If I Could Change The Crowd Calendar…

by on January 26, 2012 66 Comments

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The Crowd Calendar is one of our more popular products at TouringPlans.com and we put a lot of time and effort into developing and maintaining it. The fun part is trying to think of ways to enhance it for our readers. So we thought, why not ask directly from the people who use it the most?

What enhancements would you like to see to the crowd calendar?

Here are some of our ideas, what do you think?

  1. Include other parks like Universal, Legoland or Magic Mountain
  2. Include the Water Parks
  3. Include more details about special events
  4. Add the dates of hotel discounts (past and future)
  5. Add weather information
  6. Put attraction refurbishment dates on the calendar
  7. Relate the crowd ratings more towards crowd density (number of people in the parks), rather than wait times
  8. Make it more visual with charts, graphs or photos
  9. Custom calendars just for the dates of my visit
  10. Other ideas…?

Go ahead and help us brainstorm, all ideas are welcome. Add yours to our wish list by commenting below.


Posted on January 26, 2012

66 Responses to “If I Could Change The Crowd Calendar…”

  • I realize it would cater to a bit of a niche market, but what about an optional field on the calendar for Disney ‘Geeks?’ Any information about meets (TouringPlans.com or other friendly groups) could be noted. Perhaps a [very] small line graph next to each day, similar to that seen next to stock symbols on various websites. This would make it easy to, at a glance, establish which park to begin or end with, or even which day to start or end your trip on.

    I’d think that any information that could be categorically marked would be a big plus for advanced searching/filtering of the data. For example, a marker for a park being EMH, and another for day or evening, so one could look at all days crowd level <8, EMH morning, MK.

    Lastly (for now), perhaps a tie in with the Kayak (or other travel site) API to allow the option of highlighting or grouping by hotel or airfare. Perhaps this could be done not based on actual cost, but relative cost across the year, just as crowd levels are done.

  • I’m so glad you asked! I would love graphs – one that shows the whole year and probably also the ability to see a month at a time. I think it would be so great to be able to see the rhythm of the parks that way, and I often choose my dates based on the yearly slow periods, so graphs would be perfect. Weather and hotel discounts (known discounts, or periods where discounts typically have shown up in the past) would both be awesome, too.

  • by WestcoastBrian on January 27, 2012, at 12:40 am EST

    I like all your ideas up there.

    One thing I have notice is I spend a lot of time with two windows open, one looking up airfare while the other looking at the crowd calender for the week. How about a way to see both best time to fly along with the crowd calender?

    Also I want to make a comment about #5. Since I don’t live near a park, I have plan my trip months in advance and usually weather predictions only go 2 weeks in advance. How about, for long term planning, display historic weather data? Or for another option some weather services will give a general expectation for the upcoming month.

  • i like the idea of customizable calendars (#9) for days your thinking of visiting. do you have the data to graphically show the crowds within a day so that one could easily see “oh, i should start at X park and then around Y time, i should go to another park or back to the hotel because my original park will get crowded and another park isn’t as crowded”

    I also like # 6 so you can easily see what will be closed on the days your considering rather than having to go to another page. park hours would also be good to have on the same view.

    how about letting people “customize” their own view based on what data they want to pull in. i.e. i might just want a quick look at the calendar the way it is today (uncluttered), but as i get more serious about selecting dates, i might want to choose to add in weather predictions, refurbs, etc.

    oh – and how about the ability to choose 2 or 3 sets of dates and then use a “compare” feature which would show you estimated crowds, hours, weather, refurbs, etc.

    i love all the info and the community of touring plans. I need to get to the parks more often!

  • Add custom touring plans that allow more than one park a day, for park hoppers!

  • Perhaps it might be a good idea to show a last amended date on each of the calanders. That way we can determine if there have been any changes at a glance.

    • I agree! I usually start looking at the crowd calendars 9+ months before our planned trip to get a broad idea of how our weekly schedule should be determined. When I hit the 180-day mark (and can make ADRs), I like to see if the crowd calendar has changed.

  • For #7, a second rating would be good, instead of incorporating with the existing rating. For example, today may be a 5(8) meaning 5th decile for waits but 8th for for crowds.

    Hotel discount forecasts would also be awesome, but how many categories would you show? Just the basic discount, basic and passholder, etc?

    Showing this all graphically would be great too. it would be nice to quickly identify a “sweet spot” of the right wait/crowd levels plus hotel discounts (or other data) by combining a couple graphs.

  • I like what others are saying about a graph, and the ability to display all the parks on the one graph for comparison. The graph should have different zoom ranges (some may want a week at a time to plan basically when to go, then a day at a time to finalize dates, and hourly to plan the individual days).

