Crowd Calendar and Daily Best Park to Visit

March 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on August 28, 2014

This is the Free March 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost, Historic High/Low Temperature, Historic Chance of Precipitation, Extra Magic Hours Schedule, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

Make sure you first read my month-by-month overview of visiting Disney World, located here. The overview will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of cost, crowds, weather, and special events on a broader scale. Once you figure out when you would like to visit, you can move on to this more detailed look.

Here’s a quick explanation of how to read the calendar and what the numbers mean. It may seem like it’s a little long, but you’ll only need to read the explanation once.

  • The first line in each box is the date.
  • The second line shows the cost to book a room at a Disney-owned resort. $ = Value Season, $$ = Regular Season, $$$ = Summer Season, $$$$ = Peak Season, and $$$$$ = Holiday Season. Occasionally there will be a + or – after the $$$ to show that the cost is slightly higher or lower than usual, but not by enough to raise it another $ notch.
  • The third line is the average high and low temperature and the chance of precipitation. All data is based on the last 15 years. I wouldn’t read too much into the precipitation percentages for each day because just one or two additional days of rain in the last 15 years can raise the percentage substantially. I included it so you can look at the precipitation trends throughout the month(s) and take it into consideration when deciding when to book your vacation. For a broader overview of the month, read the month-by-month overview I linked to above.
  • The fourth line is an estimation of the overall crowd level. A “5″ refers to average crowds. Numbers above 5 refer to a larger than average overall crowd level and numbers below 5 refer to lower than average overall crowds. A day with an overall crowd level of “1″ means that the crowds are expected to be the absolute lowest of the year and a “10″ means crowds are expected to be at their largest of the year. In other words, the overall crowd level estimation will give you an idea of how many people are in the entire Disney World complex, including the four major theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, golf courses, resorts, etc. Individual theme parks can have smaller or larger crowds than the overall estimation, which is where the theme park recommendations come in.
  • The fifth line shows the theme parks I recommend visiting in green and the theme parks I recommend avoiding in red. There is also a | sign that splits up the recommended and not recommended Parks for the color blind or those printing in black and white (the Parks to the left of the | sign are recommended). I use the usual abbreviations for the Parks; AK is the Animal Kingdom, EP is Epcot, HS is Hollywood Studios, and MK is the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the colors, the Park on the far left is the most recommended Park to visit that day. The Park second to the left is the second most recommended and so on. For example, if the line reads AK EP | HS MK then the Animal Kingdom is the most recommended and Epcot is the second most recommended. On the other side of the | sign, Hollywood Studios is not recommended and the Magic Kingdom is expressly not recommended even more. If possible, I would strongly recommend you visit the Park that is most recommended each day. Please read below the calendar for an overview of how I’ve selected the recommended Parks and also a day-by-day explanation.
  • The sixth line lists which Parks have Extra Magic Hours and at what time they start. Morning Extra Magic Hour lasts one hour and usually starts at 8am. Evening Extra Magic Hours last two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Sunday March 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

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

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

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

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  Magic Kingdom will be attractive with the long hours of operation and both nighttime spectaculars and Animal Kingdom will be attracting a sizable number of resort guests with the morning Extra Magic Hour. In order to find the shortest waits, you’ll need to arrive by 8:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania. Because of its popularity and extremely limited capacity, Toy Story Mania almost always has afternoon waits of 60 or more minutes, even when crowds are relatively low and the Studios is recommended. There’s no way around that with its limited capacity and the even more limited number of things to do with kids. It’s always your top priority. The second attraction with the longest peak wait is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which should be ridden immediately after Toy Story Mania in the morning or with FastPass+. Other priorities are Tower of Terror and Star Tours, though FastPass+ are more plentiful at both attractions and standby waits are usually lower. After you get through these four headliners, it’s just a matter of arriving in time to see the various stage shows that run on a set schedule and getting over to the Studios’ high capacity attractions. You may also have characters to visit before lines get longer. While it’s officially a recommended day, arriving prior to Park opening and hitting the headliners first thing is more important than which day you pick. Arrive at 11am, no matter the recommendation or the overall crowd level, and you’ll be looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

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

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{ 4 comments }

This is the Free February 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost, Historic High/Low Temperature, Historic Chance of Precipitation, Extra Magic Hours Schedule, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

Make sure you first read my month-by-month overview of visiting Disney World, located here. The overview will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of cost, crowds, weather, and special events on a broader scale. Once you figure out when you would like to visit, you can move on to this more detailed look.

