Magic Kingdom experiences two partial closures in the last week of the year for capacity

Posted Friday, January 1, 2016 2:06 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney World partially closed Magic Kingdom on Thursday morning to some guests because the park had reached capacity during what is typically one of the most crowded weeks of the year. The Phase A closing was underway as of 9:30 a.m., according to WDWMagic.com, meaning guests with single-day Magic Kingdom tickets were not being admitted.

Read more from WKMG/Orlando.

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Monday, January 4, 2016 3:23 PM

Jeff said:

This example sucks. With one or two exceptions, most of the year, you don't need to do this since they started requiring credit cards to guarantee reservations.

Then it's the perfect example of how daunting planning a Disney vacation can be. I'm an enthusiast on a forum for the past 15 years with like-minded park and coaster fans and even I didn't know the details of how this all works. What chance does the "once in a lifetime" guy have?

I suppose some people want to do "everything," and my issue with that is that it's a crappy way to vacation.

I think spending a few grand to visit somewhere and then only doing a fraction of what you wanted to or could have is a complete waste of time and money and an even crappier way to vacation.

There is some amount of planning for any trip, and as is the case with almost any city, there are some basics to learn. WDW isn't that special. I'm cruising to Alaska this summer. Am I planning to nail down every waking moment? Hell no. Am I making sure I know what's available and prioritizing a few things? Of course.

Exactly. You're planning ways to maximize your experience by making sure you do exactly what's of interest to you while still keeping it relaxed rather than an excercise in processes and timetables.

I think that's called "planing a vacation" :)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, January 4, 2016 3:24 PM
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Monday, January 4, 2016 3:42 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
I'm an enthusiast on a forum for the past 15 years with like-minded park and coaster fans and even I didn't know the details of how this all works. What chance does the "once in a lifetime" guy have?

A pretty good chance if they ask around. I wasn't arguing that you just show up and hope for the best, I was arguing that planning everything to the minute was stupid.

I think spending a few grand to visit somewhere and then only doing a fraction of what you wanted to or could have is a complete waste of time and money and an even crappier way to vacation.

As I said, I think we disagree on what "everything" is. I've been fortunate to visit Hawaii twice, and didn't do "everything." You know why it doesn't matter? Because I was in f'ing Hawaii. :) In my pre-residential days, I viewed visits to the Orlando theme parks in much the same way. Your mileage may vary, or just be wrong.

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Monday, January 4, 2016 4:04 PM

Jeff said:

As I said, I think we disagree on what "everything" is.

Yeah, just another endless debate about pre-planning your WDW vacation.

I think once you've planned a certain amount of checkpoints, that you cross that line.

If you're visiting any given park at WDW and you have three Fastpasses, two food reservations, you want to be sure to catch a certain show with specified times and defintiely would like to experience another two or three specific attractions - which I don't think is even remotely unreasonable - then (simply by virtue of the time in a day vs the places you need to be) your day is planned.

Every second is not accounted for - not even close. If fact, it's not likely at all to be stressful in any way to hit those marks during your day. By all accounts a vacation mentality. But also a pre-planned day.

I'm not sure why "pre-planning" and "vacation" can't be synonymous. In fact, I don't know how they're not. If you take the time and effort to show up somewhere and then wander aimlessly, you're definitely doing it wrong.

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Monday, January 4, 2016 6:03 PM

Three years. That made me laugh out loud. I think I do not want to know that person.

However, I am a planner and appreciate the advantages we get by taking a hard look at our WDW vacation in advance. Once I took a friend who was a total newbie and we did 4 parks in 4 days and I tried my best to see that we did "everything" because that's what seemed important for that trip. We were exhausted and his little ankles were so swollen, but by damn we got it all in.

The last time Jim and I went I also set everything (well, as much as we wanted) up, but we were more relaxed about it with a 5 day park hopper. It also seemed like there was less "everything" to do that time, and Disney seemed like a smaller place if that makes any sense. As seasoned, familiar visitors, we were ok planning for our favorite must-dos and letting the rest fall into place. Which is why I put my big Disney trips at least 3 or 4 years apart. It just seems fresher that way. The next big trip will be 2017, I think, and maybe by then there will be lots of new things to FastPass+.

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Monday, January 4, 2016 7:43 PM

By planning 6 months out I certainly don't mean every detail; just the basics (dining reservations & resort landing). If we didn't reserve that dining 6 months out we would never get some that we wanted, when we wanted them.

I don't feel constrained in any way.

