Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is an exciting endeavor. It can also feel like an overwhelming endeavor throughout the planning process. As such, many people turn to crowd prediction calendars across various Disney planning sites to help predict crowd levels on their travel dates. And while they certainly CAN be a tool in your Disney planning arsenal, let’s look at a few reasons why it’s important to be cautious about ascribing too much value to crowd calendar predictions.
Foolproof or Foolish?
Crowd prediction calendars are predominantly based on historical data and projections. Often, these projections are based on outdated models and assumptions. If you follow Walt Disney World crowd patterns, you know that, outside of specific weeks, there’s a lot of variance year over year. Even models based on the previous year’s crowd levels can be inaccurate. Often this is because they can’t account for things like unexpected marketing decisions (e.g. new discounts, pricing, offerings, events) that might significantly impact crowd levels.
At issue is the expectation that this creates. Imagine carefully scheduling your trip during a period when the calendar predicts low attendance, only to be greeted by large crowds and long wait times. It can be incredibly frustrating.
More than Crowds
Furthermore, crowd calendars often focus solely on crowd levels. While this may seem intuitive, crowd levels don’t necessarily align with the actual concern – wait times. Aspects like weather conditions and operational decisions have a big impact on wait times. A series of bad weather days, even in the middle of a “busy” week can significantly change wait times for the better. Operational decisions like running attractions and dining establishments at reduced capacity or limited hours can increase wait times even in “non-busy” times.
You might find that despite the calendar indicating low attendance, it doesn’t necessarily “feel” like low attendance.
A Holistic Approach
Relying too heavily on crowd calendars can also create unnecessary stress and anxiety. Constantly second-guessing your decision and worrying if you’ve chosen the right time for your visit takes away from the joy and excitement that should come with a trip to Walt Disney World. I’ve even known folks that have cancelled their trips based on crowd calendar changes.
Instead, I recommend taking a more holistic approach. Consider factors like your personal schedule, budget constraints, and individual interests. Take into account desired weather conditions, attraction refurbishment schedules, and any special events happening during your desired visit period. It makes complete sense to allow these variables to influence when you choose to visit. By doing so, you’ll be able to create an itinerary that aligns with your preferences and expectations.
And when setting those expectations, I find that it’s best to always assume you’ll be visiting during a crowded time. That will help ensure you remain realistic in your planning. It’s worth noting that if you DO find yourself dealing with heavy crowds on a visit, you can always purchase Genie+ – Disney’s line-skip service – to alleviate your wait times.
Just One Tool
So while crowd calendars can be useful when planning a Disney World vacation, they shouldn’t be the sole basis for your decision. For my purposes, I tend to lean more on Disney hotel and ticket pricing to predict crowd levels. g Regardless, by considering a variety of factors and staying adaptable, you can be sure you’re booking a magical vacation regardless of when you choose to visit.
And If you need help with this booking, I’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of theme park vacation planning and would love to help you plan your next visit to Walt Disney World. Complete my simple get started form or contact me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @nextstopaaron to begin planning your next theme park vacation.
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