Touring plans updated crowd calendar for Jan 5 2019

Klayfish

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 19, 2016
I'm a bit disappointed. We had a very limited time frame to work with, as we are travelling from Australia, and this period is our school holidays. I did so much research before booking the dates, and knew it was a Saturday, but a 10 level crowd? OMG.

My DD 17 has anxiety problems, especially in crowded places. Is there anything I can do to try and miss some of the crowds? Does Disney have anything that can help in a situation like that?
Seriously, ignore the "crowd" calendars. They don't even actually try to predict crowds, they try to predict ride wait times, which may or may not be related to crowd size. So even the name "crowd calendar" is misleading. They have no true accuracy value. Don't bother, and don't let them get you concerned. Just because they "predict" the crowd will be a 10 (whatever that actually means anyway), doesn't make it a fact...by any stretch.

Maybe here's a better way to answer your questions. The busiest week of the year at WDW is Xmas to New Years. I've done that week twice, in '15 and again last year. All of the parks are much busier than most other times of the year, it's busy to be sure. There are very few times where it was actually truly "wall to wall" people. When we did experience that, it was almost always in MK. After fireworks is one time, and after a parade is another. That was the only time we were "stuck" in the crowd and couldn't actually go anywhere...even then it only lasted a few minutes until the crowd started to disperse (we were in Liberty Square). The rest of the time, there will be lines for most everything...womens bathrooms (mens don't have lines), quick service restaurants, etc... But if you have patience, you'll be fine.

Yes, doing "rope drop" can help avoid crowds. The first hour or two the parks are open are the least crowded. Same for the last hour or so, that's often far less crowded. Try to plan attractions during the busiest part of the day that aren't as popular...such as Carousel of Progress, or Tough to be a Bug, or Pixar short films. Use FP+ to your advantage.

Really, don't get worked up over some projection of what a crowd might be. Nobody really knows for sure, and any guess is just that... a guess.
 

mamaofsix

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 8, 2017
We have been there on level 10 days (Spring Break) and have learned from our mistakes. We also have those in our group with anxiety who hates crowds. Strategies we have found helpful:

-Get to the gates 45 minutes before advertised opening time and line up for rides that are likely to have longer waits later.

-Do our 3 fps at 10, 11 and 12.

-Have an ADR around 1:00 and spend that next hour or two relaxed in AC around a dining table together :)

-Do shows in the afternoons. They are cool, relaxing, and never have long lines. For example, MK: Carousal of Progress, Hall of Presidents, Laugh Floor, PeopleMover. EP: France Film, American Adventure, Canada Film. AK: Nemo, Lion King. HS: Indiana Jones, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast

-Avoid crowded pathways and bottlenecks by getting around the parks in a different way. For example, the railroad at MK, the friendship boats at Epcot (if they're open), less crowded side streets at HS.

-Bring in a picnic for Supper to avoid long lines at Quick Service. Research ahead of time a quiet place to sit and eat (Covered Tables near Pete's Silly Side in MK, the gardens/benches behind the UK pavilion in Epcot, Tables by the water near FlameTree BBQ in AK).

-After the evening fireworks, walk around or stay put for an hour or so before trying to leave. Avoids the crush of humanity at the gates.

Hopefully the tips you get on Disboards will help to make the trip special for you!! Honestly our friends who have a terrible time and complain about the crowds are usually the ones who go in with no plan or strategies whatsoever. If you have a flexible plan, you will have a great time :)
 

gap2368

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
I think the most accurate prediction is:
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter: Crazy busy
Any other time: Busy
Hurricane: Less Busy
You for got to add New Year’s Eve but this could be why the —— did I go to Disney
 
  • MickeyWaffles

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2010
    -Bring in a picnic for Supper to avoid long lines at Quick Service. Research ahead of time a quiet place to sit and eat (Covered Tables near Pete's Silly Side in MK, the gardens/benches behind the UK pavilion in Epcot, Tables by the water near FlameTree BBQ in AK).
    And if you want to do quick service, mobile ordering also helps! There’s nothing like not having to wait in those long ordering lines. Tables at QS can be hard to find, but on the very busy days we eat at off times and that helps.

