Disney World at Christmas? Are you crazy?

If you just have to travel over the holidays, how do you make it palatable and even enjoyable?

Maybe!  We are the types who avoid crowds and travel as often as possible during the shoulder seasons, when prices are better and crowds are lower.  My golden rule is to avoid traveling during school breaks and holidays.  So why would we go to Disney World at Christmas?  Because, as most of you have likely experienced at some point, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances.  In our case, it wasn’t because of school schedules or athletic commitments.  It was because our daughter, Hannah, has been working at WDW and wouldn’t be home for Christmas.  Since she’ll also be away next year, we decided we needed to do whatever it took to get the family together this year.  Many of you know how hard that is as children become adults!

There ARE advantages to traveling to WDW at Christmas, even with the crowds.  First, the parks are beautifully decorated.  I took advantage of this by not lugging out all the decorations at home this year.  Second, NO COOKING!  That’s a big one for me since we have many traditions built around Christmas food. I love the traditions, but wow, what a nice break for a change.  It was the most stress-free Christmas I’ve had in a long time.  Third, family is spending concentrated time together.  Since you’re away from all the distractions of home, it’s nice to really dedicate some time to being a family again.  Fourth, I didn’t experience the post-Christmas blues I sometimes feel.  Since we were there for several days after Christmas, there was time to ease back into post-holiday life.

Magic Kingdom lit up for Christmas in the evening

However, some days the parks really were packed full of people.  This is when it’s advantageous to pre-plan and have a strategy.  Here are some tips that I’ve learned after at least 14 trips to Disney parks that can help make busy days more enjoyable.

  • Stay on Disney property if you have multi-generations traveling together.  This gives everyone so much freedom to come and go between the parks and your resort with no worries.
  • If possible, choose a resort that has alternative transportation to the parks you love best.  The traffic can get crazy, so even taking resort busses can be a hassle on really busy days.  Using boat or monorail transportation comes in really handy on these days.
  • Get to the parks EARLY.  We found that using the extra magic hours (if you stay at Disney resorts) and getting to the park just before opening really made a difference.  Staying late at night wasn’t nearly as much of an advantage.  Lots more people stay up late than get there early.
  • Check out the crowd calendar before going and plan your fast passes well ahead of time.  Choose the park that has the lowest expected attendance for each given day of travel and make your fast pass reservations for the morning.
  • Make your restaurant reservations as far in advance as possible!  Six months is ideal.
  • Don’t try to do it all.  Or if you do want to do it all, give yourself at least 7 days in the parks.  The cost of admission is incrementally much smaller as you add on days, so it makes a lot of sense to get passes for a solid week (or more!).  Park hopper passes allow you to take advantage of whichever parks have lower wait times at any time of day.  We often switch parks mid-day depending on wait times and our moods.
Epcot lit up in the evening
Relaxing afternoons on our balcony
Worshipping at Christmas time with Gospel choir “Joyful Noise”
Three goofs playing in Animal Kingdom
View from the hot air balloon at Disney Springs


“The girls” – three generations enjoying Christmas eve dinner at Brown Derby

Our family, as many others I know, has perfected the art of which fast passes to make and which ones to avoid.  We also enjoy trying out many of the different resorts and restaurants.  If I can help you to plan your next trip, please let me know!  I’d love to share the experience I’ve gleaned with you.

Wishing all of you peace and love throughout 2017!


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