Crowd Calendar Updated

by on July 25, 2011 31 Comments

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The Walt Disney World park hours and park schedules for every month between August 2011 and February 2012 have received updates in the past 7 days. We have sorted through all the changes and updated the crowd calendar accordingly. Park hours are an important part of predicting what the crowds will be like on any given day, so several estimates on the crowd calendar have changed.

Before changing your park itinerary check out this blog post for advice on what to do if the calendar estimates have changed for your dates.

Posted on July 25, 2011

31 Responses to “Crowd Calendar Updated”

  • Hi Fred –

    Thanks for the post and update. I have real questions about one day in particular, however. Why is HS a worst park on Sun 8/21, with an 8.9 pp level? With Fantasmic running 2x nightly all week and with no EMH here, I can’t figure out why this is such a bad day for HS? Especially since there is eve emh at mk this night (8/21) and eve emh at HS the very next night (8/22)? Just curious, as I have this day planned as my HS day?

  • Hi. I’d like to add on to Rob’s question above. Why is HS the park to avoid so often in August? It is 6 or 7 days in a row for our trip that begins Aug 22. I’m going early at rope drop and with a touring plan anyway, just curious. Thanks.

  • Yeah, I have a similar question as Rob. For the first four days of our upcoming trip (8/18-8/21). DHS is a worst park and AK a best park. Should this happen? Also DHS has scores of 8.8, 9.2, 8.9, and 9.0 those days when all of the other parks only get above 8 once. Is there something going on at DHS that week? The other weird thing I noticed was on 8/22-8/24 there are two parks listed as Best Parks each day. I had never seen that before…

    • John, I believe there are two parks listed as ‘best’ park because of the 7 day rule…if a park has not been listed as a recommended park in the past week it will be listed as ‘best’ along with the actual best according to the TouringPlan requirement. Perhaps a TP official can respond with a better explanation…but this is my understanding.

      • Ah, that makes sense, although it seems a bit odd that the 7 day rule would be coming into play so much. However, I am not a master statistician, so I’ll trust Fred’s word!

    • Another website Highly Recommends HS on 8/19 and 8/21.

  • Like Rob, et al, I was wondering about the high HS park numbers. Also I noticed a few other oddities in that same time period of 8/10 – 8/29. For example, Magic Kingdom is flagged as Best Park by the 7 day rule in 4 out of 5 days include 3 times consecutively.

  • So according to the crowd calendar, with the new changes, I should be spending 90% of my 2 weeks trip to AK, and avoid HS at all cost. I think I’ll stick with the previous recommendations, keep the schedule I already made, and hope for the best!

  • Not thrilled with this update. I assume it’s because of the preliminary hours.. President’s Week crowd estimates have dropped from 9-10, to levels in the 8s. We can say with 100% certainty, that the hours will eventually be extended, and crowds of 9+. I wish the crowd calendar would factor in these expected future changes to the hours, instead of just connecting preliminary short hours with lower crowds.

    • I agree about anticipating extended hours in the future. There was a post recently about how WDW extends park hours like 75% of the time during peak season. If there is that much certainty isn’t it better to factor in added hours during peak times to the crowd calendar now, as opposed to waiting for the inevitable extension? Personally, I would rather you overestimate crowd levels now, and then bring them down a bit, rather than raising all the levels 3 weeks out.

      Of course, I understand Disney makes this extremely challenging with their ever-changing calendar and what not, and the crowd calendar has never failed me. It’s just annoying to watch my plans go awry 4 weeks out (seeing DHS go from 7.0 to 8.9 and MK going from 5.4 to 7.0).

  • Everyone: Adding Fantasmic every night of the week has raised the park levels considerably, from what I’ve seen. As soon as that change was announced and the calendar updated, I noticed that on nights where Fantasmic had already been planned, the crowd level dropped a bit, but the other nights all went up so that crowd levels are almost level throughout the week.

