Category Archives: Disney

Disney DataViz: 2010-2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Donut


In the past, I have blogged about Dave Shute’s 2014 and ’s 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar. Dave’s site is blog and discusses everything you need to know for your first visit to Walt Disney World.

Recently, Fred Hazelton of posted a variation of Dave’s calendar showing years 2010-2014 and 2015 projected. I have included Fred’s graph below with his explanation by month. Fred refers to his graph as “The Donut.”

For now, I am off to Disneyland…um…Disney World.

Best regards,


2010-2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Donut

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, which means 2015 will soon be upon us. Let’s take a quick look at the 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar.

Disney World is a crowded place that attracts 50 million visitors per year, and 2015 will be no different. Below is the crowd calendar donut (until we find a better name) that shows the hot spots and low zones for Disney World crowds since 2010. There are three things we notice from the graphic right away: the extreme crowds of Christmas and Thanksgiving; the extreme crowds at Easter that fluctuate yearly depending on when Easter falls; and the low crowds of early September. But there are a lot of other little tidbits of information, as well; let’s take a closer look.

Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar 2010-2015

Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar 2015 – by month


The New Year’s rush should fade by Monday, January 5, quickly followed by crowded resorts during Marathon Weekend. We expect January to be a good month for visiting the parks in 2015 if you don’t mind the risk of cooler temperatures. Martin Luther King Jr. day is January’s only bump in crowds after New Year’s Day. Notice how January’s crowds have been slowly building over the years. We expect that trend to continue in 2015.


Mardi Gras and Presidents Day fall back to back in 2015, so watch out for major crowds that week. Avoid Magic Kingdom on Super Bowl Monday (after the big game) unless you want to see the parade. Any other time in February is manageable but busy.


Easter falls in early April in 2015, so March crowds will be influenced primarily by school breaks. There is enough variation in school schedules next year to make every week fairly busy throughout March. Early March is less crowded than late March.


Avoid the Easter crowds the first week of April, and you should find busy but manageable crowds the rest of the month. As we can see, the later in April you visit, the lighter the crowds become.


May crowds were light in 2014, but we expect slightly more moderate crowds in 2015. Memorial Day weekend is busy but not nearly as busy as most holidays – a good choice for a family trip if you want to minimize days off school. Star Wars Weekends highlight the event schedule in May and June, so watch out for bottlenecks at Disney Hollywood Studios on weekends.


As we see from the graphic, summer crowds are steady year in and year out, no matter the year. June 2015 will be hot, humid, and busy every day.


July 2015 will be like all other Julys: really hot, really humid, and very busy, especially around July 4th. Later in the month is less busy, but plan for large crowds every day. Extended hours in the summer allow for more options with your planning, so take advantage.


Think of August as two halves – early August with busy summer crowds and late August with smaller, fall-like crowds. If you plan to visit in August, the later the better.


Our favorite month for low crowds, if you can stand the heat. Crowds during the first two weeks of September 2014 were some of the lowest we’ve ever seen. Will 2015 be the same? Let’s hope so. What is clear is that September has the best, lightest crowds every year, by far.


Festive in a Not-So-Scary way, October is one of our favorite choices, too, but like January it has grown in popularity since 2010. October 2015 will bring steady crowds like we saw in 2014, but if you can avoid weekends, you will enjoy less crowded parks.


Thanksgiving crowds are among the busiest of the year, but we expect them to last only from the Tuesday before the big day until the Monday after in 2015. Other than that, November is a good time to visit, for crowds and weather.


Like August, December 2015 can be split into two groups. The moderate crowds of early December and the full-blown, five-alarm Christmas craziness of December 24 to January 2. Both halves of December are cool, festive, and worth doing, but not without a solid plan.

Happy Touring in 2015!


