On Saturdays for the remainder of the 2011 International Food & Wine Festival, Epcot is remaining open until 10pm–both Future World and World Showcase. Additionally, starting on October 28, 2011, the park will remain open until 10pm on Fridays through the end of the Festival on November 13, 2011. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is scheduled for 10pm on those nights.
Typically Epcot operates 9am to 9pm, with the holiday season having 9:30pm closings due to scheduling of Candlelight Processional performances.
Epcot has an extremely high park capacity–higher than that of each of the other Walt Disney World parks, and also greater than the combined capacities of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. Additionally, its attractions have high operational capacities; for example, Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom is lucky to move 600 guests an hour, whereas the average Epcot ride handles 1700-2000 guests per hour.
Combined, those factors allow Epcot to absorb crowds well, and that is why the Crowd Calendar typically recommends Epcot on the busiest days of the year. With the added crowds of this season and the Food & Wine Festival, Disney expanded Epcot’s operational hours. This has not actively been done outside of a holiday date (e.g., Independence Day, New Year’s Eve) since the 1990’s.
Finally, recall that our Crowd Calendar is based on attraction wait times. Since the Food & Wine Festival attracts many guests who do not ride attractions, you may find the parks crowded (especially on Fridays and Saturdays in World Showcase), even if attraction waits are in line with our predictions.
Blatant sell alert! If you want to read more about Epcot and how it operates, you can always buy my book, The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia. Available at fine retailers nationwide (globally, too!) in paperback and eBook format, including Kindle, NOOK, and iBooks.