It’s sort of silly to try and compete with Dave from, who has literally stayed in and reviewed over 100 different room types over the years, but we’ll set out to check out a refurbished room at the Caribbean Beach Resort (CBR) anyway.

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Table Service Menu Update Day

by josh on October 29, 2014

Today is the big semi-annual table service menu update. Disney should have updated most/all of their menus today. If you had your heart set on something, you may want to see if it’s still on the menu: Click on the restaurant name and then on “View Menu” on the right above “Check Availability.”


Disney opened up a ton of FastPass+ availability for the first three weeks in November today. If you’ve been hunting, log in and check it out.


Edit: Studios remains popular one way or another as the close today has been extended to 8:30pm with a second Fantasmic added at 9pm.

The Legend of Jack Sparrow “interactive” show at Hollywood Studios is closing at the end of the day on November 6th, 2014. The much maligned experience was met with mediocre reviews at best, with most guests deeming it a waste of time. It’s expected that it’s closing not necessarily because it’s a terrible waste of time, but due to the expected expansion of Pixar Place. The website admits it never really understood the hate. Escape from Groangott’s [sic] it is not, but with the return ticket system, the attraction only took about 15 minutes to experience. RIP.

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May 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on October 23, 2014

This is the Free May 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.

Friday May 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Highly Recommended)

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

Animal Kingdom is recommended with Epcot attracting resort guests with evening Extra Magic Hours. Hollywood Studios is a better choice in most scenarios and some guests may want to take advantage of an above average day at Magic Kingdom, but Animal Kingdom works very well too. As always, arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing and/or stay through close because waits only decrease as people leave in the afternoon. Finish the day with DinoLand after 5pm and Asia after 6pm to enjoy waits significantly shorter than the afternoon.

We’ll want to avoid Epcot. Its evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests, which will lengthen waits times at the attractions for the entire afternoon and evening. Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours. This is due to the fact that many Disney resort guests head to whichever Park has Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of them. Without Park Hopper, Disney resort guests must stay in the Park with Extra Magic Hours for the entire day. The increased crowds lead to longer lines, heavier congestion in common areas, and an overall less pleasant touring experience. I would urge you to visit a different Park. If you want to head to Epcot today, despite my strong objections, your best chance to ride the headlining rides is from 9am-11am. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around lunch in anticipation of staying until 10-11pm. The morning will be a decent time to tour Epcot, but you’ll probably want to Park Hop elsewhere after lunch or you’ll be stuck in significantly larger-than-usual crowds. You might also consider an afternoon break from 2pm-6pm when crowds will be at their largest. You could then return in the early evening for dinner and Extra Magic Hours. Alternatively, you could also Park Hop over in the evening for Extra Magic Hours, provided you’re aware of how busy it will be. With Extra Magic Hours only being two hours now, wait times at Soarin’ and Test Track won’t ease much until after 10:30pm. However, other attractions will see nominal waits and it’s a great time to take in Epcot’s natural ambiance and hit a few of the less popular/high capacity attractions. Skip Illuminations if you’ll be here on another night because it will be more crowded than usual. Overall, there’s no reason to visit Epcot today because crowds will be higher than any other day during the week and waits at Soarin’ and Test Track will be just as long as they were during the day until at least 10:30pm.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park with Epcot attracting resort guests and Magic Kingdom continuing to be the most popular theme park in the world with long operating hours and both nighttime spectaculars. To have the most success, you’ll still want to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror. Because Toy Story Mania has such a limited capacity, wait times are almost always 60+ minutes in the afternoon, even with some of the lowest crowds of the year. You’ll want to make it your top priority. Your second priority is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which also sees long afternoon waits and limited FastPass+ availability. Tower of Terror and Star Tours should be easier to ride, but also remain priorities. If you can get these attractions done in the early morning, you’ll be in great shape for the rest of the day. The only other problem most people run into is trying to schedule all of the stage shows that run on a set schedule. You may also want to prioritize characters that will have longer afternoon waits. The Toy Story characters across from Toy Story typically meet beginning at 9am and have the longest afternoon waits. Sofia the First usually has the second longest waits and meets in Animation Courtyard beginning at 9:30am. Phineas & Ferb also see long lines. They typically begin appearing at 9:30am, which means you’ll have time to ride Toy Story Mania before heading over to the Toy Story characters and then over to Sofia or Phineas & Ferb, which are located near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and across from the exit to Muppet Vision 3D. Check the week’s Times Guide to verify appearance times. Two other popular characters appear in the Animation Building in the Animation Courtyard. Sorcerer Mickey in particular has long afternoon waits and The Incredibles characters also tend to have decent lines. Since both characters meet indoors and their lines aren’t usually over 20 minutes long, you should be able to find them with decent waits later in the day if you have other morning priorities. Finally, you’ll find some characters in the morning near Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat that won’t appear later in the afternoon. Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Chip, Dale, Stitch, Goofy, and Pluto are all common, but no specific character is guaranteed to appear. For Fantasmic, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the theater. You’ll still need to arrive at least 20 minutes early, but it’s better than the 60+ minutes early you’ll need to arrive without the package. The Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it only costs one table service credit (except at Hollywood Brown Derby, which still costs two credits as it would otherwise) and includes the appetizer. As far as general seating is concerned, the best seats are about half way up in the center sections. Sit any closer and you run the risk of getting wet and it’s more difficult to see what’s happening on the water.

