December 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

11/24/15 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

10/17/15 Update: Crowd Calendar updated with the changes listed here.

5/18/15 Update: Daily analysis added for the beginning of the month. The Extra Magic Hours schedule and expected crowd levels at the individual theme parks are still not known. Will update when the information is available. See this post for more information on what to expect from the final operating schedule, including expected daily 8am openings at Magic Kingdom.

This is the Free December 2015 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, Fantasmic Show Times, Holidays, and Special Events.

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 than usual, 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. 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 the 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 show times at the Hollywood Studios.
  • The eighth line lists the start time of Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP:) and Wishes Fireworks at Magic Kingdom(W:). For example, if you see, MSEP: 9pm & 11pm W: 10pm, it would mean that Main Street Electrical Parade begins at 9pm and 11pm and Wishes begins at 10pm.

The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Tuesday December 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Highly Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9:30pm-11:30pm

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended. We don’t have special events, Extra Magic Hours, or anything specific drawing people toward it. Wednesday’s and Friday’s morning Extra Magic Hours will be more popular with Disney resort guests. It’s early enough in the week that many people on weeklong vacations will be saving Animal Kingdom for later in the week. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. You’ll have no trouble riding both with very low waits before 10am. Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get busy during the afternoon shows, so try to see the first or last show of the day. You’ll also want to get to DinoLand USA before 10:30am to ride Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR because those two attractions are popular. Still, they aren’t necessarily your top morning priorities. You should have no trouble experiencing most everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FastPass+ intelligently, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows. Finally, crowds disperse in the early afternoon around 4pm. Plan to stay through close because waits will only get shorter as it gets later in the evening. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to find much shorter waits than the afternoon.

We’ll want to avoid Epcot. Its evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests, which will lengthen waits times at the attractions for the entire afternoon and evening. Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours. This is due to the fact that many Disney resort guests head to whichever Park has Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of them. Without Park Hopper, Disney resort guests must stay in the Park with Extra Magic Hours for the entire day. The increased crowds lead to longer lines, heavier congestion in common areas, and an overall less pleasant touring experience. I would urge you to visit a different Park. If you want to head to Epcot today, despite my strong objections, your best chance to ride the headlining rides is from 9am-11am. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around lunch in anticipation of staying until 10-11pm. The morning will be a decent time to tour Epcot, but you’ll probably want to Park Hop elsewhere after lunch or you’ll be stuck in significantly larger-than-usual crowds. You might also consider an afternoon break from 2pm-6pm when crowds will be at their largest. You could then return in the early evening for dinner and Extra Magic Hours. Alternatively, you could also Park Hop over in the evening for Extra Magic Hours, provided you’re aware of how busy it will be. With Extra Magic Hours only being two hours now, wait times at Soarin’ and Test Track won’t ease much until after 10:30pm. However, other attractions will see nominal waits and it’s a great time to take in Epcot’s natural ambiance and hit a few of the less popular/high capacity attractions. Skip Illuminations if you’ll be here on another night because it will be more crowded than usual. Overall, there’s no reason to visit Epcot today because crowds will be higher than any other day during the week and waits at Soarin’ and Test Track will be just as long as they were during the day until at least 10:30pm.

Hollywood Studios is not expressly recommended. The short hours at Magic Kingdom will be a big turn off for many and off-site visitors in particular will be looking toward Fantasmic and Toy Story Mania after spending yesterday at Magic Kingdom. With Magic Kingdom proving much more popular tomorrow, we can in turn expect Hollywood Studios to see lower attendance. With nothing specific attracting people, you can do well with an 8:15am arrival and an efficient touring plan. A late arrival that also includes the Osborne Lights may also make sense.

Magic Kingdom is the best Park to visit, despite the truncated operating schedule and lack of both Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is scheduled tonight. It’s a separately ticketed event that begins at 7pm and runs through 12am. Because the hours are “so short” and there’s no evening entertainment during the regular day, most Disney vacationers will plan to visit on another day. Yesterday will have been busy and tomorrow will also be busier, thanks to longer hours and evening entertainment. Today is an excellent opportunity to visit the Fantasyland and headlining attractions with minimal waits as well as visit the popular characters and whatever else you’d like to experience. Because waits are shorter and the crowd level is so much lower, you’ll actually be able to accomplish more during the day today than either yesterday or tomorrow, despite the Park being open fewer hours. For maximum efficiency, arrive by 8:30am and use FastPass+ in the early afternoon when crowds and waits peak. Consider a second day at the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes or ideally Park Hop over in the evening on a night that it’s available. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at night, but that isn’t saying a whole lot when your other options are a busy Monday and Saturday. Finally, Mickey’s Christmas Party does feature the special Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular at 9:30pm above Cinderella Castle. This show is viewable from a variety of locations around Disney property. My favorite is the Polynesian Resort’s beach, which is directly across from the Magic Kingdom. The 4th floor observatory at the Contemporary Resort is another excellent location. The boat launch and marina at the Grand Floridian also offer pretty good views, though less direct angles. The boat dock at the Transportation and Ticket Center also offers an underrated view and it makes for the easiest exit if you’re driving because you’re already at the parking lot. The soundtrack is easiest to hear at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, and Polynesian in that order. You might consider taking the monorail or boat to one of the Monorail Deluxe resorts for dinner after the Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm and then get into position to enjoy the fireworks around 9:20pm at one of the previously mentioned locations. You can then transfer back to the Magic Kingdom and take a resort bus back to your resort or hop in your car and head wherever you like. Each of the Deluxe resorts have pretty good quick service locations too, so you can also eat on the cheap if you prefer and look around the resort(s) for a while until Holiday Wishes begins. In a perfect world, I would hit Kona Café for dinner and enjoy Holiday Wishes from the Polynesian’s beach.

Wednesday December 2

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Highly Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 11pm – 1am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

It’s the first or second busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom. The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract a lot of Disney resort guests that spent Monday at Magic Kingdom and Tuesday at Epcot. Magic Kingdom will prove more popular with the long hours, nighttime entertainment, and more popular evening Extra Magic Hours. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive by 7:30am, you can do well from 8am – 10am. But most people will want to take advantage of one of the best days of the week for Epcot.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. We’re in between yesterday’s evening Extra Magic Hours and tomorrow’s morning Extra Magic Hour, both of which will be more popular with resort guests. Today, Magic Kingdom will prove overwhelmingly popular with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars, and Wishes. Take full advantage by arriving by 8:15am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and consider using FP+ at Soarin’. Head up through World Showcase as close to 11am as possible to beat the crowds to as many Pavilions as possible. While traditional lines are not much of a concern at the attractions, lower crowds mean an easier touring experience in all other facets. Return to Future World after 5pm to find lower crowds there than the afternoon, keeping in mind that only Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Character Spot, Turtle Talk, and The Seas usually continue operating after 7pm. Hit the other Future World attractions from 5pm – 7pm and then return to Soarin’ and Test Track after 8pm to find shorter waits, use FastPass+, or take advantage of single rider at Test Track. It’s also an excellent night to stay for IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended. Animal Kingdom will be popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Magic Kingdom will be overwhelmingly popular with the longer hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars, and evening Extra Magic Hours. As always, what you do is more important than which day you do it. In order to find the shortest waits, you’ll need to arrive by 8:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania. Because of its popularity and extremely limited capacity, Toy Story Mania almost always has afternoon waits of 60 or more minutes, even when crowds are relatively low and the Studios is recommended. There’s no way around that with its limited capacity and the even more limited number of things to do with kids. It’s always your top priority. The second attraction with the longest peak wait is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which should be ridden immediately after Toy Story Mania in the morning or with FastPass+. Other priorities are Tower of Terror and Star Tours, though FastPass+ are more plentiful at both attractions and standby waits are usually lower. After you get through these four headliners, it’s just a matter of arriving in time to see the various stage shows that run on a set schedule and getting over to the Studios’ high capacity attractions. You may also have characters to visit before lines get longer. See the later Fantasmic if you can because it will be much less crowded than the first. While it’s officially a recommended day, arriving prior to Park opening and hitting the headliners first thing is more important than which day you pick. Arrive at 11am, no matter the recommendation or the overall crowd level, and you’ll be looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours, and the addition of evening Extra Magic Hours, which will attract even more Disney resort guests. Unfortunately, today also marks the best day this week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes. Luckily, Disney added a second Electrical Parade at 11pm, which will make it easier for people who can stay out that late to see the fireworks and the later and less crowded Parade, ideally after park hopping from a Park that’s recommended higher. Guests that don’t care about the nighttime entertainment are much better off visiting on a recommended Mickey’s Party date. If you do visit today, your best plan of attack is arriving before 8:30am with plans to head to the priority attractions on your itinerary first thing. Take an afternoon break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for the evening. This is the hottest and busiest part of the day and you’re better off relaxing at your resort than you are waiting 45 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Head back in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, and the nighttime entertainment. The best place to see the Electrical Parade is in Liberty Square or Frontierland because they’re less popular than Main Street. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