Here’s a quick explanation of how to read the calendar and what the numbers mean. It may seem like it’s a little long, but you’ll only need to read the explanation once.

  • The first line in each box is the date.
  • The second line shows the cost to book a room at a Disney-owned resort. $ = Value Season, $$ = Regular Season, $$$ = Summer Season, $$$$ = Peak Season, and $$$$$ = Holiday Season. Occasionally there will be a + or – after the $$$ to show that the cost is slightly higher or lower than usual, but not by enough to raise it another $ notch.
  • The third line is the average high and low temperature and the chance of precipitation. All data is based on the last 15 years. I wouldn’t read too much into the precipitation percentages for each day because just one or two additional days of rain in the last 15 years can raise the percentage substantially. I included it so you can look at the precipitation trends throughout the month(s) and take it into consideration when deciding when to book your vacation. For a broader overview of the month, read the month-by-month overview I linked to above.
  • The fourth line is an estimation of the overall crowd level. A “5″ refers to average crowds. Numbers above 5 refer to a larger than average overall crowd level and numbers below 5 refer to lower than average overall crowds. A day with an overall crowd level of “1″ means that the crowds are expected to be the absolute lowest of the year and a “10″ means crowds are expected to be at their largest of the year. In other words, the overall crowd level estimation will give you an idea of how many people are in the entire Disney World complex, including the four major theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, golf courses, resorts, etc. Individual theme parks can have smaller or larger crowds than the overall estimation, which is where the theme park recommendations come in.
  • The fifth line shows the theme parks I recommend visiting in green and the theme parks I recommend avoiding in red. There is also a | sign that splits up the recommended and not recommended Parks for the color blind or those printing in black and white (the Parks to the left of the | sign are recommended). I use the usual abbreviations for the Parks; AK is the Animal Kingdom, EP is Epcot, HS is Hollywood Studios, and MK is the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the colors, the Park on the far left is the most recommended Park to visit that day. The Park second to the left is the second most recommended and so on. For example, if the line reads AK EP | HS MK then the Animal Kingdom is the most recommended and Epcot is the second most recommended. On the other side of the | sign, Hollywood Studios is not recommended and the Magic Kingdom is expressly not recommended even more. If possible, I would strongly recommend you visit the Park that is most recommended each day. Please read below the calendar for an overview of how I’ve selected the recommended Parks and also a day-by-day explanation.
  • The sixth line lists which Parks have Extra Magic Hours and at what time they start. Morning Extra Magic Hour lasts one hour and usually starts at 8am. Evening Extra Magic Hours last two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Sunday February 1

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Fantasmic: 7pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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{ 4 comments }

8/26/14 Update: Animal Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour canceled on January 25th and added to the 26th, changing the recommendations over those days slightly.

This is the Free January 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost, Historic High/Low Temperature, Historic Chance of Precipitation, Extra Magic Hours Schedule, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

Make sure you first read my month-by-month overview of visiting Disney World, located here. The overview will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of cost, crowds, weather, and special events on a broader scale. Once you figure out when you would like to visit, you can move on to this more detailed look.

Here’s a quick explanation of how to read the calendar and what the numbers mean. It may seem like it’s a little long, but you’ll only need to read the explanation once.

  • The first line in each box is the date.
  • The second line shows the cost to book a room at a Disney-owned resort. $ = Value Season, $$ = Regular Season, $$$ = Summer Season, $$$$ = Peak Season, and $$$$$ = Holiday Season. Occasionally there will be a + or – after the $$$ to show that the cost is slightly higher or lower than usual, but not by enough to raise it another $ notch.
  • The third line is the average high and low temperature and the chance of precipitation. All data is based on the last 15 years. I wouldn’t read too much into the precipitation percentages for each day because just one or two additional days of rain in the last 15 years can raise the percentage substantially. I included it so you can look at the precipitation trends throughout the month(s) and take it into consideration when deciding when to book your vacation. For a broader overview of the month, read the month-by-month overview I linked to above.
  • The fourth line is an estimation of the overall crowd level. A “5″ refers to average crowds. Numbers above 5 refer to a larger than average overall crowd level and numbers below 5 refer to lower than average overall crowds. A day with an overall crowd level of “1″ means that the crowds are expected to be the absolute lowest of the year and a “10″ means crowds are expected to be at their largest of the year. In other words, the overall crowd level estimation will give you an idea of how many people are in the entire Disney World complex, including the four major theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, golf courses, resorts, etc. Individual theme parks can have smaller or larger crowds than the overall estimation, which is where the theme park recommendations come in.
  • The fifth line shows the theme parks I recommend visiting in green and the theme parks I recommend avoiding in red. There is also a | sign that splits up the recommended and not recommended Parks for the color blind or those printing in black and white (the Parks to the left of the | sign are recommended). I use the usual abbreviations for the Parks; AK is the Animal Kingdom, EP is Epcot, HS is Hollywood Studios, and MK is the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the colors, the Park on the far left is the most recommended Park to visit that day. The Park second to the left is the second most recommended and so on. For example, if the line reads AK EP | HS MK then the Animal Kingdom is the most recommended and Epcot is the second most recommended. On the other side of the | sign, Hollywood Studios is not recommended and the Magic Kingdom is expressly not recommended even more. If possible, I would strongly recommend you visit the Park that is most recommended each day. Please read below the calendar for an overview of how I’ve selected the recommended Parks and also a day-by-day explanation.
  • The sixth line lists which Parks have Extra Magic Hours and at what time they start. Morning Extra Magic Hour lasts one hour and usually starts at 8am. Evening Extra Magic Hours last two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Thursday January 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Highly Recommended)

