Here’s the preliminary November 2012 Disney World Crowd Calendar:
Click to expand. If you have no idea what you’re looking at, read over the top of this post. It explains what each line means. It might seem a little wonky at first, but all of the months look the same, so once you understand it you can hopefully apply what you’ve learned in the future.
The recommendations may change slightly as I take a closer look at it. The daily analysis will come after I finish the May updates. The Osborne Lights November 9th debut is “unofficial,” but it’s the first date where Hollywood Studios switches from a 7pm close to an 8pm close in November. That’s an indication that the Osborne Lights will start. The early 4pm close the night before may be a cast member preview along with another event of some magnitude.
Overall, November is one of the more complicated months as far as putting together the recommendations, crowd levels, and daily analysis. Over the first two weeks, we have the Food and Wine Festival making it difficult to schedule Epcot. Epcot is overwhelmingly busier on the weekends during the Festival, particularly on Saturdays and to a lesser extend Fridays and Sundays. It makes touring the World Showcase on the weekends difficult both because of the wall of crowds and inebriated college students/conventioneers/adults/underage kids. The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party schedule also makes recommending Epcot and Hollywood Studios in particular more difficult. Since so many people avoid Magic Kingdom when it closes at 7pm for a Party, they inevitably have to visit a different theme park. With the long hours and evening entertainment, Epcot and Hollywood Studios see the brunt of those crowds though Animal Kingdom is also busier.
Then in the middle of the month, the Extra Magic Hours schedule changes because the Food and Wine Festival is over. You’ve also got Veteran’s Day crowds mixed in with Jersey Week crowds. Then there’s Thanksgiving. But that’s more my problem than yours. Save for Thanksgiving, November sees mostly average to slightly below average crowds. That’s still going to be heavier than it has been in past years, but we’re comparing it to a very busy summer, spring break season, Christmas, etc. Most of November is a good time to visit, particularly because of the more comfortable weather, but we’re certainly not talking about empty theme parks. With overwhelming international attendance, particularly from South America, the days of no lines and no crowds are behind us.
The weeks before and after Thanksgiving in particular are great. After Thanksgiving, you also have the benefit of seeing the Candlelight Processional and Holidays Around the World at Epcot. For the week before, the decorations at Magic Kingdom will be up, Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be in full swing, and the resorts should be completely decorated for the holidays, especially as you get closer to November 17th.
Thanksgiving week is quite busy. Last year saw the largest crowds on record for that week and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see slightly heavier crowds this year. Crowds should still be lower than the week before Easter or December 21st – January 1st if those are your only options. On-site pricing is also lower in November.
Here’s a look at last year’s November Walkabouts in case you’re wondering what it “really looks like.” I did take Thanksgiving off to return to Washington state, so there aren’t any pictures from that week. The first two Party articles should give you an idea about what to expect if you’re on the fence about attending: