We begin our coverage of the Inaugural Festival of the Arts with what else but a review of the various food and drink options. Our counter-clockwise circle starts with the Pop Eats! kiosk on the Canada side of World Showcase. If nothing sounds good here, you won’t have to travel far to “Decadent Delights,” which takes over for Promenade Refreshments just ahead. Then it’s “The Masterpiece Kitchen” across from Canada where the Scotland booth was for this year’s Food and Wine Festival. But then it’s a hike to the next kiosk, which is located all the way in the United States Pavilion. So we better fill up.
As with past Festivals, each food and non-alcoholic drink option is good for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan. So if you are visiting between now and February 20th and plan on visiting Epcot on the event days, which are Friday through Monday, then you can do very well trading in your snack credit for a $7.50 venison versus a $3 Dasani water. Eligible items will go all the way up to $9.50 when we arrive at The Artist’s Palate for the Croissant Doughnuts. It’s definitely something to consider.
I’ll be back in Orlando on Thursday and more regular updates will resume at that time, starting with the Arts Festival at Epcot on Friday. Since I only get back to the Seattle area twice a year, I spend the majority of my time here lounging around with the fam rather than sitting on the computer writing nonsense. Here are a few random pictures around Animal Kingdom now that the holiday decorations are down and it’s January:
This is the Free February 2017 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, and Nighttime Spectacular Showtimes.
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 due to special event pricing, 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 and wait times. 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 four major theme parks. 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 two hours from the start time. For example, if you see AK:8am EP:9pm, that means Animal Kingdom has a morning Extra Magic Hour from 8am-9am and Epcot has evening Extra Magic Hours from 9pm-11pm.
- The seventh line lists the Fantasmic and Nighttime SPectacular show times at Hollywood Studios.
- The eighth line lists the start time of the Wishes Fireworks (W:) and Once Upon A Time Castle Projection Show (OUAT:) at Magic Kingdom. For example, if you see, W: 9pm OUAT: 9:45pm, it would mean that Wishes begins at 9pm and Once Upon A Time begins at 9:45pm.
The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.
Above is what we’re looking at for February. The current operating schedule is available here: https://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDW_TAC_2017Feb.pdf. and those times can be confirmed at DisneyWorld.com here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/ by changing the date at the top.
Wednesday February 1
4 Park Crowd Level: 2 out of 10.
Crowds drop off significantly during the week as we enjoy some of the lowest crowds of the year.
Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7:30pm (Highly Recommended)
Expected Average Wait: 13 minutes
Actual Average Wait: TBD
Wednesdays usually see the lowest wait times of the week at Animal Kingdom as Magic Kingdom draws the majority of Disney resort guests. As always, 9am-11am and 5:30pm-7:30pm are your friends.
Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)
Expected Average Wait: 19 minutes
Actual Average Wait: TBD
Tomorrow will be more popular with Disney resort guests and we don’t have any of the complications that come with visiting Epcot on a weekend during the new Arts Festival. This is one of the two easiest days to visit this week with some of the lowest wait times.
Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)
Fantasmic: 7pm, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks: 7:45pm
Expected Average Wait: 30 minutes
Actual Average Wait: TBD
This is another adequate day to visit the Studios with no overt complications to speak of. Tomorrow should see slightly higher attendance and longer wait times to go with it. Still, take advantage of low waits in the first hour of operation as well as after 6:30pm.
Magic Kingdom: 9am – 8pm (Tentatively Recommended)
Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8pm – 10pm
Once Upon A Time Castle Projection Show: ?, Wishes Fireworks: 8pm
Expected Average Wait: 25 minutes
Actual Average Wait: TBD
On-site visitors: The rope drop and early morning experience should be similar to most other days this week with a slight uptick in the afternoon as Disney resort guests arrive to see the nighttime entertainment and potentially stay for evening Extra Magic Hours. With the EMH running from 8pm-10pm, it isn’t late enough to dissuade the majority of people from attending, but wait times should be shorter than most of the day with the lack of FastPass+. If the weather is relatively cool, crowds and waits will also be lower. With the low overall crowd level and better staffing, today will be just fine most of the day.
Off-site visitors: Expect heavier crowds for the nighttime entertainment as Disney resort guests head in late for evening Extra Magic Hours, but the morning will be similar to other days this week and the afternoon will be far from unmanageable. One potential bonus is that fewer people will be heading to the buses/boats/monorails immediately after Wishes and Once Upon A Time(?) since many will be staying for at least a couple of rides during the EMH. It’s not the “best” day to visit, but it’s not going to be bad enough that it’s worth specifically avoiding if you need to visit.
This post covers Disney World wait times from January 1st and briefly discusses some of the changes to the crowd calendars for 2017.
Sunday January 1
Predicted 4-Park Crowd Level: 8.
Predicted 4-Park Average Wait Time: 150 minutes.
Actual 4 Park Crowd Level: 8.
Actual 4-Park Average Wait Time: 147 minutes.
Weather: High of 80 and low of 55. No precipitation. A nice day.
I think we’ll pick back up with the daily reviews of posted Walt Disney World wait times. Since I create the charts to see how things are progressing anyway, it should only take a few minutes to post the charts and offer some commentary on what actually happened. You’re in business if you’re wondering what crowds are looking like leading up to your trip or just wondering what the wait time was for Toy Story Mania at 9:45am on the day prior. As always, you can follow along with wait times in real time at www.easywdw.com/waits.
One of the key features of the new version of the crowd calendar is an estimated overall average wait time for each Park on each day.
Here is part of the entry for January 1st, for example:
For your amusement, we’ll take a brief look at wait times on what is overwhelmingly(?) the busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World. There is really nothing like it.
Things don’t start out too exciting at Animal Kingdom, where the 22-minute average will probably end up being below average for the year. One wonders if Avatar and Rivers of Light will propel wait times higher on holidays from “Summer 2016” onward. Historically, the Park is a slam dunk on July 4th, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and the like because there are no fireworks to speak of. Of course, Avatar isn’t a fireworks show, but it seems likely that the new land will increase attendance. How much on holidays? We’ll see.
Yes, this is why we’re here. 300 minutes at Frozen; 45 at Gran Fiesta Tour with the line spilling outside; a rogue 70-minute wait for Journey into Imagination with Figment; 70 at Living with the Land; 100 minutes for Mickey at Character Spot; two hours for Misson: SPACE; Soarin’ barely hits 200 minutes though the line was backed up outside to Imagination; Spaceship Earth doesn’t hit two hours – “just” 110 minutes; 200 at Test Track; 70 for Nemo.
Heck, even Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival shows were filling to capacity. One wonders what was going on at Circle of Life late night.