Fantasmic: 6:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Tentatively Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 10:15pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended, especially if you’re able to arrive by 8:30am to take advantage of the morning. You can have a ton 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 one of the two most popular stage shows – Finding Nemo the Musical and/or Festival of the Lion King. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do 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 or Expedition Everest. Expedition Everest also has a “single rider line” that is usually short if you’re willing to split the group up. You’ll find it to the right of the standby line. 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 in the late afternoon and more and more people leave. Expect Disney to extend the close to 7pm or 8pm as we get closer to January, opening up the evening to enjoy short waits in DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. Tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours will be more attractive to Disney resort guests and few people will be anywhere near the entrance after partying hard until 2am last night. We also have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade pulling people towards Magic Kingdom. 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 because they will have 90+ minute waits for most of the day after 10am due to popularity and relatively low capacities. Getting in line right before Park close will also result in a short wait if you can’t ride any other time. 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.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended as we come off a late night for a lot of people. With the high overall crowd level continuing until the end of the week, it remains essential to arrive by 8:15am to take care of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first thing. A late arrival is viable with FastPass+ and plans to see the shows and some high capacity attractions.

Magic Kingdom is tentatively recommended particularly if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it. You’ll be able to accomplish a ton before 11am, but the afternoon remains busy with the high overall crowd level. If you’re not Extra Magic Hours eligible or don’t plan to arrive until after 10am, then you’re far better off holding off on visiting until tomorrow. If you’re just arriving, crowds will fall off considerably on Sunday and you may want to hold off on Magic Kingdom until then, even if it remains not recommended.

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{ 15 comments }

8/20/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the operating schedule changes listed here.

6/27/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the changes listed here. Note the changes in Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.

6/18/14 Update: Added daily analysis for December 21 – 31.

6/4/14 Update: Added daily analysis for December 1 – 20. Still verifying estimates for the end of the month.

This is the Free December 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Monday December 1

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

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

Fantasmic: 6:30pm and 8pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 12am (Not Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

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 few people that just arrived over the weekend will be looking to visit Disney World’s least popular theme park. 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. Friday and Saturday are the best days to visit this week.

Epcot is highly recommended. 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 their first full day at the world’s most popular theme park. Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Animal Kingdom for the Extra Magic Hour. 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, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway. 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 is the most recommended Park as we come off two busier days in a row with Extra Magic Hours. It’s also early enough in the week that most guests just arriving will be intent on visiting Magic Kingdom with its nighttime entertainment and long hours of operation. As always, it’s imperative that you arrive by 8:15am and take care of Toy Story Mania first thing. The Studios has a severely limited number of rides and wait times rise quickly even on the most recommended days with the lowest crowds.

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. Magic Kingdom will be significantly busier than the crowd level indicates and is best avoided. You can do okay if you arrive at the gate by 8:20am and tour efficiently in the morning or after 10pm, but 11am – 9pm is going to be busier than any day this week other than Saturday.

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{ 17 comments }

7/16/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

6/27/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the changes listed here. Note the changes in Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.

5/22/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with minor changes listed here.

