Disney World Crowd Calendar Update For February 2022

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Disney World is crowded again. Really crowded. Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the end?

As we head into the spring break season we have a lot of interesting wait time data to look at recently. In December, Magic Kingdom averaged a 5.6 on our Crowd Calendar, the lowest average that we’ve ever recorded for that month. Obviously that was mostly due to the spread of the omicron variant which lead to much lighter travel numbers over the holiday season. Then in January we saw an average crowd level of 6.7 at Magic Kingdom, one of the largest we have ever recorded. Even early February is trending higher.

It isn’t just Magic Kingdom either. Here are the average crowd levels so far in 2022 compared to the average predicted crowd levels.

Only Animal Kingdom saw crowds lower than predicted so far in 2022. This set of recent wait times plus other key indicators for travel tells us that spring will be very busy. Probably a busier than usual spring and certainly busier than our current crowd calendar predicts. So, it is time for an update.

What’s in This Update?

This update covers dates between February 22, 2022 and December 31, 2023 (only dates one year in advance are displayed on the Crowd Calendar). Almost no crowd levels in the near future are going down as a result of this update but many dates will see an increase. This is a direct result of the increase to posted times that we have observed in the last four to six weeks. Bookings in April and May appear to be spiking.

If you are planning a trip in early April you may see crowd levels go up drastically. It just doesn’t seem likely anymore that those ‘3’s and ‘4’s in April will be accurate. Many of those will change to ‘5’s, ‘6’s or higher. But don’t panic. The difference between a ‘3’ and ‘5’ isn’t as much as you think.

At Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, for example, a ‘3’ represents an average wait time of 33 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. while on a ‘5’ day the average is 41 minutes. I  like to use Buzz Lightyear as an example because it has a fixed capacity per hour so comparing days is easier. Big Thunder can alter its wait time by adding vehicles, Buzz can’t.

The news gets even better if you are using a touring plan. Use one and the difference between a ‘3’ day and a ‘5’ day is noticeably reduced. The plan will navigate you around the park in a way to avoid the bottlenecks and minimize your wait in line. Almost like a magical creature that springs out of a lamp and grants you wishes. Obviously we all want to visit on a day that isn’t as crowded but when you don’t have a choice it is reassuring to know that when you use a touring plan, you have the single best tool for beating crowds at your disposal. Follow it and it won’t matter what the crowd level is.

When to Expect More Updates?

One could ask the question, why update now? Why didn’t you update the calendar sooner? It’s a valid complaint without a soothing answer. We have to observe the wait times in the parks and react when we see a new trend. This one arrived in the last several weeks and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t an anomaly. Plus, it is also possible that these increased crowd levels will be an over-reaction – we have seen that happen before. Bottom line: this crowd calendar update represents a prediction based on the best information we have right now. As always, that prediction is subject to change.

Speaking of change, one way we may choose to approach this new paradigm is to update more often. The steadfast patterns that we’ve observed for two decades are less stable now. Updating the Crowd Calendar more often than once a month may help. But it will require your patience and understanding. No one likes uncertainty when planning a Disney trip, but in these times it seems some is inevitable.

If you have a trip planned this spring I think there are still great opportunities to find days with less-than-insane crowds. You may just have to be a little savvier to find them. Oh, and in case I didn’t mention it…use a touring plan. They work.

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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.

35 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Update For February 2022

  • February 20, 2022 at 11:53 am
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    It was my birthday yesterday and for the very first time on my birthday we are here in Florida. We went to Epcot – and it was heaving with people! We knew it would be busy because of Presidents Day weekend but I really wanted to be here on my birthday – and my birthday is around Presidents Day practically every year! Anyway – we used TouringPlans Lines app (as usual) and, although we didn’t go for rope drop – (we had breakfast on the Boardwalk first) – we didn’t wait too long for any of the attractions we wanted to experience. We’ve waited a lot longer for attractions in the past – I wore a birthday badge and lots of people wished me Happy Birthday. I was Disneybounding and lots of people said how much they loved my outfit. The Disney hotel we stayed in for the night gave me a beautiful gift and I got a fabulous free dessert at breakfast and at the Rose and Crown where we had tea. It was a truly magical day. I had begun to think the Disney magic was fading a bit but they (and the guests) excelled themselves yesterday!

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    • February 20, 2022 at 12:21 pm
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      Happy Birthday! Glad you had a good day!

