By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Updated 2019 Disney World Crowd Forecasts and Week Rankings



By Dave Shute

I’ve just revised my 2019 Disney World Crowd Calendar,  and–because crowds are a big part of it–also my 2019 Disney World week rankings.

These revisions were based on two things—the partial opening of Star Wars on August 29, and my new information on actual 2019 fall breaks.

Weeks affected by forecast crowd level changes were those starting 8/24/19 (the week of the partial opening) through 10/26/19. The opening date for the rest of Galaxy’s Edge, once announced, may require me to revise the later among these, and the later weeks of 2019, yet another time.

The basic approach I take to crowd forecasting is Bayesian:

  • I use my knowledge of how crowds have varied over the course of the year to set my priors—I’ve been doing this for a decade now, so have a pretty good set of priors.
  • I then gather new, relevant, future-oriented information, apply judgment and parallel examples to it, and then as needed revise my priors.

For example, looking back 9 months, my priors for spring break in 2019 were heavy crowds from around the second week of March (thanks, Texas) through the week after Easter, with—because of the late Easter in 2019–some relief maybe possible in early April.

Then, as we do every year, rather painfully one of my neicelets and I gathered all school breaks three days or longer for all of the 2018-2019 school year for 15 million kids in about 270 school districts. I put this in excel, figured out exactly how many kids were off every day, and then adjusted those results to better reflect actual state by state interest in Walt Disney World.

The analysis is shown graphically above.

Then, based on the results and judgment, I forecasted the crowds, including that the week beginning April 6 would actually be just fine.

And the results? Well, see what my co-author Josh, probably the most skeptical critic of Disney World crowd calendars, had to say on this page of easyWDW.com:

(I also got a sequence of emails a few weeks ago from a senior forecasting exec at a Fortune 50 firm, asking for my data and saying among other things “I have spent a lot of time trying to get my arms around Spring Break, and your analysis is hands down the best!”)

This Bayesian approach is the same approach I took to re-forecasting fall dates. Expecting—like everyone else in the world—to see no Star Wars until “late fall,” I had forecast later August, September and October to basically follow the patterns of recent years.

Then two types of new information came in.

One was actual 2019 fall break patterns, which I completed analyzing earlier this month. While still minor compared to, say, spring breaks, we do see more kids on break many fall weekends other than Columbus Day than I had been expecting.

The second influence was the Star Wars partial opening date August 29. The two combined 1. push the wish to visit for Star Wars to earlier than the fall than I had expected, and 2. create through the more extensive fall breaks more of an opportunity to do so.

So I pushed up my crowd forecasts for every week from August 24th through the week ending 11/3. The first two weeks—that include the Star War opening date, and then the Labor Day holiday—I pushed up the most. They will still—over all the weeks, over all four parks, and over all of Hollywood Studios— see moderate crowds in my judgement, for reasons explained here.

But the fact is that nobody—including Disney—knows. When Captain EO opened at Disneyland, the park remained open for 60 straight hours, and even so waits exceeded seven hours. Will we see that at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the end of August and early September? I doubt it—but nobody knows…

The remaining weeks of September and October all saw their crowd level bumped by one or two points. With one exception, they remain in their “class”—all the formerly low weeks are still low, all the formerly high weeks are still high. They’ve just gone up within their class.

The exception is the week beginning 9/28, which went from the top of the “low” class to the bottom of the “moderate” class, because bumping it by a point forced that class change.

My week rankings, while not starting with crowds, are still profoundly affected by my crowd forecasts, so most of these same dates saw shifts in their rankings. I had already (as I always do) deprecated the weeks in the peak hurricane season,* so most of the changes were minor.

By the way, for more on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, see this. The updated 2019 Disney World Crowd Calendar is here, and the updated 2019 Disney World week ranking is here.

And Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner, can help you either book or avoid one of these dates! Contact her using the form below:

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY

*My week rankings are meant for first time visitors who may never return. Given that, even though the actual risk of hurricanes materially affecting a trip is low—why even take that risk if you may never be able to, or choose to, return? Returning visitors, and those who are able to return, should rate the peak hurricane season weeks higher—unless of course they are trying to avoid the mess of Star Wars!!!

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