Okay, so here (finally) is the last in my Christmas in Orlando series and I’m talking about the one, the only, Walt Disney World… yes I saved the best ’til last!
So here are my tips, tricks and what we’ve experienced at Walt Disney World over Christmas and New Years.
Days, etc. So yeah we spend majority of our holiday at Disney parks because there are so many of them. We normally have an idea of how many days minimum we want to spend in each Disney park, and that normally looks something like this…
2 x full days at Magic Kingdom
1 x full day at Hollywood Studios
1 x full day at Animal Kingdom
Half – full day at Epcot
Half (full for water park) at Typhoon Lagoon/Blizzard Beach – there is normally only one of the two Disney water parks open over the Christmas period as the other is being refurbished
As I’ve mentioned previously, the week between Christmas and New Year is the busiest week of the year in WDW. So you need to be prepared for this if you’re going to enjoy going there for Christmas. Our full days at the park including getting there for rope drop and staying pretty much until it closes, which sometimes around this time of year could be a 7am-1am day! We try to go all out at the Disney parks because we don’t like missing things we love and we don’t get to visit all the time so we try and make the most of our time there.
Okay on to some tips….
Tickets… We normally get all of our park tickets for 2 weeks. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, we normally purchase some ticket combos from Attraction Tickets Direct. The Discovery Cove Ultimate Ticket which then gives us access to Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica for 2 weeks, plus the Universal and Disney combo which gives you acces to all their parks also for 2 weeks. The price of tickets are going up around £50 every year and they are expensive but honestly I just feel this is the easiest way to do it. Then you’re not limited to certain days at certain parks, or completely planning your trip day by day to buy tickets as you go.
Dining Reservations… Disney restaurants can be booked 180 days in advanced. So if you have certain restaurants you really don’t want to miss out on there definitely try and book them as early as possible and you can plan the rest of your trip around them. We’ve never actually booked any but we haven’t really wanted to eat at any that majorly as we don’t like to limit the time we have in the parks when it’s so busy. But next time we go, or if you are going with children and maybe want to do some character dining, then I would definitely suggest booking some! You can cancel them all the way until a couple of days before I believe without losing any money.
Character dining is a great way of meeting characters in WDW, you’re always guaranteed a few characters all at one time. Whereas you’d have to queue for hours or use a fast pass to meet them in the parks, and sometimes that will only be one character. There are a lot of different character dining options with chances of meeting all different characters.
There are also Dessert Parties in some of the parks for the firework displays. You pay a certain amount per person to have a great view for the fireworks and you also receive lots of mini desserts. I’ve never done one of these but I’ve heard they can be great. Definitely on my bucket list!
Fast Passes… Disney give everyone 3 fast passes per day, which you can book online before you go, and edit whilst you’re there on the My Disney Experience app. When you can book these fast passes depends on where you are staying… if you’re staying on Disney property then you can book them 60 days in advanced of your arrival day for your entire trip. If you are staying off Disney property then you can book 30 days in advanced, but you’d have to go online to book 30 days in advanced for each day you want to book for. A little annoying or inconvenient but it’s something you need to do, especially fo this time of year! Close to opening and closing can be quieter, so try to book your fast passes for the middle of the day, however if it’s a rare one or something you really want, take whatever you can get! Once you have used all 3 fast passes for the day, you can then go back on the app and book additional ones one by one, and you can do this for as long as they have some available.
I wanna talk about the rides that I would suggest fast passing in each park, the busiest and most popular rides…
- Peter Pans Flight
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Haunted Mansion
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Toy Story Mania
- Rock n Roller
- Tower of Terror
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- Expedition Everest
- Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Rapids
- Frozen Ever After
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
Of course the fast passes you choose would always depend on who’s in your group, for example if you have smaller kids you may not fast pass any thrill rides, or if you have certain rides you don’t like, etc. You can also use fast passes to meet characters as I mentioned earlier, and also for shows such as Fantasmic.
Snacks… Disney World always add new and extra snacks to the parks and restaurants for each festival. So make sure to check what snacks are new for the year you’re visiting and have a list of ones you want to try (and where you can get them)!