    OP, you are getting great tips! And really, don’t work yourself up over the specific crowd level prediction. Anything can happen. Expect it to be very busy and if it is not, be pleasantly surprised :)
     

    js

    Been around since before the disboards 90s crash
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2000
    I'm a bit disappointed. We had a very limited time frame to work with, as we are travelling from Australia, and this period is our school holidays. I did so much research before booking the dates, and knew it was a Saturday, but a 10 level crowd? OMG.

    My DD 17 has anxiety problems, especially in crowded places. Is there anything I can do to try and miss some of the crowds? Does Disney have anything that can help in a situation like that?
    If you do a search with my user name for a couple of years ago, I did a quick review I believe of our trip between December 26-January 1. My family of four with kids 18 and 21 stayed at SSR and our transportation to the parks were buses.

    I can tell you we never waited in any line, really but we had a plan and I made sure I was prepared (just like you are doing now).

    If you don't want to be in lines, you need to get to the parks an hour early before RD. You need to be in front of the crowds. For very busy times, Disney also usually opens their parks earlier than expected, at least they did when we went during that time. Since you are at the parks an hour before RD, you will be ahead of the crowds.

    I used our early morning, for instance, at MK to do FL and then Haunted and then our FPs started, perhaps at 9:30 am/10 am. We were done by lunch and left the parks. We never stayed in the parks after 12/1 pm. For MK and Epcot, we did return in the evenings but at Epcot evening we did dinner, counties and Illuminations and at MK, we did HoP, Mickey's Philla, People Mover, etc.

    My mom, dd-24 and I will be at Disney same time, January 4-12, and while I have seen TPs have 5-6 crowd calendars for that time, I knew it would be more and expecting heavy crowds due to Christmas/NYE and Marathon.

    Your/our January 5 day is at the end of Christmas/NYE crowds and the week following will have Marathon people coming in. Honestly, if I can avoid it, going to a park
    on a Saturday isn't on top of my list but we all different.

    I'm guessing you have your FPs since I did mine for my trip on Monday so go in with a solid plan and if you do not want crowds, get out at lunch. You will be walking down
    Main Street with a lot accomplished while you will see the many thousands coming in just getting started.

    See you at Disney LOL
     
    Last edited:

    ilanakan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2012
    Tell us more about where you are staying and what park you want to go to on Saturday. (Generally - all Saturday’s are at least a 7 anyway..)

    Rope Drop - be there REALLY early (like 45 min before opening) - the first hour can be VERY helpful. And have a plan of where you want to go before you arrive so you can be positioned at the right rope. (EasyWDW And TP and maybe Robo too all have good pictures on where to stand for various attractions/lands).

    Book FP for headliners.

    Take a mid-day Break from the heat and crowds. We would advise to use your 3 FP by 1pm and the reserve a 4th for after your return. But this works best if you are staying close by - mid day breaks at MK are extra long if you are driving to MK/parking at TTC instead of using Disney transport.

    Bring cell phone portable chargers. For FP /wait times and also so that your daughter can be distracted with screen time if the surroundings are too much.

    Consider upcharge events to avoid waiting for things like parades and fireworks.

    Learn about DAS and see if it’s something that would help your daughter.

    With good FP secured - we can do most other parks on 8,9,10 days having to wait in only one headliner line..MK is harder to do if your goal is all headliners.
    We're staying at AOA. Breakfast booked for Be Our Guest. Got Faspasses for Space mountain, Peter Pan & Seven Dwarfs. Thankfully, we also have reservations for the dessert party. I thought we would do the parade, but now we will definitely pass on that. What is DAS?
     

    ilanakan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2012
    If you do a search with my user name for a couple of years ago, I did a quick review I believe of our trip between December 26-January 1. My family of four with kids 18 and 21 stayed at SSR and our transportation to the parks were buses.

    I can tell you we never waited in any line, really but we had a plan and I made sure I was prepared (just like you are doing now).