This is the Free November 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Saturday November 1

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

Epcot: 9am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Illuminations: 10pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 7:30pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 10pm – 12am

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

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special events, evening entertainment, or anything else to attract on-site or off-site visitors. Those leaving tomorrow after a traditional weeklong vacation are unlikely to visit Animal Kingdom on their last full day and most arriving today won’t head out to Animal Kingdom as their first destination. We’re also coming off a morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday that will be much more popular with resort guests. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will be attracting the bulk of the resort crowd and Epcot will be far more popular with locals for the Food and Wine Festival. As always, you’ll be best off if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. Wait times will only get shorter after 4pm, so stay through close if you have more you’d like to accomplish.  Head to DinoLand after 4pm and Asia after 5pm to find much lower waits than the afternoon.

Epcot will be considerably busier than usual due to the incredibly popular International Food and Wine Festival. The event attracts tons of locals, especially in the afternoon and evening in the World Showcase where the majority of the Food and Wine events take place. Although the effect on Future World and the headlining attractions isn’t as great, we’re still much better off waiting until Monday to visit. Expect incredibly heavy crowds from 1pm through IllumiNations. If you can’t visit Epcot any other day, make sure you arrive prior to Park opening and visit Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission Space, and Soarin’ immediately in the morning or follow a touring plan. Use FastPass+ in the late morning and afternoon when crowds and waits peak. Move up through the Mexico and Norway Pavilions in the World Showcase at 11am if you can’t get to the World Showcase on another day. The World Showcase will be buzzing from 1pm through close and it will be very difficult to move around with the heavier crowds, even if the attractions won’t necessarily be that much busier than usual. Try to move through World Showcase as quickly as possible and then return to Future World. If you’re trying to decide between visiting Epcot on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, I would recommend Friday and then Sunday over Saturday.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended. The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 75,000+ people. Because Disney sells the Extra Magic Hour program so well in its marketing materials, many of these Disney resort guests follow the Extra Magic Hours schedule because they think it’s Disney telling them where they belong each day. While you can have success if you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:15am, most people will want to visit another day. Tomorrow 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. On top of that, Disney added evening Extra Magic Hours, attracting even more resort guests. 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. Yesterday will be much less crowded with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime entertainment. Yesterday, tomorrow, 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 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. The relatively late night is also a good time to tour with short waits at most attractions after 9pm. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

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{ 25 comments }

8/14/14 Update: Hollywood Studios’ hours reduced on Tuesday October 7th to 9am-6pm.

7/16/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here. Slight recommendation changes around October 16 due to added Fantasmic.

6/27/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the changes listed here. Note the changes in Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.

5/20/14 Update: Hollywood Studios hours reduced and Fantasmic canceled on October 4th as listed here.

4/24/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here. Recommendations changed slightly on Sundays and Mondays due to change in Extra Magic Hours schedule.

This is the Free October 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Wednesday October 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7:30pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 8pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 9pm (Tentatively Recommended for Evening Entertainment)

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

Animal Kingdom remains recommended. Magic Kingdom will be more popular than yesterday with longer hours of operation, main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes and Epcot’s extremely popular evening Extra Magic Hours will help pull Disney resort guests in that direction. The only problem is the fact that it’s a bit later in the week and we’ll have some off-site visitors who arrived on Sunday and visited Magic Kingdom on Monday and Epcot or Hollywood Studios on Tuesday. But that’s a nominal concern, particularly with the average overall crowd level. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. You’ll have no trouble riding both with very low waits before 10am. Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get busy during the afternoon shows, 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. You should have no trouble experiencing most everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FastPass+ intelligently, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows. Finally, crowds disperse in the afternoon around 3pm. Plan to stay through close because waits will only get shorter as it gets later in the evening. Visit DinoLand after 3pm and Asia after 4pm to find much lower crowds than the afternoon.

