Anytime statisticians see a spike like the one we see on this week’s crowd report, they first break out in hives, then catch their breaths and look for an explanation of the outlier. The number one most common reason that our predictions miss the mark is weather. Unexpected good weather and bad weather can affect what we see in the parks, and we think that is what happened last week. On Tuesday, Central Florida experienced a severe weather warning from around noon until early evening. Then on Wednesday resort guests, off-site guests, and locals who were well-rested from missing most of Tuesday’s touring time flocked to the parks.
We feel this is a solid theory since wait times returned to expected levels on Friday and Saturday. If Tuesday’s spike was the result of an underestimate on our part, then one would expect the rest of the week to be very crowded, as well. This wasn’t the case. Also, during the day on Wednesday, Disney extended park hours to accommodate the unexpectedly large crowds.
Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up on other days last week.
|April 6 to April 12, 2014|
Park-level crowds ranged between a ‘3’ at The Studios and ‘6’s at the Kingdoms on Sunday. Both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were one level higher than the ‘5’ we predicted which pushed the resort-wide level to a level ‘5’, one higher than expected. Epcot’s crowd level ‘5’ was also one level higher than predicted while The Studios’ crowd level ‘3’ matched our prediction.
Again on Monday we saw a resort-wide crowd level ‘5’ that was one level higher than expected thanks to two of the parks with slightly higher wait times. Those parks were Magic Kingdom where we observed a crowd level ‘6’ (predicted ‘5’) and Epcot where we saw a ‘4’ (predicted ‘3’). Extra Magic Hour morning was hosted at the Animal Kingdom on Monday and our crowd level prediction of ‘5’ hit the mark.
Late afternoon storms kept the parks quiet most of the evening on Tuesday although the average wait times between 10am and 5pm were pretty close to what we predicted. We saw an overall crowd level ‘3’ including ‘4’s at the Magic Kingdom (predicted ‘5’) and Epcot (predicted ‘3’) while The Studios hit a level ‘3’ (predicted ‘2’). Animal Kingdom seemed most affected by the storm which is not surprising given the large proportion of attractions that are vulnerable to bad weather. There we saw a crowd level of only ‘2’ out of ’10’ despite our prediction of ‘5’.
Wednesday witnessed the biggest surprise since the launch of the current crowd calendar. Guests who stayed in to avoid Tuesday’s storms flocked to all four parks in numbers that drove up the crowd levels by as many as five levels. Wait times at Magic Kingdom hit a level ‘9’ (predicted ‘4’) as did wait times at Animal Kingdom (predicted ‘5’) while Epcot spiked at a level ‘7’ (predicted ‘2’) and The Studios stayed at the relatively low ‘5’ (predicted ‘2’). Statistically this represents a major outlier since there are no reasonable explanations as to why the crowds spiked so high, other than the effect of Tuesday’s weather. We suspect the influx in wait times is the result of a combination of day guests and locals taking advantage of Wednesday’s superior weather and multi-day guests replacing a scheduled day-off with a full day at the parks.
If Wednesday’s wait times were the “Boom” then Thursday’s waits were the “Echo”. The resort-wide ‘6’ and the ‘7’ at Magic Kingdom were both two levels higher than expected while Animal Kingdom’s ‘8’ was three levels higher. Thursday’s crowd at Epcot was not as bad with wait times translating to a crowd level ‘4’, only one level higher than the ‘3’ we predicted.
If Wednesday’s spike in wait times were the result of our underestimation of the attendance in the parks then we would expect those high numbers to continue throughout the weekend but that was not the case. Friday’s crowds returned to expected levels with two of our estimates hitting the mark (Resort-wide ‘5’ and Epcot ‘7’) while the other three were only off by one (Magic Kingdom ‘7’, The Studios ‘4’, Animal Kingdom ‘5’).
Saturday’s predictions also did well with only The Studios, which hosted Extra Magic Hour morning, showing a crowd level two levels higher than our prediction of ‘4’ while all the other predictions were within one level of what we observed. In fact, our prediction of a crowd level ‘6’ at Magic Kingdom was exactly correct.
|April 13 to April 19, 2014|
Easter is by far the most unpredictable week of the year. In years past we have seen Easter crowds that underwhelmed and Easter crowds that posted record high waits. Although Easter crowds don’t usually reach the extreme high wait times that we see between December 28th and January 1st each year, we expect Easter crowds to be extreme. Prepare accordingly.
To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.
To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.