The easy Guide to your First Walt Disney World Visit 2015” is now available. Amazon is running a site-wide sale through November 30th that offers 30% off any print book when you input code: HOLIDAY30. More discount info and a direct link to the book is available here.

[click to continue reading..]

{ 18 comments }

June 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on November 26, 2014

This is the Free June 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost, Historic High/Low Temperature, Historic Chance of Precipitation, Extra Magic Hours Schedule, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

Make sure you first read my month-by-month overview of visiting Disney World, located here. The overview will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of cost, crowds, weather, and special events on a broader scale. Once you figure out when you would like to visit, you can move on to this more detailed look.

Here’s a quick explanation of how to read the calendar and what the numbers mean. It may seem like it’s a little long, but you’ll only need to read the explanation once.

  • The first line in each box is the date.
  • The second line shows the cost to book a room at a Disney-owned resort. $ = Value Season, $$ = Regular Season, $$$ = Summer Season, $$$$ = Peak Season, and $$$$$ = Holiday Season. Occasionally there will be a + or – after the $$$ to show that the cost is slightly higher or lower than usual, but not by enough to raise it another $ notch.
  • The third line is the average high and low temperature and the chance of precipitation. All data is based on the last 15 years. I wouldn’t read too much into the precipitation percentages for each day because just one or two additional days of rain in the last 15 years can raise the percentage substantially. I included it so you can look at the precipitation trends throughout the month(s) and take it into consideration when deciding when to book your vacation. For a broader overview of the month, read the month-by-month overview I linked to above.
  • The fourth line is an estimation of the overall crowd level. A “5″ refers to average crowds. Numbers above 5 refer to a larger than average overall crowd level and numbers below 5 refer to lower than average overall crowds. A day with an overall crowd level of “1″ means that the crowds are expected to be the absolute lowest of the year and a “10″ means crowds are expected to be at their largest of the year. In other words, the overall crowd level estimation will give you an idea of how many people are in the entire Disney World complex, including the four major theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, golf courses, resorts, etc. Individual theme parks can have smaller or larger crowds than the overall estimation, which is where the theme park recommendations come in.
  • The fifth line shows the theme parks I recommend visiting in green and the theme parks I recommend avoiding in red. There is also a | sign that splits up the recommended and not recommended Parks for the color blind or those printing in black and white (the Parks to the left of the | sign are recommended). I use the usual abbreviations for the Parks; AK is the Animal Kingdom, EP is Epcot, HS is Hollywood Studios, and MK is the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the colors, the Park on the far left is the most recommended Park to visit that day. The Park second to the left is the second most recommended and so on. For example, if the line reads AK EP | HS MK then the Animal Kingdom is the most recommended and Epcot is the second most recommended. On the other side of the | sign, Hollywood Studios is not recommended and the Magic Kingdom is expressly not recommended even more. If possible, I would strongly recommend you visit the Park that is most recommended each day. Please read below the calendar for an overview of how I’ve selected the recommended Parks and also a day-by-day explanation.
  • The sixth line lists which Parks have Extra Magic Hours and at what time they start. Morning Extra Magic Hour lasts one hour and usually starts at 8am. Evening Extra Magic Hours last two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-11pm.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Monday June 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Highly Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8:30pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8:30pm – 10:30pm

