My Crowd Calendar Numbers Have Changed – What To Do?

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We booked a holiday for the week starting 20/6/11 based on the predicted crowd calendar crowd levels of between 2 and 3 at the Disneyland park. There has now been a huge jump so that that week has upper 4 and 5 levels. Can you tell me why this has suddenly changed one week out? Is there something I should know and plan for?



We record wait times and track crowds every day at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Every few days or so, we have information in the form of new park hours, up-to-date wait time data or improvements to our attraction models. Whenever these minor changes affect our estimates of crowds, we update the calendar. The question is, what should you do with it?

First of all, let’s be clear that a jump of 2 index points (in this case a 2 to a 4 or a 3 to a 5) represents a jump in the average wait time of about 6 minutes, on average. Not a huge increase by any standard. An average day at a Disney theme park will be between a 3 and an 8. Why such a large range? Well it has to do with the distribution of crowds. Think of it like measuring the height of a large group of people. The seven dwarfs will be the 1s and 2s while the L.A. Lakers will be the 9s and 10s but almost everyone else will fit in the middle. Our crowd calendar is meant to give you a comparative rank of all days irrespective of the size of that difference. So we’re saying that even though the 5-foot 1-inch man only has an inch over the 5-footer, it is enough to get a full point higher in the ranking.

The point is, it is important to remember that although the crowd level for your travel dates may change, if it still in the range of 3 to 8, the difference may not be as great as you think.

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

22 thoughts on “My Crowd Calendar Numbers Have Changed – What To Do?

  • March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I just got an update for week of Novemebr 11th, this year. What do you track that cause an update so far in advance?

  • March 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Same with Bob. We are heading to the world the 1st full week in Nov. 201 and the crowd tracker for each park at leaster doubled in some cases. Would like to know what made it so? Is Disney going to offer free dining this week?


  • March 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I continue to be frustrated with Touringplans “answers.” The question asked was “Can you tell me why this has suddenly changed one week out? Is there something I should know and plan for?” and your answer was “So we’re saying that even though the 5-foot 1-inch man only has an inch over the 5-footer, it is enough to get a full point higher in the ranking.” REALLY?

  • August 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I appreciate the updates. You guys have been doing this for a long time. My understanding is the crowd calendar is an estimate based on past crowd information, current openings, events scheduled during that time, etc. There is no guarantee about the crowds you will see from any company. You can’t guarantee future occurrences. One can only make an educated prediction. It sounds like some readers want a guaranteed thing when that is not possible. Thank you Touring Plans for your predictions.

    • August 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

      No jamie…we fully understand these are estimates and truly appreciate TP knowledge and crowd calendars.
      Our big question is what made a day in November go from a ‘3’ to a ‘6’?
      I’ve used TP for the past 6 years and love all the tools they provide. Keep up the outstanding job TP.

  • September 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I have to say that I am very frustrated! We are going to Animal Kingdom for my daughters 8th Birthday in October because that was the best park for the day and now it has JUMPED from 3.2 to 7.
    That is a huge change . We do our best to go on the off season and I have never been in a park with a crowd of more than 5. Please help me understand why. Is there an event we should know about? How should we adjust our touring?

    • September 21, 2012 at 7:33 am

      I just read the blog about hours changing at the parks certain days in October and this is why the crowd calendar changed for my day. It seems that Disney is expecting larger crowds at Animal Kingdom that day and have changed the closing time from 6pm to 8pm.

  • October 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I’m starting to feel like this is only useful for people who have no plans to eat in full-service restaurants. It is practically impossible to get ADRs for 5 people in under 90 days, but the crowd recommendations are continually shifting as my trip gets closer. Since we first started tracking our days, the MK has gone from a 1.7 to a 6.3 on the day we reserved CRT. Very disappointing!

  • October 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I am wondering about the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland. The predicted crowd numbers have shifted north since I started to follow them. However, they are, in my opinion, very low for the Magic Kingdom for December 1-10. Has the opening been taken into consideration at all?
    Thank you 🙂

  • October 30, 2012 at 6:31 am

    While I am thankful for the information it’s still shocking at the same time too. We are only going to WDW for 2 days & yesterday our MK date went from 2.5 to 9.1!!! That’s HUGE!!! But, as others have asked, ‘what does that really mean??’ I too have purposely never been on a day with a crowd higher than a 5. Will wait times increase by 10 mins or 45? I don’t know but am hoping for an answer from those in the know here.

    I could change our parks but it would mean not seeing Main Street Electrical Parade and I so wanted my parents to see it as they loved it in the 80’s and we were going to walk down memory lane together.

    On our date the hours changed to closing at 1am rather than 8pm & they are offering previews of the new Fantasyland to AP’s so I kinda understand the change but like many of you, wish I knew what the changes mean in the time of waits. I am traveling with a 3yo and 4 seniors so going to the MK late at night is not an option for us.

