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Old 01-05-2011, 10:27 PM   #1
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First Christmas at Disney - worth it?

My family is considering spending a Christmas at Disney and I'd like to hear from those who just did their first Disney Christmas - was it worth it?

I understand the crowds are crazy, but if you know how to plan and to take advantage of other non-traditional Disney property activities, is it worth the trip? I usually travel to Disney during off-peak seasons, so I'm concerned the crowds would just be too much. We'd be a group of adults of various ages.

So, for those just returning from their first Disney Christmas, would you do it again? Did the Disney holiday magic outweigh the annoyance of the crowds?
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kermit116 View Post
My family is considering spending a Christmas at Disney and I'd like to hear from those who just did their first Disney Christmas - was it worth it?

I understand the crowds are crazy, but if you know how to plan and to take advantage of other non-traditional Disney property activities, is it worth the trip? I usually travel to Disney during off-peak seasons, so I'm concerned the crowds would just be too much. We'd be a group of adults of various ages.

So, for those just returning from their first Disney Christmas, would you do it again? Did the Disney holiday magic outweigh the annoyance of the crowds?
I haven't actually spent Christmas at WDW, but the week before. Crowd wise,the week before isn't too bad. I don't think I'd do Christmas...the week between Christmas & New Years, that is. I have heard it is too crazy. You can still enjoy the holidays and all that goes with it, but avoid the worst of the crowds.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:44 PM   #3
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Go a couple weeks before Christmas. Get all the holiday magic without the crowds.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:28 PM   #4
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Just returned from our 1st Christmas trip. We arrived on 12/24 and departed on 1/1. We are seasoned WDW travelers but there was no way to avoid the crowds. We arrived at Epcot at 9:20 to find Test Track to have a stand by line of 150 mins. Most rides at MK were a min wait of 60 mins. The crowds were insane. The worst had to be at AK. The line for the safari extended past the safari queue, through the African village, over the bridge and then halfway into the next section and the line was still growing. We even stayed at the MK till midnite one night and still had extended waits. Space moutanin was a 70 min wait at 10:30!

We would go back but not anytime soon. Unless you are there at rope drop there is no way to avoid long wait times.

Also, while the decorations were beautiful, I was expecting more. I assumed that every part of every park would be decked out in decorations but this wasnt the case. That being said, the castle was amazing and Osborne lights were the highlight of the trip.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:11 AM   #5
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Not quite the first Christmas (that was us in 2009) but we've spent the last two Christmases at Disney. The crowds can't be completely avoided, but we have been remarkably fortunate on our trips. We either arrive close to rope drop and leave around 11am, or we avoid the parks until the later evening hours. We also avoid early entry parks. This plan has worked for us, and we have been able to hit all the must-dos without waiting in lines over 20 minutes (our family limit).

Christmas is now our favorite time to go to Disney. We booked for Christmas 2011 before we headed home last weekend.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:18 AM   #6
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Oh my, that is the one day that was so insanely packed I could hardly walk. It was unbelievable..in a nutshell, no I wouldn't do that again. lol I agree with the others, take advantage of the slower times a few weeks before Christmas. I have done that and it is great! Be sure to go to Disney Hollywood Studios to see the Osbourne lights!! Real snow and hot cocoa mmm!!
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:16 AM   #7
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We also just got back. We were there from 12/18 to 12/26 and absolutely loved it. The key is to get to the parks at rope drop. We rode everything we wanted multiple times in a morning. TSM 4 times each morning, Space Mt. 2 or 3 times, Expedition Everest 3 times (single rider line)... The parks are pretty empty until around 11 then we would do the shows or the less popular rides. We never waited longer than 20 minutes for a ride. Late night to us was a joke. The park was as crowded at 11 at night, we finally just went back to the room around 10. I will admit this is a tiring schedule. You have to be up by 6:30 am to be at the parks by 8, so it is not a relaxing schedule, but if you do it, you will do everything! To do this you must stay on property. EMH's are great! We also did DHS on Christmas, we weren't going to do MK on Christmas, that is the one park that will have level closing during the day.

Don't miss the Osborn lights, but for a true Christmas experience the Candlelight processional is not to be missed. We did it twice and both times it brought tears to our eyes!
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:53 AM   #8
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My sister just got back from there and said they had a great time. They spent 2 days at MK on 12/22 and 12/23. SeaWorld on 12/24 and went to the beach on Christmas Day. Her kids loved every minute of it and she was prepared not to be at MK on 12/25. They wanted a day for just family and got it from being at the beach.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:40 AM   #9
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We spent Christmas at WDW for the first time this past year, and due to some very strategic planning we were able to virtually avoid massive crowds and get a REMARKABLE amount done!
Early EMH rope drop was key...we arrived at MK the day after Christmas at this time and enjoyed walk-ons for all rides for about 2 hours! We got ALL of our must-do's done during this time!
We may have lucked out because many people were dissuaded by the chilly weather, but we were able to have a really pleasant experience during this time, contrary to what others may say.