Fantasmic: 9pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended as we come off a busier day with the morning Extra Magic Hour. Hollywood Studios will be attracting the resort guest crowd with evening Extra Magic Hours and Magic Kingdom will be attracting many of the people that arrived over the weekend for a traditional weeklong vacation and naturally want to visit the most magical place on earth and the world’s most popular theme park on their first full day.  Most guests will be saving Animal Kingdom, Disney’s least popular theme park, for later in the week with Wednesday being busiest.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special evening entertainment, or anything else that will draw people toward Epcot specifically. Disney resort guests will be more likely to visit tomorrow or Friday for Extra Magic Hours and off-site visitors on a weeklong vacation will be headed to the Magic Kingdom for their first full day at the world’s most popular theme park. Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Hollywood Studios for the Extra Magic Hours. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow one of the two-day compartmentalized touring plans. You’ll also be in the best shape if you’ve moved on to World Showcase by 12pm. Should you have more to accomplish in Future World, return after 5pm when most of the crowd has moved on to World Showcase. Just keep in mind that a lot of the Future World attractions close at 7pm. Usually, just Soarin, Test Track, Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Character Spot continue to operate after 7pm. If Character Spot is on your itinerary, try to visit after 7pm when waits times are much lower than the afternoon. Overall, it’s a great day for Epcot and an excellent opportunity to spend time in both Future World and World Showcase.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests. The morning will be an okay time to tour, but crowds will increase around 10:30am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive. It’s true that today will be less crowded than any of the last three days due to the extremely popular Star Wars Weekend event. If you’re not interested in visiting the Studios for the Star Wars festivities and must visit sometime between last Friday and today, then today would be your best choice. Tomorrow and Thursday would be better if you can swing either of those dates.  Unfortunately, I’m not too fond of evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios. There are only a few attractions open and the waits for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours will likely be just as long as they were during the day, at least until 10pm when people begin to give up and exit. In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 9:30, right as evening Extra Magic Hours gets underway. The Fantasmic Theater is located right on Sunset Boulevard, across from the entrances to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. While not everyone seeing Fantasmic will be a Disney resort guest, many of them will be, and a ton will be headed to Tower of Tower and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because they truly believe it’s the best time to get in line. Unfortunately, they’ll find themselves lined up with a few thousand of their new best friends. If you’re staying for evening Extra Magic Hours, your best bet is always to save these headlining attractions for the very end of the night and visit Toy Story Mania last. While you could theoretically have success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for the headliners, the same will be true later in the week and you won’t have to deal with the significantly heavier afternoon and evening crowds. Overall, today is the least crowded day since last Thursday, but that isn’t saying much considering how busy the weekend will be.

It’s going to be a busy day at Magic Kingdom even without Extra Magic Hours to lure Disney resort guests. First, a lot of people are arriving for a weeklong vacation. They travel over the weekend and naturally head to the Magic Kingdom on Monday for their first full day. Tomorrow would be less crowded and Wednesday is the best day of the week to visit. If you are headed to Magic Kingdom despite the warning, you can still have a successful and fun day if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Fantasyland, the headlining Mountain rides, or whatever you feel is most important on your itinerary. You may want to take an afternoon break from 1pm to 6pm or so to rest up for the nighttime spectaculars. Still, you’re much better off waiting until Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday to visit because Magic Kingdom will be less crowded.

[click to continue reading..]

{ 3 comments }

I’m not sure anybody really cares, but since I have them handy, we’ll take a look at Thanksgiving Week wait times. Specifically, we’ll take a look at Monday, the busiest day of Thanksgiving Week with a crowd level of 9, which is the highest crowd level this website assigns without the risk of Magic Kingdom closing to capacity.

There is always some confusion with the crowd levels, which are on a scale of 1-10 with 1s being the least crowded days and 10s being days where one or more of the Parks may close to capacity. Crowd levels run on a bell curve so you see fewer 1s and 10s than you do 4s, 5s, and 6s. And the crowd calendar runs on a 12-month loop so crowd levels are compared only to the six months before and after a date in question.

I’ll often see people say, “There’s really no such thing as a 2 or 3 crowd level anymore, 5 is about the minimum.” That’s now how this website operates. There are, by definition, 1s, 2s, and 3s just like there are 8s, 9s, and 10s. It’s true that those 1s and 2s are more crowded than say…2009 in the middle of a worldwide recession. International visitation, particularly from South America, also tends to bump up crowds during “low crowd times” because they don’t run on the same schedule as domestic visitors. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to start the crowd calendar at a 5 and go up to a 15. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to start at 5 and go to 10 because then you really just have a crowd calendar that goes from 1 to 5. So we stick with the 1-10 scale, keeping in mind that a “2″ in 2014 is going to be considerably more crowded than a “5″ would have been back in 2010. That’s just the way things are right now with the Dow at 17,500 instead of 6,500 and strong international visitation helped by the fact everything is so much cheaper here for Brazilians.

