Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for January 2019

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Another new year is upon us and it is time to update the Disney World Crowd Calendar for what lies ahead in 2019. We put a hold on our December update as we took some time to review some of the methodology behind the wait time forecasts. Our review is complete and the update for January 2019 is now live. As a result, you may see crowd levels go up on your dates of travel. Don’t panic. The absolute best way to minimize any crowd level is to use an optimized touring plan. They work and they can make any crowd level seem two to five points lower.

In Fall 2018, we saw an overall trend of crowd levels higher than predicted. As a result, many of the days in January, February and March will see crowd levels go up. Some late April crowd levels will go down. Throughout the rest of the year, we see a mixture of both.

Here is a breakdown month by month.

January

A lot of the crowd levels we see in January will depend on whether Disney decides to cut back in-park staffing as it did in 2018. The changes in January from this update take in to account some of that risk. If we see evidence in the next few days that attractions are running at less than 50% of their normal capacity, these crowd levels may go up further.

February

Crowd levels are up in February, sometimes significantly so. Again, this is partly due to the recent trend of larger crowds we observed in October through December and partly due to the risk that operations may shorten capacity at some rides. Incidentally, we still like early February as a good time to visit. Even at crowd levels ‘5’ and ‘6’ the parks will be manageable. If you plan to visit during mid-February a touring plan will be essential – some crowd levels are now up to a ‘10’.

March

Thanksgiving 2018 was busier than expected. Our models treat that as evidence that other peak weeks will be busier too. That is partly why we see large increases during early March, a big week for Spring Break. However, the second half of March sees changes on this update in the downward direction.

April

We see a similar story in April with Easter week getting a bump and the week after decreasing a little.

May

May sees some changes on this update but nothing to the scale of what we saw during the first quarter. Most days in May either stayed the same or saw a change of one index point.

June

In June we see a pattern of small crowd level increases at Magic Kingdom and Epcot and small decreases at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. These summer forecasts do not include any impact of the recently announced free dining promotion. However, historically speaking, the impact of free dining is felt more at the resorts and less at the parks. That may change since free dining is usually in the fall or winter. Watch for possible adjustments to the summer crowd calendar during next month’s update.

July

When you look at summer crowd levels during the past two years it is not hard to see why Disney is offering free dining. Crowd levels are down. We think families have been more willing to take kids out of school in recent years to avoid the summer heat. This update includes some decreases for July dates. That may change after we review the potential impact of the recently announced promotion.

August

Not a lot has changed in August as a result of this latest update. Some dates go up a point or two, some go down. August still offers a decent crowd level for guests that don’t mind battling the summer heat. The later in August you can travel to the resort, the lower the crowd level will be.

September & October

Very few changes to report for September and October. A lot of the crowds we see in Fall 2019 will depend on the timing of new attractions at Hollywood Studios. Unofficially, we expect Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to open (or at least offer previews) in the fall. When it does, we expect it to be very popular. Wait times at other Studios attractions will likely go up, which pushes the crowd levels higher as well.

November

This update includes increases to November crowd levels partly as a result of the increased crowd levels we saw in November 2018. Once again, these crowd levels may change depending on what we see in summer but for now, crowd levels are expected to match what we saw last year.

December

December is all about Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Our educated guess is that previews will commence this month and the attraction will open near the end of the year. Once we have more details, crowd levels will certainly be adjusted.

 

We recognize that seeing a crowd level go up is disconcerting, especially when your trip is only a few weeks away. Our philosophy is that it is better to provide the most recent, most accurate crowd level estimates available rather than to keep things the same for the sake of consistency. The good news is that your touring plans can accommodate this, but will likely need a lot of adjusting. Simply re-optimizing will produce an up-to-date plan.

Have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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 fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

112 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Update for January 2019

  • January 4, 2019 at 9:49 am
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    Is it only the risk of lower staffing that is driving the January 24th Animal Kingdom crowds from a 2 to an 8? I’m wondering whether or not to switch some of my park days around to avoid the 8s. In Animal Kingdom, I spend a lot of time wandering the trails and looking at the exhibits- the most important attractions to me at AK. So are the paths now going to be crammed with people? Or am I just looking at longer wait times for rides? I’m okay with the latter, that’s what fastpasses and my touring plan are for. My only concern is people on the paths and in my way of enjoying the animals.

    • January 4, 2019 at 10:13 am
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      This is my question as well, I don’t think I’ve seen a jump from 2 to 8 before, perhaps an over reaction on TP’s part?

      • January 4, 2019 at 11:08 am
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        The crowd levels only indicate the relative wait times at the core attractions, not to the attendance in the park. So, it is unlikely that you will see a similar jump in the density of people on the paths and trails. It will be more crowded for sure, but the change won’t be as drastic as the crowd level change makes it seem.

        • January 4, 2019 at 11:21 am
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          Thanks for the reply Fred. I am a bit confused however. An example is January 25th, the crowd level is now an 8 which was a 4 previously. Would the new level be driven solely because Flight Of Passage/Killamanjaro/Dinosaur will possibly operate at lower capacity than say in December? I guess my understanding of the crowd level was based of attendance for the most part.

        • January 4, 2019 at 11:40 am
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          Thank you, Fred. That is very reassuring. I can handle that! Thanks for your hard work.

        • January 7, 2019 at 10:41 am
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          With these down time capacity changes would your team consider giving two different ratings…line crowd level (what you do now) and park crowd level. Most of your target audience/customers attend the parks frequently and are much more likely to be just fine only going on a few rides as long as they have a good chance of enjoying the other sites in a lightly attended park the rest of the time.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:10 am
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    The crowd level for HS went from a 3 to a 1 on 4/30 yet the TS land attraction wait times increase significantly for the first hour of the park. What gives?

