Are crowds heavier now than 5 years ago?

I would like to see a post of actual numbers for crowds instead of a range from 1-10. Is a 7 today the same as 5 years ago? I feel like the parks are more crowded now than past years and I can’t find any statistics to back up my suspicion.

Thank you

Disney don’t release actual crowd numbers, but anecdotally yes it is more crowded. That’s why TP have to keep reassessing their crowd levels, because otherwise there would only ever be high crowd levels and no way to distinguish between the days.

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Theme park attendance reports show MK going from 17m per year in 2008 to 20.5m per year in 2017. Thats an increase of 3.5m or about 10,000 per day. Ak has increased by about 2m and Epcot/HS by about 1m each. That’s quite an increase, and when added to @Len’s view that Disney is making savings based on operational items (e.g. running one side of a ride for part of a day) I think we can safely say that “effective” crowds are significantly higher than a few years ago.


Has that been done recently? I didn’t think that the actual definitions of the CL values has been changed since years ago when they went from a “flat” model (1 was the lowest 10%, 2 was the next 10%, etc.) to the current distributed model. What has changed is that periods when we were used to seeing 1s, 2s, and 3s now often being 4s, 5s, and 6s. This is due to overall increased attendance and WDW playing around with staffing levels, as @Markgrowlands mentioned. Perhaps @len or one of the stats guys can jump in about the CL value definitions .

I probably have a very loose understanding and a worse explanation, but I think the alignment of what length wait constitutes a 1 vs a 5 or a 10 was done fairly recently, as in the last couple of years. So if for instance (and I’m making these figures up) a 50 min wait for Splash and Space at 11am used to be a 7, but now happens on 80% of days, then it’s not a 7 anymore because a 7 is by definition busier than 60% of days.

Of course, Len might say that I’m talking crap :joy::joy:

Yes, there was definitely a realignment recently. I’ve only been active the past couple of years, and I remember a message or blog post explaining how the levels had changed.

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Here’s one TP blog about adjustments. .

I’ve said it many times, but I do NOT like how TP calculates Crowd Levels. It is too dynamic. Which is why I just don’t use their CL numbers. But their ride wait time numbers are useful.

As far as overall crowds…I think it is hard to judge based on estimated attendance figures alone. Ride/attraction capacity does play a role in this as well. As number of bodies increases in the park, it might not be totally noticed by increased wait times if Disney is also increasing overall ride/attraction capacity at the same time.

Having said that, I am a little nervous about our May 2020 trip. It will have been 4 years since our last trip, plus we’re going at a time that is slightly more busy than when we usually have gone. (Still low, by most measurements, though.) While I’m excited about going back, I think I also have the highest level of anxiety I’ve ever felt about planning a Disney trip this time around.

I’m really anxious about early August. It’s predicted to be low crowds, it’s usually high crowds. But we usually get long hours (late nights) and full staffing. We have got pretty short hours (so far, but I don’t see an incentive for them to extend them) and I’m worried they’re going to cut staffing and we’ll end up with longer waits than usual.

@missoverexcited - we visited in late August 2018 and I was a little taken back at how crowded a CL 4 - 5 felt in MK. I think it was this combination of thunder closing rides and forcing crowds to a limited number of open rides, and more people with access to extra magic hours. When the park officially closed and after the fireworks when there were extra magic hours, the crowds just didn’t clear out as they have in the past.

That being said low CLs in other parks felt about right - we had a 3 day in Epcot and walked on just about every ride.

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I’m fine with it being the same as usual but I am not impressed with 9pm closings and I won’t be happy if they run rides at reduced capacity.

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