    The fact is, Fantasmic is a draw, and that’s going to pull in crowds. That said, the reason why it’s likely a park to avoid is if it’s crowd level is higher than the others. Looking at my crowd tracker, that appears to be the case, but it may be different for your dates. On my dates, the only day the Studios are a Best Park is due to the 7-day rule.

    That said, I wouldn’t sweat it. Go with a Touring Plan and you should be just fine.

    • I too think it’s possible that the crowd calendar models that Fred masterfully wrangles may be over-estimating the effects of Fantasmic on HS crowds when it runs 7x a week. I’m guessing that historic data highly correlates Fantasmic with higher than normal crowds. The estimate models are only as good as the historical data that are used to make them, so when Disney does something “new and different” that hasn’t been seen before (like running Fantasmic nightly), it’s only logical that the models will be a bit off until they have some concrete data to figure out what might be the case.

      If typically the highest crowds at HS are when Fantasmic runs, what’s going to be the busiest day of the week at HS when Fantasmic runs every night? Nobody knows… (but I bet Fred has some predictions anyway :)).

  • Thanks for all the great comments!

    A couple of follow-up points:

    1) Yes, the nightly showings of Fantasmic! through September is having an impact of the recommendations for the Studios. Fantasmic! is popular and with the announcement that it will be temporarily dark (closed) in January we feel that crowds at the Studios will be higher than normal for this time of year.

    2) Be careful about interpreting the recommendations though, we are not saying AVOID THE STUDIOS AT ALL COSTS. We are simply providing a judgment about how the park levels compare to each other. Whichever day works for you to visit the studios, go for it! The difference between a day that is “best” and one that is “avoid” is really subtle now that Fantasmic! occurs nightly.

    3) Yes, we really want to incorporate our own predictions for what the park hours WILL be, not what they are now. That is our next big project at the moment so stay tuned…

    • Very excited to see how predicted park hours will impact crowd predictions!

    • On Number 3– good to know. I know that the crowd calendar is based on computerized calculations and models… I happily pay for a subscription to touringplans, for the wealth of information provided at a fair price. But the crowd calendar really loses some value for me, when I know that the projections may be way off until the month before my trip.

      I have enough experience to know that Magic Kingdom, on President’s day, is going to be more crowded than 8.6… But if I didn’t have that experience, I feel the crowd calendar would be giving me an unrealistic expectation at this juncture.

    • Fred, is there a problem here that because of this special case where fantastic is being shown every night that’s resulting in the crowd information becoming less useful? I assume that the crowd calendar usually works well because in the peak times all parks see an increase in attendance and vice versa in the lows times however, because of nightly fantasmic, the studios is going to get an asymetric spike in august, pushing up wait times for that park only compared to the rest of the year. this makes the calendar think that almost all days in quiet the studios is the park to avoid.

      Surely what most people are interested in is comparative crowds for their vacation, not for the year, meaning that even if the resort crowd level is 2 and the studios is 7, the studios is the park worth recommending if most of the rest of the time the studios crowd is going to be higher, even if the other parks are at a quieter point compared to the rest of the year. I suppose what I am effectively asking is whether it is possible to code the idea of context into the calendar. (posted from iPhone so apologies if there are some horrific typos…)

  • …and one more point

    4) It is certainly possible that our predictions for the Studios may be off. Perhaps the Studios will not be as affected by the change in Fantasmic! schedule as we think. This is new and we will all have to wait and see what actually happens. In the meantime, remember that a touring plan will beat the crowds every day, regardless of the crowd.

  • Ok I get that things change and the closer you get to your planned dates the more accurate the predictions can be. My question is more basic though. (Trip is scheduled for Aug 14-Aug 18)I am curious to know what changed in the last few days to change nearly every park crowd prediction 2 points higher for my entire trip? Are you mad at me? 😀

    I have read Foundation and Empire. It starts here at Touringplans!

