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.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 6:23 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

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.

Not really...and it's certainly necessarily to book certain places 6 months out. It varies. Some places you can do day of depending on time of the year and some places you need to be making a reservation 180 days out depoending on the time of the year. Fair enough?

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.

And your frequency of vists and familiarity with the system completely disqualify you from assuming the average vistor's mindset - which you're having an entirely impossible time of seeing here.

Most people don't know what you know. Simple as that. And if they don't begin planning/learning before that 180-day window or that 60-day window, there's is some degree of chance (depending on personal desires and time of visit) that they'll miss something they would have considered essential to their visit.

And even still. A few weeks!? That's not exactly show up and do what you'd like. Which I think is the greater point in the whole discussion - a trip to WDW takes planning, effort and time. The degree of time may vary but it's not zero for the large, large majority.

OhioStater said:

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.

Exactly. And I'd put a good sum of money on the fact that more people think that way than those who approach it like a local frequent vistor.


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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 6:31 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

OhioStater said:

Carrie makes an important point. How does the average person know?

The average person won't. But I wonder: how many average Joes and Janes go online to research their prospective Disney vacation, read a couple of websites telling them they have to be online or on the phone the very second their window opens to reserve anything and think that's what they have to do for everything?

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.

As noted, I work in a box office. We make tickets available through Groupon for many shows. At that far lower level of complexity, we get a lot of people calling us, perplexed by how the clearly described on Groupon process works; I can only imagine how intimidating the Disney vacation process can be.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016 7:15 PM
Jeff's avatar

Pro tip: Sometimes you can book FP's in smaller groups (of two, or even one), then mess with changing them until your party has them all overlapping. The allocations apparently release over time, and many appear to be "reserved" for smaller numbers. We have, in the middle of July, booked Seven Dwarfs the day before by booking our FP's separate, then changing them until there were overlapping windows. The worst that can happen in such cases is you delete them all and start over.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 2:46 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

and it's certainly necessarily to book certain places 6 months out. It varies.

I can probably count those places on one hand and have at least a couple fingers left over, even during the busiest times of the year. For reasons not worth getting into here, I almost always visit WDW during peak periods---Christmas, Easter, President's Week, etc. I never have a problem finding plenty of great options by checking the day before or even morning of, and that sometimes includes the "impossible" places like 'Ohana. The new cancel policy has really opened things up.

If you'll be in VACATION RUINED land by not eating at restaurant <X>, then by all means, make those six month ADRs, but it's completely unnecessary for most people in most circumstances.

But, if you want insider information: You can almost always get seated at the bar at California Grill, where you have access to the full menu plus great conversation with some of the best bartenders on property. No reservation necessary. Took my daughter up when were on a recovering-from-college-visits spur-of-the-moment trip. The spicy kazan roll is pretty good, and the sunset views are lovely. If for some reason you get shut out there, the Wave downstairs is one of my go-to hidden gems. Consistently good food, rarely super busy, and also plenty of bar seating.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, January 6, 2016 2:46 PM
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:08 PM

I have the seasonal pass now for WDW, so I have blockout dates for the holiday times. But prior to that, I recall a few evenings on New Years week taking a "what the hell" trip into MK and Epcot and still being able to get on some C and D ticket attractions without much of a wait. I have also been lucky in getting day-of dining reservations for both Kona Cafe and Cape May Cafe at the resorts on the week between Christmas and New Years. It's about flexibility, expectations and timing. I went into those days with the expectation that I would see a silly crowded park and not do anything and walked away pleased when I actually did 2 or 3 rides and got into some pretty decent restaurants.

If I was an out of towner I would still avoid the peak periods if at all possible. And I would never recommend it for a first timer. But there is still fun to be had if you are willing to allow it even on the busiest days of the year.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Brian Noble said:

I can probably count those places on one hand and have at least a couple fingers left over, even during the busiest times of the year. For reasons not worth getting into here, I almost always visit WDW during peak periods---Christmas, Easter, President's Week, etc. I never have a problem finding plenty of great options by checking the day before or even morning of, and that sometimes includes the "impossible" places like 'Ohana. The new cancel policy has really opened things up.

Ok. Fair enough. So everyone is killing my 6-month thing - even though there ARE places as you guys have both admitted where a 6 month ADR is necessary...(kicks dirt and grumbles under breath)

If you'll be in VACATION RUINED land by not eating at restaurant <X>, then by all means, make those six month ADRs, but it's completely unnecessary for most people in most circumstances.

And this is where I think the frequent visitor Disney crowd doesn't get the once or twice in a lifetime crowd. I think it is very much vacation ruined (or at least Vacation "aww crap I really wanted to do that") not being able to do certain things - arguably the the very things that require those 6-month ADRs. Hence, the necessary 6-month advance planning.

And still while doing popular things day of is posible, I suspect it's every bit as exceptional as the need for 6-month. But to do specific things at your specific time likely requires advance planning to some degree. (and that's my compromise)


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:33 PM

But the once-in-a-lifetime crowd doesn't even know that VACATION RUINED is a possibility, because they don't even know that these restaurants exist, or they don't care.

