Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort reopened in the middle of last week after closing at the end of March for what ended up being a refurbishment that lasted about 4.6 months.

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We’ll head out to Epcot where little is going on in front of its transformation into the home of the Food and Wine Festival next month. Fast forward exactly four weeks and a topiary scene will greet us.

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Get Your easy Guide Signed This Weekend

by josh on August 14, 2014

Potentially good news as the website will be making its first scheduled appearance this weekend. You can come and say hi to me and Dave and get your copy of the highest rated Walt Disney World Guidebook of all time signed. We will be at:

Epcot on Saturday August 16th outside Liberty Tree Inn in the United States Pavilion from 2pm to around 3pm.


Magic Kingdom on Sunday August 17th at Tomorrowland Terrace from 5pm to about 6pm.

We look forward to seeing you if you can make it!

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This is what we’re looking at for March. 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.

March is relatively straightforward this year. The first week sees below average to average crowds before people begin rolling in the second week for spring breaks around the country. The month culminates in some of the heaviest crowds of the year going into the final week for the Easter holiday on Sunday April 5th.

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Disney made a round of updates to the December 2014 operating schedule yesterday. Below are the changes. The full December schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_december.pdf.

Monday December 1:

  • Second Fantasmic added at 8pm, in addition to 6:30pm show.
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-12am from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

Tuesday December 2:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-6pm from 9am-5pm.
  • Second Fantasmic added at 8pm, in addition to 6:30pm show.

Wednesday December 3:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-6pm from 9am-5pm.
  • Second Fantasmic added at 8pm, in addition to 6:30pm show.
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-11pm from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

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Disney extended hours at Hollywood Studios on weekends throughout September to accommodate the Frozen Fireworks. In addition, October 7th sees the Studios’ close move to 6pm from 7pm. The full September operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_september.pdf.

Friday September 5:

Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Frozen Fireworks added at 9:15pm.

Saturday September 6:

Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Frozen Fireworks added at 9:15pm.

Sunday September 7:

Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Frozen Fireworks added at 9:15pm.

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Disney released the March 2015 Disney World operating schedule at the usual link: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_march.pdf. Click refresh on your browser to load the newest version.

Average crowds continue through March 7th. Beginning March 8th, peak spring break season begins with higher resort prices and heavier crowds. This year, March 22nd-28th looks to be the soft spot based on regional spring breaks. Resort prices remain high, but crowds will come in at a “6 or 7″ instead of an “8 or 9.” With Easter falling on Sunday April 5th in 2015, the busiest and most expensive week of the season is expected to be April 5th to 11th. Beginning April 12th, crowds fall back down to below average to average.

If you are flexible with your dates, look at the end of February into the first week in March or try to wait until at least one week after Easter.

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This is the Free February 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-12am.
  • 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.

Sunday February 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 8pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

Animal Kingdom is not recommended with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests and complicating morning touring. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and certain that you can arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it, then you can have a tremendous amount of success touring before 10am, but the afternoon is going to be busier than recommended days. Tomorrow is significantly better for those planning to arrive after 8am.

Epcot is recommended. It’s a particularly excellent day to see IllumiNations and have dinner in the World Showcase because Magic Kingdom will be attracting most of the nighttime crowd. Despite the recommendation, you will still have the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow one of the touring plans. Single Rider at Test Track is also a good option and will often result in a shorter wait than the standby or FastPass+ lines. It’s more important to arrive early and take care of the headliners first thing than it is to pick the “right” day. You’ll run into lines at the headliners in Future World if you don’t arrive until 10:30am with everyone else. To stay ahead of the crowds for the longest amount of time, move up through the World Showcase beginning at 11am with the water rides in Norway and Mexico. Return to Future World after 5pm to see anything you missed, but make sure you check your Times Guide because some attractions close at 7pm, including Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, Circle of Life, both Innoventions buildings, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure. If you’re interested in re-riding Soarin’ or Test Track, plan to use FastPass+, single rider at Test Track, or get in line around 8:55pm.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  It was virtually “dead” on Super Bowl Sunday each of the last three years.  The only minor inconvenience is going to be the Dance Team Championships, which take place at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.  The dancers are not particularly disruptive in Park because the venue itself is small, but it does mean Indiana Jones won’t be offered this weekend.  If the Stunt Spectacular is a must see, you’ll want to look to a recommended day during the week.  The dancers are also headed to a private event at the Studios after hours.  This event will not impact crowds negatively.  In fact, the dancers not participating today are more likely to head elsewhere, knowing they’ll visit the Studios after the regular close. In order to find the shortest waits, you’ll need to arrive by 8:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania. Because of its popularity and extremely limited capacity, Toy Story Mania almost always has afternoon waits of 60 or more minutes, even when crowds are relatively low and the Studios is recommended. There’s no way around that with its limited capacity and the even more limited number of things to do with kids. It’s always your top priority. The second attraction with the longest peak wait is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which should be ridden immediately after Toy Story Mania in the morning or with FastPass+. Other priorities are Tower of Terror and Star Tours, though FastPass+ are more plentiful at both attractions and standby waits are usually lower. After you get through these four headliners, it’s just a matter of arriving in time to see the various stage shows that run on a set schedule and getting over to the Studios’ high capacity attractions. You may also have characters to visit before lines get longer. While it’s officially a recommended day, arriving prior to Park opening and hitting the headliners first thing is more important than which day you pick. Arrive at 11am, no matter the recommendation or the overall crowd level, and you’ll be looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Tuesday and Friday are also recommended if you have other plans today.

Magic Kingdom is not recommended with the extended hours and both nighttime spectaculars. The morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney World’s least popular theme park will help pull away a few thousand people, but won’t do much to ease Magic Kingdom crowds. This coming Tuesday and Wednesday will be significantly less busy. You can still make today work by arriving no later than 8:20an and touring efficiently in the morning. Take advantage of FastPass+ in the late morning and early afternoon and you’re in great shape. Take a break from 1pm to 6pm or so and return in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, the Electrical Parade and Wishes.

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Just a heads up that Disney moved Hollywood Studios’ morning Extra Magic Hour from Saturday August 23rd to Friday August 22nd due to the Villains Unleashed event on the 23rd. This has changed the recommendations a bit on those dates.

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A brief update in between ketchup reviews as there is not a whole lot going on at Magic Kingdom these days now that the Mine Train has been open for 6+ weeks and the same Hub construction continues.

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