Thursday December 3

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is recommended again as we come off a more popular morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday. We also have another one tomorrow, which will also guide attendance higher. Today, Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Epcot for its popular evening Extra Magic Hours. As always, arriving early and taking care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest is most important. Crowds also drop off in the afternoon with no nighttime entertainment to keep guests around and underrated dining. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to enjoy much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is not recommended. Disney is extremely good at selling the Extra Magic Hours program in its marketing materials. Even people that have no idea what “Soaring” is and think they’ll be riding the monorail from Animal Kingdom to Epcot know about Extra Magic Hours. Remember that well over 25,000 rooms resort-wide have access to Extra Magic Hours on any given day. And guess where a lot of those 75,000+ people are going to be headed? With Magic Kingdom proving unpopular with the 7pm close and no evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled anywhere, most people will want to visit another Park.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though yesterday would have been better with Magic Kingdom proving so popular. With fewer people headed to Magic Kingdom today with the early close, the Studios will predictably see higher attendance. Fortunately, Disney resort guests will have their eyes on Epcot with the morning Extra Magic Hour. With nothing specific attracting people to the Studios and a similar schedule to most other days this week, you can do well today with an 8:15am arrival and an intelligent touring plan.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours causing most casual vacationers to head elsewhere. We’re also coming off a significantly busier day yesterday with Wishes and evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled and Epcot will prove more popular today with resort guests. Tomorrow is also a great day to visit in case you have other plans today.

Friday December 4

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is not recommended today, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests. It’s also late enough in the week that many Disney vacationers will already have had an opportunity to visit the other Parks and they’ll naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week. With no special evening entertainment scheduled and no evening Extra Magic Hours to speak of, a lot of people will have Animal Kingdom on their minds. With so many recommended days during the week, there’s really no reason to visit today. You can still make today work if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it. But you’ll probably want to be on your way by 1pm when crowds are heavier.

Epcot is highly recommended as we come off a busier day yesterday with evening Extra Magic Hours attracting a ton of Disney resort guests. Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer. If you arrive later, plan to use FastPass+ at Soarin or Test Track because they will have 60+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to popularity and relatively low capacities. Getting in line right before Park close will also result in a short wait if you can’t ride any other time. Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World. Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FastPass+. It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though most people will want to take advantage of some of the lowest crowds of the week at Magic Kingdom. Fortunately, Animal Kingdom will be pulling more Disney resort guests. As always, it’s much more important to arrive by 8:15am and take care of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first thing than it is to simply “pick the right day” and show up at 11am. Even with the average overall crowd level and recommendation, Toy Story Mania will see 60+ minute waits in the afternoon and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster won’t be far behind. There’s no way around that with their limited capacities and the few number of rides in the Park. Arrive early and tour efficiently and you can do very well. See the second Fantasmic if you can because it will be much less crowded than the first.

Magic Kingdom is our best choice as far as crowds are concerned. This may seem like an odd statement, considering that the operating hours are just 9am to 7pm, but that’s precisely why crowds will be so low. The great majority of Disney vacationers would prefer to visit the Parks when the hours are longer because it seems like more time in the Parks equates to higher value for your money. That seems logical considering the cost to enter the Parks is the same, regardless if Magic Kingdom is open from 8am to 1am or 9am to 7pm. However, crowds are so much lower on Mickey’s Christmas Party days that you’ll actually be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Most off-site vacationers will hold off until tomorrow for the longer hours, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes. All of this leaves us with ample opportunity to get on the headlining and Fantasyland rides with minimal waits. As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight for Space/Big Thunder/Splash Mountains or Fantasyland. Use FastPass+ in the afternoon when wait times peak and you should be able to do just about every major ride and many of the secondary attractions as well. If you would also like to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes, consider spending a second day at the Magic Kingdom when those nighttime spectaculars are scheduled. Wednesday would be ideal because it will be less crowded than a Monday or Saturday. Ideally, you would Park Hop over to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon or evening on Wednesday, after spending the majority of your day at a Park with lower crowds. Either way, focus on getting the most popular attractions out of the way today and return to the Magic Kingdom for the nighttime spectaculars on another date. With only one day to spend at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to decide whether seeing Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade are worth spending the day in heavier crowds.

Saturday December 5

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 6:30pm (Most Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8:30pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 12am (Not Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special events, evening entertainment, or anything else to attract on-site or off-site visitors. Those leaving tomorrow after a traditional weeklong vacation are unlikely to visit Animal Kingdom on their last full day and most arriving today won’t head out to Animal Kingdom as their first destination. We’re also coming off a morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday that will be much more popular with resort guests. Hollywood Studios will be attracting the bulk of the resort crowd and Magic Kingdom will be incredibly popular with the long operating hours and both nighttime spectaculars. As always, you’ll be best off if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. With the 8am open, you’ll enjoy short waits at most attractions through at least 9:30am. Wait times will only get shorter after 4pm, so stay through close if you have more you’d like to accomplish. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to enjoy much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is recommended. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will be attracting the majority of off-site and on-site visitors with long hours and plentiful evening entertainment. Take full advantage by arriving by 8:15am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FP+ for Soarin’. Head up to World Showcase beginning as close to 11am as possible to stay ahead of the crowds for as long as possible. Return to Future World after 5pm to find lower crowds there than the afternoon, keeping in mind that only Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Character Spot, Turtle Talk, and The Seas continue operating after 7pm. Hit the other Future World attractions from 5pm – 7pm and then return to Soarin’ and Test Track after 8pm to find shorter waits, use FastPass+, or take advantage of single rider at Test Track. It’s also an excellent night to stay for IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended. The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 75,000+ people. Because Disney sells the Extra Magic Hour program so well in its marketing materials, many of these Disney resort guests follow the Extra Magic Hours schedule because they think it’s Disney telling them where they belong each day. While you can have success if you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:15am, most people will want to visit another day. Avoid it unless you can’t visit any other day or are certain you’ll arrive by 7:15am and plan to hit Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning. Yesterday or Monday would be better.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom. We have longer hours of operation, visiting locals, and a lot of vacationers who will be visiting the Magic Kingdom for a second time before returning home tomorrow. On top of that, Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on a limited number of nights this week. Because the Parade is so popular, a lot of people will visit on a day that they can see it, like today. Yesterday will be much less crowded with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime entertainment and any other Mickey’s Party date would be significantly less crowded, but you can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior to 7:30am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions. You may elect to prioritize another low capacity attraction or character instead. The afternoon will be busier than any other day this week and you’ll either want to take a break and return for the Electrical Parade and Wishes or visit the less popular attractions from 2pm – 6pm. The late night is also a good time to tour with short waits at most attractions after 9pm. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

Sunday December 6

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 6:30pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8:30pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 8:30pm – 10:30pm

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is recommended. Disney resort guests are more likely to visit Wednesday for morning Extra Magic Hour and it’s unlikely anyone arriving over the weekend will begin their vacation with Disney’s least popular theme park. You should be able to do just about everything the Park has to offer if you arrive prior to Park opening and with the 8am, you can accomplish a ton in the first two hours. Focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible and/or use FastPass+. After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA or one of the more popular shows – either Finding Nemo the Musical or Festival of the Lion King and you’ll be set for the rest of the day. Keep in mind that crowds disperse in the afternoon around 4pm and the last hour of operation will only have diminishing waits. End the day in Asia with Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest and waits will be nearly nonexistent.

