Here is the preliminary May 2012 Crowd Calendar. It should change slightly as I work through the specifics and finish up the “daily analysis.” If you don’t know what the boxes mean, please see the top of any crowd calendar page. This one would be fine. Skip past the updates until you see, “This is the Free November 2011 Disney World Crowd Calendar that shows the Recommended Parks to Visit, Overall Crowd Level Estimation, Cost…”
The Calendar is also available in an easy to view and print PDF file, Here.
I added a new line at the bottom that shows the start time for Wishes (W: 9pm) and Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP: 10pm). I’m not sure if I like it. It seems like it garbles up the already condensed boxes. It looks okay here, but it probably won’t look as good for months that have six rows or when additional Main Street Electrical Parades are added. We’ll see. I’ve thought about moving a more generalized account of the high/low temperatures for the month in the open boxes on the corners of the calendar, which may also be a viable option.
May is a pretty boring month at the moment. Magic Kingdom has the exact same operating hours every day with the exact same evening entertainment schedule. Hollywood Studios also has the same operating hours with Fantasmic scheduled every night. This will change moving forward, with Disney most likely extending the hours and adding a second Main Street Electrical Parade on Saturdays and potentially other days during the week. We should also see a second Fantasmic and extension of the operating hours when the Studios’ hosts Extra Magic Hours. Expect longer hours and a second Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios on Star Wars Weekend dates as well. It appears that Disney is already extending the hours at Animal Kingdom to closer what they’ll ultimately be. We already have 6pm and 7pm closes throughout the month. As I asked around, it seemed like the consensus was that attendance at Animal Kingdom is down because of the perceived shortness of the day. Since Disney ends up extending the hours at Animal Kingdom anyway, they might as well “show off” the 6pm and 7pm closes at the onset and hope that people will extend their vacations and include Animal Kingdom on their itinerary. Expect 5pm closes to be more common during fall/winter and when Disney World is less crowded. It makes sense.
Although Disney likely won’t announce Star Wars Weekend dates until January, everything is pointing to its usual schedule. We should see Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios on May 18 – 20, May 25-27, June 1 – 3, and June 8 – 10. Disney is already actively working on scheduling and we see that they have moved the morning Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios from its usual Saturday spot to Wednesday for those dates. As usual, this is an attempt to move the large Disney resort contingent from their usual Saturday visit to a Monday or Wednesday visit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Star Wars Weekends, I have an overview of 2011’s event here: https://www.easywdw.com/worth-2/star-wars-weekends-review-and-overview-of-characters-events-shows-and-more/.
Star Wars Weekends are a lot of fun for the die-hard fan and almost equally fun for the casual fan. I’m not in any way “huge” on Star Wars, but I thoroughly enjoyed the event, especially the shows in the Premier Theater (often overlooked) and the various special character meet and greets. On the downside, the Studios is swamped during the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that comprise Star Wars Weekends. While some people will tell you that the crowds don’t have much of an effect on wait times, I would disagree (and have proof). In addition to that, the quick service locations are slammed during meal times and common areas are much more crowded. That being said, it is a special event and I recommend attending a Star Wars Weekend date if you visit Disney World often, have an opportunity to visit the Studios on a second non-Weekend date, or particularly like Star Wars. With only one day to spend at the Studios, you’ll need to decide whether the Star Wars Weekend shows, characters, and events are worth dealing with heavier crowds.
My favorite story from Star Wars Weekends last year is one I tell often. It was a Saturday when Disney decided to open the Studios at 8am without announcing that they were moving the opening from 9am. I was standing in front of Toy Story Midway Mania at around 10:15am and the FASTPASS return time above the machines was 10:40 – 11:40. People were ecstatic because they had heard how popular Toy Story Mania was and were excited to be able to pull FASTPASSes for just 25 minutes in the future. Unfortunately, there was a cast member out front informing people that the return time was 10:40pm – 11:40pm, or about 12 hours in the future. I almost died.
Overall, crowds for most of May are average. There isn’t a lot of variance until the end of the month when crowd levels creep up moving into June. The weather also gets hotter as you move through the month, though the humidity isn’t usually as much of an “issue” as it is during the summer months.