In recent days, Disney World’s crowd levels have risen. The last time EPCOT reached an audience level above a ‘4’ was seventy-five days ago (on July 29, EPCOT was a ‘7’). Monday was a ‘5’. We predicted a ‘1’, that’s not good. Yesterday, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios also rose to the ‘5’ crowd level when we predicted a ‘1’. People noticed and let us know.
@TouringPlans We are now 0-2 for two days at two different parks. Not a great story. You are a long way off this week. – @ sandersx2 on Twitter
We can sympathize with this tweet and he is right in pointing out that we missed him a lot. When the Crowd Calendar predicts a ‘1’ and you see crowds of people walking around the World Showcase at 10am, it’s hard not to feel cheated. There are several questions that come to my mind.
- Why was he lost by 4 points?
- What can I do if I am in a much busier park than expected?
- How often is the calendar lost?
- How accurate is the crowded calendar in general?
- If predictions can be turned off so much, is it really useful?
Q: Why did you lose four points?
A: We were confident that the latest trends would continue until October
Since we began analyzing the Disney World crowds in 2006, several seasonal trends have materialized. These trends ended with the arrival of COVID-19. Now, predicting the Disney World crowds is more of a short-term game. The latest trend shows a steady flow of very low concentrations in most parks every day. We expected these low masses to continue until mid-November, just before the Thanksgiving rush. Looks like the rush might be happening now. On October 1, Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary, so crowds could be expected to increase at that time, but waiting times remained very low. From October 1-7, Magic Kingdom was the only park to reach a crowd level above a ‘2’ and did so only once. For some reason (which we don’t know yet), the rise in waiting times is happening now, two weeks after the celebration.
To be fair, these climbs still don’t reach the same level as a busy time of year like spring break or July 4th. These levels of people we’re seeing are “4,” “5,” and “6,” roughly an average day historically speaking. However, given that we have predicted “1” and “2” these days they deserve our attention and we need to understand what is going on. Do guests feel more comfortable traveling during the pandemic? Do new restaurants and attractions attract Disney fans who have been out for a while? Did people wait until the fanfare of the October 1 celebration ended before visiting the parks? It is not clear. Our job is to update the calendar based on these new numbers to get a better picture of the rest of the 2021 crowds.
Q: What do I do if it is busier than expected?
A: Don’t panic, re-optimize your plan
To defeat the Disney World crowds, you need to have a couple of tools in your toolkit. First, the crowd schedule, but the second (and most important, in our opinion) is an optimized tour plan. Use it and it won’t matter how frequent the park is. On the rare occasion when the crowd is significantly larger than expected, your best friend is an optimized tour plan. Our Lines app adjusts timeout predictions every five minutes. So if you’re in a crowded park, just click the reoptimize button on your tour plan and you’ll get the best tool to beat the crowds that day.
Also, it’s important to remember that the crowded calendar represents our prediction of wait times at key attractions, not necessarily the crowd density of the walking areas. Usually, these two things go together, but not always. Those crowds strolling through EPCOT yesterday at 10:00 in the morning? Many of them are there for activities other than horseback riding. In fact, yesterday at EPCOT it was a ‘2’ on our scale based on key attraction waiting times.
Q: How often does the crowded calendar fail so much?
A: Two to four percent depending on the park
Yes, it can happen, but it is rare. It is the nature of any predictive tool that will sometimes fail to take note. There is a small (but not insignificant) possibility that you will experience a much higher level of crowding than expected, so having a backup plan (read: Touring Plan) is a good idea. Below are the frequencies from 2015. So 2% means that this has happened 35 days out of the last 2,000 since 2015.
Q: How accurate is the crowded calendar in general?
A: Two-thirds of the days are at one point, 83% at two
Every day we keep track of waiting times in the parks and calculate the level of crowd observed. When we compare it to what we predicted, that’s what we get. It is important to note that we are talking about absolute error (in any direction) and we are more likely to significantly overestimate an unforeseen level of crowding. So if you’re in a much less crowded park than expected, get lucky and enjoy the extra breathing room (although there’s a good chance the weather isn’t that great). In addition, it is often the case that an observed crowd level is higher than expected because an attraction has a significantly longer wait time for a reason other than a large crowd. You may experience breakdowns, weather delays, or increased popularity for a particular event, even though the rest of the park is less affected.
If our prediction is turned off by one you won’t even notice. If it’s off for two, you probably won’t notice much difference yet, especially if you like the plan. On any of these days it is likely that your tour plan will not be affected. If the crowd level is off at three or more points, this is when the Lines application reoptimization feature really begins. You will need it.
Q: If predictions can be turned off so much, is the crowded calendar useful?
A: Yes, we believe it
The crowded calendar isn’t perfect, but it offers the most accurate prediction of Disney World crowds available anywhere. If you decide to subscribe to TouringPlans.com, you’ll get access to the calendar, as well as the ability to make personal tour plans that can be optimized for any day. We think this duo is a pretty powerful set of tools to deal with the crowd. Not to mention all the other perks of a TouringPlans.com subscription, such as the booking search engine, room seeker, ticket calculator and more.
Do you have any questions for the statistics team? Let us know in the comments. And thank you always for your support.