Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Picking Your Park Days During Extra Extra Magic Hours



By Dave Shute

On May 3 Walt Disney World announced massive changes to its Extra Magic Hours calendar parallel with the partial opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on August 29, 2019.

The basics are that

  • Two of Disney World’s parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, will have daily morning Extra Magic Hours (EMH) from 7a to 8a every morning beginning 8/29 and ending 11/2
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios—where the new land will be found—will have daily EMH from 6a to 9a beginning 9/1, also ending 11/2. (The first three days the new land is open—8/29, 8/30, and 8/31, the Studios will simply open at 6a—there will be no EMH of any sort at that park those three days)
  • Epcot will not have its EMH pattern of Tuesday evening and Thursday mornings changed.

(There’s more on EMH in the link above, including what hotels are eligible for them, etc.)

This turn of events has thrown many folks for a loop, and I am getting millions of questions related to the new dynamic this period, ranging from

  • What days will be best for what parks?
  • What should people who are either not eligible for EMH or not willing or able to get their gang up early enough to take advantage of them do?
  • How should folks think about hopping among the parks?

See for example my exchange with Jennifer:

In the material below, I have the beginnings of answer, particularly to the question of what Disney World park to target what days. The basics follow the universal crowd management principle of Walt Disney World, which is to figure out what most people are going to do, and then to do the opposite.

This requires some understanding (and some guesswork) as to the basics of crowd patterns and of what elements of theme park operating and offerings calendar will attract “most people,” and what elements will repel them, so let’s start there.

THE BASICS OF CROWD PATTERNS IN DISNEY WORLD IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2019

Disney World sees more attendance over the weekend, and then on Fridays and Mondays, than it does Tuesdays through Thursdays. The worst weekend during the Extra EMH period after Labor Day will be the weekend of Columbus Day—Friday October 11 through Monday October 14.

  • While Flight of Passage will probably remain the best ride in all of Walt Disney World until Galaxy’s Edge is fully complete with Rise of the Resistance, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has no distinct new draws or distinct operating features for the Extra EMH period. Crowds there on a particular day thus probably will vary as a function of how attractive the other three parks are that day.
  • Epcot will be the only park with EMH that varies by day during this period. So it will have a bit of an extra draw from them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Its later hours on Fridays and Saturdays will also be a bit of an incremental draw; Food & Wine  will be a draw throughout the period, but especially on weekends and evenings; and the end of IllumiNations on 9/30 and introduction of the new Epcot temporary evening show Epcot Forever on 10/1 will draw folks there every evening—either for a last visit with IllumiNations or to see the new show.
  • Early 6p closes at Magic Kingdom three or four nights a week for the Halloween Party (or other reasons) will repel folks those days. On the other hand, on days when it is open late and offers its full evening program, it will have distinctive draws. This will have major spill-over effects on the other parks, as the folks repelled by the early close will go to one of them, and the folks attracted by late closes will not be going to them.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be worst on weekends, and best on midweek days when Magic Kingdom is open late and closes early the days before and after—typically Wednesdays.

Figuring out what all this means your specific week will be tricky (you can use the comment form below to simply ask) as there are very few “typical” weeks this period. But the basics are to look at the Magic Kingdom operating hours  your dates, and note what days it is open late and what days early. Use that to pattern your weekday visits, and avoid Hollywood Studios and Epcot (and maybe all the parks) over the weekend!

To give you an example of this, I’ve done it for the nine day period beginning Saturday October 5th through Sunday October 13.

The first thing I did was mark up what I thought operating hours would be. For Hollywood Studios and Epcot this was straightforward, and it was also straightforward for Magic Kingdom early close days. For Magic Kingdom closing times on nights it was open late, and for Animal Kingdom hours, I used the same “week before Columbus Day” hours from last year.

(You can find those hours for your week in 2018 by putting “Next Week (September 29 through October 7, 2018) at Walt Disney World” into the search bar near the top left of every page on this site, changing the dates to the Saturday and (week later) Sunday of your week.)

The result of this work is in the image above—you don’t need to go to this trouble, but should know opens and closes for the parks every day of your visit. Note how the graphic illuminates the Magic Kingdom hour variations…

Then I started thinking, following the basic principles outlined above. The answer I got for this week is as follows:

And the specific thoughts I went through for each day are below—note that I do not cover them in date order, as the order I present them shows more quickly some of the principles involved.

DAILY THOUGHTS ON DISNEY WORLD PARK CROWDS

Thursday October 10th. Each of the four parks has morning Extra Magic Hours, none has them in the evening, and Magic Kingdom closes early for the Halloween Party while the other three parks have normal evening operations. No one is distinctively repelled by the EMH schedule itself, and some will be attracted to Epcot by its (relatively speaking) rare morning EMH offering. Many will be repelled by Magic Kingdom’s early closing, going to and crowding the other three parks, and probably relatively speaking crowding Epcot in particular, because of its morning EMH offer. So on this day Magic Kingdom is the best choice, and Epcot and HS probably the worst. AK will probably be OK but not as good as MK.

Wednesday October 9. Magic Kingdom closes early both the day before and the day after, but today Magic Kingdom is open late. Nothing about their calendars makes HS or AK particularly attractive today compared to other days this week. The absence of EMH at Epcot this morning (as will be true most mornings) will add to its attractiveness for folks not eligible for EMH who are sophisticated enough about Disney World to want to see Epcot on a day when rope drop is possible for them, although since this is possible six out of seven days each week, you can’t read too much into it. The late Magic Kingdom close means Magic Kingdom will be slammed, thus drawing crowds away from the other three parks. Today MK will be a bad choice, and HS on this mid-week day will be much better than is it on days MK closes early. Sophisticated locals who don’t have to get up too early the next morning will head to HS this evening knowing how much of a draw the late MK close will be, but even so, midweek days when MK is open late, between days on either side that it closes early, will probably be the best choices for HS. AK and Epcot will probably be good.

Sunday October 6. Weekends I expect to be slammed at HS, and also at Epcot. Weekends will be slammed at HS because crowds are higher over weekends, but operating hours there don’t change; because that’s the easiest time for locals to go; and also because folks on trips aimed specifically at Galaxy’s Edge will largely be in town at least over the weekends. Epcot will be slammed both because of Food & Wine and its new evening show, and also because of how easy it will be for those who balk at Hollywood Studio’s crowds—especially those with hoppers– to get to Epcot: walk, take the boat, or take the eye-candy Skyliner. Magic Kingdom’s early close today between late closes on Saturday and Monday will repel people from that park today, adding to the crowds at Epcot and HS, and perhaps at AK as well. MK will be the best choice, HS the worst, and Epcot may be almost as bad as HS. AK likely will be better than HS and Epcot, but not as good as say it will be on Wednesday.

Monday October 7. Magic Kingdom closes early the day before and the day after, but this day it is open late. Nothing about their calendars makes HS or AK particularly attractive today compared to other days this week. The late close means Magic Kingdom will be slammed, thus drawing crowds from the other three parks. Today MK will be a bad choice, and each of the other parks will be better than they are on days MK closes early. Since more folk will be in Disney World on a typical fall Monday than a typical fall Wednesday, HS won’t be as good as it will be on Wednesday, but it will be better than any other day this week.

Saturday October 5. Saturdays will be slammed at HS as they are the easiest days to visit for both locals and out-of-towners. Epcot will likely also be nasty, as it is an easy day for locals to see Food &Wine, has an extra hour of operations which will work as a bit of a draw, will have the draw of the new evening show (as it will every night this week), and will suffer from balkers from the Studios. MK will be open late on October 5 between two days that it closes early, and will reveal itself once more to be the most popular park in the world. AK may well be tolerable, simply because of the attractiveness of the other three parks today.

Saturday October 12. Saturday the 12th and Sunday the 13th will likely be the busiest days in October, as they mark the heaviest period of the Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving) holiday weekend. HS and Epcot will be ugly for the same reasons noted for October 5. MK will be relatively less intrinsically attractive than on October 5 because it will also offer its full evening hours and program the next day, Sunday October 13, but the higher overall level of attendance at Disney World this weekend compared to the weekend of the 5th suggests that the 12th will be a day to avoid MK as well. The absence of such a distinctive level of attractiveness at MK on Saturday suggest that AK will not be nearly as good as it will be on Saturday the 5th. So I can’t see any park as a good choice.

Tuesday October 8 will be much like Thursday October 10, except Epcot’s draw will be in the evening. MK again has an early close sandwiched between two late close days, so many will avoid it and head to the other three parks instead. Both Food & Wine and Epcot’s new fireworks show are easier to navigate on days when Epcot has evening EMH, so Epcot will be particularly attractive to those eligible for EMH. Nothing special about AK or HS will make today much better or worse at either than Thursday. So MK will be best, AK ok, and Epcot and HS worst.

Friday October 11th will start the build of crowds for the holiday weekend. MK closes early, so folks will avoid it and head to the other parks. Epcot will be popular in the evening with locals, and its extra hour of opening may make it attractive to some out-of-towners as well. MK will be good, AK may be OK, Epcot not so good, especially in the evening, and HS worst.

Sunday October 13 will be rough at all the parks thanks to the holiday weekend. There’s no special reason to go to or not go to any park today compared to say Saturday the 12th, except Epcot may be a tad less attractive today than Saturday with its shorter hours and the fact that it is a school night, which will keep some locals away in the evening. Folks comparing today to Monday the 14th (not shown in my image) will prefer MK today to MK tomorrow, because Monday the 14th is one of the rare Mondays when MK closes early. AK likely will be best today, and HS and MK likely worst.

OK, that’s it for the example week. Figure all this out for your dates and you will be set—or alternatively, just ping me in the comments form below!

Next, I’ll be thinking about what to do if you can’t, or won’t, arrive well before EMH starts!

 

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

RELATED STUFF

68 comments

1 Jeff { 05.07.19 at 6:16 pm }

Dave – just confirming, that it’s possible to book dining reservations and fast-passes to HS, but be denied access to the park if it’s at capacity if we arrive later in the morning and are using Park Hopper rather than a ticket for the park designated by date? We’ll be arriving 10/19 and thru 10/26. and if so, best advice is to be there early?

2 Dave { 05.08.19 at 6:47 am }

Jeff, where are you staying? If you already have multi day tix (hopper or not), if you are at a Disney hotel, and if you are using Disney transportation, your hopper will get you in except in a “HS is closed to everyone” scenario (“Phase 4 Closing”), which is quite rare.

See this on TouringPlans which inlcuides frequency of closure type, and this on WDWMagic which is more comprehensive. Note that I think (but am not certain) that the WDWmagic list of eligible hotels should also include the Hilton Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria, reflecting their recent access to EMH and FP+ at 60.

Other than Labor Day weekend, when all bets are off, I just don’t foresee much in the way of park closures, and certainly not Phase 4. It’s too hard a time for families to travel, the partial opening limits the appeal, etc. If what we had gotten was a complete opening of SWGE in July, publicized nine months ahead, I would think differently.

That said I have been wrong before–but so long as you are in a WDW hotel you should be fine!

3 Jennifer { 05.07.19 at 7:07 pm }

I am completely tickled I’m an example. 😉 Since our timeframe doesn’t have a holiday like your example (THANK GOODNESS), I’m now thinking:

10/23 – Epcot
10/24 – Rope Drop Hollywood Studios, rest in the afternoon, Epcot in the evening (I know crowds won’t be good, but we’re going to be focused on F&W and understand what we’re getting into)
10/25 – Rope Drop Magic Kingdom, rest in the afternoon, hit Top of the World Lounge in the evening (we’re DVC at the Poly)
10/26 – Rope Drop Animal Kingdom, probably hang there most of the day
10/27 – Not even going to try a park, probably brunch and shopping at Disney Springs

How did I do? 🙂

4 Dave { 05.08.19 at 7:02 am }

Jennifer, you are ALWAYS an example–just some times more explicitly so!!

You have no good HS choices your dates. Given that, I am largely fine with your proposal.

