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I will be appearing live on the WDW News Today Radio Show tomorrow, July 3rd, around 9pm EST. You can listen along online by visiting  www.1520wbzw.com via web browser or mobile device by clicking the “Listen Live” button at the top of the page. If you find yourself in the Central Florida area, the station is AM 1520 WBZW. The show begins at 8pm and runs through 11pm. In addition to wisdom that will most likely change your life, we will be giving away:

  1. A signed copy of The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit 2014 to three lucky callers.
  2. Lunch hosted by Josh for you and up to three guests at the Magic Kingdom table service restaurant of your choice on a mutually agreeable date (basically any day outside of July 14-August 14 and December 20-January 7) to one lucky caller.
  3. The red carpet treatment of planning to one lucky winner: Tell Josh what you want to do and he’ll help you plan your vacation, create custom Cheat Sheet maps and touring plans, and even meet you in person one day during your trip and walk you through it (if you want).

You may call in during the show (July 3rd between 8pm and 11pm with my appearance beginning somewhere around 9pm) at 407-774-8255. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Good news if you’re looking for “The easy Guide” on Kindle. It’s now available. If you’ve already purchased a print copy, you’re eligible to receive the Kindle version for free. To access it, go to the product page and look for the circled matchbook logo and click. The Kindle version will remain free with new print purchases through the end of the month, so if you’ve been holding out, you can still take advantage of the promotion. Standalone Kindle is available for $9.99. More information on the contents of the book is available here and more information on upcoming Kindle updates is available here.

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

January is one of the better months to visit as far as crowds and cool weather are concerned. The first three days remain busy with Christmas vacations continuing through Saturday. Marathon weekend from the 8th to the 11th raises resort prices and crowds a bit, but it has less impact on overall crowd levels than you might expect with the various races taking up much of the runners time. Guests traveling across property may want to take advantage of Disney transportation on the mornings of the 10th and 11th or visit the theme park closest because the runners do have the right of way on the roads and detours and delays are common. Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend is busy with above average crowds that dissipate by the Tuesday following, opening up to some of the lowest crowds of the year through the first week in February.

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Thanks to your support, “The easy Guide” has been the #1 best seller in Theme Park Travel Guides on Amazon each day since the announcement of the book’s release hit this website last week. As a special bonus, everyone that buys a print copy of “The easy Guide” will receive the Kindle version for free through Amazon’s MatchBook program when it becomes available later this week. This promo is retroactive so anyone that has previously purchased a copy will also be able to order the Kindle version for no additional cost. So if you buy the print copy now to be delivered in the next few days, you can pick up the Kindle when it becomes available. The promo is expected to last through the end of the month, so you can wait until both are available if you’d like to pick up both at once. Kindle will be available on its own with a list price of $9.99.

Kindle is neat for a few reasons – the app is available for most smartphones, computers, and tablets, in addition to being readable through desktop/mobile browsers. It’s also much easier to keep up to date and Dave and I will be updating it continuously as new information is released and changes are made. You don’t need to make a new purchase each time an update is made. Instead, Amazon will notify you when changes are made or you can have your device automatically download and install new versions via Automatic Book Updates.

Dave and I are very excited about how quickly the book has taken off and will be meeting tomorrow at the California Grill to exchange signatures for the giveaway. Please only make one comment per person as entries with the same IP/email will be counted as one entry. Winners will be announced Friday, I will try to collect addresses over the weekend, and begin shipping on Monday.

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The winners of free signed copies are:

ceb104: Free copy or not, this is a good book to keep on my desk at work. :-) I must get over to Dave’s website more often and this is a great reminder. Thanks for the book!!

Michael: I have been to WDW 13 times but still want to purchase your book as soon as it is available on Kindle. I know I will learn something new from you. Thanks so much.

Melissa: I’m so excited! I would love to win a copy of your book.. but I’m probably buying my book anyway! Something for this Disney/Josh obsessed person to read between visits! Great Job!

Alison: Can’t wait to read even more of the gospel of Josh!

Mike: Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Robyn: I think I might need another guidebook. lol

JW: Love the website I assume the book will be just as good.

I will contact each of you over the weekend for a shipping address and will ship as early as Monday assuming I receive your address!

A bit of good news as the website’s guidebook, in coordination with Dave from yourfirstvisit.net, is now available for purchase through Amazon at this link. The Kindle version should be available shortly. We’ll take a moment to see what it looks like. Spoiler: You should probably buy two.

First, I have received a few questions already and will address those now.

Q: Josh, you can barely write a complete sentence and usually don’t punctuate properly why would we  buy a book you wrote.

