It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Walt Disney World! Decorations, music, special events and tons of festivities have been part of the celebration at the Disney parks for over a month now, but many will be having their first chance to enjoy the season Disney-style over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. If you will be traveling to Disney World for your Christmas or New Year’s vacation, here are 10 quick tips that you should know that will help you make your visit as magical as possible.
- Start with a simple thing: check the weather forecast before you leave home. Florida can get surprisingly cold in the winter and has in fact been experiencing below-normal temperatures for most of this past month. Many folks are caught by surprise at this. If you don’t bring warm clothes from home, you may be forced to pay Disney park prices for sweaters, scarves and gloves…..and that is going to be a major budget-buster.
- While the beginning of December typically features lower crowds than other times of the year, as Christmas approaches, the crowd levels increase…to the point where the week between Christmas and New Years is the busiest week of the entire year. If you plan to be at Disney World during this week, then keep this in mind, ESPECIALLY if you are not staying on Disney property: go EARLY to make sure you get into the park of your choice. And have a plan to visit your most important must-dos (especially those that are very popular) first thing. Later in the day, the wait times for the major attractions will be an hour or more, and spending your time waiting in lines is not fun at all. Which brings me to….
- Make very good use of FastPasses. Expect the big attractions to have all Fast-Passes gone for the day by lunch so plan accordingly. Getting to the parks early will help you get the FastPasses you want for later in the day…and avoid those hour-plus wait times.
- Check the schedule of events and activities before getting to the parks so you don’t miss seeing what you want to see! There is a lot going on, but Disney provides you with a schedule for everything for that week, so take a look at it each evening for the next day, and plan your time around those events that are important. Don’t wait till you get to the parks…or you may end up missing out! Make sure you note when Holiday events are ending as well, especially if you will be there in early January and are hoping to see something specific. Decorations start coming down right after New Years….so be prepared if there is something specific you want to see.
- Be sure to make ADRs. At no week during the entire year is this more important. Not doing so will make your choices for restaurants and times extremely limited. I can’t stress this enough, having seen many folks scrambling to find a table service restaurant for dinner at the last minute……and unable to do so.
- Visit the Disney resorts to see decorations. They are amazing, fun, creative…and FREE!
- The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights are unbelievable and you won’t want to miss seeing them. But the crowds can be very heavy early in the evening, so if possible, try to go during Fantasmic or at the very end of the evening when there are fewer people. It is much more enjoyable when it is not wall to wall people. Note that the last night for the Osborne Lights is January 3.
- Don’t miss the Holiday Storytellers at Epcot’s Holidays Around the World. It is a great way to celebrate the season by learning about the customs and traditions of countries all around the world! The last day for the Storytellers is December 30.
- Try to get some evening PhotoPass pictures, as the lights and decorations will provide you photo memories unlike any you get at the rest of the year.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, set low expectations for what you HAVE to see and do. You will probably not get to everything on your list, and that’s ok. This is, in many ways, the best time of the year to go with the flow, and take the time to enjoy the many OTHER things that Disney offers during the Holiday season. Focus on the Holiday Magic that is only there during this time of the year, share the season with your family, have patience and a sense of humor…..and enjoy the experience!
- Top 10 Holiday Things at Disney World (chipandco.com)
- Things You Need to Know Before Your First Walt Disney World Vacation (chipandco.com)