January 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on July 2, 2013

1/12/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

12/17/13 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

11/13/13 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here. A few slight modifications were necessary around the dates that changed.

9/30/13 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

This is the Free January 2014 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 three 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.

Wednesday January 1

New Year’s Day

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 7am – 8am

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 8am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 6:30pm and 8pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 12:30pm and 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

We’re coming off an extremely busy day yesterday for New Year’s Eve.  You can do very well in the morning at any of the Parks, but Epcot and Magic Kingdom are our best choices.  You can have a ton of success at Animal Kingdom if you arrive in time to take advantage of the full Extra Magic Hour, but you can expect the afternoon and evening to be much more crowded than recommended days, particularly with those waking up late and looking to head out somewhere that they deem a “half day Park.”

Yesterday was one of the best days around the Christmas holiday to visit Animal Kingdom.  The morning Extra Magic Hour today will attract the bulk of the resort crowd that was out late last night, even if there’s no way they’ll be up in time to take advantage of it. Many on-site vacationers consider the Extra Magic Hours schedule as Disney’s way of telling them where they belong each day.  You can do well in the morning, but the afternoon and evening are going to be busy and the Park won’t empty out in the evening as much with so many more people than usual arriving even later than usual.

It’s an above-average day at Epcot, particularly from 9am – 11am due to the number of people who were out late last night and won’t be anywhere near a Park, let alone where they were crammed close together last night.  With the high overall crowd level extended throughout the week, Soarin’ and Test Track are still going to be extremely popular attractions.  You’re going to want to take care of them both immediately after Epcot opens or rely on FastPass in the afternoon.  They simply don’t have the capacities to keep up with demand.  A more compartmentalized two-day plan where you only focus on one today also makes a lot of sense.  It will result in less walking and the lowest wait times possible.  The morning, from 9am – 11am, will be a great time to tour, but it’s more important than usual to be on your way up to World Showcase beginning as close to 11am as possible to stay ahead of the crowds into the afternoon.  Most people will want to start with the boat rides in Mexico and Norway.  Epcot will be busy in the evening, but there isn’t a whole lot we can do about that on New Year’s Day.

Hollywood Studios is not expressly recommended.  Although we have morning Extra Magic Hour at Animal Kingdom to help attract Disney resort guests, there’s no special evening entertainment or evening Extra Magic Hours to draw the sizable off-site contingent.  On top of that, Extra Magic Hours won’t be scheduled at the Studios until this weekend.  While it’s true we had evening Extra Magic Hours last night, that won’t be a huge draw with the festivities at Epcot and popularity of Magic Kingdom’s nighttime celebration.  I’m looking toward Friday as a better day to visit.  However, with nothing specific drawing on-site or off-site visitors to the Studios, it won’t be far and away busier than other days this week.  You can still have a tremendous amount of success if you arrive by 7:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  You’ll be in great shape for the rest of the day.  Plan to rely on FASTPASS at Toy Story and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster if you aren’t planning to ride first thing in the morning or at the very end of the night.  Other than these four headliners, it’s really just a matter of arriving in time to see the Studios’ shows that run on a set schedule and having enough time to see and ride the high capacity attractions like Great Movie Ride and Backlot Tour.  You may also have popular characters to prioritize.  For Fantasmic, I always recommend the Fantasmic Dining Package if you’re interested in the first show of the night.  It makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that it would cost otherwise.  Plus, you receive an appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t get on the Dining Plan.  Even with the Package, you’ll want to arrive at least 20 minutes before the show begins or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section to the general public.  If you’re not interested in the Package or it isn’t available, plan to see the 10pm show because most families will be long gone and there won’t be too large sections reserved for Dining Package users.  All in all, arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of the headliners is more important than picking the “right day.”  Try to schedule the Studios when you know you’ll be up and ready to go early.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  A ton of people are going to be out late at Magic Kingdom and Epcot yesterday for New Year’s Eve.  With the massive crowds, few are going to try to brave it again today, especially in the morning. We also don’t suffer from the morning Extra Magic Hour complication we’ve been dealing with for the last week.  Take advantage and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain), or follow a touring plan.  You may also want to fit other time-sensitive attractions like Tomorrowland Indy Speedway or Astro Orbiter in there as well, along with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and other quick attractions that will have decent afternoon waits.  Use FastPass in the afternoon and evening when crowds are heavier.  If you’ll be attending this evening’s nighttime spectaculars, you’ll most likely want to take a sizable break from 1pm to 6pm or so when crowds peak.  Wait times will be long at most attractions during this time period and it’s a great opportunity to return to your resort to relax.  Return in the evening for Wishes and the 11pm Main Street Electrical Parade.  Scope out a spot along the Parade route in Liberty Square or Frontierland because those areas offer just as good of a view as Main Street and require a much shorter wait. The later Parade is less crowded because so many families leave before or immediately after Wishes. The late night hours are also a viable time to tour. Visit Tomorrowland after 11pm and Fantasyland after 12am to find much lower wait times than the afternoon.

Thursday January 2

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 9pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 8am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 6:30pm and 8pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 7am – 8am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 12:30pm and 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom and Epcot are our best choices.  We’re coming off a popular day at Animal Kingdom yesterday, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  Today, we have morning Extra Magic Hour attracting crowds toward the Magic Kingdom and Fantasmic continuing to keep Hollywood Studios crowded.  All in all, you can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing in the morning.  After getting those two attractions out of the way, head over to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR, over to the popular character greetings, or over to Finding Nemo the Musical.  Finding Nemo does get crowded later in the day and the first show is always the least crowded and will require the shortest wait to get good seats.  If you arrive later, you may need to rely on FASTPASS at Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  Expedition Everest also has a “single rider line” that is usually short if you’re willing to split the group up.  Plan to stay through close if you couldn’t get to the headliners earlier in the day or if you’d like to return to any other attractions because crowds only dissipate after the 3:45pm Parade and more and more people leave.  7:30pm to 9pm in particular will see low crowds, but the afternoon will be busy. Note that with the late close and early dusk, Kilimanjaro Safaris and the animal treks will likely close by 5pm. Check your Times Guide and visit DinoLand after 7pm and Asia after 8pm to find the shortest waits. Overall, it’s a great day to visit Animal Kingdom if you need a day there.  If you’re looking to extend your day, you may want to book a dinner reservation right around Park close.  Disney will run buses for at least 90 minutes after Park close to get you back to your Disney resort and most restaurants accept bookings right up until close.  You may also want to visit the BoardWalk or Downtown Disney, both of which are popular dining/shopping destinations.  Of course, you can also Park Hop over to Magic Kingdom for the nighttime entertainment, Epcot for IllumiNations, or Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  Tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours will be more attractive to Disney resort guests.  We also have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade pulling people towards Magic Kingdom and Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios continuing to draw crowds.  Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer.  If you arrive later, plan to use FastPass at Soarin’ or Test Track.  Soarin’ and Test Track will have 90+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to popularity and relatively low capacities.  Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway.  Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FASTPASS.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations. The afternoon will be extremely busy with the high overall crowd level, but you can still do well if you arrive early and tour efficiently.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour will help draw Disney resort guests toward Magic Kingdom, it won’t be as big of a draw as when Magic Kingdom offers Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes less often.  With Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, and similarly long hours every day this week, Magic Kingdom will only be marginally more crowded today.  We also don’t have the more popular evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled anywhere.  I’m looking towards tomorrow as being less crowded, thanks to the popular evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot and the fact that the morning Extra Magic Hour on Saturday will be more attractive to Disney resort guests.  Like yesterday, there’s nothing specific drawing people towards Hollywood Studios, which means it won’t be far and away busier than non-recommended days during the week.  However, you will find higher crowds and longer waits in the afternoon.  Most people will want to take advantage of the lower crowds at Epcot and hold off on Hollywood Studios until tomorrow.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a decent number of Disney resort guests, making the Park busier than yesterday or tomorrow.  The fact that we have Main Street Electrical Parade scheduled every night this week certainly “helps” distribute crowds more evenly, even though the Disney resort crowd will predictably visit when Extra Magic Hours are scheduled.  Today won’t be far and away busier than other days this week and you can have success provided you take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hour by arriving no later than 6:40am 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 6pm 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. The late night is also a great time to tour, as it is most other days this week  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 9:30am or later because it will be busier than recommended days from 11am onward.

Friday January 3

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 8pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 8am – 10pm (Highly Recommended)

Fantasmic: 6:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 12:30pm and 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  Epcot will be more popular with the predictable Disney resort guest contingent.  You can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing in the morning.  After getting those two attractions out of the way, head over to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR, over to the most popular character greetings, or over to Finding Nemo the Musical.  Finding Nemo does get crowded later in the day and the first show is always the least crowded and will require the shortest wait to get good seats.  If you arrive later, you may need to rely on FASTPASS at Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  Expedition Everest also has a “single rider line” that is usually short if you’re willing to split the group up.  Plan to stay through close if you couldn’t get to the headliners earlier in the day or if you’d like to return to any other attractions because crowds only dissipate after the 3:45pm Parade and more and more people leave.  Because Animal Kingdom doesn’t offer anything in the way of special evening entertainment, few people Park Hop over in the afternoon and evening.  Note the closing time for Safaris and the Jungle Treks because they will be earlier than the official close with the early dusk.  Overall, it’s a great day to visit Animal Kingdom if you need a day there.  If you’re looking to extend your day, you may want to book a dinner reservation right around Park close.  Disney will run buses for at least 90 minutes after Park close to get you back to your Disney resort and most restaurants accept bookings right up until close.  You may also want to visit the BoardWalk or Downtown Disney, both of which are popular dining/shopping destinations.  Of course, you can also Park Hop over to Magic Kingdom for the nighttime entertainment, Epcot for IllumiNations or Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic.  If you do plan to head elsewhere, you’ll most likely want to take a sizable afternoon break.  It’s a long day and the heat won’t help.

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.  The last hour of Extra Magic Hours is always the least crowded, so plan to stay until 11pm and head back to Test Track or Soarin’ after 10:30pm.  Still, with the changeover to only two hours of Extra Magic Hours, you can expect 10pm – 11pm to continue to be decently busy because there won’t be the 11pm – 12am drop off in crowds as people tire out. 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 unless you can’t schedule it another day or tour efficiently from 9am – 1pm, take a break, and stay through 11pm for Extra Magic Hours.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended.  We’re looking at a morning Extra Magic Hour tomorrow that will be more popular with Disney resort guests.  With Fantasmic scheduled every night, the Studios won’t be far and away less crowded than other days this week like it was when Fantasmic was scheduled less often.  Nonetheless, we’re looking at fewer people in the Park, crowds that grow slower, increased FASTPASS availability, less congestion in common areas, and shorter waits at rides, shows, and restaurants.  To have the most success, you’ll still want to arrive by 7:30am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Because Toy Story Mania has such a limited capacity, wait times are almost always 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FastPass availability is extremely limited.  Expect waits to hit 90 to 120 minutes today, even with the recommendation.  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 tend to have the longest waits.  They’re easiest to meet in the morning immediately after riding Toy Story because they first appear at 9:15am and waits are short first thing.  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. Plan to meet them in the final hour they meet.  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, Chip, Dale,  Goofy, and Pluto are all common, but no specific character is guaranteed to appear.  All in all, you can do well, but arriving prior to Park opening and using FastPass wisely is of the utmost importance at Hollywood Studios in particular.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park as the overall crowd level is a little lower and we don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special evening entertainment drawing crowds.  Magic Kingdom won’t be highly recommended again until next Tuesday and Wednesday.  If you’re just arriving and can wait that long, both of those days would be far less crowded than today because of the significantly lower overall crowd level.  Despite the recommendation, today will be far from empty with the above average overall crowd level, long hours of operation, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes.  It’s still more important to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  You may also want to fit other time-sensitive attractions like Tomorrowland Indy Speedway or Astro Orbiter in there as well, along with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and other quick attractions that will have decent afternoon waits.  Consider taking a break from 1pm to 7pm or so when crowds are heaviest and wait times are longest to rest up for the evening entertainment.  For Main Street Electrical Parade, scout out a spot along the Parade route in Liberty Square or Frontierland where crowds are lower for the 11pm Parade.  After that, visit Tomorrowland after 11pm and Fantasyland after 12am to find much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Saturday January 4

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 6:30pm and 8pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Not Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 12:30pm and 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special events, or anything else to attract Disney vacationers of any sort.  Hollywood Studios will be more popular with Disney resort guests.  While Magic Kingdom has enjoyed late closes and nightly Electrical Parades, that changes beginning tomorrow, making Disney’s most popular theme park that more attractive.  If you’re planning Epcot on another day, Animal Kingdom is your best bet.

Epcot is our best Park to visit.  Last night’s evening Extra Magic Hours will have been wildly popular with Disney resort guests and they will be nowhere near Epcot today, especially in the morning.  Take full advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills Mission: Space, and Soarin’. Visit Character Spot after 7pm to avoid longer afternoon waits.  To stay ahead of the crowds for as long as possible, move up through the World Showcase beginning at 11am with the water rides in Norway and Mexico.  Return to Future World to ride anything you skipped earlier in the day and to re-ride Soarin’ and Test Track with FASTPASS.  If you arrive after 10am, you’ll need to rely on FASTPASS at Soarin’ and/or Test Track or be prepared to wait in 60 minute standby lines, despite the recommendation.  There’s no way around that due to the popularity of both attractions and their limited capacities.  Mission Space and Maelstrom see shorter waits and FASTPASSes are easier to come by.  It’s also an excellent day to stay for IllumiNations and enjoy the World Showcase in the afternoon.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended.  The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 85,000+ people during a busy week like this one.  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.  Tomorrow and Monday would be significantly better.  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.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom.  We have longer 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.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios helps, it won’t pull enough people away to make Magic Kingdom less crowded than a recommended Tuesday or Wednesday.  We enjoyed long hours of operation every day over the last couple of weeks, but that changes tomorrow with the earlier close and lack of the Electrical Parade.  Those finishing up vacations or just arriving will see today’s long hours and plentiful evening entertainment extremely attractive.  All of this makes me hesitant about recommending the Magic Kingdom, despite a lack of Extra Magic Hours.  You can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior to 9am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions.  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.  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.

