Disney News

Disney made two new changes to the July operating schedule since Monday. Animal Kingdom will be opening at 8am instead of 9am on July 3rd and 4th. Unfortunately, the Park still closes at 5pm, which doesn’t give it a lot of opportunity to clear out. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_july.pdf. Click refresh to load the newest version.

Friday July 3:

Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am-5pm from 9am-5pm.

Saturday July 4:

Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am-5pm from 9am-5pm.

And one change to October:

Saturday October 3:

Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-11pm from 9am-10pm.

 

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Hit refresh on your browser to load the newest version: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_january.pdf.

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Breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant is now available for booking through October 3rd. I have a review of breakfast and the potential advantage it carries into morning touring in this post: http://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/be-our-guest-8am-breakfast-reservation-review-the-rope-drop-situation-to-seven-dwarfs-and-annaelsa-magic-kingdom-morning-touring-over-spring-break-32715/. Over the last several weeks, Disney has been operating Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before Park open for guests that finish breakfast early, resulting in the opportunity to ride two or three times before anyone from the main entrance arrives. I don’t recommend 8am breakfasts with 8am opens or sitting down to breakfast between 9am-10am because you’re wasting an hour of prime touring time. Try lunch instead.

I attended the first day of this year’s Summer Frozen Fun at Hollywood Studios yesterday and have some preliminary thoughts on fitting in the various shows in this forum post, in addition to some commentary on what to expect from each.

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Disney released the January 2016 operating schedule at the usual link: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_january.pdf. Click refresh on your browser to load the newest version. You’ll notice that there are no Extra Magic Hours listed. I haven’t been able to confirm whether the lack of EMH is an oversight or it’s finally the end. Nothing has been communicated to cast members or travel agents. Long time readers may remember this gem from a couple of years ago now:

At this link. Or like a lot of things at Walt Disney World, this may just be a contract thing and Disney is negotiating with the various unions about hours and pay.

On the plus side, Main Street Electrical Parade is scheduled every day in January. Last year, it wasn’t scheduled on ten dates. January is more crowded than past years as predominantly South American visitors continue to prop up attendance. Long time readers may also remember “January 28 Walt Disney World Wait Times and the Reality of the Lowest Crowds of the Year,” which is my fifth or sixth favorite post of all time though nobody has taken me up on my offer to pay them $100. Much of January continues to be the second least crowded time of year at Walt Disney World, though September remains considerably less crowded overall.

The Christmas festivities at Magic Kingdom continue through the third and Christmas-level crowds should continue until then, before dropping off considerably on the 4th. Christmas level crowds have continued further into January over the last couple of years with the way school schedules have worked out, but everything is pointing to considerably lower crowds beginning on the 4th. Attendance is a little higher heading into Marathon Weekend from the 8th to 11th. And we see spring-break-level crowds over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend from the 15th to the 18th. But any time from then through the first week in February will be among the least crowded times of year to visit. And with arguably more pleasant weather, is my favorite time to visit.

We’ll see if Disney elects to continue the Extra Magic Hours campaign. If not, focusing on what you do instead of which day you do it will only become that much more important.

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Disney made some relatively minor changes to the month of September. A more substantial update should arrive in the middle of August. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_september.pdf. Click “refresh” to load the newest version.

Tuesday September 1:

  • No changes.

Wednesday September 2:

  • No changes.

Thursday September 3:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-11pm from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

Friday September 4:

  • No changes.

Saturday September 5:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-12am from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

Sunday September 6:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am-12am from 9am-10pm. Second Main Street Electrical Parade added at 11pm, in addition to 9pm Parade.

Monday September 7:

  • Second Fantasmic added at Hollywood Studios at 10pm, in addition to 8:30pm show.

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Disney made more changes to the June operating schedule, including eleven new 8am openings at Magic Kingdom and a few extensions at Animal Kingdom. The full operating schedule is available here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_june.pdf. Click “refresh” to load the newest version.

The 8am openings are mostly good news as the extra hour basically provides an additional hour of low wait times in the morning. The downsides are that it’s awfully early for most people and the 8am opens also negate most benefits from 8am breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Be Our Guest Restaurant. If you do have an 8am reservation with a new 8am opening, my advice is to cancel it. Otherwise you’re eating a very expensive breakfast while wait times increase everywhere around you.

