MLK Weekend, Festival of the Arts, crowds question

We typically stay a week at WDW and visit MK more than once because it is my favorite park. But for this trip, we are adding 3 days of parks before/after our Disney cruise. We have been to WDW many times, our girls are 10 and 12. We are typically one park per day, rope drop, then rest in middle, then come back at night. We have not seen the new shows at MK or Epcot, so we know we want to be in those parks at night.

Our only full day to be in any park is Thursday, Jan 13, so we bought a park hopper. Planned to do AK and Epcot that day. We will get on the cruise on Friday morning.

We get off the ship on Monday (actual holiday) and had planned to go directly to MK. This will give a late start (hoping for lunchtime). We would have about 8 hours in the park. Since we are typically rope droppers, I am anxious that we will roll into the park and everything will be very crowded (the current crowd calendar says a 7). But we could at least see the new fireworks that night. I’ve never done anything on MLK day so I have no idea what to expect.

On Tuesday, we would rope drop HS. We have to leave to go home that day around 5, but hopefully, we can see and do almost everything we want.

I was good with this plan until I realized that I MIGHT get to see some Festival of the Arts on Monday, Jan 17 if we did Epcot that day instead of Thursday. (Dates are Friday, Jan 14- Feb 21) I don’t know what offerings they will have…but we have never seen this Festival before and my girls are little artists. I had heard that the Festival was only on weekends so that is why I didn’t consider it before. But having a holiday may change that. Due to Covid, I have no clue if I can look at previous years for information.

So… I could change and park hop to MK after AK on Thursday. It would be fewer hours (about 6). But according to the Crowd Calendar, it would be more manageable (MK is a 4!). But not being able to arrive until 2:00 really makes me sad.

Add in Genie+ and I really don’t know what to do - I had planned to purchase it for our MK and HS days only. Now if I still get it for MK then I can also use it at AK, so that is a bonus.

So here are my questions:

  1. Will the Festival of the Arts have exhibits and booths on MLK day, or is it weekends only?
  2. Epcot is a 9 on Monday, MK is 7. Aside from the Festival, which would you pick for a late arrival day? I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a park at a 9…
  3. Would you pick fewer hours in a less crowded park or more hours in a more crowded park?

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond!!

I went last year during MLK Weekend and the FARTS is not weekend only. I think some of the concerts and such might be weekends only (the live local bands they did last year unless they change that) and some of the food booths are only on more crowded days but given MLK being a holiday I would expect those booths to be open on Mondays and the live bands tend to be F-M and not on T-Th. The art booths should be open every day as should the scavenger hunt and most of the food booths. It is possible they would close some of the art booths on less crowded days and the artists themselves are not probably there every day. I went on the Sunday before MLK day last year and I enjoyed it very much.

*It was deep into covid times so it was not very crowded until locals started coming in the late afternoon/evening for the food booths when I went. I imagine this year crowds will be worse and you will feel them.

Also I would always choose a less crowded park but the only days I’ve been like never ever again were the 10 days I went on like New Year’s Eve. I will never ever do that again. I can handle a 9.

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Jan 2020 was our first FARTs and it is now cemented as my favorite of the festivals. We were there over MLK weekend and although it was busy, it wasn’t unmanageable. We easily walked around to all of the artists’ booths, made spin art and a scarf, and partook in many delicious food and drinks. Especially since your girls are into art, I would absolutely do it.
To answer your questions: The exhibits and booths are open every day during the festival. It’s not a weekend only thing. A crowd level 9 and 7 at that time of year are effectively the same. If I were to avoid EP at all that weekend, it would be Fri - Sun. I think Monday will be significantly less crowded. People there for the long weekend will be going home and the locals and bloggers will have already visited on opening days.