    I am at the point where an hourly chart would be nice so you can decide if you want to hit the morning extra hours then move to another park, or just start at the other park.

  • I don’t know about hotel discounts, but adding some brackets or coding for the rate season you are looking at would be great, especially with the seemingly 1,800 rate categories Dismey has managed to come up with between the day of week, time of year and resort level.

    Don’t know how feasible that would really be, but it would help out the planning process.

  • Make the crowd calendar figures more directly related to the wait times. A Disney newbie has no idea how crowded the parks are even on the 10% least crowded days of the year, so calling it a “1” still doesn’t mean anything to them, and deceptively makes them believe Space Mountain will be a walk-on at 2pm.

  • I like the idea of #9: “Custom calendars just for the dates of my visit”. It would be great if I could print a .pdf of dates covering my visit. While we’re at it, it would be cool if you could create touring plans based on the dates of the trip that would all print together with the calendar in a .pdf and a version that is maximized for iPhone viewing.

    It may also be helpful to have two calendars: one for people staying at a Disney resort and one for those off site who cannot take advantage of extra magic hours.

    Graphs and charts are always cool!

  • I’d really like to see alternative parks… For example… Tomorrow, we are heading to Epcot; but we won’t spend the whole day there. We’d like to hit something else in the afternoon or evening. It would be awesome to see a breakdown… Like… “Best park in the morning. Best park in the afternoon. Best park in the evening.”

  • I’d like to see the water parks incorporated in some way. Maybe not at the level of detail you provide for the major parks, but at least to give some general sense of how crowded they’ll likely be on a given day.

    • I love this plan too. I want to add a day at one of the water parks for our next trip but have no idea of knowing which day is the best day to go.

  • Include other parks like Universal would be great!

    • I agree, I would love for Universal to be add to touring plans and Lines

    • “Other” parks could be useful for some but our family only does Disney when we go so the ability to turn alternate parks on and off would be nice. So that the calendar doesn’t get cluttered with unneeded information.

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  • Definitely, the inclusion of Universal, Sea World and other parks would be a major enhancement!

  • I would like to see a fusion of weather, wait times and density for all parks including water. Some days I like to visit a park, but I’m not interested in rides. I’m just going to hang out. Other times I going for just headliner rides so I want the shortest wait times. Also, it helps me set expectations on what I will have deal with for crowds. Some days I have more patience than others. Another example, I want to visit AK with a very low crowd density to spend extra time enjoying the animals. The wait time on Everest doesn’t interest me, so on what day/time should I go.

    Also, a fusion of special events, refurbs, discounts, weather and crowds for trends to help me choose when to go.

    I’d like two types of graphs. Short term week/day and trends over the year.

    Also, how about data on restaurant reservations. Degree of difficulty, how long before for reservation success, using all the metrics your using now and with a graph.

    I like to see trends because I go adhoc during my visit and not have all my plans in stone before I get there (I don’t want to use my crackberry on vacation to keep everything straight). I’m looking to increase my odds of success with my decisions across-the-board with short term planning and seeing trends for when to visit. Sometimes I can’t go during slow periods or I want all the busy times extras, with as little crowds as possible.

  • I would love a Universal crowd calendar too! DO THIS!

  • by Rick (Mr. Voice) on January 27, 2012, at 10:56 am EST

    Have you folks ever studied the “Multi-Day Planner” available on the Disney*land* website, in the Park Hours section? I think something like that would be fabulous. Users could set the days of their visit, and return a chart with Park Hours/EMH, Fireworks times, and the crowd levels. You could color-code the “best” and “worst” parks.

    Basically, you could take the information available on each individual day’s page on the current crowd calendar, and combine it into a one-sheet for the whole stay. That would be very valuable. Basically, put me in the camp of Doug from a few posts up.

    I also like Shane’s suggestion of ‘best park in the AM, PM, Evening’.

    Weather…I speak from experience. If you’re going to do weather you need to be willing to use a widget of some sort, have the forecast “powered by weatherbug” or whatever. Unless you could set-it-and-forget-it, I wouldn’t worry about weather.

  • 1. I love the idea of corresponding the day to the hotel season. For example, if I click Aug 15 it can say “Summer 2” or whatever it is. As a AP holder I try to plan around cheaper seasons, so this would be very helpful and I think easy to do. That way I don’t have to go back and forth between WDW site and yours. Historical room only discounts for general public and AP would be a wonderful plus.

    2. Like the idea of more info on “special event.” Sometimes you list a park to avoid bc of a special event, but maybe I want to go to that event if I knew what it was!