    If you don't want to be in lines, you need to get to the parks an hour early before RD. You need to be in front of the crowds. For very busy times, Disney also usually opens their parks earlier than expected, at least they did when we went during that time. Since you are at the parks an hour before RD, you will be ahead of the crowds.

    I used our early morning, for instance, at MK to do FL and then Haunted and then our FPs started, perhaps at 9:30 am/10 am. We were done by lunch and left the parks. We never stayed in the parks after 12/1 pm. For MK and Epcot, we did return in the evenings but at Epcot evening we did dinner, counties and Illuminations and at MK, we did HoP, Mickey's Philla, People Mover, etc.

    My mom, dd-24 and I will be at Disney same time, January 4-12, and while I have seen TPs have 5-6 crowd calendars for that time, I knew it would be more and expecting heavy crowds due to Christmas/NYE and Marathon.

    Your/our January 5 day is at the end of Christmas/NYE crowds and the week following will have Marathon people coming in. Honestly, if I can avoid it, going to a park
    on a Saturday isn't on top of my list but we all different.

    I'm guessing you have your FPs since I did mine for my trip on Monday so go in with a solid plan and if you do not want crowds, get out at lunch. You will be walking down
    Main Street with a lot accomplished while you will see the many thousands coming in just getting started.

    See you at Disney LOL
    Thank you so much. I am pretty much on top of the planning, with day plans, and FP all set. We have BOG resi's for breakfast, so we will be there early, and booked the Happily Ever After dessert party. DH insisted on booking with the seating - at this point, with the crowds, I thank him for that :)

    I planned some rides prior to the first FP (Space Mountain), and have Peter Pan & 7 Dwarfs for the other FP.

    We thought to do the parade, but now we'll skip it. But because of the dessert party, we will have to stay in the park (staying at AOA), so we'll try to take it easy, have snack rests, and escape into the shops.

    We'll wave to you on main street :)
     
  • cel_disney

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2007
    What time is your BOG breakfast? You should watch out for that and make sure park hours do not change and open up before your reservation. Loosing prime time to a breakfast reservation would not be recommended.

    I’m sure the parks will be open late - you could definitely head back to the resort for a while as you are staying on property if you need to - but you are right - that you could just chill in the park (which means there is no reason NOT to watch the parade!!)

    My advise would be to try to change your breakfast to a lunch reservation. The parks will surely open by 8 (even if it’s not published as opening that early), and you will have been there since 7:30 to rope drop and By 1pm - you will be ready for a quality rest in air conditioning!

    After lunch you can decide if you need a break from the parks for the afternoon or if you can keep busy without being impacted by the crowds (Philharmagic, Laugh Floor and then things like Stage show, parade, Dapper Dans, Magic Photos, and if you still need more time - Carousel of Progress, Tiki Room, Country Bears, Shopping etc). Also - as soon as your 3rd FP is used - make sure to grab a fourth! The biggest upside about a ‘10’ Day is that Disney should have everything running at capacity which will maximize the chances of getting addition FP as the day goes on! And use the refresh strategy - on busy days people change/abandon plans more often..
     

    Hoodie

    <font color=purple>Going to BC and GF with one wee
    Joined
    Jun 3, 2008
    As others have said, toss crowd predictions out the window. As an example, while in the park this week, I optimized our Touring Plan as we had an adjustment. After refreshing, TP told us to go to an attraction - Wait time estimate on the plan 17 minutes, "currently 59 minutes." Both on the same attraction. TP had our "plan" completing that attraction, one other attraction and arriving at the third in that hour. When actual wait time is 3 times as long, TP isn't effective at all.
     

    gap2368

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2015
    We're staying at AOA. Breakfast booked for Be Our Guest. Got Faspasses for Space mountain, Peter Pan & Seven Dwarfs. Thankfully, we also have reservations for the dessert party. I thought we would do the parade, but now we will definitely pass on that. What is DAS?
    The das is the disability access pass for people that can not be in a stander line environment it give that a place in line to wait the same amyof time as other without being in the line
     

    gap2368

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2015
    My DD 17 has anxiety problems, especially in crowded places. Is there anything I can do to try and miss some of the crowds? Does Disney have anything that can help in a situation like that?
    When you get to your first park go into guest relation and talk to them about your DD needs let them know what happens when she is crowded places. You do not need a dr note just you or her telling them her needs. There is a pass but it will be up to you to exsplain why she needs it. You still wait in line just not the physical line. Also you can post her needs on the disability part of this form there are lots of us with anxiety problems over there with tidbits that can really help make the trip better
     
