Crowd Calendar Update – Extra Magic Hour Mornings

by on June 2, 2010 32 Comments

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It has been a week since we launched our new and improved Crowd Calendar 2.0 and we thank everyone for all the great comments and support.

Today, we’re tweaking our Crowd Calendar’s park recommendations. Many of you have written to us mentioning that we’ve recommended certain parks on Extra Magic Hour mornings. This goes against our usual strategy for recommending parks, especially since non-resort guests cannot take advantage of Extra Magic Hour mornings.

When it comes to EMH mornings, it’s a tough call: if you’re a resort guest and can park hop, you can beat the crowds by waking up early and switching parks by 11am. If you’re not, you’re definitely better off hitting another park.

For the purposes of our Crowd Calendar, we need to make it optimal for all guests, hence the changes we’re putting in place today. Most affected are the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Crowds at these parks are affected not just by Extra Magic hours but also by nighttime schedules like Spectromagic and Fantasmic. You may find that these parks went from “Best Park” to “Park to Avoid” for the day of your visit. If you were planning to take advantage of Extra Magic hours it still may be a good choice. These new recommendations are best for non-resort guests who can not take advantage of the Extra Magic hour.

Thinking about heading to a park on a Extra Magic Hour morning? Tips for Extra Magic Hour (EMH) mornings

  1. Best for resort guests with park hoppers
  2. Arrive at the turnstile 20-30 minutes before the EMH
  3. Follow a morning touring plan that includes the attractions open during EMH
  4. Exit the park before lunch
  5. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios are good choices for EMH mornings
  6. Animal Kingdom EMH morning is not recommended for touring (Waits during EMH morning are historically higher than the first hour of a non-EMH day)

Follow these tips to get the most out of your Extra Magic Hour Morning.

Posted on June 2, 2010

32 Responses to “Crowd Calendar Update – Extra Magic Hour Mornings”

  • Any chance the crowd calender will ever have a recommended park for Morning and Evening. I’m an annual passholder and love to go from my morning park to another park. Thanks.

    • Hmm, that’s a good one Eddie. We’ve never split up the recommendations into half-days.

      Any park is a good choice for morning touring (other than avoiding EMH morning if you don’t have access). In general, morning and evening recommendations would be as follows:

      Pick any non-EMH morning park for morning touring
      Visit a recommended park in the afternoon

  • Arrgh! Thanks for the tip on extra crowds in AK on EMH days. So as soon as I read that I started switching around our park days on a trip in August and trying to rearrange my meal reservations. So now I have options in 2 different parks!

    • Also note in your planning that the morning EMH at Epcot doesn’t include World Showcase at all, just the rides/buildings in FutureWorld.

      • by Debbie from Chicago on June 2, 2010, at 1:11 pm EST

        Be careful with double booking ADRs. I was told just 2 days ago by a dinining reservation cast member that they are starting to cancel reservations that are double booked.

        • I’m willing to wait and see what they do when my travel dates get closer. (Nothing to lose!) I’m betting there are a huge number of double-bookings in the system, with half the restaurants that I try being fully booked 3 months out!

    • Oh good Nancy, glad it helped. That was one case where the statistics showed us something that we didn’t expect. People who tour the Animal Kingdom during the extra magic hour will wait longer (on average) than those who tour during the first hour of a non-EMH day. Mostly due to the fact that the Animal Kingdom only has four attractions open.

      • Plus, after the “day guests” are let in, the crowds are noticeably higher than on non-EMH days, meaning that all those other attractions will have long lines, too. Even if you saved time in EMH, you’d lose it back before noon.

  • Thanks so much for keeping things as accurate as possible!! When will we have a Crowd Calendar that will give the crowd level for each park for each day?

  • Beautiful! Thank you for updating this a week before I have to make my ADRs. Your timing is perfect! 🙂

    • Oh good, glad it worked out for you. Some of our other readers weren’t so lucky. Good luck with the ADR planning.

      • Like me. I was joking with my mom that you were going to change the recommended parks right after I made ADRs. However, I have read your page/books long enough I had already changed them to what I knew you meant them to be. Thanks for all the training! 😉

  • Why not have 1 Crowd Calendar for On-Property Guests and 1 Crowd Calendar for Off-Property Guests?