Source: Fred Hazelton, Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar 2015,, December 28, 2014,

Infographic: Disney’s Star Wars Commander Mobile Game Spreads Across the Galaxy


Are you playing, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game? No? You might soon be in the minority. According to Disney Interactive, the game has now been downloaded five million times since it launched on August 21. To celebrate this milestone, they created the rather cool infographic below to give you a look at what percentage of gamers choose to play as the evil Empire versus the Rebel Alliance and how that varies country to country.

Here are some fun facts about the game play so far:

  • Five million players have now joined the war (downloaded Star Wars: Commander since its launch on August 21st).
  • With more than 57% of its players representing the Empire, Russia is one of the strongest Empire strongholds. Other nations that have fallen to the Emperor include Austria, Germany, Finland and the Ukraine.
  • India stands out as a strong member of the Rebel Alliance, as are most countries across South America and Africa.
  • The United States is nearly unanimous in its following of the Dark Side, with the single exception of North Dakota. The force is strong in North Dakota.
  • Half a billion troops have been deployed across both factions.

Star Wars: Commander is a free-to-play combat strategy game where fans will join either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire to recruit and lead an unstoppable force across the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars: Commander features the full array of vehicles, weapons and technology from the Star Wars universe. Players who rally to the Rebellion will call upon iconic heroes such as Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia to support missions for justice and freedom, while leaders of the Imperial forces will command AT-ATs, TIE fighters and Stormtroopers to gain control of the galaxy. Star Wars: Commander also offers an original Star Wars storyline set within the Galactic Civil War of Episodes IV ­ VI, where commanders determine if it’s the Empire’s strength and relentlessness or the Rebellion’s heroism and resourcefulness that will win the war.

The game is free to download on iPhone and iPad.


Source: John Frost, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game spreads across the galaxy, The Disney Blog, September 12, 2014,


Disney DataViz: 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar


I have decided to create a new data visualization blog post theme specifically for topics related to Disney. This new theme will be called Disney DataViz.

To start off this theme, I could not think of any better chart to present than Dave Shute’s 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar. Dave’s site is blog and discusses everything you need to know for your first visit to Walt Disney World.

I encourage you to visit Dave’s site since he is the mastermind behind this wonderful chart.

For now, I am off to Disneyland.

Best regards,


2015 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World

Mr. Shute has provided his projections for Walt Disney World 2015 weekly crowds.

Dave plans on creating at least one revision of it in the summer of 2014, after the full set of 2014-2015 school calendars that he analyzes are out.

Dates in it are the beginning of the week, and the forecast covers the following 9 days.

Crowd levels are ranked by week from 1-11 in the following way:

1: Lowest of the year

2: Lower

3: Low

4: Low-plus

5: Moderate-minus

6: Moderate

7: Moderate-plus

8: High-minus

9: High

10: Higher

11: Highest

How To Interpret The 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar

Dates are the beginning of the week.

The “low crowd” weeks–those colored green, and rated 1-4–represent the only crowd levels a family visiting for the first time, and unsure if it will ever return, should consider.

However, lower crowds, especially lowest crowds, do not always mean a better week. The lowest weeks are low for a reason–typically because they are in the hurricane or the ride closure seasons.

The “moderate crowd” weeks–those in black and rated 5-7–have crowd levels Mr. Shute would not recommend to first time visitors. However, he would go during such weeks himself with no hesitation, and think these levels are OK for returning visitors who don’t need to see everything and already know how to work Walt Disney World.

The “high crowd” weeks–those in red, rated 8-11–should be avoided by everyone. They aren’t, which is why they are so high.

The Disney World Crowd Calendar Goes Up To “11″

The influence of the Unofficial Guide  and has led almost all Disney World crowd calendars to top out at 10.

However, Mr. Shute has always thought that the really nastiest weeks of the year deserved an 11 for emphasis.

So, in homage to Spinal Tap, he has assigned 11 to “highest.”

NOTE: The 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar can be see here.


2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar - DRAFT



DataViz as Architecture: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland

Thunder Mountain Railroad - The LA Times

Only at Disneyland would they tear down an old and dilapidated gold mining town in order to build a new and identical gold mining town and make it look old and dilapidated again.