But I have one back-of-the mind thought…why not HS the late afternoon evening of the 23rd through close, and sleep in the 24th? If you can get your key FP+ for it that afternoon/evening, things may be much more civil (thanks to the draw of MK that evening) than getting up so early the 24th. And recall that you can get in line for something 2 minutes before park close…

5 James { 05.08.19 at 10:00 am }

Dave,

Thanks as always for your analysis. I Love the book as well. I’m going down for a long weekend in October and will have two days for parks, Friday October 18th and Saturday October 19th. For the first day, I’m planning to arrive around 5AM at HS and tour only Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land during EMH. Then I plan to hop to Epcot around 8:30AM and have my fastpasses in that park. For the second day, I’m planning to just do Magic Kingdom. I know that being a Friday and Saturday, none of the parks will probably be good options, but which is the better option? Friday, Oct 18th – HS/EP and Sat, Oct 19th at MK, or Friday, Oct 18th at MK and Sat, Oct 19th and HS/EP.

6 Dave { 05.08.19 at 12:49 pm }

Hi James, and thanks!!

My advice would vary depending on your objectives for your MK visit. MK closes at 6p Friday for the Halloween party on 9/18. As it also closes early 9/17, 9/20 and 9/21, MK will be wildly busy on 9/19.

Thus I would advise Epcot on Saturday, and either going from HS (which I agree with on Friday, but have no idea right now if 5a is right) to MK, or going to HS Friday morning, napping, and going to the Halloween Party Friday night. Traditionally though the party starts at 7p, Disney lets folk in as early as 4p. The party is expensive, but doing it would also let you avoid the extra expense of a park hopper…

7 Jennifer { 05.08.19 at 11:44 am }

Dave, if I can score FPs on the 23rd, that’s an outstanding idea. SDD and RnR are the priorities, but I know my buddy is perfectly willing to stay until close.

Thank you again, as always, for all the fantastic advice! Don’t know what I’d do without you!!! 😀

8 Dave { 05.08.19 at 12:51 pm }

Indeed, I am the best, Jennifer! 🙂

9 Teri { 05.08.19 at 4:41 pm }

Thank you so much for your advice. The early opening of Galaxy Edge made for some drastic changes to our formerly relaxed September trip. Our plan for our trip now is Monday, Sep 23 – Epcot (late arrival); Tuesday, Sep 24 – MK; Wednesday, Sep 25 – AK; Thursday, Sep 26 – HS; Friday, Sept 27 – MK; Saturday, Sep 28 – undecided until after I see what FP are available. We are staying on site, and plan to take advantage of the Extra – EMH. I would appreciate any suggestions.

10 Dave { 05.09.19 at 7:35 am }

Teri, this looks like a great plan! My main advice is that given the calendar your week, I think Weds will be better at HS than Thurs, so you might consider swapping AK and HS

11 Quinn and Susan { 05.09.19 at 12:12 pm }

Dave,
Thanks for your advice here and in your book. It seems like it has been years since we started planning this trip staying on property Labor Day week. Now with the opening of Galaxy Edge and the Extra – EMH We’re at a loss. Our plan WAS ( Sunday, Sep. 1 – MK (late arrival); Monday , Sep 2 – MK Tuesday, Sep 3 – HS; Wednesday, Sep 4 – EPCOT; Thursday, Sept 5 – AK; Friday, Sep 6 – HS or MK?. ) We are a group of 9 with two 10 year old boys, one 9 year old boy, one 5 year old girl and one 2 year old girl. Wow we have to be crazy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. PS. My wife thinks Josh is a hoot!

12 Dave { 05.10.19 at 11:46 am }

Hey Quinn and Susan–first, yes, Josh is a hoot!

It is wildly hard to predict 9/1 and 9/2. On 9/1, HS will be a wreck. Epcot may be a wreck, as it is the easiest spot for those who arrive at HS and are put off to balk to. And MK may be a wreck because it is so attractive to those specifically avoiding HS.