We’ll want to avoid Epcot. Its evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests, which will lengthen waits times at the attractions for the entire afternoon and evening. Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours. This is due to the fact that many Disney resort guests head to whichever Park has Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of them. Without Park Hopper, Disney resort guests must stay in the Park with Extra Magic Hours for the entire day. The increased crowds lead to longer lines, heavier congestion in common areas, and an overall less pleasant touring experience. I would urge you to visit a different Park. If you want to head to Epcot today, despite my strong objections, your best chance to ride the headlining rides is from 9am-10am. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around 10:30am in anticipation of staying until around 10pm. The morning will be an excellent 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 Soarin’ and Test Track after 10pm. Skip Illuminations if you’ll be here on another night because it will be more crowded than usual.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park with Magic Kingdom drawing more guests with the later close and Epcot being attractive to resort guests. To have the most success, you’ll still want to arrive by 8:15am 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, even with some of the lowest crowds of the year. You’ll want to make it your top priority. Your second priority is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which also sees long afternoon waits and limited FastPass+ availability. Tower of Terror and Star Tours should be easier to ride, but also remain priorities. If you can get these attractions done in the early morning, you’ll be in great shape for the rest of the day. The only other problem most people run into is trying to schedule all of the stage shows that run on a set schedule. You may also want to prioritize characters that will have longer afternoon waits. The Toy Story characters across from Toy Story typically meet beginning at 9am and have the longest afternoon waits. Sofia the First usually has the second longest waits and meets in Animation Courtyard beginning at 9:30am. Phineas & Ferb also see long lines. They typically begin appearing at 9:30am, which means you’ll have time to ride Toy Story Mania before heading over to the Toy Story characters and then over to Sofia or Phineas & Ferb, which are located near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and across from the exit to Muppet Vision 3D. Check the week’s Times Guide to verify appearance times. Two other popular characters appear in the Animation Building in the Animation Courtyard. Sorcerer Mickey in particular has long afternoon waits and The Incredibles characters also tend to have decent lines. Since both characters meet indoors and their lines aren’t usually over 20 minutes long, you should be able to find them with decent waits later in the day if you have other morning priorities. Finally, you’ll find some characters in the morning near Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat that won’t appear later in the afternoon. Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Chip, Dale, Stitch, Goofy, and Pluto are all common, but no specific character is guaranteed to appear. For Fantasmic, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the theater. You’ll still need to arrive at least 20 minutes early, but it’s better than the 60+ minutes early you’ll need to arrive without the package. The Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it only costs one table service credit (except at Hollywood Brown Derby, which still costs two credits as it would otherwise) and includes the appetizer. As far as general seating is concerned, the best seats are about half way up in the center sections. Sit any closer and you run the risk of getting wet and it’s more difficult to see what’s happening on the water.

Magic Kingdom is tentatively recommended, though this will be the third busiest day of the week there with the longer hours of operation and nighttime entertainment luring more casual vacationers in the middle of the week than usual. With no Electrical Parade scheduled until Saturday, today will be more popular than either of the next two days.  Anyone who wants to see Main Street Electrical Parade and doesn’t have Park Hopper (and many that do) will have to spend most of their day at the Magic Kingdom in order to see the Parade at night.  While the Magic Kingdom may be busier than other days this week, many people do want to see the Parade and Wishes Fireworks show and this is your best opportunity to do both.  Ideally, you would Park Hop over to Magic Kingdom in the late afternoon or early evening, after spending the majority of your day at a Park that’s recommended higher.  This way, you can enjoy short lines and low crowds and still see the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectaculars.  Without Park Hopper, you’ll want to arrive prior to 9am and head straight for the priorities on your itinerary.  The 9am to 11am timeframe is always the best time to tour, regardless of overall crowd level or what day you visit.  You’ll be able to get a lot done in those first two or three hours, but crowds will begin to build around 11am and will continue to be moderately heavy through Wishes.  Plan to move on to some of the less popular attractions in the afternoon and/or take a lengthy afternoon break when crowds are at their highest.  You can then return to the Magic Kingdom around 6pm for dinner, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes.  This is always the second best plan of attack (second to only the evening Park Hop) when you’re trying to see evening shows that aren’t scheduled often enough.  Overall, Magic Kingdom is recommended if you tour during the recommended times and make efficient use of the morning and FastPass+ in the afternoon when waits peak.  It will be more crowded in the afternoon than several other days this week.  You’ll want to visit on a Mickey’s Party date if all you care about is low crowds.  For the Main Street Electrical Parade, I recommend staking out a spot along the Parade route in Frontierland or Liberty Square.  Both areas are significantly less crowded than Main Street and offer a similar view.

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{ 28 comments }

9/14/14 Update: Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-6pm on Saturday September 27.

8/14/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with Frozen Fireworks on the weekends and other changes listed here.

6/27/14 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the changes listed here. Note the changes in Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.

5/20/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

4/24/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here. Recommendations on Sundays and Mondays changed beginning September 14th due to the revised Extra Magic Hours schedule.

