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This is what we’re looking at for November. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

November 2015 is similar to 2014 for the most part, though there are some major differences. The first is the Extra Magic Hours schedule, which departs quite a bit from past years with Magic Kingdom hosting morning Extra Magic Hour on Mondays (historically it’s been Thursdays) and evening Extra Magic Hours on Wednesdays (historically it’s been Saturdays and before that Sundays), and Animal Kingdom moves one of its morning Extra Magic Hours from Sundays to Fridays. That schedule continues after the Food and Wine Festival concludes on the 16th and into the week of Thanksgiving, with its long operating hours and lack of Mickey’s Christmas Parties.

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As you may be aware, I am the co-author of the highest rated Walt Disney World guidebook of all time (on Amazon): The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit. It’s available on Amazon here. If you’re wondering what the book looks like and includes, this post introduces it.

Dave and I ran an update last week, updating a lot of little things that changed and a few major things like updated ticket pricing, special event details, Be Our Guest lunch reservations, restaurant menus and pricing, updated FastPass+ kiosk locations and priority, new advice on Wishes FastPass+, updated color-coded maps, and whatnot. Both the print version and electronic Kindle version are updated. Unfortunately, Amazon’s Kindle update system leaves something to be desired (there’s no mechanism for telling Amazon to push an update through and they’re slow to figure out changes have been made), but those of you that have purchased the Kindle version or received a complimentary copy with your print purchase should receive an automatic update shortly. New Kindle purchases will receive the updated edition automatically and new print purchases will also receive the updated Kindle version for free using the Kindle MatchBook program.

People will occasionally say, “Josh, you helped us so much planning our vacation and your site has no advertisements, what can we do to help support what you do?” The answer is buy a book. You can keep the Kindle version to reference yourself and hand the print copy off to the neighbor that won’t stop bugging you about what to order at Pecos Bill or whether they want the Stitch’s Great Escape FastPass+ or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

And perhaps more importantly, if you just buy one now I won’t have to keep bugging you about it.

I’m not usually a big horn tooter, but the website and book have received some nice press this past week.

The Boston Globe: Planning a trip to Disney? Read this first.

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This is what we’re looking at for October. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

October sees average to slightly above average crowds for the most part. It’s not July, but it’s not September either. And the heat is still present for the first two to three weeks, before things cool off both in terms of crowds and temperatures going into the third and fourth weeks. Visitors with flexibility in their travel dates will want to look toward the last week of the month.

The daily recommendations are a departure from past years due to significant changes in the Extra Magic Hours schedule. On the plus side, it improves things at Epcot on Mondays and Wednesdays, in addition to adding a 4th day at Magic Kingdom most weeks that will be “most recommended” with the 7pm close and lack of attractive forces. On the downside, seeing Wishes and the Electrical Parade is more difficult with evening Extra Magic Hours increasing crowds on Wednesdays and the naturally heavy crowds we see most Mondays and Saturdays. Wednesdays remain the best day to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes (with the exception of the last week when Friday is the best), but the Park will be busier than previous years with Extra Magic Hours attracting more resort guests.

Otherwise, the Food and Wine Festival pushes Epcot crowds up significantly every day, with the heaviest crowds on the weekends. Local Florida schools are out on the 23rd and 26th, which pushes up crowds those days and over the weekend.

Things should be fairly straightforward otherwise.

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This is what we’re looking at for September. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

Labor Day is Monday September 7th this year, which is later than usual, but it shouldn’t have much of an effect on crowd levels early on in the month. If you’re flexible with your dates, waiting until after Labor Day just means more kids in school and lower crowds at the Parks. Things pick up a bit going into the last week and into October with the Food and Wine Festival driving crowds, but overall crowds remain below average for the most part. The first three weeks in October are busier.

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This is what we’re looking at for August. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

The first two weeks are more of the same from July – above average crowds and very hot temperatures along with a high chance of precipitation. The heat and rain continue through the end of the month and into September, but crowds dip beginning the 18th and drop to below average levels from the 25th. Labor Day falls all the way to September 7th in 2015, but that shouldn’t have much of an impact on end-of-month crowds moving into September. The first week in September would see slightly lower crowds than the last week in August and September 9th to 16th should be the least crowded 8-day stretch of the year.