“The goal was to bring it back to exactly the way it was,” said David Smith of Disneyland’s facilities and maintenance department, which oversaw the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster rehabilitation project.

The “wildest ride in the wilderness” is expected to reopen to the general public on March 17 after a 14-month rehabilitation, the most extensive overhaul since the ride opened in 1979.

Except for one key scene, the ride won’t look any different to the casual observer — and that’s the point.

So much of the Disneyland experience is about passing along generational experiences — parents and grandparents reliving their childhood memories with their offspring. To that end, Disneyland set out to make the refreshed ride look and feel exactly like it did for every one of the 225 million passengers who rode it over the past 35 years.

While the coaster follows the same route about three-quarters of the track has been replaced, with only the three lift hills and the maintenance spur unmodified. The new train bodies look virtually identical to the originals with an updated chassis underneath.

Throughout the attraction, the Bryce Canyon-inspired buttes have been repainted, the audio system has been refined and the animatronic animals have been reengineered. Even the Rainbow Ridge gold mining town at the end of the ride has been rebuilt from the ground up.

Brady MacDonald, a writer for The Los Angeles Times, rode the refreshed Big Thunder coaster this past weekend during employee previews and found the experience to be just as he remembered it with all the off-your-seat whoop-de-dos and come-over-dear seat-sliding turns still delivering the family-friendly thrills he loved for decades.

The track is still a bit tight and will take a while to break in, making the ride seem slightly faster than it used to be (although Mr. MacDonald was told it remains the same 28 mph). It’s definitely a smoother and quieter ride, making it easier to hear the enhanced audio effects you might have missed before (assuming you’re not riding with a train full of hooting and hollering cast members).

The first lift hill has an updated animatronic flying bat scene that recalls the dancing ghosts in the Haunted Mansion dining room. The stalactites and stalagmites that follow feature new paint and lighting that make the cavern glow with a rainbow of colors.

Along the way you’ll find all your favorite animatronic creatures right where you remember them — from the howling coyotes and dangling possums to the tail-rattling snakes and neck-swaying turtles. Everybody’s favorite dynamite-gnawing goat now sets up the payoff in the new explosive finale.

The new and improved third lift hill, which once quivered with quaking rocks, now features a series of “Danger – Keep Out – Blast Area” warnings that portend a combustible climax. As the train climbs the lift hill, a trail of fuses race up the walls toward a cluster of dynamite as steam blasts from cracks in the cavern. At the top of the lift a mix of sound, lighting and fog effects create the illusion of a tremendous explosion that envelops riders. Mr. MacDonald recommends sitting toward the rear of the train to get the best view of the special effects.

The Big Thunder refurbishment and the addition of the Captain America meet-and-greet at Innoventions mark this summer’s only major additions at Disneyland. Save for the possibility of a new parade and some spiffing up of old favorites, expect next summer to be equally light on new attractions with the park’s 60th anniversary on the calendar.

That leaves fans wondering and waiting for the next major expansion at Disneyland, which could be another update to Tomorrowland with a Star Wars or Marvel overlay and a much-needed refresh for the 1977 Space Mountain indoor roller coaster.

Until then, we welcome back the beloved Big Thunder Mountain in all its old and faded glory.

YouTube Video

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad



1] Brady MacDonald, Review: What’s old is old again for Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain, The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2014,,0,1376848.story#axzz2vleWVtOI.

[2] Anthony Hays, Disney News Round Up: Big Thunder Walls are down and more!,, March 12, 2014,

Infographic: Which Disney Park Is Actually The Happiest Place On Earth?

Source: Suzy Strutner, Which Disney Park is Actually The Happiest Place on Earth?, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2014,

There’s only room for one Happiest Place on Earth on this Earth.

The folks at Cheap Flights have cross-examined ticket prices, acreage, and the number of character meet-and-greets to determine which of six Disney parks is the most jolly.