This is the Free September 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Monday September 1

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9:30pm – 11:30pm

Fantasmic: 8:30pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

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 few people that just arrived over the weekend will be looking to visit Disney World’s least popular theme park. Still, there are better days to visit the Animal Kingdom than today, including tomorrow and Thursday. 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 most 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 Epcot tomorrow or Friday for Extra Magic. Still, with the limited number of attractions, it’s still more important to arrive by 8:15am and tour efficiently in the morning than it is to simply pick a recommended day. 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, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway. 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 and the longer-than-usual operating hours, which will attract off-site guess 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. Unfortunately, I’m not too fond of evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios. There are only a few attractions open and the waits for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours will likely be just as long as they were during the day, at least until 10:30pm when people begin to give up and exit. In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 9pm and again at 10:30pm, 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.

Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm and doesn’t offer either nighttime spectacular during regular Park hours for the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This will deter the majority of casual vacationers who prefer to visit when the Park is open later and the fireworks are scheduled during regular hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of either. Many guests equate longer hours to a better value for their money. Unfortunately, the heavier crowds that show up on those days lead to longer lines at rides, stores, and quick services, in addition to increased congestion in walkways and fuller shows. I can assure you that a 9am – 7pm day at Magic Kingdom is plenty long and you’ll be able to get more done in those 10 hours than you possibly could hope to on a non-recommended day with 9am – 10pm hours because wait times are so much shorter park-wide. If you’re looking to extend your day, consider taking the monorail or boat to one of the Deluxe resorts. The Wave, Kona Café, ‘Ohana, and Whispering Canyon are all fun casual table service restaurants. For a nicer (and more expensive) meal, consider California Grill, Citricos, or Artist Point. Otherwise, stay through 7pm because crowds will only dissipate with few people Park Hopping over in the afternoon. Just about everyone arriving for the Halloween Party will congregate on Main Street waiting for the Party or head to a character to get in line. Save Fantasyland for after 6pm to find lower waits than any part of the day other than the first hour. With only one day at the Park, you’ll need to decide whether putting up with heavier crowds and longer lines is worth seeing the nighttime entertainment.

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{ 22 comments }

August 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on January 16, 2014

7/23/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the change listed here. Minor recommendation changes on the 22nd and 23rd.

7/15/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

6/27/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here, including recommendation changes due to Extra Magic Hours changes.

5/17/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

4/24/14 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

2/8/14 Update: Magic Kingdom is scheduled to close at 7pm on Friday August 29th. Crowd Calendar updated and ratings during that week changed slightly.

This is the Free August 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Friday August 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9pm – 11pm

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 9pm and 10:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

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 remain the world’s most popular theme park with long hours of operation and 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 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 Festival of the Lion King and/or Finding Nemo the Musical. Keep in mind that crowds disperse in the afternoon. If you couldn’t get to some of the attraction earlier in the day, stay through close because waits will only decrease after 5pm.

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’re looking at a morning Extra Magic Hour tomorrow that will be more popular with Disney resort guests. With Fantasmic scheduled every night and the same operating hours offered most every day, 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 8:15am and head straight for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Great Movie Ride. Because Toy Story Mania has such a limited capacity, wait times are almost always 60+ minutes in the afternoon. Expect waits to hit 60 to 120 minutes today with the high overall crowd level, despite 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 across from Toy Story Mania typically have the longest waits. They usually begin greeting at 9:15am, so you’ll have time to ride Toy Story Mania at least once before heading over. Sofia the First is also popular and meets in Animation Courtyard, across from Voyage of the Little Mermaid. She typically begins appearing at 9:30am, giving you enough time to ride Toy Story Mania and meet the Toy Story characters before heading over by 9:25am. Phineas & Ferb tend to have the third longest lines in Hollywood Studios and they meet outdoors in an uncovered area, making them a high priority as well. They typically begin appearing at 9:30am, which means you could head there after the Toy Story characters or after the Toy Story characters and Sofia. They’re located near Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and across from the exit to Muppet Vision 3D. Check the week’s Times Guide to verify appearance times. Two other popular characters appear in the Animation Building in the Animation Courtyard. Sorcerer Mickey in particular has long afternoon waits and The Incredibles characters also tend to have decent lines. Since both characters meet indoors and their lines aren’t usually over 20 minutes long, you should be able to find them with decent waits later in the day if you have other morning priorities. Finally, you’ll find some characters in the morning near Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat that won’t appear later in the afternoon. Daisy Duck, Chip, Dale, Goofy, Stitch, 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 if you’d like to see the first 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. The Dining Package makes the most sense on the Disney Dining Plan because it only costs one table service credit (except at Hollywood Brown Derby, which still costs two credits as it would otherwise) and includes the appetizer. If you’re not interested in the Package or it’s not available, try to see the second show because it’s less crowded and there’s no concern over two large sections being reserved for Dining Package users. As far as general seating is concerned, the best seats are about half way up in the center sections. Sit any closer and you run the risk of getting wet and it’s more difficult to see what’s happening on the water.

