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View Full Version : Another myth busted...low crowds in early December


Granny
12-07-2011, 01:01 AM
I've been reading on these threads about how great it is to go to WDW in early December due to low point schedules for DVC and low crowds in the parks.

Well, the low point schedule is certainly true. Really a great deal since we are in a BWV standard view 1BR.

But the park crowds....WOW!!! We arrived on Saturday 12/3 and there have been heavy crowds every day in the parks. Fortunately, we are more focused on enjoying the decorations and having a relaxing trip, but if we wanted to do a lot of attractions it would be challenging to say the least.

I know things change, but we were looking forward to finally visiting WDW when the crowd levels would be down a bit. We have been reading on this board for about 10 years about the low crowds in early December. I think it's safe to say that there are very few low crowd times left on the annual calendar.

Of course, the shorter park hours contribute to crowding a little too as there is less total park time for all the guests to enjoy the attractions.

We haven't been to DAK yet, but the other three parks have been pretty crowded each day. Popular attractions (Soaring, Rock n Roller Coaster, Space Mountain) continue to have long stand by lines, and Fast Passes are gone fairly early in the day.

Not complaining, mind you. We're having a great trip. But to those who expect walk-on attractions at this time of the year, be warned.

Beyond that, the weather is fantastic and everything looks great. Candlelight Processional continues to be one of the most entertaining and moving experiences at WDW. :thumbsup2

lcj19
12-07-2011, 02:33 AM
We discovered in 2009 about early Dec. "low" crowd levels :rotfl: It was hit or miss for us...MK was slow with our longest line being 20 mins, while DHS was crazy and we never got to see TSM and the wait time for RR was 40 mins. Just the way it is sometimes I guess :)

Glad you had a nice trip!!!:thumbsup2

taaren
12-07-2011, 03:00 AM
Good to know. We're going to be there this time next year but mainly because we want cool weather, low points, and to celebrate 3 birthdays in our party by making the pilgrimage to see the mouse in all his lighted glory. If there are low crowds at any of the parks it'll be a bonus. :thumbsup2
I'm assuming crowds in early Dec are still lower than Thanksgiving or the week before/after Xmas and New Years though?

bobbiwoz
12-07-2011, 06:02 AM
Was the Christmas party taping during your time? That may have added to the interest in the week. I remember Epcot being pretty slow during what is next week, the week after my school lets out, especially during weekdays. Like you, we'll be there primarily for enjoying the decorations, and I have a few meets with friends and family! I'm bringing Christmas cards to write while enjoying the ambiance of a fireplace and rocking chair at VWL!

I'm glad you're enjoying your stay! We're coming down on Friday!:banana:

Bobbi:goodvibes

Meriweather
12-07-2011, 06:24 AM
We've been here since the 1st and I don't think the crowds are bad. Weekend definitely more than during the week and more and more people as the day goes on.
We arrived at rope drop yesterday at MK and did all of Fantasyland, HM, PotC, Jungle Cruise all by 11.

hakepb
12-07-2011, 07:00 AM
I have been checking my wait time app since my trip, and it looks like lines are lower than when I was there the week before Thanksgiving week. Occasional 30-40 min TSM waits seems low to me. (Although Thanksgiving week itself was crazy with 120+ on TSM and Soarin'...

I'd be curious if you are going to easywdw.com recommended parks or not because I will see low waits at some parks and busier at others.

Doug7856
12-07-2011, 07:08 AM
We started going to Walt Disney World in December in the late 90's, and with the exception of Saturday during Pop Warner, it was genuinely very slow. Not so true anymore. People love Christmas and Disney does it right. The real secret is no longer a secret.

PrincessSuzanne
12-07-2011, 08:51 AM
It seems to have picked up more over the last couple of years, with the parade taping and Pop Warner and everybody giving out the secret that it is less crowded. We found that the week just prior to Christmas and even Christmas week until Dec 26 has had smaller crowds.

Scott
12-07-2011, 09:13 AM
We've never experienced crowded parks during weekdays...but weekends seem quite crowded during our December trips. We go the 2nd week in December...leaving Saturday so I hope this crowded park experience was an anomaly. Curious to find out what your experience was today (Wed).
Scott
P.s. dining reservations seemed to be more avaiable than past years so I was hoping that meant park attendance would be reasonable/low.

Granny
12-07-2011, 09:22 AM
We discovered in 2009 about early Dec. "low" crowd levels :rotfl: It was hit or miss for us...MK was slow with our longest line being 20 mins, while DHS was crazy and we never got to see TSM and the wait time for RR was 40 mins. Just the way it is sometimes I guess :)


I agree that things can be hit or miss. This week, we seem to be hitting the crowded spots. The trip itself is a wonderful one, and no regrets over coming at this time of year.


