfold and darts – no. We try our best to present a useful product and we’re equally proud of the previous crowd calendar but we feel that going forward we can present a more detailed calendar using this new method. Everyone has shown amazing patience and understanding despite being confused at some points. Hopefully, this blog and all its comments will help everyone (including us!).

  • by Ed from Texas on May 20, 2010, at 12:44 pm EST

    So, now the week of Thanksgiving, the MK is the park to be in everyday, except Monday? Before, MK was the park for Monday and I had planned on going there, since MK had evening EMH on Sunday – suggesting that the big crowds would be there then and somewhere else on Monday.
    Quite confused now.

  • by Debbie from Chicago on May 20, 2010, at 3:25 pm EST

    I think this is great. However, I do have a question? The week of Sept. 26 crowd level is 1 with MK being best(it was avoid in old version). I’m not sure how this could be since evening EMH and it’s not best any other time that entire week. I was there last year at the same time and it was the most crowded (at least a 6)day of the entire week. Thanks for all the hard work on this.

  • Nice work! The moved the Princess Half Marathon weekend to Feb 25-26, 2011. Doesn’t make sense looking at your crowd estimates, though, unless they’ve rescheduled the ESPN thing too (??)

  • I know you just re-launched the Crowd Calendar, and it looks great, really, I like it! But, here’s a thought/suggestion for version 2.1 or v3. Could you show the individual park crowd levels?
    So, for today, you might show:
    MK = 6, HS = 5, EP = 5, AK = 4.
    Or, you could make this information available only to your subscribers. That would make for a good selling point.

    • Doh! Looking back at the comments (AFTER posting) I see where Nicholas beat me to this, and already suggested it. So, I concur with him/second his suggestion.

  • We are going the end of July. We
    have had an easy time getting dining reservations, and it still
    seems like there are plenty of
    space at the Disney hotels. Is it
    possible that the crowd calender
    numbers to still change for summer?

  • There seem to be a lot of questions that try to make the numbers relate to “logical assumptions” when it should be the other way around. The numbers are what they are, they don’t lie. Fred doesn’t do this with a Ouija board while riding Haunted Mansion at night (I don’t think).

    We need to just trust in the data. πŸ™‚ Great job, guys.

    • Thanks for the support Charlotte! You are right, it is our mandate at and the Unofficial Guides to take all assumptions out of the equation. In fact, thats a good rule for statistics in general. Let the data describe the situation and then use logic to try and explain the results. Using a Ouija board is at least fifth on the list of methods, right after coin-flipping and right before guess-timating πŸ™‚

  • wow, look, ones! crazy! oh and I haven’t been here for a while and just want to say the redesign looks great, and the navigation is 300% better. you guys are awesome.

  • Hey Fred,

    So I was looking at my dates for the last 2 weeks in oct. It looks as if whenever there is a MNSSHP the rating drops to a 1. On other days its as high as a 3 or 4.

    What is your take on this?

    I would understand if the rating was for MK only as I would assume that it would be less busy on a day where the park closes early, but when rated across all rides I am not sure why a party night would mean all parks are less busy.

    Are we assuming that because there is a party night that anyone going to that party would be skipping all other parks that day?

    looking forward to your reply

    • Interesting point Mike. Many people make the Halloween party their ‘park’ time that day. Whether they spend the day at the hotel pool or use it as an ‘off’ day I’m not sure. We have seen however that wait times across all attractions are lower when the Magic Kingdom hosts a special event like the Halloween Parties.

  • by Janet in KC on May 20, 2010, at 9:09 pm EST

    The new crowd calculator is interesting, esp. as a newbie to all of this and leaving in less than 10 days (May29-June4) with my 5 kids and my parents in tow! It looks like a lot of dedication and hard work. Thank you.

    However, I noticed that Memorial Day (Monday) is listed as a 7, Tuesday back at a 9, then the rest of the week at 3, 6, and 4. Is the Tuesday 6/1/10 a typo?