Sunday January 5

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 10pm – 12am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special events to attract anyone.  Magic Kingdom will remain popular with its evening Extra Magic Hours and what is now a rare Main Street Electrical Parade.  Ideally, plan to arrive prior to Park opening and focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible or rely on FASTPASS later in the day(or both).  After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or one of the more popular shows and you’ll be set for the rest of the day.  You may also want to prioritize characters before they get popular.  If you don’t end up arriving prior or close to Park opening, plan to stay through close.  Wait times will only decrease after the Parade as people invariably head to the exit.  Check your Times Guide to verify when Kilimanjaro Safaris and the jungle treks stop operating. It will be around 5pm when the early sunset. Hit DinoLand after 6pm and finish up with Asia in the final hour. Save Everest for last for the shortest waits possible.  Take advantage of one or both of the less crowded times of day, use FASTPASS as much as possible in the late morning and afternoon, and tour efficiently and you should have an excellent day.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  We have a rare evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled tomorrow because of the Marathon next week that will be more popular with Disney resort guests.  It’s a particularly excellent day to see IllumiNations and have dinner in the World Showcase because Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios 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 a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  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.  The 5pm to 7pm timeframe is an excellent opportunity to do Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Circle of Life, Sum of All Thrills, anything in Innoventions, and anything else other than the major headliners.  If you’re interested in re-riding Soarin’ and Test Track later in the day, plan to use FASTPASS.  Standby waits will be 40 to 70 minutes regardless of the recommendation.  There’s no way around that with their limited capacities and a limited number of rides in the Park.  If you can’t get to Soarin’ and Test Track in the morning or with FASTPASS, visit one after 8:30pm when lines are shorter.

Hollywood Studios is recommended.  We’re coming off a popular morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday, but don’t have the more popular evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled tomorrow.  Most people will want to take advantage of the lower crowds at Epcot and hold off on Hollywood Studios until tomorrow.  To have success, you’ll still want to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Because Toy Story Mania has such a limited capacity, wait times are almost always 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FASTPASSes routinely run out by 9:30am.  You’ll want to make it your top priority.  Your second priority is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which also sees afternoon waits in the 40 to 50 minute range.  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.  You may also want to prioritize the Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, or Sorcerer Mickey characters.  In addition, characters appear at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the early morning that won’t appear during any other part of the day.  Usually Pluto, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy, and Stitch,, but no specific characters are guaranteed.  The only other problem most people run into is trying to schedule all of the stage shows that run on a set schedule.  For Fantasmic, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the theater if you’re interested in the 6:30pm show.  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.  It 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 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 middle sections, but be prepared to arrive an hour early for those seats.  Any closer and you run the risk of getting wet and it’s more difficult to see what’s happening on the water.  Overall, it’s a recommended day to visit, but tomorrow would be better.

Magic Kingdom is not expressly recommended, thanks to the evening Extra Magic Hours that will attract enough Disney resort guests to make it busier than this coming Tuesday or Wednesday.  However, the overall crowd level is significantly lower than the last couple of weeks.  If you’re finishing up your trip, you may want to visit Magic Kingdom today because it will still be less crowded than any day since December 20th.  It remains “not recommended” due to being busier than most of the days in front of us.  You can still do very well if you arrive by 8:30am and head straight for the priorities on your itinerary. The Park will also empty out a bit as it gets later in the evening. If you’re staying for evening Extra Magic Hours, plan to stay through the end, leaving Fantasyland for after 11pm when waits are shortest.

Monday January 6

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom comes tentatively recommended, which is somewhat rare for a morning with Extra Magic Hours attached.  Hollywood Studios is the better choice in most situations, but you can do extremely well at Animal Kingdom if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:30am.  I like to ride Expedition Everest continually until about 8:40am and then head over to Kilimanjaro Safaris by 8:50am to get in line before the incoming off-site crowd arrives.  You can also do the usual Safaris and then Everest progression before continuing on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR.  You won’t run into any lines until at least 9:30am.  If you’re not Extra Magic Hours eligible or aren’t planning to arrive until 9:30am or later, then you will run into longer lines.  However, with the low overall crowd level and the fact that it’s so early in the week, relatively few people will be headed to Animal Kingdom.  The extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot will also help pull people away. It’s also early in the week and few people arriving over the weekend will head to Disney’s least popular theme park this early in their trip.  The Studios is a better choice overall, but Animal Kingdom is perfectly viable if it fits into your itinerary better.

Epcot is not recommended, thanks to the rare Monday edition of evening Extra Magic Hours.  With the Marathon next weekend, Disney is trying to pull Disney resort guests away from Epcot over the busy weekend there. The number of on-site visitors numbers 75,000+ even in January, thanks to promotions and tour groups.  Many of these people inevitably follow the Extra Magic Hours schedule because they truly think it’s Disney’s way of telling them where they belong each day.  This Thursday is the best day of the week to visit and Wednesday or Friday would also be better.  You can do well today if you arrive by 8:30am and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ because most Disney resort guests won’t arrive until 10am or later with plans to stay through 10pm or so.  Evening Extra Magic Hours is a good time to hit the less popular attractions, but Soarin’ and Test Track will see wait times that are just as long as the afternoon, especially now that Extra Magic Hours are cut to two hours.  Tour efficiently in the morning and you can make out okay, but this coming Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday would all see easier touring.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  Epcot’s evening Extra Magic Hours will be a huge nighttime pull for on-site guests.  That means fewer people in the Park, crowds that grow slower, increased FASTPASS availability, less congestion in common areas, and shorter waits at rides, shows, and restaurants.  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, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Because Toy Story Mania has such a limited capacity, wait times are almost always 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FASTPASSes run out first.  You’ll want to make it your top priority.  Your second priority is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which also sees afternoon waits in the 40 to 50 minute range, despite the recommendation.  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 usually have the longest waits.  They appear first at 9:15am, which gives you time to ride Toy Story Mania before getting in line by 9:10am.  Phineas & Ferb tend to have the second longest lines in Hollywood Studios.  They typically begin appearing at 9:30am near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, which should give you enough time to scoot over there shortly after they begin greeting.  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 after 4:30pm.  Finally, you’ll find some characters in the morning near Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat that won’t appear later in the afternoon.  Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Chip, Dale, Friends of Winnie the Pooh, 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.  It 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, but be prepared to arrive an hour early for those seats.  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 comes tentatively recommended now that Main Street Electrical Parade is canceled. The Parade attracts significant crowds and the fact that it’s no longer scheduled means it will no longer be attracting guests. One of the problems is the later close than most other days this week, which will attract casual vacationers that equate a longer day with being able to accomplish more. Of course, the opposite is usually true because those heavier crowds lead to longer wait times. Mondays at Magic Kingdom are typically the second busiest week, only behind Saturday, because so many people arrive over the weekend and naturally want to visit the most popular theme park in the world first thing. Tomorrow and Wednesday will both be less crowded, but you can make tomorrow work if you arrive prior to Park opening and tour efficiently in the first two to three hours. Use FASTPASS or schedule FastPass+ opportunities in the afternoon and consider taking a sizable afternoon break when crowds peak. Visit Fantasyland after 9pm to find shorter waits than the afternoon. This Thursday is the best day of the week to see the Electrical Parade.

Tuesday January 7

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  We don’t have special events, Extra Magic Hours, or anything specific drawing people toward it.  It’s also early enough in the week that many people on weeklong vacations will be saving Animal Kingdom for later in the week.  Overall, today and Saturday are the two best days of the week to visit.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows and potentially the Camp Minnie-Mickey characters.  Finding Nemo gets busy during the afternoon, so try to see the first or last show of the day.  You’ll also want to get to DinoLand USA before 10:30am to ride Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR because those two attractions are popular.  Still, they aren’t necessarily your top morning priorities and you can easily use FASTPASS if need arises.  Despite “only” being open nine hours, you can still see most of what the Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FASTPASS in the late morning and afternoon, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows.  Finally, crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade.  Plan to return to any favorites from 4:30pm through close when waits will be shorter than the afternoon.

Epcot isn’t recommended due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests, lack of long hours and evening entertainment elsewhere, and the natural progression of weeklong Disney vacationers that will naturally head to Epcot after the Magic Kingdom yesterday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour will be an excellent time to tour, Epcot will get progressively busier as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  You could have success if you arrive at 7:30am, head straight for the headliners, and move up to the World Showcase around 11am, but afternoon crowds will be heavier than recommended days and you’ll likely want to Park Hop elsewhere or take a break around 2pm.  Yesterday and Thursday are the best days to visit this week.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended.  While Epcot will attract a decent number of Disney resort guests with its morning Extra Magic Hour, we don’t have the Electrical Parade scheduled at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom offers short hours of operation.  Neither theme park will be drawing significant crowds.  When that happens, people tend to default to the Studios’ decent hours of operation and Fantasmic.  The fact that we aren’t coming off our usual evening Extra Magic Hours last night doesn’t help either.  Yesterday and this coming Thursday are significantly better days to visit.  Nonetheless, there isn’t necessarily anything attracting people to the Studios specifically.  You can still do very well if you arrive prior to Park opening, hit the headliners and most popular characters first thing, use FASTPASSes throughout the day, and take an afternoon break to rest up for dinner and Fantasmic.  However, most people will want to take advantage of the low crowds at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom and hold off on Hollywood Studios for a more recommended day.

Magic Kingdom is highly recommended, but tomorrow will be even less crowded.  Wednesdays are historically the least crowded day of the week at the Magic Kingdom due to the natural progression of weeklong vacationers that visit Magic Kingdom early and late on their trip, especially when the Electrical Parade is scheduled on a limited number of evenings.  You can still have a lot of success if you visit today, especially with the low overall crowd level.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Fantasyland, headlining Mountain rides, or another priority.  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.  Popular characters may also be a morning priority, particularly the ones that don’t offer FASTPASS.  Use FASTPASS throughout the day and you should have no trouble experiencing most of what the Magic Kingdom has to offer in just one day.  Consider returning on another evening for Main Street Electrical Parade.  Thursday would be best, but that isn’t saying much when your only other option is the incredibly Saturday.  As far as crowds and waits are concerned, tomorrow and Friday will also be highly recommended.

Wednesday January 8

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

It’s the busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom.  The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract the bulk of the Disney resort crowd and there’s no evening Extra Magic Hours or special evening entertainment going on at the other Parks, which will cause a lot of off-site guests to visit as well.  Most people prefer to visit the other Parks when they’re either open longer or have special evening entertainment like Fantasmic (when it’s scheduled less often) or Main Street Electrical Parade.  When none of that is available, they’ll default to the Animal Kingdom.  With both yesterday and tomorrow recommended, there’s no reason to visit today.

It’s a well-above-average day at Epcot.  We’re coming off two days in a row of Extra Magic Hours and those Disney resort guests won’t be looking to return today.  Fantasmic and Toy Story Midway Mania will also be more popular at Hollywood Studios.  I’m looking toward tomorrow as having lower crowds and shorter waits, thanks to morning Extra Magic Hour attracting people to Magic Kingdom and the addition of Main Street Electrical Parade.  However, today won’t be terrible by any means.  Plan to arrive as early as possible and either follow a touring plan or head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, and Soarin’.  You’ll be in good shape if you’ve moved to the World Showcase by 12pm, starting with the boat rides in Mexico and Norway.  If you can’t arrive early, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Soarin’ and/or Test Track.  You can also hop in line right before 9pm to ride with a shorter wait than any part of the day outside 9am – 9:15am.

With no Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, no evening Extra Magic Hours anywhere, and a lowly morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney’s least popular theme park, Hollywood Studios is going to be busier than recommended days during the week.  While the addition of Fantasmic to every night this week makes each specific show less appealing, we still need to be concerned about the lack of attractive forces elsewhere.  Plus, it’s later in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will already have visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot and they’ll be looking to spend a day at one of Disney World’s less popular theme parks.  With nothing specific drawing people to the Studios, it’s not going to be crazy crowded, but it is going to be busier than other recommended days during the week and should be avoided if possible.  With Magic Kingdom being incredibly popular tomorrow with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Electrical Parade, the Studios would be a much better choice then.

Magic Kingdom is our best Park to visit today for the exact same reasons it was recommended yesterday.  We also have a morning Extra Magic Hour tomorrow that will be more attractive to Disney resort guests and an Electrical Parade that will be attractive to off-site guests. Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain), or other time sensitive attractions (Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway).  You’ll be able to accomplish a ton of attractions in a short amount of time if you make efficient use of the morning and use FASTPASS at the major attractions throughout the day.  You’ll also want to strongly consider taking an afternoon break when crowds peak to rest up for the evening.

Thursday January 9

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Highly Recommended)

Family 5K

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  We’re coming off a popular day at Animal Kingdom yesterday, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  Today, we have morning Extra Magic Hour/Main Street Electrical Parade attracting crowds toward the Magic Kingdom.  As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  If you’re not riding the thrill rides (Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl), you’ll want to attend the first showing of Finding Nemo because it will be popular in the afternoon. You may also want to prioritize the most popular characters by arriving about five minutes before they’re first scheduled to appear.  After completing your itinerary, you may want to Park Hop to Magic Kingdom for Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade, Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic or Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations.  Keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade.  Stay through close if there’s more that you want to accomplish because wait times will only decrease from 4:30pm onward.  Without Park Hopper, consider transferring to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at one of its excellent restaurants.  There’s also a public observatory where you can gaze out at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s private savannas and enjoy the same view many guests are paying a premium to have right outside their balconies.  A trip to Downtown Disney or the BoardWalk for dinner and shopping also makes a lot of sense.

