This is what Disney World is looking like for January 2016. 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.
The $$$$ resort prices on the line below the date are estimates based on previous years. We should know exact pricing and seasons when 2016 packages become available for booking on the 22nd. Holiday Season should continue for the first two days with peak-level crowds, in addition to a continuation of the holiday shows at Magic Kingdom. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights looks to continue through the 3rd. It seems like a safe bet that the Frozen Castle Lighting at Magic Kingdom will continue for a few days after that.
Things die down considerably on the 3rd and we see crowds that are well below-average for a few days beginning on the 5th, before going back up to average levels for Marathon Weekend from the 8th-10th. Then it’s below-average again until the 15th for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend through the 18th. Then it’s relatively low to average crowds through the first week in February.
A few things are a departure from previous years. The good news is perhaps that Main Street Electrical Parade is scheduled every night. That offers visitors many more opportunities to see the show, but it also works to balance daily crowds out more evenly as people don’t swarm to Magic Kingdom on Parade nights. And because Magic Kingdom isn’t pulling considerably more people on specific days, it also means the other Parks aren’t giving up more people, which in turn causes daily attendance to even out more than past years. Add Fantasmic every night and what should be similar operating hours at most parks on most days, and we don’t enjoy the fluctuations that we saw when the theme park offerings were wildly different from day to day. Add maximum daily FastPass+ distribution at just about any attraction that moves or might feature Anna and Elsa, and what you do only becomes that much more important than what day you do it. The recommended Parks on the lowest crowd level days will reliably see fewer people, lower average and peak waits, and easier overall touring, but I guarantee you somebody is going to return from their trip spanning January 21st to January 28th and complain that they just came back from spending July 4th at Magic Kingdom. It’s something I look forward to every year.
The Extra Magic Hours schedule is also considerably different than previous years. I’m not expecting it to have a dramatic impact on crowd flow throughout the week, but certain days like Epcot on Thursdays and Magic Kingdom on Fridays are affected.