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      • February 21, 2022 at 9:28 am
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        Hey there!! Thanks for the update. Looks like on April 4th for Epcot went from a 2 to a 9. Any insight as to why the drastic increase? Thanks as always!

    • February 20, 2022 at 5:37 pm
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      Hey Ruth, Happy Birthday! So glad to hear you had a great day – it really is all about knowing what to expect. Thanks for your on-the-ground-reporting that touring plans do work. 🙂

      Reply
    • February 23, 2022 at 7:56 pm
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      Thanks for this very thorough report on the “why” behind the data. One other element that may be drastically affecting early April bookings, and the previously-unrecognized crowd levels from previous years at that time, is the brand-new Springtime Surprise race weekend. Do you have a default “crowd bump” in place for all runDisney race weekends that are scheduled, or do you only adjust it once you know when bookings are up?

      Reply
  • February 20, 2022 at 12:55 pm
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    Oh dear, the increase in the expected crowd levels during my vacation are really bad. My vacation is from March 26th to April 9th. On Monday April 4th I’m due to be at Epcot and the expected crowd level was 2 but now it’s going to be 9! I had done a careful analysis of the crowd levels on the calendar and now they’ve changed. If I knew then what I know now I probably wouldn’t have booked to go at that time.

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    • February 20, 2022 at 6:24 pm
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      I was supposed to be there at the exact same time. Epcot from a 2 to 9 really? Changing the crowd calendar at the last minute may make your stats look good but it doesn’t help those of us that use your service to plan our trips. I guess from now on we should just book and hope for the best.

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    • February 20, 2022 at 11:26 pm
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      Oof. A 2 to a 9 is a big jump, but I’m stunned it was forecast to be that low with many states having their spring break that week. I think it’s safe to assume peak crowds through the whole month of April (and probably the last week in March) with a tiny dip before schools let out in May…

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    • February 21, 2022 at 8:16 am
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      Yes that jump from a ‘2’ to a ‘9’ at EPCOT on April 4 is the worst example of the changes on this update. If you look at the crowds we saw in December, a ‘2’ on a Monday in early April could make sense but not anymore, based on what we have seen since January 1. If you can switch parks that day (basically anything except EPCOT) I would obviously recommend it.

      Reply
  • February 20, 2022 at 1:19 pm
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    Updating CLs at least once a month is probably a good idea, but no reason to update them near the actual date. We subscribers will have already planned for specific dates well within 60 days with our park reservations and dining reservations, so no reason to cause a panic a few days from our visits.

    Here’s what I would like to see, though (but not sure it’s even possible): a midday CL adjustment. Look at the morning and early afternoon wait times to see if a CL significantly needs to be adjusted. I know the actual wait times submitted by guests will adjust my plan accordingly, but a midday CL adjustment could help me decide what park I may want to hop to after 2:00.

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    • February 20, 2022 at 5:48 pm
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      Hey TwoBits, this is a great point. It’s definitely something we’ve been discussing – how much to report and when. It’s hard because some people don’t want to know, but some people would prefer to adjust their expectations in advance. Maybe we should do more publicizing of the idea that if you don’t want to get the emails because you’re within 30 days, you can untrack the days.

      A midday adjustment is a bit of an issue for some technical and reporting reasons, but I think I see what you’re asking about. It’s really not so much that you want an adjustment to the forecast (which is frozen once the day arrives anyway), but that you want to know the observed CL “so far” at some current time before the day is closed. Is that right?

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      • February 20, 2022 at 6:29 pm
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        Yes, that’s correct. My thinking as a guest in the parks on a given day would be to see the observed CL within the first couple of hours in each park so I can decide whether to stay in my current park or hop to another, less crowded one.

        I know I could just use the Lines app to check the wait times in the other parks, but to see those times translated to a CL for us subscribers would make the decision to hop or not easier.

    • February 20, 2022 at 7:39 pm
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      @TwoBits following on here slightly out of thread (because I can’t comment more than 3 levels) but a couple of thoughts. First, just to be clear — I’ll definitely bring this suggestion to the team but there are quite a few things on the priorities list right now (including updates to the DLR and UOR apps and G+ forecasting), so even if everyone thinks it’s a smashing idea (and that’s an “if”) then it might be a while. Did I put enough disclaimers in there? It’s bad form to throw other people to the wolves, so … 😉

      Second, just a couple of top of my head technical points.
      a. I’m sure it just slipped your mind, but CLs are only calculated using wait times between 11 and 5 — so it wouldn’t be possible to show it within a couple of hours of park opening. That might have just been a turn of phrase on your part, but probably the earliest we’d be able to say anything would be 1-ish. Still early enough to influence a park hopper decision, but not early enough if someone was trying to stack up LLs in advance.
      b. The most immediate barrier is that we might find out that the early returns don’t correlate with the rest of the day. But that’s an interesting question on its own, and one that might be worth investigating for a blog article at some point independent of maybe making interim numbers available. Thanks for the idea!

