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

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

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

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This is the Free January 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.

Thursday January 1

Animal Kingdom: 9am – 5pm (Recommended)

Epcot: 9am – 9pm (Most Recommended)

Illuminations: 9pm

Hollywood Studios: 9am – 10pm (Highly Recommended)

Fantasmic: 6:30pm

Magic Kingdom: 9am – 11pm (Tentatively Recommended)

Morning Extra Magic Hour: 8am – 9am

Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3:30pm, Main Street Electrical Parade: 10:15pm, Wishes Fireworks: 9pm

Animal Kingdom is recommended, especially if you’re able to arrive by 8:30am to take advantage of the morning. You can have a ton of success if you arrive prior to Park opening and take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing in the morning. After getting those two attractions out of the way, head over to DinoLand USA for Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR, over to the popular character greetings, or over to one of the two most popular stage shows – Finding Nemo the Musical and/or Festival of the Lion King. Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King do get crowded later in the day and the first show is always the least crowded and will require the shortest wait to get good seats. If you arrive later, you may need to rely on FastPass+ at Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest. Expedition Everest also has a “single rider line” that is usually short if you’re willing to split the group up. You’ll find it to the right of the standby line. Plan to stay through close if you couldn’t get to the headliners earlier in the day or if you’d like to return to any other attractions because crowds only dissipate in the late afternoon and more and more people leave. Expect Disney to extend the close to 7pm or 8pm as we get closer to January, opening up the evening to enjoy short waits in DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour.

Epcot is the most recommended Park. Tomorrow’s evening Extra Magic Hours will be more attractive to Disney resort guests and few people will be anywhere near the entrance after partying hard until 2am last night. We also have morning Extra Magic Hour and Main Street Electrical Parade pulling people towards Magic Kingdom. Plan to arrive prior to Park opening and head straight to Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, Mission: Space, and 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 90+ minute waits for most of the day after 10am 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, beginning with the water rides in Mexico and Norway. 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 highly recommended as we come off a late night for a lot of people. With the high overall crowd level continuing until the end of the week, it remains essential to arrive by 8:15am to take care of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster first thing. A late arrival is viable with FastPass+ and plans to see the shows and some high capacity attractions.

Magic Kingdom is tentatively recommended particularly if you’re Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive by 7:30am to take advantage of it. You’ll be able to accomplish a ton before 11am, but the afternoon remains busy with the high overall crowd level. If you’re not Extra Magic Hours eligible or don’t plan to arrive until after 10am, then you’re far better off holding off on visiting until tomorrow. If you’re just arriving, crowds will fall off considerably on Sunday and you may want to hold off on Magic Kingdom until then, even if it remains not recommended.

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Disney updated the “travel agent” PDF operating schedules with the Extra Magic Hour changes announced here earlier this week.

July: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_july.pdf

August: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_august.pdf

September: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_september.pdf

October: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_october.pdf

November: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_november.pdf

December: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_december.pdf

January: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_january.pdf

 

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A fairly substantial announcement from Disney that Frozen happenings are coming to Hollywood Studios this summer. Looks like some nice perks: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/06/get-ready-to-experience-frozen-summer-fun-live-at-disneys-hollywood-studios/.

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Disney is switching up the Extra Magic Hours schedule moving forward beginning on July 13th. Most Magic Kingdom sets of evening Extra Magic Hours move to Saturdays from Sundays and Mondays. Some instances of morning Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom have moved to Sunday from Monday. What it means:

Saturdays at Magic Kingdom during the summer will remain “recommended” for the most part. Mornings will remain excellent as evening Extra Magic Hours cause more resort guests to sleep in. Late nights at Magic Kingdom are excellent during the summer because so few families with kids are able to stay out that late and there are so many attractions operating around the Park.

Most Saturdays at Magic Kingdom outside of the summer will remain “not recommended” with the longer hours, limited nighttime entertainment during the week, and addition of evening Extra Magic Hours attracting the bulk of the resort crowd and in turn increasing wait times.

Animal Kingdom will move to “tentatively recommended” on Sundays when it offers a morning Extra Magic Hour and “highly recommended” on Mondays when it no longer offers a morning Extra Magic Hour. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible and able to arrive at Animal Kingdom 20 minutes before the EMH begins, you can have a tremendous amount of success. Those that aren’t Extra Magic Hours eligible are better off visiting another day or taking advantage of the last two to three hours of operation when waits reliably drop.

What we’re looking at:

Saturday July 5:

  • Magic Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour canceled.

Sunday July 13:

  • Animal Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour added.
  • Magic Kingdom evening Extra Magic Hours canceled.

Monday July 14:

  • Animal Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour canceled.

Saturday July 19:

  • Magic Kingdom evening Extra Magic Hours added.

Sunday July 20:

  • Animal Kingdom morning Extra Magic Hour added.
  • Magic Kingdom evening Extra Magic Hours canceled.

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We’ll head out to Epcot on the afternoon of Saturday June 21st.

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With the summer heat and crowds in full force, we trek out to Magic Kingdom on June 20th 2k14.

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

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California Grill Lounge Review

by josh on June 20, 2014

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

We last visited California Grill back in September for a lengthy dinner review. We’ll return to the bar for a miniature review.

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

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

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