Good to know. We're going to be there this time next year but mainly because we want cool weather, low points, and to celebrate 3 birthdays in our party by making the pilgrimage to see the mouse in all his lighted glory. If there are low crowds at any of the parks it'll be a bonus. :thumbsup2
I'm assuming crowds in early Dec are still lower than Thanksgiving or the week before/after Xmas and New Years though?

We were here at WDW during Christmas week in 2006 and yes, it is less crowded than that. But especially this past weekend it was pretty close. :scared1:

Was the Christmas party taping during your time? That may have added to the interest in the week. I remember Epcot being pretty slow during what is next week, the week after my school lets out, especially during weekdays. Like you, we'll be there primarily for enjoying the decorations, and I have a few meets with friends and family! I'm bringing Christmas cards to write while enjoying the ambiance of a fireplace and rocking chair at VWL!



Bobbi...I think DVC Mike said in his report that the Christmas parade taping was this past Saturday (the day we arrived). Definitely Saturday and Sunday crowds were very high, but not much of a fall off after the weekend. We'll be heading out about the time you get here. I know you'll have a great time at VWL! :thumbsup2

We've been here since the 1st and I don't think the crowds are bad. Weekend definitely more than during the week and more and more people as the day goes on.
We arrived at rope drop yesterday at MK and did all of Fantasyland, HM, PotC, Jungle Cruise all by 11.

The words "rope drop" were eliminated from our vocabulary when we joined DVC. :) I was hoping the lower crowds would be an all-day kind of thing since we don't rush out to the parks any more. But I'm glad you have been able to get everything done you wanted. :)

I have been checking my wait time app since my trip, and it looks like lines are lower than when I was there the week before Thanksgiving week. Occasional 30-40 min TSM waits seems low to me. (Although Thanksgiving week itself was crazy with 120+ on TSM and Soarin'...

I'd be curious if you are going to easywdw.com recommended parks or not because I will see low waits at some parks and busier at others.

Thanks for the tip on the web site. We haven't tried that, but I'll go give it a look. So far we haven't seen TSM under 60 minutes in our two trips to that park. Space Mountain was 50 minutes.

I agree that 40 minutes on "hot" attractions isn't that bad, but like I said, I've been reading for years that 10-15 minute lines at the hottest attractions all day long was more the norm. Again, I'm not complaining but I do think that Disney has done a good job of keeping the parks busy even during traditionally slower times.

Muushka
12-07-2011, 09:56 AM
Granny Granny Granny

Don't you listen when Muush whines?

I whined about 4 years ago about the 'early Dec low crowd MYTH".
The following year we went in Early Jan. Bigger mistake.
The following year we went mid-November. Bingo! The sweet spot. Low crowds and better weather!
Last year we did early Dec for a Groupie meet, but low crowds? Nope.

Speaking of mythbusting, in case anyone is a fan of the show

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/12/06/tv-experiment-goes-awry-sends-cannonball-rocketing-through-homes/

Have a great time Granny.:santa:

keishashadow
12-07-2011, 10:56 AM
We started going to Walt Disney World in December in the late 90's, and with the exception of Saturday during Pop Warner, it was genuinely very slow. Not so true anymore. People love Christmas and Disney does it right. The real secret is no longer a secret.

agree and the weeks around Columbus day are closing the gap too. I chalk it up to FDP offers.

muuska - i'm thinking buster was in charge of that experiment:laughing:there was a clip on ABC morning news today.

disneynutz
12-07-2011, 11:01 AM
The early closing times of the parks and the hard ticket events really seem to keep the parks crowded.

The Epcot resort area is really busy this week due to a ESPN event at the Atlantic Dance Hall. TV trucks are setting up and a stage was built. Someone said that it's some type of Football Trophy award.

All of the resorts are at full occupancy and security has increased.

:earsboy: Bill

Mtnman44
12-07-2011, 11:59 AM
Avoid the Extra "magic" hour parks on any particular day as well as the Studios on a Fantasmic scheduled day and MK on a christmas party day. :thumbsup2

hakepb
12-07-2011, 12:25 PM
I was just checking my UT app and Space Mountain is 10min, Dumbo is 15 and PP is 30. I consider that low crowds @ MK.

But if you chose the wrong park, I can see how a 50 minute Soarin, 55min TSM or 30 minute safari might make it seem a bit busy...