Yes, the market exists for all those planning resources, but the vast majority of guests do not use them even if they buy one or two. How do I know? Because if the vast majority of guests did use them, they would not work anymore. For example: the number one rule, with a bullet, is show up before the park opens. Yes, some people do that. But a relative minority. Most people still consistently do the wrong thing, and show up 2-3 hours after opening. So, either they don't know the right thing exists, or they don't bother to do the right thing even knowing it. If that's true for getting to the park on time, it's also true for making reservations six months ahead of time.

The people who are doing this are either the small segment of over-planners (negligible), general park enthusiasts (us), or the Disneyana community (DISboards et. al.)

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:35 PM
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:54 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Brian Noble said:

If that's true for getting to the park on time, it's also true for making reservations six months ahead of time.

Except that in some cases, you HAVE to make your reservation six months out. So someone is doing it - at least enough someone's that if you don't, you're screwed.

And let's stop getting hung up on the 6-month thing specifically. It could be 3 months or two weeks or 10 days - make up any timeframe between 1 and 180 days. Anything short of the inability to walk in to a restauant means some preplanning is required. For the most popular restaraunts that will always be necessary. To simply find a restaurant to eat, it will not.

What's funny is how different the tone is this current discussion is from the tone in a thread like this one - where I'm talking about walking up and getting a table at Le Cellier no problem and Jeff is talking about long reservation lists, booking 8 weeks out and being lucky for visiting right after Thanksgiving. Plenty of people talking about 180-day reservations and planning around dining options.

Has that much really changed in 4 1/2 years? Did the simple addition of requiring a credit card really change the game THAT severely?

ADDED - I searched a little after hitting submit on this post and it looks like Disney made the changes to the ADRs in Oct 2011 - just after that thread I Linked to. So maybe it really was a game changer?

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:55 PM
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:56 PM

Honestly, yes. Having the credit card reservation system has made the dining reservation game a total game changer. As a local, I have never had more opportunities than I do now and I think it is great.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 4:25 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think a bunch of things have changed:

  • CC required for reservations.
  • Higher priced dining plans.
  • Two-credit "cost" for the most in-demand locations.
  • More locations.

And to Brian's point, I don't think there's anything particularly insider or local about trying to get a reservation the day before.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 4:34 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Then it's a shining example of exactly why Disney can keep increasing their prices and their attendance - they really do continue to make things better. (to tie it to the 'poor people' thread)

I mean that's just observation and a few simple changes based on those observations and things go from the crazy extreme we're all talking in that 2011 thread to the much more accessible way you guys are telling me it is now.

The ability to be more clueless to the process and still have a fighting chance inside the park can only be increasing guest satisfaction.


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 4:37 PM

It seems to me that one of the big issues with planning a Disney vacation of any kind is that there many be too many choices. Being able to customize your vacation to your own specifications is awesome, but I wonder how many Disney visitors get anxiety because of the compromises and "what ifs" that accompany visiting a Disney property knowing they can't possibly do everything. Based on all of the information just in this thread a visitor going to WDW could potentially spend multiple hours if not days trying to sort through everything. Think about how many choices you would need to make in multi-day stay at WDW:

  • stay on-property or off-property
  • how much to spend on accommodations
  • where to eat each afternoon and evening
  • what level tickets to buy (i.e., do we park hop?) and for how many days
  • what rides/attractions/experiences/meals we consider essential to our visit
  • understanding the FastPass system/working the FastPass system both before and during the visit
  • what parks to go to and on which day
  • how long to spend at each park
  • things off-property you want to do

If you're staying on-property you can add:

  • dining plan - yes or no
  • which parks have extra magic hours
  • transportation if you want to venture off-property
  • scheduling hotel breaks during park hours

Is Disney making it so that most people are forced into spending boatloads of time making decisions - even before stepping foot on the property - just to feel like they're getting the most out of their vacation? I do wonder to what extent the huge crowds Disney is getting is forcing these kinds of maneuvers. Are Disney properties - particularly Disneyland and Magic Kingdom - too crowded?

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 5:33 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

I think it's interesting that "pro tips" and "insider information" is being offered by the same people indicating that there is little to no need for advanced planning. That's not meant to be a criticism at all. Just an interesting juxtaposition to me.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 5:38 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Gary Dowdell said:

Is Disney making it so that most people are forced into spending boatloads of time making decisions - even before stepping foot on the property - just to feel like they're getting the most out of their vacation?

This is what I was sort of getting at. But these guys have assured me this is not the case.

No, I swear. I'm convinced.

Seriously.

For real.

The Paradox Of Choice


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016 8:31 PM

Its great marketing. You didn't get to do everything you wanted to do on your first visit? We would love to have you and your family back again next year or maybe the year after. Many different resort possibilities. Did we mention we have a vacation club?

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Thursday, January 7, 2016 11:15 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

Except that in some cases, you HAVE to make your reservation six months out. So someone is doing it - at least enough someone's that if you don't, you're screwed.

And let's stop getting hung up on the 6-month thing specifically. It could be 3 months or two weeks or 10 days - make up any timeframe between 1 and 180 days.

