Disney During the Christmas Season…5 Things to Know

Castle with LightsOne of the most magical times of year to visit Walt Disney World is the Christmas season. Unfortunately, the two weeks surrounding this holiday are the two most crowded weeks of the year due to holiday break at schools around the country. Despite the crowds you can still have a great trip at this time of year, but we have some tips to help you in planning a trip for this time of year. So, in no particular order here are 5 things you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World during the Christmas season:

  1. Manage Your Expectations – This is the single most important piece of advice we can give for this time of year. Manage your expectations and know that you will not be able to accomplish as much as you have on other trips at other times of year. Don’t expect to ride many rides in the afternoon hours, instead have some “rest time” planned at your resort. It is a mentality that you must have to know that it is going to be crowded and I may not get as much done as normal. If you have this in your mind you will at least be prepared for some of the problems that will arise as a result of the crowds. Bottom line, if you are aware of the crowds and challenges before hand, and have managed your expectations you will be better equipped to deal with the issues and have a great trip.
  2. Use Good Itinerary Planning Principles – Another very important aspect to planning a trip at crowded times of year is having a great itinerary ready to go. This includes planning your advanced dining reservations, Fastpass+ reservations, and evening entertainment. The core components of your trip will allow you to have a good itinerary, which means you will be ahead of all the people who haven’t planned any of those aspects. If you have any questions on planning a good itinerary visit our page on Disney Itinerary Planning or head over to the Touring Plans section on the MouseDreams Forums.
  3. Prepare Good Touring Plans – Another important factor in having success at this very crowded time of year is having a good touring plan for each park day. Having a touring plan will allow your family to move on to the next item on the agenda while other families are standing around arguing over what ride to go on next. When you set out on a trip across the country you are probably going to make a plan on what route to take, why should your day in the theme parks be any different? A good touring plan will get to the right places ahead of the crowds, will minimize walking, and will ultimately go a long way to helping you still have a great trip despite the crowds. If you need more help and tips on making good touring plans visit our section on Disney World Touring Plans or head over to the Touring Plans section on the MouseDreams Forums.
  4. Make Peace With Getting Up Early – Being able to make rope drop at the theme parks over Christmas is one way you can really get the most out of the parks at this time of year. So, you might as well just make peace with getting up early. You can definitely plan some sleep in days, but if getting things done in the theme parks is important to you, then getting to the theme parks early is a MUST! Just prepare yourself and your family in advance that hours at the Disney parks over the holidays are the longest of the year. Most of the parks, other than the Magic Kingdom, will open at 8 AM, meaning you need to be in transit by around 7:00 or 7:15. Magic Kingdom will often open at 8 AM, but have a 7AM Extra Magic Hours opening during the busy times of the year. With the 7 AM open, if staying on property, you need to be on a bus, boat, or monorail by 6:15 to make it by rope drop. Yes, that is early, but if getting rides done is important, you will be rewarded with a very empty park and the ability to get things marked off your to do list. You can often get a lot done by 11 AM or so and head out to a nice rest and nap time at your resort. Getting up early is tough, so we don’t recommend it every day, but certainly plan a few days to get things done in the theme parks before the massive crowds arrive.
  5. Make Time for the Holiday Activities – A final trip that we definitely want to share is that you need to make sure you make time for the special holiday activities. Disney has so many of these activities, from the large Candlelight Processional to the small Holiday’s Around the World at Epcot. Hopefully this is not the only trip you will ever take to Disney, so take this trip to slow down, enjoy the holiday activities, and not make the trip about getting on as many rides as you can. There will hopefully be other trips for you to focus on the park attractions. Take this time to enjoy the holiday activities and decorations and you will not be disappointed. When you slow down and do these things the crowds will not seem as oppressive to you. When you are trying to be a commando park tourist you will notice the crowds getting in your way, so why not just relax, do the things that don’t draw crowds, and enjoy the holiday season.

Please post any questions you may have on this topic below and a “MouseDreamer” will answer them as soon as possible.