What changes have you noticed in Disney crowds?


Disney Regular
Apr 4, 2000
I realized from a reply that I've been on DIS for 10 years now. In that time I've seen tons of new Disney assistant services (books, boards, apps) to get you through the parks. I'm wondering if any other DIS folks who've been around awhile or new posters, do you think all the unofficial stuff has made a difference in guest patterns? Do you think access to information devalues the information to a degree?


DIS Veteran
Jun 21, 2000
As park veterans, we don't use any assistive devices. We would like to use wait time apps, but don't have the right smart phones, as it's really expensive to use Canadian ones @ WDW. We used a guidebook and Passporter for our 1st trip together after we married (WDW & Cruise), and never again.

Based on what I read on these boards, the touring patterns seem to be off. It's funny to me how people pay money to have someone give them an idea of crowds. This info is based on old crowd patterns, which can, and do change. As an example, we've been coming for 2 weeks each July for 10 years, and have stayed at every resort (except GF) as we are DVC members, and have never seen a July, especially 4th, with these low crowds.

Have talked to tons of CMs and other DVC members, and we are thrilled at the low crowds - less tour groups here as well. Also, lots of walk-ups at restaurants - they aren't as busy either.

Conversely, after 15 trips, I had never seen crowds like what we experienced in March. Our last March was busy, but nothing was like the week of St. Patrick's Day this year. Busiest I have ever seen it - busier than Christmas/NYE and July 4th!!! It was insane!!!

So, in answer to your question, we are our best judge of crowds. If it's too busy, we adjust our schedule, and park hop. If one side of park is crowded, we switch to other side. We hardly wait in any lines at all, as we've BTDT, and so we adjust ourselves according to what we are experiencing in the parks at that time.



DIS Veteran
Aug 2, 2006
Probably the biggest difference between today and, say, the early 90s is how easy it is to find out about discounts. Basically, Disney has an easier time bringing their numbers up through marketing these days.

After that would probably be the unofficial "try this" stuff. We've seen some evidence at the margins that such things may be having significant impact. For example, the recent price increase in the cost of a second bun in response to the number of people ordering a double cheeseburger and an extra bun to split between two people. Without the Internet, there are probably few people who would have thought to do that. But there were apparently enough doing it that Disney saw it as a loss of revenue and acted to stem it.

And then there's the Le Cellier effect. Sans Internet, I doubt that place would be the most difficult ADR to book. On paper, it just doesn't seem like "the place" to book. There are of course other examples of suddenly popular things.

But I think all this is just visible at the edges. I don't think most people who go to WDW spend much time researching or planning. They treat it like any other vacation, and find out enough info to get by. At least, that's what I observe when I'm there.


Surfin' at the Beach Club Villas
Jun 3, 2002
I would have to say that in the beginning (first trip was back in '98) my wife and I made use of some of the WDW trip aides such as "The Unofficial Guide", which really seemed to help us out since we were novices. Looking back now after about 7 trips in the last 8 years we'd like to think that we are some sort of "experts" about what we really need to do.

We have used the Passporter in the past, and continue to get a new version each year, albeit simply to server as a mini-notebook for our trip, so that we can remember what we did. The guides really don't change a whole lot over the years. Maybe there is a new attraction or restaurant here and there, but for the most part the content is fairly the same.

The one thing that we really got use out of on our last trip was Tour Guide Mike. Going down his list of days to visit parks, he was only off on one day, where he projected small crowds at AK, and it was "packed". Thank God it was in December and not overly warm.

Over these last 10-12 years we have seen an increase in the amount of "crowds" during those "slow" periods in early to mid-December. Back in 1998 when we honeymooned during the period of the Food and Wind Festival, there wasn't a great deal of trouble getting a room or getting in anywhere to eat. This year we have had quite a bit of issues with trying to find resort accomodations and making ADRs.

Maybe its a cyclical thing, maybe not. I do feel that the plethora of boards such as this one really have allowed people to make much more informed decisions, and have shifted the crowd balances to different times of the year now.

A Mickeyfan

DIS Veteran
May 31, 2000
Never used a guide and probably never will. I cannot understand how there can be a book that predicts the crowd levels based on previous years either. With each year, there is something different that can effect the crowd level.. take the economy for one thing.. hurricanes are another. While such and such date a year ago was at a level 8 for crowds, that same day can be a 4 in the current year due to an approaching storm.. or even a new attraction could have been added so a level 3 on such and such day last year would be a 10 this year... I do understand how you can "judge" the crowds by the season, but not the level by the day.. I would love to have written one of those books, I would have made a fortune by now selling it...:lmao:

opps.. forgot to answer the actual question... do I see a difference in the crowds at Disney. Yes, I do, I see more crowds than back in the 70's, 80's & 90's..:upsidedow I also feel that there are more "rude" people than before as well. However it could still be the same percent, but just more since there are more people. Now ask me if I see a difference in the parks.. not that you asked, but there are less CM's now, the parks aren't as clean as they used to be (is it less CM's or guests who just litter) and the bathrooms are no where near as clean as they were (again, less CM's or sloppier guests). Oh, and prices have gone thru the roof...;)


Visit WDW since '86, driving since '94.
May 6, 2008
Maybe its a cyclical thing, maybe not. I do feel that the plethora of boards such as this one really have allowed people to make much more informed decisions, and have shifted the crowd balances to different times of the year now.
I think this is VERY true. The "inside secret" of when to go is WAY out.


DIS Cast Member<br><font color=purple>OMG! I am ab
Aug 20, 2005
I think this is VERY true. The "inside secret" of when to go is WAY out.
And I think that is more because of repeated travel channel shows telling everyone how not busy early December was and what a good deal it was to go during that time b/c you still get to see the Christmas decrations (yes Sam Brown, I mean you and all your big 'secrets', you blabbermouth). I dont think the guidebooks really play alot into it as much as message boards like this do. Virtually everyone can get online for free and ask questions and get answers o ndemand, people have to invest more time into reading a guidebook and the cost is higher.

We go the same week every year (Labor Day) since 2002 and yes since the first year it has gotten busier each year. Free dining started in 05 and every year since has added to the crowds but not overwhelmingly as bad as other times of the year.

I think several things have factored into the increase in crowds from economy (and no I don't mean the bad economy) to vacation now being relished as a "right" and to be "deserved" and not a privelage as it was always regarded before. Even just 10 years ago taking vacations were still considered more of a luxuray than now. Also MYW and the value resorts have drawn in more visitors than before and have opened up disney as a destination that is obtainable to more people.
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