    • I am going Aug 19-24 and noticed that Disney extended their park hours almost every day in Aug. I’m sure that’s an indicator that crowds are going to be higher than expected as, as such, TP adjusted the crowd predictions.

      • Yes, thanks John. We do not have access to Disney’s internal projections of hotel occupancy and attendance. When Disney extends park hours, that is a definitive sign that crowd projections are up, and our estimates get adjusted accordingly.

  • Has the crown calendar been updated to reflect that Fantasmic will now be shown on 9/27 (it was one of the 2 dates in Sept. that did not have a Fantasmic showing and now it does). It just seems that the crowd predictions for the studios are really low on 9/27 as compared to the rest of the week and I was just wondering if they will now be higher due to the addition of the Fantasmice show?

    • It will go up! On 9/2 when no Fantasmic was scheduled the crowd index was .8 for HS. Now it is 4.2. We are going 9/3 but have been considering 9/2 until the numbers went up. Our plan is to get there for EMH in the AM and enjoy TSM before it gets crazy.

  • Need to have a different label for the “least desirable” rather than “avoid”, which, in my mind, means “stay away.” I understand wanting to show how to best choose which park to attend on a given day, but the problem arises when trying to pick which day to do DHS in a one week trip, if every day is “Avoid.” I went with the crowd ratings for DHS each day to guide me to the best of the avoid days.

  • I’ve also noticed that the “touring Plans” say they were last updated over a year ago. Do these crowd updates have any significant effect on the plans other than using the “Peak crowd level plan” instead of the “Moderate crowd level plan”?

  • I noticed that 8/18 MK is a 5.8 and not the best park, and 8/16&17 with higher rate are? Is this because it has morning Magic Hours?

  • Back in Aug 2008 when Fantasmic! was showing nightly, according to your historical crowd info, HS was a park to avoid only 8 nights
    of the month. This Aug, 24 nights. I know your algorithms have changed, but that seems odd.

  • Thing is, you can only do so much w/ modeling & statistics. (I know, radical talk) You HAVE to add personal interpretation. The park hour extension shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise, there were late hours and multiple evening entertainment options (including MSEP) last August. The algorithm is going to def. add points to DHS when it sees Fantasmic as it was told to do so…..which is true when only offered a few times a week, those days w/ F are going to have higher crowds, but if it’s offered every day, and 2x/day…ppl are not going to flock to DHS in Aug b/c it will be dark in January. I love UG and you broke new ground w/ your daily predictions and taking it forward to park predictions….but I have seen a pattern where the #s don’t seem to go through a human filter before publishing. Once out there, it is your loyal followers who bring to light the problems and it seems, point you in the direction to problem solve. I for one am just asking for this cycle to be broken, for UG to add the human factor to the computer printouts and continue to publish that thought process so we the readers can have confidence in the data. The current comments that say MK is best park b/c it has the lowest # and DHS worse park b/c it has the highest is weak. There’s more to picking the best park of the day than the #s. As somone said, sometimes a 7 at DHS makes it the best day of the week to see it…though AK may be a 4 on the same day. So both would be recommended, but comments in DHS could say it’s the best day to see it over others in the week.

  • My family loves the Crowd Calendar and always uses it to plan our vacations. Normally we avoid the week after Christmas since this is the most crowded time of year. As expected, the current Crowd Calendar projects Crowd Levels of “10” for that entire week in 2011. What is surprising is the “Standby Wait Times Forecast”. By the version “1.0” Crowd Calendar standard, “10” meant a wait time of ~100 minutes or more for the “Mountains”. However, the “2.0” Crowd Calendar lists considerably shorter waits for these attractions. For example, Space Mountain peaks at around 60 minutes on December 27, 2011, even less for Splash and Big Thunder Mountains. Per the “1.0” standard, this equates to a Crowd Level of no more than “6”. An hour wait for Space Mountain during Christmas seems eminently reasonable but is surprising, given the many comments about Christmas week. Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction with the “1.0” standard?