Posts Tagged ‘Crowd Calendar’

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

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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

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How Pandora Will Impact Crowds At Animal Kingdom – A Crowd Calendar Update

by on February 13, 2017

Pandora: The World of Avatar opens officially at Animal Kingdom on May 27, 2017 and crowds will flock to the park to take in the new attractions. Expect to wait 200 minutes or more to experience the new attractions during the first week of operation. We also expect wait times at other Animal Kingdom attractions to increase 15% when the new Pandora attractions open, and we expect that increase to last throughout most of the summer.

The last major addition to a Disney Park was New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. The expansion ended with the opening of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on May 28, 2014, two days after Memorial Day. Wait times at Magic Kingdom rose dramatically after the headliner opened, not just at nearby Fantasyland attractions but across the park. Animal Kingdom doesn’t draw the same crowds that Magic Kingdom does, and Pandora likely won’t have the same draw that New Fantasyland did, but it is reasonable to expect a significant bump in attendance. The new Pandora attractions will see extreme wait times throughout the summer, but we expect rides like Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris to see wait times go up, as well.

As a result, we are updating the Crowd Calendar to reflect the announcement of Pandora’s official opening date. In addition, we are making a few minor updates to other dates and parks in line with our most recent analysis.

Other New Developments That May Affect Crowds

  • Disney announced an increase to Walt Disney World ticket prices, with costs going up as much as 10% for certain multi-day tickets. A price increase can lead to a small dip in attendance, either through shorter or fewer trips. What we don’t yet know is how much this price increase will affect crowds, given the opening of Pandora and other developments.
  • We expect Disney’s Hollywood Studios to drop its evening Extra Magic Hours program. We also expect the Animal Kingdom to add evening Extra Magic Hours, and Magic Kingdom not to replace its evening parade (at least with anything new or notable) for the next few months. The net effect of those changes should be to push evening crowds to the Animal Kingdom. We’ve never seen this situation before, though, and we don’t know how much the price increase in park hopper tickets will discourage people from visiting a second park per day.

Is Pandora Animal Kingdom’s New Fantasyland?

It may take our models up to 30 days to recognize the impact of these changes. We’ll adjust each park’s crowd predictions based on that and post something to the blog explaining the changes as we get them.

What’s Behind These Crowd Calendar Updates

Here is a brief description of what you will see on the latest crowd calendar. As always, the crowd levels are subject to change as they are based on the information available to us at the time we make the predictions. We always encourage you use a touring plan as the best defense against any size crowd – they work, so use ’em!


The rest of February will see some minor changes that reflect dips in wait times we have seen in late January and early February, mostly at Hollywood Studios. The calendar is currently not predicting a large boost in wait times at Animal Kingdom when Rivers of Light begins regular performances but that may have to be revised once we see what happens after February 17. Unless you are visiting specifically to see the show, try to avoid that park, especially in the evening.

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Summer Crowd and Wait Time Trends at Disney World

by on July 29, 2016

It’s been a challenging summer for Walt Disney World. If you go by America’s economic indicators, attendance should be strong: gas is cheap and getting cheaper, unemployment is below 5%, and stock markets are flirting with record highs.

But Disney is also facing some formidable challenges in getting people into its parks.  From the self-inflicted, sharp increase in admission earlier this year – the largest increase in at least 20 years – and a move to “seasonal” one-day ticket pricing that falls squarely on parents with school-age children, to June’s murder of Christina Grimmie, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and fatal alligator attack at the Grand Floridian.

Based on our analysis of posted and actual wait times for rides at Walt Disney World, we think attendance is lower to this point in summer for Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom, and higher at the Magic Kingdom, versus the same period in 2015. Overall, we think attendance is flat to slightly lower throughout Walt Disney World.

Here’s a breakdown by park. The date ranges are June 1 through July 24 for all graphs. We focus on standby waits, posted waits, and people in line between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., since this is the peak time for crowds.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wait Times

Animal Kingdom Wait Times Summer 2015 and 2016

Every major attraction at the Animal Kingdom has seen its wait time drop in 2016. The average posted wait is down 2 minutes since summer 2015. In terms of people in line, it’s roughly a 7% decline, from 693 people in line per attraction in 2015, down to 646 people in 2016.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – April 17 to 23, 2016

by on April 29, 2016

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

How Crowded Was Disneyland Resort Last Week?

