Disney has finally updated the theme park hours for December on their own website as of December 2nd at 11pm. You may remember I originally made a complete list of the December changes back on November 20th. It took just under two weeks for Disney to make the changes to their own calendar on DisneyWorld.com. While correct Park hours, Parade times, and Fantasmic schedules may at times seem trivial, they can be very important. For example, let’s say you left for Disney World today for a ten day vacation and relied on the DisneyWorld.com calendar to plan your itinerary. You might have missed the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade on December 3rd and 4th because you thought it was at 3pm as listed on Disney’s site, even though the Parade won’t start until 5pm. This could mess with dining reservations, planned breaks, Park Hops, etc. You would also think the Magic Kingdom is opening at 9am on Sunday, when it’s really opening at 8am. Because the new Times Guide doesn’t start until Sunday, you might not pick up a new guide in time to see Sunday’s change. Imagine wrestling the family out of bed at 7:30am with promises of an empty Park, only to find out that it’s been open for an hour once you arrive. Even worse, if you made a reservation at Crystal Palace on Sunday for 8:30am, thinking you could enter the Park early and get some photos without anyone else around, you would arrive to find out that thousands of people have already been let in. You wouldn’t know that it’s possible to Park Hop to Hollywood Studios to catch the second Fantasmic on December 9th because only one show is listed on DisneyWorld.com. You might think you need to pay $35+ per person for the Fantasmic Dining Package, only to find out you could attend the second show with a significantly shorter wait and no additional cost. Will any of this ruin a trip? Probably not. But there’s no excuse for Disney not updating their website with the proper operating schedule until the day after the changes start to happen. People should not have to rely on “unofficial” websites to get the official information.
The Two “Primary Sources” for Theme Park Hours
There are only two (three if you count the internal employee calendar) sources for theme park hours that come directly from the Walt Disney Company. All “unofficial” or “fan” websites that create their own calendars/schedules use one of these two sources, unless they copy the information from another secondary source. One of these sources is the calendar found at DisneyWorld.com and the other is the “Travel Agent Calendar.” The great majority of these websites use the Travel Agent Calendar because it’s updated more often, it’s easier to read, it requires less clicking around, and it’s more likely to be correct. One common misconception is that the Travel Agent Calendar is made by some random travel agent making up operating hours as they go. In reality, the Walt Disney Company prepares the Travel Agent Calendar and posts it on their travel agent portal for travel agents to view and print. Because the Travel Agent Calendar is made of PDF files (the same format I used on my crowd calendars), it’s much easier to update than DisneyWorld.com. I don’t know what all goes into making an update on Disney’s own site, but it must be very complicated because there are tons of links that need to be changed and updated. Because it’s easier to update the PDF calendars, Disney releases the changes to the Travel Agent Calendars before they are able to update their own website. I have provided links to the Travel Agent Calendar pages below for you to peruse and print.
An Unfortunate Predicament for easyWDW and Your Author
When the operating hours are different on DisneyWorld.com and on the Travel Agent Calendar, it presents a problem for those of us trying to keep an accurate calendar ourselves. Do I wait until DisneyWorld.com updates with the changes? Do I make changes immediately after they’re released on the Travel Agent Calendar? My choice has been to make updates as they come out on the Travel Agents Calendar. This allows us to plan for the published changes before they hit the Disney website. As we have seen this month, Disney didn’t update December’s hours on their own website until after December started. If I waited to update the December Crowd Calendar until today, many of you would have already left on your vacation or you would have less time to talk about and tweak your itinerary. On the flip side, a lot of casual readers come to easyWDW.com and see operating hours that differ from those found on the “official website.” Because it makes sense to assume that the “official website” would be correct and I would be wrong, a lot of people may dismiss the information as incorrect or outdated. As we’ve come to learn, the exact opposite is true, but not everyone will take the time to understand this.
As long as I have run easyWDW.com, I have never seen the Travel Agent Calendar list incorrect operating hours for the major theme parks, except one time when the Magic Kingdom was open one hour later than was posted.
Hopefully Disney will make improvements to the “official calendar” and be more prepared to make updates in the future. Considering the theme parks bring in over 10 billion dollars in revenue each year, there is really no excuse for taking two weeks to make important operating hour changes.
Travel Agent Operating Hours Calendars
For those interested in seeing the Travel Agent Calendar for each month, here are the links:
This is as far as we’ve gotten into 2011. August 2011 should be available around January 17th.
It’s a lot easier to print this calendar for your week or month than it is to try to print multiple pages from DisneyWorld.com. The Travel Agent Calendar also lists the Parade and Fantasmic times, which is convenient information as well. Of course, I also list this information on the Crowd Calendar pages, but it can be helpful to have most of the pertinent information on just one or two sheets of paper.
When you look at the links, you’ll notice that they are all the same except for the last three letters before the .PDF at the end of the link. For example, the December calendar is located at http://www.disneytravelagents.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_dec.pdf. The last three letters are the first three letters of the designated month. To change it to January, all you need to do is replace the last three letters, “dec,” with “jan.” The link to January’s Calendar then becomes http://www.disneytravelagents.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_jan.pdf. For February, simply add “feb” as the last three letters, replacing “jan.” The only exceptions are June and September, which both use four letters instead of three. For example, June is http://www.disneytravelagents.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_june.pdf and September is http://www.disneytravelagents.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_sept.pdf.
You can see the 2010 operating hours for August, September, October, and November as well. The 2011 hours will be updated at the same link location. For example, you can go to the Travel Agent Calendar for August at http://www.disneytravelagents.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/ParkHours/WDW_Operating_Calendar_aug.pdf and see 2010’s operating hours. When 2011 is ready, the link will update to the 2011 Calendar.