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Old 01-06-2011, 08:44 AM   #10
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It was everything we'd hoped for and MORE... all the decorations, and theming...

The transformation of the castle, the gingerbread house, carousel, Papa Noel, and just the Christmas Spirit..

We are hoping to go back someday soon!!!
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:51 AM   #11
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If you're a group of adults, I'd probably go between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That said, having one child in school, we just are back from WDW, staying there 12/20-12/26. I had been there once before between Christmas and New Year's and was expecting the worst crowd-wise. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we were able to do. However, we were pretty much at the parks either at rope drop or within 30 minutes of rope drop, collecting fast passes and hitting popular/slowloaders prior to the crowds arriving. And we spent Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom. For us it was definitely worth it, getting to spend Christmas Day in Magic Kingdom in shorts and t-shirts. We did however, leave pretty early that day, and it seemed to be getting pretty packed around 11am or so.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by nytimez View Post
Go a couple weeks before Christmas. Get all the holiday magic without the crowds.
I have done Disney at Christmas but as someone who doen't handle large crowds well I could tell you, no amount of preparing and bracing yourself can prepare you for the sheer size of the crowds.Sure you can have a good time if you manage expectations and plan , but even with that I don't have the patience to deal with the large amounts of people.
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:38 PM   #13
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We did Christmas eve at Epcot and DHS. Arrived at Epcot for the rope drop and hit test track with only a 10 minute wait. Then did mission space and had a 10 minute wait. Our plan was to head over to soarin but hubby wasn't feeling real well after his space flight. We came across the building for character photos and there was almost no line. So we quickly went in and got all our pics done. By that time worlds was open and we headed there. I thought it was so neat to see "santa" in France and hear his stories. Daughter and I did a pic with him. We caught a few different shows in different countries, ate something in pretty much every country (I was disappointed there weren't more food places so that you could sample different things). Around 4pm we got on the boat and went to DHS. Did a few rides there and got ready for the light show which was awesome! One of the disney employees told us where to stand. Hubby thought I was insane having us stand in the middle of the street but once it started he understood. It was the highlight of my day and trip. The crowds weren't bad at all compared to what I had expected.

Christmas day we did MK and got there right after rope drop. We were on the monorail at rope drop. We did the rides we wanted to do right away. It didn't seem crowded until around noon. Around 1-2pm we ate at Tony's and after that pretty much gave up on doing rides because the wait times were so long. We just walked around, enjoyed parades, shows, shops, etc. At 5:45pm we went back to Tony's and got our soup to go (our waiter was a doll and made an exception for us). Right after that we found a spot for the christmas show, castle lighting, and stayed in that spot till after the fireworks. We couldn't have moved even if we wanted to because the crowds had gotten sooo bad. Leaving after the fireworks was laughable because it was so bad.

I was a bit disappointed that there were not more Christmas decorations. I had pictured decorations everywhere. Will we go back at Christmas again? Probably not but it was a neat way to spend it 1 time.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:03 PM   #14
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We were there Dec. 14-26, but didn't really do the parks until my sister and family arrived on the 19th. I felt bad for them because it was their first family trip and they missed a lot because of the crowds. Fastpasses were a must. We enjoyed ourselves because we've been so many times, we just enjoyed all the holiday events - candlelight processional at Epcot is a must, and the Osborne lights we enjoyed at least 3 times. Holiday Wishes the week of Christmas is amazing as well as the parade, since you only get to enjoy these after the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is over the week before. We had a small tree in our room, just a few small gifts, and spent Christmas day by the pool (our first real warm day the whole trip). It was lovely. We had a wonderful time, but we agreed we won't be doing it again anytime soon, if ever. We're glad we did it once though, it made us appreciate all the 'same old things' we do at home every Christmas. We even missed seeing a white Christmas morning, and I never thought I'd miss snow!
My sister and I took my Dad the year before the beginning of December for a surprise birthday trip to enjoy the holiday decorations, and we loved it then. We did everything and didn't have to fight crowds and always use fastpasses.
If you can manage early mornings (most things were walk-on), and use fastpasses later in the day, I would recommend the week leading up to Christmas and come home right after on the 26th or 27th if possible. I found flights cheaper doing it that way as well.
Happy planning!
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:55 PM   #15
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We did our first Christmas time from the 17th to the 23. We had a fantastic time and are thinking about 2012 for our 2nd Christmas time.

We are used to June so the crowds were not that crazy bad for us. The first couple of days were really nice. The last couple were ok. I can only imagine what the Christmas week crowds were like.

Like others have said, we are rope drop people. We got so much done in a few hours it was unreal. With a good, basic plan you should be able to do the Christmas season and have an enjoyable time.

Our biggest highlights:
Mickeys Chirstmas Party
The Osbourne Lights
Storytellers in EPCOT (we saw them all)
Trees in GF and Wilderness lodge
Decorations were nice, but like others said...expecting more...we were not disappointed, but just wanted more.
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