Epcot is highly recommended and your best choice if you have other plans for the Studios.  We have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical attracting on-site and off-site visitors alike to Magic Kingdom.  The only problem is that we don’t have our usual evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled tomorrow to draw the majority of Disney resort guests.  Also, the Family 5K run is scheduled this morning at 6:15am.  Luckily , the race will be over long before Epcot opens and traffic won’t be impacted whatsoever.  Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer.  If you arrive after 10am, you’ll most likely need to rely on FASTPASS at Soarin’ and Test Track.  Both will have 40+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to their popularity and relatively low capacities.  Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway.  Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FASTPASS.  Keep in mind that Innoventions, Universe of Energy, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life usually close at 7pm.  Hit those attractions from 5pm to 7pm to find shorter waits than the 1pm to 4pm timeframe.  Return to Test Track and Soarin’ after 8pm to find the shortest waits outside of 9am – 10am.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  While it’s later in the week, Magic Kingdom will be a much bigger draw with morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade drawing off-site and on-site visitors alike.  The evening Extra Magic Hours tomorrow will also be a bigger draw for on-site visitors.  Tomorrow’s longer hours will also attract off-site visitors.  Still, touring efficiently is more important than “picking the right day,” especially at Hollywood Studios.  That means arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning or with FASTPASS throughout the day.  Toy Story Mania will hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon due to its limited capacity.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent afternoon waits, likely in the 30-50 minute range, with FASTPASSes that are harder to obtain.  Plan to head there second or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  You may also want to prioritize the Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, or Sorcerer Mickey characters by arriving about five minutes before they first appear.  The Toy Story characters, located right across the way from Toy Story Mania, are easy to meet at 9:15am if you head over after riding.  In addition, characters appear at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the early morning that won’t appear during any other part of the day.  Usually, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy, Piglet, and Tigger appear, but no specific characters are guaranteed.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive early and tour efficiently, but afternoon crowds will be decent.  Arrive at 10:30am with everyone else and you’re looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  You can still enjoy the various shows, but it’s going to be more difficult to experience those two attractions.  Thankfully, Tower of Terror and Star Tours see shorter waits and more FASTPASS availability.  Still, Tower of Terror will hit 30-40 minutes in the afternoon and Star Tours should see 20 minute waits.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a lot of Disney resort guests and we also have the first Main Street Electrical Parade since Monday.  Combined, this will make Magic Kingdom significantly busier than either of the last two days or tomorrow.  You can have success provided you take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hour by arriving no later than 7:40am 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.  Tonight is your best opportunity this week to see Main Street Electrical Parade, but the Magic Kingdom will still be busy.  If you are planning to see the Parade, I recommend scouting out a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty Square.  Both locations are significantly less crowded than Main Street and offer a view that is just as good.  To enjoy the Electrical Parade with the least possible hassle, plan to visit a recommended Park in the morning, take an afternoon break, and then visit Magic Kingdom in the evening for dinner and the nighttime spectaculars.

Friday January 10

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Tentatively Recommended)

WDW 10K

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended, though it isn’t the best day of the week there.  Most people will want to take advantage of the lower crowds at Magic Kingdom or Epcot, but Animal Kingdom is certainly a viable alternative.  The main problem is that it’s later in the week and a lot of people will be saving Animal Kingdom until the end of their weeklong vacation, before returning to Magic Kingdom tomorrow.  Luckily, Hollywood Studios will be much more popular with Disney resort guests with the evening Extra Magic Hours attached.  With the low overall crowd level, you can still do well at Animal Kingdom if it fits into your schedule better.  Keep in mind that either yesterday or tomorrow would be better days to visit.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl/DINOSAUR, visit the characters at Camp Minnie-Mickey, or see the first Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep in mind that crowds disperse after the 3:45pm Parade.  If you couldn’t get to some of the attraction earlier in the day, stay through until 8pm because waits will only decrease from 5pmpm through close. Plan to hit DinoLand after 6pm and Asia after 7pm. Check your Times Guide to see when Kilimanjaro Safaris and other attractions close due to the early sunset. It will likely be before 5pm.

Epcot is recommended, which is somewhat rare for a Friday, because it usually hosts either morning or evening Extra Magic Hours.  However, with the Marathon events this weekend, Disney is trying to pull Disney resort guests toward Epcot earlier in the week.  We do have the Disney World 10k stepping off at 5:30am.  However, the race begins and end outside of the Park and is far less popular than Saturday’s Half Marathon and Sunday’s Marathon.  We can expect to see more people than usual outside the turnstiles for rope drop because some people that run the race will inevitably stick around to enjoy the Park.  Still, we’re looking at fewer people at rope drop than either of the next two mornings and you won’t see any runners inside Epcot because the race is over long before the Park opens.  Road delays will also be fewer and farther in between.  Yesterday would be better because there are no races causing heavier crowds in the morning.  You can do very well this morning if you arrive by 8:20am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’.  Those arriving at the International Gateway entrance will also have an advantage because none of the race participants will enter from that side.  With few resort guests in attendance, overall crowds will be low, even if you see more people than usual at the turnstiles in the morning.  Tomorrow and Sunday will see more complications.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended, thanks to a rare Friday edition of evening Extra Magic Hours.  Disney is trying to pull people away from Epcot this weekend due to the Marathon complications.  Because it’s also later in the week, and people on a traditional weeklong vacation will have already had plenty of opportunities to visit the more popular theme parks, we can expect the Studios to be significantly busier than any other day this week.  Thus, it should be avoided if possible.  You can still do well in the morning, but it’s going to be busy from 10:30am through the end of evening Extra Magic Hours.  Yesterday and Sunday are much better choices.

Magic Kingdom is our best Park to visit.  We’re in between a popular day yesterday with morning Extra Magic Hour and the Electrical Parade, which will be popular with both on-site and off-site guests.  Tomorrow, we have longer hours of operation and both nighttime spectaculars as well, which will be even more popular.  Add in locals and Marathoners and we can expect tomorrow to be the busiest day of the week.  Today, the shorter hours and lack of the Electrical Parade will be far less attractive, ultimately resulting in lower crowds than either non-recommended day.  Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of the Fantasyland attractions first thing, beginning with Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  You may also want to prioritize the headlining Mountain rides, low capacity attractions like Astro Orbiter and the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, or popular characters.  A more compartmentalized two-day approach makes a lot of sense if you have the luxury of visiting over two days.  Use FASTPASS throughout the day and you’ll be able to make it through a ton of attractions with short waits and easy touring.  This past Tuesday and Wednesday were also highly recommended.  If you’re looking for the best day to see the Electrical Parade, then you’ll want to take a look at this past Thursday.

Saturday January 11

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Tentatively Recommended)

Half Marathon

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 8pm and 10pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

The Half Marathon is a minor concern in most situations, though it will adversely affect travel around Epcot and Magic Kingdom before 9am.  The course does not run through or near Hollywood Studios, but it will still be a hassle for those driving from the Magic Kingdom or Epcot areas to get out to the Studios or Animal Kingdom because the Half Marathon route includes roads connecting the two areas.  This is especially true if you’re traveling from the Magic Kingdom area to Hollywood Studios for morning Extra Magic Hour because you’ll run into the Marathon throughout that drive.  Today and tomorrow are two days you may want to take Disney transportation, even if you have your own car, because the bus drivers will be well apprised of detours and alternate routes to move around the runners who will have the right of way on the streets.  The Half Marathon should clear out by 9:30am or so and travel should not be affected whatsoever after 10am.  To a point, you may want to visit whichever Park is most easily accessible to your resort.  If you’re staying at a Magic Kingdom area resort (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness), consider at least beginning your day at Magic Kingdom.  If you’re staying at an Epcot area resort (BoardWalk Inn, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, Dolphin), consider heading to Hollywood Studios or Epcot, and if you’re staying at an Animal Kingdom area resort (Animal Kingdom Lodge, All Stars, Coronado Springs), consider heading to Animal Kingdom.  Despite the recommendation, it may still be a hassle for some people to get to the Animal Kingdom and you’ll want to take that into consideration when you decide where to spend your morning.

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  We have nothing specific to draw people towards it and anyone coming from the Magic Kingdom or Epcot areas will have more trouble than usual getting out there by 8:45am because of the transportation delays.  It’s perfect if you’re coming from offsite or staying nearby.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. Plan to use FASTPASS to ride in the afternoon or visit in the final hour of operation to find lower standby waits.  After that, consider moving on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or see the first Finding Nemo the Musical.  A late arrival is also viable. Plan to arrive around 2pm and first take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and the jungle treks because they’ll close by 5pm. Then move on to the DinoLand rides after 6pm and Asia after 7pm to find short to nonexistent waits.

The Half Marathon is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.  The race begins at 5:30am and most racers will have crossed the finish line outside Epcot by 9am.  However, the final miles are inside Epcot and you may see some last minute racers along with various Marathon paraphernalia around the Park.  To avoid this entirely, you’ll want to visit this past Thursday or this coming Monday when the Marathon won’t be an issue whatsoever.  Yesterday will also look like more of a “normal” day inside Epcot.  Still, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting to Epcot.  Magic Kingdom area resort guests can easily take the Monorail in and road closures/delays are kept to a minimum after 8am.  Arrive by 8:30am and you should have no trouble hitting Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ first thing in the morning.  Most Marathon runners will be headed back to their resorts after the race for a shower and breakfast and their families are likely to join them.  In 2013, the Half Marathon was not a major inconvenience.  With the full Marathon tomorrow, we can expect additional inconveniences because runners will be inside Epcot all morning.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended unless you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and plan to arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it.  You can do very well hitting Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning before moving to other characters and attractions.  However, the Park will be busier than recommended days from 10:30am through close.  You’ll want to have moved on to the high capacity attractions like Backlot Tour, Muppet Vision 3D, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Great Movie Ride as well as the high capacity shows by that time.  Consider taking a break or Park Hopping elsewhere around 1pm when crowds are at their heaviest.  If you’re not planning to make the morning Extra Magic Hour or you’re not eligible for it, then you’ll want to visit yesterday or tomorrow when crowds are lower.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom.  We have longer 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, Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on three nights this week.  Because the Parade is so popular, a lot of people will visit on a day that they can see it, like today.  All of this makes me hesitant about recommending the Magic Kingdom, despite a lack of Extra Magic Hours.  Yesterday and next Tuesday and Wednesday will be much better days to tour, but you can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior to 9am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions.  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.  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. See the second Parade if you’re interested because it will be much less crowded than the first due to the number of people that leave immediately after Wishes.

Sunday January 12

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Tentatively Recommended)

Marathon

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Tentatively Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

This is a tricky morning to plan because there will be a fair amount of road closures and delays throughout the morning and early afternoon as well as roped off areas in all four major theme parks for the Disney World Marathon.  While the Marathon officially begins at 5:30am, it’s a 26 mile race with a minimum 16-minute-per-mile pace, meaning it lasts about seven hours.  That means people will still be crossing the finish line in the Epcot parking lot at 12:30pm as well as running along major roadways and throughout the theme parks all morning.  If you are staying on Disney property, I recommend visiting whichever theme park is closest to your resort.  Travel by boat or monorail if possible.  If you’re planning a lazy morning during your vacation, you may want to make this it.  A late start and a sit down breakfast at your resort may be just the ticket to get everyone well rested and excited to continue their Disney World “vacation.”  You’ll be in great shape if you do arrive at any of the theme parks by 8:30am and tour efficiently in the morning.  You may want to consider Disney buses even if you normally drive because there will be road closures and your usual route may be convoluted with detours.  The bus driver will know their route and get you where you’re headed as efficiently as possible.  Of all the theme parks, Magic Kingdom is the most unaffected by the race because most runners will have moved through it by 9am when the Park opens.  Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot will all see roped off pathways and runners throughout the day.  Luckily for Animal Kingdom, the course only goes through the right side of the Park, through Asia, DinoLand, and Discovery Island.  Africa and Camp Minnie-Mickey are not affected.  Epcot is probably the worst because the race ends there and goes through Future World and the World Showcase.  Expect to see runners from 9am through 1pm, but they aren’t very disruptive inside the theme park itself.

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended, especially if you are coming from off-site or staying at a nearby resort like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, All-Stars, or Coronado Springs.  It may be a hassle to get out there from a Magic Kingdom area resort in particular though.  There’s nothing specific drawing crowds and most people in town for a short marathon weekend vacation won’t have Animal Kingdom on their radars.  The race will also clear out of Animal Kingdom for the most part by the time it opens at 9am.  Take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing and you’ll be in good shape for the rest of the day, especially if you get to the first Finding Nemo the Musical show.  Use FASTPASS efficiently throughout the day and you should have no trouble riding any of the major attractions a second or third time.

Epcot is tentatively recommended.  The race runs through and ends in Epcot’s parking lot, which means runners are going to be inside until about 1pm.  Since they run in designated lanes, they aren’t too disruptive and you should have no trouble doing whatever you like on your itinerary.  The main problem is getting here.  From the Magic Kingdom area resorts, you can easily take the Monorail.  From the Epcot area resorts, you can easily walk or take the boat to the International Gateway entrance.  From the other resorts, I recommend Disney transportation.  They’ll be able to deal with the various road closures and delays better than you and your GPS.  If you’re looking to avoid the hassle altogether, you’ll want to save Epcot for tomorrow or this upcoming Wednesday or Thursday.  After about 11am, road closures are much less of an issue and you shouldn’t run into any marathon runners after about 1:30pm.  Keep that in mind if you’re planning a lazy morning or arriving at your resort from the airport/home later in the day.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park, especially if you can travel by boat or foot from an Epcot area resort.  While we do have miles 22, 23, and 24 going right through it, there’s really no way around being in the thick of the Marathon this morning and it wouldn’t be helpful to simply recommend Animal Kingdom every day.  We’re sandwiched in between yesterday’s popular morning Extra Magic Hour and tomorrow’s popular evening Extra Magic Hours.  Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and heading straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Make Toy Story Mania your top priority because it will have the longest afternoon waits.  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.  It 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, but be prepared to arrive more than hour early for those seats.  Sit any closer and you run the risk of getting wet and it’s more difficult to see what’s happening on the water.  Overall, it’s a great day to visit the Studios and see Fantasmic.