Monday June 1:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am-12am from 9am-12am.

Tuesday June 2:

  • No changes.

Wednesday June 3:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-7pm from 9am-6pm.

Thursday June 4:

  • No changes.

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Disney made a few more changes to the May operating schedule as indicated below.

Friday May 22:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-7pm.
  • Epcot hours extended to 9am-11pm from 9am-9pm. Evening Extra Magic Hours moved to 11pm to 1am.

Thursday May 28:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-10pm from 9am-8:30pm. Second Fantasmic added at 10:30pm, in addition to 9pm show.

Saturday May 30:

  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am-1am from 9am-12am. Evening Extra Magic Hours moved to 1am-3am.

Sunday May 31:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 9am-8pm from 9am-7pm.

 

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Disney released the December operating schedule at the usual link: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_december.pdf. Click “refresh” on your browser to load the newest version.

December opens with below average to average overall crowds for the most part. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties at Magic Kingdom, and the 7pm closes that accompany them, are the main drivers of crowds. Party days are reliably less crowded at Magic Kingdom with most casual vacationers flocking to the days with longer hours and nighttime entertainment. In turn, the other Parks are less crowded when Magic Kingdom is attracting the majority of visitors.

Hollywood Studios looks to close at 6pm on the first two Wednesdays of the month. That means relatively low crowds, particularly with Magic Kingdom offering evening Extra Magic Hours. Of course, the early close also means no Osborne Lights or Fantasmic.

The new Extra Magic Hours schedule that began in October continues throughout December. At least at the moment, it’s surprising to see no additional Extra Magic Hours over the dates that comprise the heavily crowded Holiday season. Historically, Disney has offered morning Extra Magic Hour every day from December 20th or so through the end of the year, in addition to Extra Magic Hours at a third park daily. This year, there are currently the same number of Extra Magic Hours over the first week as Christmas week, which is either bound to change or going to present some problems as capacity crowds try to cram into fewer hours of operation.

Speaking of Christmas, Disney will begin offering Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade and Holiday Wishes during regular hours beginning Saturday the 19th. That also moves the Electrical Parade to 10:15pm with the expectation that Disney will add a second Electrical Parade at 12:15am. Expect a second Christmas Parade added daily at 12pm as well.

To get an idea about what the final operating schedule will look like, take a peek at last year’s final schedule here: http://www.easywdw.com/reports13/dec14.pdf. Note all the 8am opens at Magic Kingdom, which make those early morning breakfast reservations a lot less desirable. You can of course still book something, but be prepared to either cancel it or enjoy breakfast while wait times rise all around you.

The preliminary crowd calendar should follow either tonight or tomorrow. I don’t have estimated attendance numbers yet, but should shortly.

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Just a heads up on a few changes to the operating schedule. Those visiting in November may remember recall that the Extra Magic Hours for Epcot over the first week were omitted from the original Park hours release. It turns out that Epcot will be running evening Extra Magic Hours on Tuesday 3rd and morning Extra Magic Hour on Thursday November 5th. This doesn’t affect the recommendations, but if you were planning to visit for morning Extra Magic Hour or evening Extra Magic Hours then you may find yourself changing plans slightly.

Disney also extended closes at Animal Kingdom on four dates in May:

Thursday May 14: Park close changed from 5pm to 6pm.

Saturday May 16: Park close changed from 7pm to 8pm.

Tuesday May 19: Park close changed from 6pm to 7pm.

Saturday May 23: Park close changed from 7pm to 8pm.

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Just a heads up that Disney changed the close at Hollywood Studios on Saturday October 24th from 7pm to 6pm and canceled the Fantasmic. Previously, the Studios was not recommended. It may change to “tentatively recommended” so long as you’re able to arrive by 7:25am to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hour. Daytime crowds should be relatively minimal with few people park hopping over in the afternoon and evening with no evening entertainment to keep them around and a very early close. Still, most people will want to stick with a day that was previously recommended higher.

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