I don't think there are any long stretches of crowd level 1-2 days anymore (like the "good old times") but it still seems reasonable with a plan.

hakepb
12-07-2011, 12:34 PM
Avoid the Extra "magic" hour parks on any particular day as well as the Studios on a Fantasmic scheduled day and MK on a christmas party day. :thumbsup2

Actually, today is most recommended @ MK because of MVMCP (unless you think 10 minute Space Mountain waits are excessive ;) ) and Disney finally started adding Fantasmic back on most days (this Thu is the only non Fantasmic day this month because of early closing due to a CM party)
I still avoid EMH until its the last park open ;)

Granny
12-07-2011, 07:19 PM
I was just checking my UT app and Space Mountain is 10min, Dumbo is 15 and PP is 30. I consider that low crowds @ MK.

Wow, I have to agree with you that I would consider those to be low crowds.

One thing we have seen is the boards posting 15 minute waits and we walk directly to the attraction and the lines are clearly closer to 30 minutes or more.

I guess I need more apps and better use of technology. It would be nice if Disney would post more wait time boards around the parks to help even out the crowds.

dianeschlicht
12-08-2011, 06:13 AM
Granny, are you still here? I'd love to meet you if you are. We didn't have many crowd issues yesterday, and we were at the EMH park by default because of the Wild Africa Trek. I'd say it's a normal early Dec. crowd. We have the Pop Warner kids here, but I think it's better than crowds when they are tapping the parade.

We've had beautiful weather so far, but it's chilly today with a current temp around 40 (early morning). However, it will be upper 60's by midday.:thumbsup2

poggs
12-08-2011, 06:40 AM
We have been at the world for the past week with a another week to go.

The parks are pretty quiet, except for HS which seems smashed when we go. Everything at MK has been walk on, same at AK. We walked right on everest 3 times in a row at noon on wednesday.

Epcot has the standard line at soarin, but the others were almost walkons.

Much quieter that October 2010 when we were last in the world, especially epcot. Never coming during food and wine again!

Anthony1971
12-08-2011, 09:35 AM
Pop Warner is the key....
Try to find out what parks they are going to on a given day and avoid that park. Go to any park when they have big events. Friend a PW parent for the rest of you stay :thumbsup2

Granny
12-08-2011, 11:30 AM
We have been at the world for the past week with a another week to go.

The parks are pretty quiet, except for HS which seems smashed when we go. Everything at MK has been walk on, same at AK. We walked right on everest 3 times in a row at noon on wednesday.

Epcot has the standard line at soarin, but the others were almost walkons.

Much quieter that October 2010 when we were last in the world, especially epcot. Never coming during food and wine again!

Pop Warner is the key....
Try to find out what parks they are going to on a given day and avoid that park. Go to any park when they have big events. Friend a PW parent for the rest of you stay :thumbsup2


Wow, we haven't seen walk-ons at any park at any time, except for Great Movie Ride at DHS. I guess we have inadvertently been following the Pop Warner folks around. :confused3

Interesting to get such a completely opposite view of park crowds during the same time period.

Crashdown
12-08-2011, 12:18 PM
We were there Last week - Saturday - November 26 to Saturday - Dec 3. We really planned ahead with crowd calendars and various wait-time apps. Stayed out of the parks (except for seeing Fantasmic) on Sunday the 27 and just went from resort to resort enjoying the decorations and showing my Sister's Family (first trip) just how big the world is. We experienced extremes - leaving after one of the MVMCP's - we were the only ones on Splash Mountain and leaving the park there was no one around at all - such a strange feeling. The rough day was Saturday, on a last minute sprint to the MK. Crowd level scale of 1 to 10 - 20. We were just going to ride the HM and leave but it went from a 16 minute wait to a 35 minute wait by the time we were able to push through the crowds. Most Nights we took advantage of evening extra magic hours and the fact that BLT is walking distance from the MK. Thrusday we even hit three parks and that made my niece and nephew feel like park-hopper rock stars! We did skip Toy Story Midway Maddness cause we were too late for fast passes and it was the usual 45 to 60 minute wait. So I guess we'll have a reason to go back! But besides Saturday = which was CRaZY BuSY = it wasn't bad with some planning. I hope your week got better! :santa: Oh we had - several walk ons at all the parks. We didn't use several fast passes cause by time we got back the line was gone.

ccigliano
12-08-2011, 12:59 PM
I am here in the World now and have been coming at this time of the year since the late 90s and while it is no longer the best kept secret for low crowds it's still a great time to visit. The problem that we've seen is that the MVMCP really limits your opportunities to view Wishes and so Wishes days in the MK are really bad since everyone is here. The only nights for Wishes during this week are Mon and Thurs. We were there Monday night for ELP and Wishes and it was also EMH so it was packed. We got there at 6:30 and were trapped on Main Street until after the 8:00 Wishes since the crowd just wouldn't move, at times is was a bit scary:scared1:. HS, however, was fine since they added several Fantasmic nights with some nights even having 6:30 and 8:00 show. We're still having lots of fun and planning on heading back to Wishes tonight with the winter chill our Mickey hats and gloves. Merry Christmas from the fireplace on the second floor of the Wilderness Lodge.:santa:

burberryplaid
12-08-2011, 02:06 PM
We are on our way home and I have to disagree...crowds were great!

