Planning with the Crowd Calendar – Food & Wine Festival Edition

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I have returned from Walt Disney World tired after a lovely weekend with my beautiful bride.  The trip was primarily to enjoy the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but there was much more I wanted to experience, such as the re-opened Tiki Room, the thrill rides that my kids will not ride and more.  In future blogs I’ll recap and review some of the awesome experiences from this trip, but first let’s look at how I planned this brief excursion to the World.

We're ready for the Food & Wine Festival!

As always, my first step in planning is heading right here to to check out the Crowd Calendar.  We planned to arrive late on Wednesday night, so we were looking at the days of Thursday-Saturday to see what the crowds will be like. Thursday was golden, as the crowd levels were a 2 out of 10, with the best parks being Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Things got a little more crowded on Friday, at a 5, with Magic Kingdom as the best park, and then really hairy on Saturday, with a predicted 9 on the calendar, and Animal Kingdom as the best park.  Even worse, Epcot was a park to avoid on Saturday!

So, based on the crowd calendar we definitely had to spend time experiencing Food & Wine at Epcot on Thursday.  That fit in perfectly with our plans.  We wanted to ride Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, so we could go to the Studios, experience those rides, then cruise right over to Epcot in time for lunch at the food booths.  We used the early morning part of the Hollywood Studios Touring Plan for Adults from the Unofficial Guide for our morning.  That way, we planned to be able to get in Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror at least before heading over to Epcot for the remainder of the day.

Also ready for some coasters!

Looking at Friday, a little deeper dive was needed.  Clicking on the Crowd Calendar for the day, it’s easy to see which parks are going to be crowded and which will be easier to navigate.  While the crowd level overall is a 5, the Magic Kingdom is at a 1.1 out of 10 for the day, because of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night.  That sounds like a great time to head over and catch the Mountain range (Big Thunder, Space and Splash) before lunch time.

From there it becomes a little trickier because we definitely wanted to head back over to Epcot for Food & Wine, but it’s a 5.5 on the Crowd Calendar.  More difficult, but not impossible.  However, since that’s the reason we went to Disney World, we planned to head back over to Epcot that evening.  We also intended to check out the 3D Party – Disney’s Dessert Discovery at Epcot, which I’ll have a full report on next week.

Saturday is where things got really hairy.  At a predicted 9 out of 10 on the Crowd Calendar, crowds were going to be nuts.  Every park was individually predicted at a 7 or higher.  Doing park touring this day would require a touring plan.  We were in Epcot on a Saturday during Food & Wine last year, and it was a zoo.  However, if we don’t finish all we want to do on Thursday and Friday, we may want to come back.  I planned to get there early Saturday, enjoy Soarin’ and some other rides, then hit the remaining food booths.  We planned to use the Epcot One Day Holiday Touring Plan for the morning, then get out of Epcot after lunch.

Perhaps a late night ride on Splash?

After that, it’s finding some time out of the parks to relax, or visiting Magic Kingdom where the crowds should be lessened later in the day, since the park’s open until midnight.  So we’ll shut down the park, then be out early on Sunday morning to get back home.

So how did our plans work out?  Well…not exactly as planned.  We arrived late on Wednesday and therefore slept in on Thursday morning, meaning rather than go to the Studios, we headed straight to Epcot for the day.  That was fabulous.  Friday went as planned, with a quick morning in the Magic Kingdom, lunchtime at Epcot and the 3D Party.  It was Saturday where the issues arose.  In case you saw the weather this past weekend, it rained at Disney over the weekend.  A lot.  Like a monsoon.

So, Saturday we had to alter our plans.  I’ll talk about the rainy day changes in an upcoming blog.  Until then, stay tuned for next week’s blog, where I’ll talk about the 3D – Disney’s Dessert Discovery Event at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

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