^ We're of the same thinking. We went this year and last, but after this trip we are taking a break from Disney until Star Wars and Avatar are in full swing.

And no, we're not planning that trip...yet.

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Monday, January 4, 2016 9:22 PM

You probably should. I hear that Avatar e-ticket is filling up fast.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 12:29 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

But when you have to make dinner reservations 6 months out, I don't think 7 months is unrealistic for someone going in to the experience cold.

Jeff replied:

This example sucks. With one or two exceptions, most of the year, you don't need to do this since they started requiring credit cards to guarantee reservations.

Later in the thread OhioStater said:

By planning 6 months out I certainly don't mean every detail; just the basics (dining reservations & resort landing). If we didn't reserve that dining 6 months out we would never get some that we wanted, when we wanted them.

So what's the reality here? Do you have to start planning dinner reservations 6 months out or not?

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 2:23 AM

Ooh! Ooh! I know! Let me try!

California Grill? Yes. Especially during events like F&W or if there's a 'holiday' like Valentine's Day. Yak & Yeti? No. For most in-park casual dining it's ok to wait until closer to time. Exceptions might be a couple of places at EPCOT and Be Our Guest dinner at MK.

As with all things Disney, (whether it be dining, FP+, or a new, hot show), the earlier the better and that just makes sense. The c.c. policy Jeff mentioned has been more strictly implemented since our last visit, so it may have helped to free things up some. Dining options are so wide spread and/or varied that if you are somewhat flexible and resort transportation isn't an issue, you can always find something. If you can't get Cal Grill or Victoria and Albert's, for instance, places like Citricos can be a happy alternative for most diners. But really, if it's something you've definitely got your heart set on, go ahead and do it the minute you know to avoid disappointment. It certainly can't hurt, right?

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 8:04 AM

Well my reality includes two 8 and 4 year old girls, so on our "to do" list you will find Be our Guest and Cinderella's Royal Table (dinner in the castle) at Magic Kingdom, and dinner with princesses (see a pattern here?) at Akershus in Arrendale, er, Norway in EPCOT. And we know we would like an early dinner (in the 5:00 ballpark).

I would certainly think that taking advantage of the 6-month-out opportunity to reserve a spot for those three places (with Cinderella's Royal Table at the top of that list) would be highly recommended.

So if you know the time and place, yea, it can't hurt, right? And just might be necessary. There are zero spots left at all those places when we would want them now at about 55 days out.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 10:32 AM

That's exactly the thought process I followed on our late September trip. My kid is 5 and in prime character dining time, so we had some specific meals we wanted to get: Royal Table, Hollywood and Vine, Akershus, Chef Mickey's, and Be Our Character (not character, but we wanted to eat there). Even booking them 180 days out, we still got less than ideal times on Royal Table (after 8:00 for dinner) and Akershus, (4:55 for dinner).

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 11:02 AM

Yeah the need to reserve that far out, as I said originally, applies to a very short list of places, and often it depends on the time of year. At Epcot, there are six restaurants I can't get tonight, but only two I can't get two weeks from now (Akershus and Tutto Italia).

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 11:17 AM

And I would note that of those 5 places I listed, Be Our Guest is the only one that I would go to again. Not that the others were bad, but they were more about the experience and there are plenty of other places I want to try. Be Our Guest at lunch might be the best deal going at the parks from a cost vs. quality standpoint.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 1:02 PM

So the example didn't suck. There are places you have to reserve 6 months out and people doing it...and even in doing it they're not necessarily getting great times.

If I'm going to Disney, I'm definitely getting on as soon as I hit my 180 day window and making sure I get the reservations I want - there's no reason not to...and in some cases you have to.

I stand by what I said, if you're going into this as someone that doesn't know much (hell, I'm learning that I qualify) you're going to want to start doing research prior to the 6-month window...even if just for restaurant info.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 1:33 PM

Wow, just reading the Disney vacation planning thoughts makes my head hurt and makes me think I need to hire a project manager before going!

I think if I get the desire to go to Florida I'd spend one unplanned day at Disney just to see the changes since the last time I was there decades ago. Then, I'd head out to Key West to party for the rest of my stay. But, that's just me of course.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 3:31 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

So the example didn't suck. There are places you have to reserve 6 months out and people doing it...and even in doing it they're not necessarily getting great times.

No, not at all. I said in my example there were two places unavailable at Epcot two weeks out. That's out of 14 table service locations, and I was only checking dinner time. Two weeks != six months. I suppose if you absolutely have to do Akershus, sure, you got me, plan ahead, but that hardly makes a trend for required six month reservations. I have friends who pretty routinely hit California Grill with a week or two advanced reservations.

