Since its inception, our FREE Universal Orlando 12-month crowd calendar has been viewed over two million times. Just to put that in perspective, about 25 football stadiums’ worth of people have utilized our calendar to get a better idea of how much planning they need to do for their trip to Universal. Countless readers have reached out and told us how much of a valuable asset our crowd calendar has been for their trips, some even using it on a weekly basis.
Given these humbling feats, when looking for the first area of our site to enhance with some 2016 technology, it became immediately clear we had to start with our crowd calendar.
Enter George Reason, the latest addition to the Orlando Informer team.
George is a senior studying computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, a theme park fan, and, even, was already a reader of Orlando Informer. “I grew up in the United Kingdom and fell in love with theme parks like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, which I visited regularly,” said George. “I had followed Universal Orlando from afar and had always consumed as much Halloween Horror Nights coverage as possible. When I moved to Texas three years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to visit Universal. Nowadays, I make the trip to Orlando at least twice a year.”
What’s new on Orlando Informer’s Universal Crowd Calendar?
We’ve rebuilt the crowd calendar from the ground up, leading to a similar-looking-but-entirely-more-useful calendar. Readers can click on any date within the next 12 months to view date-specific data. Here’s some of the highlights:
Weather: On the main crowd calendar view, you can see icons indicating the weather to expect for the next 14 days. Click on any date within the next two weeks to see a detailed description of the weather, along with the specific chance of rain and high- and low-temperatures. Checking on a date farther than two weeks away? You can still see an estimated high and low temperature, along with the average rain for the month.
The calendar is backed by a wide range of data sources (up to 15!), aggregated together statistically to provide the most accurate forecast possible for Universal Orlando.
Increased accuracy: For the past five years, we’ve manually created each and every month of our crowd calendar (that’s 60 months, for those counting at home). While there’s no one more experienced than us when it comes to predicting Universal crowds, we still made mistakes from time to time. That’s why, for our new crowd calendar, we’ve implemented an advanced algorithm backed with self-learning technology for the crowd predictions to take place automatically and more accurately than ever. Our server updates hourly to provide the most up-to-date information and predictions possible.
“The crowd prediction algorithm takes in a number of factors for each day and produces an estimate for how busy the park will be on that day. Throughout the day, the algorithm is analyzing real-time factors, and, at the end of the day, it checks how accurate the prediction it made was,” George explains. “From there, we automatically adjust the prediction levels for future dates in our calendar.”
Expected wait times: Click on any date to view our predicted peak wait times for select popular attractions at both parks. These wait times will normally occur between noon and 2:00 pm.
Dynamic content: When clicking on a date, you’ll see only information that is beneficial for the specific day you’re visiting, including individual park hours, which park is hosting Early Park Admission, suggestions for planning pages specific to the crowd level, and more. You’ll also see how the crowds look for the dates near your visit.
Responsive in every way: Whereas our old calendar was hard to see on mobile devices, the new calendar is now responsive for every type of device, from your desktop computer to your iPhone to your carrier owl*. Even better, it’s built to load quickly, no matter your internet speed.
* Animal care rates may apply.
What hasn’t changed on Orlando Informer’s Universal Crowd Calendar?
One thing remains the same: just like every other page in our next-generation encyclopedia of obsessively-updated Universal Orlando planning, our 12-month Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar is absolutely free.
Our new crowd calendar is just the beginning of enhancements coming to the site in 2016. Keep checking back for further developments from George and the rest of our team at Orlando Informer.
Want to hear more about the new crowd calendar? George joins us on Episode 34 of the Orlando Informer Podcast to discuss the new feature.
We’d love to hear your feedback on our new crowd calendar on the OI Forums or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.