By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

2012 Disney World Winter Ride Closures Beginning to Clarify

By Dave Shute


The list of attractions closed at Disney World for repair or refurbishment in the winter of 2012 is beginning to emerge.

Rides so far known to be closed some or all of this period include

    • Fantasmic, closed 1/9/2012 to 2/12/2012
    • Big Thunder Mountain, closed 1/9/12 to 5/27/2012
    • Dumbo, closed 1/9/12 to 3/31/2012
    • The Liberty Belle, closed 1/28 to 5/20
    • Kali River Rapids, closed 1/24 through 2/9
    • The Main Street Electrical Parade, closed 1/20 to 2/12
    • the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, closed 2/26 to 3/10
    • The Studio Backlot Tour, closed 2/13 to 3/9
    • The Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, closed 2/13 to 3/10

Many weeks in this time period are great for returning visitors, but because winter ride closures are typical, I don’t recommend January and early February
for first-time visitors who may never return. 

See this for more.



1 Leesa { 10.20.11 at 10:58 am }

I’m taking my mother for her 1st trip to WDW., but can’t decide between Feb 13 – 20 or March 5 – 12 (getting close to Presidents Week or early Spring Break time). She’ll be needing a scooter or wheelchair (she can walk some but can’t handle the distance WDW requires). I’m aware we won’t have to worry about long wait lines. I’m concerned about navigating through crowds because this will be the 1st time she’ll have used a scooter. Winters here are difficult so we’ll be more than ready for a break by mid Feb., but then there’s the lure of the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival in March which I’ve never been to and I know she’d enjoy it. Then there’s the issue of rainy season too for March. We’ll be staying at the Shades of Green.

2 Dave { 10.20.11 at 11:24 am }

Hi Leesa! Coupla things.

First I can’t recommend either period you note, as both end with high crowds. See this: If you could arrive earlier in either period and depart by Feb 17 or March 10 I think it would go better! If you are stuck wiht one or the other pick your March date.

Second those in scooters usually have to wait in the regular lines, unless they have a medical condition that makes waiting itself, even while seated, distinctly challeging…

3 Mike { 10.21.11 at 8:54 am }

I’ve been reading that thunder mountain will definitely be closed through may and even worse for us late April visitors, test track will also refurb around Easter time. Have you heard this?

4 Dave { 10.21.11 at 11:31 am }

I haven’t seen any firm dates beyond it reopening 4/1. My expectation is that Disney will “move mountains” 🙂 to get it re-opened by Easter week–which is 4-1…

5 Leesa { 10.21.11 at 4:01 pm }

Thanks, Dave for your quick and helpful response. We may go earlier from March 1 – 8 (so we can still take in the EPCOT FGF) or go March 5 – 12 and go to the beach for the last couple of days. I’m really glad you mentioned about the scooters and medical condition. I did more checking and found out I should get documentation from her doctor on her condition(s) so we can request a Guest Assistance Card (GAC).

6 Dave { 10.21.11 at 5:32 pm }

Glad to help Leesa, and have a great trip!

7 Mike { 10.22.11 at 8:50 am }

Dave, i defer to your expertise on these things, but almost all other websites are saying Thunder Mountain will be closed until 5/27. Let me know if you hear anything concrete either way, we may potentially push our trip back. Have you heard anything about when/if test track will go down?

8 Dave { 10.22.11 at 1:30 pm }

Mike between this site, my family and my real job I make 20 mistakes before breakfast! So anything is possible.

On Big Thunder, you are right, lotsa other websites are publishing rumors that its closure will end between May 8 and May 27. But I’m hearing nothing definitive from sources I have learned to trust. (That doesn’t mean the other sites aren’t trustworthy–just that I have not spent enuf time on them to personally trust them.) And some of the dates are so close to reports about Big Thunder Mountain’s closure extension at Disneyland Paris earlier this year that I wonder if some mixing up is going on.

The rumors are also out there on Test Track. I find these less compelling–the logic seems unsound. (Specifically, the pace of redesign is too fast.)

But as noted above I’m wrong all the time, so as soon as I hear something definitive from a source I trust showing that once again I’m wrong I’ll post right away!

9 Jane { 10.29.11 at 6:26 am }

Our choices of when to go are Dec. 28 – Jan. 4, March 30-April 6, or July 15 – 23. Avoiding the most people possible is our goal, even though all these dates draw them. We’ve been several times before, but never over new year’s. Could you rank the 3 on how you would pick these times to go? I’m a teacher with 2 kids so trapped into school breaks. Thanks for your help!