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This is what we’re looking at for July. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

July is straightforward for the most part with the same operating hours/entertainment/Extra Magic Hours schedule most weeks. One of the two exceptions is the first week with Independence Day falling on the first Saturday. The July 4th holiday alters the Extra Magic Hours schedule a bit and adds the Celebrate America fireworks at Magic Kingdom on the 3rd and 4th, in addition to the holiday tag at the end of IllumiNations at Epcot and the fireworks at Hollywood Studios on the 4th. The other exception is the lack of Fantasmic and early close at the Studios on July 15th, which alters the recommendations a bit that week as well.

July otherwise sees high temperatures, a lot of precipitation, and largely heavy crowds. The good news(?) is that as crowds increase during what was traditionally referred to as the “off-season,” peak summer crowds have also come down in turn. We’re still talking about above average crowds, but it’s not as bad as it would have been three or four years ago. Crowds go down a bit the later in July you go as South America is less of a concern.

You’ll also notice the price differences at the resorts throughout the month. During the summer, Value and Moderate prices are actually among the highest of the year, which is why you see the “$$$$ | $” underneath each date. the “$$$$” refers to the relatively high cost at the Values/Moderates and the relatively low price at the Deluxes, which come down even further beginning July 12th. We can assume pricing is structured this way because summer is busiest with families on a budget looking at less expensive accommodations. Prices at the cheaper Values/Moderates go up with demand and prices at the Deluxes come down a bit to be more attractive to families with a little extra spending money.

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The easy Guide to your First Walt Disney World Visit 2015” is now available. Amazon is running a site-wide sale through November 30th that offers 30% off any print book when you input code: HOLIDAY30. More discount info and a direct link to the book is available here.

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This is what we’re looking at for June. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

June is one hot and busy month. Crowds come from a number of sources. Domestically, most schools are out for a lengthy summer vacation and many families choose to visit Disney World for their annual summer vacation. Internationally, South America is expected to make up more than 25% of total attendance in June. European and Canadian attendance is also near its highest levels of the year.

Unfortunately, as crowds increase to levels never before seen, Disney continues to eliminate Extra Magic Hours and shorten regular operating hours. Two years ago, Disney canceled the Friday set of evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom, in addition to shortening every set of evening Extra Magic Hours from three hours to two. The year before that, they eliminated Magic Kingdom’s Tuesday morning Extra Magic Hour. That boils down to the same number of Extra Magic Hours over the busy summer as guests visiting in September or late January would experience. That contributes to even heavier afternoon crowds as more people are squeezed into a smaller window.

A summer trip is still more than doable, but touring efficiently in the morning and/or staying through Park close is all the more important.There is less variability in daily crowd levels during the summer than any other period, thanks to few driving forces and operating hours/evening entertainment that are nearly uniform across the entire three months. When the Parks are open the same number of hours every day and offer the same evening entertainment options every night, casual vacationers aren’t reliably steered to Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios on certain days. Add South America and their variable arrival days and there is not much variance in daily crowd levels. That’s the reality of the situation. Recommended days will still see lower crowds, but the fluctuations are not as great as the fall or winter, particularly during the Mickey’s Party season.

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This is what we’re looking at for May. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

The earlier in the month you visit, the lower the crowds and temperatures will be. Resort prices also rise dramatically over Memorial Day Weekend, but are otherwise right around average.

Star Wars Weekends look to return May 15th based on the schedule of the last few years and the switch in the Extra Magic Hours schedule. Saturday’s usual morning Extra Magic Hour on Saturdays moves to Wednesday as to not attract resort guests over what are already very busy days with the Star Wars festivities. See Star Wars Weekends 2014 Strategy, Characters, Fireworks, Crowds, Merchandise, etc. for advanced tips on what to expect from the event.

Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on May 31st (on the calendar you’ll see the day listed in the top left) for a private event at 7pm.

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Cheat Sheet Update

by josh on September 29, 2014

If you’re looking for color-coded maps, suggested touring plans, FastPass+ priority, information on best viewing locations for nighttime spectaculars, expected wait times based on crowd level, etc. you’ll need to look no further than the website’s Cheat Sheets, which were updated today with recent changes.

At Animal Kingdom, FastPass+ kiosk locations were updated.

At Epcot, Maelstrom is gone.

At Hollywood Studios, the Frozen Sing-Along was added and Backlot Tour and American Idol Experience were removed.

At Magic Kingdom, FastPass+ kiosk locations were changed.

Wait times, FastPass+ priority, and touring plans were adjusted based on the current trends.

As always, the best place for specific question is the forums.

 

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