Christmas Day in the Parks? Opinions from those with experience...

CJJenkins

I say Captain, do you hear something?
Joined
Mar 5, 2012
We will be going over the Christmas holidays. I have been in mid-late December a few times, but never actually been there on Christmas Day. I read people saying that the parks are a mad house specifically on Christmas Day. What about Christmas Eve? Or 12/26? If it is specifically Christmas Day that is crazy, I'll probably just plan an off day that day, but if that whole week is basically the same crowd level, I'll grin and bear it for the experience of being in the park on Christmas.

Who has been there and has an opinion one way or the other? I would be happy either way. A fun day at DS, minigolf, resort hopping, and then a yummy dinner would be fine with me, but MK on Christmas might be extra magical...
 

kmb584

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 12, 2010
We will be going over the Christmas holidays. I have been in mid-late December a few times, but never actually been there on Christmas Day. I read people saying that the parks are a mad house specifically on Christmas Day. What about Christmas Eve? Or 12/26? If it is specifically Christmas Day that is crazy, I'll probably just plan an off day that day, but if that whole week is basically the same crowd level, I'll grin and bear it for the experience of being in the park on Christmas.

Who has been there and has an opinion one way or the other? I would be happy either way. A fun day at DS, minigolf, resort hopping, and then a yummy dinner would be fine with me, but MK on Christmas might be extra magical...
That entire week is insanely busy.

If you're interested in MK on Christmas Day, the best advice is to get there early when the crowds are much more manageable. By lunchtime, the crowd level has noticeably ticked up the notches!
 
  • Mickeynutty

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2012
    We’ve been to the MK on Christmas Day. We went mid morning with an expectation that we were there to enjoy soaking up the atmosphere, the entertainment, the decorations and the food. We did a few rides but it was certainly not like a normal MK day. We have memories of that being a very special Christmas Day but not something we would do every year.
     

    whitneypb85

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2013
    We were at MK on Christmas Day this past year. They open the parks early and we made sure to be there then. We actually got to ride most everything we wanted. We ate breakfast at The Plaza and around 11 left the park as the crowds were getting crazy! We ended the day at HS where the crowds weren’t awful.
     

    reluctantredhead

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2018
    We’ve been to MK a few times on Christmas Day. Yes. It gets pretty full.

    We typically go to Epcot Christmas Eve and AK or HS the day after Christmas.
    I don’t find the crowds too bad at all. We don’t rope drop, but arrive early afternoon.
    I could have written this exact post! Only variation would be that we arrive between 11 am and noon.

    Last year we did the CP and FEA dessert party and spent the whole day at EP on Christmas Eve; Christmas day we had brunch at Ale & Compass, Minnie's Holiday Dine, and the JBJB dessert party at HS, and then on the 26th we split time between EP and HS. We had our FP+s prebooked and then just used the refresh method with great success (there were several DISers there at the same time last year who had similar luck with refreshing). I think as long as you have your FP+ prebooked and ADRs, and avoid MK if you want to miss the biggest crowds, it's totally doable and, dare I say, enjoyable! :)

    Good luck with your plans! :)
     

    tex1989

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2018
    We have been over Christmas once so my experience is limited, but three days prior to December 25th was fine, Christmas Day they stopped letting folks into MK at about 1:00 PM and the crowd was unbearable, December 26th was crowded but manageable and we left on the 27th but as I understand it the crowds just get worse up to New Years.
     
  • citygirl27712

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 23, 2009
    I have been twice at Christmas. Both times Christmas Eve was spent at Hollywood Studios and then Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom. It was completely manageable but I knew to avoid the MK. Hope you have a great day. We are heading down prior to Christmas this year, the 14th - 22nd.
     

    ptlohmysoul

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2012
    The most important tip - there will be lines at bathrooms - plan to arrive early. I saw a long line at one bathroom, went to the next closest, thinking maybe the line would be shorter, but no.
     

    LibbyG

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2017
    I went Christmas 2017. We got to MK early, I think it opened at 7. We expected it to be busy, rode a few rides and then the kids played with the Sorcerers cards for a while. We left by 1 pm as it was getting crowded. It was our favorite trip of 4 we made that year. The magic of lights, trees, decorations and music really made the trip special. There is nothing like seeing the Christmas Parade live!! We did go in knowing that rides were the last thing on the list of things to do. Knowing we were coming back in the summer made that easier. We did make the mistake of going to Disney Springs that night. That was crazy crowded.
     

    disEAR

    DVC Member
    Joined
    Apr 6, 2009
    We did Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom last year. Was a great day! You have to set your expectations knowing it's going to be the busiest you will ever see it and know that you likely won't get to do everything the park has to offer. We got there an hour before opening and spend the first few hours in Tomorrowland, did everything there we wanted and ate lunch at Tony's with their special Parade viewing package. Worth it! Except there was a lot of people trying to sneak into the roped off viewing area, Cast Members initially shoo'd people away but gave up midway through the parade. We spread our fast passes out in the afternoon and walked around in-between, taking in the Christmas day festivities. Note that it will take you twice as long to walk anywhere as it normally will once the real crowds show up. We did the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing. Definitely worth it, and the people trying to sneak into the roped off section did not stay long as the Cast Members were very much on top of it. They also didn't let anyone stop in front of the area we were situated making it a worthwhile and festive experience.

