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Disney World Crowd Calendar Updates – Published November 2015

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Updates to the Disney World Crowd Calendar are now live on Check the calendar for changes to the crowd levels during your trip. Changes to the wait time estimates used to create your touring plans are still pending. We will let you know once they go live as you may need to re-optimize your touring plans.

Some crowd levels have gone down, many have gone up in reaction to the spikes in wait times we have seen this fall.  This version does not include changes to the ‘1’ to ’10’ scale so you may notice there are fewer crowd level ‘1’s and more crowd level ’10’s. However, this version of the calendar does include some changes to how we predict wait times. Here is a list:

  • Higher weight given to recent wait times, lesser weight to older wait times.
  • Changes to the variables that measure the available capacity to process guests at a particular park. This helps account for the extensive loss of attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios, for example.
  • We have expanded the variables that measure capacity in one park to account for changes at other parks. This helps explain increases in wait time that are due to reduced capacity in other parks.
  • Changes to the variables that measure the lifespan of an attraction. This helps identify increased wait times during an attraction’s honeymoon phase and measures changes in an attraction’s popularity over time. We have seen significant reductions in wait times at Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland attractions, for example.
  • Updates to the relationship between Magic Kingdom party schedules and wait times. In 2015 Mickey’s Halloween Parties and Christmas Parties are bunched together a little more closely than in years passed such that we see periods of three or four days with only one day of regular park hours in between.
  • Inclusion of a variable that measures the short-term trend in wait times. Like no other time period since we began tracking Disney World crowds in 2002, fall 2015 was different from the same period in years passed. Including a short-term trend variable will help account for sudden changes like these in the future.

Here is a synopsis of the results:

Epcot – Flat in November, Up Less Than a Full Point (0.7) December through May

  • Soarin’ is scheduled for a major refurbishment beginning January 4, 2016. When Test Track was refurbished for its current incarnation the effect on wait times around Epcot was less significant than we thought it would be and when Soarin’ operated with only one theatre we saw a similarly small effect. Still, wait times have been slightly up at Epcot this fall, we expect that to continue.
  • When Soarin’ opens in June an influx of guests will come to check out the results but the rush will be partly mitigated by the additional third theatre. However, Norway’s new Frozen themed pavilion may open around the same time although we do not yet have a firm date.
  • The Epcot crowd calendar projections for Summer 2016 do not yet include the effects of the new Norway and Soarin’. Once we have firm dates for the reopening we will revisit the projections.

Disney Hollywood Studios – Up a Point in November, After That Depends on Construction

  • Wait times have been up at Disney Hollywood Studios this fall as a result of reduced capacity, smoother Fastpass Plus processing and increased attendance. The big mystery at The Studios is what will happen with construction in the new year. When will it begin? What attractions will be affected? To what extent will it affect wait times? How long will it last?
  • Star Wars Weekends won’t happen in 2016 but January through March will see Season of the Force activities take over the park. The crowd calendar shows some higher crowds than normal starting in January to account for the Star Wars Season.
  • Our projections for wait times at Disney Hollywood Studios will be revisited once construction at the park begins and we see the affect and when we have firm dates for closures.

Magic Kingdom – Up One to Two Points November Through March

  • Crowds at Magic Kingdom during the day when the park hosted Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties in the evening were up two to three points in 2015. We expect the same for this year’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties. When no party was scheduled the crowds were also higher this year, especially when the day was surrounded by other consecutive days with an evening party. This effect pushed many days higher on the crowd calendar in December.
  • January is expected to be more crowded this year than we have seen in years passed, unless the weather is unseasonable cold. Magic Kingdom is the only park without major construction or attraction closures, making it even more popular than usual. The new Fantasyland attractions will be less crowded than last year but the classic attractions will continue to draw more people, more Fastpass Plus users and longer lines.

Animal Kingdom – Unchanged, For Now

Animal Kingdom is expected to remain stable for the near future but we know that a lot will change in 2016. It is too soon to change Animal Kingdom projections until we know more about closure schedules there and at The Studios.

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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 You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

29 thoughts on “Disney World Crowd Calendar Updates – Published November 2015

  • Jessica

    I noticed you are listing Soarin’ as reopening on June 1st in your refurb schedule. Is that a best guess or confirmed somewhere? Fingers crossed you are right!

    • It is a best guess, Jessica and very likely to change depending on how the refurbishment progresses.

      • Jessica

        Thanks! I can’t wait to see what the Frozen attraction and a new Soarin’ do to the crowds heading into peak summer.

  • Nicole

    I am so disappointed- we planned our flights and entire vacation around MK being a 1 on January 13th and now it is a 4! I have never been in MK as a “1” and was so excited about possibly have a nice, relaxing day. Now as a 4 it will be a moderate crowd and I wonder if I made the wrong decision! Too late now.

    • nvarnum

      I wouldn’t worry much…the difference between a level 4 and a level 1 is not that significant in how the park will “feel”. Generally, someone who arrives at RD on a level 4 day and takes a mid-day break will generally feel like the park was less crowded than someone who gets there after 11:00 on a level 1 day.

      • Nicole

        Thanks! Thanks for trying to make me feel better! That is my fear though- this was the first time ever that we were going to a park the day we fly in- so we are going to arrive around 11am and miss Rope Drop!! AAHHH!

