I have seen quite a few posts recently across different social media platforms asking whether crowd calendars are reliable. This is a great question and one I thought I would take the opportunity to address!
For a long time crowd calendars were extremely reliable and used by Guests to make decisions on the best time to vacation at Walt Disney World. I think as the Disney parks expand and crowds grow larger, many are wondering if the calendars are as dependable as they used to be and if they are necessary when planning Walt Disney World vacations? Some say yes, some say no. I thought I would offer my opinion (and this is 100% my opinion only) on the topic in hopes it might help as you decide if you should refer to them when planning your family trip to Walt Disney World.
Here’s the deal, there is no perfect time to go to Walt Disney World and no crowd calendar is going to tell you there is. In my opinion, nowadays you need to go on the assumption it is always crowded. Sound a bit dramatic? It might be. However, I think it is true in more cases than not. Yes, there are times when the crowds are a bit lighter, but I’m finding the majority of the time I spend in the parks, there are a healthy number of visitors. Unless you are taking advantage of a special event such as Disney After Hours, do you rarely see attraction wait times less than 30 minutes these days – and that is for the lesser popular attractions. That’s how you can tell there is a change in the volume of Guests visiting the parks.
There are certain times during the year when we know without a doubt crowd levels will be insanely over the top, such as the holidays. Christmas and New Year’s Eve draw massive crowds. You will see this consistently on ALL crowd calendars across the board, and if you have been there during these times, you know this to be a fact. There are certain dates and times of the year that are tried and true when it comes to the crowds. The holidays and Spring Break are two examples of this.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think you can still use crowd calendars to gauge crowd levels to a degree, but I suggest you proceed with caution. I would not rely solely on them. There are too many variables to take into consideration – updated park hours, added special events (many popping up unexpectedly throughout the year), extra magic hours, new attraction openings, etc., all of which affect the crowds. Unfortunately, gone are the days when you could almost guarantee low crowds during certain months or weeks of the year. It just does not happen as often anymore, if ever. And with so many new attractions and hotels coming in the next few years bringing in more visitors, it will make predicting crowds even more difficult.
It will be interesting to see, now that the new date-based ticket pricing has rolled out, if crowd levels change throughout the year. I am curious if it becomes more balanced or if it remains the same. Ticket prices are much higher during typically overcrowded times such as the holidays. So, are Guests more apt to visit Walt Disney World at a time other than they normally would because ticket prices might be lower? That is what Disney is hoping for to spread out the crowds. Only time will tell. So far, I personally have not seen this affect anything to any certain degree.
Main Street Tourist previously published crowd calendars, but for all of the reasons noted, I decided not to continue. And that’s ok because there are plenty of others out there that can be used. In my opinion, the best crowd calendars are the ones that Touring Plans puts together. They are the most detailed and comprehensive crowd calendars you will ever see. You can access them for a small yearly fee. If you are looking for a free option, check out Undercover Tourist or WDW Prep School, both do a great job as well. Check them out next time you are planning your Walt Disney World vacation!