Inaccurate January 2013 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

by josh on June 26, 2012

The following is wrong, which is somewhat rare for this website.  The two things I get wrong most often are 1.) The actual date of when I visited something and 2.) I almost always call the “California Grill,” the “Contemporary Grill.”  But in this case, it isn’t necessarily my fault.  The January 2013 Extra Magic Hours schedule isn’t available externally or internally at the moment.  I polled the usual victims and it seems like the problem is 1.) The Extra Magic Hours schedule is a function of resort rates and crowds.  2.) Resort rates are a function of demand.  And since 2013 crowd projections aren’t done yet, the resort rates are also not available.

In January, the problem is that first week, where a ton of domestic school districts have until January 6th off.  The same was true last year and that first week in January was slammed.  The thought this year is that Disney shouldn’t be charging Value season pricing on a week that is naturally going to be so much busier than it has been most years prior to 2011.  And then if it’s going to be that busy, do they need to offer additional Extra Magic Hours, like they do in the summer?  The slightly-later-than usual Marathon dates on the second weekend are also a concern as to how crowds will flow over those first two weeks.  Second, international attendance is becoming more and more a driver of overall crowd levels.  We’re looking at international crowds that should surpass 25% of total attendance in 2013, with the majority of that coming from South America.  That also complicates things.

So where exactly does that leave us?  With a preliminary crowd calendar that may change quite a bit between now and when the actual Extra Magic Hours schedule comes out.  Occasionally someone will ask where the March 2013 or July 2014 crowd calendars are (examples of months that don’t yet have operating schedules available).  The answer is that I don’t put them together until the actual operating schedule is released.  I could guess what March 2013 is going to look like today (based on the data), but it would just frustrate us both because Disney always throws some curveballs in there, whether it be short hours at Hollywood Studios for a private party or an unexpected shift in nighttime entertainment/Extra Magic Hours.  In other words, we could guess as to what Easter week is going to look like operationally, but there’s really no reason to bother.  It isn’t like you can make reservations eight months in advance anyway.

As far as crowd levels are concerned, you can get 90% of the way there by simply looking over a resort rate chart like this one.  Are resort rates less expensive?  Then it’s probably not going to be that busy.  Is the season called “peak” and is it more expensive than most other dates?  Then it’s probably going to be busy.  I’ll take you the extra 10% of the way.

Click for larger or view the better looking PDF file here.

I think you can take the 12th – 31st to the bank.  The question really pertains to those first 11 days, where we may see some tinkering.  As for when the Extra Magic Hours schedule will be available, I can’t imagine that it would be any later than Friday.  But you never know, it could be longer if there are more serious “issues” behind the lack of an available schedule.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Meghan June 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I love you anyway even if it is wrong. It fuels my obsessive need to plan things for my 18-28th vacation. You could tell me completely inaccurate information and I would still gobble it up like pie.


Karen June 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I still love you for it too, even though my dates are 5-11 and this info will probably change. At least I can do a practice plan while I wait for the other info! ;-)


zzgator June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

They should just call it the Contemporary Grill.

Maybe you can effectuate that change as well.


@Aaron_Ardle June 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

They need to open a park in South America. I think it’s probably the next step after Shanghai.


KIT June 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Nice one @zzgator with that “effectuate”


Danielle June 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

AHHH yeah, I’m super thrilled about this! Surprised by the numbers for MLK weekend, but pleasantly surprised. We go every January and it’s usually after MLK weekend, but since it’s a little later this year, we’ll be arriving Friday the 18th.

Your update just made my trip seem that much more real, even though it’s still 6 1/2 months away, ha.


Bev June 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm

We were at WDW the first week in January (arriving around the 4th after two days at Universal) in 2011 & 2012. I was struck by how the crowds stuck around through the first week & into marathon weekend. This coming year we are planning on the second week of January because of the marathon. One thing I did notice both years is that on marathon weekend they usually changed the EMH on Friday, instead of having it at EPCOT. I hope WDW offers a good deal (room discount) for the second week since it will probably slow down some from the previous week. I really enjoy your websit….informative & funny.


Melanie June 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Any word yet on how long the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be running at Hollywod Studios? It extended into Marathon Weekend this year, which was a real treat.