A. While you’re not wrong, you’ll notice that there is another author attached – Dave from yourfirstvisit.net. And also, a professional publisher in Bob at Theme Park Press. The book is written from scratch and combines our experience-based insight and practical advice into an organized, easy-to-read guidebook that walks you through the entire planning process. And it is a book after all, if we missed a comma somewhere you can just mark it yourself on your Kindle in permanent marker.

Q: Madden is already basically coming out with its 2016 edition. Aren’t we a little behind the times, son?

A. Yes and no. While the book was published the week of June 7th, it’s already been updated with the FastPass+ tier changes announced June 10th. You can also visit easywdw.com/easy-guide for any pertinent updates that alter the facts, in addition to being able to print the newest versions of the Cheat Sheets, maps, and any other graphs or illustrations you see in the book. Any major updates will get their own blog posts and also serve as a reminder that you NEED MORE COPIES. The Kindle version will see timely updates as things change.

Q: Josh, I have already been to Disney World and the biggest word on the cover of this book is “first,” should I be turned off by this particularly unclever marketing scheme that seems to reduce the pool of potential buyers to a microcosm of the population?

A. The easy Guide is a nice primer for return visitors to get reaquainted with Disney World and it serves as an all-encompassing guide for first or second time visitors who may not be familiar with major attractions like Soarin’ and Splash Mountain, let alone what a FastPass+ does or why a Lapu Lapu comes in a pineapple. Those who haven’t been since the FastPass+ rollout will find particularly helpful information on new touring strategies and a walkthrough of everything MyMagic+ offers, in addition to reviews of restaurants you may have never heard of or resorts you may have never visited. Also, the book looks very good on tables, on bookshelves, and in gift baskets.

Q: Is this really a real book or is it just a quick money making scheme like the rest of this website?

Yes.

Let’s get to it.

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Here’s what we’re looking at for July 2014. Click to enlarge and if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post.

July is similar to June in a lot of ways. Every day is going to be hot and crowded wherever you decide to go. But a summer trip is more than doable with early morning/late evening touring and a solid plan of attack. Final operating hours are also longer than most other times of year. Expect 11pm and 12am closes at Magic Kingdom with two Electrical Parades nightly. Hollywood Studios should close at 10pm nightly with two Fantasmic shows. Animal Kingdom should remain open until 8pm. Epcot sees its usual 9am – 9pm day.

This year, daily crowds are expected to be a bit lower than June with fewer visitors from South America and Europe. Still, foreign attendance is expected to remain at record levels. Couple that with heavy domestic attendance and we are talking about some busy afternoons. Off-site crowds tend to dominate the Parks over the summer with fewer guests staying on-site than any other three-month stretch. That may seem counter-intuitive considering the high overall crowd levels, but Deluxe resorts in particular see occupancy rates under 60% in July. Fast forward to October and Deluxe resort occupancy rates soar to above 90%. Still, crowds are lower in October and other months because fewer people visit from off-site. MyMagic+ and FastPass+ should not affect on-site occupancy rates at this time.

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Disney World June 2014 Crowd Calendar Preview

by josh on November 21, 2013

Here’s what we’re looking at for June 2014. Click to enlarge and if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The following is available in a PDF here.

June’s current operating schedule is available here. You can view June 2013′s final schedule to get an idea about what to expect from the final schedule here.

June is a hot and busy month at Walt Disney World. 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. Last year, 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.

Questions remain about the FastPass+ roll out and what that will end up looking like for all guests. Disney continues to provide few answers. Hopefully clarity will come sooner rather than later, but we have several uncertain months ahead.

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December 2013′s Crowd Calendar was updated with the changes posted on Monday. There weren’t any changes to the recommendations and only one day (the 18th) had a bump in crowd levels.

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This is the preliminary crowd calendar for April 2014. Click to enlarge:

If you have no idea what the numbers and letters mean, the top of this post explains it.

Spring break season extends into April, culminating in some of the heaviest crowds of the year over Easter week. The week before is considerably less crowded.  The week after is also less crowded. If you can hold off on your vacation until the last week of April moving into May, you’ll be in much better shape. The first week in March is also considerably less crowded. On the plus side, temperatures and weather are considerably nicer than the summer with similar operating hours and plentiful evening entertainment.

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Below is a rough estimate of what we’re looking at for January 2014.  I don’t have any crowd predictions from Disney for these dates yet and 2014 resort rates are also unavailable.  On the resort rate front, the only thing that might change is January 1st – 4th.  Disney has historically charged Value season pricing, but demand is high enough that they could charge more and still fill the rooms.  Otherwise, most of January should remain Value season with slightly higher pricing during the Marathon and Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.  Crowd levels and recommendations may change slightly before the Calendar is “finalized,” which should be in the next few days.

Click the image to enlarge or view a cleaner looking PDF file here.  If you have no idea what the numbers/letters/symbols mean, read the top of this post.

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