Epcot is recommended, though tomorrow would be better. Magic Kingdom will be pulling relatively few people with the early close and while Animal Kingdom will attract some of the heaviest crowds of the week there, we don’t have evening Extra Magic Hours or anything else attracting anyone elsewhere. You will still have the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FP+ at Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two day touring plan. With the crowd level well above average, Epcot won’t be empty, despite the high recommendation and you’ll still want to arrive early and tour efficiently. If Future World seems to be getting crowded by 11am, move up through the World Showcase as soon as it opens. If you have more to accomplish in Future World, return after 5pm to visit any non-headlining attractions. Most people will have moved up through World Showcase by this time, decreasing crowds and waits. If you’d like to ride Soarin or Test Track again in the afternoon or evening, plan to rely on FastPass+. Check your Times Guide to see which Future World attractions remain open past 7pm – it’s usually only Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Test Track, Soarin’, Character Spot, The Seas with Nemo, and Turtle Talk with Crush.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests. It’s also more likely Disney will extend the close and add a second Fantasmic, which will make the Park more popular with off-site visitors. The morning will be an okay time to tour, but crowds will increase by 10am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive. Unfortunately, I’m not too fond of evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios. There are only a few attractions open and the waits for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours will likely be just as long as they were during the day, at least until 9pm when people begin to give up. In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 9pm, right as evening Extra Magic Hours gets underway. The Fantasmic Theater is located right on Sunset Boulevard, across from the entrances to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. While not everyone seeing Fantasmic will be a Disney resort guest, many of them will be, and a ton will be headed to Tower of Tower and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because they truly believe it’s the best time to get in line. Unfortunately, they’ll find themselves lined up with a few thousand of their new best friends. If you’re staying for evening Extra Magic Hours, your best bet is always to save these headlining attractions for the very end of the night and visit Toy Story Mania last. While you could theoretically have success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for the headliners, the same will be true later in the week and you won’t have to deal with the significantly heavier afternoon and evening crowds. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday would be better if you can swing any of those dates.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park. The short hours and lack of evening entertainment will cause a lot of casual vacationers to head elsewhere. We’re in between yesterday’s very popular longer hours of operation/both nighttime spectaculars and have a similar schedule tomorrow. On top of that, Sunday is a major travel day for those on a standard weeklong Disney vacation. With the early close, virtually none of them will start out with an abbreviated day at Magic Kingdom. Few people that arrived on Saturday will also visit a theme park with a seemingly short day and no nighttime spectaculars on their first full day. Tomorrow will be significantly more crowded. If you’re looking to visit Magic Kingdom over two days, then you may want to visit on a Mickey’s Party date and another day where you can enjoy the nighttime spectaculars. If you’re planning just one day at Magic Kingdom, then you’ll need to weigh whether you’re willing to put up with heavier crowds in order to enjoy both nighttime spectaculars. While the 7pm close may seem like a truncated day, I can assure you that ten hours is a long time to spend in a theme park. If you arrive by 8:30am, you’ll be able to accomplish an amazing number of attractions in a short period of time if you head straight for Fantasyland or other important attractions, use FastPass+ in the afternoon when crowds peak, and visit the less popular attractions in the afternoon. Crowds will only diminish from 4pm to 6pm as people leave for dining reservations and other activities. Around 6pm you will begin to see an influx of people arriving for the Christmas Party, but they tend to congregate on Main Street waiting for their Party to begin, rather than heading for the attractions. Stay through 7pm because wait times will only decrease from their afternoon highs as it gets closer to 7pm. One thing about staying through 7pm is that at exactly 7pm (and possibly a couple of minutes before), the special characters will begin appearing for the Party. If you’re not planning to do the Party and have kids, you may want to leave around 6:30pm. Otherwise, your children may encounter a bunch of characters that they won’t be allowed to visit because you must have a Party ticket to get in line. There are no exceptions. Other than those minor inconveniences, this is going to be one of the three least crowded days of the week at Magic Kingdom. Wednesday is the best day to see the nighttime spectaculars, but the set of evening Extra Magic Hours does complicate things.

Monday December 7

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am-9am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended. Magic Kingdom will prove overwhelmingly popular with so much going on over there and few people that arrived over the weekend will start their trips with Disney’s least popular theme park. Tomorrow also makes sense if you have other plans for today.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special evening entertainment, or anything else that will draw people toward Epcot specifically. Disney resort guests will be more likely to visit tomorrow or Thursday for Extra Magic Hours and off-site visitors on a weeklong vacation will be headed to the Magic Kingdom for their first full day at the world’s most popular theme park. Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Magic Kingdom for the Extra Magic Hours, later close, and nighttime entertainment. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow one of the two-day compartmentalized touring plans. Move up to World Showcase as close to 11am as possible to stay ahead of the incoming crowds for as long as possible. Plan to return to Future World after 5pm when crowds begin to shift into World Showcase for dinner and IllumiNations. Just keep in mind that a lot of the Future World attractions close at 7pm. Usually, just Soarin, Test Track, Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Character Spot continue to operate after 7pm. If Character Spot is on your itinerary, try to visit after 7pm when waits times are much lower than the afternoon. Overall, it’s a great day for Epcot and an excellent opportunity to spend time in both Future World and World Showcase.

Hollywood Studios is recommended as we come off a busier day with Extra Magic Hours. It’s also early enough in the week that most guests just arriving will be intent on visiting Magic Kingdom with its nighttime entertainment and long hours of operation. Wednesday will actually be less crowded with the lack of Fantasmic and early close. Those that don’t care about seeing Fantasmic are best served waiting until then. As always, it’s imperative that you arrive by 8:15am and take care of Toy Story Mania first thing. The Studios has a severely limited number of rides and wait times rise quickly even on the most recommended days with the lowest crowds.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today. Mondays are usually the second busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom, second to only Saturdays, for a variety of reasons. First, a lot of people travel over the weekend and visit Magic Kingdom on their first full day. In most instances, that day is Monday. Second, Mondays often feature longer hours, Wishes Fireworks, and Main Street Electrical Parade, when other days during the week have shorter operating hours and don’t offer the Electrical Parade. Anyone who wants to see the evening entertainment will have to visit on a day when it’s offered, like most Saturdays and Mondays. Here in the heart of Mickey’s Party season, that means Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on four days this week. Every day with a later close and nighttime entertainment will be overwhelmingly more popular. Finally, Disney added a morning Extra Magic Hour, which will only drive more Disney resort guests to the Park because they truly believe the Extra Magic Hours schedule is Disney’s way of telling them where they belong each day. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible, you can do well in the morning if you arrive prior to 7:30am and tour efficiently in the morning. But it’s going to be busier than any day other than Saturday from 11am-9pm. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes and any Mickey’s Party date would see significantly lower crowds.

Tuesday December 8

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Highly Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended. We don’t have special events, Extra Magic Hours, or anything specific drawing people toward it. Wednesday’s and Friday’s morning Extra Magic Hours will be more popular with Disney resort guests. It’s early enough in the week that many people on weeklong vacations will be saving Animal Kingdom for later in the week. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. You’ll have no trouble riding both with very low waits before 10am. Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get busy during the afternoon shows, so try to see the first or last show of the day. You’ll also want to get to DinoLand USA before 10:30am to ride Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR because those two attractions are popular. Still, they aren’t necessarily your top morning priorities. You should have no trouble experiencing most everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FastPass+ intelligently, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows. Finally, crowds disperse in the early afternoon around 4pm. Plan to stay through close because waits will only get shorter as it gets later in the evening. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to find much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is not recommended. Disney is extremely good at selling the Extra Magic Hours program in its marketing materials. Even people that have no idea what “Soaring” is and think they’ll be riding the monorail from Animal Kingdom to Epcot know about Extra Magic Hours. Remember that well over 25,000 rooms resort-wide have access to Extra Magic Hours on any given day. And guess where a lot of those 75,000+ people are going to be headed? With Magic Kingdom proving unpopular with the 7pm close and no evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled anywhere, most people will want to visit another Park.