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:03 am
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      It is possible for a single attraction (or a small set of attractions) to see a change that contrasts the overall trend of the park. Also, until we see a full year of wait time data for the Toy Story Land attractions it is unlikely that these attractions will be part of the crowd calendar estimates.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:28 am
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    I am very disappointed in subscribing to a crowd tracker, when I get wildly increased predictions ONE WEEK before my trip. I planned the trip based on very low crowd levels, and thought going in cooler weather would be worth the low crowds. I even planned it for weekdays, AFTER the marathon and BEFORE the MLK holiday. Still crowd tracker bumped predictions way up just now. What information is NEW to crowd tracker that made such wildly dramatic changes with such short notice?

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:05 am
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      EXACTLY!! I’m in the same boat. word for word.

      • January 4, 2019 at 12:29 pm
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        Me too – except two weeks out. Waste of my money and time for using this as a planning tool.

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:16 am
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      The new information is that crowds in late 2018 were larger than expected, in some cases significantly so. When we see our crowd level predictions regularly underpredicting it can mean that future crowd level predictions go up. This is part of what is happening here. That may be of little solace, I know but our philosophy is to provide the most up-to-date, accurate predictions we can. We see that as better than keeping things the same for consistency’s sake.

      • January 4, 2019 at 5:51 pm
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        The high wait times does hurt. I planned and planned around your crowd tracker. It might be something you feel is an hones thing but to us who are hurt by this it doesn’t. You need to find a way that will express for next January that will inform those that wait times can be significantly longer the whole time. I invested hours on this trip. I promised an easy go. NO I have to replan a sizable chunk of my week with the hopes that your new data works. FROM NOW US GIVE US A BETTER HEADS UP, please.

        My suggestion from now on historical (based on attendance)/ Predicted based on staffing and recent data. So as time goes on and I pay several grand for the best possible trip I see a 3H/9P nine months before arrival and as things change it would read 3H/7P, then a month before maybe even a 3H/ 8P.

        Your customers and fans are data driven or we would never have bought the subscriptions to thsi website and app to begin with.

        • January 5, 2019 at 7:41 am
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          FWIW, here’s what I’ve learned. To base your entire trip around the lowest possible crowds and stress about every detail like that will make you want to bang your head against the wall. So, don’t do it. I totally hear you and couldn’t agree more that you want the perfect trip when you’re spending 5K or more on a Disney trip. But, crowd level predictions are just that… predictions. It’s impossible to say exactly what kind of crowds you’ll encounter, because crowds are too dynamic and based on too many variables. I do appreciate that TP updates their predictions as they process new info, whether it be up or down. At least you know what you’re getting yourself into.

          My advice… use the predictions as a guideline for which park to visit on which day. But don’t stress out about it. I’ve gone on 8/10 days and never waited more than 45 minutes for a ride and we did everything we wanted to do at least once. Like everyone else says, use the touring plans and get your FP+ and you’ll be fine. Cheers!

          • January 5, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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            Predictions are useful or this site would not have sold many people on the concept. I would not be upset with them if the predictions changed from say4 to 6 but some moved from a 2 to an 8. While they are responsible and took the hit on the chin I would prefer warnings about park behaviors to help me plan. I love data and I do not think you can begrudge me the wanting of as accurate and full set of data. Just tell me that the staff is more adjusted than I thought with an adjusted data set from the get go.

          • January 12, 2019 at 11:39 am
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            I agree with you in part. But we can’t really change our park choices because we locked in fastpasses based on bad information. When I planned my trip, we were in the parks with the lowest numbers. Now I find that we are in parks with the highest numbers. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

        • January 5, 2019 at 3:27 pm
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          Hey man, just trying to be helpful and optimistic. To be fair, I didn’t say that predictions aren’t useful. But, I’m not sure if even Disney themselves could provide you with an exact crowd prediction 3-6 months in advance of your planned trip. TP does seem to provide the most accurate and most updated calendars. A lot of the other prediction sites still say ultra low crowds for much of Jan-March. But if you went by those only, you could be in for a real surprise when you arrive, based on what TP’s most recent updates indicate. I think that would be worse!

          • January 5, 2019 at 7:05 pm
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            Your points are good points. Thank you

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:28 am
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    Nine of the first ten days of March for AK are now CL10, the other a 9. Surely this can’t be right.
    I’m disappointed that there are such big changes this late. What was a CL5 date for HS during our stay is now a CL10, and it’s too late to change my fastpass choices.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:31 am
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    This has me seriously reconsidering my trip: crowds jumped from 5s and 6s to 10s! We had to reschedule once due to my husband’s bout sith a serious illness last fall, and I’m pretty sure these kinds of crowds/wait times will make him seriously annoyed/annoying.

    Disney may have finally reached the point that drives me away for a while: cutbacks in staffing which diminish the guest experience plus the onslaught of “after dark” events which essentially amount to paying ridiculous Prices for extra magic hours. I am probably going to cancel my March trip. Ugh.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:36 am
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    Holy cow! I’m two weeks out from our trip and one touring day jumped from 3 to 7 and another from 2 to 8!!! I finalized my touring plans a few days ago, and now I am dreading re-running them with these updates….

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:39 am
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    I’m going February 2-8 and planned my park days according to tps predictions. Though most of my planned days didn’t change, it leaves me wondering if your higher crowd levels are based on the larger crowd levels last January and February when many people rescheduled during to the h in 2017

    • January 4, 2019 at 10:42 am
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      Hurricane in 2017

      • January 4, 2019 at 10:49 am
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        We went last year in Mid January with a predicted crowd of 3’s and 4’s but ended up being 8’s and 9’s. This jump today might be driven by what you mentioned with reschedules and a combination of lower capacity. I also noticed a TON more Brazilian tour groups in January, it made for a perfect storm. I think the update today might be hedge their bets in case it happens again this year. 2 to 8’s is VERY extreme this late in the game, but perhaps their crowd level’s were too low to begin with.