Magic Kingdom is tentatively recommended if you can arrive prior to Park opening.  The evening Extra Magic Hours coupled with all the transportation woes will make this Park low on crowds until at least 11am, but things will pick up considerably going into the afternoon and they’ll stay heavy with the relatively early evening Extra Magic Hours.  The lack of Main Street Electrical Parade is in our favor, but the operating hours aren’t any longer than tomorrow, which means we’ll have a decent number of Disney resort guests en route and a lot of people that ran the Half Marathon yesterday morning interested in visiting as well.  I’m not too keen on the Magic Kingdom’s evening Extra Magic Hours when they begin at 9pm either because more families can stay through at least 10pm.  We see crowds disperse more when Extra Magic Hours don’t start until 11pm or 12am because most families with young kids need to leave soon after Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade earlier in the night.  Overall, you can have a lot of success if you tour from 9am – 1pm, take a break, and return around 6pm, but the afternoon will be busy, though not as busy as tomorrow.  This coming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday would all be less crowded days to visit and more recommended overall.  Today is better than yesterday or tomorrow though, which makes it tentatively recommended.

Monday January 13

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom will be moderately more popular than recommended days due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract a decent number of Disney resort guests.  Mondays at the Animal Kingdom aren’t wildly popular because of the fact that morning Extra Magic Hours aren’t as popular as evening Extra Magic Hours and because it’s early in the week and many people who travel over the weekend will be heading to the Magic Kingdom regardless of the Extra Magic Hours schedule.  Still, there are better days to visit the Animal Kingdom than today, including tomorrow, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour is an excellent time to tour, it’s difficult to get out to the Animal Kingdom by 7:45am to take full advantage of it.  If you’re staying at a Monorail Deluxe Resort, you’re looking at a 20+ minute drive to the Animal Kingdom, plus time for the bus to arrive – not to mention getting multiple people up and ready early in the morning with just one shower and limited space.  At 6:30am.  If you’re absolutely certain that you’ll arrive by 7:45am, then you can have a lot of success because the crowd level won’t be that high, but it will be busier in the afternoon than other recommended days this week due to a higher number of Disney resort guests than usual.  You’re much better served holding off for a recommended day if you’re not going to arrive until 9am or later.

Epcot is the only expressly recommended Park.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special evening entertainment, or anything else that will draw people toward Epcot specifically.  It has also been difficult to schedule Epcot over the last few days with the various Marathon events.  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 the Main Street Electrical Parade, along with many people in town for the Marathons.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and 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, 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 11am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  Yesterday, tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday would all be better days to visit.  Evening Extra Magic Hours at the Studios aren’t usually much of a success for people because 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, especially now that Extra Magic Hours have been reduced to two hours.  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.  You can have a moderate amount of success if you arrive early, but with several recommended days coming up, there’s really no reason to press your luck.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today.  Mondays are usually the second busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom, second to only Saturdays, for a variety of reasons.  First, a lot of people travel over the weekend and visit Magic Kingdom on their first full day.  In most instances, that day is Monday.  Second, Mondays often feature longer hours, Wishes Fireworks, and Main Street Electrical Parade, when other days during the week have shorter operating hours and don’t offer the Electrical Parade.  Anyone who wants to see the evening entertainment will have to visit on a day when it’s offered, like most Saturdays and Mondays.  Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on three nights this week and it will attract a lot of people.  Finally, we’ll have a lot of Marathon runners interested in visiting the Magic Kingdom before returning home.  You could have success in the morning from 9am to 11am or so, but you’re much better off waiting until tomorrow, Wednesday, or Friday to visit for the entire day.  If you would like to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, your best bet is always an evening Park Hop over to the Magic Kingdom so that you can spend the majority of your day at a recommended Park with low crowds and still have the opportunity to enjoy Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectaculars.  For optimal Parade viewing, find a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty because those areas are much less crowded than Main Street, offer a view that is just as good, and require less of a wait to get a good spot.  Without Park Hopper, you’ll want to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides.  Consider taking an afternoon break and then return in the evening around 5pm for dinner and the shows.  If you’re spending two days at Magic Kingdom during the week, you may want to make one of those days a Parade day and then plan a second recommended day to hit the headliners and popular attractions.  If you do that, use FASTPASS throughout the day today and spend as much time as possible on the less popular and high capacity attractions.  The evening crowd level this Thursday will be lower because the overall crowd level is lower and Thursdays are naturally less busy than Mondays.  Wait until then to see the Parade if you can, especially if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and can take advantage of the 8am – 9am hour.

Tuesday January 14

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  We’re in between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hours, each of which will be more attractive to Disney resort guests.  It’s also early enough in the week that most people arriving for a weeklong vacation will be saving Animal Kingdom, Disney’s least popular theme park, for later in the week.  There’s simply nothing drawing people to Animal Kingdom with its short hours of operation, lack of Extra Magic Hours, and no special events/nighttime entertainment. To have the most success, arrive as early in the morning as possible and head to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, head to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or over to one of the major stage shows and you won’t have anything to worry about for the rest of the day. You may also want to prioritize the most popular characters.  Despite “only” being open eight hours, you should be able to do most of the Animal Kingdom’s attractions if you arrive prior to Park opening, use FASTPASS efficiently, and make good use of your time.  If you don’t arrive until 10am or later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Expedition Everest and/or Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Use those FASTPASSes during the day and return to the major attractions after 4pm.  A lot of people leave after the 3:45pm Parade, causing lines to be much shorter in the final hour of operation, especially with the 5pm close and very few people Park Hopping in the afternoon and early evening.

Epcot isn’t recommended due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests, lack of long hours and evening entertainment elsewhere, and the natural progression of weeklong Disney vacationers that will naturally head to Epcot after the Magic Kingdom yesterday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour will be an excellent time to tour, Epcot will get progressively busier as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  You could have success if you arrive at 7:45am, head straight for the headliners, and move up to the World Showcase around 11am, but afternoon crowds will be heavier than recommended days and you’ll likely want to Park Hop elsewhere or take a break around 2pm.  Yesterday and Thursday are the best days to visit this week.  This Friday will be the busiest day of the week.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though this past Sunday and this coming Friday would be better.  While it’s true that we’re coming off a busy day yesterday for evening Extra Magic Hours, a decent number of Disney resort guests will ignore it in order to visit Magic Kingdom first on a standard weeklong vacation.  The Extra Magic Hours schedule also doesn’t do much to sway the off-site contingent.  With decent operating hours of operation every day and Fantasmic scheduled every night this week, the Studios won’t be far and away less crowded on “recommended days,” compared to “not recommended days,” like it was when Fantasmic was scheduled less often.  Nonetheless, you can expect peak wait times to be lower, crowds to build slower, FASTPASSes to be more plentiful, and waits to be lower than days that aren’t recommended.  Overall, this will be a day with “slightly below average” crowds at the Studios specifically, as compared to other days this week.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Toy Story Mania in particular has wait times that almost always hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FASTPASSes that are in limited supply.  Make it your morning priority.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees long afternoon waits and limited FASTPASS availability.  Plan to head there right after Toy Story Mania or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  The other two attractions with decent lines are Tower of Terror and Star Tours.  Luckily, they have higher capacities and aren’t as popular.  You’ll still want to ride before 10:30am or plan to use FASTPASS later in the day.  Expect Star Tours’ waits to peak in the 20 minute range while Tower of Terror usually hits 30 to 50 minutes depending on the number of elevators operating.  Once you get through those four attractions, it’s really just a matter of getting over to the high capacity rides and shows that run on a set schedule.  It’s unlikely you’ll run into much of a line at Backlot Tour or Great Movie Ride, but fitting in the various stage shows can be tricky because they have a tendency to start and end at the same time.  You may also want to make a popular character a morning priority.  Check your Times Guide and plan to arrive at as many characters as possible about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  Overall, you can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of the headlining attractions first thing.  For Fantasmic, I recommend the Fantasmic Dining Package, which guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Theater.  It makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  It also includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Dining Plan.  You’ll still need to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it’s better than the 60 minute wait you’re looking at to score decent seats together without the Package.

Magic Kingdom is highly recommended and an excellent choice if you don’t want to wait until tomorrow to visit.  Epcot’s morning Extra Magic Hours and Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic will help draw crowds away and a lot of people will have visited yesterday for their first full day at Disney World. The lack of Main Street Electrical Parade will also keep people from choosing today to visit.  Still, it’s more important to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other priorities.  You may want to fit other time-sensitive attractions like Tomorrowland Indy Speedway or Astro Orbiter in there as well, along with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and other quick attractions that will have decent afternoon waits.  Characters that will have long lines in the afternoon and don’t offer FASTPASS are also a priority.  Consider taking a break from 1pm to 5pm or so when crowds are heaviest and wait times are longest to rest up for the evening entertainment.  Magic Kingdom will also be the most recommended Park tomorrow, so you may want to hold off until then if you have other plans today.  If you’re trying to decide between today and tomorrow, then I would go with tomorrow because it’s in the middle of the week and even more people will be ready to visit another Park.  However, today will be nearly as good if you tour efficiently in the morning, take a restful break, and return in the evening for Wishes and some late night attractions.

Wednesday January 15

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

It’s the busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom.  The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract the bulk of the Disney resort crowd and there’s no evening Extra Magic Hours or special evening entertainment going on at the other Parks, which will cause a lot of off-site guests to visit as well.  Most people prefer to visit the other Parks when they’re either open longer or have special evening entertainment like Fantasmic (when it’s scheduled less often) or Main Street Electrical Parade.  When none of that is available, they’ll default to the Animal Kingdom.  With both yesterday and tomorrow recommended, there’s no reason to visit today.

It’s an above-average day at Epcot.  Yesterday’s morning Extra Magic Hour will have been moderately attended by Disney resort guests and they won’t be looking to return today.  Fantasmic and Toy Story Midway Mania will also be more popular at Hollywood Studios.  I’m looking toward tomorrow as having lower crowds and shorter waits, thanks to morning Extra Magic Hour attracting people to Magic Kingdom and the addition of Main Street Electrical Parade.  However, today won’t be terrible by any means.  Plan to arrive as early as possible and either follow a touring plan or head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, and Soarin’.  You’ll be in good shape if you’ve moved to the World Showcase by 12pm, starting with the boat rides in Mexico and Norway.

With no Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, no evening Extra Magic Hours anywhere, and a lowly morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney’s least popular theme park, Hollywood Studios is going to be busier than recommended days during the week.  While the addition of Fantasmic to every night this week makes each specific show less appealing, we still need to be concerned about the lack of attractive forces elsewhere.  Plus, it’s later in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will already have visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot and they’ll be looking to spend a day at one of Disney World’s less popular theme parks.  With nothing specific drawing people to the Studios, it’s not going to be crazy crowded, but it is going to be busier than other recommended days during the week and should be avoided if possible.  With Magic Kingdom being incredibly popular tomorrow with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Electrical Parade, the Studios would be a much better choice tomorrow.

Magic Kingdom is our best Park to visit today for the exact same reasons it was recommended yesterday.  We also have a morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract off-site visitors and an Electrical Parade that will attract off-site visitors tomorrow.  This coming Saturday will be busy for the same reasons.  Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other time sensitive attractions (Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway).  You may also want to prioritize characters that will have 30+ minute standby waits without the ability to FASTPASS them in the afternoon.  You’ll be able to accomplish a ton of attractions in a short amount of time if you make efficient use of the morning and use FASTPASS at the major attractions throughout the day.  Consider a break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for dinner, a few nighttime attractions, and Wishes.

