Perfectly Plan Your Next Disney Trip By Using This Genius Tool

With millions of visitors per year, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that theme park destinations like Disneyland and Disney World might be a little crowded on any given day. Even with a slowdown in summer attendance in 2023, Disney World wasn't exactly a ghost town. CNN reported that the average wait time for rides in the first half of July still exceeded 30 minutes. That's evidently shorter than usual, but it's still half an hour of your life you'll never get back, all for a ride that will be over in minutes. Even if you've paid for Lightning Lane, the crowds at Disney can still get uncomfortable when you're trying to find a place to eat or even simply sit.

Just how long the lines are, and how packed the parks are with people, is something that a crowd calendar can help estimate. In the same way you might check the weather forecast before heading outdoors, consulting a crowd calendar ahead of your Disney trip can give you an edge in maximizing your time at the resort you visit. This applies to Disney resorts all around the world. Most have dedicated local sites tracking their individual goings-on and offering some form of crowd forecast.

Using a crowd calendar

So, when is the best time for a Disney trip? Experts say Tuesday is the best day to visit Disney's Magic Kingdom, which has consistently ranked as the world's most popular theme park by attendance. Meanwhile, conventional wisdom holds that Monday is one of the worst days to visit that park, since people often start with it on their week-long Disney World vacations. 

The benefit of crowd calendars is that they break down the situation, day by day, for the Disney park of your choice. In the free Orlando crowd calendar at Undercover Tourist, you can get an immediate view of the circumstances at all the major theme parks in the Orlando, Florida area. This includes Disney World's four parks, the three current parks at Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld. There's a similar L.A. crowd calendar for Disneyland's two parks and Universal Studios Hollywood.

The calendars use a 1-to-10 scale, with the stoplight colors of green, yellow, and red indicating crowds at the lowest, average, or highest level. Think of the calendars like a farmer's almanac, offering a long-range forecast that's not foolproof, but certainly helpful. You can look ahead a full year to get an idea of how busy it might be. This makes it a handy tool for planning with an eye toward avoiding crowds.

Take your planning to the next level

For those who are even more serious about planning their Disney trips, Touring Plans' crowd calendars employ sophisticated algorithms in their subscription-based services. They offer calendars for both Disneyland and Disney World, along with Universal Orlando. If you subscribe to one service, you can do another as an add-on at a discount, which is good for Annual Passholders or anyone who plans on hitting up more than one resort.

Again, the calendars rate the crowd level at the different parks on a 1-to-10 scale. They also include things to look out for, such as festivals and nighttime events. Beware of Disney's Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, which are only available to guests at select resort hotels. Additionally, ticketed seasonal events like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will cause certain Disney World parks to close early for guests with regular daytime passes.

The full calendar for the next 30 days is only available to Touring Plans subscribers, but anyone can see ahead through the month after that. So, the free version is still useful if you're planning your trip a month or two in advance. Given that the parks sometimes post inflated wait times for rides, another helpful function is the crowd tracker, which updates regularly based on the latest information and allows the calendars to predict within minutes how long the real wait will be.