With the sun setting over the Magic Kingdom on the evening of Tuesday January 20th, we’ll head inside to try to get a few pictures in before darkness descends.

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We’ll take a moment to run through Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to check out if there are any new walls.

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Disney finally got around to taking the Christmas stuff down. The Studios’ tree was still up as recently as last week, which seems a little late. “People” seem to complain that Disney gets a little too festive a little too quickly in November, but my estimation is those complainers are the same ones clamoring for  sold out Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets over Veterans Day Weekend. But rolling up on January 14th to see a giant, fake Christmas tree might make you check your calendar.

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This review is sponsored by by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.

We’ll take a moment or two to check out what Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has to offer.

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We’ll return to the Crescent Lake area for Part 2 of the update. Part 1 covered a Yachtsman Steakhouse review, BoardWalk Bakery, and  Trattoria al Forno/Flying Fish breakfast review.

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August 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on January 16, 2015

This is the Free August 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.

Saturday August 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Most Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 10pm-12am

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

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park. Tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hour will be more popular with resort guests. Today, Hollywood Studios will be popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Magic Kingdom will be attracting people with evening Extra Magic Hours and both nighttime spectaculars. To take full advantage of an above average day, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  Get those two attractions out of the way early and the only real concern is getting to Finding Nemo the Musical and Festival of the Lion King.  You would be in the best shape if you could get to the first or last show of the day as well as over to DinoLand USA before 10:30am when lines begin to build at DINOSAUR and Primeval Whirl.  You may also want to prioritize the most popular characters by arriving five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  Use FastPass+ in the late morning and afternoon day and you should have no trouble experiencing just about everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in just one day.

Epcot is recommended as we come off of a much busier day yesterday with evening Extra Magic Hours attracting the bulk of the Disney resort crowd. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will be attracting the majority of off-site and on-site visitors with long hours and plentiful evening entertainment. Take full advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, followed by Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ with FastPass+. If Character Spot is a priority, visit after 7pm when waits will be shorter than the afternoon and you won’t have to waste precious morning time. It’s also an excellent day to stay for IllumiNations and enjoy the World Showcase in the afternoon because a lot of people will have their eyes on the Electrical Parade and Fantasmic.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended. The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 75,000+ people. Because Disney sells the Extra Magic Hour program so well in its marketing materials, many of these Disney resort guests follow the Extra Magic Hours schedule because they think it’s Disney telling them where they belong each day. While you can have success if you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:15am, most people will want to visit another day. Avoid it unless you can’t visit any other day or are certain you’ll arrive by 7:15am and plan to hit Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning. Yesterday was a better day to visit with fewer complications touring in the morning.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom. We have long hours of operation, visiting locals, and a lot of vacationers who will be visiting the Magic Kingdom for a second time before returning home tomorrow. On top of that, Disney added evening Extra Magic Hours, attracting even more resort guests. Yesterday was a better day to visit and a Tuesday or Wednesday would be significantly less busy. The afternoon will be busier than any other day this week and you’ll either want to take a break and return for the Electrical Parade and Wishes or visit the less popular attractions from 2pm – 6pm. With that said, you can do very well during the first three hours of operation and any time after 10pm, even if the afternoon is slammed. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

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Disney made a number of changes to the May operating schedule. The full schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_may.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load a new version.

An FAQ follows the list of changes.

Friday May 1:

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

Saturday May 2:

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

Sunday May 3:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-7pm.
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-12am from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

Monday May 4:

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

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Disney made exactly one more change to the April operating schedule. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_april.pdf. We should see another much-more-significant update in the middle of March.

Tuesday April 28:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Second Fantasmic added at 10pm, in addition to 8:30pm show.


Disney made just a few new changes to the March 2015 operating schedule. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_march.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version. We should see a lot more changes in mid-February.

Sunday March 1:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-7pm. Second Fantasmic added at 8:30pm, in addition to 7pm show.

Monday March 9:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Second Fantasmic added at 10pm, in addition to 8:30pm show.

Saturday March 14:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9:30pm from 9am-8pm. Second Fantasmic added at 10pm, in addition to 8:30pm show.

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Disney made another round of operating schedule updates for February. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_february.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version.

These changes are more substantial than I was expecting, including the addition of the Electrical Parade to several days that didn’t originally offer one and serious extensions at all Parks over Presidents Day Weekend and the week following. The state of Louisiana will also be contributing to that week with Mardi Gras, in addition to mid-winter breaks in other regions that typically feed Disney crowds. Regular 8am openings at Epcot are usually relegated only to the week in between Christmas and New Year’s, but we see 8am openings daily from February 14-16 – something that’s never occurred in the five years I’ve operated this website. Magic Kingdom will also offer Festival of Fantasy two times daily from February 13-21 – something that is historically only seen during the weeks that comprise Easter and Christmas.

Otherwise, the first 11 days in February, in addition to the final week going into the first week in March, remain good stretches to visit. Once you hit March 8th, it’s peak-and-worse crowds through Easter, before things ease up again beginning April 12th.

If you are visiting over Presidents Day Weekend, the early mornings and late evenings are your friend. You can accomplish a ton early on and waits come down significantly late at night, particularly at Magic Kingdom with those 1am closes. It’s more than doable, but you won’t want to be in a lot of standby lines come 1pm.

Sunday February 1:

  • No changes.

Monday February 2:

  • No changes.

Tuesday February 3:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-9pm from 9am-8pm. Main Street Electrical Parade added at 7pm. No Parade previously scheduled.

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