Thursday January 16

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  We’re coming off a popular day at Animal Kingdom yesterday, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  Today, we have morning Extra Magic Hour/Main Street Electrical Parade attracting crowds toward the Magic Kingdom.  As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  If you’re not riding the thrill rides (Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl), you’ll want to attend the first showing of Finding Nemo because it will be popular in the afternoon.  Also consider arriving for the popular characters about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear to cut down on wait times.  Rely on FASTPASSes for attractions you either want to ride again or couldn’t make it to in the morning and you should be able to do just about everything the Animal Kingdom has to offer.  After completing your itinerary, you may want to Park Hop to Magic Kingdom for Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade, Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic, or Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations.  Keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade.  Stay through close if there’s more that you want to accomplish because wait times will only decrease from 4:15pm onward.  Without Park Hopper, consider transferring to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at one of its excellent restaurants.  There’s also a public observatory where you can gaze out at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s private savannas and enjoy the same view many guests are paying a premium to have right outside their balconies.  A trip to Downtown Disney or the BoardWalk for dinner and shopping also makes a lot of sense.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  We have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade attracting on-site and off-site visitors alike to Magic Kingdom.  Disney resort guests are much more likely to visit tomorrow for evening Extra Magic Hours.  Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer.  If you arrive later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Test Track and Soarin’.  Both will have 40+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to their popularity and relatively low capacities.  Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway.  Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FASTPASS.  Keep in mind that Innoventions, Universe of Energy, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life usually close at 7pm.  Hit those attractions from 5pm to 7pm to find shorter waits than the 1pm to 4pm timeframe.  Return to Test Track and Soarin’ after 8pm to find the shortest waits outside of 9am – 10am.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended.  While it’s later in the week, Magic Kingdom will be a much bigger draw with morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade drawing off-site and on-site visitors alike. Tomorrow is also recommended with evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot on Friday and Saturday’s morning Extra Magic Hour at the Studios proving more popular.  Still, touring efficiently is more important than “picking the right day,” especially at Hollywood Studios.  That means arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning or with FASTPASS throughout the day.  Toy Story Mania will hit 70+ minutes in the afternoon due to its limited capacity.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent afternoon waits, likely in the 40-60 minute range, with FASTPASSes that are harder to obtain.  Plan to head there second or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  You may also want to prioritize the Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, or Sorcerer Mickey characters by arriving about five minutes before they first appear.  The Toy Story characters, located right across the way from Toy Story Mania, are easy to meet at 9:15am if you head over after riding.  In addition, characters appear at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the early morning that won’t appear during any other part of the day.  Usually, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy, Piglet, and Tigger appear, but no specific characters are guaranteed.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive early and tour efficiently, but afternoon crowds will be decent.  Arrive at 10:30am with everyone else and you’re looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  You can still enjoy the various shows, but it’s going to be more difficult to experience those two attractions.  Thankfully, Tower of Terror and Star Tours see shorter waits and more FASTPASS availability.  Still, Tower of Terror will hit 50-60 minutes in the afternoon and Star Tours should see 20 minute waits.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a lot of Disney resort guests, we have a later close than most other nights, and we also have the first Main Street Electrical Parade since Monday.  Combined, this will make Magic Kingdom significantly busier than either of the last two days or tomorrow.  You can have success provided you take advantage of the morning Extra Magic Hour by arriving no later than 7:40am 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.  Tonight is your best opportunity this week to see Main Street Electrical Parade, but the Magic Kingdom will still be busy.  If you are planning to see the Parade, I recommend scouting out a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty Square.  Both locations are significantly less crowded than Main Street and offer a view that is just as good.  To enjoy the Electrical Parade with the least possible hassle, plan to visit a recommended Park in the morning, take an afternoon break, and then visit Magic Kingdom in the evening for dinner and the nighttime spectaculars.

Friday January 17

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  While we would be better off if Magic Kingdom offered Main Street Electrical Parade and longer hours, Epcot’s evening Extra Magic Hours are always popular and will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  The only problem is that it’s late in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will have made it to the other more popular theme parks.  A lot of people naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week because they’re more interested in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or visit the characters and Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep in mind that crowds disperse after the 3:45pm Parade.  If you couldn’t get to some of the attraction earlier in the day, stay through until 5pm because waits will only decrease from 4:15pm through close.

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 recommended for similar reasons as yesterday, though the lack of Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom doesn’t help.  Luckily, we have the extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours luring Disney resort guests to Epcot today and Hollywood Studios’ morning Extra Magic Hour will prove popular tomorrow.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Once you get through these attractions in the morning or with FASTPASS, you have little to worry about for the rest of the day, other than trying to get to the Studios’ various high capacity attractions and stage shows that run on a set schedule.  For Fantasmic, you’ll want to arrive about 60 minutes early to guarantee good seats together.  If that sounds like it’s about 30 minutes too long, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Fantasmic theater.  It will still require you to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it saves the stress of having to decide when it’s time to line up and decreases the overall wait.  The Fantasmic Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  Plus, it includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Disney Dining Plan.  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.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park, especially as we look forward to a busier weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.  The overall crowd level will be higher over the next three days, causing crowds to be higher at each theme park regardless of recommendation.  Because most people value time at Magic Kingdom more than the other Parks, you’ll want to take this opportunity to visit in lower crowds if you’re able.  Yesterday’s Main Street Electrical Parade will have been popular and tomorrow’s Main Street Electrical Parade and longer hours will be attractive to off-site guests and those who plan to return to the Magic Kingdom for a second time before leaving on Sunday.  Today, we don’t have Extra Magic Hours, the Main Street Electrical Parade, long hours of operation, or special events, which means most people will choose to visit another day.  To have the most success, arrive prior to 9am and head straight for the headlining Mountain rides, popular characters that don’t offer FASTPASS, or Fantasyland attractions, beginning with Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Winnie the Pooh.  You should have no trouble getting a lot of attractions done throughout the morning and the Park won’t be particularly busy for the rest of the day.  Still, plan to use FASTPASS and focus on the less popular attractions from 1pm to 5pm when crowds will be at their highest level.

Saturday January 18

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 9pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Not Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 8pm and 10pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special events to attract Disney vacationers of any sort.  Magic Kingdom will be attracting significant crowds with its long hours of operation and both nighttime spectaculars and Hollywood Studios will be popular with the late close, morning Extra Magic Hour, and two Fantasmic shows.  Relatively few people on a short trip over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend will be looking to visit Animal Kingdom at all.  Or if they are, they’re likely to visit when Magic Kingdom isn’t open late.  We also had two morning Extra Magic Hours earlier in the week and another on Monday to appeal to the sizable Disney resort contingent.  To take full advantage of the low crowd level, 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.  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 characters that have long afternoon waits by arriving about five minutes before the characters appear. You’ll run into virtually no lines anywhere until at least 9:15am.  Finally, keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade and it’s a great time to hit the major attractions in the final two hours. Check your Times Guide to see when Kilimanjaro Safaris and the other jungle treks cease operation. It should be before 5pm with the early sunset. Hit DinoLand after 7pm and Asia after 8pm to find the shortest waits possible outside of first thing in the morning.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  It’s a particularly excellent day to see IllumiNations and have dinner in the World Showcase because Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios 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.  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.  Keep in mind that both Innoventions buildings, the Imagination Pavilion, Universe of Energy, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life close at 7pm.  The 5pm to 7pm timeframe is an excellent opportunity to do Journey into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Sum of All Thrills, anything in Innoventions, Circle of Life, Living with the Land, and anything else other than the major headliners.  If you’re interested in re-riding Soarin’ and Test Track, plan to rely on FASTPASS because standby wait times for both will most likely continue to be 45+ minutes from 5pm – 8pm.  Alternatively, you can elect to get in line for a headliner right before Park close and ride with a shorter wait than any other time of the day outside of the first 30 minutes of operation.  As long as you’re in line by 9pm, Disney will let you ride regardless of the posted wait.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended.  The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 85,000+ people during a relatively busy weekend like this one.  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.  The additional people cause lines to be longer at attractions, quick services, restaurants, and stores.  In addition, FASTPASSes will be in shorter supply, peak wait times will be higher, and shows are more likely to fill to capacity, in turn causing you to show up earlier and wait longer.  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.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom.  We have longer 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, Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on three nights this week.  Because the Parade is so popular, a lot of people will visit on a day that they can see it, like today.  All of this makes me hesitant about recommending the Magic Kingdom, despite a lack of Extra Magic Hours.  Yesterday and next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday will be much better days to tour, but you can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior to 8am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions.  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.  The late night hours are also excellent as crowds will diminish significantly beginning at 10pm. If you’re looking for a late night, visit Tomorrowland after 11pm and Fantasyland after 12am to find much shorter waits than the afternoon. 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.

Sunday January 19

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 9pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 9:30pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 1am – 3am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special events to attract people and most of those on a short Martin Luther King Weekend trip won’t have Animal Kingdom on their itinerary.  The early morning, from 8am – 9:30am, is always the best time to tour. Standby waits are guaranteed to be short and FASTPASS opportunities are more plentiful.  The end of the day will also see lower crowds, but FASTPASSes are more likely to be gone at the major attractions even if standby waits are shorter.  The last few hours of operation also see much lower crowds than the busy afternoon. Ideally, plan to arrive prior to Park opening and focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible or plan to use FASTPASS later in the day (or both).  After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or the first Finding Nemo the Musical and you’ll be set for the rest of the day.  If you have young children or otherwise have interest, plan to visit the most popular characters by lining up for them about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  People rarely get in lines when characters aren’t present because 99.9% of the people visiting have no idea which characters will be meeting.  If you don’t end up arriving prior or close to Park opening, plan to stay through close because wait times will only ease after the Parade.  With no evening entertainment to keep people around and restaurants that are vastly underrated, few people Park Hop in the afternoon.  Take advantage of one or both of the less crowded times of day, use FASTPASS as much as possible in the late morning and afternoon, and tour efficiently and you should have an excellent day.

Epcot is recommended again today.  We have a lot going on at the other Parks and nothing specific to draw crowds to Epcot.  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 strong 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 a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  The overall crowd level is above average this weekend because of the holiday and you’ll still run into 60+ minute waits at Test Track and Soarin’ in the afternoon.  There’s just no way around that when crowds are heavier because both attractions are popular and have limited capacities.  Thankfully, you’ll be well on your way to the other Future World attractions and World Showcase before those waits increase.  If you don’t arrive early in the morning, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Soarin’ and/or Test Track. Do your best to move up to World Showcase right at 11am to stay ahead of crowds for as long as possible.  Consider returning to Future World after 5pm when crowds decrease there and begin to creep up into World Showcase.  See the two-day Epcot touring plans if you’re looking for a more compartmentalized approach.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  We’re sandwiched in between yesterday’s moderately popular morning Extra Magic Hour and tomorrow’s extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours.  Keep in mind that the overall crowd level is higher today and tomorrow and the Studios will be busier overall than later in the week.  However, that’s true of every theme park and there’s no way around that this weekend.  With the above average overall crowd level, it’s essential that you arrive by 8:20am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Make Toy Story Mania your priority because it will have triple digit afternoon waits.  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 Mania tend to have the longest waits.  Because they usually begin appearing at 9:15am, you’ll have time to ride Toy Story and then get in line for the characters around 9:10am.  Sofia the first in Animation Courtyard across from Voyage of the Little Mermaid typically begins greeting at 9:30am and has long afternoon waits. Phineas & Ferb usually have the third longest lines in Hollywood Studios.  They typically begin appearing at 9:30am, which means you’ll have time to ride Toy Story Mania and potentially meet Buzz and Woody before heading over to visit Phineas & Ferb, which are located near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and across from the exit to Muppet Vission 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. Plan to visit in the last hour they’re scheduled to appear.  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, Chip, Dale, Goofy, and Pluto are all common, but no specific character is guaranteed to appear.  Plan to see the 8:30pm Fantasmic because it will be much less crowded than the first.  Most families will opt for the 7pm show and then head for the buses back to their resorts, leaving the second show less crowded.  Also, you won’t have to deal with two large sections reserved for Dining Package users during the 8:30pm show.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive by 8:20am, but you’re looking at long lines and heavier crowds if you don’t arrive until 10:30am with everyone else. There’s no way around that.

Magic Kingdom is occasionally recommended on Sundays with evening Extra Magic Hours because the early morning is an excellent time to tour and the late night evening Extra Magic Hours can also be good if you “tour smart.”  However, I’m concerned about a slightly different crowd pattern than usual due to Martin Luther King holiday and the number of people that will be in town for a shorter vacation.  While the early morning and late evening will be excellent times to tour, we’re looking at significantly heavier crowds than recommended days from 11am through at least 10pm.  This past Friday would have been considerably less busy and this coming Tuesday and Wednesday will also be excellent.  If you are headed to Magic Kingdom anyway, you can have a lot of success in the morning from 8am – 11am or so if you arrive by 7:30am and take care of Fantasyland, the headlining Mountain rides, or whatever attractions you deem most important on your itinerary. Use FASTPASS in the late morning and afternoon when standby waits are longer.  Because of the long operating hours, you will likely want to take an afternoon break from 1pm to 6pm or so when crowds are heaviest.  Return in the evening to experience high capacity attractions, have dinner, and watch Wishes.  The late night hours are also a viable time to tour with much lower crowds than the afternoon after 10pm. Even if you aren’t eligible for Extra Magic Hours, you’ll still find low crowds in Tomorrowland after 11pm and Fantasyland after 12am. If you are staying for Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland because most people will head to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland first.  Next, move up through Frontierland and Liberty Square on your way to Tomorrowland.  Save Fantasyland for last because most families will have left.  It’s not uncommon for Peter Pan’s Flight to have a 60 minute wait in the afternoon and a ten minute or less wait at the end of evening Extra Magic Hours.  Save Journey of the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh for the very end of the night.

Monday January 20

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm and 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom will be moderately more popular than recommended days due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract a decent number of Disney resort guests.  Mondays at the Animal Kingdom aren’t wildly popular because of the fact that morning Extra Magic Hours aren’t as popular as evening Extra Magic Hours and because it’s early in the week and many people who travel over the weekend will be heading to the Magic Kingdom regardless of the Extra Magic Hours schedule.  With the holiday weekend this week, crowd patterns will be a little different than usual and we’ll have a decent number of people that are actually toward the end of their vacation today, making Animal Kingdom more attractive to them as well.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour is an excellent time to tour, it’s difficult to get out to the Animal Kingdom by 7:30am to take full advantage of it.  If you’re staying at a Monorail Deluxe Resort, you’re looking at a 20+ minute drive to the Animal Kingdom, plus time for the bus to arrive – not to mention getting multiple people up and ready early in the morning with just one shower and limited space.  At 6:30am.  Or earlier.  If you’re absolutely certain that you’ll arrive by 7:30am, then you can have a lot of success because the crowd level won’t be that high, but it will be busier in the afternoon than other recommended days this week due to a higher number of Disney resort guests than usual.  You’re much better served holding off until Tuesday or Thursday if you’re not going to arrive until 9am or later.

