Disney the week before Christmas -- Crowds?

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by summertimesun, Nov 10, 2018 at 10:12 AM.

  1. summertimesun

    summertimesun Earning My Ears

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    Hi everyone!

    Planning a trip to Disneyworld with my family (6 adults, 2 kids under 10) the week before Christmas, specifically Thursday, Dec. 20. Can anyone give me some insight on how manageable the crowds will be? My nephews are 6 & 7 years old, so waiting in incredibly long lines isn't the most ideal. I know Disneyworld is pretty hectic during December, but I'd like to know if its manageable!

    Thanks so much for your input.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018 at 10:18 AM
  2. cassie58

    cassie58 DIS Veteran

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    It will be busy - have you been before? It is a great time to see it all decorated for Christmas! Are you just doing the one day? If so, I am guessing you are going to Magic Kingdom? Are you staying onsite or off property? Do you have tickets already, and if so have you linked them to a My Disney Experience account?

    Sorry for all the questions, but if you can give more information, than I would be happy to give you advice to make your trip as fun and productive as possible!:) . Generally speaking, you will want to try to arrive an hour before opening and get your 3 Fastpasses set up ASAP for the rides that will have the longest lines (from what is currently available).
     
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  4. Alesia

    Alesia DIS Veteran

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    It's the absolute busiest time of the year. Crowds are manageable, but they require a lot of patience and realistic expectations.

    If you're going this year, your dining and fast pass choices are going to be pretty limited, so take that into consideration.
     
  5. summertimesun

    summertimesun Earning My Ears

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    Hi! Yes, just one day at Magic Kingdom! And we may just drive for the day since we are staying with my family in Jacksonville. And no, we do not have tickets yet! What does linking tickets to a My Disney Experience account do?

    Thanks for your help :)
     
  6. mamaofsix

    mamaofsix Mouseketeer

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    You need tickets linked to a My Disney Experience account in order to make fast pass reservations. You do not have to pay for fastpasses - they are free, which is a common misconception among folks who don't know you should buy your tickets in advance.

    Buying your tickets in advance will also save you precious time at the gate in the morning. As mentioned above, get there an hour before official opening. Official opening will likely be 8:00a.m. or earlier when you go, so get there by 7:00a.m. You will be able to get a few rides in with little wait. Save the shows with smaller lines for the afternoon (people mover, Country Bears, Philharmagic, Laugh Floor).

    -Familiarize yourself with the mobile ordering app at Disney before you go. This will save you incredibly long waits in Quick Service meal lines. Or, even better, pack your own food and share a picnic!
     
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  7. mamaofsix

    mamaofsix Mouseketeer

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    **Also should add: If you're not early risers, you can absolutely get there later. Just know that if you don't get there until 10:00a.m., you may be looking at wall to wall crowds and huge waits already.
     
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  8. stephmarty

    stephmarty Spending my Kids' Inheritance on Disney

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    We are going 12/16-12/22. I’m sure 12/20 will be plenty busy, but I’m not expecting it to be the busiest time. Crowds are expected to really pick up on 12/21 and especially 12/22 as school wraps up and people arrive on the weekend to begin vacation. We are expecting 12/21 to still be manageable based on crowd calendars and FastPass availability.

    Having been there the week after Christmas, we anticipate this will be better than that for sure. In fact, it doesn’t get any worse than the week after Christmas with multiple park closures due to reaching capacity.
     
  9. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    I will be there that day and are expecting heavy, but not unbearable crowds. Some things to note:

    It’s a Mickeys Xmas party that night, so this will keep the crowds down a bit. On the downside, it means MK will close early and you won’t be able to do any night shows.

    The opening time at present is 9am, but if it follows last year’s trend, it will open at 8. To make the most of a day when there’s an early closing, you’d want to be there for opening.

    Right now Fastpass availability isn’t too bad, and I’ve swapped mine around a few times as earlier 7 Dwarfs times have popped up. As suggested, get on to booking your fastpasses as soon as possible:
     
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  10. cassie58

    cassie58 DIS Veteran

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    Couple things - just realized that is a MVMCP night(Christmas party - extra ticketed event) so Magic Kingdom will close at 6 pm unfortunately, except if you buy an extra ticket to the party. Do you would have to leave the park at that time - you could stay to watch the castle lighting, usually around 6:15, then head out. The good news is party days are often less crowded during the day, but you would want to be there at opening to get the most out of the day. Currently it is scheduled to open at 9, so you'd want to be there at 8, but good possibility from past experience that it may end up opening at 8(possibly 7) so just something to consider if driving in from Jacksonville (I am guessing it's a couple hours travel time?). Don't know if you have any flexibility to do Wed. for a full day. If you do stick with Thursday, after the park closed for you, you could hop the monorail and check out the Christmas decor at the Grand Floridian hotel - giant gingerbread house is really cool. You could also try and get a late dinner reservation at one of the resorts on the monorail - your nephews might enjoy Ohana or Chef Mickey's, or something more casual like the Wave at the Contemporary, depending on your interests and budget.