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

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{ 34 comments }

July 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on December 26, 2013

6/25/14 Update: Calendar updated with Extra Magic Hour changes throughout the month as listed here.

6/19/14 Update: Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

3/20/14 Update: Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

This is the Free July 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means the Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-12am.
  • The seventh line lists the Fantasmic show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Tuesday July 1

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

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 9pm and 10:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 12am (Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park for a number of reasons. We don’t have special events, Extra Magic Hours, or anything specific drawing people toward it. Yesterday’s and tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hours will be more popular with Disney resort guests. We also have Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios attracting a lot of off-site and on-site visitors alike and it’s early enough in the week that many people on weeklong vacations will be saving Animal Kingdom for later in the week. Magic Kingdom will continue being popular with the long operating hours and both nighttime spectaculars. Overall, today, Friday, and Saturday are the 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. You’ll have no trouble riding both with very low waits before 10am. Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get busy during the afternoon shows, 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. You should have no trouble experiencing most everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FastPass+ intelligently, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows. Finally, crowds disperse in the afternoon. Plan to stay through close because waits will only get shorter as it gets later in the evening. Visit DinoLand after 6pm and Asia after 7pm to find much lower waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is not recommended. We have the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting the majority of Disney resort guests and a lot of off-site visitors who will naturally visit Epcot after the Magic Kingdom yesterday. While Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios helps, it shouldn’t pull enough people away to make a discernible difference in wait times. Skip it unless you can’t get there any other day or are certain you’ll arrive prior to 8am for the morning Extra Magic Hour and plan to either Park Hop elsewhere or take a break in the afternoon.

Hollywood Studios is recommended. Yesterday’s evening Extra Magic Hours/Fantasmic combo will be a bigger draw and the addition of Fantasmic to every day this week spreads crowds out more evenly. Because of that, your touring plan is more important than which day you decide to visit the Studios. Arrive by 8:15am, head directly to Toy Story Mania, and then visit Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Great Movie Ride. Do this, and you’ll be in great shape for the rest of the day. Don’t arrive until 10am and you’ll end up with a 60+ minute waits at Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and potentially Tower of Terror. After getting through the headliners, focus on the Studios’ stage shows and high capacity attractions like Backlot Tour and Star Tours. Popular characters may also be a morning priority. You may want to take a break in the afternoon from 1pm to 5pm or so when crowds get heavier. Return for dinner, some evening rides, and Fantasmic. Finally, consider the Fantasmic Dining Package that guarantees everyone on the reservation a seat in the reserved section of the Hollywood Hills Theater if you’re planning to see the early show. It will still require you to arrive 20 minutes early (or you run the risk of Disney opening the reserved sections to the general population), but it’s better than the 60 minute wait that may be required to get decent seats without it. The Dining Package makes the most sense if you’re also on the Disney Dining Plan because it costs the same one-table-service credit at Hollywood and Vine or Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and two-table-service credits that you would use otherwise. It also includes the appetizer, which is a nice bonus. If you’d prefer not to spring for the show or it’s not available, plan to see the later show. It’s far less crowded because so many families have to leave early with young kids and there aren’t two large sections reserved for Dining Package users. The best seats are at least half way up in the middle sections. You’ll have a great view of the entire stage, what’s happening on the water, and won’t risk getting wet. Overall, it’s a recommended day because it would be better than yesterday or tomorrow, but what you do is more important than arriving on the “right” day.

Magic Kingdom is recommended. Epcot’s morning Extra Magic Hour will help draw crowds away and a lot of people will have visited yesterday for their first full day at Disney World. Still, Magic Kingdom won’t be empty with the high overall crowd level, same operating hours as other days this week, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes. It’s still more important to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Fantasyland or the headlining Mountain rides. 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 like Astro Orbiter. 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. For Main Street Electrical Parade, scout out a spot along the Parade route in Liberty Square or Frontierland for the 11pm Parade. Both areas are significantly less crowded than Main Street and require a shorter wait. 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.

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Updated 5/23/14 – Crowd Calendar entirely updated. Cost for 2015 dates is a best estimate as rates are not yet available.

Introduction

This is a month by month look at the cost, crowds, weather, and special events at Walt Disney World.

