A few more changes to the November operating schedule over the next week or so:

Tuesday November 10:

  • Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom moved to 5pm from 3pm.

Wednesday November 11:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-8:30pm from 9am-8pm.
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom moved to 5pm from 3pm.

Thursday November 12:

  • Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom moved to 5pm from 3pm.

Friday November 13:

  • Second Fantasmic added at 8:30pm, in addition to 7pm show.
  • Magic Kingdom open moved to 8am from 9am. Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom moved to 5pm from 3pm.
  • This should be the day they tape the actual ABC  Christmas Day Parade on Main Street.

Sunday November 15:

  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am-9pm from 9am-8:30pm.



You…yes you…have the rare opportunity to meet me during my one contractually obligated meet and greet of the year. Dave, of yourfirstvisit.net fame and co-author of “The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit,” and I will be at Tomorrowland Terrace on Sunday November 8th from 5:30pm to what I would guess will be around 6:30pm. We’d be happy to sign whatever edition of your book you happen to have on your person or in the more likely scenario that you haven’t actually bought one, we’ll happily smile and nod when you tell us you forgot it back in the room but just wanted to see if we actually are real people from afar. These meet and greets typically see four to seven people amid torrential downpours, so we’ll apologize for the weather in advance.

See you there!


Disney’s Vero Beach Resort DVC Review

by josh on October 29, 2015

This review is sponsored by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.

Past reviews:

Today the website has a special treat in store for you – a trip out to what is one of the most relaxing places your Disney Vacation Club Points can buy – Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

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Just a heads up that Disney moved Magic Kingdom’s open to 8am on Sunday November 8th. It’s potentially good news for regular visitors able to arrive no later than 7:30am because it basically means an extra hour of short waits, but the change can be problematic for anybody planning an 8am breakfast reservation, particularly at Be Our Guest Restaurant.


May 2016 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on October 27, 2015

This is the Free May 2016 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.

Sunday May 1

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

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

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

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Fantasmic: 9pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 10pm (Recommended)

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

Animal Kingdom is the most recommended Park. We’re coming off a popular morning Extra Magic Hour yesterday and have another tomorrow, both of which will be more popular with Disney resort guests. It’s also 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. Focus on riding Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as early as possible 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 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 it isn’t necessarily the best day of the week there. A Wednesday or Friday would be better with more attracting casual visitors to other Parks. Still, 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 prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, followed by Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and Soarin’ with FastPass+ or on the other side of the Park with Soarin’. If Character Spot is a priority, visit after 7pm when waits will be shorter than the afternoon and you won’t have to waste precious morning time. It’s also an excellent day to stay for IllumiNations and enjoy the World Showcase in the afternoon because a lot of people will have their eyes on the Electrical Parade and Fantasmic.

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 was a better day to visit with fewer complications touring in the morning.

Magic Kingdom is recommended though most people will want to wait until Tuesday to visit if they can. Today will see above average crowds with the above average overall crowd level, in addition to an increased number of locals able to visit on the weekend. Saturday is a more common arrival day than it once was and many casual vacationers prefer to start their trip at the Most Magical Place on Earth and the most popular theme park on the planet. The morning Extra Magic Hour will help lure away some Disney resort guests, but that won’t have a major impact on wait times. You can still do very well with an arrival prior to Park opening and an efficient touring plan, but the afternoon will see moderate crowds that will only get heavier as it gets later in the day.

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As promised, we return to Morimoto Asia for lunch along with a quick look at Disney Springs construction and a return to John Lloyd’s Hangar Bar.

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Edit: Sorcerer Mickey did end up moving into the old lounge space/lobby for the now defunct Jack Sparrow show. That’s in between One Man’s Dream and Toy Story Mania.

We’ll take a walk around Hollywood Studios on the afternoon of Tuesday October 20th.

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We’ll pop into Magic Kingdom in what is almost my favorite time of year in the Parks with a high of 80 degrees, sunshine, and a nice breeze.

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This is what we’re looking at for May 2016. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.

May gets hotter, wetter, and more crowded as you proceed through the month, culminating in some of the highest crowds and most expensive resort pricing of the year since Easter over Memorial Day Weekend from May 27th through the 30th.

There aren’t a lot of operational surprises here. The Extra Magic Hours schedule does change a bit from week to week, causing some minor changes to the recommendations. When Magic Kingdom is hosting Extra Magic Hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it looks like crowd levels are expected to be very similar on Monday-Wednesday. I’m going to officially recommend the Monday, though some guests may want to take advantage of the full morning Extra Magic Hour on Tuesday or what should be late evening Extra Magic Hours on Wednesdays. Otherwise, the usual advice of wait until Tuesday to visit sticks. Thursdays and Fridays should also see lower crowds.

It remains unclear when Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light nighttime show will debut. When it does, Animal Kingdom should be open until 8pm or 9pm daily. You’d think the nighttime safari and Tree of Life projection show would need to be online no later than the show’s debut.

Fantasmic is confirmed nightly at Hollywood Studios – you may remember there were “officially” no show times with the initial release of the February, March, and April operating schedules. Disney should end up adding a second Fantasmic show nightly. Things don’t look good for the return of Star Wars Weekends. In past years, Disney moved Hollywood Studios’ Saturday morning Extra Magic Hour to the middle of the week in an effort to pull as many Disney resort guests away from the incredibly busy weekends. This year, the Studios is currently hosting evening Extra Magic Hours every Friday. It seems highly unlikely that Disney would host both evening Extra Magic Hours and Star Wars Weekends on the same day. Of course, the Extra Magic Hours schedule could change. Remember that Season of the Force is expected to end as early as the third week in March.

Main Street Electrical Parade is scheduled every night other than Friday May 27th at the moment. That may or may not indicate the likely return of a 24-hour day similar to last year’s Coolest Summer Ever. 2016 is a leap year and Disney did schedule the first 24-hour day on “leap day” back in 2012, but the last few years Disney has used the event to market the beginning of the busy summer season. Otherwise, expect an additional Electrical Parade added nightly by the time the final operating schedule comes along.

Overall, there are still some lingering questions as to what will be available come May, but it is an above average month to travel for the most part. Those with flexible schedules should look at visiting as early in the month as possible for lower crowds and more comfortable weather.


Just a heads up that Fantasmic times have been confirmed throughout March. You can view the full operating schedule here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_march.pdf. There was also a small change to the Extra Magic Hours schedule on March 15th and 18th with Epcot and Hollywood Studios switching. The recommendations on those dates also swapped.

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