    3. I’m not sure what people mean by “customizable calendars.” I can add dates I want to my crowd tracker and track all the days/time that way. Not sure how it’s different. On that note, for the crowd tracker, is there a way to show the park times on it? Right now it just has the park name, crowd level, and whether to avoid or not. If I’m planning a multi-day trip it would be nice to look at 1 screen with all the parks, their crowd levels, and times instead of having to click day by day.

    4. Given the weather fluctuations in FL I think trying to predict it would be an exercise in futility.

    5. And yes, please add the refurb schedule! If I click on a day I’d like to know what’s closed/refurbed that day

  • I would like a little more human touch on the crowd calendar. The more I use it, the more some of the info doesn’t seem very well explained and leads me to believe there’s a heavy reliance on math rather than common sense. For example, I am going 2/4-2/12. For 6 days in a row, Sun-Thurs, Epcot is listed as the park to avoid. It is somewhat confusing, yet there is no added explanation as to why this whole week is verboten for Epcot other than the same cut-and-paste explanation “this park is the highest crowd today” or “emh hours”. But why is almost that entire week so high in the crowd calendar, during what is typically a relatively slow time? Or take, for instance, when your predicted crowd count is pretty high compared to in years past for that same time period. It would be nice if a little blurb was added about “X, Y, Z are drawing in more crowds for this week than usual.” There are also large conventions, school/sports groups that pile in during certain periods, but aren’t mentioned excepting one or two. I see the info on other free sites, but seldom included in your crowd calendar. Finding and posting this info would really raise the level of the crowd calendar to a more in-depth, personal service for your customers. And overall, inspires more trust in the data.

  • I don’t understand why you need to have a park to avoid daily. I understand on any given day, one will be tougher to navigate than another, but also on any given day during low seasons, that difference in indiscernible negating the need for you to recommend to avoid it. Also, I don’t understand your need to make a park a best based upon that it has not been for 5(?) days. It the numbers you use make it so it never garners best park status, then so be it. Let the user use the overall crowd calendar during their visit to pick when they want to hit it. And I kind of understand but it is asked on lines a lot, why a park with the lowest crowd level is park to avoid. I don’t know all the parameters you deal with logistically (plus I am not smart enough!) to come up with a suggestion on how to change it, but maybe if you could look at the park to avoid/best park criteria and consider changing it or doing away with it. Since you have a rule that an EMH park can’t be best because you have to consider offsite guests misleads people on site with hoppers. Most people I think agree a great strategy is hit a park with EMH and hop in/out.

    • Yes – why do we have to avoid a park with the lowest rating just because of your 5 day rule. I don’t really get that rule. Wait times & crowd levels at the park are equally important to me.

  • All the suggestions are things that would be nice…. Except…
    The beauty of the Crowd Calendar is the simplicity. It would lose something if bogged down with color coding and footnotes and graphs.
    So I’d keep the core calendar and per-park calendar the same. I might have a separate link with additional features — including a customizable calendar.
    Just as with personalized touring plans, a personalized calendar would be good — pick your dates, get an automatically generate calendar, which has all the extra info like park hours, weather expectations, EMHs, etc.

  • I love #3 and would love more info about special events! Especially events that aren’t as advertised but contribute heavily to crowds, like events over at the wide world of sports. I know I personally would plan to avoid times like that but at the same time, I’d love extra details about like the food and wine festival. I also love #7 about crowd density! I personally get very claustrophobic in crowds and so crowd density contributes more to whether or not I enjoy my time at the parks than wait times. Thanks for being open to feedback and initiating this conversation with your users!

  • I love the Crowd Calendar! Suggestions:

    – Graph the data. Doesn’t have to be anything complicated; use the current layout, but put a colored bar next to the number, with a length proportional to its value. That way I can scroll down the list and see what days look good, and what days don’t.

    – Maybe not important, but interesting: Why is the rating high or low? (Example: “Local school holiday.” “No fireworks today.” “Short park hours.” etc.)

    – Get rid of the decimal point. (“3.7 out of 10”, for example.) 1) As a guest, can I discern the difference between a 5.4 and a 5.5? 2) Are you guys so sure in your accuracy that you’re certain it’s going to be a 5.4 instead of a 5.5?


    • I think the decimal point is more to show differences between two parks: if Epcot is 3.5 and MK is 3.9 someone may choose Epcot instead when making a which park to attend decision.

  • I like adding the additional parks – water and non-disney.

    Not sure about weather since far out it would be so generic and it’s available when you pull up a touring plan.

  • I too like the simplicity of the crowd calendar, and feel that adding lots of features like hotel rates, airfares, etc. that require extra data to be collected (or outsourced) could easily clutter it up.

