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 October), 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, May’s adjusted hours should be released on or around April 15) 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 May hours are adjusted. And the chart below shows what the final park hours were for Walt Disney World in May 2012.
The numbers in red are May 2012 dates that changed when park hours were adjusted in mid-April 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 May (2013) have not yet been released.
- The opening times for all parks change very rarely.
- 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.
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, May 11, through Saturday, May 18, 2013 you would look at the second Saturday through the third Saturday from last year (May 12-19, 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.