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What’s the deal with crowds?

by Ella

Boy oh boy, Dad’s been getting a lot of questions lately about crowd, crowds, and more crowds! Instead of answering them one at a time, we’re going to tackle them all at once. Here we go….

Crowds at Pixar Place

Crowds are everywhere at WDW – Photo by Cliff Wang

Dad’s Crowded Answer

First up, Joan asks:

Your crowd calendar shows orange from May 23-26 which is NOT Memorial Day weekend, then blue for Memorial Day weekend May 27-30th. Is this a mistake, or do you really think crowds will be lighter on Memorial Day weekend as compared to the weekend before?

Joan, no mistake here! Traditionally, Memorial Day crowds have been mixed – sometimes there’s a big crowd at the Magic Kingdom if they do a special 24 hour event, but other than that, WDW is pretty slow.

Dad’s May Crowd Calendar

darth vader

No Star Wars Weekends but that doesn’t mean no crowds – Photo by Cliff Wang

Next up, Ella from Texas wants to know:

Why in June 2016 do you have June 14 and 15 marked RED what is happening those days to increase crowds? Also you still talk about Star Wars weekends but Disney has said no Star Wars Weekends this year in 2016 so should your calendar be updated to take that into account? We are gone Jun 10 thru 19 so that is why asking. Thanks.

Ella, you’re completely right about Star Wars Weekends and Dad has since adjusted the May crowds page to no longer mention them. You’ll have to forgive me, I forgot to update the page – even Dads can forget things you know.

But, the absence of Star Wars weekends won’t impact Dad’s crowd calendar for June. Why? Well, there’s so much new that will be happening this summer: Frozen Ever After will open, Rivers of Light is coming to Animal Kingdom, and whole bunch of new Star Wars stuff is slated to open. Even though we don’t have exact dates on all of these, you can expect them all to debut sometime from April-July and shiny new things drive up crowds – especially on weekends when the locals come out.

As for June 14 and 15, Dad still pins those days as wall-to-wall crowds. I’m predicting a lot of folks will start or end their trips those days (since the next week summer vacation – and the crowds to match – really starts). Lots of departures and arrivals means higher crowd levels, plain and simple.

Dad’s June Crowd Calendar

crowds on main st usa

Dad doesn’t think the election will impact crowds – Photo by Cliff Wang

Now, skipping to a little later in the year, a fan asks:

Hey Dad! First let me say I’m not american and I do not leave in the US, so please forgive my poor english. I’m planning to go to WDW in November and I’ve bumped into the New Jersey Week discussion. I am convinced that it is not all that bad, but I noticed that the 8th of November is Election Day. I could not find anything on that matter, so I ask you: what influence could Election Day have on crowds in WDW parks, considering that the New Jersey Teacher Convention thing is on the 10th and 11th? Thanks!

The US election will have about as much influence on the crowds at WDW as Jersey Week myth will. Which is to say not very much.

Most people in the US don’t vote, but there is also “absentee” voting available in all states for those who will not be available on voting day.

The 11th is also Veteran’s Day, but even that doesn’t effect crowds all that much.

What will effect the crowds is whether Disney will run Free Dining during that time (I expect they will.) But even then expect light to at the very worst moderate crowds.

Dad’s November Crowd Calendar

christmas crowds

Avoid crowds when celebrating Christmas at WDW – Photo by Cliff Wang

And last but not least, one more question on December crowds:

Hello Dad. I’m wondering why you marked Dec 6 and 7 as yellow? Is there something going on that day that would bring crowd levels to yellow? I’m debating between week after thanksgiving or second week after. It looks like from a crowd perspective the week after would be best? thanks in advance for your help.

On Dec 6/7, there is nothing “special” happening that causes higher crowds, it’s just one of those things. Many folks will begin or end their vacations on those 2 days, causing a lot of guest overlap, since shorter vacations are popular that time of year to see the Christmas festivities. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will happen one of those nights but the crowd effect will be minimal. The week of Nov 28-Dec 2 is definitely an ideal time to visit – low crowds and all the Christmas celebrations are underway! But the week after isn’t too bad if it helps your schedule or if you can get a great promotion that week.

Dad’s December Crowd Calendar

Whew! I told you, a lot of questions about crowds!

