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January 2016 Preliminary Crowd Calendar

by josh on June 18, 2015

This is what Disney World is looking like for January 2016. 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 $$$$ resort prices on the line below the date are estimates based on previous years. We should know exact pricing and seasons when 2016 packages become available for booking on the 22nd. Holiday Season should continue for the first two days with peak-level crowds, in addition to a continuation of the holiday shows at Magic Kingdom. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights looks to continue through the 3rd. It seems like a safe bet that the Frozen Castle Lighting at Magic Kingdom will continue for a few days after that.

Things die down considerably on the 3rd and we see crowds that are well below-average for a few days beginning on the 5th, before going back up to average levels for Marathon Weekend from the 8th-10th. Then it’s below-average again until the 15th for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend through the 18th. Then it’s relatively low to average crowds through the first week in February.

A few things are a departure from previous years. The good news is perhaps that Main Street Electrical Parade is scheduled every night. That offers visitors many more opportunities to see the show, but it also works to balance daily crowds out more evenly as people don’t swarm to Magic Kingdom on Parade nights. And because Magic Kingdom isn’t pulling considerably more people on specific days, it also means the other Parks aren’t giving up more people, which in turn causes daily attendance to even out more than past years. Add Fantasmic every night and what should be similar operating hours at most parks on most days, and we don’t enjoy the fluctuations that we saw when the theme park offerings were wildly different from day to day. Add maximum daily FastPass+ distribution at just about any attraction that moves or might feature Anna and Elsa, and what you do only becomes that much more important than what day you do it. The recommended Parks on the lowest crowd level days will reliably see fewer people, lower average and peak waits, and easier overall touring, but I guarantee you somebody is going to return from their trip spanning January 21st to January 28th and complain that they just came back from spending July 4th at Magic Kingdom. It’s something I look forward to every year.

The Extra Magic Hours schedule is also considerably different than previous years. I’m not expecting it to have a dramatic impact on crowd flow throughout the week, but certain days like Epcot on Thursdays and Magic Kingdom on Fridays are affected.

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Comments Should Be Working Again

by josh on May 18, 2015

A couple of days ago something goofy happened with the database, which caused comments on new posts to go up on a completely different, seemingly random post. So if you were to try to comment on the Shutters review, the comment could just as easily show up on the November 2013 crowd calendar or a review for ABC Commissary. That phenomenon should now be fixed and you’re welcome to go back and ask any questions or make any comments you might have.

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This is what we’re looking at for December. 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.

December continues the Extra Magic Hours schedule that began in October, moving Magic Kingdom’s morning Extra Magic Hour from Thursdays to Mondays and its evening Extra Magic Hours from Saturdays to Wednesdays, in addition to Epcot moving its evening Extra Magic Hours from Fridays to Thursdays and Animal Kingdom moving one of its morning Extra Magic Hours from Sundays to Fridays. That schedule continues through the third week of the month, until we see another slight change as Christmas approaches. Unfortunately, Disney omitted additional Extra Magic Hours that we can expect over the two weeks that comprise the busy Christmas/holiday season. To get an idea about what I’m talking about, take a look at last year:

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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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