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 that month (for instance, August’s adjusted hours should be released on or around July 16) and makes changes to its park hours.
How often are park hours changed two weeks before the start of a month? This post will give you idea of what to expect when August hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in August 2011.
The numbers in red are August 2011 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-July 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 August (2012) have not yet been released.
- The opening times for all parks change very, very rarely (not one time last August).
- Epcot times change very, very rarely (which is why they are not listed).
- Wishes is performed once per night, and changes in August are very rare. We’ve not listed Wishes because of this.
- 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. August represents a transition from a peak period to a slower period (as children return to school). We call these “shoulder periods,” and they mean that the above listed variables can be less predictable. As you can see, last year that meant a lot of change for Hollywood Studios, but not as much for the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.
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, August 5, through Saturday, August 11, 2012 you would look at the first Sunday through the second Saturday from last year (August 7-14, 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.
Interested in July 2011? Check out this post.