    Overall, set your expectations correctly and you can have a great day!
     
  • Ksquared

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2007
    we were there twice, last time being 2017. We spent Christmas Eve in Epcot and then after dinner hopped over to MK and it was really fun. We spent Christmas Day in Disney Springs after brunch at Chef Mickey and had dinner that night at a sit down restaurant as well. Went back to the parks on the 26th. never felt like we were missing out by not being in MK or any park on Christmas Day itself. In fact, I enjoyed not being in a park that day.
     

    GinnyBear's_mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 1, 2008
    We are a family of 5 (3 kids 5, 7 & 11) and we went to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas morning 2 years ago. We got there around 6:30am and stayed until about 10:30am when crowds started to get crazy. We got to go on a ton of rides with minimal waits from 7-9am . My big piece of advice would be to have a plan for food that does not involve quick service, the lines were insane. While the rest of my family was on a ride, I stood in line at 9:15am for over 30 minutes at Gaston's to get a cinnamon bun, the line stretched out past Mine Train. There's really nothing open quick service wise other than starbucks and a few carts from 6:30-9 so when everything opened at 9am they were mobbed. They started mobile ordering just prior to our trip and it was turned off at all available locations when they lines got too long so that was not an option. The park was at a phase 1 closure from about 12-1, (although who comes to MK without already having a purchased ticket on Christmas Day?) the MDE app alerts you when the closings happen. We walked to Bay Lake Tower so I can't speak about transportation since that wasn't an issue for us.

    We went back in the evening from about 4-close and that's when we used our fast passes, had dinner at Crystal Palace and then a went to the dessert party which we generally only do on holidays like Christmas and the 4th of July to avoid the crowds. We managed a few rides with short waits from 10:30pm-12am.

    We are going back again this Christmas a - still planning on getting there early around 6am with a mid-day break (bringing snacks & bars to last us until breakfast). Having breakfast at 9 at the Plaza, leaving around 10:30 for a nap and possible swim, coming back around 3. An early dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern, fastpasses then the dessert party again. It got pretty chilly in the evening last time so we will wear layers just in case.
     

    glamdring269

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2013
    We went Christmas 2017 and honestly didn't find it too terrible leading up to Christmas day. We intentionally visited MK on Christmas just because I wanted to experience the madness. Yeah it was nuts. We were at DHS on the 26th and I remember deciding not to use one of our any time fast passes that night because the line for either TOT or RNR (can't remember which) was still ridiculously long and we were basically done.

    Off to Universal for the next two days and it was a lot better due to Express Pass. But even then some of the lines, primarily HP and Kong, were extremely long from an EP perspective.

    With all of that said there were some perks at the resorts. We did a split stay between Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge so got what we consider to be the two best resorts for Christmas knocked out in one stay. We also went over to Grand Floridian as well as some of the other resorts to check out all of their decorations. It's a nice bonus to a Christmas trip since you don't really get that kind of experience during other parts of the year.

    *EDIT*
    I should have added. Our strategy at Disney was to RD each day and leave around lunch. We returned to parks in the evening. This was the only way we were able to really avoid the crowds. It became less effective starting Christmas Day if memory serves.
     

    wendyt_ca

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 2, 2007
    We went over Christmas and New Years back in 2014 and are doing it again this year! We can’t wait! Last time we went for basically rope drop. The park reached capacity by lunch time so we may not go quite as early this time. We are staying at Bay Lake so we can get over quickly.
    The park was extremely crowded when we went. But as others have said we basically didn’t plan on doing the parks as usual. We had our fast passes and basically anything else was a bonus. We spent the day taking in the atmosphere and such. Plan for layers. In 2014 of course Christmas Day and New Year’s Day we cold. I had brought some heavier clothes I had to change into (and I am from Canada).
    Last time we did the dessert part on Christmas Day. This trip we decided to book it on New Year’s Eve (which I actually just got today!). Because New Year’s Eve was actually worse than Christmas Day was when we went last time. We had to wait in the hub by 8 for the midnight fireworks and I left to use the washroom and they almost didn’t let me back in!
     


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