        • January 4, 2019 at 11:27 am
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          It gives us the cold sweats to publish increases like this so we don’t do it lightly. Were the previous crowd level predictions too low? Possibly. But we had sufficient evidence at the time (August/September) to justify the lower crowd levels. Then we saw our crowd levels underpredict on a regular basis in November which caused us to take a step back and see if we could determine why. The result is this latest update.

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:22 am
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      The hurricane affect certainly contributed something to what we saw in Winter 2018 but I think most of it was due to the operational cutbacks. When a ride reduces it’s capacity to 30% it is hard to imagine any wait times being normal. I feel that the higher crowds we witnessed in the fall are driving most of these increases.

      • January 4, 2019 at 11:41 am
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        I can tell you I was there the second week of September last year and I planned my park days based on your crowd calendar and to be totally honest, it was perfect. I go to Magic Kingdom on a party day just to experience the lower crowds and for every day I was there. I did no less than 10 fast passes in every single park with the majority of them being tier 1 rides in Epcot. I am going February 2-8 and based on your fast pass availability (which I hope is somewhat accurate) there is still plenty of available fast passes for a majority of the really good rides with the exception of flight of passage, slinky dog and seven dwarfs mine train which is a given because it doesnt matter when you go, those three are always filled.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:53 am
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    The updates for 17 to 20 February are crazy (jumps of 5 and several 10s)! We have gone in February and have never ever seen a number higher than a 7. What gives???

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:33 am
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      If you avoid dates around Presidents Day you are right, February doesn’t usually turn out too bad. But with all the information we currently have, and taking into account the recent trends in crowds, the projections for February have gone up. It may be the case that our models are overreacting but all signs point towards a busier than usual winter season.

      • January 4, 2019 at 2:12 pm
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        While frustrating and stressful to see everything jump so drastically, I’d rather be overreacting and be surprised it’s lower crowds then be surprised with higher ones. Just made all my touring plans I am confident we’ll be just fine.

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:57 am
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    Our family trip starts next week (1/10-1/19) and I just received the update email this morning. WOW! some of the days jumped – particularly Saturday, January 12th – 8 days from today.

    Overall: 4->9
    MK: 5->9
    Epcot: 6->7
    Studios: 5->10
    AK: 3->9.

    I know it is the Marathon weekend, but that isn’t new information. Isn’t January supposed to be a “good” month for crowds? How could it jump this much so close to our visit? Pre-planning isn’t of much use if things change this drastically right before you leave! What NEW information leads to Christmas like crowds in January?

    Are the touring plans we put together last week even any good now? Do we have to redo everything – a major pain when we have other things to get done before we leave – that’s why we did our plans last week.

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:36 am
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      I would recommend re-optimizing your touring plans. They will take into account the new wait time forecasts. However, don’t be surprised if your touring plans don’t change much. A lot of the increases are similar across the attractions so the optimal plan doesn’t necessarily change.

    • January 5, 2019 at 2:33 am
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      I am going for the marathon and staying the next week. I freaked out when I saw some of the days go from a CL 5 to a CL 9. I re-evaluated my touring plans and to be honest, the wait times really didn’t change much. I actually didn’t need to change any of my plans, so I’m not sweating it too much.

      Like Fred said in another reply, the CL increases are more pertaining to wait times at the rides and not necessarily the overall crowd densities within the parks. I hope you are correct in that assumption Fred!

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:01 am
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    Whoa, whoa, whoa… after the backlash they got last Jan-Feb when they tried to throttle back ride capacity, they may try it again?!?! That’s insane. And that would probably make our next WDW trip our last for a long, long time.

    I’ve been tracking Presidents Week 2019 for months, and TBH, I couldn’t believe the CC had those dates listed as 3’s and 5’s. These updated numbers are more consistent with my experiences in past years during that week, understaffing or not.

    Nevertheless, why were those dates rated so low until now?

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:41 am
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      We have no official word that ride capacity will be adjusted this month or next but I think the risk that it will happen at least in part is significant enough not to ignore.

      • January 4, 2019 at 11:53 am
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        Gosh, I really hope you’re being overcautious. As someone who got comped 3-day PHs for the entire family due to last year’s fiasco, it strikes me as reputational suicide for them to mess with ride capacity and staffing AGAIN, especially if it hits the exact same group of seasonal guests who suffered through last year!

        Crowds are busy enough without WDW artificially turning a 6 day into a 10. It was a textbook example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish… an experience I don’t want to repeat.

        • January 5, 2019 at 12:53 am
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          I’m curious as to what happened that WDW felt they needed to comp you tickets?
          Is it possible to actually know how much capacity is cut back just by watching the rides?

          • January 5, 2019 at 9:21 am
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            Yes, Len et al have the ride capacity data and then they go and count the # of people coming out of the ride. If the ride can put through 800 per hour and 400 are coming through the exit, you know it’s generally running at half capacity.

          • January 5, 2019 at 10:00 am
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            It was two terrible back-to-back days last February that prompted my first ever complaint to Guest Services. The crowds at MK weren’t terrible, but the wait times were off the charts, further exacerbated by widespread outages to most of the headliner attractions. After the first day, we chalked it up to bad luck, but when it happened again the next day, we realized this wasn’t a coincidence.

            Len, Fred, and the TP folks later discovered that rides were being run significantly below their designed capacity, likely as a cost-saving measure. But even at the time, it was obvious to us non-experts that something wasn’t right with capacity: TTA PeopleMover trains were running half-empty, with cones placed on every other car causing 20-30 minute wait times for an otherwise walk-on attraction. Jungle Cruise in the first hour of the morning was a projected 20 min wait, but actual was 50 min.

