Crowd Blog

Crowd Calendar Update For Walt Disney World

by on December 10, 2017

As we head into the last few weeks of 2017, it is time to update the Disney World Crowd Calendar for the next 365 days.

We are fairly happy with the performance of the Crowd Calendar this fall. Two-thirds of the days saw a crowd level within 1 index point of predicted levels. Even if you are only loosely following a touring plan a difference of one index level is virtually unnoticeable. When the calendar missed the mark by three or more levels it was usually due to severe weather or a higher than normal offline rate of key attractions. When major attractions go offline, wait times go up and the calendar shows a larger crowd than expected. Crowd predictions for Animal Kingdom and Epcot missed a little more often than Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Fall 2017 was closer to an average fall than 2016. Last year we saw some very large crowds on days when we expected the crowds to be moderate. Overall, if you used the calendar during Fall 2017 the crowds you experienced were likely to be close to what the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted.

Crowd Level Predictions for Fall 2017 were solid

All of our Walt Disney World wait time models are refreshed with the latest information and trends. In general, the trend is longer wait times although there are some days where the crowd level will be lower. May will be an interesting month for Hollywood Studios if Toy Story Land opens up in that month. Perhaps for Memorial Day weekend? Let’s see what the 2018 Crowd Calendar looks like now month-by-month, after this update.


Epcot sees some dips in crowd level throughout January while Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom see some increases. The month is still a great time to visit if you prefer lower crowds.

Read the rest of this entry »

November Crowds Are Larger Than Usual in 2017, At Disney World And Universal Orlando

by on November 13, 2017

Crowds at Orlando Theme Parks are larger than normal so far in November. The Crowd Calendars for Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World are reporting crowd levels one to two points higher than we usually see this time of year. We have some theories as to why we are seeing the increase.

  1. Times are good. The economy is churning along and gas prices are stable. When the economy is stable, travel tends to increase.
  2. Hurricane Irma re-bookings. Guests that had to cancel because of the hurricane re-booked for early November, a time when crowds are usually low and free dining was still available.
  3. November Popularity. As more and more guests travel to Orlando each year the number of available dates with low crowds has dwindled. So, moderately crowded weeks become busy ones.

Because the higher crowd levels are occurring at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando we don’t think the influx has anything to do with park operations like what we saw at Disney World in Fall 2016 and Fall 2015. We don’t see any indication from the school schedule data to suggest that is the answer either. So, one of the three theories is likely the culprit – or more likely, a combination of the three. But first, let’s take a look at how crowded it has been.

Crowds have been higher than expected recently at Orlando Theme Parks

We know that part of the increase in wait times this year at Walt Disney World is due to the impact of new attractions like Pandora and to the closure of other attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios. But the magnitude of the increase that we have seen in early November (and also early October) is significant. Wait times are 10 to 15 minutes higher than what we would normally expect for this time of year. Each index level on the Crowd Calendar represents roughly 10 minutes of average wait so the one and two point underestimates we have seen lately coordinate with the wait times we see in the chart.

The forecasts that we create for wait times take into account much more than just the historical averages. We use a 30-day trend that helps adjust the predictions in the direction of the most recent information. Also, our models account for the Pandora affect and the reduced capacity caused by closed attractions. But even with these adjustments, wait times are higher than expected.

If the driving factor turns out to be the Hurricane re-bookings then it is likely the impact will be short-lived. If it is the other two then the affect may last longer. The good news is that the impact on a personalized touring plan is nearly negligible. By arriving early and completing the busiest attractions in the morning, the total amount of time spent in line is unchanged from previous years if you follow a touring plan.

We currently have no plan to update the Crowd Calendar predictions. We prefer to see how the next few weeks play out. But as always, we continue to track wait times on a daily basis and will inform you when an update is in order. If you arrive in park and see longer lines than predicted, make sure to re-optimize your plans, that will ensure your plan is adjusted for the most recent information.

Hurricane Irma Bounceback Effect May Be Increasing Wait Times At Disney World

by on September 25, 2017

For the second year in a row a hurricane interrupted operations at Walt Disney World. Last year, Hurricane Matthew forced the closure of Disney Parks in early October, after which we saw a slight bump in attendance when guests returned. This year, the bounceback as guests return after Hurricane Irma may be more significant.

Crowds are up since Disney World re-opened after Hurricane Irma

In the 90 days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Irma the Disney World Crowd Calendar correctly predicted the crowd level at Walt Disney World within 1 index point most days. Occasionally, the crowds would come in at a 2 point difference. Last week we saw a three-day stretch between Monday and Wednesday when the parks were two points higher than predicted each day. This could be an indicator that something is different. It may be that most visitors affected by Irma chose to rebook their vacations immediately after the storm passed.

Or, this may be a random fluctuation in crowd patterns. On Saturday (and Sunday) we noticed that the crowd levels were within the normal range for this time of year.

Regardless, we wanted to share what we have seen so far and let you know that we are monitoring the crowds daily and will announce if we decide to make any further adjustments to the crowd levels going forward.

Question: Were your travel plans affected by Hurricane Irma? 


