Are Touringplans crowd numbers inflated?

vicki_c

THE RULES!!!
That being said, I have been in MK on various trips during every crowd level on Josh's scale except CL1. The picture of Fantasyland posted earlier could be taken on any early afternoon from CL4 and up. MK just gets crowded in the middle of the day (especially a sunshiny day as depicted in the pic). The key is to not be there at that time. A good plan for the day will make almost any "crowd level" on anyone's scale irrelevant.
This 1000%!
I've seen crowds like that in that location many times!
Depends on recommended day or not, time of day, and overall crowd level.
 

paxsarah

Active member
My question is, have the cuts impacted the CM who typically stands in the middle of that Fantasyland morass instructing people to keep to the right? My opinion is that's the least desirable CM position, ever.
 

DopeyRunr

the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts f
My question is, have the cuts impacted the CM who typically stands in the middle of that Fantasyland morass instructing people to keep to the right? My opinion is that's the least desirable CM position, ever.
I think I've only ever seen a CM there once. Usually there's one re-parking abandoned strollers - maybe it's the same one?
 

texhanddoc

won't let you order a nice scotch
I would think least desirable CM job would be FP+ return line for any popular attraction. I have seen them try to explain to people who barely speak English why they won't be allowed on the ride because their fastpass expired 2 hours ago.
 

josh

Administrator
Staff member
I am going to write a post about this past week as it has been rough no doubt about it. I was at Magic Kingdom Wednesday, Animal Kingdom Thursday, and Hollywood Studios/Epcot Friday. And I have over 800 theme park visits under my belt in the last five years so you might say that I've seen a lot.

There are a variety of problems at the moment. The biggest for this past week has been underestimated attendance and underestimated staffing to go with it, in addition to significant reductions in staffing, operating hours, and entertainment. I usually use an Olive Garden analogy though people always get too clever with me about it. But say you operate an Olive Garden and you are expecting 300 people for dinner. And 296 show up. Things probably go pretty well as you have the staff to accommodate that number of people. Now let's say you are expecting 300 people for dinner and 500 show up. Now you don't have the number of servers to work the tables, don't have the chefs to prepare the food, don't have the staff to clean the tables, etc. Now you could have handled 500 people if you were expecting it, but when you aren't everything goes to hell. On Wednesday, Disney was expecting 52,000 people at Magic Kingdom and got over 70,000. That's a Thanksgiving week number. Overall crowds are not Thanksgiving level, but Epcot attendance is down 15% on the year and those people are predominantly spending an additional day at Magic Kingdom. The park is crushed almost every day. Disney has found that extending the hours isn't profitable because so few people arrive for an 8am open or stay to a 1am close. Those hours are fantastic for people that can do it, but Disney has not found it necessary to offer those hours for the number of people that are there. If the number of people that are there at 1pm were there at 12am, you would see 12am and later closes. But if you look at a chart of how much money the park is making versus how much operating it costs, those numbers are obviously much worse early and late.

As far as TouringPlans, they have been terrible at crowd prediction for well over ten years. They have not updated their models to account for higher wait times in the FastPass+ age. Before FP+, a 35 minute peak wait at it's a small world would be virtually unheard of and resigned to days immediately following Christmas. Now a 35-minute peak wait means you visited in the afternoon on a Tuesday in late January. It is a common occurrence. But TouringPlans biggest problem on the customer service front has always been that they underestimate crowd levels. This is something I can sympathize with because people also tell me I'm wrong all the time, even if the numbers I provide are typically within 3% of the actual attendance that ends up arriving. Park crowds from day to day fluctuate much more depending primarily on weather and that's something that I've discussed at length in the past. People don't go to Magic Kingdom when it rains, generally speaking. So I think TouringPlans is just saying every day is a 7, 8, 9, or 10 so they don't have to deal with people saying "You said it was going to be a one and it felt like a seven." But I could go on for 50 pages about how misguided their methodology is. They don't even do their crowd stuff in house anymore. It's funneled through a third party.
 

josh

Administrator
Staff member
I would have to make up the reason(s), but Soarin's closure seems like the most likely and obvious culprit. I think a second day at Epcot is already a tough sell for a lot of families with younger kids and Soarin' is half of what the majority of people are interested in riding. And I think more people are aware of its closure with My Disney Experience stating that the ride will be closed when people make their FP+. When Test Track was down, the park didn't see a drop in attendance and you would probably be amused by the number of people arriving at Test Track without the knowledge that it was down. That doesn't seem to be an issue with Soarin'. The Land Pavilion is kind of depressingly empty.
 

bnoble

he's right
I think more people are aware of its closure with My Disney Experience stating that the ride will be closed when people make their FP+.
I hadn't thought about that---FP+ is getting many more people to pre-plan for good or ill.