            Add to that a canceled Star Wars fireworks show at HS due to technical difficulties (not weather-related… never seen that before either), and we’d had a pretty awful couple of days due to widespread WDW operations failures. After some negotiation and relying on years of built-up customer goodwill (seriously, we had NEVER complained to Guest Services about anything before over numerous visits), they gave our family 3-day PHs as compensation.

            But to me, I’d rather have a good vacation this year than have next year’s vacation partially paid for. Time is precious, family vacation time even more so. I do not want to go through this again in 2019.

      • January 5, 2019 at 8:55 am
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        Can you explain how ride capacity is reduced? Is it a factor of fewer employees moving people on and off rides? Do they reduce the number of seats in some attractions?

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:12 am
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    I leave TOMORROW for a trip where one park day went from a 1 to a 9 and one went from a 5 to a 10. That makes this service pretty much worthless, no?

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:21 am
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      Feels pretty worthless to me right now 🙁 I’ve used Touring Plans for years and have trusted it and recommended it to many people. My faith has been badly shaken. Had we had an update like this a few weeks ago with a little bit of time to re-do our plans I wouldn’t be as upset. But extreme changes like this less than a week before I leave makes the “planning” I’ve done previously seem pointless and a waste of my time.

      • January 4, 2019 at 11:36 am
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        Presumably I would have done better than 9 and 10 throwing darts at a wall calendar. And to change it this drastically the day before? What new information could have come up with this little lead time? I don’t get it.

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:23 am
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    You mention potential additional crowd increases in June due to the free dining promotion. But the free dining promotion doesn’t start until July 5th….?

    • January 4, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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      That is correct Shanno44 but in terms of when we might adjust predictions for the summer based on information about bookings under free dining I think it could come as late as early June.

      • January 5, 2019 at 10:24 am
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        So you’re saying that people will be arriving in early June to take advantage of a free dining program that they can’t take advantage of until they check-in for a new reservation in early July? Or are you saying that you’ll just change predictions whole cloth for June based on changes that will happen in July? That seems antithetical to your data-based evidence claims.

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:28 am
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    I don’t understand the point of your crowd calendars anymore if they are going to change so drastically 3 weeks before our vacation. Everything is set in stone at this point, so why not just offer touring plans?

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:35 am
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    I just received the update for our trip in two weeks and literally went from looking like a great week to go to the worst.1/22 at Magic Kingdom went from a crowd level 4 to a 7. 1/23 at Epcot only good news 4 to a 3. 1/24 we had planned at Hollywood studios went from a 4 to a crowd level 10 – I’m so upset doesn’t even feel worth going! I can’t change anything now because I’ll never get fast passes. Overall crowds changed from 5,3,3 to 7,7,6. How could it change so poorly so last minute. Super frustrating, so much for planning and pouring over the crowd calendar.

  • January 4, 2019 at 12:01 pm
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    The update for Magic Kingdom crowds for Thanksgiving Week has gone completely funky. Sunday, Nov. 24 went down from an 8 to a 1 and Tuesday, Nov. 26, went down from a 10 to a 3. Meanwhile, Monday, Nov. 25 has gone up from a 9 to a 10. That algorithm needs some serious fine tuning if it believes that Magic Kingdom will be a 1 the Sunday before Thanksgiving! 😉

    That said, I use Touring Plans for the touring plans, not for the crowd calendar. I respect Fred’s very hard work, but Disney has put a lot of effort into adjusting staffing and parks hours to match crowd levels, making it very difficult to predict daily wait times based on historical data. Even some of the old standard rules like “don’t visit the park with early morning magic hours” are becoming invalid as Disney has made adjustments to lower wait times during those days. More so than ever, it is more important to have a good touring plan than to try and pick the lowest crowd day of the week.

    • January 4, 2019 at 5:22 pm
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      Just received another crowd calendar update (third one today). MK for Nov. 24 has gone from 1 back up to 8 and for Nov. 26 from 3 back up to 10. All is again right in the World.

    • January 8, 2019 at 8:11 pm
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      I couldn’t agree more. Its almost impossible to visit Disney in a “low crowd” time any more. They are always moderate or above in my opinion….unless they are just totally out of control like the holiday weeks/weekends. I find the Touring Plans the most valuable thing. Having a “map” of your day makes a huge difference no matter the crowd size. I gotta give it to the crew at Touring plans, Fred and others, for the hard work to predict based on their facts. I can only hope the week before Thanksgiving goes down…since thats our next trip 🙂 Thanks again Fred!

  • January 4, 2019 at 12:10 pm
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    I am confused about the week before Thanksgiving 2019 (Nov. 17-23) changing from 2 and 3 to now 8 and 9 when 2018 crowds were only 3 and 4. If your predictions for 2019 are based on 2018 crowds, why are they so high? Maybe Star Wars? I’m just confused about this week that has historically been low-ish crowd levels. Thinking about changing and would just like to know the reasoning. We appreciate all you do!

  • January 4, 2019 at 12:11 pm
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    Oh my goodness this news was not great to wake up to! My trip is 1/21-1/28 and the crowds have nearly doubled every day…. our Hollywood studios day is on 1/24 as well, with a 10 crowd prediction? With reservations and fastpasses I don’t want to change anything around, but with my large family group we were really trying to dodge the crowds. Has anyone noticed if other crowd tracking sites have seen a jump?

    • January 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm
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      I have looked at other sites and they still say it is a good week to go but not sure they have been updated. A couple sites always predicted 1/24 a bad day to do Hollywood studios but I couldn’t see a reason why and since touring plans didn’t flag it I went with it – regretting it now. I can’t get over that it is a 10 – it was 4!!!! I honestly thought it was mistake this morning.

