How Can You Predict Crowd Levels?

In my experience, most of the conversations I have with folks about visiting Disney World start off with the question: “When is the least crowded time to visit?”

My response? Who knows anymore.

I say that because visit patterns (for a thousand reasons) have changed so much in the last few years. Resources I would previously look to for crowd level projections are simply not accurate today.

So where does that leave us? Said more dramatically: Are we doomed to be forever in the dark on crowds level predictions?

Maybe not.

Instead, I think the our best bet is to go directly to source and see what Disney thinks crowds levels will be. We do this via the ticket pricing calendar. The idea is (not to insult your intelligence), the more demand Disney anticipates on a given day, the higher the ticket price. So higher the ticket price equals higher crowd levels.

November Six Day Ticket Pricing

Take a look at November above. This is pricing for a 6-day / non-park hop ticket. Here, we see higher ticket pricing for the week prior to Thanksgiving than Thanksgiving week – which I think would surprise most folks, including me. Why would Disney anticipate high demand for the week prior to Thanksgiving? I’m not exactly sure. The important thing is they do.

Let’s move on and look at pricing for a 1-day ticket in the same time period –

November One Day Ticket Pricing

This looks more like what I’d expect. Here, Thanksgiving week carries the highest ticket price in November.

So what does this tell us? I think it tells us that Disney is expecting longer-stay Thanksgiving demand to be off a tad this year. As such, it appears they’ll be relying more on single-day visits to close the gap. They are also telling us the week prior to Thanksgiving may be a little busier than convention wisdom suggests.

Take a look at the below –

Travel Agent Crowd Calendar

This is the type of crowd calendar travel agents use. Purple is high demand, green is low. You can see that it follows more of a convention wisdom demand pattern for the resort. It doesn’t, however, tell us the whole story – which is why I like to go to the ticket pricing calendar.

I say the ticket pricing calendar is basically Disney betting on their projection analytics. As long as they’ve been in the game, I wouldn’t bet against them.

Is it perfect? No. But I feel like it’s at least a somewhere logical approach to predicting crowds levels in 2021. Now, whether crowd levels actually matter is a whole ‘nother matter entirely.

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Have you ever used ticket pricing to predict crowds?

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