So on 9/1 I would target AK, not MK

9/2 may be better, and MK’s early close makes it a good choice

While it may not be wildly different, I see Wednesday as better at HS than Tuesday. MK or AK would then be the targets 9/3

9/4 do HS as noted

9/5 becomes your “HS or MK” day because it’s not the right day to go to Epcot, which I need to fit in as we lost it on 9/4

9/6 is your best Epcot option among the other puts and takes

13 Martin { 05.09.19 at 4:45 pm }

Hi Dave, you have a great site and the most comprenhensive planning tips!! Hopefully following your advice I have planned my October trip in a good way: Sun 6th MK, Mon 7th Epcot, Tue 8th afternoon MNSSHP and Wed 9th AK.. Thu 10th Univ Studios and Fri 11th IOA. I am not going this time to HS because I believe it will be crazy. Thanks!!

14 Dave { 05.10.19 at 11:47 am }

Hey Martin, I’m not qualified to comment on Universal, but your WDW plans look sound to me!

15 ClaireMarie { 05.10.19 at 6:22 am }

Good Morning Dave,

I previously reached out after the Galaxy’s Edge opening date was announced and you were kind enough to give me the following advice for our trip 9/14-9/21/19.
Sat: avoid all, EP best bet. Sun: avoid HS, Mon: avoid MK & AK, Tues: avoid HS & EP, Wed: avoid MK, Thurs: avoid MK & EP, Fri: avoid all but AK
Based on the above I made these tentative plans -Sun MK, Mon HS, Tues MK, Wed AK,
Thurs HS and Fri AK.
Do these plans look OK now that the extra extra hours have come out?
We are staying at Ft. wilderness cabins and have annual passes so our plans are flexible.
Thanks for any input!

16 Dave { 05.10.19 at 11:59 am }

Hi Claire, here’s my revised advice:

Sat: avoid all, AK is the best bet
Sun: avoid HS and Epcot, MK is best
Mon: avoid MK, Epcot and AK best
Tues: avoid Epcot and HS, MK is best
Weds, avoid MK, best day your dates for HS
Thurs: avoid Epcot and HS
Fri: avoid EPcot and HS, MK is best

So for sure I would move one of your HS dates to Weds. If you must have a second HS date, then Thursday is the next best HS date your period, and after it Monday.

Let me know what you think and then we can finalize this!

17 ClaireMarie { 05.10.19 at 6:54 pm }

Hi Dave,

Looking at your revisions, I probably should have mentioned that on arrival day, 9/14, we won’t be arriving until the afternoon so will most likely not visit one of the parks. Two HS days aren’t mandatory just figured I would need two!! (Totally stressed about the early opening of G E)
We would also like to have 2 MK days and 2 AK days. EP is usually only 1 day for us unless we’re on a longer trip. How does the following look
Sun MK, Mon AK, Tues MK, Wed HS, Thurs? Fri ? ( Thursday will not be an extra magic morning as we are hoping to be at the DVC moonlight magic at Typhoon Lagoon Wednesday
night) …. help!

18 Dave { 05.11.19 at 8:18 am }

Hey Claire, my advice would be to take Thursday off (given your Weds evening plans) and put your second AK day on Friday

19 Deborah { 05.10.19 at 8:29 pm }

Hello Dave,
First time in a long time heading to WDW. We are arriving on Sunday 11/10 late in the day and departing on Friday 11/15.
We have 3 day park hopper passes. After reading your book and researching other things we think we have plan.
Monday 11/11 Animal Kingdom in the morning and Epcot in the afternoon.
Tuesday 11/12 Disney Studios in the morning and Magic Kingdom in the afternoon.
Wdnesday 11/13 visit Disney Springs
Thursday 11/14 Epcot full day.
Starting to wonder if we should plan a full day at MK and plan another park day for Wednesday 11/13.
I’m very confused at this point because on some days MK closes at 6pm.
I would appreciate any guidance you can give us.
Thank you.

20 Dave { 05.11.19 at 8:23 am }

Hi Deborah, as Disney’s official calendar for then is not yet out, and we don’t know if the odd EMH will continue into those dates, anything would be a guess.

The first question is for you to figure out what parks you actually want to see, and for how long. Take a look at this for help with that.

MK has an evening party many days from mid-August through mid-December and closes at 6 to those without the special party tickets on nights it is on. Because fewer people want to go when the park closes at 6, MK is uncrowded those days, and conversely it is wildly mobbed on days it close late.

Unless you have a precise reason why you must go to Disney Springs, 99% of the time you will enjoy more park time much more than a visit there.