Hollywood Studios is not expressly recommended. The short hours at Magic Kingdom will be a big turn off for many and off-site visitors in particular will be looking toward Fantasmic and Toy Story Mania after spending yesterday at Magic Kingdom. Tomorrow will also be significantly less popular with the early close and lack of Fantasmic and the Osborne Lights in the evening. With nothing specific attracting people, you can do well with an 8:15am arrival and an efficient touring plan. A late arrival that also includes the Osborne Lights may also make sense.

Magic Kingdom is the best Park to visit, despite the truncated operating schedule and lack of both Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is scheduled tonight. It’s a separately ticketed event that begins at 7pm and runs through 12am. Because the hours are “so short” and there’s no evening entertainment during the regular day, most Disney vacationers will plan to visit on another day. Yesterday will have been busy and tomorrow will also be busier, thanks to longer hours and evening entertainment. Today is an excellent opportunity to visit the Fantasyland and headlining attractions with minimal waits as well as visit the popular characters and whatever else you’d like to experience. Because waits are shorter and the crowd level is so much lower, you’ll actually be able to accomplish more during the day today than either yesterday or tomorrow, despite the Park being open fewer hours. For maximum efficiency, arrive by 8:30am and use FastPass+ in the early afternoon when crowds and waits peak. Consider a second day at the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes or ideally Park Hop over in the evening on a night that it’s available. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at night, but that isn’t saying a whole lot when your other options are a busy Monday and Saturday. Finally, Mickey’s Christmas Party does feature the special Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular at 9:30pm above Cinderella Castle. This show is viewable from a variety of locations around Disney property. My favorite is the Polynesian Resort’s beach, which is directly across from the Magic Kingdom. The 4th floor observatory at the Contemporary Resort is another excellent location. The boat launch and marina at the Grand Floridian also offer pretty good views, though less direct angles. The boat dock at the Transportation and Ticket Center also offers an underrated view and it makes for the easiest exit if you’re driving because you’re already at the parking lot. The soundtrack is easiest to hear at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, and Polynesian in that order. You might consider taking the monorail or boat to one of the Monorail Deluxe resorts for dinner after the Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm and then get into position to enjoy the fireworks around 9:20pm at one of the previously mentioned locations. You can then transfer back to the Magic Kingdom and take a resort bus back to your resort or hop in your car and head wherever you like. Each of the Deluxe resorts have pretty good quick service locations too, so you can also eat on the cheap if you prefer and look around the resort(s) for a while until Holiday Wishes begins. In a perfect world, I would hit Kona Café for dinner and enjoy Holiday Wishes from the Polynesian’s beach.

Wednesday December 9

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 6pm (Most Recommended)

No Osborne Lights

Fantasmic: None

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 11pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 11pm – 1am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

It’s the first or second busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom. The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract a lot of Disney resort guests that spent Monday at Magic Kingdom and Tuesday at Epcot. Hollywood Studios will also be pulling fewer people with the early close and lack of Fantasmic and the Osborne Lights. Magic Kingdom will prove more popular with the long hours, nighttime entertainment, and more popular evening Extra Magic Hours. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive by 7:30am, you can do well from 8am – 10am. But most people will want to take advantage of one of the best days of the week for Epcot or Hollywood Studios, both of which are more difficult to schedule.

Epcot is highly recommended. We’re in between yesterday’s morning Extra Magic Hour and tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours, both of which will be more popular with resort guests. Today, Magic Kingdom will prove overwhelmingly popular with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars, and Wishes. Take full advantage by arriving by 8:15am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and consider using FP+ at Soarin’. Head up through World Showcase as close to 11am as possible to beat the crowds to as many Pavilions as possible. While traditional lines are not much of a concern at the attractions, lower crowds mean an easier touring experience in all other facets. Return to Future World after 5pm to find lower crowds there than the afternoon, keeping in mind that only Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Character Spot, Turtle Talk, and The Seas usually continue operating after 7pm. Hit the other Future World attractions from 5pm – 7pm and then return to Soarin’ and Test Track after 8pm to find shorter waits, use FastPass+, or take advantage of single rider at Test Track. It’s also an excellent night to stay for IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park. It will be less crowded than other days this week with the earlier close and lack of Fantasmic and Osborne Lights turning most casual vacationers off. To have the most success, arrive by 8:20am and head directly to Toy Story Mania and then Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Do this, and you’ll be in great shape for the rest of the day. After getting through the headliners, focus on the Studios’ stage shows and high capacity attractions like Muppet Vision and Star Tours. Popular characters like Woody/Buzz and Sofia the First may also be a morning priority. Without nighttime entertainment, few people will be Park Hopping over. Stay through close, visiting Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania in that order in the last 60 to 90 minutes of operation to reduce waits as much as possible.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours, and the addition of evening Extra Magic Hours, which will attract even more Disney resort guests. Unfortunately, today also marks the best day this week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes. The addition of a second Electrical Parade at 11pm makes it easier for people who can stay out that late to see the fireworks and the later and less crowded Parade, ideally after park hopping from a Park that’s recommended higher. Guests that don’t care about the nighttime entertainment are much better off visiting on a recommended Mickey’s Party date. If you do visit today, your best plan of attack is arriving before 7:30am with plans to head to the priority attractions on your itinerary first thing. Take an afternoon break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for the evening. This is the hottest and busiest part of the day and you’re better off relaxing at your resort than you are waiting 45 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Head back in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, and the nighttime entertainment. The best place to see the Electrical Parade is in Liberty Square or Frontierland because they’re less popular than Main Street. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

Thursday December 10

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9:30pm – 11:30pm

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is recommended again as we come off a more popular morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday. We also have another one tomorrow, which will also guide attendance higher. Today, Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Epcot for its popular evening Extra Magic Hours. As always, arriving early and taking care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest is most important. Crowds also drop off in the afternoon with no nighttime entertainment to keep guests around and underrated dining. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to enjoy much shorter waits than the afternoon.

We’ll want to avoid Epcot. Its evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests, which will lengthen waits times at the attractions for the entire afternoon and evening. Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours. This is due to the fact that many Disney resort guests head to whichever Park has Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of them. Without Park Hopper, Disney resort guests must stay in the Park with Extra Magic Hours for the entire day. The increased crowds lead to longer lines, heavier congestion in common areas, and an overall less pleasant touring experience. I would urge you to visit a different Park. If you want to head to Epcot today, despite my strong objections, your best chance to ride the headlining rides is from 9am-11am. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around lunch in anticipation of staying until 10-11pm. The morning will be a decent time to tour Epcot, but you’ll probably want to Park Hop elsewhere after lunch or you’ll be stuck in significantly larger-than-usual crowds. You might also consider an afternoon break from 2pm-6pm when crowds will be at their largest. You could then return in the early evening for dinner and Extra Magic Hours. Alternatively, you could also Park Hop over in the evening for Extra Magic Hours, provided you’re aware of how busy it will be. With Extra Magic Hours only being two hours now, wait times at Soarin’ and Test Track won’t ease much until after 10:30pm. However, other attractions will see nominal waits and it’s a great time to take in Epcot’s natural ambiance and hit a few of the less popular/high capacity attractions. Skip Illuminations if you’ll be here on another night because it will be more crowded than usual. Overall, there’s no reason to visit Epcot today because crowds will be higher than any other day during the week and waits at Soarin’ and Test Track will be just as long as they were during the day until at least 10:30pm.

Hollywood Studios is not expressly recommended as we come off a much less popular day with the early close and lack of Fantasmic and Osborne Lights. Magic Kingdom will also be relatively unpopular with the early close and lack of the Electrical Parade and Wishes. Epcot will be popular with some resort guests, but it won’t do much to sway off-site visitors. With nothing specific attracting anyone, you can still do well with an 8:15am arrival and an efficient touring plan in the morning, even if the afternoon is reliably more crowded with longer wait times. A late afternoon or evening arrival with reasonable expectations about what you can accomplish can also work.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours causing most casual vacationers to head elsewhere. We’re also coming off a significantly busier day yesterday with Wishes and evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled and Epcot will prove more popular today with resort guests. Tomorrow is also a great day to visit in case you have other plans today.