I'm really interested to see how a 50% capacity bump at Soarin' changes the park. Probably not as much as I'd hope, since most of it will just go to FP+
 
D

Deleted member 832

Guest
The underestimating attendance is where my mind went
I do think of they had anticipated the crowds they would have staffed better
Since they did the week before
I did find it very surprising Disney can still be surprised at attendance
I'd have thought by this time they had it down to such a science they could predict crowds better than that
 

josh

Administrator
Staff member
I really can't overemphasize how much of an impact maximum FastPass+ distribution has had on wait times and crowd flow. We are to the point where there is literally no day-of FP+ availability for Rock n Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, and Frozen Sing Along. That means a tremendous amount of people are arriving with priority as early as park opening. It does not take a lot of people in standby to push wait times up when 70% or more of your capacity is given to FP+. And it also seems to be pulling people to the park earlier and causing them to stay later. If the only FP+ you can get at Toy Story is 9:15am - 10:15am then you are going to arrive by then even if you were not originally planning to get there until 11am. If you have a Rock n Roller Coaster FP+ for 7:30pm - 8:30pm then you are staying that late even if you were planning to return to the resort at 7pm to swim.
 

bnoble

he's right
And it also seems to be pulling people to the park earlier and causing them to stay later.
...which was a big goal of FP+, to better utilize the attraction capacity they had, spreading people out both by time-of-day and by attraction. If Studios is fully booked for FP+ before it even opens, that's mission accomplished from the perspective of park ops.
 

tentex

New member
I am going to write a post about this past week as it has been rough no doubt about it. I was at Magic Kingdom Wednesday, Animal Kingdom Thursday, and Hollywood Studios/Epcot Friday. And I have over 800 theme park visits under my belt in the last five years so you might say that I've seen a lot.

There are a variety of problems at the moment. The biggest for this past week has been underestimated attendance and underestimated staffing to go with it, in addition to significant reductions in staffing, operating hours, and entertainment. I usually use an Olive Garden analogy though people always get too clever with me about it. But say you operate an Olive Garden and you are expecting 300 people for dinner. And 296 show up. Things probably go pretty well as you have the staff to accommodate that number of people. Now let's say you are expecting 300 people for dinner and 500 show up. Now you don't have the number of servers to work the tables, don't have the chefs to prepare the food, don't have the staff to clean the tables, etc. Now you could have handled 500 people if you were expecting it, but when you aren't everything goes to hell. On Wednesday, Disney was expecting 52,000 people at Magic Kingdom and got over 70,000. That's a Thanksgiving week number. Overall crowds are not Thanksgiving level, but Epcot attendance is down 15% on the year and those people are predominantly spending an additional day at Magic Kingdom. The park is crushed almost every day. Disney has found that extending the hours isn't profitable because so few people arrive for an 8am open or stay to a 1am close. Those hours are fantastic for people that can do it, but Disney has not found it necessary to offer those hours for the number of people that are there. If the number of people that are there at 1pm were there at 12am, you would see 12am and later closes. But if you look at a chart of how much money the park is making versus how much operating it costs, those numbers are obviously much worse early and late.

