Can crowd sizes impact my visit Disney World?
There’s no doubt that the lower the crowds, the better the time you can have at Disney World. When crowds increase, so do resort costs. During peak crowd times, ticket prices go up. Lines grow, and wait times can become crazy long.
I recently heard comedian Jim Gaffigan joke about his family trip to Disney. He said that visiting Disney was like going to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Anyone who’s been to the DMV knows that it’s all about lines and waiting. Though anything can change at Disney World at any time, it has known attendance peaks and valleys. Gaffigan mentioned that he went in the summer, which is a peak crowd period, and his joke was based on reality.
In the parks, Disney usually has great “people moving” strategies, especially compared to some of the other Orlando and Tampa area parks. The parks are large with a lot to see, so it can still be difficult to see everything in any of the Disney parks in one day. During the peak crowd periods it can be downright impossible, stressful and frustrating. Having to wait in long lines can really limit your experience.
Post COVID, everything has changed. Disney is still keeping the maximum crowd sizes lower than before. Of course, that could change at any time. And regardless, there are still times when you can expect greater crowds, and times when there are less.
Do crowd levels really impact the quality of your Disney World trip?
Many people find that pushing through crowds takes away from their enjoyment and makes it a more stressful experience. It’s also more challenging to get restaurant reservations. And getting in to most full-service restaurants without a reservation becomes almost impossible.
Bigger crowds at Disney mean longer attraction lines, and consequently you’ll experience fewer attractions. During peak times you can wait as much as 90 minutes or more to get into an attraction. During slower times you may be able to get into that same attraction in 5 minutes, or even right away.
Crowds also make it more difficult to navigate ECVs, wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
So how do I choose my Disney World travel dates?
When choosing your travel dates, one of the most important factors to consider is the projected crowd size at Disney.
We realize that not everyone has a choice of when to travel. If it’s humanly possible, try to visit during the less busy times. If your schedule only permits traveling to Disney during peak crowd periods, we feel it’s still worth going. Disney is still Disney (deep, huh?), and you can have a great time even with crowds. It’s just important to adjust your touring strategies and to have realistic expectations of how much you can do. Simply, we suggest you decide which attractions are an absolute must, and go for those first.
There are some consistent and recognizable peaks and valleys in park attendance.
For example, during the summer when kids are off from school it will be very crowded. Long weekends as well as holidays will also be mobbed.
Can you always predict Disney World Park crowd sizes accurately?
Despite our best planning, everything can change. We’ve gone when it was supposed to be low to moderate crowds and found it more on the heavy side. This may be because Disney runs special programs during slow times to bring in more guests, and it often works. This makes crowd level predictions a little more complex.
Having advance crowd projections and touring plans can help you manage your park time.
Several books and websites give readers touring plans for seeing the most attractions possible with the least amount of waiting. A couple of these businesses have made a science of predicting crowds and creating the most time efficient plans for touring the parks. They’ve collected park data for years.
For example they watch movement patterns of the crowds throughout the parks studying where people go and when they go there. They document crowd conditions by date and determine the influence of various factors upon crowd size. Some factors include special park events such as the Christmastime Candlelight Processional, and specially-ticketed evening events such as the Christmas and Halloween parties. Also National holidays and school vacations.
They utilize complex formulas to create touring plans, and they’ve tested and retested them. Simply said, they’re goal is to help you do more in less time, and for most people this means a more enjoyable trip. Practically speaking, these services can help you:
- Pick your travel dates.
- Choose the parks you want to be in each day.
- Pick the order of the attractions you want to go on.
Unfortunately some of the sites that were sharing crowd calendars have stopped doing it. However there are still a couple resources that are still active. Below are a couple of these websites that we know of. However, keep in mind that this is not an exact, full-proof science and things can change quickly at Disney. We and they are unable to guarantee that their projections are accurate. Here are some options for touring plan resources:
Our favorite Disney World crowd prediction tools
Our favorite website is www.touringplans.com. They predicts crowds in each park for each day of the year! They use a lot of different variables to predict crowds, which they explain on their site. We always use this tool when picking our dates. They also help you create touring plans.
Visit the touringplans.com site Crowd Calendar here.
You’ll be able to see the statistics for the next month for free, but you’ll have to join the site for a fee to go beyond that. Last I checked the price was $11.95, but there are discounts to those who own their guide books, including The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World which we highly recommend. This tool will also let you know which parks within Disney will be best to visit or avoid in light of projected crowd conditions, for each day. It also comes with some other great tools such as the dining reservation finder.
Free options are available though they’re not as complete as touringplans.com:
- wdwprepschool.com. They have a crowd calendar, though it’s not as detailed as touringplans.com. The site also gives advice on best times to visit.
- Dadsguidetowdw.com – Dad has a free calendar that’s very simple to read.
Crowd Tools to use during your visit:
Various mobile apps are available that can help during your visit. Disney’s My Disney Experience has current wait times for the rides in the four main parks. Verizon and Disney teamed up to make a free Smart Phone app called Mobile Magic for Verizon customers. Undercover Tourist has an app with both a free and a paid version. Touringplans.com also has an app. It’s free to download the app, but to get the information you’ll want, you’ll need a subscription to the touringplans.com site as mentioned above.
Creating your own touring plans for your Disney World visit.
We recommend that you create your own plan before going to the parks, but stay flexible! While the touring plans offered by the above sources can be excellent for cutting down wait times when the lines are long, they’re not always completely feasible for those with certain challenges. When it comes down to it, there’s really no one size fits all. Those with extra challenges may need to further customize the plans to fit their own needs.
Here’s one possible process for planning your Disney trip in advance:
- Pick your travel dates using a tool such as touringplans.com crowd projections.
- Create a calendar showing each day of your trip.
- Determine which park(s) you wish to visit each day using a tool such as touringplans.com.
- Determine which attractions you wish to visit, and what order you want to visit them in.
You can use the above resources to help with these steps, keeping in mind your own special needs. You can also see all the Disney World rides and their descriptions on our site here.
Pacing yourself during your trip
It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to try every ride and attraction at Disney. You’ll want to keep realistic expectations. Pressuring yourself to get it all done can ruin a trip. You’ll want to factor in the crowd sizes during your visit. We suggest you plan the best you can, and then go with the flow when you get there. Decide to have fun no matter what!
If you have health issues, we strongly suggest you don’t overdo it. Most people have an intense drive to get everything in, especially if they don’t plan on coming back. Usually this will create a high stress experience, and it can wreck a potentially great time. Keep to whatever pace is realistic and comfortable considering crowd conditions and your health, and determine to do what you need to in order to stay relaxed. Whenever it’s convenient to your plan, use the FASTPASS discussed later in this chapter to cut down on time waiting in lines.
Join our facebook group!!!!
Ask any questions, share your knowledge and just enjoy getting to know other Disney fanatics in our facebook group called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone.
Also join me on Pinterest here.
GET UPDATES, NEWS & TIPS (IT’S FREE!!!)
Sign up below to stay updated on the newest information, tips and tricks to help you plan your perfect Disney World trip!