    It is my understanding that the per-park crowd levels are relative to that park only, without regard to the other parks in the resort. If that is true, then it is not really valid to compare a “3” in MK with a “3” in AK. Hence the “Best Park” and “Park to avoid” are really needed to compare two parks on a given day. But what if the crowd level could be adjusted so that it was a valid comparison between parks? Perhaps make the per-park level relative to ALL days at ALL parks. It might be that the busiest park would get very few “1” days, but the single number would still be a valid comparison within a park as well as between parks.

    Or maybe it already works this way 🙂

  • I’m new to this whole Touring Plan thing, but I do have some input. I would love to see information regarding crowd density in addition to the wait times. Custom calendars just for the dates of my visit would be wonderful! As far as graphs go, I know a lot of people would appreciate that, but I actually prefer the numbers you currently use, so if you add graphs, please don’t get rid of the numbers. Historical averages of weather by month or week would also be helpful. I’m a planning junkie and I love detailed information, as long as it doesn’t get so complicated it becomes a chore to interpret. Thanks for the great site!

  • WOW! This is great stuff! Thank you for all the excellent comments and keep ’em coming.

    I am particularly interested in the comments where people mention how they toggle between the calendar and other pages or websites with corresponding information (flights, weather, refurbishment schedules, etc.). That seems inefficient to me. It would make sense to have that information in one place when planning. It may also be interesting to see how hotel discounts and airfare relate to crowds, theoretically there must exists the “perfect” time of year that minimizes all three.

    We are particularly sensitive to the concerns about keeping the calendar simple and uncluttered. Adding information to the calendar without sacrificing it’s simplicity and usability would be essential to us.

    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • 6. Put attraction refurbishment dates on the calendar
    This would be added value.

    8.Make it more visual with charts, graphs or photos
    Data visualization is always awesome! Could you imagine an icon of each park, and the size of the icon relative to it’s scale on the crowd calendar?

    9.Custom calendars just for the dates of my visit
    This is my #1. I create an ad hoc spreadhseet in Google docs for the park hours for each day, the parades, and any reservations I have.

  • I would like to be able to compare data for a set amount of time (a vacation length) and compare it for different time frames. Say select 4 days on the crowd calender and then compare those days during the beginning of the month and the end.

  • An API! At least for the current day. There are a lot of new apps/sites that roll out with their own repository of wait times and crowd information. It’d be a lot more useful if everyone was reading and writing to a central database.

    • Not so sure about everyone sharing the central database …. but, an API would be a great way to enable others to build some potentially very cool apps …. perhaps requiring a TouringPlans subscription to work

      • I meant that if everyone was submitting to the same place, like Touring Plans, that central location could adjust their estimates as needed and have a lot more opportunity to capture in park data. I can see why they wouldn’t let out future or even past data as they have put a lot of work into that information. But TouringPlans feeding current wait times via an API to other apps with their branding is great exposure.

  • by Heather Berube on January 27, 2012, at 6:14 pm EST

    I use the crowd calendar frequently and would love to be able to create a custom calendar just for the dates of my visit! A lot of the other suggested options seem like it would make it very busy and possibly confusing. Thanks for an excellent planning tool!

  • I would love a customizable calendar – an actual physical representation of a calendar so that I can plan each of my days on one page visually. I’d like to be able to include park open/closing times, crowd calendars, EMH hours, etc. I’m very visual and like the idea of it being on one page.

  • Fred – I always create a custom calendar in a spreadsheet using crowd calendar data and notes about dining reservations, special events, park hours, etc.

    Example 1: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ap1eYTd_et9edDFZdnZCYzlzeTJKN3B3elAwelBjU0E

    Example 2: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ap1eYTd_et9edFhVejJNSXFjdlQ0YV8zZjdNU0FwbkE

    • Chris, I love example #2 – that’s pretty much exactly what I’m talking about. It would be great to have a customizable calendar similar to that where we could input all that great info and print it out/save in a one page document.

  • I really like idea #7. Knowing crowd density is huge! I realize often the two go together, but knowing a park is going to feel full & claustrophobic would be great.

    My other idea is a way to combine the WDW Calendar page (what parks are best/to avoid) with the per park crowds for the same day into one display. Better yet, how about an option to export those for use in Excel (or something else). I usually end up taking the information from both those displays & putting them into my own spreadsheet. I use that for planning & update it as we get closer to our travel dates.

    Lastly, it would be great if we could display detail days next to each other, maybe up to a week? That way I can see side by side for 3 or 4 days which park has fireworks, parades, etc without having to flip through & back.