As far as TouringPlans, they have been terrible at crowd prediction for well over ten years. They have not updated their models to account for higher wait times in the FastPass+ age. Before FP+, a 35 minute peak wait at it's a small world would be virtually unheard of and resigned to days immediately following Christmas. Now a 35-minute peak wait means you visited in the afternoon on a Tuesday in late January. It is a common occurrence. But TouringPlans biggest problem on the customer service front has always been that they underestimate crowd levels. This is something I can sympathize with because people also tell me I'm wrong all the time, even if the numbers I provide are typically within 3% of the actual attendance that ends up arriving. Park crowds from day to day fluctuate much more depending primarily on weather and that's something that I've discussed at length in the past. People don't go to Magic Kingdom when it rains, generally speaking. So I think TouringPlans is just saying every day is a 7, 8, 9, or 10 so they don't have to deal with people saying "You said it was going to be a one and it felt like a seven." But I could go on for 50 pages about how misguided their methodology is. They don't even do their crowd stuff in house anymore. It's funneled through a third party.
That does it!!!...I'm going to The Peoples Court and suing them for my $12.95! Josh will you be a witness for me?
 

texhanddoc

won't let you order a nice scotch
Across the board though. Epcot has Soarin' down and Frozen ride in Norway is not yet open. DHS just closed the back 1/4 of its park to build Star Wars land, etc. AK is still considered a half to 2/3 day park. Where is everyone going to go? MK. It makes sense.
 

3dadknight

Well-known member
That does it!!!...I'm going to The Peoples Court and suing them for my $12.95! Josh will you be a witness for me?
No need for People's Court (I know you're joking anyway). I posted a very critical comment over there when they were doing a series of posts analyzing park attendance and basing it on their made up crowd numbers. I got an email from the guy who runs it offering a refund and to keep the subscription. I declined, because the site can be good for some things (haven't used any of them though). The offer was a nice gesture.
 

Ray

Member
I was there this past week, and will try to write a full trip report as we learned so much, but I can tell you we thought it was awful in the parks. This is our third straight trip in April in four years (different weeks each time) and we previously have seen nothing like it based on how we tour. So bad we left before our 12:30 mine train FP one day because the mornings were so exhausting already. We still had fun, but for the first time I looked at my wife after the trip and said I didn't feel we received much value from our tickets that cost a lot (3 adults, 4 kids, no hopping or water parks, 7 days, forget how much but over 2K). So much so, if we go back next year, we aren't planning on buying tickets and just using the resorts. But More on that later.

Also, regarding Epcot, our plan was three days MK, two AK, one each Epcot and HS turned into three MK, one AK and HS while no Epcot with two days just an hour in the evening at MK and HS. it doesn't make sense to go to Epcot even though I love just walking that park, the kids get bored.

Ray
 

amk3

Member
Josh, we didn't go to Disney in 2015, but I still remember the "holy cow what happened" posts after our last trip the same week in 2014. I personally don't think this week was nearly as terrible as the same week in 2014, but maybe that's because I was better prepared mentally for the new longer lines post-FPP. Is Disney using resort & restaurant advance booking to anticipate attendance? Maybe Disney is underestimating how cheap Georgia and/or Michigan tourists are, and they think we aren't coming because the resorts aren't booking as far in advance?

They definitely were understaffed. PW almost killed our AK morning. I sent my daughter & mother to go ride PW around 9:30 without noticing they were only running one side. I didn't think to tell them to get out of line for our EE FPP window that ended an hour later. We barely made it - actually by the time we got to the front of the long FPP line, we were three minutes after our grace period ended.
 

amk3

Member
I renew my touringplans membership for trips solely because of their personalized touring plans & their phone app (especially having their restaurant ratings handy). Here's my personalized touring plan for the MK last Sunday, which is based on Josh's MK two day plan day 1: http://touringplans.com/plans/print?id=1823734

I check their predicted waits against Josh's cheat sheets and note any big discrepancies and plan a ride to cut (or sometimes I'll just create a break called "Buffer" & put it in for the number of minutes in the discrepancy). If the app gives me anything whacky I delete the attraction and write it in manually as a break instead. Here, steps 13, 14 & 19 are breaks I've customized.
 

amk3

Member
Wow, impressive recording keeping. Curious, what method do you use to keep it? I wouldn't mind doing something like that on our trip next week but knowing me, I'd take 5 min to log those times (and I can't walk and type or write) ;)
I just keep it in a draft email. I looked at the time as we exited AO, then as we entered what looked to be a long boring line at WtP I wrote the first few lines & listed all of the rides we were planning in the email. On subsequent rides I just had to note the minutes.
 
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