Everyone take a breath about Crowd Levels. It's not the end of the world!

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Breath in, breath out. Repeat - breath in, breath out. Relax.

Feel better now?

There are multiple threads going on right now about crowd levels, with everyone angsting over the increases. My trip the week of Feb 16 increased quite a bit in a lot of places. But I’m not stressed in the slightest. Why?

  • Whatever TouringPlans predicts, right or wrong, has zero impact on what actually happens. The crowds will be what the crowds will be.
  • It’s not like TP’s older predictions were unreasonable. They looked to be so based on prior years. The new levels are based on new information, mainly last Fall’s increases.
  • I personally think they are being a bit overagressive in their increases, but they know more than me in this area, so I’ll trust them for planning purposes. They’ll probably adjust again once they see if Disney is cutting staff or not in Jan like they did last year. My guess is they’ll adjust downward, probably to a middle point between what they were and what they are now.
  • A 10 is a bit misleading, no matter what. TP has it so that once wait times reach a certain amount, it’s a 10. But looking at historical crowds, there’s a big difference between “normal” 10s and the 10 of Christmas/New Years Eve. Most of these won’t be Christmas-level crowds.

And most importantly:

  • A good touring plan will allow you to have a great time no matter what the CL

So what to do?

  • If you’ve already booked FPs, don’t try to change days in reaction to the changing CLs. Just go with it, re-optimize your plans, and follow them.
  • Continue to reoptimize as your date approaches.
  • Use the plan when in the park. Re-optimize after each attraction to account for real-world conditions.
  • Make use of additional FPs using the grab-and-modify method (explained so well by @OBNurseNH in her post at How to maximize the FPP system to minimize ALL of your waits – not just the first three) .
  • Relax. Have fun. It’s a vacation. Don’t stress about things you can’t control, just plan for them and you will have a great time.

Stop being so…so…reasonable!



Yes this!!! I read the email to check for changes to park hours but I don’t ever look at the crowd levels.



This is the thread I needed to see. I got an email last night about my trip on Tuesday and freaked out!

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All of this!


I’m going to disagree on a fundamental point. This does matter because the touring plans are BASED on the Crowd Level! So if the CL levels are wrong, and on several of the days I’ve already booked FPs for, they’ve doubled, then either that TP was wrong, or the new one will be. This wouldn’t matter if it were not for fastpasses. Park dates have been booked and timed on the basis of crowd levels, now I’m finding I’ve booked FPs for CL10 days I’d never have considered going to.
It does not have zero impact, this is materially affecting the decisions I made on the data I was given, and then changing them to be bad decisions.
A touring plan will still be vitally important but it absolutely has had an impact on my choices already.
Also, it’s just plain wrong. Why has no one sense checked the figures, you just have to run an eye over them to see some major anomalies. They are suggesting Animal Kingdom is a CL10 for nine out the first ten days in March. The next ten days, when it’s Spring Break for the majority of the US, it’s a CL4, it’s just not right.

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All that is changing is the way they are reporting the CLs, not the CLs themselves. In other ACTUAL crowds and ACTUAL wait times are no different today than they were yesterday. But the reported CLs have changed. @len has already indicated there will be a blog post explaining why.

Anyhow, in terms of CLs, I suggest consulting Undercover Tourist’s or Kenny the Pirate’s, which are generally more accurate for CL days. But TP is still much more useful when it comes to planning out the days within the parks themselves.

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I’m not unduly concerned but would like to know how a park on May third increased from a 3 to a 7 in 24 hrs. I use the CLs as a guide so for me I’ve scheduled a park that’s on the low side for a particular day for it to from 3/4 not an issue to go from 3 to 6 is a not good for planning. It’s not the end of the world but the premise of the site it to plan!

I don’t believe this is true - they have re-run their models based on the latest data and estimations, and which has resulted in new wait time profiles and CLs. If you ran your plan yesterday and the again today, you would get totally different results.

I am sure that they have checked them thoroughly. This is one of the reasons that they delayed their December update - it was producing results that they were concerned about, so they did a lot more additional research until they got results that thy were confident in.

Just a small technical point here. Touring plans are based on the wait time profiles created by the model, not the CL value. The CL value is just a summarized view based on the wait time profiles for certain attractions in the park. Therefore, you can run your plan on several different days that have the same CL and come up with totally different results.


They’re suggesting that the first week of March is busier at Animal Kingdom than this Christmas’s confirmed crowd levels. That is on average just less than TWICE the crowd level of 2018. I’d only find that credible if Star Wars was opening early, in the wrong park.
The checking wasn’t thorough enough.

Per the TP Blog post on the Crowd Calendar changes:

Thanksgiving 2018 was busier than expected. Our models treat that as evidence that other peak weeks will be busier too. That is partly why we see large increases during early March, a big week for Spring Break. However, the second half of March sees changes on this update in the downward direction.

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Oh, I get that. I just meant that it isn’t like there was a sudden change in the crowds, but that how they are reporting those crowds has changed. Hmm. Okay, that still sounds confusing. Let me put it this way. If yesterday, they were predicting CL7 and today they are predicting CL10, the actual number of people who will ACTUALLY be in the parks on as of yesterday and today remains the same. Their models may have been updated, but same number of people will still end up showing up!


OK, Mikejs78 wins the positivity award! Thanks Mike! I tend to fall in the middle ground on this one. Is it the end of the world? No. But it’s a big deal. When these updates appeared internally we just about died. It took a while to figure out where they came from. But, you can’t argue the fact that our calendar has underpredicted (in general) for much of late 2018 so that is a big part of it. It scares me that Disney might tinker with capacity again so I don’t mind that our models are leaning on the conservative side for the next few months. Anyway, thanks for your understanding on this and your support in the forums - it is appreciated.


Are you saying that the Great and Powerful @fred has not caused more people to show up by changing his numbers? Heresy! The TP engine controls the world!


This is a very important point - no matter how detailed and “accurate” the models are, WDW can invalidate them with a few simple changes. If you have ever been at a park when a headliner goes down and seen the effect this has on the lines at lesser attractions, you will know what I mean. And when two headliners go down, utter pandemonium even on an otherwise “slow” day.


This is very confusing. This makes me a heretic. But in my other thread, I claimed to be a waffle. Does this make me a heretical waffle?

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You reminded me of another good point that I didn’t even bring up yet. The rate of attractions going offline. There is some evidence that the rate is increasing and this can have an impact on wait times. There isn’t enough evidence to call it a trend yet but some of our attraction models do take into account the rate of breakdown.


Hey @fred since we have you here, I was curious - does the availability of FPs after the 30 and 60 day mark factor as an input at all into your models? I.e. if you see less FPs available for certain attractions, does that indicate a higher-crowd day?