12 December 2013 Crowd Calendar

12/20/13 Update: Magic Kingdom close extended to 2am on December 31.

11/21/13 Update: Crowd calendar updated with the changes listed here.

11/9/13 Update: Hollywood Studios’ hours cut to 9am – 6pm on Wednesday December 11th and Fantasmic canceled.

This is the Free December 2013 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.

Sunday December 1

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

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade: 3:45pm

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

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

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm

Fantasmic: 6:30pm and 8pm

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

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended.  Hollywood Studios will be crowded with evening Extra Magic Hours and the two Fantasic shows.  Disney resort guests are more likely to visit Animal Kingdom tomorrow or Wednesday for morning Extra Magic Hour. With the longer-than-usual operating hours, you should be able to do just about everything the Park has to offer if you arrive close to Park opening.  Focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible or rely on FASTPASS later in the day (or both).  After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA or one of the more popular shows – either Finding Nemo the Musical or Festival of the Lion King and you’ll be set for the rest of the day.  Keep in mind that crowds disperse shortly after the 3:45pm Parade and 5pm – 7pm will have shorter waits than the afternoon. Visit DinoLand after 5pm and Asia after 6pm to find the shortest waits possible. Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Jungle Treks will close earlier than 7pm. Check your Times Guide to verify.  You also have a great opportunity to Park Hop after the Park closes.  You could head to Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations or Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic.  Without Park Hopper, consider transferring to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner and a look around the resort or take a trip out to Downtown Disney or the BoardWalk for dinner and shopping.

Epcot is recommended if you need a day there.  Hollywood Studios will be attracting a lot of people for Fantasmic and evening Extra Magic Hours.  The only downside to visiting Epcot is the fact that Magic Kingdom isn’t going to be popular with short hours and lack of evening entertainment.  I’m looking towards tomorrow as a better day to visit Epcot, though today is also above average.  You will have the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day plan.  It’s also a great day to stay for dinner, Illuminations, and the Candlelight Processional.  Most people will want to take advantage of the lower crowds at Magic Kingdom and put off Epcot for tomorrow.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests and the addition of a second Fantasmic.  The short hours at Magic Kingdom will also cause a lot of people to look elsewhere and they’ll find the Studios’ longer hours of operation and plentiful evening entertainment to be extremely attractive.  The morning will be an okay time to tour, but crowds will increase around 11am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive.  Because of that, there’s really no reason to head in that direction today.  Plus, there are only a few attractions open during evening Extra Magic Hours 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 until after 9:30pm when people begin to give up and exit.  Fantasmic also dumps 9,000+ people on Sunset Boulevard at 7pm and again at 8:30pm, which is right next to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Guess where most of those people will be headed?  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.  Still, the Studios is going to be swamped, relatively speaking, and tomorrow or Wednesday would be much better days to visit.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park.  The short hours and lack of evening entertainment will cause a lot of casual vacationers to head elsewhere.  We’re in between yesterday’s very popular longer hours of operation/both nighttime spectaculars and have a similar schedule tomorrow with evening Extra Magic Hours attached.  On top of that, Sunday is a major travel day for those on a standard weeklong Disney vacation.  With the early close, virtually none of them will start out with an abbreviated day at Magic Kingdom.  Few people that arrived on Saturday will also visit a theme park with a seemingly short day and no nighttime spectaculars.  Tomorrow will also be significantly more crowded.  If you’re looking to visit Magic Kingdom over two days, then you may want to visit on a Mickey’s Party date and another day where you can enjoy the nighttime spectaculars.  This coming Wednesday would be the least crowded day to take in the Electrical Parade and Wishes as well as enjoy the Magic Kingdom as it gets dark.  If you’re planning just one day at Magic Kingdom, then you’ll need to weigh whether you’re willing to put up with heavier crowds in order to enjoy both nighttime spectaculars.  While the 7pm close may seem a bit truncated, I can assure you that ten hours is a long time to spend in a theme park.  If you arrive by 8:40am, you’ll be able to accomplish an amazing number of attractions in a short period of time if you head straight for Fantasyland or other important attractions, use FASTPASSes throughout the day, and visit the less popular attractions in the afternoon.  Crowds will only diminish from 4pm to 6pm as people leave for dining reservations and other activities.  Around 6pm you will begin to see an influx of people arriving for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but they tend to congregate on Main Street waiting for their Party to begin, rather than heading for the attractions.  Stay through 7pm because wait times will only decrease from their afternoon highs as it gets closer to 7pm.  One thing about staying through 7pm is that at exactly 7pm (and possibly a couple of minutes before), the special characters will begin appearing for the Party.  If you’re not planning to do the Party and have kids, you may want to leave around 6:30pm.  Otherwise, your children may encounter a bunch of characters that they won’t be allowed to visit because you must have a Party bracelet to get in line.  There are no exceptions.  Other than those minor inconveniences, this is going to be one of the two least crowded days of the week at Magic Kingdom.  If short lines are a priority, today and Friday are the best days to visit.

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