Events… WDW doesn’t just add snacks for the holidays, but also lots of extra events. My favourite event to do over the Christmas period is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This is a hard ticket event, which means it costs extra to your normal park ticket, and is on select evenings throughout November and December. The party normally starts at 7pm but if you don’t have a normal park ticket then you can go to Magic Kingdom from 4pm with your party ticket. This event is epic. It may seem a little expensive, especially if there is a group of you, but it’s work every penny. There’s special character meets, our favourite rides stay open, there’s free snacks and drinks, plus special parades and shows… all with lower crowds. The last show is at 11.55pm and then you can stroll out, taking in the beautiful sights of Cinderella’s Castle and Main Street USA at night. The parade and some shows are duplicated throughout the night but if you can stay for the later ones they are much quieter giving you time to do character meets and rides during the busier parades/shows. If you want to attend a party, be sure to book your tickets in advanced online because most nights do usually sell out.
Another event is the Festival of the Holidays which is at Epcot. This includes different foods and drinks around World Showcase, as well as stories in each Country about their holiday traditions. I’ve never spent enough time at Epcot, or taken advantage of the festival specials. But since further research, Epcot is definitely a place I’d like to spend more time at. I’ve decided that I would like to visit for every festival at least once. I’ve got plans to visit the Food and Wine Festival in 2021!
There are also special firework displays and shows in each park for the holiday season. For example Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam in Hollywood Studios.
Disney Springs… This is an open part of WDW (you don’t need a park ticket) which has hundreds of shops and restaurants. I love Disney Springs, it’s a great place to get in some retail therapy, Disney and non-Disney related, have some amazing food, drinks with friends and enjoy the gorgeous atmosphere. It’s open from 10am but I think it’s a lovely way to spend an evening or two. Because this time of year is very busy, I would suggest having a look online at the restaurants you might want to try and book them in advanced, especially if there’s a group of you. There’s also a bowling alley, cinema and VR experience. A Christmas, they also normally have a special tree trail, with lots of Christmas trees decorated for specific Disney films or characters.
Water Parks… At this time of year there is normally one of the water parks closed for refurbishment. But the other one will be open 10am-5pm, which I always find is more than enough time at this time of year. Fun fact, the water park will be full of English families 😂 we are the only people that’ll think it’s warm enough. It’s always pretty quiet and you’ll get on the slides easy. If you can, try to pick a day where the suns out because it can be a little chilly when you’re walking around wet in your bathers.
Resorts… Another great thing to do around WDW at Christmas, is to resort hop. We did this on Christmas Day in 2017 and it was so fun, and quite a chilled way to spend the day. Some can see different displays each hotel do, for example Grand Floridian has a huge Gingerbread House. Wilderness Lodge also do sleigh rides! There’s lots of different options over all the different resorts, you can find all the information for the year you’re visiting online and try to put a good route together!
New Years Eve… Is CRAZY. But isn’t it everywhere? So I personally would suggest Magic Kingdom on the 30th December and then Epcot on 31st December if you wanna see fireworks. Magic Kingdom do their New Year’s Eve fireworks on both 30th and 31st, and they also show them twice each night. Around 6/7pm and then again at midnight. This is great if you have younger kids with you who might not stay up late enough to see the actual ones at New Years. Epcot are also supposed to have amazing fireworks on New Year’s Eve, then a lot of the countries celebrate by throwing mini parties with DJs etc. So if you can experience both, then why not!
- Magic Kingdom normally hits capacity on Christmas Day, but I’ve heard Epcot is a good option, or resort hopping
- Be prepared for mad crowds
- Try to rope drop, or be the parks as early as possible
- Each park with have an amazing firework display or show in the evening
- Book your fast passes as early as possible
- Book your dining as soon as you can
- Book ticket for MVMCP in advanced
- Enjoy every second
I hope this series has helped you if you’re considering spending Christmas and New Years in Orlando. Please comment below if you have any other ideas or tips, or if you have any questions! All this blogging has made me wanna book a trip for this year SO bad! Let me know if you have a WDW countdown!
Speak soon… Rachel xo