Crowd Calendar Way Off

Went to WDW last week. Relied heavily on the TP crowd calendar in planning which park to visit each day and formulate a plan but found that it significantly underestimated the crowd levels. Predicted AK crowd on 01/18 was a 2 while the actual level was a 6! 01/20 at MK was supposed to be a 6 but came in at 9. This was the case for the entire week. How come was it so far off? Is there a better predictor of crown levels?

As I said on another thread, I am thinking we are still seeing residual effects from the hurricane cancellations. Not everyone would have been able to take additional vacation in the fall and might have moved it to early in the new year (so as to avoid the hurricane season again).


Went during the same timeframe as you and it was a little frustrating. We didn’t get to ride everything we wanted to on 1/21 at MK because the crowd level was predicted a 4 and was actually a 7, but we were able to see most of the park thanks to optimizing the plan during the day. The hurricane explanation makes sense because that’s exactly what we did. Planned a trip for Sept (Irma) and rescheduled for Jan.

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I think it is important to remember that the predictions are just that… predictions. Accurate as possible based upon the massive amounts of data collected, but there are things out of the control…

For example, in Georgia last week we had a freak snow/ice storm that ended up cancelling school in metro-Atlanta for the better part of the week. I know several families who hopped down to WDW for the extended “break” assuming (correctly) that there would be no school all week…

i don’t know if this type of thing is significant enough to change crowd conditions, but it is possible that a freak, weather related issue in a state that is less than a days drive from WDW might impact wait times…

WHo knows. I too rely on crowd levels, but at any given time, I assume something could happen somewhere that will impact what I see on the ground…

Just some thoughts… I hope you still enjoyed your trip!


i think a lot has to do with the market being so hot. folks have extra money to spend and seems like everywhere is busier then normal. we are heading down the first week of February, have been at that time before and crowds were minimal but it looks like this year it may be busier. anyway just have to roll with the flow!!!

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We are having the same experience. The crowd calendar has been under-predicting the entire time we have been here by 3, 4, or even 5 “units”. (Yesterday was predicted “1” at Epcot; what they actually saw was a “6”.) I am beyond frustrated with Touringplans. This indicates that their “scientific model” is actually broken, as they are consistently under estimating the crowds. Also, TP does not respond to emails about this issue, nor do they have a way to be contacted via Facebook, other than leaving a negative review, so there is no explanation for their models predicting the crowds so inaccurately. Just silence. We have successfully used TP for two previous trips, but I think this is our last time paying for the service.


I read something from the TP folks a while back saying that crowd size is getting harder to predict and the “slow times” are becoming few and far between because Disney has gotten really good at incentivizing people to come during what has traditionally been “slow times”.

I wonder if staff cuts have contributed to this? If fewer staff are working, lines are longer. Longer lines increase crowd level. @len , what say you?

These crowd levels are unprecedented for this time in January.

AK is somewhat understandable: Flight of Passage wasn’t open this time last year. It wasn’t anticipated to be the highest-rated attraction in any Disney or Universal theme park in the US (but it is). And it has retained its popularity far longer than any other recently-opened headliner. Those are things our models haven’t seen before, and the models sometimes have difficulty incorporating new things in. For AK, I think this is the explanation.

The Magic Kingdom is averaging about 1 point higher for 2018 YTD than 2017 YTD.

Our predictions for Epcot, DHS, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure are more accurate so far in 2018 than in 2017 YTD, and generally within +/- 1 point on average. That’s acceptable to us.

We know that Disney has been making strategic cuts across parks & resorts since last year - a few CMs here, a few there. Not enough to trigger any legal disclosure with the state or unions, but steady.

The economy is doing better than it has in the last few years, with wages finally showing some sustained increases. Unemployment is low. We also haven’t seen this since … 2006? The models probably don’t have enough experience with this either.

Finally, we note that wait times are up proportionally more than attendance could possibly have increased. We see wait time increases in the Magic Kingdom, for example, around 15-25% higher than 2015. There is zero chance that attendance is up anything close to that much.

We just updated the AK models, and the crowd levels should be updated early next week to reflect that. We’re looking at MK too.


Thanks for the explanation. It is absolutely fascinating all of the variables that affect the modeling…

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@len appreciate your reply.

We experienced the same thing and it was so frustrating. I know they are estimates, but walking into Epcot and expecting a “1” and seeing how off those estimates were is really annoying. With a crowd level of a “1”, there was a 40+ minute wait for Living with the Land!!

We just returned after being there from 1/19-1/27. Did lots of planning and picked that week expecting a nice off-season visit. We were so disappointed in the crowd levels and felt duped by the touring plans we had in place “just in case” because they were so off in wait times there was no way to follow them. Disney and Universal employees both told us that January is when all the tour groups and families from Brazil come. They said it gets busy from New Years until after Super Bowl. Busy was an understatement! We have gone twice in October, once in late April, once in September and once in early December and we never encountered crowds anywhere near the level we saw last week. Can’t recommend touring plans and their algorithms to anyone after my experience.

I have been hearing how crowded it has been this January, and it really surprises me. We were there 1/25/17-1/31/17 and the crowds were quite low. We usually go during the first week of April, and compared to that the parks were empty. I am not sure how Touring Plans could have planned for the huge increase in crowds this January, seeing as how last January had a different crowd pattern completely. I am sorry it ended up being so busy, that really does suck when you expected lower crowds. I hope you had a good time regardless of the crowds!

I don’t think any crowd level means you can only have touring plans “just in case”.

We had a great time regardless of crowds, but after reading on here that-Lower crowds mean choosing which park to visit is less important
If the crowd calendar level is a ‘4’ or lower picking which park to visit won’t matter. You used the crowd calendar to choose a week with lower crowds, visit whichever park you wish, you’ve earned it. If the crowd calendar level is greater than ‘4’ then it may be worth it to spend some time selecting parks to visit.
The days we planned to visit Disney parks were all a 4, but I filled out a touring plan in case they were wrong on the level. We tried to follow it, but after the wait times were so underestimated with the first ride, it was impossible to use them. I even re-filled one out the night before we went to see if it adjusted to the levels that they had shown had been there up until that date, and they were still so far off, we couldn’t use them. I don’t expect them to be perfect, but they were not even close enough to use. Big disappointment. The wait times that they showed in real time were off too. We tried to ride several rides that they showed as RIDE NOW or RIDE ANYTIME and gave a wait time- Jungle Cruise they said was a 15 minute wait with Disney showing 25. We waited 58 minutes. Crazy! I hope others have better luck with them, but they didn’t help our trip at all.