      • January 4, 2019 at 12:37 pm
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        10 is Christmas crowds! I can’t figure out why is would be so high either that day… If Slinky Dog and the rest of Toy Story land is skewing the numbers upward, why only on Thursday? It’s just weird. Fred said above that we have to hope Disney staffs appropriately and the rides go on full capacity. Not sure exactly what that means but I hope they do!

        • January 4, 2019 at 1:20 pm
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          Unfortunately crowd level ’10’s are not just reserved for Christmas time anymore. We see them around Thanksgiving, Easter, and even on random days throughout the year.

  • January 4, 2019 at 12:21 pm
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    Hello Fred. The crowd levels prediction for our week skyrocketed. The crowd level for March 5th-11th went up an average of 4 points and is now like Christmas. I am considering changing to the March 26-April 1st but I’m concerned those crowd level predictions, which are currently 6’s and 7’s, might not be accurate or raise as well considering it’s spring break and other websites are predicting higher crowds during that week. Changing our reservations will be expensive. Are you expecting any new information that could significantly change 3/26-4/1 crowd level predictions?

  • January 4, 2019 at 1:04 pm
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    We are going on our first trip 1/19-1/26, and I feel like I trusted the wrong people. So sad. Will work to redo our plans, but I’m so sad.

    • January 4, 2019 at 1:18 pm
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      I get it Michelle, we apologize for the frustration. We get cold sweats when we see these kinds of updates pending so trust we we don’t publish them unless we absolutely have to. Here’s hoping that Disney doesn’t adjust their ride capacities this winter and that these crowd level estimates prove to be too high. The good news (if there is any) is that the touring plans work amazing well when crowd levels hit the upper half of our scale. Use them and a ‘8’ day will feel like a ‘3’.

      • January 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm
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        Hi Fred. Are the hourly CL adjusted yet to correlate with the new overall CL numbers? What I mean is that on our CL 10 HS day(1/24) my re-evaluated touring plan still shows a 30 min wait for SDD at 9:48 in the morning. How is that possible if the CL10 is based on wait times? I’m so confused. None of my wait times jumped dramatically. I thought that was the point of the higher CL…

    • January 4, 2019 at 1:26 pm
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      Mike, I appreciate the sentiment but I’ve now got fastpasses for parks that are supposedly CL10 that were CL5. I would never have chosen them if this new information is correct, which I doubt.
      Similarly I and I’m sure others could have booked my time at Disney at the end of March, which is now apparently much quieter than the beginning, entirely counter-intuitively given Spring Break and Easter dates.
      This matters.

  • January 4, 2019 at 1:29 pm
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    Yikes Fred, this must be a very stressful day for you! I’m sure a ton of work goes into these algorithms. I’m booked for early March…and opening my email to that see it jumped to 10s did make my heart stop a little bit. However, I’m comforted by the fact that you say these are not necessarily attendance increases, just ride wait times increases. We’ve already booked our fast passes and we’ll just re-optimize closer to trip time. Thank you guys for offering these services!

    • January 4, 2019 at 2:26 pm
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      Yes Lindsey, thanks for reminding us that these crowd level predictions are based solely on attraction wait times at core attractions during peak hours of the day. An increase from a ‘5’ to a ‘8’ does not necessarily mean that tens of thousands of extra guests will flock to the park. It just means that given all the complex information, signs point toward higher wait times than were previously expected. It is still bad news, to be sure, but we believe that it is possible to overcome a higher crowd level with a solid touring plan.

  • January 4, 2019 at 3:11 pm
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    “…if attractions are running at less than 50% of their normal capacity, these crowd levels may go up further.”

    I don’t understand this. How does Disney partially reduce the capacity of a ride? I get that if it’s closed that’s huge but how can it be partially reduced?

    • January 4, 2019 at 4:13 pm
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      Capacity is most easily reduced by running fewer ride vehicles…

      Some examples at MK that reduce capacity and save on payroll:
      – Only running one side of Space Mountain or only loading one side of BTMRR
      – Not putting all of the cars on Speedway
      – Only running one or two theatres for Belle or Meeting Mickey

  • January 4, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    Thank you for the updates. I am 5 months out, but seeing this just shows me I need to be strategic in planning my day and the right park. We have to realize Disney wants each day to be a 10, so if they are seeing days with low numbers they are going to try to find ways to fill the parks with things like free dining. I’m going at a relatively low time and crossing my fingers it won’t change too drastically, but if it does I’m glad to know that touring plans will be warning me.

  • January 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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    Is there a chance Touring Plans will put out another update to crowd levels before March? While I suspected the previous numbers were low, I was a bit shocked by the jump, as many other were.

  • January 4, 2019 at 8:32 pm
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    Unfortunately these ‘updates’ are the straw that broke the camels back for me.. I’m done with touring plans.. I bought the book as well and there are so many errors in it!!! Now my entire trip needs to be looked at again with 3 weeks to go… 🙁

  • January 4, 2019 at 9:58 pm
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    I agree with a lot of what has been said about this news today. It’s upsetting that Touring Plans did not predict this but I wonder how much blame goes on Touring Plans vs Disney. I’ve noticed Disney is promoting and selling a ton of add on experiences. Extra Fast Passes for Club Level, Morning/Night Magic, Dessert Parties.
    I’m wondering if Disney is creating crowd levels at the parks to be equal year around on the rides and if you want a lesser crowd level you have to pay more for it.
    Any thoughts?

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:08 pm
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    On our 11 day away trip HS is now a 10, but I was able to get a SDD fast pass 32 days out, feel like this is a marketing attempt for TP or super conservative estimates. Either way it is what it is, our fpp’s are booked now just need to enjoy ourselves with potentially more people/longer lines!

