Updated for 2016!
It seems that summer and early fall are often the time people start planning those colder weather vacations. Lots of people want to visit Disney World during the Christmas holidays, and who can blame them? If you have ever scheduled a vacation during the Christmas holidays to avoid putting up holiday decorations in your own house, you might be a Cheapskate Princess! While we’re talking about Christmas, the question must be asked. Is Christmas really the best time of year for you to visit Walt Disney World?
From Christmas Day to New Years is the absolute busiest time of year at WDW. Talk with any of your friends that have crossed the gates of any Disney theme park this time of year, and they will all use pretty much the same words…crowded, insane, c.r.a.z.y. But they will then whisper, “It’s magical!” If you can only take off time from work during this week, and thousands do, should you brave the holiday crowds? If you just need to be in the Disney parks after Christmas, get ready to stand in long lines and be surrounded by huge crowds everywhere you go.
Can a photo do justice to the feel of the people surrounding you at Christmas? Let that soak in a moment. After-Christmas crowds took me by surprise, and I’d planned this vacation eleven months earlier, knowing full well it would be busy. OK, I expected it to be busy, but since we’re in a recession, I thought maybe people wouldn’t have the money to travel to Disney. They traveled, by the thousands. Just after I took the above Hollywood Studios crowd shot with multitudes of my closest Disney friends on December 28th, this was about 10 in the morning just standing in line to get in, three of four Disney parks soon reached capacity.
If you can calmly imagine standing shoulder to shoulder with up to 92,000 people in the Magic Kingdom at one time, then you must really want to be vacationing at Disney World. One to two-hour waits for the really popular rides, and you can guess your chances of getting any additional Fastpasses+es… yikes!
I found our best option was to leave the parks around one p.m. and go back in around six or seven. It’s still busy- crazy busy– but people start to leave after the fireworks, and lines are more manageable, especially if they offer Extra Magic Hours and you stay in a Disney Resort. However, we can’t all afford to stay on property.
Hey Cheapskate Princess, now let’s talk about cost.
A Little Mermaid standard room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort resort, with two double beds, in August of 2016 is $132-152 before taxes. That same room during Holiday Season, from December 22, 2016-December 31 is $203 a night before taxes. That’s almost double, my friends, so understand you’ll pay a lot more for the exact same room to stay at Christmas.
And don’t forget about these little issues.
- Resort lobbies are crowded.
- Food lines are longer because there are more people.
- Shopping takes longer because there are more people.
- Transportation is a zoo, be it monorail, bus or ferry.
If you haven’t made your ADRs for the table service restaurants, you can just about forget getting in last-minute. The week before Christmas last year, I called Disney Dining to ask this question, “Do you have any openings for a character meal at ANY restaurant on the monorail track on December 27th from 4 p.m. until midnight?” The answer, gasp, was sorry, we are full.
We have a guide that can help you understand the crowd levels at Disney World during Christmas holidays, because when thousands of people arrive, parks will reach capacity and close the gates to certain ticket holders. Use this link:
So make no mistake, the week after Christmas is totally packed-out and really only a last resort vacationing choice, if you just can’t schedule a Disney visit any other time of year. I’ve stood on Main Street, U.S.A., as the clock struck midnight on Christmas Eve, ushering in a fantastic Christmas Day. The Disney snow was gently falling, the holiday lights were twinkling, and people walking around were extra-Disney-magically happy. Christmas carols were playing, and I was grinning, hugging my kids and taking their picture. (Cue the scary Snow White music here.) And thousands of people were waiting to descend upon the Disney parks the next day.
The lines to meet characters at Christmas frequently look like this:
Do I recommend you go right at Christmas like we did? Heavens no. Would I go again at that time? Yes, actually. Well maybe. It all really depends on how just much you want to feel that Disney magic.
We asked some of our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans if they would travel during this time of year, and their thoughts on the experience.
Misty, “This will be our first time going at Christmas. We are doing it instead of presents. We want to do something with just us and our kids, ages 21 and 10. Prices and costs are higher, yes, but the memories will be awesome.”
Bambi, “We did the week after Christmas in ’06…. Never again! But we are going the second week of December this year!!”
Mark, “It is an awesome week- crowded, yes; forget about rides. But all the holiday decorations are still up, and you can still do almost all of the special holiday events. New Year’s Eve is better at WDW than anywhere else. You are safe and don’t need to drive etc. From the Boardwalk you can see special New Year fireworks at three parks. It is a totally different experience than any other time of year.”
Here is the line to get on a monorail after Christmas…
Rebecca, “I have been twice in early January. Most of the decorations were still up and crowds weren’t that bad. I have also been the week before Christmas, and do not remember it being crazy. I am hoping to take my daughter this year for her 18th birthday.”
Amy, “Yes because it is SO beautiful and magical. There is nothing like Disney during the Holidays! The lights and decorations are amazing!!!”
Mendi and Nick, “As long as you don’t desire rides, it’s great. Horrible with kids but still magical!”
So what do you think? Are you headed to Disney the week after Christmas? Are you just crazy enough to handle the crowds?!
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you planning your next holiday vacation!
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Erin is a Disney College of Knowledge Graduate and a Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure Specialist. She has also recently become a Florida Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialist. She can book and plan your vacation to anywhere.
As an avid scrapbooker and parent, Erin makes sure all her clients know memories are her priority. Erin’s passion is helping everyone have a once-in-a-lifetime magical vacation, which include excellent customer service, attention to detail, celebrating milestones and bringing families together.
Whether it is a honeymoon, a family’s first visit to Walt Disney World, or an extended family coming together from all across the country, Erin specializes in making sure everyone gets the most magic out of their vacation!
Give Erin a call at 214-697-7732, or send an e-mail to erin @ destinationsinflorida.com.
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