  • NavyDad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2012
    Jan 5 is the last Sat of NYs week. The way the holidays fall this year, lots of school districts will have that week off (ours does). Granted, that Sat is probably when a lot of the crowd will start to go home but based on this year's pattern, that day probably always should have been high.

    Since they went to the new methodology with the monthly updates, I feel like the trend is to start out low and slowly ramp up as the dates come closer. That doesn't seem helpful to me. I'd rather know the high end of how bad it's likely to be when picking my Park days and then be pleasantly surprised.

    All that said, Josh at easyWDW did an analysis of the actual wait times for the first half of this year and found that the average wait time for each ride on the worse day of the week was only 5 minutes longer than the average wait for the lowest crowd day of each week at MK. And the difference between most of the rest of the days was negligible. So once you have picked your week, it probably doesn't matter too much which day you pick. If you pick 'wrong' it's probably not going to have a huge impact other than holiday or major event days.
    Josh has also done a good job explaining why crowd calendars don't really work anymore especially if you are looking at specific days. You may still be able to use them for very general guidance on a specific week or month but even that is shaky at best. He also laid out lots of data showing that the old "slow" months like January have been getting busier while the "busy" months in the summer have seen lower crowds. I don't think Josh has done a crowd calendar for at least a year for many of those reasons. I personally use Kenny the Pirate because it's quick to find and has all the info I'm looking for as far as events and park hours. He basically takes everything that was on the TA calendar and mixes it in with the "crowd calendar".

    If your number one goal is to avoid crowds and long waits there are a few strategies that are far more reliable than crowd calendars:

    1. Rope drop or late night. The first 2 hours and last two hours a park is open will usually be the lowest crowds and wait times. Most people here know that but some first time visitors don't understand. I want to save people from my first family day at MK where we arrived at Noon and spent 5 hours riding about 3 rides and wandering around the hub.

    2. Avoid EMH days at all costs. I know there are some people that swear by EMH or don't want to miss out on a "perk" but as Josh and many other people have explained EMH days can have over 100% higher crowds than non EMH days. If you are looking at avoiding crowds and lines, visiting a park the day after they had EMH is usually the best strategy.
     

    NavyDad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2012
    If you do a search with my user name for a couple of years ago, I did a quick review I believe of our trip between December 26-January 1. My family of four with kids 18 and 21 stayed at SSR and our transportation to the parks were buses.

    I can tell you we never waited in any line, really but we had a plan and I made sure I was prepared (just like you are doing now).

    If you don't want to be in lines, you need to get to the parks an hour early before RD. You need to be in front of the crowds. For very busy times, Disney also usually opens their parks earlier than expected, at least they did when we went during that time. Since you are at the parks an hour before RD, you will be ahead of the crowds.

    I used our early morning, for instance, at MK to do FL and then Haunted and then our FPs started, perhaps at 9:30 am/10 am. We were done by lunch and left the parks. We never stayed in the parks after 12/1 pm. For MK and Epcot, we did return in the evenings but at Epcot evening we did dinner, counties and Illuminations and at MK, we did HoP, Mickey's Philla, People Mover, etc.

    My mom, dd-24 and I will be at Disney same time, January 4-12, and while I have seen TPs have 5-6 crowd calendars for that time, I knew it would be more and expecting heavy crowds due to Christmas/NYE and Marathon.

    Your/our January 5 day is at the end of Christmas/NYE crowds and the week following will have Marathon people coming in. Honestly, if I can avoid it, going to a park
    on a Saturday isn't on top of my list but we all different.

    I'm guessing you have your FPs since I did mine for my trip on Monday so go in with a solid plan and if you do not want crowds, get out at lunch. You will be walking down
    Main Street with a lot accomplished while you will see the many thousands coming in just getting started.