We arrived on 11/28...hit the parks starting on the 29th. Our first day we had a breakfast ADR at Crystal Palace so we didn't even start touring until 9:45. By 1 we had hit Big Thunder, Splash, Space & Buzz along with about 7 or 8 other attractions.

On one of our Epcot days we ride Soarin' twice by noon plus Test Track, Mission Space, Living With the Land, Spaceship Earth and had lunch at Sunshine Seasons.

On 12/5 we did EMH Evenings at MK and it was DEAD! We had only a 20 minute wait for Dumbo but everything else was basically walk-on.

On 12/6 we did MVMCP and everything was walk on...

Yesterday we went to Epcot around 11:30 with no hope of doing anything in Future World but snagged a FP for Soarin' at 2 and did Test Track & Mission Space. We did all of World Showcase by 4 which included lunch.

We thought the crowds were amazing & would definitely return during this time!

Crashdown
12-08-2011, 02:44 PM
We are on our way home and I have to disagree...crowds were great!
On 12/5 we did EMH Evenings at MK and it was DEAD! We had only a 20 minute wait for Dumbo but everything else was basically walk-on.
On 12/6 we did MVMCP and everything was walk on...
We thought the crowds were amazing & would definitely return during this time!
Sounds like a great trip!!!

LPnerd
12-08-2011, 02:58 PM
being an ex resident of Fl. ( 21 yrs), and a disney nutjob ( my husbands term), let me assist, without giving to much away.
One reason for the line increases in two, of the three, slow times has to do with a few things. Mousesavers, this board, Mouseplanet, etc. Well meaning folks who what to share info have given away our secrets. :eek: also, Disney vacation club has led to many more people coming at off times due to lower points.:wizard:
From right after thanksgiving wk-end until the week of Xmas we could walk right onto thunder Mt and then get off and do it again. In fact, many and most times if you wanted to stay on, they let you. Weekdays, and not on Party days.
the weekends are always more crowded, well, Friday night, sat. and sunday after, during xmas because Fl. residents come out then. Also, that first wk-end after thanksgiving the film the xmas parade , packed! Thanksgiving week from the sunday before, to the Tues-to Wed. after are more crowded. wk-ends are always more folks, and it's always been this way.
Unless you have been over easter, or May through labor day wk-end, you have no idea what a line is, so be quiet, LOL!:dance3:
there are ways to avoid the crowds, and lines, on everything but Soaring, Dumbo, and rock and roller coaster. BUT, unlike all these folks who feel the need to impart knowledge on the masses, I"m Not tellin! :cool1: ( sing that out, lol).

wildernessDad
12-08-2011, 03:41 PM
Dec 3 was our day of departure. We went the the Magic Kingdom after checking out of VWL - Big Mistake. They were taping the Xmas parade. We took the monorail to Epcot and spent some time there before getting on the DME bus for the trip to MCO.

Are you saying that crowds are large for the entire time you've been there? i am very curious to know.

bobbiwoz
12-08-2011, 04:49 PM
I am here in the World now and have been coming at this time of the year since the late 90s and while it is no longer the best kept secret for low crowds it's still a great time to visit. The problem that we've seen is that the MVMCP really limits your opportunities to view Wishes and so Wishes days in the MK are really bad since everyone is here. The only nights for Wishes during this week are Mon and Thurs. We were there Monday night for ELP and Wishes and it was also EMH so it was packed. We got there at 6:30 and were trapped on Main Street until after the 8:00 Wishes since the crowd just wouldn't move, at times is was a bit scary:scared1:. HS, however, was fine since they added several Fantasmic nights with some nights even having 6:30 and 8:00 show. We're still having lots of fun and planning on heading back to Wishes tonight with the winter chill our Mickey hats and gloves. Merry Christmas from the fireplace on the second floor of the Wilderness Lodge.:santa:

Hi! I'm glad you're having so much fun! I love the fireplaces, enjoy Wishes!

Bobbi:goodvibes

Granny
12-08-2011, 10:23 PM
Dec 3 was our day of departure. We went the the Magic Kingdom after checking out of VWL - Big Mistake. They were taping the Xmas parade. We took the monorail to Epcot and spent some time there before getting on the DME bus for the trip to MCO.

