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 November hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in November 2011.
The numbers in red are November 2011 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-October 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 November (2012) have not yet been released.
- Thanksgiving week is very busy, which is why the hours were all expanded last year during that week. You can expect similar long days this year as well as similar crowd levels.
- The opening times for all parks change very, very rarely (with the obvious exception being during the busy Thanksgiving period).
- 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 the beginning of November for the Food & Wine Festival. Preliminary 2012 hours also show that Epcot will be open until 9:30pm during Thanksgiving week.
- Wishes is performed once per night, except on days where there is a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (November 1, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29, 30, 2012). Changes in November 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.
- November 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 12am (like on November 5 and 12, 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, November 4, through Saturday, November 10, 2012 you would look at the first Sunday through the second Saturday from last year (November 6-12, 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.