Magic Kingdom is highly recommended. Epcot will be a bigger draw with the sizable on-site contingent with evening Extra Magic Hours and we’re coming off a busier day with the morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom yesterday. Tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours will also prove more popular with resort guests. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides. Most people will want to start with the Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or in Tomorrowland for Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. You may have other time sensitive attractions on your itinerary like Astro Orbiter or Tomorrowland Indy Speedway as well. While these aren’t “the most popular” or “headlining” attractions, they are still morning priorities because they have guaranteed uncomfortable waits from 10am onward. Also consider prioritizing the most popular characters that don’t offer FastPass+. The relatively late night hours are also a great time to tour, particularly if you’re skipping the nighttime spectaculars. Visit Tomorrowland with two hours to close and Fantasyland in the final hour to find much shorter waits than the afternoon.

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We find ourselves at Animal Kingdom.

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Off to Magic Kingdom in the heart of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party season. Go on a Party day and enjoy relatively light crowds. Go on a non-Party day and suffer the consequences of significantly heavier crowds.

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More details at Orlando Parks News:


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

The earlier in the month you visit, the lower the crowds and temperatures will be. Resort prices also rise dramatically over Memorial Day Weekend, but are otherwise right around average.

Star Wars Weekends look to return May 15th based on the schedule of the last few years and the switch in the Extra Magic Hours schedule. Saturday’s usual morning Extra Magic Hour on Saturdays moves to Wednesday as to not attract resort guests over what are already very busy days with the Star Wars festivities. See Star Wars Weekends 2014 Strategy, Characters, Fireworks, Crowds, Merchandise, etc. for advanced tips on what to expect from the event.

Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on May 31st (on the calendar you’ll see the day listed in the top left) for a private event at 7pm.


Disney updated the operating hours for February 2015. The full operating schedule is available here: Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version.

Changes are minimal and shouldn’t affect the crowd levels or recommendations.

Sunday February 1:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-5pm.
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-10pm from 9am-9pm. Second Electrical Parade added at 10pm, in addition to 8pm Parade.

Monday February 2:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-7pm. Second Fantasmic added at 8:30pm, in addition to 7pm show.
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-10pm from 9am-9pm. Main Street Electrical Parade added at 8pm and 10pm. No Parades previously scheduled.

Tuesday February 3:

  • No changes.

Wednesday February 4:

  • No changes.

Thursday February 5:

  • No changes.

Friday February 6:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-10pm from 9am-9pm. Second Electrical Parade added at 10pm, in addition to 8pm Parade. [click to continue reading..]