Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for November 2018

November is here, and we continue our monthly schedule of updates to the Disney World Crowd Calendar. Last month Disney changed their ticket pricing scheme. A stated goal of the date based ticket pricing scheme is to distribute crowds more evenly throughout the year. We are observing the crowds and will need several months of data to know the true impact on crowds.

November 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.8 EP:5.0 HS:4.1 AK:4.1)

Besides Veterans Day weekend and Thanksgiving week, crowd levels will be low. The Magic Kingdom begins to offer Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Typically the days between the parties have higher crowd levels. Many guests will avoid the Magic Kingdom on party days due to the shorter park hours. Many school districts have the entire week of Thanksgiving off. Crowds start growing the weekend before Thanksgiving and peak the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

December 2018
(Average Crowd Levels MK:5.5 EP:6.5 HS:6.0 AK:5.4)

Early December has relatively low crowd levels. Most school districts are in session through Friday, December 21. December 22 is the start of the busiest time at Walt Disney World. Crowds won’t drop until 2019 begins.

January 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.8 EP:5.3 HS:5.6 AK:4.3)

School starts back up starting January 2, but most schools won’t start back until January 7. Expect New Year’s crowds to continue until January 5. There will a bump in the crowd levels for WDW Marathon Weekend (January 9-13), and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend (January 19-21).

February 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:4.7 EP:4.1 HS:4.4 AK:4.7)

The week of Presidents Day (February 18) and the Princess Half Marathon (February 21-24) will be the busiest time of the month. The rest of the month will see low crowd levels.

March 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:6.6 EP:6.1 HS:6.2 AK:6.1)

Mardi Gras (March 5) is late in 2019. Typically Mardi Gras crowds overlap with Presidents Day, but will not be an issue in 2019.  Fewer schools are off for Mardi Gras this year and will not have a major impact on crowds. In 2019 the “spring break” season will span from March 15 to April 21.

April 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:6.5 EP:6.5 HS:6.2 AK:6.4)

Easter (April 21) is late in 2019. A late Easter means that spring break crowds are spread across a wider time range. The week of April 14 will be the busiest week for spring break. After Easter, crowds will drop off significantly.

May 2019
(Average Crowd Levels MK:5.0 EP:4.6 HS:4.3 AK:5.3)

May have low to moderate crowds for most of the month. The Memorial Day weekend will see peak crowd levels.

June-August 2019
(June’s Average Crowd Levels MK:6.0 EP:5.9 HS:5.5 AK:6.4)
(July’s Average Crowd Levels MK:6.4 EP:4.6 HS:4.8 AK:5.5)
(August’s Average Crowd Levels MK:4.6 EP:4.5 HS:3.8 AK:4.1)

Disney will be in full summer mode through labor day. Summer 2017 and 2018 have had moderate crowds. Unless Disney offers some very attractive offers we expect crowds will be light in 2019. With Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) not yet open many guests will be postponing their Disney vacations.

September-October 2019
(September’s Average Crowd Levels MK:2.8 EP:2.6 HS:1.7 AK:2.0)
(October’s Average Crowd Levels MK:4.0 EP:4.5 HS:4.1 AK:4.0)

September traditionally has the lowest crowd levels. All schools are back in session. The big unknown is the opening date for Galaxy’s Edge. Late fall 2019 is the only information Disney has released. Once a specific opening date is announced we will adjust the crowd level predictions.

 

Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

23 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for November 2018

  • November 5, 2018 at 10:41 pm
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    Are we really not getting any early openings for Thanksgiving week??? Shocking based on past few years and pretty much all holiday weeks in recent years, no?

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    • November 6, 2018 at 11:33 am
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      It is still possible. During peak crowds, Disney has changed park hours at the last minute. Even if Disney does not change the park hours Disney will open parks 15-30 minutes early on non-Early Magic mornings or Extra Magic Mornings days.

      Reply
      • November 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm
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        Hmm, interesting. But the lack of 8 am MK openings is like unprecedented over recent years during holiday weeks – I checked back like 5 years. Seems weird.

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  • November 5, 2018 at 11:19 pm
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    What kind of evidence leads to an attendance forecast pop from a 6 to a 10 for Magic Kingdom inside a 60-day window after a year of stability on a date? A miss that large makes you an unreliable source for long term vacation planning. By now, we’ve lost flexibility on hard to get reservations.