10 Dave { 10.29.11 at 12:12 pm }

Hi Jane! Your best among these is your July dates, and the March 30 dates are the worst. The New Years is in between–the first half is worse than the March days, but the last two or three days are excellent.

11 Mary { 11.01.11 at 4:23 pm }

I am taking my 8 year old daughter to WDW Dec26-30, 2012. This will be the first trip for her. I have not been there since I was a child. Are they dates usually more crowded or less crowded at this time? I really want her to have a good time. We are leaving the day after Christmas to come there. Can you tell me when which parks seem to get the most crowded.

12 Dave { 11.01.11 at 7:00 pm }

Mary, your target dates are the single most crowded time of the year. All of the parks get unbearably crowded, but Epcot is the least likely to close due to corwds. For more see this:

13 Lona Holder { 11.10.11 at 12:11 am }

Hi Dave, we r wanting to go to disney feb 2-7. my husband and kids first time. i have 2y and 4y old.we see this is lowest crowd which will be good but wander if it will be nice weather and are things still nice around this time. if list of closures r accurate we r fine with them. want to take advantage of sp offer free dinning plan but other dates r during highest crowd.please help

14 Dave { 11.10.11 at 7:56 am }

Hi Lona!

You can find answers to the basics beginning here:

Yours is a good time to go, but weather is very variable in Orlando at that time of year–see

15 Aaron { 12.27.11 at 2:48 am }

Hello Dave! My family is planning to visit Disney world from Feb 27th-March 2nd. Do you think we have a decent chance of seeing smaller crowds? It is in between busy presidents week and the beginning of spring break. We went last year between march 4th and march 11th and it was pretty busy the beginning of the week but tapered off as the week went on. What do you think?

16 Dave { 12.27.11 at 8:25 am }
17 Glen { 01.17.12 at 1:43 pm }

hi i will be arriving on 22/1/12 and am a little confused as to which day the kali river rapids actually close…Are they open on 23/1 or do they close end of day on 22/1….regards glen

18 Dave { 01.17.12 at 1:50 pm }

Hi Glen, Disney’s website indicates it’s open the 23rd and closes the 24th. Thanks for asking–I just updated the page to make that clear…

19 John { 04.01.12 at 10:46 pm }

Any idea what’s going on with Test Track? I think they tentatively announced it would be closing in April 2012 for refurbishment, but they haven’t said anything since. Do you think we should expect it to be closing in the next month? It seems a bit odd that they haven’t clarified or put it on their calendars.

20 Dave { 04.03.12 at 10:12 am }

Hi John–somehow I missed this when you first posted it–sorry about that! But in the meantime, word has come out that the refurb is on, and Test Track will close on 4/16. See this:

21 Paige { 04.20.12 at 5:51 pm }

Hi! I’m trying to convince my parents that Disney is a great place to go. They have only been once and they picked the worse time to go (December 28-30). I have been twice since then and have had a great time. Is December 15-20 2012 a good week to go? We will have three kids (9,13,2) and three adults.

22 Dave { 04.20.12 at 6:25 pm }

Hi Paige…yeah if that’s the only time I’d been there I wouldn’t want to come back either! Your target dates should be good. The 20th may start to see heavy Christmas crowds, but earlier that week should be great! See this:

23 Sylvia { 08.31.12 at 1:40 pm }


We are planning a family trip for the week of January 4 – January 11. I’m concern about the weather? Also, Do you recommend to purchase the tickets for the water parks?
I was reading too, that some of the rides are close but it looks that is more after 1/9/12.
Any suggestions?

24 Dave { 09.01.12 at 9:05 am }

Hi Sylvia! The weather in January can be quite variable, with highs in the 30s or the 80s. See this: As a result, I wouldn’t buy waterpark tickets until the day before or even the day of a waterpark visit. It’s too early to know when or what the ride closures will be, but if 2013 follows the typical pattern ride closures may begin as early as the 4th…

25 Ayako { 12.16.12 at 11:33 am }


I am planning a trip for my 10 years old son and my husband. My son’s birthday is 28th Jan, he will turn 11. I want to bring them to Disney from 28th to 31th Jan,2013. My son just got here (US) he came from Tokyo,Japan. I am wondering if the time will be ok for him to enjoy it. Will the Attractions at Epcot be closed during the winter closures? Our whole family numbers don’t like to wait a long time for attractions, so I was thinking in the end of Jan will be good for us less people. What would you suggest for us? Thank you!

26 Dave { 12.16.12 at 12:29 pm }

Hi Ayako! Those will be great days at Disney World. Right now, there are no announced closures at Epcot, and if any do emerge, it will be just one or two rides, I’d bet!

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