    • October 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

      We are wondering the same thing. We will be there Nov. 10-15th. The MK hours have increased as well as the crowd levels. What is AP for the New Fantasyland preview?

      • October 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

        This timeframe has a lot going on, the Wine&Dine half marathon, the Food&Wine fest etc…. Just a lot happening on a holiday weekend (Veterans Day) which are busier than normal.

      • October 31, 2012 at 6:54 am

        AP for the new Fantasyland means Annual Passholders preview of the new Fantasyland extension. I believe there are 4 x 2.5 hour windows where annual Passholders can sign up and get into the new area to preview it. I’m not sure how many people can sign up for each preview but I’m guessing its quite a few.

  • October 30, 2012 at 8:21 am

    The week of 11/5 (next week) has jumped significantly today. I believe the reason is the teacher’s in-service days next week in a few states (NJ being one of them). Many families plan Disney trips that week quite frankly I was amazed the crowd levels were as low as they were leading up to today. We choose this week because my kids do not have to miss school and my wife is a teacher…so it just makes sense.

    Anyway, this is the primary reason for the jump in numbers for the week of 11/5-11/11.

  • October 30, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Well I just got good news. The day I arrive, the park levels have decreased
    Hope it stays that way. Nov25th till Dec 1 2012

  • October 30, 2012 at 10:23 am

    @SmokinJoe, I got the email update this morning as well. Next Tuesday went from a resort level of 3 to a resort level of 8!

    I understand if they’re off by a couple of points, but WHOA! What happened? The park hours changed about two weeks ago, but did they just get around to updating the calendar?

    I think the biggest question that anyone (who is taking the time to post here) wants answered is “why,” not “what should I do?” You tell us that right on the calendar:

    “Touring plans are 5 times more effective at saving time than picking the right day.”

    What we’re looking for is the insider info of “Disney shifted the opening day of the Osborne Spectacle of Family Lights” or “we had the wrong week down for Jersey Week” or “Hurricane Sandy made everyone move their vacation by a week” or whatever logic was used to totally revamp the prediction.

    And, I know… we may be surprised, and the day that was predicted to be an 8 ends up being a 5… or a 10. 🙂

  • October 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I too will be there that same week. I am very concerned that these days are climbing so high and that the resort #s are so high! What is up? These are days past the holiday weekend, F&W, and the marathon.

  • October 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

    This Blog post is from 2011. Their email updates direct us to this spot. Although a lot of people have been asking the same questions, I don’t think anyone from TP has ever responded here. I decided not to renew my TP subscription because I think they should at least respond if their customers have questions.

  • October 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Well i for one had figured i would see crowd levels dip with the events associated with Sandy (State of New Jersey had major impact…being from Louisiana and a Hurrican Veteran, I would anticipate people staying home to complete clean up etc and at a minimum not leaving for more days off work following “forced holiday” for natural disaster)- I did NOT anticipate such huge, monumental, and sorry SIGNIFICANT increases in the crowd predictions. When planning our trip crowd levels were absolutely part of our decision making and recieiving our middle of the night email with these huge increases in crowd levels makes me feel like i was very misled with crowd predicitons. As far as the comments about minimal differences in crowds between a 3 and 6 rating makes me feel as if “whats the point” – in so far as the daily crowd and resort ratings are concerned…why even post these predicted crowd levels if they are irrelevant and/or inaccurate? the touring plans are great but these crowd prediciton numbers are very nearly useless based on your own statement.

  • December 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

    How often do these updates happen?? We are planning a trip and want to plan dining reservation etc based upon these crowd trackers. If they change weekly, then is seems silly to plan 6 months out!!

  • April 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I’ve used TP for two prior trips and I’ve never had more than a couple of very small changes in both directions. If you use and follow the lines app, the worst wait times during high crowds are for those who do not use touring plans. Use one and you’re golden.

  • April 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    ARGH!! Someone from TP explain what just happened! I just got a ton of updates for my Aug 17-24 trip, raising most of the LOWEST crowd predictions to some of the HIGHEST! Particularly at HS and AK, many went from below 2 to well over 7!!! ARGH!

    It’s too late for me to rebook ADR’s now, so someone from TP please explain why you’re sending out such EXTREME updates so late? 1.5 to 7.5 is NOT an “adjustment”, it’s a BACK FLIP ending with a BELLY FLOP!

    Did you fix a software bug? Was there a data error? Have you added a new data source? Is this a mistake and the predictions will suddenly going to suddenly change back? How can a crowd prediction suddenly go from 1.5 to 7.5, and how can it happen on such short notice? Did it take this long to analyze some kinds of changes? Not much has changed at HS or AK, so what’s up???

    I need some kind of explanation / understanding of what’s gone on here, or there’s no way I’ll be able to recommend TP to anyone, or even use it myself for real planning the future!

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