Friday December 11

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8:30pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is not recommended today, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests. It’s also late enough in the week that many Disney vacationers will already have had an opportunity to visit the other Parks and they’ll naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week. With no special evening entertainment scheduled and no evening Extra Magic Hours to speak of, a lot of people will have Animal Kingdom on their minds. With so many recommended days during the week, there’s really no reason to visit today. You can still make today work if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it. But you’ll probably want to be on your way by 1pm when crowds are heavier.

Epcot is highly recommended as we come off a busier day yesterday with evening Extra Magic Hours attracting a ton of Disney resort guests. Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer. If you arrive later, plan to use FastPass+ at Soarin or Test Track because they will have 60+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to popularity and relatively low capacities. Getting in line right before Park close will also result in a short wait if you can’t ride any other time. Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World. Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FastPass+. It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though most people will want to take advantage of some of the lowest crowds of the week at Magic Kingdom. Fortunately, Animal Kingdom will be pulling more Disney resort guests. As always, it’s much more important to arrive by 8:15am and take care of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first thing than it is to simply “pick the right day” and show up at 11am. Even with the average overall crowd level and recommendation, Toy Story Mania will see 60+ minute waits in the afternoon and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster won’t be far behind. There’s no way around that with their limited capacities and the few number of rides in the Park. Arrive early and tour efficiently and you can do very well. See the second Fantasmic if you can because it will be much less crowded than the first.

Magic Kingdom is our best choice as far as crowds are concerned. This may seem like an odd statement, considering that the operating hours are just 9am to 7pm, but that’s precisely why crowds will be so low. The great majority of Disney vacationers would prefer to visit the Parks when the hours are longer because it seems like more time in the Parks equates to higher value for your money. That seems logical considering the cost to enter the Parks is the same, regardless if Magic Kingdom is open from 8am to 1am or 9am to 7pm. However, crowds are so much lower on Mickey’s Christmas Party days that you’ll actually be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Most off-site vacationers will hold off until tomorrow for the longer hours, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes. All of this leaves us with ample opportunity to get on the headlining and Fantasyland rides with minimal waits. As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight for Space/Big Thunder/Splash Mountains or Fantasyland. Use FastPass+ in the afternoon when wait times peak and you should be able to do just about every major ride and many of the secondary attractions as well. If you would also like to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes, consider spending a second day at the Magic Kingdom when those nighttime spectaculars are scheduled. Wednesday would be ideal because it will be less crowded than a Monday or Saturday. Ideally, you would Park Hop over to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon or evening on Wednesday, after spending the majority of your day at a Park with lower crowds. Either way, focus on getting the most popular attractions out of the way today and return to the Magic Kingdom for the nighttime spectaculars on another date. With only one day to spend at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to decide whether seeing Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade are worth spending the day in heavier crowds.

Saturday December 12

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 6:30pm (Most Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 8am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 7am – 8am

Fantasmic: 8:30pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 1am (Not Recommended)

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special events, evening entertainment, or anything else to attract on-site or off-site visitors. Those leaving tomorrow after a traditional weeklong vacation are unlikely to visit Animal Kingdom on their last full day and most arriving today won’t head out to Animal Kingdom as their first destination. We’re also coming off a morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday that will be much more popular with resort guests. Hollywood Studios will be attracting the bulk of the resort crowd and Magic Kingdom will be incredibly popular with the long operating hours and both nighttime spectaculars. As always, you’ll be best off if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. With the 8am open, you can get a tremendous amount done before 10am if you arrive by 7:30am and tour efficiently. Wait times will only get shorter after 4pm, so stay through close if you have more you’d like to accomplish. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to enjoy much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is recommended. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will be attracting the majority of off-site and on-site visitors with long hours and plentiful evening entertainment. Take full advantage by arriving by 8:15am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FP+ for Soarin’. Head up to World Showcase beginning as close to 11am as possible to stay ahead of the crowds for as long as possible. Return to Future World after 5pm to find lower crowds there than the afternoon, keeping in mind that only Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Character Spot, Turtle Talk, and The Seas continue operating after 7pm. Hit the other Future World attractions from 5pm – 7pm and then return to Soarin’ and Test Track after 8pm to find shorter waits, use FastPass+, or take advantage of single rider at Test Track. It’s also an excellent night to stay for IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is not recommended. The sizable Disney resort contingent numbers 75,000+ people. Because Disney sells the Extra Magic Hour program so well in its marketing materials, many of these Disney resort guests follow the Extra Magic Hours schedule because they think it’s Disney telling them where they belong each day. While you can have success if you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 6:15am, most people will want to visit another day. Avoid it unless you can’t visit any other day or are certain you’ll arrive by 6:15am and plan to hit Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours first thing in the morning. You can also find success in the last two hours, particularly with the Osborne Lights pulling people away. Yesterday or Monday would be better.

Saturdays are naturally the busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom. We have longer hours of operation, visiting locals, and a lot of vacationers who will be visiting the Magic Kingdom for a second time before returning home tomorrow. On top of that, Main Street Electrical Parade is only scheduled on a limited number of nights this week. Because the Parade is so popular, a lot of people will visit on a day that they can see it, like today. Yesterday will be much less crowded with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime entertainment and any other Mickey’s Party date would be significantly less crowded, but you can have a moderate amount of success today if you arrive prior to 7:30am and head straight for the headlining or Fantasyland attractions. You may elect to prioritize another low capacity attraction or character instead. The afternoon will be busier than any other day this week and you’ll either want to take a break and return for the Electrical Parade and Wishes or visit the less popular attractions from 2pm – 6pm. The late night is also a good time to tour with short waits at most attractions after 9pm. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

Sunday December 13

Animal Kingdom: 8am – 6:30pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 8am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 10pm – 12am

Fantasmic: 8:30pm and 10pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is recommended. Disney resort guests are more likely to visit Wednesday for morning Extra Magic Hour and it’s unlikely anyone arriving over the weekend will begin their vacation with Disney’s least popular theme park. You should be able to do just about everything the Park has to offer if you arrive prior to Park opening and with the 8am open, you can have a tremendous amount of success with a 7:30am arrival and an efficient touring plan. Focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible and/or use FastPass+. After getting those out of the way, move on to DinoLand USA or one of the more popular shows – either Finding Nemo the Musical or Festival of the Lion King and you’ll be set for the rest of the day. Keep in mind that crowds disperse in the afternoon around 4pm and the last hour of operation will only have diminishing waits. End the day in Asia with Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest and waits will be nearly nonexistent.

Epcot is recommended, though tomorrow would be better. Magic Kingdom will be pulling relatively few people with the early close and while Animal Kingdom will attract some of the heaviest crowds of the week there, we don’t have evening Extra Magic Hours or anything else attracting anyone elsewhere. You will still have the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FP+ at Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two day touring plan. With the crowd level well above average, Epcot won’t be empty, despite the high recommendation and you’ll still want to arrive early and tour efficiently. If Future World seems to be getting crowded by 11am, move up through the World Showcase as soon as it opens. If you have more to accomplish in Future World, return after 5pm to visit any non-headlining attractions. Most people will have moved up through World Showcase by this time, decreasing crowds and waits. If you’d like to ride Soarin or Test Track again in the afternoon or evening, plan to rely on FastPass+. Check your Times Guide to see which Future World attractions remain open past 7pm – it’s usually only Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Test Track, Soarin’, Character Spot, The Seas with Nemo, and Turtle Talk with Crush.