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports12/ak1124.jpg or you can download the Excel file at http://www.easywdw.com/reports12/wdw1121.xlsx

We have 8am openings at Animal Kingdom all week to help with the heavy overall crowds. Animal Kingdom came highly recommended and you’ll notice that there are no actual waits over 10 minutes until 9:30am, a full 90 minutes after the Park opens. Things ease again in the evening with no waits over 10 minutes after 6:30pm. Things are rough in the afternoon, but with no posted waits over 60 minutes at Everest or over 90 minutes at Safaris, today should prove to be very good compared to other days during the week. That’s going to be a bit less true with today’s (November 25th) weather. There was a tornado warning at the Parks around 10am and heavy rain has kept just about everyone away. If you’re visiting between now and about March, keep in mind that just about anything that includes animal viewing closes before dusk. This time of year, that means Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch/Wildlife Express Train close at 4:45pm. That tends to make those areas a little busier during the day because more people are squished into shorter operating hours.

[click to continue reading..]

{ 45 comments }

It’s been a while since we visited Epcot without the Food and Wine Festival as the focal point.

[click to continue reading..]

{ 36 comments }

This chart shows posted (purple) and actual (blue) waits from November 21st, a Friday Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party date with an 8am open and 7pm regular close. Wait times after 7pm are during the Christmas Party. With Magic Kingdom opening at 8am daily through January 2nd, the following chart is a good idea about what to expect should you be visiting on a Party date sometime before December 20th:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports12/mkwaits1121.jpg or the original Excel spreadsheet: http://www.easywdw.com/reports12/mkchristmasparty8amopen.xlsx

With an 8am open, expect the characters to begin greeting at the following times:

[click to continue reading..]

{ 23 comments }

The Polynesian Village Resort DVC etc. construction continues:

[click to continue reading..]

{ 60 comments }

Check it out if you’ve been looking!

{ 11 comments }

Edit: December Crowd Calendar Updated (majorly).

Magic Kingdom will be opening at 8am daily from November 30 through December 12. That’s in addition to daily 8am openings from December 13-31 as listed here.

{ 14 comments }

Just a heads up for those who have interest, Google Play is offering the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy free here: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Various_Artists_Guardians_Of_The_Galaxy_Awesome_Mi?id=Btmdbtfzel2mdiai5ewdjd5nqui&hl=en. You can also go to Google Play and search for “Awesome Mix Vol. 1″ if you prefer.

Track list:

No. Title Artist(s) Length
1. “Hooked on a Feeling” Blue Swede 2:52
2. “Go All the Way” Raspberries 3:21
3. “Spirit in the Sky” Norman Greenbaum 4:02
4. “Moonage Daydream” David Bowie 4:41
5. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” Elvin Bishop 4:35
6. “I’m Not in Love” 10cc 6:03
7. “I Want You Back” The Jackson 5 2:58
8. “Come and Get Your Love” Redbone 3:26
9. “Cherry Bomb” The Runaways 2:17
10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” Rupert Holmes 4:37
11. “O-o-h Child” Five Stairsteps 3:13
12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 2:29
Total length:
44:35

{ 16 comments }

This is what we’re looking at for June. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

June is one hot and busy month. Crowds come from a number of sources. Domestically, most schools are out for a lengthy summer vacation and many families choose to visit Disney World for their annual summer vacation. Internationally, South America is expected to make up more than 25% of total attendance in June. European and Canadian attendance is also near its highest levels of the year.

Unfortunately, as crowds increase to levels never before seen, Disney continues to eliminate Extra Magic Hours and shorten regular operating hours. Two years ago, Disney canceled the Friday set of evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, in addition to shortening every set of evening Extra Magic Hours from three hours to two. The year before that, they eliminated Magic Kingdom’s Tuesday morning Extra Magic Hour. That boils down to the same number of Extra Magic Hours over the busy summer as guests visiting in September or late January would experience. That contributes to even heavier afternoon crowds as more people are squeezed into a smaller window.

A summer trip is still more than doable, but touring efficiently in the morning and/or staying through Park close is all the more important.There is less variability in daily crowd levels during the summer than any other period, thanks to few driving forces and operating hours/evening entertainment that are nearly uniform across the entire three months. When the Parks are open the same number of hours every day and offer the same evening entertainment options every night, casual vacationers aren’t reliably steered to Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios on certain days. Add South America and their variable arrival days and there is not much variance in daily crowd levels. That’s the reality of the situation. Recommended days will still see lower crowds, but the fluctuations are not as great as the fall or winter, particularly during the Mickey’s Party season.

{ 1 comment }