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    • November 6, 2018 at 11:54 am
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      A crowd level of 6 for the Magic Kingdom when the other parks are 8-10 is very unlikely. We should have caught that discrepancy with the prior updates. We know how frustrating it is when there is a big jump in crowd levels. We would rather our users have the most accurate information so they can be prepared.

      Having FastPasses, Dining Reservations, and a Touringplan will give you smooth touring even with high crowds.

      Reply
  • November 6, 2018 at 6:01 am
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    Can you tell me why Jan 5 has increased from a 6 to a 10 at the magic kingdom??

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    • November 6, 2018 at 11:26 am
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      75% of students don’t return to school until January 7. January 5, will the last day of the New Year’s crowds. Magic Kingdom crowd levels were raised to be in line with the other parks.

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      • November 6, 2018 at 11:34 am
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        And you just learned this now? After the planning window for top fast passes and restaurants reservations has effectively closed??? That’s what we mean by low reliability.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 8:49 am
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    So many increases for January 1 – 6!! Why so many drastic changes. It seems that predictions used to be a lot more stable. This is really affecting my plans, and they aren’t very easy to move around now (due to already having dining reservations/fastpass reservations). Is this all legit?

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    • November 6, 2018 at 9:20 am
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      I was wondering the same thing. Shot right up to 10 all around in a lot of cases. We are there Jan 2-5 and I was hoping that at least some areas would be lighter with school starting back up.

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      • November 6, 2018 at 11:28 am
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        Most students don’t start school until January 7. There will still be some lingering holiday travels still at Disney through January 5.

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        • November 6, 2018 at 11:35 am
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          And you just learned this now? After the planning window for top fast passes and restaurants reservations has effectively closed???

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  • November 6, 2018 at 12:50 pm
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    I guess this website does not realize how much people depend on getting accurate information from them ahead of time. I literally changed my plans based on their crowd predictions. Had the crowd levels been more accurately predicted in the first place I would have done something different.

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  • November 6, 2018 at 10:28 pm
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    Wow. A forecast is an estimate. It’s not a guarantee. This shouldn’t change what fast passes you would have booked or restaurant reservations have been made. There are many uncontrollable parts of a vacation, including crowd levels and weather. If your entire vacation is going to be screwed because of uncontrollable items, you’re likely not going to have a great vacation, due to attitude and perception alone.

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    • November 6, 2018 at 10:44 pm
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      Sarah is entirely correct. Why subscribe to this service if not to use it to plan? Touringplans would agree that is their purpose, and they are usually excellent. An error of this magnitude, however, should cause them some pause and to rethink their how they made this error. This is my 21st visit to WDW since it opened, and touringplans has helped me quite a bit the last decade-Ish. I am just disappointed by their failure, and I am sure they will acknowledge this as a process breakdown, at least internally.

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    • November 7, 2018 at 8:33 am
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      Xnhale – I understand that. However, this website states that they want you to subscribe to them and use them as a way to help you plan your vacation. One of the first steps, is to use their crowd calendar to help choose your dates. I would not purposefully choose to visit at a time that had multiple days with 10s. When I planned my upcoming January trip, I was choosing between that and spring break. At the time the January dates were only slightly higher than the March dates. The site at the time stated that their lower predictions for March were due to the spread of spring break/Easter/Madi Gras this year. If they knew about school spring break dates then, how did they not know about Christmas break? So yes, I am a bit upset. NO, I won’t let it ruin my trip. I have already started adjusting plans to deal with a now 10 for our all day trip to MK. However, I expect a little more out of this site. Like Tom, I too have used this site for several past trips, and never experienced such discrepancy.

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    • November 7, 2018 at 9:15 am
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      Furthermore, Xnhale, just because the people that have replied on here are upset by the change, does not mean they have a bad attitude or perception. In fact, I hope that Steve Bloom, and others at touring plans read these comments and take them a bit to heart. They are selling a product, and as such people are going to have expectations. Your expectations may be different than someone else’s. However, all expectations are valid. Touringplans needs to hear from people if they are to truly put out a product that continues to be competitive in the growing world of crowd calendars and touring plans. When I first started visiting Disney, this was THE book and THE website, and they continue to add neat features and have a lot to offer. However, there are a LOT more websites (some free) out there with similar products. If touringplans does not keep their quality up to par, they will begin to lose customers. I personally recommend this website to every person I know who begins to plan a trip to Disney World. However, if things like this keep happening, I would certainly be less enthusiastic to do so. Therefore, I hope that they see critical comments as an opportunity to grow, not simply as stupid upset customers with a bad attitude.