    The key is to make plans now - buy your tickets, then you can go onto Disneyworld's website and make an account. You can then link your tickets to the My Disney Experience section(top right on page). You will list all your guests as Friends and Family, and link a ticket to each person. You can also then download the app on your phone. You can then go on at the 30 day mark at 7am to make Fastpasses(and of course anytime after that!). Some may be unavailable, since onsite guests can do this at 60 days, but you can grab the best ones open for your times and interests. You can then modify as it gets closer, since people change plans, especially in the days before, and even day of, to get something else you wanted. With 8 in your party it may be harder to get some, but you can also break your party into 2 groups of 4, and get times close to each other, and still ride together. The FP has an hour window to use it, so you could get 1 for 10am-11am, and the other for 10:15-11:15am, and could all go on once 10:15 hits. The ride you want to look for first is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a small coaster, which will have long lines all day. If it is not available, you can plan to do that first thing if there at opening. Then Peter Pan is the next one that gets very long lines, but is not that exciting, but your nephews may not be into that. Are they thrill seekers? Enjoy coasters? The next three rides most people get FP for are Space Mountain(dark coaster), Big Thunder Mountain(basic coaster), and Splash Mountain(log flume with big drop at end). Any of these, plus Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, and Jingle Cruise(normally Jungle Cruise, but done up for holiday) are good ones to start with. Try to get ones between 10 and 1, when lines get longer, then when you've used your third one, you can try for a 4th, then 5th,etc while in the park. If you can, look at a park map first, try to get things close to each other(like Space Mt. and Buzz) if back-to-back, so you don't have to run from Space over to Splash, and then back to Buzz for example, to save time and energy. Sorry - lots of info. to digest I know! Feel free to ask questions and this FP FAQ thread on here may also help: https://www.disboards.com/threads/fastpass-frequently-asked-questions.3491680/

    If you want a dining reservation you can try for that now, as soon as you have an account set up - don't need to have tickets for that, but will need to guarantee with a credit card - you can cancel up until the night before with no penalty, so if you see something, grab it, and can then change as needed. Again, they may be hard to come by right now as people can make them at 180 days out, and you have a party of 8, but things pop up, again especially as it gets closer.
     
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  11. summertimesun

    summertimesun Earning My Ears

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    Wow! Everyone, this info is incredibly helpful. THANK YOU!
     
  12. summertimesun

    summertimesun Earning My Ears

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    Wow, thanks for the incredibly detailed response! This is tons of information. We will most likely get tickets tonight and then get everything sorted out. I wish we could do Wednesday the 19th, but it's not an option for us. We will definitely make plans in the future to head back during a less crowded time! One day definitely isn't enough, but will still be so fun! :)

    Thank you sooooo much!
     
  13. cassie58

    cassie58 DIS Veteran

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    You are very welcome! It is our favorite time of year to go with all the Christmas decor, so cool to get a visit in, even if short. I am sure your nephews will be excited with whatever you get to do, especially if it's their first visit! Come back with any questions after you get set up!
     
  14. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    For what it’s worth, the crowds on the Wednesday are predicted to be pretty bad. There aren’t many nights that aren’t the Xmas party that week and Wednesday being one of them (plus extra magic hours) means that Touring Plans has the crowds as being considerably higher than the Thursday and Friday.

    I used Touring Plans to look at ride wait times during the same days last year and the difference between a party and non-party day was pretty significant.

    So in short, I would argue that Thursday is the better day, despite the shorter hours.

    The suggestion to go resort hopping afterwards is a good one.

    Our plan for that day is to leave around 4:30 when they start letting the party crowd in (the party doesn’t start till 7, but people can come in from 4) and pop over to Grand Floridian for a visit. Then we’re heading over to Fort Wilderness Resort for a buffet dinner and I’ve booked a sleigh ride around all the Xmas decos. A nice relaxing ending to a busy day which IMO makes up for missing the MK fireworks.

    Another option of course is to get hoppers and head from MK to another park. There are great Xmas things happening at Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.

    Or lastly, if you’re not morning people, you could do some resort hopping during the day and buy party tickets for the night. There have been reports that the party is getting busier every year, but ride times will still probably (no guarantees) be shorter than during the day.
     
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  15. Tinkerboy00

    Tinkerboy00 DIS Veteran

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    It is already getting busy. Its the busiest time of the year pretty much. My best advice is plan ahead for everything you want to see and just be patient.
     
  16. DisFam4

    DisFam4 Mouseketeer

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    Yes, I agree. We are going from the 15th - 24th and I have made the 3 FP+ on each park day and also the ADR's that we want to eat at. We have been a few times this year and want to take in all of the Christmas stuff around the World, so if we only do a couple additional rides besides our FP's we are fine as it's more of a "take in the ambiance" trip. Looking forward to the non park stuff - monorail resorts, Fort Wilderness and touring the campgrounds etc....
     
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  17. jvz82

    jvz82 DIS Veteran

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    We went the week before Christmas in 2016 and I found the crowds to be quite manageable. My favorite part of that week is the park opening at like 7 am and getting to make use of those extra hours! With solid planning, we easily did everything we wanted to do that week. Our last day was December 21st.
     
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  18. Nancyg56

    Nancyg56 DIS Veteran

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    Personally, I think that your date is way better than Wednesday, which is a non party day. That day will be shoulder to shoulder.

    You already have been given great feedback, but I will say again, Get to the park at least an hour before rope drop. You want to be ready to go when the attractions open. With your FP booked, you know where to start, and just keep moving. Party days are the best days for MK, IMO because of the limited hours.

    I think that if you can, try to stay in the park until close so you can see the castle lighting. It is lovely!

    You still have plenty of time after park close to enjoy WDW holiday decorations, so I would map a plan for a nice relaxing dinner in a resort, and tehn some touring. WIth kids, I would think about a wagon ride in FOrt Wilderness. The campgrounds are all decorated by campers, and it is much fun. You may be able to book an ADR at Trails End for dinner.
     
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