The cost section relates primarily to booking a room at a Disney-owned resort. The cost of theme park tickets, upgrades, and other add-ons generally does not change throughout the year, with the exception of theme park tickets, which usually see one price increase during the course of the year.  Traditionally, that increase comes in August, though it came during June in 2011.

The weather section is based on the historical data available. For a look at the last 15 years of Orlando weather on any date, check http://www.wunderground.com/tripplanner/index.asp?MR=1 This is a handy reference tool, but make sure you look over more than just the past couple of years. The fall of 2009 was one of the hottest on record and January 2010 broke record lows when the temperature dipped below freezing several times.

The crowds section is based on data from the past several years. Generally speaking, the higher the price of a Disney resort room, the busier the Parks will be.  For example, Value season usually has the smallest crowds and Peak and Holiday seasons see the highest crowds.  We’ll also take a closer look at the various exceptions throughout the year.

The Park hours and entertainment section covers the hours of operation at the Disney Parks.  If the hours and entertainment aren’t yet available, you’ll see (expected) after the section header.  In this case, I’m basing the hours and schedule on past years.

The best week to visit section takes into account crowd level, available promotions, Park hours, ride closures, resort cost, special events, and other pertinent information.  Be sure to check out the day-by-day analysis when available to check on the daily crowd levels and dates of important events.

The closures and openings section lists all known and expected ride, Park, restaurant, and other closures and openings throughout Disney World.  If a ride is closed for refurbishment or reopened after refurbishment or a new ride or restaurant is expected, it will be listed here.

Finally, I’ve included a brief description of the special events and other nuances throughout the year.  This will help you plan around events that may adversely affect your vacation or you might want to tweak your plans to visit during a special event of particular interest.  I link straight to the Disney website throughout this calendar so you can read “the official word” about the events or purchase tickets.

January 2015

January Cost:

  • January 1 is New Year’s, which is just slightly less expensive than Holiday, but more expensive than any other date.
  • January 2 – 7 is Value 1, the cheapest season.
  • January 8 – 10 is Marathon, which is similar to Regular and Martin Luther King.
  • January 11 – 15 is Value 1, the cheapest season.
  • January 16 – 18 is Martin Luther King, which is similar to Regular and Marathon.
  • January 19 – 31 is Value 1, the cheapest season.

January Weather: It’s the coldest of the year in Orlando, with an average high of 69 degrees and an average low of 50 degrees. Historically, it rains on 22% of days.

January Crowds: Many United States school districts continue winter break though January 4th, Christmas level crowds continue into the new year. January 1st – 3rd remains extremely crowded with crowds tapering off significantly beginning Sunday the 4th,

Crowds are low for the majority of the rest of the month with two major exceptions. Average level crowds are seen for the Marathon from January 8th to 11th.  While the marathon brings in thousands of people to the resorts, they don’t have as big of an impact on theme park crowd levels. Martin Luther King Jr. crowds from the 16th to the 18th are some of the heaviest crowds of the month and the highest crowd level we’ll see until President’s Day Weekend in the middle of February.  It’s best avoided if possible, but still perfectly doable using the touring strategies discussed on this site.

January Park Hours and Entertainment: The January operating schedule will appear here when it’s available in the middle of June 2014 (until then it will say the page can’t be found): http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_january.pdf

Best Week to Visit Disney World in January 2015: January 21 through February 11th are several of the best weeks to visit of the year with decent weather, some of the lowest crowds of the year, and the lowest prices to stay on Disney property.

Closures and Openings:

Continuing Refurbishments:

  • None at this time.

New Refurbishments:

  • None at this time – see below.

Notes:

Historically, January has the most refurbishments and closures of any month.  Lengthy pool refurbishments are also common at Disney resorts as are refurbishments at the water rides, including Splash Mountain.

January Special Events That May Affect Crowds or Your Stay:

The Disney World Marathon is held January 7 – 11.  While the Marathon doesn’t increase lines at the rides much, it does cause a lot of congestion in and around the Parks on the mornings of January 10th and particularly January 11th.  See http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/endurance/wdw-marathon/index?page=registration for more information on the event, including pricing and exact race times.

The last night of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is expected to be January 4th.  See November and December for more information about the Lights.

Beginning in mid-January, South American tour groups tend to visit Disney World en masse due to a long vacation throughout the continent.  Expect to see large groups throughout the theme parks.  If you do see a group, it’s best to avoid them.  They are not as much of a nuisance as during the summer when overall crowds are so much heavier.

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