  • 1, 2, 4, 6, & 7

  • Just a few thoughts – I would NOT Include other parks like Universal, Legoland or Magic Mountain. I’d hate to see the CC cluttered up with the lesser parks. Maybe they could have their own calendar, but I prefer to keep Disney focused.

    On that note, it makes sense to include the Water Parks. I also like the idea of adding attraction refurbishment dates on the calendar.

    YES! Relate the crowd ratings more towards crowd density (number of people in the parks), rather than wait times. Or do both. For my friends & family, wait times are not a big deal. We have Touring Plans & Lines for that! But a crowded park is miserable for us. We don’t expect and empty park, but the fewer people bumping into us the better! 😀

    Custom calendars just for the dates of my visit would be sweet!

  • by Margaret D'Andrea on January 28, 2012, at 2:26 pm EST

    I make my own personalized index cards and print them out just before the trip. There is one card for each day of our vacation. The left side contains tables that include park hours, including EMHs, and major show/parade times. It looks something like this: “MK: 9-9*12 (3,9). Under the hours I have a color coded list of touringplans recommedatins. On the right side are tables that include plans for breakfast, AM, lunch, PM, dinner, and evening plans. I will plug in ADRs if I have them and make suggestions for the other slots. There are colorful pictures at the top which represent morning midday and afternoon plans. The midday picture is always the little guy on a hammock. Morning may be tree of life and PM may be Cinderella Castle (so even the youngest members of the family will get something out of my notes). There is also a fun fact about something in the park we’ll be visiting that day. I’ve kept the same general format for the last few trips and update as needed. It would be AWESOME if touringplans.com did it for me and I could just pull it up on my smartphone!(and have updated info instantly such as if Disney decides to add a 2nd showing of Fantasmic on a certain night)

  • When I am making my touring plan on-line, the process of selecting the attractions is very cumbersome. Can’t you just have some sort of radio button in front of each attraction and then after we select them we can re-arrange them on another page?

    I realize that show times change, however, I would like to put those in as well, even if it means I have to put in my own show times based on your most recent information.

  • Wow! I am just working on a TP for tomorrow evening at the MK. I love the new optimization for your walking speed and waiting vs. walking preference. Usually, I like to walk very fast, but I currently have an injury and my pace is very slowed down. It will be fun to check out this plan tomorrow evening! Thanks TPs!

  • Per park crowds are great so would love the same for Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon & even the non-Disney parks

  • I would love if there was a way to use the crowd calendar with TripIt. I use TripIt for all of my travel reservations and I currently manually enter and constantly update the crowd calendar on there so I can have all of the info in one place. I do use lines when I am in the park, but love to use TripIt just for everything. It makes it visually easier. If we could get confirmation type emails like ADRs then that could forward into TripIt. The current crowd calendar emails don’t give the needed information for TripIt.

    I also love all of the ideas listed in the post. I think the visual graph type idea would be nice along with refurb dates and the other park information.

  • As this site is predominantly if not all Disney oriented..I wouldn’t add in other theme park info. I feel it would bog down the overall purpose of the crowd calendar – it’s a crowd calendar for DISNEY, not Universal, Sea World, etc.etc. Just my personal opinion!

    • I second that! I do have an interest in Harry Potter Land, yet, I’m not sure how that would affect TouringPlans and you’re ability to make this the best go to Disney Crowd Calendar site. Therefore, If I had to choose, I would ask that you stay focused on Disney & expanding the Disney information.

  • I agree with #1. I have so wanted you to add particularly the Universal theme parks to your website and wait times.

  • #3 & #6 would be very helpful.

  • I agree with some of the other comments about defining more clearly what it means to be a 1, 3, 10, etc. We were just in Hollywood Studios on a 1.1 day (Sunday 1/29), and the big rides still had long waits through most of the day. On the other hand, The Magic Kingdom was very slow on a 4 (Friday 2/3). Also, the Parks to Avoid and Best Parks don’t always seem to fit. We visited the Park to Avoid several times and found few crowds.

    This might be a case of it being slow season, where those designations mean less. I think the Crowd Calendar is great and very helpful, but I still think there may be ways to help visitors truly understand what the numbers mean.

    • Following up on Dan’s comment – up until a couple years ago, the crowd numbers were related to an absolute measure, whereas now they’re all relative to all the other days in the year. It would seem helpful to return to some sort of absolute measure, since as a guest, it doesn’t really matter if it’s more or less crowded than days I’m not there. What matters, in simple terms, is a simple “how long will my waits be?”

  • I would like to see Crowd Tracker and Customizable Touring Plans for the Water Parks.