Epcot is the only expressly recommended Park.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special evening entertainment, or anything else that will draw people toward Epcot specifically.  While Epcot will be busier today than other days this week because the overall crowd level is higher, it’s still our best choice.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  It’s a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations as well.  If you’re planning to take one day off for resort hopping, pool activities, Downtown Disney etc. then you might want to make today it.  It’s going to busier than other days later in the week because of the holiday.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests and the longer hours than most days later in the week, which will be popular with off-site guests as well.  The morning will be an okay time to tour, but crowds will increase around 11am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive. I’m looking towards tomorrow as a better day to visit and this coming Thursday and Friday are also recommended.  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 for most of the evening, especially with the relatively early normal close and fact that Extra Magic Hours are now just two hours.  In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 7:30pm and again 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 later in the week and you won’t have to deal with the significantly heavier afternoon and evening crowds.  Avoid it unless you’re planning to visit from 9am – 1pm or can’t visit any other day.

Magic Kingdom is, by far, the worst Park to visit today.  First, it’s a national holiday, which will attract a fair amount of locals that have the day off.  Although Martin Luther King Day doesn’t bring in a ton of people because it’s just one day and we’re coming off of the very busy holiday season, visiting locals are always a concern on holidays.  Second, we have two rare main Street Electrical Parades scheduled, though the addition of the Parade tomorrow helps a bit. Finally, a lot of people travel over the weekend and naturally head to the Magic Kingdom on Monday for their first full day.  All of this will make the Magic Kingdom incredibly busy today and any other day in the future this week would be less crowded, other than potentially this Saturday, which will have similar crowds and waits.  For Main Street Electrical Parade viewing, tomorrow is the best day this week to see it.  You can do well in the morning from 9am – 11am, but waits will be much longer than recommended days from there through close.

Tuesday January 21

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm and 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  We’re in between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hours, each of which will be more attractive to Disney resort guests.  It’s also early enough in the week that most people arriving for a weeklong vacation will be saving Animal Kingdom, Disney’s least popular theme park, for later in the week.  There’s simply nothing drawing people to Animal Kingdom with its short hours of operation, lack of Extra Magic Hours, and no special events/nighttime entertainment. To have the most success, arrive as early in the morning as possible and head to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, head to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or over to one of the major stage shows and you won’t have anything to worry about for the rest of the day. You may also want to prioritize the most popular characters.  Despite “only” being open nine hours, you should be able to do most of the Animal Kingdom’s attractions if you arrive prior to Park opening, use FASTPASS efficiently, and make good use of your time.  If you don’t arrive until 10am or later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Expedition Everest and/or Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Use those FASTPASSes during the day and return to the major attractions after 4pm.  A lot of people leave after the 3:45pm Parade, causing lines to be much shorter in the final hour of operation, especially with the 6pm close and very few people Park Hopping in the afternoon and early evening.

Epcot isn’t recommended due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests, lack of long hours and evening entertainment elsewhere, and the natural progression of weeklong Disney vacationers that will naturally head to Epcot after the Magic Kingdom yesterday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour will be an excellent time to tour, Epcot will get progressively busier as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  You could have success if you arrive at 7:45am, head straight for the headliners, and move up to the World Showcase around 11am, but afternoon crowds will be heavier than recommended days and you’ll likely want to Park Hop elsewhere or take a break around 2pm.  Yesterday and Thursday are the best days to visit this week.  This Friday will be the busiest day of the week.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though this past Sunday and this coming Friday would be better.  While it’s true that we’re coming off a busy day yesterday for evening Extra Magic Hours, a decent number of Disney resort guests will ignore it in order to visit Magic Kingdom first on a standard weeklong vacation.  The Extra Magic Hours schedule also doesn’t do much to sway the off-site contingent.  With decent operating hours of operation every day and Fantasmic scheduled every night this week, the Studios won’t be far and away less crowded on “recommended days,” compared to “not recommended days,” like it was when Fantasmic was scheduled less often.  Nonetheless, you can expect peak wait times to be lower, crowds to build slower, FASTPASSes to be more plentiful, and waits to be lower than days that aren’t recommended.  Overall, this will be a day with “slightly below average” crowds at the Studios specifically, as compared to other days this week.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Toy Story Mania in particular has wait times that almost always hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FASTPASSes that are in limited supply.  Make it your morning priority.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees long afternoon waits and limited FASTPASS availability.  Plan to head there right after Toy Story Mania or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  The other two attractions with decent lines are Tower of Terror and Star Tours.  Luckily, they have higher capacities and aren’t as popular.  You’ll still want to ride before 10:30am or plan to use FASTPASS later in the day.  Expect Star Tours’ waits to peak in the 20 minute range while Tower of Terror usually hits 30 to 50 minutes depending on the number of elevators operating.  Once you get through those four attractions, it’s really just a matter of getting over to the high capacity rides and shows that run on a set schedule.  It’s unlikely you’ll run into much of a line at Backlot Tour or Great Movie Ride, but fitting in the various stage shows can be tricky because they have a tendency to start and end at the same time.  You may also want to make a popular character a morning priority.  Check your Times Guide and plan to arrive at as many characters as possible about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  Overall, you can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of the headlining attractions first thing.  For Fantasmic, I recommend the Fantasmic Dining Package, which guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Theater.  It makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  It also includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Dining Plan.  You’ll still need to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it’s better than the 60 minute wait you’re looking at to score decent seats together without the Package.

Magic Kingdom is recommended, though the addition of the Electrical Parade will make it busier.  Fortunately, Epcot’s morning Extra Magic Hours and Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic will help draw crowds away and a lot of people will have visited yesterday for their first full day at Disney World. Still, it’s more important to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other priorities.  You may want to fit other time-sensitive attractions like Tomorrowland Indy Speedway or Astro Orbiter in there as well, along with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and other quick attractions that will have decent afternoon waits.  Characters that will have long lines in the afternoon and don’t offer FASTPASS are also a priority.  Consider taking a break from 1pm to 5pm or so when crowds are heaviest and wait times are longest to rest up for the evening entertainment.  Magic Kingdom will also be the most recommended Park tomorrow, so you may want to hold off until then if you have other plans today.  If you’re trying to decide between today and tomorrow, then I would go with tomorrow because it’s in the middle of the week and even more people will be ready to visit another Park.  Tomorrow also doesn’t have an Electrical Parade attracting crowds.

Wednesday January 22

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

It’s the busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom.  The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract the bulk of the Disney resort crowd and there’s no evening Extra Magic Hours or special evening entertainment going on at the other Parks, which will cause a lot of off-site guests to visit as well.  Most people prefer to visit the other Parks when they’re either open longer or have special evening entertainment like Fantasmic (when it’s scheduled less often) or Main Street Electrical Parade.  When none of that is available, they’ll default to the Animal Kingdom.  With both yesterday and tomorrow recommended, there’s no reason to visit today.

It’s an above-average day at Epcot.  Yesterday’s morning Extra Magic Hour will have been moderately attended by Disney resort guests and they won’t be looking to return today.  Fantasmic and Toy Story Midway Mania will also be more popular at Hollywood Studios.  I’m looking toward tomorrow as having lower crowds and shorter waits, thanks to morning Extra Magic Hour attracting people to Magic Kingdom and the addition of Main Street Electrical Parade.  However, today won’t be terrible by any means.  Plan to arrive as early as possible and either follow a touring plan or head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, and Soarin’.  You’ll be in good shape if you’ve moved to the World Showcase by 12pm, starting with the boat rides in Mexico and Norway.

With no Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, no evening Extra Magic Hours anywhere, and a lowly morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney’s least popular theme park, Hollywood Studios is going to be busier than recommended days during the week.  While the addition of Fantasmic to every night this week makes each specific show less appealing, we still need to be concerned about the lack of attractive forces elsewhere.  Plus, it’s later in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will already have visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot and they’ll be looking to spend a day at one of Disney World’s less popular theme parks.  With nothing specific drawing people to the Studios, it’s not going to be crazy crowded, but it is going to be busier than other recommended days during the week and should be avoided if possible.  With Magic Kingdom being incredibly popular tomorrow with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Electrical Parade, the Studios would be a much better choice tomorrow.

Magic Kingdom is our best Park to visit today.  We also have a morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract off-site visitors and an Electrical Parade that will attract off-site visitors tomorrow. The last two days will be busier with the Electrical Parade.  This coming Saturday will be busy for the same reasons.  Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other time sensitive attractions (Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway).  You may also want to prioritize characters that will have 30+ minute standby waits without the ability to FASTPASS them in the afternoon.  You’ll be able to accomplish a ton of attractions in a short amount of time if you make efficient use of the morning and use FASTPASS at the major attractions throughout the day.  Consider a break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for dinner, a few nighttime attractions, and Wishes.

Thursday January 23

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm and 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  We’re coming off a popular day at Animal Kingdom yesterday, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  Today, we have morning Extra Magic Hour/Main Street Electrical Parade attracting crowds toward the Magic Kingdom.  As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  If you’re not riding the thrill rides (Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl), you’ll want to attend the first showing of Finding Nemo because it will be popular in the afternoon.  Also consider arriving for the popular characters about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear to cut down on wait times.  Rely on FASTPASSes for attractions you either want to ride again or couldn’t make it to in the morning and you should be able to do just about everything the Animal Kingdom has to offer.  After completing your itinerary, you may want to Park Hop to Magic Kingdom for Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade, Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic, or Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations.  Keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade.  Stay through close if there’s more that you want to accomplish because wait times will only decrease from 4:15pm onward.  Without Park Hopper, consider transferring to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at one of its excellent restaurants.  There’s also a public observatory where you can gaze out at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s private savannas and enjoy the same view many guests are paying a premium to have right outside their balconies.  A trip to Downtown Disney or the BoardWalk for dinner and shopping also makes a lot of sense.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  We have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade attracting on-site and off-site visitors alike to Magic Kingdom.  Disney resort guests are much more likely to visit tomorrow for evening Extra Magic Hours.  Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer.  If you arrive later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Test Track and Soarin’.  Both will have 40+ minute waits for most of the day after 10am due to their popularity and relatively low capacities.  Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway.  Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FASTPASS.  Keep in mind that Innoventions, Universe of Energy, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life usually close at 7pm.  Hit those attractions from 5pm to 7pm to find shorter waits than the 1pm to 4pm timeframe.  Return to Test Track and Soarin’ after 8pm to find the shortest waits outside of 9am – 10am.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended.  While it’s later in the week, Magic Kingdom will be a much bigger draw with morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade drawing off-site and on-site visitors alike. Tomorrow is also recommended with evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot on Friday and Saturday’s morning Extra Magic Hour at the Studios proving more popular.  Still, touring efficiently is more important than “picking the right day,” especially at Hollywood Studios.  That means arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning or with FASTPASS throughout the day.  Toy Story Mania will hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon due to its limited capacity.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent afternoon waits, likely in the 30-50 minute range, with FASTPASSes that are harder to obtain.  Plan to head there second or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  You may also want to prioritize the Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, or Sorcerer Mickey characters by arriving about five minutes before they first appear.  The Toy Story characters, located right across the way from Toy Story Mania, are easy to meet at 9:15am if you head over after riding.  Visiting Sorcerer Mickey in the Animation Building in the last hour he’s scheduled to appear is best.  In addition, characters appear at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the early morning that won’t appear during any other part of the day.  Usually, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy, Piglet, and Tigger appear, but no specific characters are guaranteed.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive early and tour efficiently, but afternoon crowds will be decent.  Arrive at 10:30am with everyone else and you’re looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  You can still enjoy the various shows, but it’s going to be more difficult to experience those two attractions.  Thankfully, Tower of Terror and Star Tours see shorter waits and additional FASTPASS availability.  Still, Tower of Terror will hit 30-40 minutes in the afternoon and Star Tours should see 20 minute waits.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a lot of Disney resort guests and we also have the first Main Street Electrical Parade since Tuesday.  Combined, this will make Magic Kingdom significantly busier than either of the last two days or tomorrow.  You can 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.  Tonight is your best opportunity this week to see Main Street Electrical Parade, but the Magic Kingdom will still be busy.  If you are planning to see the Parade, I recommend scouting out a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty Square for the 9pm Parade.  Both locations are significantly less crowded than Main Street and offer a view that is just as good. The later Parade is less crowded because so many families with kids leave immediately after Wishes. To enjoy the Electrical Parade with the least possible hassle, plan to visit a recommended Park in the morning, take an afternoon break, and then visit Magic Kingdom in the evening for dinner and the nighttime spectaculars.

Friday January 24

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  While we would be better off if Magic Kingdom offered Main Street Electrical Parade and longer hours, Epcot’s evening Extra Magic Hours are always popular and will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  The only problem is that it’s late in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will have made it to the other more popular theme parks.  A lot of people naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week because they’re more interested in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  But that is a minor concern with the low overall crowd level and the fact that Animal Kingdom remains Disney’s least popular major theme park.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or visit the characters Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep in mind that crowds disperse after the 3:45pm Parade.  If you couldn’t get to some of the attraction earlier in the day, stay through until 5pm because waits will only decrease from 4:15pm through close.

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 recommended for similar reasons as yesterday, though the lack of Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom doesn’t help.  Luckily, we have the extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours luring Disney resort guests to Epcot today and Hollywood Studios’ morning Extra Magic Hour tomorrow will prove popular.  To have the most success, arrive by 8:20am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Once you get through these attractions in the morning or with FASTPASS, you have little to worry about for the rest of the day, other than trying to get to the Studios’ various high capacity attractions and stage shows that run on a set schedule.  For Fantasmic, you’ll want to arrive about 60 minutes early to guarantee good seats together.  If that sounds like it’s about 30 minutes too long, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Fantasmic theater.  It will still require you to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it saves the stress of having to decide when it’s time to line up and decreases the overall wait.  The Fantasmic Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  Plus, it includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Disney Dining Plan.  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.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  Yesterday’s Main Street Electrical Parade and morning Extra Magic Hour will have been popular and tomorrow’s Main Street Electrical Parade and longer hours will be attractive to off-site guests and those who plan to return to the Magic Kingdom for a second time before leaving on Sunday.  Today, we don’t have Extra Magic Hours, the Main Street Electrical Parade, long hours of operation, or special events, which means most people will choose to visit another day.  To have the most success, arrive by 8:30am and head straight for Fantasyland, the headlining attractions, or another priority.  Most people with kids will want to take care of Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Ariel’s Grotto first thing in the morning.  You should have no trouble getting a lot of attractions done throughout the morning and the Park won’t be particularly busy for the rest of the day.  Still, plan to use FASTPASS and focus on the less popular attractions from 1pm to 5pm when crowds will be at their highest level.  Return in the evening for dinner, some additional rides with FASTPASS, high capacity attractions, and Wishes.