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      • February 20, 2022 at 7:54 pm
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        My thought exactly: For it to be effective for the current 2:00 parkhop time, you would definitely need to figure it out by 1:00 so you could get the Lines app updated.

        I also thought about how even after 2:00, crowds can change. For example: If it’s a park with extra hours for deluxe resort guests, I would expect the late afternoon and evening crowds to increase even if the observed CL was below the predicted CL at that point.

        I’m not even sure how many of your subscribers use parhopping, so adding that feature may only help a small fraction of your customers.

        But thank you for considering this idea. I agree there are more important things to work on, particularly getting a full year of G+ data.

      • February 21, 2022 at 11:39 am
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        “CLs are only calculated using wait times between 11 and 5” is not a true statement. Touringplans calculates hourly crowd levels. I do not see why Touringplan could not recalculate the hourly crowd levels using the updated wait time forecasts for the rest of the day.

    • February 21, 2022 at 8:17 am
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      I like this idea and we do have many adjustments to our forecasts that happen on the fly. I could see there being value in live tracking park wait times in order to answer the question “What park should I hop to?”

      Reply
  • February 20, 2022 at 1:28 pm
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    The Park Pass Program was implemented to manage and control park crowds. Parks seem to be at maximum crowd levels. As such, the Park Pass Program is not working and should be emliminated.

    Also, the park hopping 2:00pm limitation should be renoved to allow park guests to park hop at any time when the park they go to is over crowed.

    Clearly, Disney does not know how to manage or control park crowds.

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    • February 20, 2022 at 6:32 pm
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      I disagree. While the park pass program was implemented to keep crowds sparse because of Covid, it has remained because it lets Disney parks management know exactly how much staff is going to be needed on a given day.

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      • February 21, 2022 at 2:12 pm
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        No. Disney is short staff as most workers left for other jobs after Disney closed. So yes short staffed. No trans running at the park. Is the crowd level alot. It’s Disney there is always a crowd we live here and go to Epcot at least 4 or 5 times a week yes there r day I will not go. On Fridays Saturdays and mondays. Until Disney get full staff lines will be longer and now the spring break and Easter is around the corner lines will be longer

    • February 21, 2022 at 8:02 am
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      If the park pass management system was not in place, the crowds would have been even worse. AP holders have had trouble getting park reservations. Cast members have been blocked out at the busy times. New AP holders have been blocked from weekends. If there was no system to limit attendance, it would have been even crazier this past weekend. Disney does know how to manage crowds but has been hamstrung by getting enough help to manage the crowds even when metered (a problem all over Central Florida). This isnt a park pass problem – this is a staffing level and high demand problem.

      Reply
  • February 20, 2022 at 1:32 pm
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    Very specific question, I know – but both before and after the latest update, Epcot is a 9 on Tuesday, June 7. Every other day that week, it’s at a 6 or under. What could possibly be driving it to a 9 on a Tuesday?

    Reply
    • February 20, 2022 at 2:28 pm
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      Simple. It was copied and pasted from a similar date in 2019.

      Reply
      • February 21, 2022 at 8:26 am
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        Ha! We did have a similar random ‘9’ at EPCOT on June 11, 2019 and I am sure the models are picking up some of that signal. It isn’t always clear why a prediction hits a certain level on some days and not others. What we do know is that our crowd level predictions are within 2 index points the vast majority of the time. So the chances are very good that EPCOT will be a ‘7’ or ‘8’ on that day.

  • February 20, 2022 at 8:50 pm
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    While my trip plan didn’t get many adjustments (just two, and only by 1 crowd level), I’m personally in the more-data-is-always-better crowd. Midday updates? Could be useful. Weekly crowd calendar updates? Great. After all, there’s also the issue of late opening hours changes which could impact the crowd calendar too. Would be disappointing not to see that reflected before my trip starts. (In this case the timing of this update worked out well since I’m leaving in a week or so.) I realize you have to decide based on everyone, not just what one kind of person wants, but just my two cents.