I'll say it again: You don't have to plan everything six months out at WDW. That's the reality. I know this because I live next door, and I don't have to do this. There was a brief period of time when Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened that I couldn't get FP's for it, but beyond that, I have never had to plan out what I wanted to do months in advance.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 3:41 PM

Jeff said:

I'll say it again: You don't have to plan everything six months out at WDW. That's the reality.

Never said you did. But you certainly have to make some reservations that far out if you want to do certain restaurants. And if you're doing that, you're deciding which park you'll be at which days...and well, it's not everything, but it's definitely something.

I know this because I live next door, and I don't have to do this.

Which is funny because my next argument was going to be that your perception is skewed because you live across the street.

I suppose if you absolutely have to do Akershus, sure, you got me, plan ahead, but that hardly makes a trend for required six month reservations.

Well, if you want to be absolutely certain you'll be able to do any given thing, you book it as far out as possible. That's just common sense. And as has been mentioned there's several of the most popular restaurants are absolute 6-month musts and you'll likely still make compromises.

I'm not saying you have to book everything that far out, but you certainly have to start thinking about it and making some move to ensure aspects of your visit. To imply that it's not at all necessary is flat out inaccurate - you have to know what you want to do before you know whether you need to make that 180 day reservation. Saying you don't have to is as inaccurate of a sweeping generalization as saying you have to book everything. And which side does it make more sense to err on? Book when it's not necessary or wait and see and potentially miss something? If you visit 100 times a year, it's no big deal to try again next week. For everyone else, it matters.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 4:33 PM

Tomayto, tomahto.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 4:44 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
To imply that it's not at all necessary is flat out inaccurate - you have to know what you want to do before you know whether you need to make that 180 day reservation. Saying you don't have to is as inaccurate of a sweeping generalization as saying you have to book everything. And which side does it make more sense to err on? Book when it's not necessary or wait and see and potentially miss something? If you visit 100 times a year, it's no big deal to try again next week. For everyone else, it matters.

You keep weaving in and out of different time frames as it suits your argument. I didn't say it wasn't at all necessary, I said it wasn't necessary, most of the time, more than a week or two out, and definitely not six months necessary. It has nothing to do with frequency of visits, though in my case, my frequency is what qualifies me to conclude that the exceptions are few when it comes to planning out further than a few weeks.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 4:52 PM

I know next to nothing about booking a Disney vacation, sadly. I think one of the important elements to consider is exactly that...does the average person know when it's not necessary to book ahead at all vs having to book one or two weeks ahead vs the rare time you want to do the very specific thing that requires booking 6 months in advance? If not, then they may need to begin planning early to make sure they know what they don't know...even if that includes the stuff it turns out they didn't need to worry about.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 5:05 PM

Meeting Anna and Elsa was completely gone 6 hours into our window of making FP reservations (60 days out), so for that one I was literally up at midnight ready to log on and secure it asap. So yes, to get your Anna and Elsa FP you actually need to be sitting there at your computer at the stroke of midnight when your window opens, or else you are screwed. Jeff is right that this is an anomaly and not the norm for most things. But which ones?

Carrie makes an important point. How does the average person know? They wouldn't; especially a first-timer. If I wasn't such a nerd about all this we would have missed out on certain things that our girls really looked forward to.

The FP+ reservation itself is a bit tricky to a first timer as well. When you are doing it 60 days out as a resort guest, you pick one attraction, and Disney's system actually picks a time for you and your other two fastpasses. The only way to actually get what you want and the times you desire is to accept those choices and then go back and modify everything one by one. It's not necessarily difficult or time consuming, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who simply hit accept and think that's how it works without ever going back. Disney's site never tells you this, but the sites I scoped out while doing my research let me know what to expect; so I knew this going in.

The research also let me know exactly what Jeff is talking about; what attractions actually do need fastpasses and which don't? I would've intuitively thought that Pirates would need a Fastpass. I also would have thought that the Haunted Mansion would need one. I never in a million years would have thought something as old as Peter Pan would need a Fastpass, but my thinking on all three of these was backwards as the former were both complete walk-ons while Peter Pan had a flippin' 90-minute standby wait.

So when I did my research 6 months out, it was all about learning the ins and outs of what things I need to prioritize, what things I actually do need to plan ahead for, and which things I can just relax about.

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, January 5, 2016 5:47 PM
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