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 January), 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, September’s adjusted hours should be released on or around August 20) 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 September hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in September 2011.
The numbers in red are September 2011 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-August last year.
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 September (2012) have not yet been released.
- The opening times for all parks change very, very rarely (not one time last September).
- Epcot times change very, very rarely (which is why they are not listed).
- Speaking of Epcot, the preliminary hours for that park show it will be open until 10pm (instead of the usual 9pm) on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, 2012, the first weekend of the Food & Wine Festival.
- Wishes is performed once per night, except on days where there is a Night of Joy (September 7 & 8, 2012) or a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, and 30, 2012). Changes in September are very rare, so we have 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. September is hardly a peak time as evidenced by the lack of red on that chart. It is far more accurate to assume the hours in September will not change.
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, September 9, through Saturday, September 15, 2012 you would look at the second Sunday through the third Saturday from last year (September 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.