The happiest place on earth sure knows how to make guests feel merry and bright. From Christmas trees galore to snow in the parks to holiday snacks, Disney World makes the Holidays so much fun!
How do you get the most out of your Holiday trip?
Easy! Just Check out these 9 tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season at Disney World Resorts!
Tip 1- Stay on Property
First up, if you’re staying on site, you’re going to want to book your resort early. Disney World operates at peak season during the holidays, which means resorts fill up quickly.
Staying on Disney property is a smart move because you will save tons of travel time by using their free shuttles to and from the parks. The shuttles have multiple pick up and drop off spots in each resort and they travel to all four parks, Disney Springs, and both waterparks (usually close by mid December).
As a resort guest, you are also able to gain early entry or extended time after normal closing at select parks each day through Extra Magic Hours.
Normally, Extra Magic Hours are amazing- but they tend to get a little crowded during Christmas time, so proceed with caution!
Tip 2- Presents!
What’s the Holiday season without a little gift giving?
I know for many that the “present” for the year is going to Disney- I totally get that!
You may also want to consider presents to give AT Disney. So my recommendation here is to order them ahead of time and bring them in- or save them up on Amazon and ship them to the resort.
Another idea is to do gift cards so everyone in the Family can pick out the gifts that they want at the parks- this is especially useful because Disney has an option where you can get you items delivered to the resort or sent home straight from the parks! Talk about convenience!
Tip 3- Decide on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
If you would like to experience the holiday cheer with less hustle and bustle, you may consider purchasing tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
MVMCP is a hard ticket event, so you will need to buy them in addition to your other tickets.
This typically means that there are lower crowds because only those with a MVMCP ticket are able to stay in the park after party time begins but there are still a lot of people!
So yes, you will still have some lines, they will just be more manageable.
During the party, guests have access to special holiday merchandise like Mickey ears, mugs and ornaments. Snow falls on Main Street U.S.A. and guests can snack on unlimited cookies and hot chocolate at kiosks around the park. It is absolutely HOLIDAY MAGIC!
Of course many rides and attractions are operating and have very short wait times of about less than 20 minutes. Which is seriously the best time to ride them!
And most importantly, you’ll be able to see your favorite characters dressed in their holiday best, as well as characters that only make an appearance once a year, just for the party!
Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws, Nick and Judy from Zootopia, Princess Elena and the Seven Dwarfs. Plus, you’ll see the traditional gang dressed in their holiday best for meet and greets and the parades. It’s amazing.
tip 4- Book your FastPass+ Early!
The best way to get the attractions you want is to make a list beforehand so you know exactly which ones to search for once your booking day arrives.
You can book you Fastpass+ 60 days before your stay if you are staying on site and 30 days before if you are not. At midnight of your 60 day mark, book those passes! Yes, I said midnight.
There are only a certain amount of passes for each attraction and the most popular (think Avatar and Toy Story Land) go quick! There is a limit of 3 FastPass+ per day per guest but once you use all three, you are able to add more.
It’s smart to try to book all three passes early in the day so that you can add more as soon as those are done. If you book two in the morning and one at 7pm, you cannot add more passes until that 7pm attraction has been scanned (you saw the show or rode the ride) or cancelled.
Tip 5- Consider the Sit Down Meals over Quick Serve
Disney is Busy the last few months of the year.
So that means that everything- from quick service, to tram lines are going to be longer!
Save yourself the hassle and make sure to book some Advanced Dining Reservations where you will have a guaranteed sit down meal because there will rarely be seating for walk up requests. Dining reservations can be booked starting at 180 days of your arrival.
Also, try to be flexible with your eating times so that they don’t interfere with the wonderful holiday parades and shows.
It’s nice to know you have a guaranteed place to eat rather than winging it and crossing your fingers for a table at a quick service place.
Tip 6- Remember that Florida Weather is a little crazy
Orlando typically has pretty pleasant weather during the holidays.
Just because it’s typical doesnt mean it’s guaranteed!
Florida can be 80 degrees for Thanksgiving or it can be 40, it really is a gamble.
The best suggestion is to dress in layers. Temps are usually high during the day and get chilly as the sun sets. T-shirts and jeans with a hoodie are good choices, if you don’t want to carry around a backpack with extra clothes that is.
You might want to take along a rain poncho for those unexpected rain showers! Need to know more about the rain? I’ve got a rain guide for Disney that will help you with planning!
And don’t let the weather get you down! One year I went to Mickeys Christmas Party and it RAINED. Yep, no fun fake snow for us! But we made the best of it and still enjoyed our night. Sometimes you just have to roll with the weather.
Tip 7- Take advantage of the Disney Resorts
Whether you are staying on or off property, carve out some time to visit the Walt Disney World Resorts.
This is a fun and free way to add some holiday cheer to your vacation. Take in all the magic of giant Christmas trees, carolers, holiday decor and life- size gingerbread houses on a self guided tour of these fabulous resorts. Trees are themed accordingly and the atmosphere is so festive.
You can normally find some great holiday displays at these resorts- I’ll update for 2019 when I know exactly which ones have fun displays and activities.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Contemporary Resort
- Beach Club
- Yacht Club
- Wilderness Lodge
- Boardwalk Inn
- Grand Floridian
- Polynesian Village Resort
Tip 8- Park Hours and Max Capacity
Please take note that parks can operate at atypical hours during the holiday season. Magic Kingdom and in the past, Animal Kingdom as well, will close early on party nights.
This means that guests without MVMCP event tickets will not get a full park day, as it will close at 6pm. Those nights will not have a “Happily Ever After” fireworks show either.
Check WDW’s website for the party schedule and plan you park days accordingly.
The other thing is the parks reaching Max Capacity. If you stay on property you are guaranteed a park visit each day of your stay- but they dont specify which one. On the major holidays it’s totally expected for the parks to be filled by lunch time.
Tip 9- Indulge in the Holiday Treats
What’s the holidays without a little indulgence? Disney foodie pros love to hit the parks in search of new and classic seasonal treats.
It’s easy to go for a typical Mickey shaped pretzel or bucket of popcorn, but why not try some festive food to enjoy in the beautifully decorated parks? Here’s a small list of favorites from last year.
- Peppermint Soft-Serve- Storybook Treats, Magic Kingdom
- Cookie Butter Milkshake- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, Magic Kingdom
- Sugar Frosted Fruit Bites- Pretzel Palooza, Hollywood Studios
- Prep and Landing Gingerbread Cupcake- Multiple places in Hollywood Studios including ABC Commissary
- Feliz Navidad Nachos-Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, Magic Kingdom
- Glace au Pain d’Epices (Gingerbread ice cream with gingerbread crumbles)- L’Artisans des Glaces, Epcot
With these tips you’re bound to have a holly, jolly holiday time at the most magical place on Earth!
Are you going to Disney World at the end of the year? Let me know what you’re excited to experience in the comments below.