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

I know that my crowd calendars may not make much sense to folks unfamiliar with WDW crowds, but I’ve been doing them for a long time, and I’ve got a pretty good track record. Some of the predictions might seem nutty, even. But Dad knows best. Dad won’t let you down with any of his Disney info, especially about crowds. Trust me.

Comments for

Jul 28, 2016 Early to mid September crowds
by: Anonymous

Supposedly the crowd levels are changed a bit for the month of September (this is according to Touring plans) I’m going September 10-18th and it’s always been low crowds even with free dining being offered. 9/16 touring plans changed the Hollywood studios park level to a 7 😨 and some other Disney forums were noticing that there is no availability at pop century, which is weird since they are the largest resort (room wise) on property. What’s going on?? I know pop is doing a refurbishment on some rooms but I thought it wasn’t happening till October.

Dad Answers

Free Dining is what’s going on. Disney has been very aggressive in marketing Free Dining for that time period. They’ve been lots more successful than in previous years. People are starting to move from the Summer to the Fall.

Summer crowds are down almost 10%. Those numbers have to go somewhere and it looks like a lot of them moved into September.

Apr 05, 2016 Dad – Touring Plans link
by: Mandy .

If you look under the historical averages for those dates for 2015 they only have listed what the predicted not what they saw. Im not sure why. If you look under crowd calendar and choose date it will tell you what they predicted vs. what they saw.

You never know

If you look at their monthly calendar, from November it really doesn’t show any surprises. Individual parks sometimes get slammed on slow days and slow times. It happens all the time at the Magic Kingdom, but overall the crowd levels for that time weren’t all that out of the norm.

Apr 04, 2016 Week before Thanksgiving
by: Mandy

I see on Touring Plans that the week before Thanksgiving was busier this past year. With the Monday before being a 10 crowd level at MK and a 7 at EPCOT the following Tuesday (after F&W) . Any thoughts as to why it was so much busier? Is Free Dining really having that big of an impact?

Dad Answers

Mandy, I’m not sure what you’re looking at. Checking Touringplans for the week before Thanksgiving in 2015 (15th through 22nd) it looks pretty quiet with overall crowds of 4’s and 5’s.

Mar 28, 2016 How to reduce overcrowding?
by: Abigail in San Rafael

I saw you mention in your letter to Bob Iger that you have ideas about how to reduce overcrowding at WDW. Care to share? I’m very curious! Maybe advance reservations for park attendance coupled with guest limits (which would have to be a lot lower than they are now since WDW seems to have a different idea of maximum capacity than the rest of us!)

Dad’s Big Idea

My idea is to build a bunch of new attractions to spread the crowds out. Not the billion dollar attractions they are building at Animal Kingdom, but small cheap attractions like the ones that are all around Disneyland.

In fact, if you look at Disneyland there are more attractions at Disneyland than at Walt Disney World. That’s stupid. Add 20 attractions at the Magic Kingdom and you fix the solve the crowd problem.

Mar 07, 2016 Spring Break Crowd Question
by: Nick

Dad, I’m considering a last minute trip the week of the 20th through the 26th. Every other site says the crowds will be heavy. You have a few days at the end of the week that actually look light. Can this possibly be true? It’s my daughter’s Spring Break so I’m super concerned we are going to run into other breakers. Should we chance it?

It will be busy. It almost always is these days. You will run into spring breakers. That’s most of the crowd during this time of year.

There will be some days that aren’t quite so busy. I do think there will be a little lul right before Easter. It won’t be light crowds, but I do think it will be moderate. Those 2 light days might be a little optimistic, but expect moderate to heavy crowds and you’ll be fine.

Mar 01, 2016 Crowds
by: David

I agree with the calendar on crowds. However, you forgot to mention that crowds can change very quickly. I live here in Orlando and go to the parks regularly. One of the things I have noticed is that on some weekends when it is expected to be busy but not overly crowded is wrong. Sometimes there will be a lot more people from the South part of Florida like Miami coming up for the weekend. Also, weather can play a role up north as some families will decide to come down for the weekends because of the cold.

I have not only seen this at the parks but also at the hotel I work at. We have been getting more and more guests at the last minute because they have decided to come to Orlando and the parks at the last minute

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