Top 5 Misconceptions About Crowds

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We added the Blog to the site so that we could speak to common problems or questions that we get on a regular basis, sometimes daily. He’s a sample of some questions and/or comments that we get a lot, maybe these explanations will help understand what goes through our little Disney-obsessed minds.

1. “I was able to book an ADR 60 days out for our vacation but you have the crowd estimated at a level 8. How can this be? Shouldn’t dining availability be an indicator of low crowds?”

Dining availability is only one of thousands of pieces of information that we collect on Disney World. In general, difficulty getting dining reservations can indicate higher crowds but not necessarily. The size of the restaurant, the location of the restaurant, the popularity of the dining plan can all affect the availability of reservations. Don’t assume that your experience booking dining reservations will forecast the size of the crowds.

2. “The Studios were packed on Tuesday but your calendar said it was a ‘6’ – what gives?

Remember, our crowd predictions represent the maximum wait time you are likely to observe at the Magic Kingdom headliners. They say nothing directly about crowds at the other parks. We are working on a new crowd calendar structure that will provide a more complete picture of what crowds will be for all parks.

3. “I booked my dining reservations based on the best days recommendations but now the recommendations have changed.”

We collect data on Disney World daily. When the data warrants a change to the recommendations, we do it. Our philosophy is that it is better to have accurate information than to keep things the same purely for consistency’s sake. Keep your dining reservations, its easier (and less important) to deal with a park that isn’t recommended than re-booking dining.

4. “Does your calendar take into account the economic downturn? That should make the crowds lighter right?”

We get this question every day. We have dozens of direct and indirect economic factors that have always been included in our crowd estimates. Its an important piece of the puzzle when predicting crowds. Incidentally, there is no evidence that the economic downturn is making crowds lighter. In fact, Disney’s promotions, cut-back hours and less staff are making the wait times longer in the parks. Check for a blog post about the latest crowd measurements coming soon. 

5. “I call Disney every day trying to book a room but they say they are completely booked. Why do you only have crowd estimates of ‘6’ for that week when it seems like every room is occupied?”

Surprisingly, on-site hotel occupancy is not a strong predictor of the wait times you will experience in the park. Similar to dining reservations, its not one thing that predicts crowds but rather all factors put together that give the best estimates. Certain factors balance out others and we spend a lot of time examining our model to make sure it does the best job it can with the information we have.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Misconceptions About Crowds

  • June 16, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Why are the crowds for the first weekend in November rated as 9s? Most other guide books including earlier versions of yours suggest visiting in early November. I thought it would be an ideal time to go.


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