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Thread: Are Touringplans crowd numbers inflated?

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    ...and, if memory serves, are based on daily attendance.
    Yep, based on overall number of people on WDW property. The park recommendations deal with specific parks.
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  2. #27
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    I guess I've been lucky in that I've never seen that many people in that area at MK ever. We've often been in the park in the afternoon but maybe just not in that spot
    Though on 12/23 I met my cousin at 2:00 in front of the carousel and it wasn't that packed with people.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdmurphy727 View Post
    Angi based on your listed location you and I live in the same county. County school spring break was the week after Easter this year. Started on good Friday (the 25th) and went through the 1st. Which is late for our area. They usually do it the week before Easter. Not sure why the change this year.

    Not sure it matters really just sayin sometimes it is after Easter. Maybe that's what you meant by "at".
    Yes, that is what the "at" meant
    I'm guessing it's the week after because they started school a week later than recent years

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Shute View Post
    All the spring break dates were known (e.g. http://yourfirstvisit.net/2015/06/28...rowds-in-2016/), so they themselves did not lead to unanticipated crowds, unless behavior was different...
    But the link you're providing seems to indicate that you did NOT anticipate all the spring breaks that occurred this week. E.G. the greater Atlanta area, many parts of Michigan, the Northeast, etc. has a lot of public schools on break. Many school districts simply did not want to break as early as Easter came this year.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by finnster77 View Post
    But the link you're providing seems to indicate that you did NOT anticipate all the spring breaks that occurred this week. E.G. the greater Atlanta area, many parts of Michigan, the Northeast, etc. has a lot of public schools on break. Many school districts simply did not want to break as early as Easter came this year.
    Sorry--the spring break dates were all known and in my database. That's why it is showing 10%* of kids off this week, which based on April history is not a big deal. What I can't/didn't predict is a change in guest behavior (propensity to visit during break) or capacity offered.

    For reference I've included the chart from the link below.

    Disney-World-Spring-Break-2016-Crowds-from-yourfirstvisit.net_.jpg

    *It's not a straight 10% of the 50 million US schoolkids, but 10% of my weighted database where places like Florida and Georgia get extra weights and Hawaii, Alaska, and West Coast schoolkids on break get underweighted, to account for propensity to travel to WDW given location
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  5. #30
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    Thanks, Mr. Shute.
    I appreciate the info.

  6. #31
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    I'm going during the New England spring break - April 16-23- and have been slightly worried about crowd levels being off. I read last years "How we did" crowd calendar reports on TP blog, and this week last year was also much more crowded than predicted, but the following two weeks were less crowded than predicted, so I am hoping that data is predictive for 2016 as well. I don't know if other sites do the post-mortem, but I found it interesting and kind of reassuring.

    I mean, we're going, no matter what - but I am hoping it's a little less insane than the last few weeks. Part of the reason we picked this year is because Easter falls in the NE vacation week next year.

  7. #32
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    Look, TouringPlans numbers are generated by a computer program. It's an algorithm (formula) which they built using statistical analysis of past behavior. When present behavior varies meaningfully from the behavior modeled by their algorithm (e.g., the introduction of FastPass+, the sudden and unexpected decrease in staffing levels, etc.) then the predictive model breaks. As long as TouringPlans expects crowds to be 8, 9, 10 and they actually end up being 8, 9, 10, it disguises how faulty their model is at predicting what's happening in reality. It's the "even a stopped clock is correct twice a day" theory basically.

    TouringPlans problems are complicated by the fact that their owner is stubborn and refuses to accept that there's a problem because he has a graduate degree in statistics and is therefore an expert. If a doctor keeps killing patients and insists they should still be alive, would you trust him because he has a medical degree?

    Again, models work great when current patterns resemble the past patterns upon which algorithms are built. But when there is significant deviation (think, global banking crisis) they are nearly worthless.
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  8. #33
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    How are other crowd calendars generated?

    ETA: all of the crowd calendars show average levels for this week, but reports are that those are inaccurate. TP is the only one that seems to do a comparison of predicted vs actual, and I would assume that crowd calendars /cheat sheets/etc in general would use past behavior to predict future behavior. I'm finding both easywdw and TP helpful in figuring out our trip, not just the crowd calendars, but it seems ALL sites got it wrong for this week. Actually, it was interesting that yourfirstvisit noted that the first week of April might be busier, and I wonder what the insight was on that prediction.
    Last edited by snappity; 04-08-2016 at 03:17 PM.

