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 March), 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, October’s adjusted hours should be released on or around September 17) 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 January hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in January 2012.
The numbers in red are January 2012 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-December 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 January (2013) have not yet been released.
- The second weekend in January (10th-13th in 2013) is the Walt Disney World Marathon and tends to be a busier weekend than the surrounding days. The park hours are expected to reflect this.
- The opening times for all parks change very rarely (with the obvious exception being during the busy Christmas and New Year period).
- Epcot times change very, very rarely (which is why they are not listed).
- Wishes is performed once per night, and changes 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 the most variable.
- Fantasmic! and the Main Street Electrical Parade were both undergoing refurbishment in January 2012, which is why there are big periods of inactivity. Barring something unforeseen, that will not be the case in 2013.
- January 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 January 13, 2012). 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 Saturday, January 12, through Saturday, January 19, 2013 you would look at the second Saturday through the third Saturday from last year (January 14-21, 2012). 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 March). Once I have caught it, I will post these as the new preliminary hours are released.