For the second week in a row, wait times at Disneyland Park between Monday and Thursday were much higher than we would normally see this time of year while wait times on the weekends (including Friday) were comparable to what we have seen in the past. It is interesting that the new Single Day Ticket Pricing scheme labels days during the week as “Value” while weekend days are labelled “Regular”. It is reasonable that the pricing scheme might be impacting when single day guests choose to visit Disneyland Park. Strangely, crowds at Disney California Adventure seem to be unaffected with five out seven predictions hitting the mark last week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 17 to 23, 2016

by on April 29, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Universal Orlando continues to be the most stable property when it comes to predicting crowds. Last week we saw wait times within a few minutes of what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted most days and when the park level prediction was off it was rarely by more than two index levels. Guests of Universal Parks experienced crowd levels near or below the midpoint of our scale most days, a nice respite from the busy Spring season which now seems to be finally complete.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Universal Crowd Calendar Report:

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The Magic Kingdom with ride breakdowns and limited FastPass+ options

by on March 18, 2016

MBig Thunder (4)y visit to the Magic Kingdom last Sunday could have been a disaster. I waited too long to make FastPass+ reservations, for one thing. When I did – three days before my trip – none were available for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and only late afternoon reservations remained for most Fantasyland attractions. Even worse, there were 3 long ride breakdowns during the day I visited – at Pirates, Big Thunder, and the Peoplemover – that would have been hard to handle without a computer to adjust my plan. But it gave us some great ideas for improving the Optimizer, our touring plan software. Here’s how my day unfolded.

Before I left, I made a copy of our standard Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Adults. The Magic Kingdom was open from 9 AM to 10 PM, and we’d predicted a crowd level of 6 on our 1-to-10 crowd calendar. I was able to get these FastPasses:

Space Mountain at 9:15 AM

Big Thunder Mountain at 10:15 AM

Peter Pan’s Flight at 5:05 PM

I also set the touring plan walking speed to its fastest setting, and told it to minimize waiting in line. Here’s the touring plan the Optimizer came up with:

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The Basics: Using the Crowd Calendar to Decide When to Visit Disney World

by on February 10, 2016

This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

Are you planning a vacation to Disney World? Wouldn’t it be cool to just pick up and go right now? In my mind, I’m there already with nothing to do to but have fun. Unfortunately, a reality check reminds me that we all have jobs, many need to consider school schedules, and finances and budgets need to be in order. Given all of these considerations, how can you possibly make an informed decision about the best time for your Disney World trip?

Well, today is your lucky day because this article focuses on’s Disney World Crowd Calendar, a powerful tool designed to help you make a decision about when to go so that you spend the least amount of time in line. Plus, see a handy summary of how specific holidays and Disney World special events affect how much time you’ll be in line.

[Even more luck! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland or Universal Orlando—TouringPlans provides Crowd Calendars for these destinations too.]

© Sarah Graffam

© Sarah Graffam

How will the crowds be during your Disney World visit? Use’s Crowd Calendar to pick the best week for your vacation.

Deciding When to Go: First Considerations

First and foremost, as with any trip, there are two basic factors that are crucial to deciding when to go to Disney World and that provide the context for using the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar. These are: (1) when you can afford to go and (2) when your schedule allows you to go.

In terms of when you can afford to go, maybe your goal is to save up first, or you are expecting a work bonus to put toward vacation, or your budget will be a bit more flexible once that car loan is paid off. As for schedule, you likely need to work around school vacations, a project at work, or family obligations.

Another potential factor is Disney World’s schedule. Is there a special event or time of year you would like to visit? Is it a must-do or just a bonus if it lines up with your other best times for vacation? Also keep in mind that peak crowds bring peak prices at Disney World resorts.

Considering these factors is bound to narrow down the time when you will take your vacation, and this is when TouringPlans’ Crowd Calendar can become an integral part of deciding when to go. Matching up all of these factors—budget, schedule, and what you’d like to experience at Disney World—with the Crowd Calendar is an excellent way to pick the best week for your vacation.

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – November 29 to December 5, 2015

by on December 8, 2015

How did the Universal Crowd Calendar do last week?

How did the Universal Crowd Calendar do last week?

If you prefer visiting parks with little to no crowd it doesn’t get much better than Universal Orlando last week. The Universal Crowd Calendar predicted that the resort would be around a crowd level ‘2’ all week and that is pretty much what happened. Some days crept up to a level ‘3’ and Wednesday dipped down to a ‘1’ but every day was a great day for low crowds.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – November 29 to December 5

by on December 8, 2015

How did the Disneyland Crowd Calendar do last week?

How did the Disneyland Crowd Calendar do last week?

Last week, crowds at the Disneyland Parks followed the pattern predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar but Sunday-Monday was a little less busy than expected and Tuesday through Saturday was a little busier. Crowds levels were higher at Disneyland than at Disney California Adventure most of the week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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