WDW Park Hours: What to Expect in October

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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 February), 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 October hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in October 2011.

The numbers in red are October 2011 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-September 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 October (2012) have not yet been released.
  • The opening times for all parks change very, very rarely (only three days last October).
  • 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 Fridays and Saturdays in October for the Food  & Wine Festival.
  • Wishes is performed once per night, except on days where there is a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, and 31, 2012). Changes in October 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.
  • October  has many peaks and valleys as seen by the sporadic red on that chart, and that makes it a tricky month to predict. One thing you should be aware of is that Disney has been reluctant this summer to extend the Magic Kingdom’s closing time to the extremes, such as 1am (like on October 22, 2011). 11pm closings are becoming more normal rather than those very late weekend nights.

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, October 14, through Saturday, October 20, 2012 you would look at the second Sunday through the third Saturday from last year (September 9-15, 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. As you may have guessed by now, this is going to be a regular feature. I am still in the process of “catching up” to the currently available Walt Disney World calendar (currently through February). Once I have caught it, I will post these as the new preliminary hours are released.

Thanks!

 

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Posted on July 31, 2012

7 Responses to “WDW Park Hours: What to Expect in October”

  • Shouldn’t the dates in the 1st column be 2011, not 2012?

    • Uh…whoops. I will get that fixed as soon as I can. The rest of the data, including the day of the week, is correct. Just pretend that it says 2011 for the time being :)

      • No worries – just found it a little amusing after the pains you took in the article to point out that it was 2011 data. Schadenfreude, I guess. :-)

        Eagerly awaiting the December data – I need more numbers to crunch to pass the time until the trip!

  • October 15th is not on Saturday. It is on Monday.

  • Nice work!

    I finally will be visiting WDW in october this year! From your prediction i chose 9oct for WDW, since it’s listed as the best park and has the regular Wishes! And 15oct for HS (already got the fantasmic dining reservation). The only thing that concerns me, is the hurrican season. I hope it’s not too bad this year.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Joe

  • So glad you referenced October 14th thru 20th, 2012. That’s when we are taking our trip! But I was converting from 2011′s 16th thru 22nd, thinking it was closer, and not thrilled that the hours aren’t likely to be extended from the current schedule.
    Interesting that you instructed to compare with the 9th thru 15th of 2011 (it says September, but I knew what you meant), as 10/14/12-10/20/12 is the third full week of October this year, but 10/9/11-10/15/11 is the 2nd full week.