When you’re planning a vacation to Disney World, it’s important to make a daily schedule for your entire vacation. You’re going to have to schedule fastpasses and get dining reservations, so it’s important to know where you will be each day. But it’s also extremely important to know what the crowd levels will be at each park, on each day. There are a number of great resources on the web that can help you with daily crowd level planning. The issue with many disney crowd calendars, however, is that it’s tough to put all that information together into a logical schedule.

My goal with this article is to help you take all the data you get from these crowd calendars, and put your plan together. Feel free to go check those out (I’ve got them listed at the bottom of the article), but please stick around for some tips that I know you’ll enjoy.

First of all, it’s important to understand why crowd levels are high on certain days. Let’s look at a couple factors, and then I’ll give you some tips for each of the four Disney World theme parks.

Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours are one of the biggest factors in crowd levels. As you probably know, each day Disney has Extra Magic Hours at one of their 4 parks.  Only Disney resort guests can attend the park on these days.  Typically this will be one extra hour in the morning or 2 extra hours in the evenings. Here are a few tips that can help you create a schedule.

  1. If you aren’t staying at a Disney resort, avoid parks that are having Magic Hours. This one is really simple.  If you can’t take advantage of the extended hours, don’t go to the park that will have the highest attendance! You’ll regret it

  2. Once a week, the Magic Kingdom and Epcot typically have magic hours late at night. Many guests do their best to stay up late, and they exhaust themselves! So if you’re not going to be staying up really late, take advantage of this! The morning after a late-night EMH is a great time to go to a park. If the Magic Kingdom has Magic Hours until 2 am, the following morning that park will be empty. You will still need to get to the park 30 minutes before it opens, but it should be the best morning of the week.

Special Events

Disney has a lot of special events that you really need to watch out for, especially if you’re coming in the fall. There are Halloween and Christmas parties at the Magic Kingdom 2-3 nights a week. These parties are not open to all guests. You have to have special tickets to get in (at an additional cost). So normal guests will have to exit the park early. This impacts crowd levels in two ways:

  1. If the Magic Kingdom is closed down to normal resort guests 3 nights in a week, I guarantee you that the park is going to be very busy for the other 4 days that week! You’ll just have to deal with the crowds for those evenings, because they are likely to be very busy. Or you could obviously pay extra and buy tickets to the special events.

  2. If you like to wake up early and tour in the mornings, you should strongly consider going to the Magic Kingdom on the morning of a Christmas/Halloween party. Many guests, knowing that the parks will be shut down that night, decide to go elsewhere on those days. Crowd levels should be lower.

Disney World Crowd Calendar by Park

Now we’re going to take a look at each park and look at a couple important factors to consider before you make out your schedule.

Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is Disney’s most popular park.  It draws the most local tourists, who are likely to come on the weekends.  The busiest days for the Magic Kingdom are:  Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Typically it’s the first park people go to, and the final park they go to.  

If you are strictly looking at the best day to ride rides, go to the Magic Kingdom on a Tuesday or Thursday and you will have a great time.

Epcot

Epcot gets very busy most evenings. It’s a fun place to go at night, there are a lot of great restaurants, and people with park hoppers will often spend many evenings of their vacation at Epcot. On the flipside, most mornings are good if you get there early.  Epcot doesn’t fill up early in the same way that the other 3 parks do, because so many people go to Epcot in the evenings to eat and watch the fireworks.

If you are looking for a great day to ride all the rides, choose a Wednesday or Thursday, early in the morning.  Usually by this point, most people on week long vacations will have already done their “Epcot Day”.

Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Land will likely blow this advice out of the water. But for now, picking the right day for Hollywood Studios is less important than any other park. I usually fit Hollywood Studios around the rest of my schedule.  By far, the most important factor in touring Hollywood Studios is to get there 45 minutes before the gates open.  Every day is busy in the morning because there are 4 landmark attractions that everyone wants to ride (Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Aerosmith, Tower of Terror), so all guests go to the same 4 places.  The only way to avoid very long lines at these 4 attractions is to be there when the park opens.

Animal Kingdom

It’s often best to go to AK on Friday-Sunday  Crowd levels are usually smaller on the weekends, as the majority of guests focus on the more popular parks.  The Animal Kingdom is an extremely large park, and so people wear out quickly and go home early.  You’ll find that a wonderful time to ride the headline attractions at the AK is late in the afternoon and early evening as the park empties out.  In the final hour or two, you can often ride Everest and Kali River Rapids over and over with very little wait!

It’s very difficult to get standby tickets to Avatar: Flight of Passage. You’ll have to check your Disney app for aberrations, but it’s almost always an extremely long wait unless you’re there super early. At night, people flock to Avatar-land to see it with the lights out (an incredible sight), which keeps the lines long all day long.

Best Disney Crowd Calendars on the Web

Both of these crowd calendars do a great job giving you daily crowd level information:

Touring Plans 

Undercover Tourist