Hollywood Studios will be busy due to the evening Extra Magic Hours that are popular with Disney resort guests. With the 8am open, the morning will be an okay time to tour with a 7:15am arrival and a quick pace to a priority attraction, but crowds will increase by 9:30am as more and more Disney resort guests arrive. Unfortunately, I’m not too fond of evening Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios. There are only a few attractions open and the waits for Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours will likely be just as long as they were during the day, at least until 10:30pm when people begin to give up. In addition, 9,000+ people will exit Fantasmic at 9pm and again at 10:30pm, right as evening Extra Magic Hours gets underway. The Fantasmic Theater is located right on Sunset Boulevard, across from the entrances to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. While not everyone seeing Fantasmic will be a Disney resort guest, many of them will be, and a ton will be headed to Tower of Tower and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster because they truly believe it’s the best time to get in line. Unfortunately, they’ll find themselves lined up with a few thousand of their new best friends. If you’re staying for evening Extra Magic Hours, your best bet is always to save these headlining attractions for the very end of the night and visit Toy Story Mania last. While you could theoretically have success if you arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for the headliners, the same will be true later in the week and you won’t have to deal with the significantly heavier afternoon and evening crowds. Monday, Wednesday, or Friday would be better if you can swing any of those dates.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park. The short hours and lack of evening entertainment will cause a lot of casual vacationers to head elsewhere. We’re in between yesterday’s very popular longer hours of operation/both nighttime spectaculars and have a similar schedule tomorrow. On top of that, Sunday is a major travel day for those on a standard weeklong Disney vacation. With the early close, virtually none of them will start out with an abbreviated day at Magic Kingdom. Few people that arrived on Saturday will also visit a theme park with a seemingly short day and no nighttime spectaculars on their first full day. Tomorrow will be significantly more crowded. If you’re looking to visit Magic Kingdom over two days, then you may want to visit on a Mickey’s Party date and another day where you can enjoy the nighttime spectaculars. If you’re planning just one day at Magic Kingdom, then you’ll need to weigh whether you’re willing to put up with heavier crowds in order to enjoy both nighttime spectaculars. While the 7pm close may seem like a truncated day, I can assure you that ten hours is a long time to spend in a theme park. If you arrive by 8:30am, you’ll be able to accomplish an amazing number of attractions in a short period of time if you head straight for Fantasyland or other important attractions, use FastPass+ in the afternoon when crowds peak, and visit the less popular attractions in the afternoon. Crowds will only diminish from 4pm to 6pm as people leave for dining reservations and other activities. Around 6pm you will begin to see an influx of people arriving for the Christmas Party, but they tend to congregate on Main Street waiting for their Party to begin, rather than heading for the attractions. Stay through 7pm because wait times will only decrease from their afternoon highs as it gets closer to 7pm. One thing about staying through 7pm is that at exactly 7pm (and possibly a couple of minutes before), the special characters will begin appearing for the Party. If you’re not planning to do the Party and have kids, you may want to leave around 6:30pm. Otherwise, your children may encounter a bunch of characters that they won’t be allowed to visit because you must have a Party ticket to get in line. There are no exceptions. Other than those minor inconveniences, this is going to be one of the three least crowded days of the week at Magic Kingdom. Wednesday is the best day to see the nighttime spectaculars, but the set of evening Extra Magic Hours does complicate things.

Monday December 14

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6:30pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 12am (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am-9am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm and 11pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended. Magic Kingdom will prove overwhelmingly popular with so much going on over there and few people that arrived over the weekend will start their trips with Disney’s least popular theme park. Tomorrow also makes sense if you have other plans for today.

Epcot is highly recommended. We don’t have Extra Magic Hours, special evening entertainment, or anything else that will draw people toward Epcot specifically. Disney resort guests will be more likely to visit tomorrow or Thursday for Extra Magic Hours and off-site visitors on a weeklong vacation will be headed to the Magic Kingdom for their first full day at the world’s most popular theme park. Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Magic Kingdom for the Extra Magic Hours, later close, and nighttime entertainment. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow one of the two-day compartmentalized touring plans. Move up to World Showcase as close to 11am as possible to stay ahead of the incoming crowds for as long as possible. Plan to return to Future World after 5pm when crowds begin to shift into World Showcase for dinner and IllumiNations. Just keep in mind that a lot of the Future World attractions close at 7pm. Usually, just Soarin, Test Track, Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Character Spot continue to operate after 7pm. If Character Spot is on your itinerary, try to visit after 7pm when waits times are much lower than the afternoon. Overall, it’s a great day for Epcot and an excellent opportunity to spend time in both Future World and World Showcase.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park as we come off a busier day yesterday with evening Extra Magic Hours attached. Today, Magic Kingdom will be overwhelmingly popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour, long operating hours, and both nighttime spectaculars.  In order to find the shortest waits, you’ll need to arrive by 8:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania. Because of its popularity and extremely limited capacity, Toy Story Mania almost always has afternoon waits of 60 or more minutes, even when crowds are relatively low and the Studios is recommended. There’s no way around that with its limited capacity and the even more limited number of things to do with kids. It’s always your top priority. The second attraction with the longest peak wait is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which should be ridden immediately after Toy Story Mania in the morning or with FastPass+. Other priorities are Tower of Terror and Star Tours, though FastPass+ are more plentiful at both attractions and standby waits are usually lower. After you get through these four headliners, it’s just a matter of arriving in time to see the various stage shows that run on a set schedule and getting over to the Studios’ high capacity attractions. You may also have characters to visit before lines get longer. While it’s officially a recommended day, arriving prior to Park opening and hitting the headliners first thing is more important than which day you pick. Arrive at 11am, no matter the recommendation or the overall crowd level, and you’ll be looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today. Mondays are usually the second busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom, second to only Saturdays, for a variety of reasons. First, a lot of people travel over the weekend and visit Magic Kingdom on their first full day. In most instances, that day is Monday. Second, Mondays often feature longer hours, Wishes Fireworks, and Main Street Electrical Parade, when other days during the week have shorter operating hours and don’t offer the Electrical Parade. Anyone who wants to see the evening entertainment will have to visit on a day when it’s offered, like most Saturdays and Mondays. Here in the heart of Mickey’s Party season, that means Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on four days this week. Every day with a later close and nighttime entertainment will be overwhelmingly more popular. Finally, Disney added a morning Extra Magic Hour, which will only drive more Disney resort guests to the Park because they truly believe the Extra Magic Hours schedule is Disney’s way of telling them where they belong each day. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible, you can do well in the morning if you arrive prior to 7:30am and tour efficiently in the morning. But it’s going to be busier than any day other than Saturday from 11am-9pm. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes and any Mickey’s Party date would see significantly lower crowds.

Tuesday December 15

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Not Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is highly recommended. We don’t have special events, Extra Magic Hours, or anything specific drawing people toward it. Wednesday’s and Friday’s morning Extra Magic Hours will be more popular with Disney resort guests. It’s early enough in the week that many people on weeklong vacations will be saving Animal Kingdom for later in the week. To have the most success, arrive prior to Park opening and head straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. You’ll have no trouble riding both with very low waits before 10am. Once you get through these two attractions, you have little to worry about other than trying to get to the scheduled shows. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get busy during the afternoon shows, so try to see the first or last show of the day. You’ll also want to get to DinoLand USA before 10:30am to ride Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR because those two attractions are popular. Still, they aren’t necessarily your top morning priorities. You should have no trouble experiencing most everything Animal Kingdom has to offer in one day, provided you arrive early in the morning, tour efficiently, use FastPass+ intelligently, and keep an eye on the time in order to see the scheduled stage shows. Finally, crowds disperse in the early afternoon around 4pm. Plan to stay through close because waits will only get shorter as it gets later in the evening. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to find much shorter waits than the afternoon.

Epcot is not recommended. Disney is extremely good at selling the Extra Magic Hours program in its marketing materials. Even people that have no idea what “Soaring” is and think they’ll be riding the monorail from Animal Kingdom to Epcot know about Extra Magic Hours. Remember that well over 25,000 rooms resort-wide have access to Extra Magic Hours on any given day. And guess where a lot of those 75,000+ people are going to be headed? With Magic Kingdom proving unpopular with the 7pm close and no evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled anywhere, most people will want to visit another Park.