Are you saying that crowds are large for the entire time you've been there? i am very curious to know.

Yes, we've found pretty good crowds every day. Here's a shot from DHS a couple of days ago...

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u282/VWL_Granny/DSC00855.jpg

And another last night from DHS...

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u282/VWL_Granny/DSC00982.jpg


I will say that today we "walked on" to the Tiki Room. At the same time, the wait times at Space Mountain was 50 minutes, 40 minutes at Haunted Mansion, 45 minutes at Peter Pan and PoC was 25 minutes. Splash Mountain was reported to be 5 minutes (walk on) but that was no doubt influenced by the cold weather today. Even Small World was a 20 minute wait which is rather long for that attraction.

Let me repeat...we have had a great trip and done everything we cared to do. I was just hoping to run into lower crowds and lesser wait times than we experienced. Looks like we were in the wrong places at the wrong times. Not a big deal though.

beccasmom
12-10-2011, 12:50 PM
We were there 11/13-18 and I thought it was a bit busier than it had been last November, but the lines were not bad at all....hardly any wait at Splash Mountain, for example. Many, but not all, of the resorts were decorated. The weather was warmer than we expected, but that was fine.

I like early December but getting a commitment on dates from my crew is always challenging, let alone doing so in time to book early enough to snag a place. We were able to take more time to book the November trip and I think because we arrived just after the Food & Wine Festival completed, it was sort of the calm before the "storm" of the Thanksgiving holiday week. It just seems to work well for us. We are planning a summer trip now, but I hope we can do at least another quick November one too.

carlbarry
12-10-2011, 04:42 PM
I just got back. I went to Hollywood Studios on Dec. 5, Epcot on Dec. 6, and Blizzard Beach on Dec. 7 The only ride I had a significant wait for was Toy Story, at 30 minutes. On the other hand, I walked onto Star Tours 3 times in a row, and at the end of the day did another walk on. Did Soarin' twice, basically a walk on each time.

ccigliano
12-10-2011, 08:06 PM
Hi! I'm glad you're having so much fun! I love the fireplaces, enjoy Wishes!

Bobbi:goodvibes

Enjoy your stay at the WLV. We had a wonderful time and the weather was spectacular. Hope it holds out for you too.

Charmaine

castleri
12-10-2011, 08:32 PM
I was just checking my UT app and Space Mountain is 10min, Dumbo is 15 and PP is 30. I consider that low crowds @ MK.

But if you chose the wrong park, I can see how a 50 minute Soarin, 55min TSM or 30 minute safari might make it seem a bit busy...

I don't think there are any long stretches of crowd level 1-2 days anymore (like the "good old times") but it still seems reasonable with a plan.

We checked the UT app also while there and found it to be somewhat unreliable at times. We did post our wait times but didn't see much difference in the times posted. They must take an average every so often after so many posts. At times they were close but at others they were off in either direction. While we were there SM was 70-75 min at times, Dumbo was 30 , IASW walk on.

It was much busier than I expected at MK, EPCOT and HS. AK was great with 20 min for EE and walk on at Dinosaur.
There were more foreign tour groups than I expected but most were quiet and well mannered. There were also a lot of the Pop Warner groups in the parks and again the majority were with adults and well behaved.

Granny
12-11-2011, 11:13 AM
There were more foreign tour groups than I expected but most were quiet and well mannered. There were also a lot of the Pop Warner groups in the parks and again the majority were with adults and well behaved.

I agree with this. Crowds were well-mannered in general. I think the great weather helps in this regard. :)

Granny
12-11-2011, 11:21 AM
We always enjoy our trips to the mouse, crowds or no crowds, and no one does Christmas decorations like Disney. It was beautiful everywhere we went, though we did miss the lighted walkway in Epcot, but their extra fireworks sure were spectacular.

I agree with all your points. It was a great trip and the "Holiday Illuminations" were excellent. :thumbsup2


EDITED TO ADD: Huh? I responded to Auntsue's post and somehow it posted before hers? I've been watching too many space/time continuum sci fi shows I guess. :lmao:

auntsue
12-11-2011, 11:34 AM
We were there Nov 30 - Dec 8 and we, too, must have hit each park the day of the throngs. We found the crowds to be pretty much like in Granny's photos, but because we arrived at rope drop each day, we got a lot done early.

We always enjoy our trips to the mouse, crowds or no crowds, and no one does Christmas decorations like Disney. It was beautiful everywhere we went, though we did miss the lighted walkway in Epcot, but their extra fireworks sure were spectacular.