What is a 'Crowd'?
Sounds like a silly question but it may not be as simple as you think. You might say, "a crowd is a crowd, of course" but do we all define it the same way? When we say that we want to measure how crowded a theme park resort is we might be referring to any one of the following possibilities.
- How hard is it to walk around the parks?
- How far in advance do I have to book my hotel to make sure I get a room?
- How long do I have to wait to experience the most popular attractions?
- What is the total attendance across the resort?
- When I tour around the parks how does it feel? Do I feel like people are in my personal space or is there room to breathe?
There are lots of other ways too: parking lots, restaurants or how many people are on the shuttle bus. All perfectly valid ways to define a 'crowd' and it really doesn't matter which one you choose. All that matters is that the definition is clear and that we all know which one we are using.
Touring Plans Crowd Calendar
We at Touring Plans define a 'crowd' as the average posted wait time for the key attractions between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. We selected this definition for many reasons.
- It is data-driven, using data that we can collect
- It relates best to the other definitions listed above
- It has fixed park hours to make fair comparisons between parks
- It can be objectively evaluated for accuracy
That last one is important. Two guests who tour Universal Studios on the same day may not agree on how the crowd felt. It will depend greatly on their personal perspective: what time of year they usually visit the parks, how experienced they are, what touring plan they used, etc. However, we all ought to agree on what the average posted wait time was between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.
This is not to say that how a crowd 'felt' isn't important. Quite the opposite! Anyone who has tried to navigate Islands of Adventure on New Year's Eve knows that it's not just about the wait times. On days like this you can walk to the park without seeing a single brick beneath your feet. However, most guests judge the crowds by how much they get to see and how long they wait in line. So, a calendar based on wait times is the best way to do that objectively.
What Do The Crowd Levels Feel Like In The Parks?
You can get a good sense of how the parks will feel to you based on our wait times pages. For example, a 65-minute average wait at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a '8' on our scale. If a 65-minute average wait seems reasonable to you, you should feel comfortable at a '7' or '8' day. If it makes you shudder in anguish then stick to the '5's or lower.
If you have dates planned, click on the "view park wait times" on the Crowd Calendar day page you're viewing, or by navigating to it from a park's wait times page (see Universal Studios's Wait Times page for reference). You'll be able to see predicted wait times for every attraction for every hour of the day.
If you haven't set your dates yet, or just want to see what the wait times look like in aggregate, visit the pages below to see tables of wait times like the example for Forbidden Journey below. Use them to get a sense of how crowded each attraction will be:
|Attraction||Level 1||Lev. 2||Lev. 3||Lev. 4||Lev. 5||Lev. 6||Lev. 7||Lev. 8||Lev. 9||Level 10|
|Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey||less than 25 minutes||25-31||31-36||36-42||42-47||47-54||54-60||60-67||67-73||more than 73 minutes|
Last updated by Fred Hazelton on April 7, 2015