  • January 4, 2019 at 10:31 pm
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    I think there are sometimes things that happen that nobody can make predictions about. Someone earlier mentioned the second week in September. I can say that I was there that week because of Hurricane Florence. We left SC to attend MNSSHP and food and wine. Booked it one day out. Having done a similar weekend the previous year in October (planned in advance), I was surprised at how much more crowded it seemed. When I was in line at MK, we started talking to others and found out there were many others like myself who had evacuated to WDW. I think that ended up being a sold out Halloween party. That is not something anyone can predict and it can throw a wrench in the pattern over time. There have been many unusual weather situations in recent years that have affected attendance. I have also attended on a higher crowd day in the summer. If you have fast passes booked and a good plan, the crowds really should not be much of an issue. I also think Star Wars is affecting this whole year as evidenced by the specials for summer bookings just announced.

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:53 pm
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    I believe October 6 and 7 for 2019 may have the reversed crowd figures. Not sure how that would happen? Sunday 6 has a foreseen MNSSHP and has crowd eating now of 8. (I believe the crowd ratings don’t cover parties, just standard park day?) Monday 7 has no foreseen MNSSHP and has crowd rating of 1. I’m no statistican, but I’d put money on that being rmessed up somehow! As a subscriber, I’d love to understand how that anomaly has come about because it’s underminig my faith a little.. actually, maybe a lot! Even if it’s a public holiday weekend, surely the first non party day after crowds like that would be way more hectic!

    • January 4, 2019 at 11:56 pm
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      FYI, I’m talking about MK crowd ratings specifically.

  • January 5, 2019 at 12:11 am
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    Hey Fred – related question: My vacation is in late February, so can you tell me what days will it rain, exactly when, and how much? I really need to know your weather forecast now, and I’ll be really upset if your weather forecast changes. I rely on TP for accurate weather forecasts, and will be frustrated if you update the weather forecast based on new information. If your long-term weather forecast ever changes, I’ll just rely on Punxsutawney Phil, who doesn’t ever have to update his forecast.

  • January 5, 2019 at 2:53 am
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    My vacation is in one week, and many of my days nearly doubled the crowd level. I freaked out when I got the email yesterday…one week out from my vacation. I went in and hit evaluate on all of my touring plans to update the wait times. To be honest, they really didn’t change that much. I had things scheduled pretty loose anyway, but I didn’t have to rearrange anything. So, I don’t think we should be freaking out too much about this. It looks scary on the calendar, but I don’t think we are going to be encountering Christmas crowds in the middle of January. Hopefully you already have your dining reservations already and fast passes for the attractions with the longest waits. Like Fred said, use your Touring Plan and you should be fine.

    • January 5, 2019 at 9:58 pm
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      I’m curious about this as well. I’ve got 3 days that are now 10s, and yet my wait times didn’t really change in my touring plan. How is that possible?

  • January 5, 2019 at 5:05 am
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    The big red flag on this for the time we’re there is this update puts Animal Kingdom with longer wait times at the beginning of March than Christmas or Thanksgiving. Nine CL10 days out of ten.
    That’s inconceivable and surely wrong. It’s completely at odds with historical data and other evidence such as Undercover tourist’s figures which are based on their insight through actual tickets sales.
    If that’s the case, how can the other figures from the updated algorithm be trusted.
    Is someone looking into what’s happened there, Fred?

  • January 5, 2019 at 11:21 am
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    I paid $150 to amend my trip from the UK on 14th March to one starting 27th November. I was getting concerned about the Spring Break crowds.

    • January 5, 2019 at 4:47 pm
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      You might get to experience the new Star Wars opening then. Keep an eye out for the firmer opening date! If so, it will definitely draw some crowds…

  • January 5, 2019 at 9:40 pm
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    If TP knew the staffing issue that occurred last January could happen again this year, why were crowd levels not updated months ago? I feel robbed at this point. I have a trip scheduled in 2 weeks that had shown CL’s 2 or 3, but now they are 8 or 10. Too late to make changes now. Thanks TP! I won’t renew my subscription.

    • January 5, 2019 at 9:47 pm
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      Brandon, I’m in the same boat, and while it’s frustrating it’s not the end of the world. Stick to your game plan and you’ll be just fine. This is an anomaly in an otherwise very great system and subscription. I would not renew because of this one time issue.

    • January 7, 2019 at 6:07 pm
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      Excellent point!

  • January 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm
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    Is there any value in voicing concern to Disney Guest Services over any possible reduction in staff levels which would produce significantly longer wait times?

    • January 7, 2019 at 9:33 am
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      It couldn’t hurt–but Guest Services itself (at least the Disney Springs one) has been serving up grotesque wait times due to systematic understaffing, so…

  • January 7, 2019 at 5:07 pm
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    So, I pay a subscription fee and the primary thing that I am looking for is a reliable crowd calendar. Here I am, like the rest of the poor folks here, rapidly approaching my travel date and some days of my trips went from CL5&6 to CL10. Others went from CL2&3 to CL8&9. Completely disappointed in your “service”!

    You guys have really painted yourselves into a corner here as there are only 2 possible outcomes here.

    1) your original predictions, from many months ago, were wrong and the new ones are right. If that’s the case, what good is continuing my subscription. WDW has to be planned many months in advance, as you know.

    2) your new predictions are wrong and your old ones are right. Again, what good is it to continue with a subscription if you can’t even get predictions a couple months out correct?

    Basically it sounds like your crowd calendar is as accurate as rolling some dice. Where does one go for a refund?

    • January 7, 2019 at 5:12 pm
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      I hear ya Matt. I too like to plan my trips loosely around TP’s crowd calendar and I am seeing 1’s and 2’s in September and I am thinking those are way off. I feel like I really can’t trust the crowd calendars this far in advance anymore because of this recent update. I’ll also add that my trip in 2 weeks jumped from 3’s to 8’s.

    • January 7, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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      Matthew Butterfield: Well put.

