When I started this website some number of years ago now, I never thought I would live long enough to see Spaceship Earth top a FastPass priority list.

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Should your scheduled FastPass+ experience be canceled due to weather, technical difficulties, or other issues on the day of, you should receive an email like the following:

I was surprised to see Anna and Elsa as a replacement for Festival of Fantasy, since it’s the most difficult and sought after FP+ experience. I looked into it and it turns out that the replacement options offered are set based on the canceled experience and not based on availability or time of day. So if your Festival of Fantasy FP+ is canceled, the replacement options shown will always be the same.

If your Test Track FastPass+ is canceled, these are the alternatives:

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There were some questions about what wait times would look like at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/partywaits0901big.jpg

These are the waits during the first Party on September 1st. Actual waits at the Mine Train were typically five to seven minutes shorter than posted, so you’d be looking at waiting 15 to 20 minutes with the shortest waits during the first Boo to You Parade/HalloWishes and at the very end of the night. Otherwise, actual waits are typically nonexistent at most attractions regardless of which Party date you select.

Interestingly(?), there’s an inverse relationship between wait times and how many people attend a given Party. The sold out Parties, particularly toward the end of October, have shorter waits than Parties that don’t sell out earlier in the month. The rides are not the focus for the great majority of people that attend the Parties, which is why the walkways “feel” congested and there’s a two hour wait for the Dwarfs, even if you could ride Splash Mountain virtually by yourself. The good news is that it looks like the Parties will also be a good opportunity to ride the Mine Train if you weren’t able to secure a FP+ or would like to ride in the dark.

As always, a big thanks to good friends of the site Brad and Steve for making these sorts of things possible.

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The joy ride continues as we move to Magic Kingdom for another round of quick service menu updates. Spoiler: There really aren’t any outside of 10 to 30 cent price increases, but this is a tradition and I think it’s a nice refresher on what’s available around the Park. The only new item we’re going to see is a Barbecue Beef Flatbread at Pinocchio Village Haus in place of the BBQ chicken.

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Magic Kingdom Halloween Decorations

by josh on August 31, 2014

It’s that time of year again…apparently.

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March 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on August 28, 2014

This is the Free March 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 entire Disney World complex, including the four major theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, golf courses, resorts, etc. 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-12am.
  • 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.

Sunday March 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 7pm (Not Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 7pm (Most Recommended)

Fantasmic: 7pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Not Recommended)

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

Animal Kingdom is not recommended with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests and complicating morning touring. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and certain that you can arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it, then you can have a tremendous amount of success touring before 10am, but the afternoon is going to be busier than recommended days. Tomorrow is significantly better for those planning to arrive after 8am.

Epcot is recommended with Magic Kingdom proving more popular with the nighttime entertainment and Animal Kingdom attracting resort guests. To have the most success, arrive prior to opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ with FastPass+ or follow one of the touring plans. Single Rider at Test Track is also a good option and will often result in a shorter wait than the standby or FastPass+ lines. It’s more important to arrive early and take care of the headliners first thing than it is to pick the “right” day. You’ll run into lines at the headliners in Future World if you don’t arrive until 10:30am with everyone else. To stay ahead of the crowds for the longest amount of time, move up through the World Showcase beginning at 11am with the water rides in Norway and Mexico. Return to Future World after 5pm to see anything you missed, but make sure you check your Times Guide because some attractions close at 7pm, including Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, Circle of Life, both Innoventions buildings, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure. If you’re interested in re-riding Soarin’ or Test Track, plan to use FastPass+, single rider at Test Track, or get in line around 8:55pm.

Hollywood Studios is the most recommended Park.  Magic Kingdom will be attractive with the long hours of operation and both nighttime spectaculars and Animal Kingdom will be attracting a sizable number of resort guests with the morning Extra Magic Hour. 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 not recommended with the extended hours and both nighttime spectaculars. The morning Extra Magic Hour at Disney World’s least popular theme park will help pull away a few thousand people, but won’t do much to ease Magic Kingdom crowds. This coming Wednesday will be significantly less busy. You can still make today work by arriving no later than 8:20an and touring efficiently in the morning. Take advantage of FastPass+ in the late morning and early afternoon and you’re in great shape. Take a break from 1pm to 6pm or so and return in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, the Electrical Parade and Wishes.

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Just a heads up that Disney moved Animal Kingdom’s morning Extra Magic Hour from January 25th to 26th. That changed the recommendations slightly over those two days.

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Posted Seven Dwarfs Mine Train waits so far in August. Red indicates downtime:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/dwarfwaits.jpg

PDF: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/dwarfwaitsaugust.pdf.

In case you were wondering what wait times at Disney World’s newest ride look like, they’re long. And for a while they had a terrible time getting the attraction ready by Park opening, when it was down at rope drop on seven out of nine days from August 11th to 19th.  While the ride wasn’t ready at opening yesterday (the 25th), it was today, so hopefully those problems have been fixed.

The website’s advice remains to ride it last thing at night or with FastPass+. For a reminder of what Magic Kingdom rope drop looks like, see this post. You can experience the ride with a short wait first thing in the morning if you’re among the first people up Main Street and you peel off from the group and head toward Mad Tea Party to the right of the Castle before taking a left past The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and up to the Mine Train entrance. But if you watch the opening show from the center of the Mickey floral or arrive late, you’re in for an hour wait first thing in the morning, which is about the last thing you want to be doing. Posted waits remain long at the end of the night, but are often significantly shorter and you’re not wasting Park time being in line after other attractions close. You can get in line for the Mine Train as late as one minute before close.

FastPass+ for Mine Train remain limited and are unlikely to be available 30 days out when off-site visitors are first allowed to book experiences. Guests staying on-site want to take advantage of the 60+ day booking window. Micah has an outstanding walkthrough of booking FP+ in the easyWDW forums if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

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It’s been uncharacteristically long since we’ve taken a good look at the comings and goings at Animal Kingdom. The first of three(?) Joffrey’s locations appears in front of bag check with a similar menu as the Epcot locations:

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It’s the most exciting time of year as the website covers quick service menu updates. Disney updates every single quick service menu on property on the same day during the hottest week of the year here in Orlando – proof perhaps that they really do hate me.

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