    Reply
  • February 20, 2022 at 9:10 pm
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    We were at Hollywood last Tuesday because it was forecasted as a 2. It ended up being an 8. We did not need a midday CL adjustment to figure it out ;). But I am curious if you know why it was so far off? I think most would agree that Hollywood is the hardest park to visit on crowded days so we had picked the lowest forecasted day of the week to visit.

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    • February 21, 2022 at 8:33 am
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      Crowds have been surprisingly large since the new year began. Part of that is increased attendance but some of it is also operational limitations as well. On Friday, Feb 18 at Hollywood Studios we saw Alien Swirling Saucers operate at 50% capacity which spiked the posted wait time up to 75 minutes at 5:00 p.m.

      It is situations like this that really impact the crowd levels and require us to update the forecasts.

      Reply
      • February 21, 2022 at 8:52 am
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        This was Tuesday the 15th and it was attendance. Rise was down on and off day but I don’t think that is unusual. Slinky Dog GP and RotR LL were gone a few seconds after 7 am. It was really crowded all day… not as bad as Islands of Adv. on Friday but still really crowded. We have another trip planned for 15 of us in September which usually has very low crowds. Really hoping things get leveled out by then, so we can get an accurate prediction. I understand things are complicated and I appreciate the help planning. The jump from 2 to 8 was just quite a difference.

  • February 20, 2022 at 9:51 pm
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    We were there last week as well and it seemed that all crowd levels were quite off from predicted. Even the projected wait times weren’t even close. We’d get in a line for space mountain that the app had listed at 35 minutes and it took 80 minutes to board. Same happened on a few other rides as well, so I started submitting wait times as we went, but they never seemed to update. Was a bit disappointing how off the CL and wait times were for all parks, so I would say midday updates could be useful

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    • February 22, 2022 at 4:18 pm
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      This was our experience too, from January 23rd – February 8th. I gave up using the app at all because my wait times would almost never go through and the predicted times were sadly mostly way under what we experienced. Couldn’t optimize plans either. “It is what it is” became the motto of this trip, hopefully it’s a one-off. I would have appreciated a mid-day update too that would have told me the first day we were at MK actually turned out to be a 10 instead of the number predicted, mocking me throughout the day. :p

      Reply
  • February 21, 2022 at 8:47 am
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    We have been planning our trip for 6 months and specifically choose the first week in April because of the low crowd projections. We planned on going to Epcot which was a 2 for Monday the 4th. Now it is showing a 9 and we have set dinner reservations. What happened?

    Reply
  • February 21, 2022 at 9:34 am
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    I would love to see updates as often as you want to share them. Many people live close enough to travel frequently on the weekends so any real time information is awesome!! Thank you for all you – I can’t imagine how difficult this has been as of recent.

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  • February 21, 2022 at 9:45 am
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    What is happening on Tuesday March 8 that it is a 10? I can’t seem to understand the reasoning? I understand that a good chunk of March is very busy because of spring break.

    Thanks.

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    • February 21, 2022 at 10:59 am
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      Travelling around the same time. Hopefully someone from TP will answer.

      While I don’t personally know *why* the 7th-9th is so busy, I think it’s likely TP is more or less correct. It will be based on past normal years like 2019. The reason I think they’re correct is that Disney has expanded park hours in that period by a significant amount — the 6th-12th has some of the longest hours I can see on the calendar. Disney does this when it’s expecting high crowds, and they do have park pass reservations to go on.

      This makes me wonder if the 6th, 11th and 12th could end up being an under estimate. That said, those 10s could easily turn out to be 9 or 8, but we’re planning on taking a resort day that Tuesday to be safe.

      Reply
  • February 21, 2022 at 10:10 pm
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    Do you foresee changes like this for mid-May? We’re looking at a quick trip down in May – the 12th-15th. So far the calendar shows CL of 4 & 5 for the parks I picked. Also, it shows MK as the least busy on that Saturday . I just really don’t want to go down to insane crowds.. thinking of cancelling if you think they’ll be huge changes to May as well. Thanks!

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  • February 23, 2022 at 7:09 pm
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    I’m curious if Disney’s recent extension of hours in several upcoming early March dates greatly impacts your crowd level predictions? And any speculation on Disney extending hours the following week (Sunday, March 13th on)???

    Reply

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