Yes, someone is doing it, but I already told you who: a small slice of chronic over-planners, plus enthusiasts who think if they don't eat at a specific restaurant then VACATION RUINED. The average park guest who wants dinner near the park they just walked into at 11AM can take out their phone and get a reservation nearby at a perfectly fine restaurant the vast majority of the time---even during peak seasons like Christmas, Easter, etc. I know this because that's when I tend to find myself at WDW, and that's when I tend to make many of my reservations.

And, the notion of "popular" is almost exclusively driven by the Disneyana crowd. The "in" places change over the years, and they are the ones that are impossible to get. But, they are not always the newest ones---just the ones that happen to be in vogue then for some particular reason.

But, yes, I will admit that you probably have to get a reservation sometime before you show up. if you expect to just walk into any restaurant in a tourist zone during high season and eat, you are a moron. That's as true on Hilton Head in summer or Vail in February as it is Disney at any time the kiddos are out of school.


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Thursday, January 7, 2016 11:27 AM

Here's a concrete example. This is Marathon weekend at WDW. This isn't a super-peak time like President's, Spring Break, or Christmas, but it's in the next tier of "busy", with room rates a bit higher than peak summer. The biggest events are the Half on Saturday and the Full on Sunday.

As of right now, there are a grand total of four Disney restaurants you couldn't book for dinner for a party of four on Saturday night: Be Our Guest, California Grill, Narcoossee's, and Victoria and Alberts. Every single character meal is available, as are the other "usual suspects" like 'Ohana and Whispering Canyon.

There are some non-Disney places on property that are also unavailable via the Disney dining tool, but they also offer space through other venues like Open Table, etc. so they might or might not be "full."

Last edited by Brian Noble, Thursday, January 7, 2016 11:32 AM
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Thursday, January 7, 2016 1:42 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Again, fair enough.

Still had to go back and see how I got from "Planning a Disney vacation can probably be overwhelming to the average visitor" (my initial jump-in) to debating exactly how many days in advance you need to make a dining reservation. Conversations flow in such weird ways.

I get that it's not like it used to be. That's a good thing. But the truth still seems to be you don't have to make reservations that far out...unless you have to.

And that would be for specific popular must-do restaurants for people who think "vacation ruined" if they don't get to eat at those specific places and those specific places happen to be popular and it is one of the busiest seasons - of which we have two people in this very thread making reservations at the maximum times (180 days for food, 60 for attractions) and still having to compromise or go to ridiculous lengths to get those spots.

I still think planning a Disney vacation probably can be overwhelming for the average visitor and certainly for any visitor with expectations and/or visiting at the busier times...even if it doesn't involve making ADRs 180 days out.

At the very least Bunky should be thanking me for taking the heat off of her hating Disney food. (winky)


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Thursday, January 7, 2016 2:17 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I'm not a chronic over-planner (in fact I'm a procrastinator), and if my daughters didn't get to eat at Cinderella's Royal Table it wouldn't be vacation ruined, but it would be a bummer. I had to book that reservation 6 months out (not to mention getting Anna and Elsa Fastpasses 60 days out within hours) in order to get them.

But like we have said ad nauseam, these types of experiences are few and far between. They just happen to all be on my agenda with two little girls.

As I mentioned somewhere up there, this second time around for us has been pretty easy, and to be honest once I got to Disney the whole place quickly got a lot smaller; meaning, the most overwhelming aspect (I think) of planning it the first time around was that we were looking at navigating 4 different parks in 4 days; 3 of those parks (MK, EPCOT, and HS/MGM/Star Wars village) I had not set foot in since 1991, and the other didn't even exist last time I was there. But, having been-there-done-that, it's a lot simpler and not even remotely overwhelming.

I don't see the 180-day window (or 60-day for FP's) as an annoyance, I see it as a perk that I will happily take advantage of.

Last edited by OhioStater, Thursday, January 7, 2016 2:21 PM
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Thursday, January 7, 2016 3:01 PM

There is a ton of info out there on Disney. Books (many of which have new versions each year). Websites with discussion boards to ask questions. Blogs. Family/friends. How many people are going to Disney for the first time who don't have friends/family who have gone at least once in the last couple of years? I would imagine that a lot of the "must do/dine" items are sourced from friends/family who should be able to provide some guidance as to planning requirements. Social media. All in addition to Disney's own online info.

If you are dropping $2k+ on a vacation (or on anything really), wouldn't most people spend at least a little time researching/planning? If you don't, whose fault is that? Or at least who lives with the results?

A lot of vacations now involve a lot of planning. Whether its "required" or just a good idea is splitting hairs in many cases. Search Amazon and you will find vacation guides for trips all over the world. Disney. Other Orlando parks. California. Florida beaches. Europe. Aruba. Hawaii. National parks. List goes on. We have booked reservations for lodges/cabins in various national parks in the past few years 12+ months out. Certain ones are known to be sold out months in advance. And we booked Grand Canyon mule rides 13 months out this summer. My daughter had her heart set on it. Would it have been vacation ruining event had we not booked early and been unable to ride? I don't think so when you look at a few hours over a week long trip. But it was clearly my daughter's fav part of the trip. Info is pretty easy to find online.

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