Saturday January 25

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

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

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 8pm and 10pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special events to attract Disney vacationers of any sort.  Magic Kingdom will be attracting significant crowds with its long hours of operation and both nighttime spectaculars and Hollywood Studios will be popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour, later close, and two Fantasmic shows.  We also had two morning Extra Magic Hours earlier in the week and another on Monday to appeal to the sizable Disney resort contingent.  To take full advantage of the low crowd level, 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.  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 characters that have long afternoon waits by arriving about five minutes before the characters appear.  Finally, keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade. Keep in mind Kilimanjaro Safaris and the other animal attractions will close around 5pm with the early sunset. Verify on your Times Guide. Visit DinoLand after 6pm and Asia after 7pm to find the shortest waits possible.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  It’s a particularly excellent day to see IllumiNations and have dinner in the World Showcase because Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios 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 two day compartmentalized plans.  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.  Keep in mind that both Innoventions buildings, the Imagination Pavilion, Universe of Energy, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life close at 7pm.  The 5pm to 7pm timeframe is an excellent opportunity to do Journey into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Sum of All Thrills, anything in Innoventions, Circle of Life, Living with the Land, and anything else other than the major headliners.  If you’re interested in re-riding Soarin’ and Test Track, plan to rely on FASTPASS because standby wait times for both will most likely continue to be 45+ minutes from 5pm – 8pm.  Alternatively, you can elect to get in line for a headliner right before Park close and ride with a shorter wait than any other time of the day outside of the first 30 minutes of operation.  As long as you’re in line by 9pm, Disney will let you ride regardless of the posted wait.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will entice on-site visitors and the later close than most other days this week, which will attract off-site visitors as well.  You can have success from 8am – 10am if you are Extra Magic Hours eligible, but the afternoon and evening are going to be busier than just about any day this week.  Avoid it unless you can’t visit any other day or plan to arrive by 7:15am to take advantage of low crowds in the morning.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom.  We have longer 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, Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on a limited number of nights this week.  Because the Parade is so popular, a lot of people will visit on a day that they can see it, like today.  All of this makes me hesitant about recommending the Magic Kingdom, despite a lack of Extra Magic Hours.  Yesterday and next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday will be much better days to tour, but you can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior by 8:30am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions.  You may elect to prioritize another low capacity attraction or character instead.  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.  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.

Sunday January 26

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 10pm – 12am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm and 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended.  We don’t have Extra Magic Hours or special events to attract people.  Still, the early morning, from 9am – 10:30am, is always the best time to tour. Standby waits are guaranteed to be short. Ideally, plan to arrive prior to Park opening and focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible or plan to use FASTPASS later in the day (or both).  After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or Finding Nemo the Musical and you’ll be set for the rest of the day.  If you have young children or otherwise have interest, plan to visit the most popular characters by lining up for them about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  People rarely get in lines when characters aren’t present because 99.9% of the people visiting have no idea which characters will be meeting.  If you don’t end up arriving prior or close to Park opening, plan to stay through close because wait times will only ease after the Parade.  With no evening entertainment to keep people around and restaurants that are vastly underrated, few people Park Hop in the afternoon.  Take advantage of one or both of the less crowded times of day, use FASTPASS as much as possible in the late morning and afternoon, and tour efficiently and you should have an excellent day.

Epcot is recommended again today.  We have a lot going on at the other Parks and nothing specific to draw crowds to Epcot.  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 strong 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 a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  Despite the recommendation, you’ll still run into 60+ minute waits at Test Track and Soarin’ in the afternoon.  There’s just no way around that because both attractions are popular and have limited capacities.  Thankfully, you’ll be well on your way to the other Future World attractions and World Showcase before those waits increase.  If you don’t arrive early in the morning, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Soarin’ and/or Test Track. Do your best to move up to World Showcase right at 11am to stay ahead of crowds for as long as possible.  Consider returning to Future World after 5pm when crowds decrease there and begin to creep up into World Showcase.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  We’re sandwiched in between yesterday’s moderately popular morning Extra Magic Hour and tomorrow’s extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours. Despite the recommendation, it’s still essential that you arrive by 8:20am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Make Toy Story Mania your priority because it will have 60+ minute afternoon waits.  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 Mania tend to have the longest waits.  Because they usually begin appearing at 9:15am, you’ll have time to ride Toy Story and then get in line for the characters around 9:10am.  Phineas & Ferb usually have the second longest lines in Hollywood Studios.  They typically begin appearing at 9:30am, which means you’ll have time to ride Toy Story Mania and potentially meet Buzz and Woody before heading over to visit Phineas & Ferb, which are located near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and across from the exit to Muppet Vission 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. Plan to visit in the last hour they’re scheduled to appear.  Finally, you’ll find some characters in the morning near Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat that won’t appear later in the afternoon.  Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Chip, Dale, Friends of Winnie the Pooh, Goofy, and Pluto are all common, but no specific character is guaranteed to appear.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive by 8:20am, but you’re looking at long lines and heavier crowds if you don’t arrive until 10:30am with everyone else.

Magic Kingdom is occasionally recommended on Sundays with evening Extra Magic Hours because the early morning is an excellent time to tour and the late night evening Extra Magic Hours can also be good if you “tour smart.”  However, the limited evening entertainment schedule this week means a lot of on-site and off-site visitors will be visiting specifically to see the Electrical Parade.  While the morning will be an excellent time to tour, we’re looking at significantly heavier crowds than recommended days from 11am through 10pm.  This past Friday would have been considerably less busy and this coming Tuesday and Wednesday will also be excellent.  If you are headed to Magic Kingdom anyway, you can have a lot of success in the morning from 9am – 11am or so if you arrive by 8:30am and take care of Fantasyland, the headlining Mountain rides, or whatever attractions you deem most important on your itinerary. Use FASTPASSes in the afternoon when standby waits peak.  Because of the relatively long operating hours, you will likely want to take an afternoon break from 1pm to 6pm or so when crowds are heaviest.  Return in the evening to have dinner, enjoy some high capacity attractions, and watch the nighttime entertainment. Try to see the 9pm Parade because it will be much less crowded than the earlier Parade. Crowds will also ease after 9pm with some of the lowest crowds still in the Park after 11pm.  If you are staying for Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland because most people will head to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland first.  Next, move up through Frontierland and Liberty Square on your way to Tomorrowland.  Save Fantasyland for last.  It’s not uncommon for Peter Pan’s Flight to have a 60 minute wait in the afternoon and a ten minute or less wait at the end of evening Extra Magic Hours.  Save Journey of the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan’s Flight, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for the very end of the night.

Monday January 27

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 7pm – 9pm

Fantasmic: 6:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom will be moderately more popular than recommended days due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract a decent number of Disney resort guests.  Mondays at the Animal Kingdom aren’t wildly popular because of the fact that morning Extra Magic Hours aren’t as popular as evening Extra Magic Hours and because it’s early in the week and many people who travel over the weekend will be heading to the Magic Kingdom regardless of the Extra Magic Hours schedule.  Still, there are better days to visit the Animal Kingdom than today, including tomorrow, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour is an excellent time to tour, it’s difficult to get out to the Animal Kingdom by 7:45am to take full advantage of it.  If you’re staying at a Monorail Deluxe Resort, you’re looking at a 20+ minute drive to the Animal Kingdom, plus time for the bus to arrive – not to mention getting multiple people up and ready early in the morning with just one shower and limited space.  At 6:30am.  If you’re absolutely certain that you’ll arrive by 7:45am, then you can have a lot of success because the crowd level won’t be that high, but it will be busier in the afternoon than other recommended days this week due to a higher number of Disney resort guests than usual.  You’re much better served holding off for a recommended day if you’re not going to arrive until 9am or later.

Epcot is the only expressly 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 the Main Street Electrical Parade.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and 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, 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 11am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  Yesterday, tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday would all be better days to visit.  Evening Extra Magic Hours at the Studios aren’t usually much of a success for people because 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, especially now that Extra Magic Hours have been reduced to two hours.  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.  You can have a moderate amount of success if you arrive early, but with several recommended days coming up, there’s really no reason to press your luck.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today.  Mondays are usually the second busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom, second to only Saturdays, for a variety of reasons.  First, a lot of people travel over the weekend and visit Magic Kingdom on their first full day.  In most instances, that day is Monday.  Second, Mondays often feature longer hours, Wishes Fireworks, and Main Street Electrical Parade, when other days during the week have shorter operating hours and don’t offer the Electrical Parade.  Anyone who wants to see the evening entertainment will have to visit on a day when it’s offered, like most Saturdays and Mondays.  Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on four nights this week and it will attract a lot of people.  You could have success in the morning from 9am to 11am or so, but you’re much better off waiting until tomorrow or Wednesday to visit for the entire day.  If you would like to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, your best bet is always an evening Park Hop over to the Magic Kingdom so that you can spend the majority of your day at a recommended Park with low crowds and still have the opportunity to enjoy Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectaculars.  For optimal Parade viewing, find a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty because those areas are much less crowded than Main Street, offer a view that is just as good, and require less of a wait to get a good spot.  Without Park Hopper, you’ll want to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides.  Consider taking an afternoon break and then return in the evening around 5pm for dinner and the shows.  If you’re spending two days at Magic Kingdom during the week, you may want to make one of those days a Parade day and then plan a second recommended day to hit the headliners and popular attractions.  If you do that, use FASTPASS throughout the day today and spend as much time as possible on the less popular and high capacity attractions.  The evening crowd level this Thursday will be lower because the overall crowd level is lower and Thursdays are naturally less busy than Mondays.  Wait until then to see the Parade if you can, especially if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and can take advantage of the 8am – 9am hour.

Tuesday January 28

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

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  We’re in between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hours, each of which will be more attractive to Disney resort guests.  It’s also early enough in the week that most people arriving for a weeklong vacation will be saving Animal Kingdom, Disney’s least popular theme park, for later in the week.  There’s simply nothing drawing people to Animal Kingdom with its short hours of operation, lack of Extra Magic Hours, and no special events/nighttime entertainment. To have the most success, arrive as early in the morning as possible and head to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, head to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or over to one of the major stage shows and you won’t have anything to worry about for the rest of the day. You may also want to prioritize the most popular characters.  Despite “only” being open eight hours, you should be able to do most of the Animal Kingdom’s attractions if you arrive prior to Park opening, use FASTPASS efficiently, and make good use of your time.  If you don’t arrive until 10am or later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Expedition Everest and/or Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Use those FASTPASSes during the day and return to the major attractions after 4pm.  A lot of people leave after the 3:45pm Parade, causing lines to be much shorter in the final hour of operation, especially with the 5pm close and very few people Park Hopping in the afternoon and early evening.

Epcot isn’t recommended due to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests, lack of long hours and evening entertainment elsewhere, and the natural progression of weeklong Disney vacationers that will naturally head to Epcot after the Magic Kingdom yesterday.  While the morning Extra Magic Hour will be an excellent time to tour, Epcot will get progressively busier as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  You could have success if you arrive at 7:45am, head straight for the headliners, and move up to the World Showcase around 11am, but afternoon crowds will be heavier than recommended days and you’ll likely want to Park Hop elsewhere or take a break around 2pm.  Yesterday and Thursday are the best days to visit this week.  This Friday will be the busiest day of the week.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though this past Sunday and this coming Friday would be better.  While it’s true that we’re coming off a busy day yesterday for evening Extra Magic Hours, a decent number of Disney resort guests will ignore it in order to visit Magic Kingdom first on a standard weeklong vacation.  The Extra Magic Hours schedule also doesn’t do much to sway the off-site contingent.  With decent operating hours of operation every day and Fantasmic scheduled every night this week, the Studios won’t be far and away less crowded on “recommended days,” compared to “not recommended days,” like it was when Fantasmic was scheduled less often.  Nonetheless, you can expect peak wait times to be lower, crowds to build slower, FASTPASSes to be more plentiful, and waits to be lower than days that aren’t recommended.  Overall, this will be a day with “slightly below average” crowds at the Studios specifically, as compared to other days this week.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Toy Story Mania in particular has wait times that almost always hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon and FASTPASSes that are in limited supply.  Make it your morning priority.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees long afternoon waits and limited FASTPASS availability.  Plan to head there right after Toy Story Mania or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  The other two attractions with decent lines are Tower of Terror and Star Tours.  Luckily, they have higher capacities and aren’t as popular.  You’ll still want to ride before 10:30am or plan to use FASTPASS later in the day.  Expect Star Tours’ waits to peak in the 20 minute range while Tower of Terror usually hits 30 to 50 minutes depending on the number of elevators operating.  Once you get through those four attractions, it’s really just a matter of getting over to the high capacity rides and shows that run on a set schedule.  It’s unlikely you’ll run into much of a line at Backlot Tour or Great Movie Ride, but fitting in the various stage shows can be tricky because they have a tendency to start and end at the same time.  You may also want to make a popular character a morning priority.  Check your Times Guide and plan to arrive at as many characters as possible about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear.  Overall, you can have a lot of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of the headlining attractions first thing.  For Fantasmic, I recommend the Fantasmic Dining Package, which guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Theater.  It makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  It also includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Dining Plan.  You’ll still need to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it’s better than the 60 minute wait you’re looking at to score decent seats together without the Package.