    • This is an interesting idea Alex. We are working on expanding the crowd calendar to provide more custom details (crowd levels by park, park schedules, etc) which may help our readers decide for themselves what days are best. Stay tuned…

  • EVERY date changed recommendations for my travel week! I wish I understood statistics better. Fred, I will just have to trust in your expertise.

    • by Joe Stefanski on June 2, 2010, at 4:45 pm EST

      Yea, I know what you mean. I’m a engineer and had everything planned out. Now it has changed twice, but I’m also trusting the recommendations. It’s been 5 years since we’ve last been to WDW. Now I just have to convince my 17 yr old daughter that plans have changed again.

    • Sometimes I feel the same Marge 🙂

      In this case, the statistics were telling us something valuable that was only applicable to half our readers so we decided to make the change.

    • Don’t forget what the good book (and website) says – a good touring plan is much more helpful than the “best day/worst day” rankings. We don’t worry too much about best/worst except as a tiebreaker between two parks we are open to a particular day.

  • How much do you really need to worry about best park and parks to avoid if the crowd level is 1 or 2? Its still all relative right?

    • Yes, its all relative. The gains of optimal touring diminish as the crowds get smaller and smaller. We would suggest that with crowds at level 1 or 2, it is still worth it to follow the recommendations even if it means only saving 1 hour of standing in line.

  • Hi Fred, Thanks for all the thought & energy you put into the crowd calendar. I use it to plan every trip and I also use it to help others plan their trips. I would love to see a crowd number for each park if that is at all possible. It would also be helpful to have an extra magic recommendation and a non-extra magic recommendation for the day. Is there any reason why these wouldn’t work?

  • by Aaron Newton on June 3, 2010, at 8:20 am EST

    Thanks for the update but man I wish this had happened before I made ADRs on Tuesday. :(. I’ve always just trusted Touring Plans on recommendations and didn’t bother to check EMH days myself as I didn’t expect TP to recommend an EMH morning…

    • Thanks Aaron, sorry that this update messes with your ADRs. We don’t make these changes lightly because we know there are lots of readers like you who make their plans based on our recommendations. Whether or not you go through the trouble of changing all your ADRs again will be up to you. There are some cases where wait times can be low enough during EMH days to make a park recommended but you are right, we don’t usually do it. Let us know what you decide to do.

      • by Aaron Newton on June 3, 2010, at 1:29 pm EST

        After looking things over a little I’ve decided that projected numbers are low enough that we’re just gonna go with it this time. It really only affects us 1 day this time out, no biggie. :).

  • by Lisa from MA on June 3, 2010, at 11:24 am EST

    I am so glad we have you to keep us up to date with the crowds!It did change on my dates thou. Friday Dec 3, MK was a best park now it’s an avoid. I already booked BBB for before the park opens so we can be ready for rope drop and then we are having lunch at CRT. Is it a park to avoid because of MVMCP or because of the parade taping? How will the taping effect the rides? I really don’t want to change my ADR’s. If I follow a touring plan should we be ok? I want to get as much in as possible but don’t want to go out of my mind with large crowds. TIA!

  • by Chris from WI on June 3, 2010, at 2:19 pm EST

    Our MK day went from a recommended day to an avoid day. (Oct 11), but that is also DS’s birthday, so we’re going to suck it up. Can I ask though…we’re planning on going first thing in the morning and heading back to the hotel around noon for R&R before we return for MNSSHP that night. Will we really be impacted by the heavy crowds that much? Should I be nervous? LOL

    Anyway, love the book and love the site. There’s so much to learn as a first timer, but you’ve made it all very easy for me to follow!!

  • In the book it says there is free access to the year long crowd calendars, yet online it says I have to pay. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Hello Tiffany, and thanks for reading the book. The 2010 edition contains an unfortunate misprint regarding access to the calendar; it does require a subscription to view more than 30 days in advance. This correction is listed on the book’s update page and in all future printing of the book.

      The reason for the policy change is that keeping the crowd calendar updated now costs more than keeping the rest of the book updated, on an annual basis. We’re really happy that the calendar is useful to so many people. With that popularity comes literally thousands of questions and increased expectations in terms of accuracy. Subscriptions help pay some of those costs.

      I hope that’s understandable. Thanks again for reading the book!

  • I’m confused about October. When we are going, all of the MNNSHP days are listed as ‘worst’ for MK. Is that because of the party? If so, would that mean it only gets busy after 4? During the week, one of the days that MK is the ‘best’ it is evening EMH (10/25). Is that really a better day to go?