Every single year, millions of people visit the theme parks at Walt Disney World, and every single day, guests are still trying to figure out how to avoid the crowds. People try to determine if they can hit up the parks when as few people as possible are there, but it seems next to impossible to really know. That is why a lot of Disney fans rely on crowd calendars to tell them when to book their trips, but is there much accuracy to them at all?
Crowd calendars are all over the internet out there and primarily used by guests to determine when they should take their vacations to Walt Disney World. Sure, they also have to look at their vacation time and when the kids can get out of school, but a lot of people swear religiously by these crowd calendars.
While there may be some accuracy to crowd calendars, it is not the greatest idea to put full confidence in them. You’re putting a lot of money into these vacations, and while it may not ever be possible to find a time when the crowds are to your liking, there are some things to know about crowd calendars that may have you doubt their reliability.
Crowd calendars are mostly based off of historical data and usually just take into account how attendance was in the parks the last few years. That is the primary way of figuring out whether a particular day has very low crowds, low crowds, moderate crowds, high crowds, or if it will be packed.
Some websites will take into account the different holidays, RunDisney marathons, and even the school breaks for some of the bigger cities around the United States. The only problem is that there are a lot of school districts around the country and a lot of holidays/breaks for different reasons.
While it is possible to give a semi-accurate prediction of the busier and less crowded times of year at Walt Disney World, it is virtually impossible to forecast levels for each day. It just can’t be done with any kind of reliability.
When trying to figure out when you can have low crowd levels for your WDW trip, you need to take into account:
- National holidays, federal holidays, and state holidays (Mardi Gras, for example)
- School breaks from around the country
- Sporting events in Orlando
- Sporting events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports
- Conventions being held at Walt Disney World or in the surrounding areas
- Festivals and events going on at Walt Disney World (Festival of the Arts, holiday parties, Food & Wine, Flower & Garden, etc.)
- Which rides and how many are under refurbishment
- New ride or land openings
All of those could play into how crowd levels are at the parks, but there is even more than that. There are those things that no one can predict such as Hurricane Irma which caused thousands and thousands of people to cancel trips and reschedule them. Those rescheduled vacations caused most crowd calendar predictions to be way off yet again.
One of the good things about a site such as Touring Plans is that they give updates each day on how their crowd calendar predictions fared the day before. That’s helpful, but it still doesn’t necessarily help matters if you thought the crowds would be a level of two (rather low), but they ended up being a level of six (moderately crowded).
Having lived literally behind Magic Kingdom for the last five and a half years, trips into the park have become almost a daily occurrence. Every single trip into any of the parks is proceeded by looking at anywhere from four to five different crowd calendars.
While there is no exact percentage of how inaccurate they are, the predictions are off a lot more than they are spot on. They’re even more off than they are close to being correct most of the time, and that is because there are simply too many factors going into trying to judge crowd levels.
This is not to say that crowd calendars should be avoided at all costs, but they should only be used as a small portion of your planning process. When it comes to choosing your dates, get a general idea and then look at a number of other variables if you’re looking for the lowest crowd levels.
No one that creates a crowd calendar should be looked down upon for their effort, and it isn’t their fault if the predictions are off. It’s just difficult to put much confidence into crowd calendars when every variable in the world can throw the numbers off in an instant and typically do.
There could be times that the projections are spot on, but don’t be surprised if they aren’t. Just take more into account when deciding on your vacation dates.
Going to Walt Disney World is something that takes a great deal of expertise and planning, and that is why so many people choose to leave it in the hands of travel agents. Still, a large number of guests enjoy picking out when they want to head to the magical parks in Orlando, and they think these crowd calendars are going to truly help them. While they may provide a bit of insight into how crowd levels could be, they should not be all you rely on when figuring out when to head to WDW.
[Featured Image by Danny Cox]