Now with the holiday season at a close and the decorations packed away, I’m sure some of our followers may know we again spent a wonderful (but very busy!!) Christmas holiday season in central Florida packed with Disney park visits and festivities with friends! Now we have the January blues it reminded me to sum up some of our recommendations and tips for getting the most of a Christmas trip to Walt Disney World for all those considering Booking a future Christmas visit.
So No matter where you are staying or what your plans are, hopefully these top 5 tips will help you get the most from your visits!
5. Set your expectations early on
Always consider when planning to visit that Disney world parks (and Orlando area in general) are at a year round peak for crowd attendance with locals and families travelling to celebrate Christmas at Disney, so expect crowds to be higher than normal everywhere you go.
So with that in mind, set Your Expectations accordingly. We would advise that this time of year is less suited to those who want to ride, see or do everything. If you take it easier and set a lower expectation of less rides and allowing more time to get around through traffic, through queues etc. then you won’t be disappointed at longer queues or more crowds. There are many things unique to this time of year to explore so take the time to enjoy what is on offer for the holidays and relax and soak it all in, as the atmosphere during holiday season is great!
Other suggested worthwhile things to take in:
– Santa meets across Walt Disney world
– Candlelight Processional and holiday food booths at EPCOT
– Disney Springs Christmas tree trail
– Disney Resort Decoration self tour: gingerbread displays at the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Beach club & Boardwalk resorts. All resorts have Christmas trees and displays with photopass photographers on hand to capture the moments. Worth the visit to see.
4. Make Dining reservations or Pre ordering with the Disney app
If you want to avoid going hungry and beat the dining queues then you have a couple of options to make use of here, and similar to using fastpasses, using the technology available is invaluable as a crowd beater.
For table service dining, make sure you have some dining locations pre-booked for the days you are in the parks. Our big recommendations here would be to make sure you have a breakfast reservation for Christmas Day to ensure you can get in nice and Early and have dinner booked later on if you have a late night for the New Year’s Eve fireworks as it will give you a chance to sit down and relax before waiting for the fireworks.
For quick service dining you can now pre order via the My Disney experience app for many locations in each Disney theme park. You simply pre order at any point on the day, once you then arrive at the restaurant you hit ‘I am here’ and you are notified once your order is ready. Invaluable for avoiding the long QS ordering lines and a great addition To the app.
3. Get to the parks early for Christmas Day or New Years Eve visits
From our experience the best option is to get there early on These days. You will experience an oddly quiet morning in the park whilst everyone else opens presents on Christmas Day! Magic kingdom is usually the biggest attended park on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve with The busiest time for visitor arrival around the first run through of the Mickey’s once upon a Christmas-time parade around 12 noon so make sure you have taken your chosen spot!
Don’t be surprised if they have a partial phased closure at Magic Kingdom on these days as well, but fear not for full closures, despite many scaremongering stories, the parks have not closed to full capacity for a number of years. So enjoy the atmosphere on these days, until you experience it you won’t know just how enjoyable it is.
2. Plan your Fireworks viewings
These are always in demand over the holiday period and parks are usually very busy at the show times. Our plan recommendations would be primarily to focus on the special holiday fireworks but the list below should give an idea:
‘Holiday Wishes’ – Displayed during the Mickey’s very merry Christmas parties at magic kingdom – If you don’t have a ticket then watch from the contemporary viewing gallery, from the TTC or Polynesian village resort beach until the parties end before Christmas.
‘Happily Ever After’ – As these are the permanent daily fireworks and projection show we wouldn’t prioritise these over the other displays, but as ‘holiday wishes’ was only shown up to 22nd December before they reverted, it would be easy to work a viewing in around these dates if you haven’t already seen the show.
‘Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!’ – shown at Hollywood studios during holiday season. These usually start earlier in the holiday season and often combined with the Star Wars galactic spectacular showing later on the same evening. Watch when you can schedule a date in between Christmas and New Years if you didn’t manage to catch before Christmas Day.
‘Illuminations with peace on earth ending’ – The additional ending to Epcot’s Illuminations fireworks make these a must see during the holiday season. For 2017 both the peace on earth and New Years endings were shown on New Year’s Eve for Epcot. And this would be our suggestion for New Year’s Eve itinerary and kill two birds with one stone. A very busy park for this but worth the wait.
‘Fantasy in the Sky’ – New Years Fireworks Shown at Magic Kingdom as a full run through on the 30th and repeated for New Year’s Eve on 31st December. Our recommendation is to view the full run through at 11.50pm on the 30th December and enjoy the DJ who treats the night as if it was New Year’s Eve!
1. Use the Fastpass system
As we’ve already said above, always make use of any technology available to assist with improving your guest experience. Without a doubt to get more out of your Christmas trip, our number one tip is to make use of the Disney fastpass system. It’s free and easy to use and takes minutes to book. it’s not uncommon to encounter ride queue times of 3 hours on the most in demand attractions and a little bit of planning will definitely make your park days more relaxed and help you ride those thrill or big ticket rides with minimum stress.
After all, Who wants to stand in line in for 3 hours waiting to ride space mountain or in Pandora: world of Avatar waiting to ride flight of passage for 4+hours? We think waiting around and not getting on any rides is one of He most stressful ways to waste a day away, so Our advice – book!
What are your Experiences of visiting at Christmas? Have you considered booking and decided against it, or decided to give it a go? We would love to hear from you all.
We hope we have managed to give some useful tips for those planning a trip and thank you for reading!