Scroll to the bottom for the big reveal!

Happiest Disney Park Infographic

Map: The Geographic Locations of Disney and Pixar Films Around the World

Digital artist Eowyn Smith has created a map of the world highlighting the location where animated films by Disney and Pixar took place. The fan art maps 44 Disney animated films 13 Pixar films. It reaches as far back as Disney’s first film, Snow White, and includes Disney’s 2013 release Frozen.

In traditional cartography fashion, Wall-E, Monsters, Inc., Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, and Wreck-It Ralph are given an inset. The films are variously set in the future, prehistoric past, or alternate universes.

The map has inspired fierce debate online, both on deviantART and reddit, as commenters fact checked the artwork. Smith clarified her process when she uploaded the fan art:

    1. Movie was placed based on the location IMPLIED IN THE DISNEY/PIXAR VERSION
    2. If the movie was too vague to determine a location, the original story/myth was consulted.


Source: Katherine M. Hill, Laughing Squid,  February 11, 2014,

Infographic: Disneyland Paris Fan Survey

Source:, Anthony Sheridan, Monday, February 11, 2013

Did you know that 85% of Disneyland Paris fans visit fan sites at least once a week. Let’s hope you’re not also one of the unfortunate 8% of fans who have never actually visited the resort (NOTE: I think the site is France or Europe-based; 8% seems low for us folks in the USA).  These are just two of the many interesting key metrics recently mined in a huge infographic of 7,760 responses to the official Disneyland Paris Fan Survey we were asked to help promote last year. The full infographic is included below (you can click on the image to enlarge it).

What is revealed is that fans, who responded, visit Disneyland Paris on average 10 times a year, 71% are between 18 and 34 years old and 59% (versus 41%) are male, the results of the online survey also reveal what fans themselves want from Disneyland Paris and its communication with them. The official Facebook, YouTube and Twitter streams are given a perhaps surprisingly resounding thumbs up — 87% satisfied with the official Facebook page, 83% with Twitter — while a slightly lower 79% are satisfied with merchandise opportunities.

Disneyland Paris Fan Survey

Though the simpler checkbox answers have generated some nice stats for this infographic, the more interesting text-based answers are what fans hope the resort listens and learns from. Most fans, as well as desiring special treatment from the resort, also want to see it succeed and improve in itself. After all, the more successful Disneyland Paris is, and the more people who understand the “magic” of the place, the more confident the fans will feel in providing their opinions to Disney. The suggestion of an official blog for news and backstage insights is still a great one, and probably brought up as much from our desire to read it as our belief that — like the excellent U.S. Disney Parks Blog — it would help in the resort’s promotion and communication with the wider public.

Likewise merchandise, which it’s noted fans want to see more “geared to the resort experience” (e.g., based around lands and attractions, rather than generic characters) — we want better merchandise so we can more happily part with our cash and support something dear to our hearts. Rather than improving for us, fans mostly want Disneyland Paris to improve for itself first.

Disneyland Paris Fan Survey

In Defense of Walt Disney


I am posting commentary from The Walt Disney Family Museum blog regarding recent statements that have been made about Walt.

Walt was one of my childhood heroes (Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Einstein were others). I also had the good fortune to work for The Walt Disney Company for a while. I have read most books and articles (both good and bad) about Walt over my lifetime.

Please take some time and read this commentary. I will let it speak for itself.

In the meantime, I am going to Disneyland.

Best regards,



In light of the recent rumors that have been spreading about Walt Disney, The Walt Disney Family Museum would be more than happy to debunk misconceptions that have been told as bold, un-sourced statements and wildly false accusations, as part of our mission to enlighten and educate.