Hollywood Studios is not expressly recommended. The short hours at Magic Kingdom will be a big turn off for many and off-site visitors in particular will be looking toward Fantasmic and Toy Story Mania after spending yesterday at Magic Kingdom. With Magic Kingdom proving much more popular tomorrow, we can in turn expect Hollywood Studios to see lower attendance. With nothing specific attracting people, you can do well with an 8:15am arrival and an efficient touring plan. A late arrival that also includes the Osborne Lights may also make sense.

Magic Kingdom is the best Park to visit, despite the truncated operating schedule and lack of both Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is scheduled tonight. It’s a separately ticketed event that begins at 7pm and runs through 12am. Because the hours are “so short” and there’s no evening entertainment during the regular day, most Disney vacationers will plan to visit on another day. Yesterday will have been busy and tomorrow will also be busier, thanks to longer hours and evening entertainment. Today is an excellent opportunity to visit the Fantasyland and headlining attractions with minimal waits as well as visit the popular characters and whatever else you’d like to experience. Because waits are shorter and the crowd level is so much lower, you’ll actually be able to accomplish more during the day today than either yesterday or tomorrow, despite the Park being open fewer hours. For maximum efficiency, arrive by 8:30am and use FastPass+ in the early afternoon when crowds and waits peak. Consider a second day at the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes or ideally Park Hop over in the evening on a night that it’s available. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at night, but that isn’t saying a whole lot when your other options are a busy Monday and Saturday. Finally, Mickey’s Christmas Party does feature the special Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular at 9:30pm above Cinderella Castle. This show is viewable from a variety of locations around Disney property. My favorite is the Polynesian Resort’s beach, which is directly across from the Magic Kingdom. The 4th floor observatory at the Contemporary Resort is another excellent location. The boat launch and marina at the Grand Floridian also offer pretty good views, though less direct angles. The boat dock at the Transportation and Ticket Center also offers an underrated view and it makes for the easiest exit if you’re driving because you’re already at the parking lot. The soundtrack is easiest to hear at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, and Polynesian in that order. You might consider taking the monorail or boat to one of the Monorail Deluxe resorts for dinner after the Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm and then get into position to enjoy the fireworks around 9:20pm at one of the previously mentioned locations. You can then transfer back to the Magic Kingdom and take a resort bus back to your resort or hop in your car and head wherever you like. Each of the Deluxe resorts have pretty good quick service locations too, so you can also eat on the cheap if you prefer and look around the resort(s) for a while until Holiday Wishes begins. In a perfect world, I would hit Kona Café for dinner and enjoy Holiday Wishes from the Polynesian’s beach.

Wednesday December 16

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 12am (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 12am – 2am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 9pm, Wishes Fireworks: 10pm

It’s the first or second busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom. The morning Extra Magic Hour will attract a lot of Disney resort guests that spent Monday at Magic Kingdom and Tuesday at Epcot. Magic Kingdom will prove more popular with the long hours, nighttime entertainment, and more popular evening Extra Magic Hours. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive by 7:30am, you can do well from 8am – 10am. But most people will want to take advantage of one of the best days of the week for Epcot.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. We’re in between yesterday’s morning Extra Magic Hour and tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours, both of which will be more popular with resort guests. Today, Magic Kingdom will prove overwhelmingly popular with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars, and Wishes. Take full advantage by arriving by 8:15am and head straight for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and consider using FP+ at Soarin’. Head up through World Showcase as close to 11am as possible to beat the crowds to as many Pavilions as possible. While traditional lines are not much of a concern at the attractions, lower crowds mean an easier touring experience in all other facets. Return to Future World after 5pm to find lower crowds there than the afternoon, keeping in mind that only Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Character Spot, Turtle Talk, and The Seas usually continue operating after 7pm. Hit the other Future World attractions from 5pm – 7pm and then return to Soarin’ and Test Track after 8pm to find shorter waits, use FastPass+, or take advantage of single rider at Test Track. It’s also an excellent night to stay for IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is highly recommended. Animal Kingdom will be popular with the morning Extra Magic Hour and Magic Kingdom will be overwhelmingly popular with the longer hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars, and evening Extra Magic Hours. As always, what you do is more important than which day you do it. In order to find the shortest waits, you’ll need to arrive by 8:15am and head straight to Toy Story Mania. Because of its popularity and extremely limited capacity, Toy Story Mania almost always has afternoon waits of 60 or more minutes, even when crowds are relatively low and the Studios is recommended. There’s no way around that with its limited capacity and the even more limited number of things to do with kids. It’s always your top priority. The second attraction with the longest peak wait is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which should be ridden immediately after Toy Story Mania in the morning or with FastPass+. Other priorities are Tower of Terror and Star Tours, though FastPass+ are more plentiful at both attractions and standby waits are usually lower. After you get through these four headliners, it’s just a matter of arriving in time to see the various stage shows that run on a set schedule and getting over to the Studios’ high capacity attractions. You may also have characters to visit before lines get longer. See the second Fantasmic if you can because it will be significantly less crowded than the first. While it’s officially a recommended day, arriving prior to Park opening and hitting the headliners first thing is more important than which day you pick. Arrive at 11am, no matter the recommendation or the overall crowd level, and you’ll be looking at long lines at Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours, and the addition of evening Extra Magic Hours, which will attract even more Disney resort guests. Unfortunately, today also marks the best day this week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes. Fortunately, the addition of a second Electrical Parade at 11pm will make it easier for people who can stay out that late to see the fireworks and the later and less crowded Parade, ideally after park hopping from a Park that’s recommended higher. Guests that don’t care about the nighttime entertainment are much better off visiting on a recommended Mickey’s Party date. If you do visit today, your best plan of attack is arriving before 7:30am with plans to head to the priority attractions on your itinerary first thing. Take an afternoon break from 1pm to 6pm or so to rest up for the evening. This is the hottest and busiest part of the day and you’re better off relaxing at your resort than you are waiting 45 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Head back in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, and the nighttime entertainment. The best place to see the Electrical Parade is in Liberty Square or Frontierland because they’re less popular than Main Street. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.

Thursday December 17

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6:30pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Not Recommended)

Evening Extra Magic Hours: 9:30pm – 11:30pm

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 8pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 8:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: None, Wishes Fireworks: None

Animal Kingdom is recommended again as we come off a more popular morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday. We also have another one tomorrow, which will also guide attendance higher. Today, Disney resort guests are more likely to head to Epcot for its popular evening Extra Magic Hours. As always, arriving early and taking care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest is most important. Crowds also drop off in the afternoon with no nighttime entertainment to keep guests around and underrated dining. Visit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour to enjoy much shorter waits than the afternoon.

We’ll want to avoid Epcot. Its evening Extra Magic Hours will lure the majority of Disney resort guests, which will lengthen waits times at the attractions for the entire afternoon and evening. Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours. This is due to the fact that many Disney resort guests head to whichever Park has Extra Magic Hours, even if they don’t plan to take advantage of them. Without Park Hopper, Disney resort guests must stay in the Park with Extra Magic Hours for the entire day. The increased crowds lead to longer lines, heavier congestion in common areas, and an overall less pleasant touring experience. I would urge you to visit a different Park. If you want to head to Epcot today, despite my strong objections, your best chance to ride the headlining rides is from 9am-11am. Most Disney resort guests will sleep in and arrive around lunch in anticipation of staying until 10-11pm. The morning will be a decent time to tour Epcot, but you’ll probably want to Park Hop elsewhere after lunch or you’ll be stuck in significantly larger-than-usual crowds. You might also consider an afternoon break from 2pm-6pm when crowds will be at their largest. You could then return in the early evening for dinner and Extra Magic Hours. Alternatively, you could also Park Hop over in the evening for Extra Magic Hours, provided you’re aware of how busy it will be. With Extra Magic Hours only being two hours now, wait times at Soarin’ and Test Track won’t ease much until after 10:30pm. However, other attractions will see nominal waits and it’s a great time to take in Epcot’s natural ambiance and hit a few of the less popular/high capacity attractions. Skip Illuminations if you’ll be here on another night because it will be more crowded than usual. Overall, there’s no reason to visit Epcot today because crowds will be higher than any other day during the week and waits at Soarin’ and Test Track will be just as long as they were during the day until at least 10:30pm.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though yesterday would have been better with Magic Kingdom proving so popular. With fewer people headed to Magic Kingdom today with the early close, the Studios will predictably see higher attendance. Fortunately, Disney resort guests will have their eyes on Epcot with evening Extra Magic Hours. With nothing specific attracting people to the Studios and a similar schedule to most other days this week, you can do well today with an 8:15am arrival and an intelligent touring plan.

Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park with the 7pm close and lack of nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours causing most casual vacationers to head elsewhere. We’re also coming off a significantly busier day yesterday with Wishes and evening Extra Magic Hours scheduled and Epcot will prove more popular today with resort guests. Tomorrow is also a great day to visit in case you have other plans today.

Friday December 18

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 6:30pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9:30pm (Highly Recommended)

Illuminations: 9:30pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm and 9pm

Magic Kingdom: 8am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: none, Wishes Fireworks: none

Animal Kingdom is not recommended today, thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour that will attract Disney resort guests. It’s also late enough in the week that many Disney vacationers will already have had an opportunity to visit the other Parks and they’ll naturally save Animal Kingdom for later in the week. With no special evening entertainment scheduled and no evening Extra Magic Hours to speak of, a lot of people will have Animal Kingdom on their minds. With so many recommended days during the week, there’s really no reason to visit today. You can still make today work if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it. But you’ll probably want to be on your way by 1pm when crowds are heavier.

Epcot is highly recommended as we come off a busier day yesterday with evening Extra Magic Hours attracting a ton of Disney resort guests. Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and use FastPass+ at Soarin’ or follow a more compartmentalized two-day touring plan if you prefer. If you arrive later, plan to use FastPass+ at Soarin or Test Track because they will have 60+ minute waits for most of the day after 10:30am due to popularity and relatively low capacities. Getting in line right before Park close will also result in a short wait if you can’t ride any other time. Move on to the World Showcase beginning around 11am if crowds begin to build in Future World. Return to Future World after 5pm if you have more to accomplish and to ride/re-ride the headliners with FastPass+. It’s also a great day to stay for dinner and IllumiNations.

Hollywood Studios is recommended, though most people will want to take advantage of some of the lowest crowds of the week at Magic Kingdom. Fortunately, Animal Kingdom will be pulling more Disney resort guests. As always, it’s much more important to arrive by 8:15am and take care of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first thing than it is to simply “pick the right day” and show up at 11am. With the average overall crowd level and recommendation, Toy Story Mania will see 90+ minute waits in the afternoon and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster won’t be far behind. There’s no way around that with their limited capacities and the few number of rides in the Park. Arrive early and tour efficiently and you can do very well. See the second Fantasmic if you can because it will be less crowded and/or ride the highest priority rides in the final hour when waits will be much shorter than the afternoon, ending the day with Toy Story Mania.

Magic Kingdom is our best choice as far as crowds are concerned. This may seem like an odd statement, considering that the operating hours are just 8am to 7pm, but that’s precisely why crowds will be so low. The great majority of Disney vacationers would prefer to visit the Parks when the hours are longer because it seems like more time in the Parks equates to higher value for your money. That seems logical considering the cost to enter the Parks is the same, regardless if Magic Kingdom is open from 8am to 1am or 8am to 7pm. However, crowds are so much lower on Mickey’s Christmas Party days that you’ll actually be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Most off-site vacationers will hold off until tomorrow for the longer hours, Main Street Electrical Parade, and Wishes. All of this leaves us with ample opportunity to get on the headlining and Fantasyland rides with minimal waits. As always, you’ll find the most success if you arrive prior to opening and head straight for Space/Big Thunder/Splash Mountains or Fantasyland. With the 8am open, you basically have an extra hour of short waits if you arrive no later than 7:30am and tour efficiently. Use FastPass+ in the afternoon when wait times peak and you should be able to do just about every major ride and many of the secondary attractions as well. If you would also like to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes, consider spending a second day at the Magic Kingdom when those nighttime spectaculars are scheduled. Wednesday would be ideal because it will be less crowded than a Monday or Saturday. Ideally, you would Park Hop over to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon or evening on Wednesday, after spending the majority of your day at a Park with lower crowds. Either way, focus on getting the most popular attractions out of the way today and return to the Magic Kingdom for the nighttime spectaculars on another date. With only one day to spend at the Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to decide whether seeing Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade are worth spending the day in heavier crowds.

Comments

  1. Allison says

    Thanks for the crowd calendar!

    I was expecting Fantasmic! to be scheduled at either 6:30 or 8:00 during the second week, not 8:30. Not sure what to make of that. Anyone know if the 8:30 showing is here to stay?

    • josh says

      Instead of adding a second, later show, they may be planning to add a second, earlier show. So instead of the original show being scheduled at 7pm with a second show added later at 8:30pm, it may the other way around. I don’t see them staying open until 9:30pm to accommodate a 10pm show.

      • Randi B says

        If they add an earlier show, does anyone know how this might affect Fantasmic dinner package vouchers? I’ve read that they are only good for the first showing of the night, so would the vouchers then be good only for the earlier show?

  2. Valerie says

    ” The Extra Magic Hours schedule and expected crowd levels at the individual theme parks are still not known. ”

    Does this mean the EMH info on the travel agents site for the beginning of the month will change?

    • josh says

      I wouldn’t expect what’s listed to be removed, only a daily Magic Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour added and potentially a third park with Extra Magic Hours on certain days, as they’ve done in past years.

      • Stan H says

        I am not sure I understand…Color me dense….
        The EMH’s are shown on the Disney schedule. It is very safe to say that the expected crowd levels will be a solid 10. We can surmise that Disney may add (as they have in the past) an early EMH for the Magic Kingdom every, or almost every, day…..So I understand…You are waiting to post your recommendations until you see if they add a 3rd park with Extra Magic Hours?

        Thank you, and know, I really appreciate your time/site/input!

  3. Drew says

    Josh – Is the more updated version, which includes the last 2 weeks of December, going to be updated within the next 3 weeks or so before the 180 day ADR mark?

    Had my trip planned out based on Dec 2014’s chart, but want to see what 2015 is expected to look like before making ADRs – if possible. Thanks!

    • Rachael says

      Yes, me as well. My husband and I are planning our belated honeymoon and we arrive on the 20th! Any news for when it will be updated? I want to get dining reservations planned out so I can get them as early as possible at the 180 day mark.

      • Kacie says

        Me three! did the database eat it or something? nom nom nom.

        I swear there was a full Dec. calendar out. I commented on it, I thought. Can’t find it now.

        • Rachael says

          Might have been ’14. :(
          All I know is my OCD is starting to flare up and I want to optimize and get my tactical list ready for the 23rd. I even took the morning off from work so I can book without interruption!

  4. Sarah says

    The 2014 calendar lists 2 Fantasmic! showings every evening & later closing (Osborne lights each night). How likely do you think this is for the 1st week of December? How much will that impact recommended days for HS? My kids are 5 & 7 and will be up every day by 6-6:30 so earlier Fantasmic will likely mean the difference between seeing or skipping the show. Thanks! Love your site & calendar!

  5. Rachael R says

    Any idea of when it will be finished? I keep checking back 2-3 times a day and still nothing. Thanks!

  6. foreverdisney says

    Arriving on the 29th leaving the 4th – Ready to see plans for those days.Thanks for all you do.

  7. Anonymous says

    I am 8 days away from making ADRs for my 12/20-12/27 trip!!! I really hope you update your recommended park days soon. :)

  8. cathy says

    planning our FIRST december trip to WDW and I appreciate all of this helpful information. I just bought your book to help me plan. This will be our 4th trip to Disney and 2nd time using your information to help plan the best trip possible with the least amount of stress. Thanks Josh. :)

  9. Meredith says

    Hey Josh! I always use your crowd calendar when planning my park day choices and ADRs. The December for 2016 probably won’t be out before my 180 day ADR date. As usual I use the previous year one to plan by if the case. The December 15 isn’t showing the entire month. You are the only site that goes into detail on which parks to attend which days. My trip is 18-22. First December trip. So really need your help. Hoping the rest of the month can be added. It would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your hysterical take on all things WDW!

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