21 Deborah { 05.11.19 at 11:46 am }

Hi Dave,
Everything you said makes sense and we are going back to rework our plans.
The planning is overwhelming when you haven’t been to Disney in a while.
Thank you for your input.

22 Kate { 05.12.19 at 8:29 am }

We are is Disney 21st-25th Oct plan at the moment is
Day 1 HS make most of early rise with time difference and head there really early
Day 2 AK
Day 3 Epcot , Mk for fireworks
Day 4 MK
Day 5 HS in the morning pm- open to suggestions

Would this work?

Thanks!

23 Dave { 05.12.19 at 5:10 pm }

Hi Kate, there’s some things I would do differently. Monday will likely be the busiest weekday at HS, and Wednesday by far the least busy, so I would do Epcot Monday and HS Wednesday. You could still hop to MK Weds evening, doing HS evening shows on Friday.

24 Mary { 05.13.19 at 12:26 am }

Hi Dave!
We are planning on spending four days at Walt Disney World the week of 10/27-11/2. I haven’t been in 25 years and don’t remember anything and my husband has never been! Which parks are best on which days? Thanks!

25 Dave { 05.13.19 at 9:57 am }

Hey Mary, first of all you would probably benefit from a guide book, or at minimum reading this page carefully.

Second my advice would probably vary after you told me how many days you wish to spend in each park.

That said, here’s some thoughts to start with

10/27 avoid HS and Epcot, MK is best
10/28 avoid MK, AK and Epcot are best
10/29, MK is best, avoid Epcot and HS
10/30 avoid MK, the best of these days for HS
10/31 avoid all but maybe AK
11/1 MK is best
11/2 no particularly good choices, AK is best among them

26 Anonymous { 05.13.19 at 11:20 am }

Thanks so much! We are not staying at Disney so we can’t take advantage of EMH. We may end up doing 5 days with park hopper option with the military salute program.

27 Mary { 05.13.19 at 11:28 am }

I think we may try to do 2 days at HS because we love Star Wars and want to do as much as possible, leaving 1 day each for the other parks with 1 rest day of pool time, golf, or the beach. Sounds like we should plan our rest day on Halloween? I have been scouring your website for information. Very helpful!

28 Dave { 05.14.19 at 7:04 am }

OK Mary–and so glad to be able to help! Your best HS days will be 10/30 and 10/28. Fit the rest in around those. 10/31 will be a good rest day!

29 AshRi { 05.14.19 at 2:29 pm }

Gosh, this is good information! I hope I am taking it all in and applying it to make the best of our WDW trip! 🙂
We arrive on a sunday & will be having a short/easy park day on day 1
Goal is 1 full day at each park and 2 half days= arrival day & a sleep/pool day

Sunday 9/8 (afternoon half park day) MK or HS ( look around/no MFSR or eat in swge???)
M 9/9 Epcot
tu 9/10 MK
w 9/11 HS
th 9/12 ??? (?? MK (maybe afternoon MK for fireworks=i know it will be very crowded but i’m willing to skip this in favor or less crowds in AK)?? AK?? second day for HS?)
fri 9/13 ??? (?? MK ? AK ? )

Would Th or Fr be better for a less crowded AK day?
Do you think there will be lines to just get into SWGE in the afternoon if we did not want to ride the millennium falcon?
If your only mission was to just ride the 3 TSL rides & look around SWGE without mfsr, can we accomplish that in 1 day?

Thanks so much for reading all my typed thoughts on our plan!!

30 Dave { 05.16.19 at 1:21 pm }

Hey AshRi, frankly it’s hard to say what waits will be to even get into SWGE, particularly on weekends near its open, and on days like 9/8 when I expect SWGE to be swamped because of the early MK closure. Your week I expect HS to be best on Wednesday and Thursday.
9/9 through 9/11 look fine, no comments!
9/12 is a good day for your MK evening goals as many will have pursued the same option on 9/11.
9/13 will be a good MK day–I think though it will be even better at AK.