      • Patrick

        There are just no more days, all year, where you can arrive at Magic Kingdom at 11 am and feel like it is not crowded. I remember going to Disneyland / California Adventure on a Thursday in December 2007 — we walked on Soarin’ before lunch and walked on Tower of Terror twice after lunch. We went back over to DL and did Matterhorn and Indiana Jones, among other things, with 10-minute waits in the late afternoon. Now THAT was a crowd level 1 day. It’s tough to accept that it will probably never be like that again in DL, or MK.

      • Heather

        Don’t worry, you’re not missing out. WDW has been seeing record crowds, so there really aren’t 1s or 2s anymore. 3 is probably the lowest to been seen, so 4 is still a great time to visit 😀

    • Kevin

      It should be noted that Touring Plans didn’t make the parks more crowded. It is just predicting the crowd levels. No matter what Touring plans says, the crowds were going to be whatever they are going to be. Go, enjoy your day, and plan based on their best guess. A 4 park level is nicer than most people ever get to experience.

      • Nicole

        I wasn’t blaming touring plans- obviously not their fault! More just sad that it will be more crowded than I had planned.

  • James

    To what extent are the weekend numbers in May (latter half) and June still influenced by the increased attendance from Star Wars Weekends of years past, if at all?

    Essentially, I’m wondering if the discontinuing of this event will likely result in lower crowds than currently predicted (an 8 for Epcot on May 17 seems rather high, for example), or this just wishful thinking?

    • James

      Sorry, that should be May 14 for Epcot.

    • Our initial predictions for Hollywood Studios have been reduced since Star Wars Weekends have been canceled. In early 2016 we will have an update once we get a feel of the effect of the construction at the Studios.

      • James

        OK. I guess I was wondering more about the historical effect on parks other than HS during this event and whether this played any significant role in current predications. However, it sounds more like wishful thinking on my part. Thanks for the response.

  • When new Norway opens, do you expect it to open at 9am or at 11am?

    Also, I’m hereby declaring the new pavilion’s name to be Newway. (Not to to be confused with the Mouseworld Radio pavilion, Newellway)

    Thank you for all you do.


    • I believe that we have confirmation the new Norway pavilion will open at 9:00am when it opens. I will have to confirm that.

  • Michael

    Disney Blog announced on its comment section yesterday that they will be adding Star Wars fireworks to HS starting in January. Would SW fireworks factor into the crowd projections?

  • Danielle

    Will you be updating the crowd calendar for Disneyland too? I am going in January and am wondering if the crowd levels will change?

  • Irenek

    Is there any assumption that there will be a 24 hour on leap day (like 2012) or Memorial day weekend (13, 14, 15)? Im surprised not to see commentary regarding presumed expanded park hours at AK because of Rivers of Light and nighttime safari. Thanks for the update.

    • We are not assuming a 24 hour day for 2016. We have not assumed park hour for Animal Kingdom with River of Light and the nighttime safari. I expect that AK with new nighttime experiences, people may go to the park later and significantly change the crowd patterns. The next update will include projections for AK and extended hours.

  • RosieC

    Perhaps I haven’t read carefully enough, but there is one other reason the numbers may have been so high when they were. Huge numbers of people missed their mid-winter breaks in Orlando in 2015 due to the fact that there were a lot of late-season significant snow storms that closed airports and simply prevented travel. In many of those cases Disney might have allowed people to slide their travel dates, but it would have to have been within the 6 or 12 months following the original travel dates. Most US travelers would have had to shift to US school vacation times but not all, and international travelers have different schedules. Does that account for 15% in the 4th quarter? It might if the Disney phone bank steered them in that direction.

    I’d like to place a vote *against* changing the scale. The numbers have meaning for me where 1 means I pretty much feel like I have the place to myself, 4 means it’s busy but I can still pretty much do anything and everything I like, 8 means I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with other people all the time and 10 means I can only move if the crowd is generally going in the same direction. Somewhere a bit higher than 10 is the number of people the fire marshall says is the maxmium allowed and they have to close the gates, so that number is certainly not going to change until there is more space in the park, at which point there will presumably be more attractions and shorter waits in line.

    I realize that continuing the current scale means your forecasts would have less precision, but to change the scale would strip the numbers of their meaning (IOW, accuracy), and there’s simply not enough data in the past couple of years to say that there will never again be another 1 as it is defined now.

    If you do change the number system, I hope in all fairness you will go back and readjust all of the previous data so that a person who visited in say, August of 2013, can have a true comparison of what to expect in say, December of 2016. This is particularly important the longer people go between trips. “This year’s 2 is the same as next years 1” has no meaning except to those who go at least once per year.

  • Minor grammatical nit: the phrase is “years past” not “years passed”.

    • Thanks Lee, the “passed” vs. “past” conundrum often comes up but my research showed that both are acceptable.

      • Look at it this way:

        “Years Past” means years in the past.

        “Years Passed” means years that have gone by.

        In this context, it seems that the first usage is the more correct one.

      • Heather

        I always read them as the same thing. Probably because they are? lol

      • Lee & Robin

        No, they’re not. Just as their/there/they’re and two/too/to sound the same but have different meanings, so do past/passed.

      • Brian McNichols

        There has to be a better use of our time, before it passes and makes our past worthless.

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