Magic Kingdom is highly recommended and an excellent choice if you don’t want to wait until tomorrow to visit.  Epcot’s morning Extra Magic Hours and Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic will help draw crowds away and a lot of people will have visited yesterday for their first full day at Disney World. The lack of Main Street Electrical Parade will also keep people from choosing today to visit.  Still, it’s more important to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other priorities.  You may want to fit other time-sensitive attractions like Tomorrowland Indy Speedway or Astro Orbiter in there as well, along with Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and other quick attractions that will have decent afternoon waits.  Characters that will have long lines in the afternoon and don’t offer FASTPASS are also a priority.  Consider taking a break from 1pm to 5pm or so when crowds are heaviest and wait times are longest to rest up for the evening entertainment.  Magic Kingdom will also be the most recommended Park tomorrow, so you may want to hold off until then if you have other plans today.  If you’re trying to decide between today and tomorrow, then I would go with tomorrow because it’s in the middle of the week and even more people will be ready to visit another Park.  However, today will be nearly as good if you tour efficiently in the morning, take a restful break, and return in the evening for Wishes and some late night attractions.

Wednesday January 29

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Most Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

It’s the busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom.  The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract the bulk of the Disney resort crowd and there’s no evening Extra Magic Hours or special evening entertainment going on at the other Parks, which will cause a lot of off-site guests to visit as well.  Most people prefer to visit the other Parks when they’re either open longer or have special evening entertainment like Fantasmic (when it’s scheduled less often) or Main Street Electrical Parade.  When none of that is available, they’ll default to the Animal Kingdom.  With both yesterday and tomorrow recommended, there’s no reason to visit today.

It’s an above-average day at Epcot.  Yesterday’s morning Extra Magic Hour will have been moderately attended by Disney resort guests and they won’t be looking to return today.  Fantasmic and Toy Story Midway Mania will also be more popular at Hollywood Studios.  I’m looking toward tomorrow as having lower crowds and shorter waits, thanks to morning Extra Magic Hour attracting people to Magic Kingdom and the addition of Main Street Electrical Parade.  However, today won’t be terrible by any means.  Plan to arrive as early as possible and either follow a touring plan or head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, and Soarin’.  You’ll be in good shape if you’ve moved to the World Showcase by 12pm, starting with the boat rides in Mexico and Norway.

With no Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, no evening Extra Magic Hours anywhere, and a lowly morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney’s least popular theme park, Hollywood Studios is going to be busier than recommended days during the week.  While the addition of Fantasmic to every night this week makes each specific show less appealing, we still need to be concerned about the lack of attractive forces elsewhere.  Plus, it’s later in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will already have visited Magic Kingdom and Epcot and they’ll be looking to spend a day at one of Disney World’s less popular theme parks.  With nothing specific drawing people to the Studios, it’s not going to be crazy crowded, but it is going to be busier than other recommended days during the week and should be avoided if possible.  With Magic Kingdom being incredibly popular tomorrow with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Electrical Parade, the Studios would be a much better choice tomorrow.

Magic Kingdom is our best Park to visit today for the exact same reasons it was recommended yesterday.  We also have a morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract off-site visitors and an Electrical Parade that will attract off-site visitors tomorrow.  This coming Saturday will be busy for the same reasons.  Take advantage by arriving prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland (Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh), the headlining Mountain rides (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain), or other time sensitive attractions (Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway).  You may also want to prioritize characters that will have 30+ minute standby waits without the ability to FASTPASS them in the afternoon.  You’ll be able to accomplish a ton of attractions in a short amount of time if you make efficient use of the morning and use FASTPASS at the major attractions throughout the day.  Consider a break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for dinner, a few nighttime attractions, and Wishes.

Thursday January 30

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended.  We’re coming off a popular day at Animal Kingdom yesterday, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will draw a lot of Disney resort guests.  Today, we have morning Extra Magic Hour/Main Street Electrical Parade attracting crowds toward the Magic Kingdom.  As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.  If you’re not riding the thrill rides (Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl), you’ll want to attend the first showing of Finding Nemo because it will be popular in the afternoon.  Also consider arriving for the popular characters about five minutes before they’re scheduled to appear to cut down on wait times.  Rely on FASTPASSes for attractions you either want to ride again or couldn’t make it to in the morning and you should be able to do just about everything the Animal Kingdom has to offer.  After completing your itinerary, you may want to Park Hop to Magic Kingdom for Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade, Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic, or Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations.  Keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade.  Stay through close if there’s more that you want to accomplish because wait times will only decrease from 4:15pm onward.  Without Park Hopper, consider transferring to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at one of its excellent restaurants.  There’s also a public observatory where you can gaze out at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s private savannas and enjoy the same view many guests are paying a premium to have right outside their balconies.  A trip to Downtown Disney or the BoardWalk for dinner and shopping also makes a lot of sense.

Epcot is the most recommended Park.  We have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade attracting on-site and off-site visitors alike to Magic Kingdom.  Disney resort guests are much more likely to visit tomorrow for evening Extra Magic Hours.  Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer.  If you arrive later, plan to rely on FASTPASS at Test Track and Soarin’.  Both will have 40+ minute waits for most of the day after 10am due to their popularity and relatively low capacities.  Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway.  Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FASTPASS.  Keep in mind that Innoventions, Universe of Energy, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, and Circle of Life usually close at 7pm.  Hit those attractions from 5pm to 7pm to find shorter waits than the 1pm to 4pm timeframe.  Return to Test Track and Soarin’ after 8pm to find the shortest waits outside of 9am – 10am.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended.  While it’s later in the week, Magic Kingdom will be a much bigger draw with morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade drawing off-site and on-site visitors alike. Tomorrow is also recommended with evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot on Friday and Saturday’s morning Extra Magic Hour at the Studios proving more popular.  Still, touring efficiently is more important than “picking the right day,” especially at Hollywood Studios.  That means arriving prior to Park opening and taking care of Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning or with FASTPASS throughout the day.  Toy Story Mania will hit 60+ minutes in the afternoon due to its limited capacity.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster also sees decent afternoon waits, likely in the 30-50 minute range, with FASTPASSes that are harder to obtain.  Plan to head there second or rely on FASTPASS later in the day.  You may also want to prioritize the Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, or Sorcerer Mickey characters by arriving about five minutes before they first appear.  The Toy Story characters, located right across the way from Toy Story Mania, are easy to meet at 9:15am if you head over after riding.  Visiting Sorcerer Mickey in the Animation Building in the last hour he’s scheduled to appear is best.  In addition, characters appear at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the early morning that won’t appear during any other part of the day.  Usually, Minnie, Pluto, Chip, Dale, Donald, Daisy, Piglet, and Tigger appear, but no specific characters are guaranteed.  Overall, you can do well at the Studios if you arrive early and tour efficiently, but afternoon crowds will be decent.  Arrive at 10:30am with everyone else and you’re looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  You can still enjoy the various shows, but it’s going to be more difficult to experience those two attractions.  Thankfully, Tower of Terror and Star Tours see shorter waits and additional FASTPASS availability.  Still, Tower of Terror will hit 30-40 minutes in the afternoon and Star Tours should see 20 minute waits.

The morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom will lure a lot of Disney resort guests and we also have the first Main Street Electrical Parade since Monday.  Combined, this will make Magic Kingdom significantly busier than either of the last two days.  You can 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.  Tomorrow is your best opportunity this week to see Main Street Electrical Parade because it doesn’t suffer from the morning Extra Magic Hour complication.

Friday January 31

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Recommended)

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: none, Main Street Electrical Parade: 7pm and 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended. Epcot’s evening Extra Magic Hours are always popular and will draw a lot of Disney resort guests and Magic Kingdom will be attracting crowds with both nighttime spectaculars.  The only problem is that it’s late in the week, which means most people on a weeklong vacation will have made it to the other more popular theme parks.  A lot of people naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week because they’re more interested in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  But that is a minor concern with the low overall crowd level and the fact that Animal Kingdom remains Disney’s least popular major theme park.  To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing.  After that, move on to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR or visit the characters and Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep in mind that crowds disperse after the 3:45pm Parade.  If you couldn’t get to some of the attraction earlier in the day, stay through until 5pm because waits will only decrease from 4:15pm through close.

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.  We have the extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours luring Disney resort guests to Epcot today and Hollywood Studios’ morning Extra Magic Hour tomorrow will prove popular. Magic Kingdom will be busier with the addition of the Electrical Parade  To have the most success, arrive by 8:20am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Once you get through these attractions in the morning or with FASTPASS, you have little to worry about for the rest of the day, other than trying to get to the Studios’ various high capacity attractions and stage shows that run on a set schedule.  For Fantasmic, you’ll want to arrive about 60 minutes early to guarantee good seats together.  If that sounds like it’s about 30 minutes too long, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Fantasmic theater.  It will still require you to arrive at least 20 minutes early, or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved section up to the general population, but it saves the stress of having to decide when it’s time to line up and decreases the overall wait.  The Fantasmic Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one table service credit at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine and two table service credits at Hollywood Brown Derby that you would pay otherwise.  Plus, it includes the appetizer, which you normally wouldn’t receive on the Disney Dining Plan.  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.

Magic Kingdom is recommended, though it loses its “most recommended” status with the addition of the popular Main Street Electrical Parade.  Yesterday’s Main Street Electrical Parade and morning Extra Magic Hour will have been more popular and tomorrow’s Main Street Electrical Parade and longer hours will be attractive to off-site guests and those who plan to return to the Magic Kingdom for a second time before leaving on Sunday.  To have the most success, arrive by 8:30am and head straight for Fantasyland, the headlining attractions, or another priority.  Most people with kids will want to take care of Enchanted Tales with Belle, Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Ariel’s Grotto first thing in the morning.  You should have no trouble getting a lot of attractions done throughout the morning and the Park won’t be particularly busy for the rest of the day.  Still, plan to use FASTPASS and focus on the less popular attractions from 1pm to 5pm when crowds will be at their highest level.  Return in the evening for dinner, some additional rides with FASTPASS, high capacity attractions, Wishes, and Main Street Electrical Parade. Plan to stay for the 9pm Parade because it will be much less crowded than the first. The best viewing locations are in Frontierland and Liberty Square because they require a shorter wait.

 

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda July 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Thank you so much! Your website is wonderful.

Laura July 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I don’t need the January calendar, but I’m so glad you’re back! Thanks for all you do for us!

Shannon July 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm

YAY!!!! You’re back!!!!!!!!!! (That is all I have to contribute, sorry!)

josh July 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I’m never really gone. You can check http://www.easywdw.com/forums or look me up on Twitter.

snickers July 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Thanks for the calendar. We are going the 18th-25th and were using this year’s January calendar and recommendations, which we followed with excellent results, and it seems basically the same. I know it’s a new year with many changes looming, but i hope some of the hours get an extension as they did last year.
Wonder if there will be a decent theme for this year. Limited magic lived up to its name. Literally.

carrie July 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Yea! I have to book my ADR’s in 2 days, so I’m very happy to have the January calendar. Thanks for your detailed analysis. You do a such a good job!

Jane July 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm

thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Your persistence and hard work are truly appreciated! I now feel soooo much better about making my ADR’s next week!

tanya July 3, 2013 at 6:41 am

Not that it will impact much, but just as an FYI – the 5K is on Thursday the 9th and the 10K is on Friday the 10th. Both at Epcot early in the AM, and both should be over with before the park even opens.

Roger July 3, 2013 at 7:07 am

Hey Josh, thanks for all the work, used your plans last Feb and they worked better than anything else we’ve tried. Definately will be following again this January. What do you think the chances of getting extended AK hours on the weekdays this year? We did your late arrival AK plan last year and it worked very good.

vinotinto July 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Thank you! I really needed the January narrative.

You won’t remember this, but I was the short woman that cornered you near the bathrooms on the day Fantasyland opened as a ‘dress rehearsal’ on Oct 12th. I then had to explain to my 65-year old DM, who had never been to WDW before, what a blogger is. Even harder was explaining that I was following a daily schedule and plan set by someone that I had never met prior to said cornering. I’m not going to mention that I was stalking this website for the January narrative.

dusty cheatham July 4, 2013 at 4:22 am

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD JOSH BACK IN ACTION BABY

Samantha July 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

Woohoo!! Thank you, Josh!! Can’t wait for February’s crowd calendar!!

Jay Stemple July 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Good stuff. My trip goes between the end of Jan and the start of Feb, so before I can REALLY start planning, I need that Feb 2014 calendar :) Patiently waiting!

Ang July 17, 2013 at 3:48 am

Looks like we are going back!!!! Like others I am patiently waiting for Feb 2014 calendar!!! We went Dec 2012 for Christmas break….what a disaster!!!! The crowds were horrible and to top it all off my kids got a stomach virus!!! We will NEVER EVER go back during that time!!! It was pretty but I could live without it!!! Love your website btw!!

Marisa August 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

The dance competition that is happening the first week in Feb. has a MK night listed in their brochure for Jan. 31st. Will this have any affect on touring/planning or is it an after-hours event?

Gaétan Gauthier October 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Thank for the calendar your website is wonderful

Janae October 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Wow! Thanks for the great info!

Alice October 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hey Josh, I love your website, it’s very useful! Could you just Help me with one question? You don’t recomend the parks on the days they have Magic Hours but how about if you’re staying in one of the resorts? Do you think is worth using them or better avoid these parks anyway?

tanya November 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Super information!

My only doubt now lies in when to arrive….driving from Houston should we get to resort hotel at check-in or sleep overnight somewhere on the way and get to the park early a.m. and check in later?

Any suggestions or comments will be very welcome. We will be traveling with 7 year old twins :) Thanks~

doug January 17, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Are there now two fantasmic shows on Monday January 27th? 7 and 8:30pm?

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