  • January 7, 2019 at 5:11 pm
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    Thanks for this Fred. Great stuff. My trip is Feb 1st – 7th and when I saw Feb 2nd as a 9 for MK and AK i was like wow! Then on the 3rd it goes back down to a 3 and I was curious as to what causes that for just 1 day and only a few parks. 🙂

  • January 7, 2019 at 5:19 pm
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    TBH, I’d be much more mad at Disney for messing with ride capacity, then I would be with Fred for trying to do his best to keep up with WDW and them wanting to stretch a penny into copper wire.
    Meanwhile… If I see People Mover has cones in every other ride car, my next step is to guess relations, that is just ridiculous. What could they possibly hope to gain in inflating the wait time on that ride??

  • January 7, 2019 at 8:12 pm
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    Good Evening,

    I’ve read through this information, and listened to your live stream on YouTube (thanks so much for posting), but your November 2019 predictions for the Magic Kingdom still aren’t adding up for me. I realize I am cherry picking one particular park in one month and the big picture update might be fine…but hear me out.

    You mentioned that your models place a weight on more recent events. Makes total sense. When the update came out I noticed a lot of 2/3 days in November when there is a MVMP in the evening jump to a 5 or a 6. In fact some of the weekdays with parties now have higher predicted wait times than adjacent weekends. That just doesn’t make sense. If anything it seems like the party has an outsized impact on Magic Kingdom crowds on non-party days. Again, from being in the parks, this just doesn’t add up as the daytime hours when there is a party in the evenings seem like some of the lowest Magic Kingdom wait times of the year.

    To see if your 2018 data runs counter to my anecdotal evidence I went back through your predictions and your actuals for every MVMCP day in November 2018 (i.e. the most recent sample). Sure enough, on the party days (in particular Tuesdays and Thursdays) it looks like all the actuals (again not your predictions) were a 2/3 crowd level. Thanksgiving was early in 2018, so if anything I would think the mid-November crowds would be heavier in 2018 vs. 2018?

    If you are using the most recent data, I don’t understand why the algorithm is shifting Tuesday/Thursday crowds at Magic Kingdom on MVMCP days from 2/3’s to 5/6’s when your data doesn’t demonstrate that behavior in 2018?

    Thanks.

    • January 7, 2019 at 8:57 pm
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      Thank you! What you so eloquently just stated was what I was trying to ask in my comment above. One of the MK days for the week before Thanksgiving 2019 (a predicted MVMCP day) went up to a CL10! The argument is that they underestimated the fall 2018 crowds so are adjusting the fall 2019 numbers, but the 2018 numbers for the week before Thanksgiving are nowhere near a CL10. I don’t understand?!

    • January 7, 2019 at 9:06 pm
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      Well put! I am hoping against hope that this new Crowd Calendar is incorrect otherwise, my family’s vacation is gonna be a real stinker. We booked based on crowd level predictions and how they lined up with times we could take off of work.

    • January 11, 2019 at 8:36 pm
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      The same problems exist for some of the predicted Halloween party days and non-party days at MK in October (for example, October 6 and 7). I’ve tried contacting Touring Plans numerous ways about this issue now, and still no response. I can’t explain it either… But while it continues to be unaddressed, I feel like the Touring Plans crowd calendar simply can’t be trusted. These seem to be obvious inaccuracies. But it’s been like this for a while now, several attempts at communication, and still no fix. End of the day, if you are choosing to go to MK on October 7 because it a non-party day with a 1/10 crowd rating, I suspect you are going to be VERY disappointed!

      • January 11, 2019 at 10:03 pm
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        We are currently examining our predictions for Party and non-Party days in October. It is likely that there will be changes to our park hour predictions for October on the next update in early February. In the meantime, I would stress that there are no official hours announced for October and what we show on the site is for information purposes only. Irrespective of any current confusion about the party schedules I would stress, as I would in any year, not to make any inflexible plans for October until official hours are announced.

  • January 8, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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    I know it’s early to ask this but we’re planning an extended family trip to WDW during MLK week in Jan 2020. If Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens in December, should we expect crowd levels to be insane?

    • January 11, 2019 at 10:22 pm
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      This is an easy one Jen – yes. It will be insane but I think the insanity will be localized around the new land. The rest of the Studios will see a small bump (10% or so) and the other parks will be as usual.

  • January 10, 2019 at 10:42 am
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    Seeing the average crowd level jump from 3.3 to 6.0 for my January trip is surprising, to say the least.

  • January 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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    Thank you for keeping your services honest! I’m sorry people are getting upset… Seems to me I’d rather you update as needed than have us get there completely surprised. I planned a trip based on your calendar for this March and some days changed but I was prepared! I kept looking at the calendar for updates. (I’m still going to the always busy WDW!)
    People getting so mad need not be shocked that it’s not an exact science! It’s Disney! A million things can change to change wait times. I’ll gladly continue using Touring Plans because I know you guys are wanting to give us up to date information as accurately as you are able!

  • January 11, 2019 at 10:13 am
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    I’m probably very premature here but hope it’s a sign for the coming weeks, but looks like yesterday’s predictions were significantly overstated particularly AK and Epcot, predicted 9’s but turned out to be a 2 for example. Question for the TP team, if this continues for several days, will there be an update?

    • January 11, 2019 at 9:54 pm
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      We will continue to update the Crowd Calendar on a monthly basis. I would expect our February update to be live by Monday, February 4. Obviously, that update will take into account all the information we have available at the time we produce the forecasts. I have noticed that some of our predictions this week have shown to be over-predictions however that seems to be the case at certain attractions but not at at others so it is not yet clear if that will continue.

      Interestingly, I see that many park hours were expanded for dates in February and March today which is some evidence that crowds will be larger than Disney had previously expected for those dates. This makes it seem unlikely that our predictions will show lower crowd levels than are currently on the site.

