Updated for 2017!
Debates occur weekly as to when is the best time to visit Walt Disney World. I am a public high school teacher, so it’s hard for me to play hookey and travel to Orlando while school is in session. If you have ever seen Disney during the Christmas holiday season, then you know why this is a favorite among Disney vacationers. Carols really do fill the air, festive lights are twinkling, and you can almost feel Santa’s impending arrival just by touching any of the thousands of Disney holiday merchandising items. There’s even “snow” on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street on special nights.
It’s a pretty well-known fact that when school is out, Disney is packed, and this can cause some issues when Disney Moms and Dads take their families on an expensive vacation to see the Mouse.
We’ve come up with some tips that can help you retain your sanity among the WDW Christmas trees while helping your kids stay calm, cool, and collected as they watch snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A.
Prepare the kids for massive crowds.
Commercials on TV and the Disney planning videos show a beautiful theme park with hardly anyone on the sidewalks. The reality is, people are everywhere during the holidays. Sidewalks are crowded, monorails are packed, and the rollercoaster lines – incredibly long.
Talk with your kids ahead of time to warn them that there will be tons of people everywhere. By kids, I am referring to anyone under the ripe old age of say…18. I work with teens every day, and when a teen says they hate Disney, it’s because they were there during a holiday, and they stood in line forever.
“Kids” need to know that without Fastpass+es, they will stand in line for long periods of time. They need to start mentally preparing themselves; while not ruining the fun of anticipation, they need to be made aware of the impending wait times so this will not come as a shock to their delicate systems upon arrival. This way you can casually say, “Remember we talked about this. We may have to wait a while.” Then distract them with,”Wow! Look at that Christmas tree.”
Prepare the kids for long lines.
Not only will kids probably not have a bench to themselves on the monorail, they need to be prepared for long waits for transportation home, sometimes during the day but especially when the parks close. Lines are also long to get into the parks. There will be long waits for food. For the itty-bitty crowd, they need to know that they will stand in line to see characters for autographs and hugs for 30-45 minutes on the low side, and they may not get to sit in a stroller. Perhaps this article should have been about warning the adults about what to expect!
Prepare the kids for all the walking.
To prepare for those long lines and miles of walking that accompany any Disney vacation, get the kids out and do some family walking months before the actual vacation. Even with the hours they will ride in strollers, toddlers and smaller children will still walk miles each day, which is not an everyday experience for some. Feet will be sore, and tempers will become shorter as little bodies becomes tired. You mean you should train for Disney as you would a 5k race? Yes, that is exactly what I mean.
I paid my kids $.20 a mile one year (knowing I would have spent this money on souvenirs for them anyway) and felt like it was money well spent. The longer children can stand and walk without collapsing in a tearful heap, the less stressed you will all be.
When you talk about your Disney holiday vacation, be sure to mention that many people will be there right along with you. Use words like “patience,” “good attitude,” and perhaps even throw in “Santa will be watching!” I know he’s watching me, because I put a cruise on my 2017 Santa list, which I posted on my refrigerator last month. According to my husband, “You better be good for goodness sake” actually means for adults, “If you want to go on vacation, you better not spend so much money on eBay.” Hmmmm…
Disney is fabulous during the Christmas holidays, and there are times when it won’t be quite so busy. But with the parking lots filling up and parks closing as they fill to capacity, you need to mentally prepare the kids for what to expect. I hope these holiday photos have shown you what you will be facing, which is an absolutely fantastic vacation that will be busy.
Christmas is beautiful at Walt Disney World, but you’ll be there looking at decorations with a lot of people, especially if schools out. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and vacationing from about the 23rd of December to after New Years is no exception.
To see just how crazy the wait times are, use this link:
To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you and the kids lapping the neighborhood in preparation…
Disney’s Cheapskate Princess
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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