    See you at Disney LOL
    This is all great advice. Anyone going during a busy time that wants to manage crowds and lines should read this and your trip report. I used to be an all day commando type person but DW would tire out so now we use this strategy during busy times. Arrive at the park an hour before rope drop, leave around lunch and go back to our room for nap time or swimming. Come back around dinner time. Depending on park hours we are still getting about 8 hours in the park but we are in the parks at the lowest crowd and wait times while avoiding that terrible time of like 1-4 PM where crowds get insane.
     

    PrincessWithABlaster

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2016
    Josh has also done a good job explaining why crowd calendars don't really work anymore especially if you are looking at specific days. You may still be able to use them for very general guidance on a specific week or month but even that is shaky at best. He also laid out lots of data showing that the old "slow" months like January have been getting busier while the "busy" months in the summer have seen lower crowds. I don't think Josh has done a crowd calendar for at least a year for many of those reasons. I personally use Kenny the Pirate because it's quick to find and has all the info I'm looking for as far as events and park hours. He basically takes everything that was on the TA calendar and mixes it in with the "crowd calendar".

    If your number one goal is to avoid crowds and long waits there are a few strategies that are far more reliable than crowd calendars:

    1. Rope drop or late night. The first 2 hours and last two hours a park is open will usually be the lowest crowds and wait times. Most people here know that but some first time visitors don't understand. I want to save people from my first family day at MK where we arrived at Noon and spent 5 hours riding about 3 rides and wandering around the hub.

    2. Avoid EMH days at all costs. I know there are some people that swear by EMH or don't want to miss out on a "perk" but as Josh and many other people have explained EMH days can have over 100% higher crowds than non EMH days. If you are looking at avoiding crowds and lines, visiting a park the day after they had EMH is usually the best strategy.
    Agree on completely on RD and late night but actually in the same post I referenced, Josh showed with data why EMH isn't so bad. The worst day for waits on average at MK is Sat which is typically not an EMH day. The typical EMH days are generally no worse at MK than other weekdays. If you look at TP data, you can see it there too. It used to be true that EMH days were bad, but that appears to have changed.
     

    js

    Been around since before the disboards 90s crash
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2000
    This is all great advice. Anyone going during a busy time that wants to manage crowds and lines should read this and your trip report. I used to be an all day commando type person but DW would tire out so now we use this strategy during busy times. Arrive at the park an hour before rope drop, leave around lunch and go back to our room for nap time or swimming. Come back around dinner time. Depending on park hours we are still getting about 8 hours in the park but we are in the parks at the lowest crowd and wait times while avoiding that terrible time of like 1-4 PM where crowds get insane.
    Thank you very much for the kind post.

    OP, what time is your breakfast. Like others and I have said, there is an extremely good chance the parks will open earlier than posted (heck, they do that now for AK) and NO WAY should you be wasting very valuable early morning ride time eating breakfast. That is a killer. I wouldnt even suggest doing this after Labor Day when it is much slower. You want to be up early and at RD for the attractions, not breakfast.

    Also, by 11 am, the parks may be wall to wall people if it is a predicted 10 crowd level. GO BACK TO YOUR HOTEL for or after lunch. You will have plenty of time to go back, rest and head back for evening where you can do CoP, People Mover, HoP, etc. If you are trying to avoid crowds, being in the park at 1 pm, will not accomplish this goal.

    Good luck and let us know about breakfast and your plans.
     

    bizeemom4

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2004
    We have been in the parks since Friday. Touring Plans projections have been a joke. They predicted 3s and 1s and we got 6s and 7s. I would take crowd predictions very lightly.

    Ultimately it doesnt matter. With rope dropping and refreshing fast passes we have been able to do everything we wanted without waiting in a line longer than 20 minutes.
    It's Jersey week and election week, end of food and wine AND marathon week. I would not have expected anything less than 8s for this week. I've had horrible experiences the last 2 years with this timeframe and won't do it again.
     

