Here at TouringPlans.com we spend a lot of time honing our predictions to make our Crowd Calendar the most accurate available. One of the many methods we employ is projecting park hours for all of Disney’s Florida theme parks. You may be wondering why we bother since Disney World publishes its park hours for all to see. Well, Disney does not always make things easy (as outlined here).
The published hours are available for the next six months (currently through December), but they are simply preliminary hours. Disney doesn’t create an operational schedule for its employees that far in advance. Using things like hotel occupancy rates and dining reservations, Disney reviews all hours for a given month approximately two weeks prior to the start of a that month (for instance, July’s adjusted hours should be released on or around June 15) and makes changes to its park hours.
How often are park hours changed about two week before the start of a month? This post will give you idea of what to expect when July hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in July 2011.
The numbers in red are July 2011 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-June last year. Yes, there were many changes.
There are a few things you should notice about this chart:
As mentioned above, these are the final park hours from last year (I want to make that very clear); final hours for this July (2012) have not yet been released.
- The opening times for all parks change very, very rarely (once, for the Magic Kingdom, out of 124 park openings in July).
- Epcot times change very, very rarely (which is why they are not listed).
- Wishes is performed once per night, and changes in July are very rare. We’ve not listed Wishes because of this, although Wishes technically is not shown on July 3rd and 4th since a special holiday fireworks take its place.
- The days that have Extra Magic Hours almost never change.
- Closing times for the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as the number of performances of the Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasmic!, are highly variable at peak times (such as July), which is why there is so much red on that chart.
So the real question is what you should expect for this year. Since we started actively tracking park hour changes, we have noticed that the previous year is quite a good predictor of the upcoming changes. We do make some adjustments for our internal calculations, but the chart above should give you a good idea for planning purposes.
One thing to remember is to compare days of the week rather than numerical dates. For instance, if you are traveling from Sunday, July 8, through Saturday, July 15, 2012 you would look at the second Sunday through the third Saturday from last year (July 10-16, 2011). Please also keep in mind that this chart is one of many references for you to use in planning your trip and is not necessarily the exact operating times.
I hope you find this information useful. I am planning to make this a regular feature as hours are released, so other months are coming. Please let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to see on a regular basis.