  • January 11, 2019 at 10:18 am
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    Sorry 6’s to 2’a not 9’s

  • January 11, 2019 at 8:51 pm
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    I have to write again. People, you’re getting angry on a system that’s not an exact science! So if they kept their numbers the same and you went to find long wait times- you’d be mad for them “not telling you”. And now when they do tell you ahead of time you’re mad. Of course, where would we be without a service like this? Heading to Disney with our own guess on wait times! (Which is what the numbers indicate and not crowd levels)
    I say use the crowd calendar as ONE of your tools- their very close to accurate but it’s Disney! Things are unpredictable in terms of month to month wait times. I have a trip planned on March and I’m just going with it regardless of changes! It’s not Touring Plans for changes in crowds or a Disney Staffing.

    • January 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm
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      I don’t know that everyone is all that angry. Some of the updates they pushed out have resulted in predictions that seem very illogical, and run counter to the data that TouringPlans posts for us to see (i.e. their predictions for actuals for 2018). If things are more crowded and the predictions are correct then kudos to TouringPlans. I’m personally not sold on some of predictions this new update resulted in. As a for example, the lowest crowd predictions for Magic Kingdom are sometimes on Wednesdays and Saturdays on weeks when there are hard ticketed events that close the Magic Kingdom early the other days of the week. From my actual experience in the parks, I find those predictions to be highly unlikely. If those are off, it makes me wonder about the other predictions. It’s reasonable to ask questions when you see predictions that run counter to multiple real life observations. Note: not once was there a complaint about them going up. It’s just questioning if the update to their model hosed those predictions, what else went wrong.

      • January 11, 2019 at 10:19 pm
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        I agree Andrew, I am happy with the tone of the conversations. We designed the calendar to take out any personal assumptions. We want it to be data-driven and mathematical in a way that allows us to evaluate it objectively. We fully expect a portion of our users to be skeptical as you are but will see how these latest predictions do and report on them as honestly as we can. We did have a month in December with some technical issues and some human error but I am confident we have worked most of that out. We expect to continue to update on a monthly basis as we react to whatever we see in the parks.

    • January 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm
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      I’ll agree some people are cross. They planned a holiday and then right before, crowd numbers changed and they couldn’t see why there hadn’t been incremental updates. I get it. I mean, yes, end of the day, I’d rather the numbers be accurate going forward, but I do get the aggravation those people feel. Others, like myself, are just beginning to see obvious flaws in Touring Plans’ statistical analysis. Statistical analysis is a real skill… some might say art. Statsitians are used to analyse all sorts of significant things, from the effect of a merger between two companies to weather pattern changes and their import. My point is, when inconsistencies or potential ‘errors’ are identified, a reliable statistician rexamines the data to reassess the conclusions drawn… because obvious fundamental errors indicate that the whole system of conclusions drawn may not be reliable. People are paying a subscription for this service, and now it is appearing as if the average well-informed joe could to a better job with regard to several dates – albeit that ‘joe’ would have to be informed about holidays and the impact of party dates. That IS a problem. Yes, Touring Plans are providing ‘something’ and you’re right, along with other tools, that could be more useful than nothing (not sure the people who booked holidays in blind faith on the basis of wildly incorrect crowd predictions would agree though, but yes, I do.) BUT people also have a right to expect quality. To use an analogy, I know when I go to a restaurant, I go there for a reason. I’m looking for quality, for them to use their skill, to do something I might be able to do as well, or that I just might not want to do. I’m not just looking for ‘something’ to fill my tummy. I’m after the service I paid for. People do have a right to expect quality of service – and their recourse when it isn’t provided? Exactly this.

    • January 11, 2019 at 10:08 pm
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      Thanks Christina, us statisticians tend have thick skin. I haven’t heard any comments that I would consider angry. I think most people are frustrated and I can understand why. We are providing a pay-service to help people plan trips. When those plans have to change it can hurt the utility of the very tools we provide. I agree that the calendar should be used with the entire set of tools on the site. All the tools have their strengths and they work best as a complete package.

  • January 11, 2019 at 9:25 pm
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    Hi, I’m a little late with my question but I hope someone can respond. When both our HS and AK days shot up to a 10 in early March, is it the same 10 as a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Years Eve 10? Could the crowds be large enough to close the parks off or is it pretty much attraction waits that have gone up, as explained above?
    Thanks!
    Kathy Jo

    • January 11, 2019 at 10:11 pm
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      The easy answer Kathy is ‘no’. Average wait times will be much lower on those March days than they are during the Christmas break. Significantly lower, in fact. We reserve the Crowd Level of ’10’ for the top 5% to 10% of dates over the year but within that group of days the wait times can vary a lot.

  • January 11, 2019 at 9:26 pm
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    Hi, I’m a little late with my question but I hope someone can respond. When both our HS and AK days shot up to a 10 in early March, is it the same 10 as a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Years Eve 10? Could the crowds be large enough to close the parks off or is it pretty much attraction waits that have gone up, as explained above?
    Thanks!
    Kathy

  • January 14, 2019 at 8:04 am
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    HI Fred,

    I’m noticing that this last week you guys shot pretty high and most people got the crowds they were probably originally expecting. Have you guys looked at this yet to see if maybe you overreacted or maybe they aren’t limiting capacity on rides? Thanks!

  • January 17, 2019 at 7:50 am
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    I have seen a fairly consistent trend of TP overstating most of the Parks crowd levels this past week, for example yesterday at Hollywood studios was predicted a 6 but was actually a 1.

    Fred, while I know you won’t restate anything until the next update in February, have you heard or seen where Disney is indeed NOT cutting capacity at this time. Some of the crowd levels would indicate that but I’m not in the know like you and Les of course! Thanks again for all you guys do!

Comments are closed.