    Thanks for any help. And I concur with those heading to MK early in the morning on Memorial Day. See you there! I’ll be the one towing everyone along with the touring plan in my hand….

    • Hi Janet, thanks for the comments. June 6, 2010 is not a typo at ‘9’. We have found in years past that the Tuesday after Memorial day is the last vacation day for many who travel over the long weekend. By Wednesday we expect the normal May crowds to ruturn. Monday’s crowds are slightly lower because many take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday night and make Monday a hotel pool or ‘off’ day.

  • You guys continue to amaze me. I like the new crowd calendar and the way you’re assigning the levels. It was a bit confusing at first, but once I read it over and really took the time to absorb the information, it does make more sense.
    Did I mention that you rock? πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Abby. Its always difficult to change one’s way of thinking. We are proud of the crowd calendar that we’ve had in years past. It was a great resource but we feel that in the long run this is a better tool to help our readers plan their visits.

  • Love the new Crowd Calender! Totally understandable, even though it’s totally different. Thanks for bringing back the “1”! πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks Mark! With the previous scale it was more difficult to identify the days where crowds were at their lowest. Now we can identify the least crowded 10% with a ‘1’.

  • Hello! With regards to the new version – will you continue to make HS a park to avoid when Fantasmic is showing? We have a quick trip planned in July, and the day we are going to spend at HS is neither a recommended park nor park to avoid; however, Fantasmic is showing that night. How will that show come into play when recommending parks? Thanks so much!!!


    • Hosting Fantasmic will not automatically make the Studios a park to avoid. We base our recommendations firstly on wait time data then on specific rules. Typically however, when Fantasmic is playing, crowds are larger.

  • Here’s a question –
    Since the new calendar is based on percentiles and all 365 days in a given calendar are placed into a certain percentile, wouldn’t/couldn’t the percentile possibly change drastically when:
    1. new park hours are posted by Disney
    2. dates for special events are announced
    3. etc. ?
    For example, next week they have 6’s & 7’s. If the hours/special events are announced for November (or whatever month is next to be announced), wouldn’t that possibly push next weeks days down to the 40th (4) OR 50TH (5) percentile? Or up to the 80th (8) or 90th (9) percentile? Does that make sense to anyone?

    If this is so, I don’t see how the calendar can be accurate until after you’ve already visited the parks. I know we never saw any ranking lower than a 4 on the previous calendar, but at least I knew that a 4 meant low crowds and and 8 meant high crowds. Now it seems that everything is almost the same between 3 and 8. Would it make more sense to rank the days 1-5 making the difference in the numbers more significant? I appreciate the effort on the part of the UG to make things more efficient, but I think there is still some tweaking to do.

    If nothing I said makes sense, I apologize.

    • Hey Tim, thanks for the comments. If park hours change or if special events are announced that usually has a direct effect on crowd size. If that happens we want the crowd calendar predictions to reflect the changes.

      I think reducing the scale to a 1 to 5 would not sufficiently represent the ranges of crowds that one can experience. For example, we can see that there are differences in the crowd size at Christmas as compared to Spring Break but a 1 to 5 scale would treat them both as a 5.

      You are right about the “tweaking”, there is lots to do. We look forward to expanding the calendar to make it even more useful for planning.

  • Just curious, do the crowd level rating take the Jewish holidays into account at all?
    The weekend of September 9th – 12th is Rosh Hashanna, but the crowd levels are currently 4/1/1/3. Is this historically not a weekend of high attendance? Do many schools outside of the NY tri-state area not have that Thursday and Friday off?

  • After a month of the new calendar, are you finding it to be as accurate as the last calendar.

  • Sorry if you’ve already answered this, but I couldn’t find it…

    This is in regard to the comparability of crowd level numbers for each park.
    Are the crowd levels between parks directly comparable in regard to average line wait times? (In other words, does a 7.0 in the Magic Kingdom result in the same predicted line wait times as a 7.0 in Hollywood Studios?) Or do the numbers just represent the number of park guests in each park regardless of the parks ability to handle the crowd? I guess I’m just hung up on the term “Crowd Level”.