01 January 2014 Crowd Calendar

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

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

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

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

This is the Free January 2014 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost, Historic High/Low Temperature, Historic Chance of Precipitation, Extra Magic Hours Schedule, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

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

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

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

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

Click the image to enlarge it.

Wednesday January 1

New Year’s Day

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 7am – 8am

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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