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      • November 7, 2018 at 9:55 am
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        Sara, what you write here is extremely valid. Just because people are upset by the change doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to be, or that they fail to understand the difference between a forecast and a guarantee. It is true that you are paying for a service, and that your purchase is decided based on how much value you believe there is in that service. I’m sure you are correct that they need to hear a range of opinions as to how people use the product, and how much disappointment / upset they will experience when something like this happens.

        However, with respect, I think Xnhale was not wrong in their response to you. When you start your comment with “I guess this website does not realize how much people depend on getting accurate information from them ahead of time.”, it appears that you believe they have no idea how their website is being used in the absence of your feedback. From what you wrote it looks like you think that they took no care, do no market research, have no internal disappointment over their mistake, never would have thought to take corrective steps to ensure that this kind of issue doesn’t happen again — until you woke them up to the fact that so many people care and maybe they should think about these things. If they cared so little about their product that they never would have noticed the need for improvement without your implication that they were stupid and uncaring, do you really think it would be as good as it generally is?

        That implication is the bad attitude that Xnhale was responding to, and when I read your initial comment I thought the same thing they did. If you don’t want it to be perceived that way, then in the future you may want to take more care to make sure that your criticisms are expressed constructively.

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        • November 7, 2018 at 2:32 pm
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          Jennie,

          My apologies for coming across as egocentric and having a bad attitude. You and Xnhale have just reinforced to me that keeping my opinions and ideas to myself and responding directly to those involved instead of posting on the blog is probably the best idea going forward.

          With that being said, I wish each of you a happy trip and in the spirit of Thanksgiving will say that instead I will be Thankful I am getting to even go to Disney World and will look forward testing out these touring plans on a 10 day (which I have never had to do before).

          Reply
  • November 7, 2018 at 10:55 am
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    It will be interesting to see what the week after Thanksgiving is like. It seems the past couple years attendance has been higher than expected that week, but the TP crowd forecast keeps going down. Any reason why the crowd prediction is so low when it’s been higher the past few years?

    Reply
  • November 8, 2018 at 4:41 am
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    Wow. A forecast is an estimate. It’s not a guarantee. This shouldn’t change what fast passes you would have booked or restaurant reservations have been made.

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  • November 8, 2018 at 5:49 am
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    The jump in MK crowd forecasts is obviously unsettling. We’ve had the school schedules for months.

    I’ve asked Steve to investigate how the predictions changed this much in one month. If it’s a problem with the models or data, I expect an explanation of what that was.

    If the problem is with our processes – the way we build and verify the calendar, we need to identify and fix those issues.

    My guess is this will take 1-2 weeks to complete. In the meantime, post any questions about the calendar here, please. If you’d like a refund, here’s the link to request one: https://help.touringplans.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000987054-Refunds-and-45-day-Money-back-Guarantee

    Reply
  • November 8, 2018 at 11:01 am
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    Allow me to chime in, if I may.

    One major drawback of the complex modelling process that we use to predict wait times is that it is not easy to determine why a particular estimate changes. There are a lot of moving parts. Every wait time that we collect – and we collect thousands a day – can impact the next prediction. When an estimate changes it does not mean that the previous estimate was wrong, it just means that the latest information indicates that the new estimate is a more likely outcome.

    Yes, the school schedules information has been stable for a while but it can interact with dozens of other fields. In the last 30 days, for example, we have underpredicted the crowd levels at Magic Kingdom 17 days and overpredicted only 4. Also, we give more weight to recent wait time observations than to those from the same week in previous years. These two facts suggest that crowd level predictions will go up.

    To be clear, the increases are not arbitrary decisions that we impose. We let the models do their work and then we review the results to see if any large increases are justified. Unfortunately, in this case, I think the increases are justified. They represent the best possible estimate that we could publish based on all the latest information we have.

    Believe me, the only thing worse than seeing the crowd level go up on a day you planned to visit is to visit that park on a ’10’ day when you expected a ‘6’. If there is a bright side, the touring plans really shine when the parks hit those upper levels. I have followed touring plans with my kids on days that were ‘9’s and ’10’s that I swore were only a ‘6’ or ‘7’. They really work! Also, the advantage you have over the typical guest is enhanced when the parks get crowded.

    We certainly do apologize for the late adjustments but we feel that publishing the most accurate estimate will ultimately be the most useful for planning.

    Reply

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