I have been listening to travel podcasts that indicate that “low attendance” times such as the first week of December are a thing of the past. They say that between special events and school / sports conventions there are no more low attendance times. I know when I first experienced Touring Plans in 2004 that I found the crowd calendar very accurate and we experienced very low crowds exactly as advised. Not having anything to really compare it to, I am concerned that my plans for a trip this December are going to be on very crowded days despite the calendar saying crowd levels of 1-2. Have the crowd levels been adjusted, so that a 1 is actually a larger number of attendees than it used to be, or is the calendar no longer valid…or are the podcasters just drama queens who think it’s crowded if you can’t throw a churro from Splash Mountain to Liberty Square without hitting a tourist?
It’s always relative and with attendance on the rise it’s also a bit of fortune telling, however, I can tell you that were there last year the first week of December and never waited more than 20 minutes for anything and some days didn’t even bother using all of our FPP’s.
Not that it really relates to your trip in December, the crowds were low during our stay the first full week of January, too (including the last few days impacted by RunDisney events). Like @Outer1, we found very low wait times - even the buses - and a few times didn’t bother with the FPP we had.
There are still lower and higher crowd days, but as @Outer1 said, it’s a relative, not an absolute scale, based on a standard distribution around a mean. As the absolute number of guests visiting WDW continues to increase, the mean will continue to shift to the right, so the absolute number of people for a “3” day this year will be larger than the “absolute” number of people for a “3” day a couple of years ago.
I’ve learned (the hard way) not to pin too much on the exact CL number and look at them as qualitative considerations. A “3” is likely to be less crowded than a “7” day - assuming that the model matches the whims of the guests on a given day. The Holidays will always be insanely busy (because people want to be there for Christmas/New Years). Summer will always be more crowded than the other seasons (because of school schedules). Spring Breal/Easter will always cause a bump in the March/April timeframe (again, because of school schedules).
The TP statisticians have a HUGE “n” value to work with, so, in theory, idiosyncratic bumps from one year to another should be evened out. But even with this, it’s still taking a descriptive statistic based on historical data and overlaying it on the future to be used in an inferential way. In a closed system with tightly controlled vatiables this can work fairly well. But WDW is anything BUT a closed system, and there are more variables than you can even list, let alone control or quantify (e.g. it rains heavily for 4 days; the crowds will be lower than predicted on the rainy days, but probably higher than predicted on the days following the rain).
Short answer to your final question. Is the CC still valid? Yes, as long as you view it as being relative, don’t try to compare absolute numbers from this yesr to past years, and realize that sometimes it may just be “wrong” due to uncontrollable variables.