Stan June 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I don’t love you, but I like you……Not “like like”, but just “like”…In a manly fist bump kind of way…Know what I mean?

Anyway, I do love your updates and humor. Pictures are pretty good to…Just not in this particular update…


josh June 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Thanks Stan. I feel the same way.

Melanie, if I were a gambling man, I would say Osborne Lights will go from November 9th through January 6th, with the 6th being the last night. That’s based on when the Studios changes from 7pm to 8pm closings and then back to 7pm closings again on January 7th.


Melanie June 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Thanks, Josh. Appreciate your insights!


melissa sue June 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

You’re so awesome! I can barely believe you did this when you know how much it’s going to change once EMH come out … I am going to hold off making plans until then, I think.


Danyale June 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hi, Josh! Love this website! I was wondering if you knew what time the Osborne lights are turned on when HS closes at 8PM (such as Nov 14th)? Keep up the AWESOME work!!!


josh June 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm
Danyale June 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Thanks so much!!!


Traci June 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Started going Martin Luther week in 2004– back then it was a ghost town. Each year it got a bit busier and a bit busier–now Disney charges extra for rooms that weekend. . This year due to son’s finals we arrive 25th and don’t leave ’till the calendar is in Feb–can’t wait to see what the crowds are like.


Meghan June 27, 2012 at 4:37 am

@Traci we’ve seen that over the years too. My parents took me first when I was 3 on MLK and we went every 3 years and even I can remember crowds growing on that weekend as a child.


Danielle June 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

So here’s a question… Why the lower numbers for MLK Jr. weekend? I expected them to be higher, but was pleased to see 4s and 5s, as this is the first time we’ll be there over that weekend.

Kind of have it planned that most of that weekend we’ll be more on a schedule vs. easy going, but we’ve got 9 days so after everyone leaves on Monday, it’ll be a much more laid back approach for us.


Tiffany July 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

I just discovered you site and I love it already!

We have gone in January the last 2 years and one thing that struck me with this calendar is that fantasmic is listed everyday. The last 2 years they have only had it once or twice a week. Any thoughts on why they might have changed it for 2013?


Chocted July 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Bev we too were in Universal 2/3 January 2011(wasn’t it cold!) and then Disney afterwards till 11th, the crowds in that week leading up to Marathon weekend were alot busier than we thought they would be but we had survived the crowds between christmas and new year thanks to Josh so we just carried on. I wish we were going back this year but am popping in and out of here to keep up with what’s going on :-)


Kevin July 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

I’m surprised by the Fantasmic schedule every night as well (and the lack of it on the 24th?). We were thinking of going down the 26th, but if this stays accurate might have to go a coupl edays earlier. It’s been one of my goals to get to Characterpalooza since I read about it, but Fantasmic has been on every night when we’ve been there.


Bev July 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

Yes, Chocted it was so cold. I didn’t want to wear a coat at Universal so I had on 5 thin layers….it worked. By the time we got to WDW the temp started to moderate (it was 80 degrees on our last day). I can’t wait to see what we are in for this coming year. I keep checking every day hoping the EMHs will be posted for January….soon I hope :)


Chrystal July 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Josh – any update on the EMH for January? I was hoping they’d be published today along with the 2013 dining plans but I haven’t seen EMH info anywhere. Are they just not doing EMHs in January?


josh July 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Nope, as far as I know the schedule still isn’t available anywhere. I’m sure they’ll continue doing Extra Magic Hours, but I’m not sure if we’re going to see a different setup or not.


Chrystal July 12, 2012 at 6:52 am

Thanks for the update.


Amy July 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Still no word on January EMHs?


Traci July 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Another question I would have is why Fantasmic is shown as being at 6:30 for most of the month but then switches to 7 on the 27th…


josh July 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm

No word on January EMH. Maybe tomorrow along with the February operating schedule and August update. That may also come Friday.

For Fantasmic, they schedule it when it’s dark. Moving through January, it may get darker later, causing the change.


Kristy July 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hmm. Any idea when the EMH schedule will be out? I’m trying to plan my ADR’s for 1/21-28 and can’t without this schedule!

Help! ;)


Amy July 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Looks like evening EMHs are being cut back from 3 hours to 2


Amy July 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

January hours have been updated and EMH are up


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