You will be able to ride all 3 TSL rides in a day if you have FP+ for Slinky Dog, or if you get in line for SLinky Dog just before park close

31 Anonymous { 05.15.19 at 10:30 pm }

Dave, you are the most helpful and greatest person in helping with Disney trips! I appreciate and thank you. I am heading before galaxy edge open but I want the least crowd and best chance for slinky and frozen/test track. Two young children and we are not early birds, I am planning 8/25 and 8/26. Trying to figure out Epcot and HS. I know HS has emh Sunday we are staying on property but Monday HS has early morning magic toy story I will not do. So am I better off trying to get there at 8:30ish and try to get FP for slink and do rest of land on Sunday or Monday after the early morning magic? Thanks for all the advice. Your guidance is reassuring!

32 Dave { 05.16.19 at 2:22 pm }

Thanks!! I’d do HS on Monday. EMH has an infinitely worse impact the EMM, as many fewer people are at EMM, and everyone at EMH will be heading to Slinky DOg first thing. I would target Monday for HS with a hoped-for Slinky Dog FP+. Note that you have to pre-book your Slinky FastPass+, and they can be hard to get.

33 Anonymous { 05.16.19 at 3:00 pm }

okay great advice! Yes thank you!! praying for that FP…I really appreciate you taking the time to help with these hard decisions!

34 Dave { 05.17.19 at 8:25 am }

Glad to help! It’s what I do (when I’m not at my day job).

35 Mike { 05.23.19 at 11:17 am }

Dave-

Throw me on the pile of readers “Who booked for late summer to avoid Galaxy’s Edge only to be hit with the partial release” Maybe there’s an acronym for that…..I’m no poet. As a bonus twist of the knife, we arrive on 8-29.

These are high class problems, I realize. Doubling down on this high-class theme, we are going to treat ourselves this trip. Its all borne from our feeling that WDW is declining in service, charging for quality which used to come for free, and will be an ongoing, year-round exercise in herding cattle once Galaxy’s Edge opens, and this will be our last trip for a long, long time. Maybe ever. You wouldn’t be completely inaccurate to call my cynical. I realize that there are tons of visitors who feel the exact opposite….to each their own. Anyway, we are staying at the Poly, Club Level, and utilizing the availability of the three extra FP+ for three days. We will be there from 8-29 through 9-2.

Given all the additional EMH, Galaxy’s Edge, Parties, and After Hours…plus my 6 FP+ for three days, tell me what you think of the following, and minimizing crowd impact.

8-29- Arrival in the afternoon- Pool until the evening- MK After Hours

8-30- Resort Day until 4- MNSSHP. Use 3 FP+ from 4-7. Party crowds after 7

8-31- 6 FP+ day. Epcot Future for 9 AM rope drop to Soarin’ and use 2 FP+ for Mission Space and Test Track. That’s it. Not a big Epcot FW contingency here. Go to Animal Kingdom in the afternoon armed with 4 FP+

9-1- 6 FP+ day. HS during EMH…..and Im talking about showing up around 8……no one is going to be there at 6 from my clan. BUT we have no interest in GE. FP+ for SDD, Rockin’ Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania. Resort through the afternoon. Off to World Showcase late afternoon armed with 2 FP+. Frozen, and a bonus quick break-out for Soarin’

9-2- 6 FP+ day. MK until the afternoon until we have to leave for the airport. 6FP+ rides to TBD.

I feel like I have this nailed. Good crowd management, without killing myself with really early mornings, and some mid-day resort time, to boot. BUT, I also realize I am very capable of being an inefficient moron too. Please accept my invitation to point out how I am doing so in this case.

36 Dave { 05.25.19 at 9:16 am }

I really like this Mike. It’s amazing what 6 FP+ can do–especially if you combine them with a little park hopping, and a roper\ drop now and then too.

Here’s one of our days when we tried this last summer:

37 Lauri { 06.07.19 at 4:30 pm }

Hi! Another one going Labor Day week and now have absolutely no clue how to plan Labor Day. There is a Halloween party that day. Do you think that going to MK during the day or attending the party later that night would be best in terms of crowds? OR should we do an After Hours event later in the week. We are bringing our 16 month old.