Expected Impact Of Irma On Crowds At Walt Disney World

by on September 12, 2017

The Disney World Crowd Calendar will be updated Tuesday evening to reflect the expected impact of Hurricane Irma. In early October 2016, Disney World Parks closed as Hurricane Mathew passed over Florida, and we saw a bump in crowd levels for about two weeks after the parks reopened. We expect a similar impact this year as guests return to Disney World after Hurricane Irma.

Early September is the least busy time of the year at Disney World, so even if every guest decided to delay their trip by a week, the impact would not be as significant as a storm that occurred in mid-October. However, Irma had a widespread and sweeping effect on Florida and surrounding states on a scale not seen before.

In addition, we are hearing that Disney Parks and Resorts will announce another round of layoffs sometime before Disney’s fiscal new year turns over on October 1. In 2015 and 2016 these layoffs had a surprisingly direct effect on wait times: they went up by 10 to 15%. We don’t know much about this round of layoffs or whether they will have a similar impact on operations at the attractions.

Bottom Line: Irma and layoffs mean that the Disney World Crowd Calendar index may see a one or two point jump on many days between now and mid-October.




Update: The Crowd Calendar has now been updated (September 13).

Florida Crowd Updates – Coming Soon

by on September 11, 2017

Quick post to let you know we’re currently updating our crowd predictions following Hurricane Irma. We’ll expect some changes as people cancel and reschedule trips.

Please stand by and look for the first updates within 24 hours.



Disneyland Wait Times Lower Than Expected Since New Fantasmic!

by on August 18, 2017

Recently we updated projected crowd levels for Disneyland Park in response to the re-opening of Fantasmic! on July 17. Although the new show is drawing plenty of visitors we have not seen an increase in wait times around the park. So, today we are posting a new update for now until Labor Day based on the latest wait times collected.

Annual Passholders who own a pass with blockout dates will have their first opportunity to see the new Fantasmic! on August 21. We expect the park to busy (especially Frontierland in the afternoon) between August 21 and 25 but we don’t expect a large increase in wait times at the attractions.

Very hot weather is contributing to lower than expected crowds as well. We have seen most days at two or three points lower than expected since mid-July. So, from now until September 4 you will see a drop in crowd level for many days.


School Schedules and Crowd Levels

by on August 14, 2017

Ed. Note: We frequently get questions to TouringPlans asking how we make crowd predictions. This article provides insight into one of the metrics used when formulating predictions about park attendance.

It comes as no surprise that many families with school-age children take Disney vacations, and most prefer to take their children on vacations when school isn’t in session. To account for these attendance patterns, we track over 100 public school districts. This includes the 100 largest school districts in the country, the largest school districts in each state, and school districts that are close to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This covers 12 million students. That is more than 20% of all students enrolled in public education. TouringPlans spends a lot of time collecting the school schedules each fall and summer. We put in the effort because school schedules are one of the best indicators for predicting crowd levels. Collecting more school schedules has diminishing returns, however. We would have to collect 100 more school districts’ calendars to cover 5% more of the public school students.

National Center for Education Statistics
CCD public school district data 2014-2015, 2015-2016 school years

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Pick the Best Park for Each Day of Your Walt Disney World Trip

by on August 7, 2017

Families often ask us to help pick the best park to visit for each day of their Walt Disney World vacation. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why we created our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar.

When we answer those questions, the first thing we try to figure out is what “best” means for this family, on this trip. To do that, we ask questions about when the family is going, how long they’re staying, how many times they want to visit each park, and so on.  Once we know that, we can narrow down the list of choices and start talking about the pros and cons of each possibility.

Below is the process we use to pick the best theme park to visit on any day of a trip to Walt Disney World. It’s easy to extend this process to include days off, visits to water parks, or other theme parks. Let us know in the comments below if your family considers other things when visiting a park, or if you’d like to see another example with water parks and more.

When Are You Going?

The first step is to look at the Crowd Calendar for the entirety of your trip. For an example, let’s assume I have an upcoming trip for October 1-7, 2017.

October 1-7, 2017, Crowd Calendar

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Preview — Week of August 5

by on August 4, 2017

Happy Friday!  Yet another good-looking summer week at Disneyland is upon us!  Read on for more details in this week’s Disneyland preview!

Special Events and Notes

Disneyland Monorail

Photo: Disney

As the summer winds down, Disney is ratcheting back its special events, so there’s not that much to report for the upcoming week.  With that said, for those of you that are staying at Disney hotels, Disney is running a special promotion where Disney’s California Adventure will stay open one hour later to give you more time to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.  Think of it as an attraction-specific evening Extra Magic Hour, which happens on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Is this going to save you a ton of time? Not really, primarily because there will be plenty of people in line by the time of regular park closing hours to ensure a healthy wait for this very popular attraction. With that said, particularly if you’re showing up to experience the attraction towards the end of the extra time, you can expect to have fewer people to compete against, and therefore a relatively shorter wait.

Also, the Summer of Heroes continues at Disney’s California Adventure. As always, you should read Derek Burgan’s write-up on the event if you’ve not been before to get the most out of it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Preview — Week of July 22

by on July 21, 2017

Hey folks, it’s once again time for this week’s Disneyland Preview, so you’ll know what you’re in store for when you head to the parks! Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Read the rest of this entry »