As most of you know, I am the co-author of Amazon’s highest rated Walt Disney World guidebook series of all time (of all time), “The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.” Now in its third year, the most robust edition yet is now available for your perusal. I write the book with Dave Shute of, where you’ll find the most comprehensive Disney resort reviews on the Internet (take a look at his recent BoardWalk Inn review, for example), in addition to a weekly look at what to expect and much further guidance into the future than I’m able to offer. For example, he’s already ranked every week in 2016 and 2017  based on expected crowds, weather, seasonal pricing, special events, and more.

When purchased directly from Amazon through this link, we’re again including the digital Kindle version at no additional cost when a print copy is purchased:

For more information on how Kindle MatchBook works, see this post. Basically, once you purchase a print copy, you can immediately download the Kindle version to your computer, Kindle, Kindle Fire, or if you’re one of the eight people that bought an Amazon Fire Phone, you can download it for that device as well.

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It’s been a few weeks since the last visit to Downtown Disney Springs, which included reviews of the new gelato outlet, in addition to a return to Cookes of Dublin and Wolfgang Express, among other things.

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We’ll return to the 2015 edition of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to visit the two new Chew Marketplaces in Future World, Craft Beer, and more new items from around World Showcase. See Part 1 for an introduction to the event and about a dozen reviews of new items. This post reviews every returning item.

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April 2016 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on September 26, 2015

Note: Fantasmic is not currently scheduled. If Disney adds it, expect Hollywood Studios’ close to be extended to at least 8pm with the show scheduled at 8:30pm. If Disney doesn’t add Fantasmic, the recommendations should stay the same as the lack of the show won’t affect how crowds flow much other than potentially fewer people visiting the Studios.

This is the Free April 2016 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 four major theme parks. 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 April 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Highly Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm-10pm

Fantasmic: 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

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

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended. Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom will be attracting the majority of Disney resort guests and there’s nothing specific attracting people today. Tomorrow will be more popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests. As always, you’ll have the most success arriving prior to Park opening and using an efficient touring plan that probably starts at Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest. Crowds drop in the afternoon with relatively short waits in DinoLand with two hours to close and in Asia with an hour to close. Consider ending the day with Expedition Everest where waits should be largely nonexistent.

Epcot is the most recommended Park as we come off a more popular day yesterday with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests. Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom will be attracting most of the resort crowd, which opens up Epcot for an excellent day. Still, with exactly two rides most people are interested in, you’ll want to arrive no later than 8:15am with plans to head to Soarin’ or Test Track immediately after Park open. With two days to tour, you can easily compartmentalize the Park by touring one side each day. With one day, try to tour Future World through 11am, then head up to World Showcase to tour with light crowds until around 5pm. Then return to Future World to finish what you want to do there, keeping in mind that Living with the Land, Circle of Life, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and both Innoventions buildings usually close at 7pm. Visit those attractions through 7pm and then move on to the likes of Mission: SPACE, The Seas with Nemo, Turtle Talk, and Character Spot. Either head back to World Showcase for dinner and IllumiNations or continue touring Future World with dinner at Sunshine Seasons. Waits at Soarin’ or Test Track will be nearly nonexistent if you get in line around 8:55pm or you can still finish the night out with IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests and the likelihood that the close will be extended and a second Fantasmic will be added, which will attract off-site guess as well. The morning will be an okay time to tour, but crowds will increase around 10am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive. 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 9:30pm when people begin to give up and exit. In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 9pm, 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 other days this week and you won’t have to deal with the significantly heavier afternoon and evening crowds. Yesterday or tomorrow would be significantly better.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a decent number of Disney resort guests, making the Park busier than yesterday or this past Tuesday. You can still have success provided you take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hour by arriving no later than 7:30am and heading straight to Fantasyland or other open attractions in Tomorrowland. Move on to the headlining Mountain rides or character meet and greets when they open and you’ll be in excellent shape. However, you will find that crowds are heavier than recommended days in the afternoon. You’ll probably want to take a break from 1pm to 5pm or so and return in the evening to ride some major attractions with FastPass+, have dinner, see some high capacity attractions, and enjoy the evening spectaculars. Keep in mind that you would be much better off visiting on a recommended day if you aren’t Extra Magic Hours eligible or won’t arrive until 10am or later because it will be busier than recommended days from 11am onward. If you’re not Extra Magic Hours eligible and plan to visit today, your best plan of attack is starting in Adventureland or Frontierland because those attractions won’t open until 9am and guests already inside the Park won’t have much of an advantage.

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Disney World Resort Halloween 2015 Schedule

by josh on September 26, 2015

Here’s a look at what the Disney World resorts will be doing for Halloween this year. Note that the Parks themselves don’t really celebrate Halloween during regular Park hours. At Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Halloween Party is already sold out on October 31st, which falls on a Saturday this year.

Day guests can enjoy the daytime ambiance on Main Street up through Liberty Square, though the rest of the Park remains untouched as far as decorations are concerned. Other than Halloween merchandise and a few food and drink items, the other Parks don’t do anything specific for Halloween. It seems extremely unlikely that Disney Springs will offer trick-or-treating.

Here’s the resort schedules:

All-Star Music:

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Update: While I’m still expecting Disney to add a morning Extra Magic Hour to Magic Kingdom daily from December 19th through the end of the month, Disney has apparently removed them from the schedule again. Click refresh on the calendar page at: or visit ( for example) to confirm.

Good news for those of you visiting around Christmas. Disney added a lot of sets of Extra Magic Hours from December 19th to January 2nd. The full operating schedule is available here: Click “refresh” to load the newest version.


Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios will see its last day of operation in its current form on October 4th. The show is expected to close for about eight weeks, reopening in the same location with a new villain and set from the Star Wars Rebels series. The general idea should otherwise remain the same. There is no official reopening day, but it should be by the end of November.


The Thursday before the first day of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is the unofficial launch of the event. It’s billed as a cast member preview and the booths (or Festival Marketplaces as Disney calls them) typically open up beginning around 11am. From here on out, the Marketplaces will open daily by 11am and continue operating through regular Park close. On busier weekends, you may see booths open up 15 to 30 minutes earlier. A few tips on experiencing the Festival:

Weekends are very crowded. And not like, “Oh my gosh the wait at Test Track is posted as 40 minutes!!!!!!” crowded.

But like this crowded:


This isn’t a holiday or anything. It’s 1:45pm on the first Saturday in October. Saturdays are almost always the busiest day of the week at Food and Wine, followed by Friday nights and Sundays. Avoid these days if possible.

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We’ll pop into Jaques Lapointe’s Hangar (that’s hangar with an ‘a’) Bar, grab dinner at THe BoAtHOUse, stare at pictures of walls, and try to remember that all of Disney Springs will be constructed in less time than it took to build the Mine Train ride.

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This is what we’re looking at for April 2016. 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.

There shouldn’t be any surprises. The month opens with above-average crowds for the Easter holiday, before dropping to average-level for the most part. We see a little bump most weekends and a slightly bigger bump for the Star Wars Half-Marathon weekend from the 15th-17th. The race starts at Epcot and ends at the Wide World of Sports, which shouldn’t have much of an impact on morning transportation or rope drop crowds. The last week should see the lowest crowds of the month, which continue into early May.

Fantasmic isn’t currently scheduled at all in March or April, but Disney initially released the February 2016 operating schedule without Fantasmic and recently added a show to every night. Whether or not Disney ends up adding Fantasmic won’t have a substantial impact on the crowd levels or recommendations, though it may change how you spend your day. Hollywood Studios typically empties out earlier when Fantasmic isn’t scheduled as people leave to look for something else to do.