© Disney

In 1938, a letter was written from Walt Disney Productions to a female applicant, turning down her request to enroll in the Studio’s Animation Training Program. The letter, to the right, states that women did not perform the position of Animator at that time. What it did not say is that women were not capable of such work. This type of job restriction could be found not only at The Walt Disney Studios but at every other animation studio. Put into historical context, this letter illustrates the culturally accepted limited role of women in the workplace in the 1930s. At that time, most companies in America were mostly male-dominated with women providing smaller support roles. There were several prominent women within Walt Disney Productions, well before WWII made women the backbone of the American workforce. In speeches made to his employees on February 10 and 11, 1941, Walt observed that women artists could fully equal their male counterparts, and were being included in his studio animation training program:

“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man,” he declared. “The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Courtesy Walt Disney Family Foundation © The Estate of Mary Blair

Quite a few women played important roles at The Walt Disney Studios during Walt’s time, including artist Mary Blair—whose work in the animation department at The Walt Disney Studios heavily influenced the look and feel of Disney films for almost 30 years. Blair started at the Studios in the early 1940s and worked on classics such as Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and more. She also assisted in the design of the Disneyland Resort attraction it’s a small world, and a life retrospective of her work will be on view at The Walt Disney Family Museum starting March 2014. (Our current exhibition—Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong—focuses on the life’s work of 103-year old Asian American artist Tyrus Wong, who also worked at The Walt Disney Studios in the 1940s. To find out more about Walt and diversity, please skip down to the next section).

To this day, there are quite a few women who worked at The Walt Disney Studios who will still happily recall stories from their time spent working with and knowing Walt Disney. Among these legendary women are Ginni Mack, Marge Champion, and Disney Legend Alice Davis—the costumer who played a large role in Disney history as she designed and hand-made a significant amount of costumes seen on the Audio Animatronics in a number of Disneyland attractions.

Learn more about a few of these women including Bianca Majolie, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, Rhetta Scott, and Mary Blair here; read more about the first female Imagineer, Harriet Burns, here.

It was even before the 1950s when they started recognizing the employment and importance of women at The Walt Disney Studios. Notably, Hazel Sewell served as an art director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937—a year before the letter mentioned above was dated. Sewell also worked as an ink artist on the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon created in 1928, Plane Crazy, and was one of the artists who traveled to Latin America in 1941 as part of Walt’s goodwill tour.

Other notable females, besides Walt’s wife Lillian—who worked as an Inker & Painter before they married in 1925—were his Aunt Margaret, who provided Walt with his first drawing tablet and tools, and Margaret (MJ) Winkler, whose distribution deal with Walt’s Alice Comedies allowed him to establish the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios in 1923.


© Disney

Walt Disney was a patriot—one only has to look at his work throughout the 1940s to witness his tour of  Latin America of behalf of the United States Good Neighbor Policy, the US Army’s occupation of The Walt Disney Studios Lot, Walt’s countless military training films, which were made at cost, as well as shorts and films against the Axis like “Victory Through Air Power.” The Studios even won an Academy Award in 1943 for the  short film “Der Fuehrer’s Face”—the easiest of Google searches will reveal the true patriotic message behind Donald Duck’s nightmare in “Nutzi Land.”

Moreover, Walt not only employed many people of Jewish descent—including Joe Grant, Marty Sklar, Ed Solomon, Richard and Robert Sherman, and so many more who held prominent roles within Walt’s company. These men and women collaborated and created with Walt, side by side, with no prejudice. Ask some of the people who worked directly with Walt Disney what it was like to work with him and his organization, such as a number of the women mentioned above or the men listed below.
In a recent interview, songwriter Richard Sherman states: “Let me tell you something, a lot of people talk about Walt in negative ways. There was nothing negative about Walt Disney,” he says. “He was dedicated to doing great things. He reached for the stars all the time. He was a wonderful, wonderful boss.”
This isn’t the first time the Sherman Brothers have gone on record in defense of Walt. Some may also recall the story that Robert Sherman told about Walt’s defending the brothers during a meeting: “Walt was sensitive to people’s feelings . . . He hated to see people mistreated or discriminated against. One time, Richard and I overheard a discussion between Walt and one of his lawyers. This attorney was a real bad guy, didn’t like minorities. He said something about Richard and me, and he called us ‘these Jew boys writing these songs.’ Well, Walt defended us, and he fired the lawyer. Walt was unbelievably great to us.”