    NinjaCat

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 14, 2014
    It's Jersey week and election week, end of food and wine AND marathon week. I would not have expected anything less than 8s for this week. I've had horrible experiences the last 2 years with this timeframe and won't do it again.
    I wouldnt say it was horrible at all. We were able to do everything we wanted to do. And by grabbing additional fast passes, we didnt wait more than 20 minutes for anything over our 5 days.

    But it was busy. And it was obvious to you and me and many other people that it would be. You laid out all the reasons why the parks would not be empty. My question is why didnt Touring Plans see things as clearly as the rest of us? A small part of me hoped that they knew something the rest of us didnt. But they were very wrong, which makes me question their methods of “predicting” crowds. It seemed pretty straightforward that the parka would be extra busy.
     

    ilanakan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2012
    Thank you very much for the kind post.

    OP, what time is your breakfast. Like others and I have said, there is an extremely good chance the parks will open earlier than posted (heck, they do that now for AK) and NO WAY should you be wasting very valuable early morning ride time eating breakfast. That is a killer. I wouldnt even suggest doing this after Labor Day when it is much slower. You want to be up early and at RD for the attractions, not breakfast.

    Also, by 11 am, the parks may be wall to wall people if it is a predicted 10 crowd level. GO BACK TO YOUR HOTEL for or after lunch. You will have plenty of time to go back, rest and head back for evening where you can do CoP, People Mover, HoP, etc. If you are trying to avoid crowds, being in the park at 1 pm, will not accomplish this goal.

    Good luck and let us know about breakfast and your plans.
    Breakfast is at 8:10. I have FP's for SM 10:45; PP 11:50 & SDM 12:55. Those were the earliest I could get. I am looking into the DAS card option at the moment. The problem is that the parks close relatively early and we are worried we won't manage to do everything we want to if we cut the day in half. Sadly, because of our distance, we can't get to Orlando very often, last trip was in 2013 :(, so when we do get here, we want to do all and everything.
     

    ilanakan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2012
    I wouldnt say it was horrible at all. We were able to do everything we wanted to do. And by grabbing additional fast passes, we didnt wait more than 20 minutes for anything over our 5 days.

    But it was busy. And it was obvious to you and me and many other people that it would be. You laid out all the reasons why the parks would not be empty. My question is why didnt Touring Plans see things as clearly as the rest of us? A small part of me hoped that they knew something the rest of us didnt. But they were very wrong, which makes me question their methods of “predicting” crowds. It seemed pretty straightforward that the parka would be extra busy.
    True. I really relied on TP with my planning. Coming from Australia, I am unaware of US holidays or special events. If I would have known the 5th would be so busy, I would have skipped MK for that day and visited another less packed park. Now with our dining reservations (BOG isn't something you can change that easily) and dessert party booking, not to mention other parks dining reservations, we are literally stuck with this plan.

    Due to the new prediction, and after hearing from all of you guys (thank you so much for that), I am spreading out the day a bit more, and we will try to take things easy (well, as much as possible).
     

    js

    Been around since before the disboards 90s crash
    Joined
    Jan 18, 2000
    Breakfast is at 8:10. I have FP's for SM 10:45; PP 11:50 & SDM 12:55. Those were the earliest I could get. I am looking into the DAS card option at the moment. The problem is that the parks close relatively early and we are worried we won't manage to do everything we want to if we cut the day in half. Sadly, because of our distance, we can't get to Orlando very often, last trip was in 2013 :(, so when we do get here, we want to do all and everything.
    I would most certainly cancel your breakfast. You have a sit down dinner and a dessert party the same day so skip the breakfast. Your breakfast is PRIME time of a less crowded park. You should get to the park before opening do the attractions and go back after your last FP. Or do your last FP and then eat lunch and head back to your hotel. You want your kids not to be stressed or it wont be fun for anyone and you really will have time to go back and rest. If it were me, I would do my last FP and eat back at the hotel, less people and rest. The parks will be PACKED. There is a very good chance they will open before posted opening time and they may soon extend the hours so it may stay open later. When you are back at hotel or on bus back to hotel try to secure another FP for when you return. Your breakfast, though, is eating away at valuable less crowded park time.
     


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