  9. #34
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    spring break

    Quote Originally Posted by AngiTN View Post
    I still do not believe the crowds are all due to staffing cuts.
    Staffing cuts and reduced ride capacity didn't cause this
    Definitely!! It's Spring Break this week in all of Metro Atlanta, and we like our Disney Trips!!! I'm not sure why the sites don't take into acct the GA Spring/fall breaks. EVERYONE goes to Disney. It's only an 8 hr drive. We don't go over spring break but we do go over fall, and that week crowds are always higher than predicted also. So I wish they would take that into account, but seriously you can't look up every county in US spring break. But at least the nearby ones I think would help. This year GA fall break is Sept 17-30 depending on your county so I'm sure that will again, be higher than everyone predicts. BUT I know TP says they do NOT take into account how the crowds feel, only ride times. But seriously the crowd feel really affects your trip. I felt that during last years' September MNSSHP. It was super crowded but yes our 7DMT wait was only 35 mins. I found Josh's times more accurate than TP last fall when we were there.
    Last edited by laribrook; 04-08-2016 at 03:26 PM. Reason: forgot to mention something

  10. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by snappity View Post
    How are other crowd calendars generated?
    I use a modified Bayesian approach, developing the prior the same way Nate Silver does (detailed here: http://www.theonion.com/article/nate...ake-elec-52597 ), with the new data being yearly analysis of 10 million kids' fall breaks, Xmas breaks, spring breaks (including Georgia lol) , etc.
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  11. #36
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    I don't know if TouringPlans still boasts of measuring their "success" as having actual crowd levels within 2 points, plus or minus, of their prediction. By that standard I could probably be as "successful" by just looking at an ordinary calendar. I'd reserve 10s for just 3-4 weeks/year, never use anything lower than a 3, and most of the time call crowds a 5, 6 or 7.

    I don't think they're trying to rip anyone off. I really think they try hard to collect data and feed it into their black box. But that doesn't change the fact that their black box is broken and they're unwilling to admit it.

    I have no idea how other websites generate their ratings. With some general familiarity with popular WDW seasons and school break information you could probably get "close enough." This is the only site I'm aware of that claims to use Disney's actual park attendance projections. Who is going to get closer to an accurate projection of Disney's park attendance than Disney itself?
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    Haha, I love Nate Silver and just saw him talk a few weeks ago, he didn't mention that particular methodology. ;)

  13. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by snappity View Post
    Haha, I love Nate Silver and just saw him talk a few weeks ago, he didn't mention that particular methodology. ;)
    :)
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngiTN View Post
    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 don't know what amk3 does, but I've texted myself notes throughout the day while at the parks. Last trip I used my notes app. I just do very quick notes like
    900 bus stop
    905 bus
    920 MK
    940 Space
    950 off
    And I fill in details later if I want to while in line, on the bus, etc. You can also snap a pic of the FP clock as you walk into a ride, but doesn't take much to type 8 or so characters to note times.
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  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristineOH View Post
    I don't know what amk3 does, but I've texted myself notes throughout the day while at the parks. Last trip I used my notes app. I just do very quick notes like
    900 bus stop
    905 bus
    920 MK
    940 Space
    950 off
    And I fill in details later if I want to while in line, on the bus, etc. You can also snap a pic of the FP clock as you walk into a ride, but doesn't take much to type 8 or so characters to note times.
    Too smart. Thanks for sharing your methods. Hadn't thought of either

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3dadknight View Post

    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.
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    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.

  18. #43
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paxsarah View Post
    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?
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  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by paxsarah View Post
    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.
    If you weren't a Seinfeld fan, you won't get the reference.

  20. #45
    won't let you order a nice scotch texhanddoc's Avatar
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    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.
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  21. #46
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    Love your clip art! Ha ha, clip art. I crack myself up.
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  22. #47
    who gon stop me? HUH? josh's Avatar
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    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.

  23. #48
    he's right
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    Epcot attendance is down 15% on the year
    Soarin' down has that big of an impact, or is something else going on that I'm forgetting?

  24. #49
    who gon stop me? HUH? josh's Avatar
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    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.

  25. #50
    he's right
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    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+

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