38 Dave { 06.10.19 at 11:07 am }

Hi Lauri! First, I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. Day job demands…

The short version is that no one knows what will happen that weekend, but Monday should be its best day, as many folk will be using it as a travel day. MK will be the best park choice. To get value out of the Halloween Party and its low waits for most rides (the hub and Main Street will be quite crowded, but ride waits will be low) you need to be able to stay late, which will be hard to do with a 16 month old–same issue with After Hours. So since there’s not a better park on Monday, I would go to MK during the day.

39 Carly { 06.09.19 at 9:40 pm }

Hi Dave! Love your site and advice – and Josh from easywdw recomends you and site as well – so would really like some of you thoughts. 6 of us going: flying in and arrivinv to our resort mid-afternoon on Wed. Oct 23. And then we leave mid-afternoon on Wed. Oct 30th. Here is what we were thinking and FYI each day we will be heading back in afternoon to rest/relax at our resort:
WED, Oct 23 – Epcot – we really wanted to see the new nighttime show, but now I see some of your comments up above say DHS would be a better park to visit – what to do???
Thurs, Oct 24 – AM EMH @ Epcot – we have a 10:30 ADR at this park. Then that night we are going to MK for MNSSHP
FRI, Oct 25 – AM EMH @ AK; Then I think we are going back to AK for the evening after a 5:00 Boma ADR
Sat. Oct 26 – AM EEMH @ DHS; MK at night???
Sun, Oct 27 – AM EMH @ MK w/ 1:30 ADR @ Trail’s End; up in air for night park – what do you suggest? – DHS??? We want to try avoid Epcot on weekends w/F&W Festival
Mon, Oct 28 – EPCOT w/8:00am ADR; night – we have 6:30pm ADR at Disney Springs restaurant – then what do you suggest for a park for those that don’t want to stay at DS?
Tuesday – AM EMH MK; then we have a 5:00 Ohana ADR and then trying to decide what park – Epcot (we want to see the new nighttime show once – if we haven’t seen it sometime earlier in the week) or DHS???
– Wednesday – AK
Thanks for your thoughts on this. You are a great resource and help!!!

40 Dave { 06.10.19 at 11:15 am }

Carly, Weds is the best day at HS but only if you can get there early–so don’t worry about that. Saturday would be a not-good choice. Your dates, the next best HS day is Monday the 28th. There’s really no good choice for Saturday, but EPcot–despite F&W–is likely the best from a bad set, so I would swap Sat and Mon.

You have asked several questions about evenings. My overall reaction is that you are overly scheduled (even with your afternoons off) and given the 7 and 6a EEMH you are targeting, I’d plan nothing more than you already have.

41 Andrew { 06.10.19 at 9:52 pm }

Love your analysis, but I still need some advice for some first timers. I am in the parks the week of 10/21-25 without park hoppers. We’ll have a party of 11 with 5 of those 12 and under with 3 having never been to Disney before. I am of the frame of mind that for someone’s very first visit to Disney World, MK has to be the very first stop and that week has the Halloween party 4 out of 5 nights leaving only Wed for fireworks. So M/W have to be MK days… I am hoping with the early openings and a mid day break, the crowds will be manageable. I have been told by their parents that there wont be a problem using the early hours since the kids wake up at ungodly hours every day anyway.

The other 3 parks/days are the ones I am wracking my head around. With the kids I am torn with the 10pm night show at EPCOT on friday vs 9pm on T/Th. AK/HS dont seem to have any real differences but maybe I’m missing something.

42 Dave { 06.11.19 at 7:53 am }

Andrew, if you insist on going to MK on Mon and Weds, then you will face heavy crowds from mid-morning on.

HS will be profoundly affected by late closes at MK. It will be mobbed days MK closes early, and better on days MK closes late. So the best choices for HS would be Mon or Weds.

Epcot your dates has the Food & Wine Festival, which is crowded by locals in the evenings and on the weekend–that is, Friday evening in particular.

What I would do in your shoes is pick one early close and one late close day at MK. If you must see MK first, then do it Monday, and do HS on Weds. Friday AK is your best choice, so do your second MK day on Thursday and Epcot on Tuesday–Tuesday Epcot has late EMH, so it will be easier to exit the park after the fireworks

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2019 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.