Walt was also a frequent contributor to Jewish charities, including the Yeshiva College and the Jewish Home for the Aged. Also, Walt Disney was made Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith—the oldest continually-operating Jewish service organization, which fights anti-Semitism all over the world—in 1955, and was also awarded a recognition from Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization that empowers youth in Israel and America.  These awards can be seen in the Lobby of The Walt Disney Museum (or by clicking on the thumbnails above. Right: B’nai B’rith Heart of America Chapter, Kansas City, Missouri; Distinguished Service Citation, 1958. Left: Hadassah Recognition of Achievement, 1958.)

Floyd Norman, 1956. © Disney

Our good friend and Disney animator Floyd Norman also has been quoted saying: “The funny part was that minorities weren’t knocking at the gates to get in. The jobs were there if they wanted them and if they were qualified. It’s like the old ruse that Walt didn’t hire Jews, which was also ridiculous. There were plenty of Jews at Disney. Personally, I never felt any prejudice from Walt.” In fact, we encourage you to read the blog piece he recently published addressing the same factual misconceptions that we discuss here.


DECEMBER 15, 1966: 


Lastly, let’s not forget to bust the most circulated (and possibly the most bizarre) myth of all. The Walt Disney Family Museum houses an entire gallery dedicated to the heartbreakingly sudden passing of Walt Disney—from acute circulatory lung collapse—on December 15, 1966. Two days later, Walt was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.  In fact, the only time the phrase “Disney’s Frozen” is accurate is when it is in reference to the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new animated feature.

Of course there are still skeptics who think we are writing this through rose-colored glasses and that our views might be bias as The Walt Disney Family Museum was founded by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Despite this, the evidence is all there: through the facts as recorded through different accounts written down in history books; the first-person interviews from those who knew and worked with Walt; the physical and documented awards; and in the films he created. It’s all there! And by there, we mean here, at The Walt Disney Family Museum. We happily invite all those who are still skeptical to visit the museum to learn about Walt, the man behind the brand, firsthand. There is no need for apologies or retractions—it’s just important to seek the facts before further spreading inaccuracies and fueling rumors.
Walt Disney was not a saint. Walt was a human being who made mistakes and had many ups and downs throughout his life. His daughter, Diane, emphasized this many times, stating “what made HIM human is what makes YOU human.” Walt suffered his fair share of failures, but he also had a strong spirit of creativity, innovation, and an optimistic outlook to keep moving forward.   To those of you who have defended Walt—whether it is because you feel affection towards the man behind the brand, you are a fan of the entertainment company he founded or of his daughter’s museum dedicated to his life story, or if you are just in pursuit of historical fact and truth—thank you. We appreciate that you, too, are working hard to make sure that Walt’s life, work, and legacy live on and continue to inspire for generations to come.

It’s true that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but if you are still skeptical after looking over these facts presented above, we invite you to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum, or even send us your questions and concerns at We would love to hear from you.The Walt Disney Family Museum® Disney Enterprises, Inc. | © 2014 The Walt Disney Family Museum, LLC | The Walt Disney Family Museum is not affiliated with Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Written by Storyboard,        On January 9th 2014 |

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Infographic: Disney’s Empire of Companies

Companies Owned by Disney

Source: Companies Owned by Disney – An infographic by the team at

Infographic: Inside Disneyland’s Matterhorn

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Matterhorn ride, the folks at Disney created this infographic which gave us a rare inside look at the Matterhorn at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

Correction: My friend, Charles Apple, at the Orange County Register sent me an update to this blog post.  Charles noted: “The folks at Disney”? No, I’m afraid that’s my colleague Scott Brown at the Orange County Register.

Thanks Charles for the correction on who created the graphic. You Editors catch everything!

Best regards,




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