Thanksgiving

Jennifer Underwood

Earning My Ears
Joined
Nov 7, 2019
Hi, everyone!
Looking for great tips for a trip to Disney/Universal Thanksgiving week next year! Food? Touring plans? Tips? Going to with my parents and kids 15, 11, and 7. I’ve seen a ton on Christmas but not as much on Thanksgiving. We went Thanksgiving week back in 2011 and found it was not that bad crowd wise (busy yes but not overwhelming) but from other posts/sites it seems like it’s awful. Has this changed the past 8 years? We found that staying during the extended late hours at night was super helpful..could run on rides after fireworks. Still true? Anything you might have or recommended sites would be great! Thanks in advance!
 

Forevermarypoppins

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 1, 2015
Hi, everyone!
Looking for great tips for a trip to Disney/Universal Thanksgiving week next year! Food? Touring plans? Tips? Going to with my parents and kids 15, 11, and 7. I’ve seen a ton on Christmas but not as much on Thanksgiving. We went Thanksgiving week back in 2011 and found it was not that bad crowd wise (busy yes but not overwhelming) but from other posts/sites it seems like it’s awful. Has this changed the past 8 years? We found that staying during the extended late hours at night was super helpful..could run on rides after fireworks. Still true? Anything you might have or recommended sites would be great! Thanks in advance!

I spent 2 Thanksgiving weeks at WDW roughly 10 and 12 years ago. I remember Thanksgiving and after being much more crowded than earlier in the week.
BUT the Disney we knew at 8 yrs, 10 or 12 years is no longer. I would expect crowds to be higher than what you remember.
You're starting now and that's a positive start. PLANNING is everything now!!!!
 

SaintsManiac

Adventure is out there.
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
We went in 2017 and loved it. Returning this year! Yes it is busy, but if you have a good plan you can do everything you want to do.

We will be doing the late extra magic hours at the MK for the first time. Not sure what to expect, but we aren't planning on hitting the big headliners.
 
  • Bjkandma

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2019
    Been going to Disney for years straight. You will find lines at the Extra Magic Hours!! Anyone can get in line up to actual park closing time and ride that ride. All rides during EMH, they will scan your band to verify you are staying on resort. The lines will move as there isn't any fastpasses, but you will wait.

    Disney no longer has a "slower" time of the year!
     

    Jennifer Underwood

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    I spent 2 Thanksgiving weeks at WDW roughly 10 and 12 years ago. I remember Thanksgiving and after being much more crowded than earlier in the week.
    BUT the Disney we knew at 8 yrs, 10 or 12 years is no longer. I would expect crowds to be higher than what you remember.
    You're starting now and that's a positive start. PLANNING is everything now!!!!
    So, Disney overall has been a lot more crowded in recent years? Thanks for your comment!
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    So, Disney overall has been a lot more crowded in recent years? Thanks for your comment!

    Yes, Disney is more crowded at all times of the year. I rememebr October being so relaxed, and my last trip a few years ago I was blindsided by the number of people. December as well. It has gradually increased crowdsize and now I find it busy. Not crazy but busy.

    I have visited Thanksgiving, with arrrival being on Thanksgiving Day. It was BUSY, and stayed that way through SUnday evening, slowing a bit on Monday. I imagine that week woudl be gradually building crowdwise with folks tanking advantage of the long holiday weekend to Minimize time off from school or work.
     

    sponica

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2017
    Ah 2011, we were still in post recession years back then...it's probably going to be a LOT more crowded than you remember.

    I think with a good plan (and patience) you should be ok...
     
  • stephk1981

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 11, 2013
    Disney has become busier and busier every Thanksgiving 😭. If you can leave the Friday night or Saturday morning before Thanksgiving you will have a couple of okay days. EMH do help, but still crowded. Make your fp+ for an hour after opening. Rope drop to do a few rides, then use the fast passes. After that add a fourth fast pass, and so on. We have lots of luck with that. We go a few times a year, with Thanksgiving week as a set week yearly due to husband hunting. Have a great trip
     

    Jennifer Underwood

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    Thank you everyone! Sounds like the parks have increased crowd levels. Any suggestions on which park, which day? Going to Universal as well. Going Sat before Thanksgiving to Sat after.
     

    commanderbuzzy

    Commander Buzzy
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    Hi, everyone!
    Looking for great tips for a trip to Disney/Universal Thanksgiving week next year! Food? Touring plans? Tips? Going to with my parents and kids 15, 11, and 7. I’ve seen a ton on Christmas but not as much on Thanksgiving. We went Thanksgiving week back in 2011 and found it was not that bad crowd wise (busy yes but not overwhelming) but from other posts/sites it seems like it’s awful. Has this changed the past 8 years? We found that staying during the extended late hours at night was super helpful..could run on rides after fireworks. Still true? Anything you might have or recommended sites would be great! Thanks in advance!
    Hi!

    If you're going to Disney, I would've booked fastpasses a month ago. Thanksgiving week is almost as busy as christmas, and knowing Disney, those are probably already gone.

    Without fastpasses or a plan this close to your travel date, you'll be waiting. A lot. I'd go as far as to push your trip back. However, here's a way to ride your #1 ride without a fastpass:

    -Arrive at the park an hour in advance, go through security
    -(ONLY IF YOUR RIDE IS IN GALAXY'S EDGE) Once on property, apply to enter the land via MDE, or else you won't get in.
    -The second the park opens, sprint (yes, literally sprint) to your favourite ride. This should get you through the line in under 15 minutes. This even worked for on season FOP.

    Hope this helps!
     

    Jennifer Underwood

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    Hi!

    If you're going to Disney, I would've booked fastpasses a month ago. Thanksgiving week is almost as busy as christmas, and knowing Disney, those are probably already gone.

    Without fastpasses or a plan this close to your travel date, you'll be waiting. A lot. I'd go as far as to push your trip back. However, here's a way to ride your #1 ride without a fastpass:

    -Arrive at the park an hour in advance, go through security
    -(ONLY IF YOUR RIDE IS IN GALAXY'S EDGE) Once on property, apply to enter the land via MDE, or else you won't get in.
    -The second the park opens, sprint (yes, literally sprint) to your favourite ride. This should get you through the line in under 15 minutes. This even worked for on season FOP.

    Hope this helps!
    Thank you! I’m a super planner so as I wrote we’re actually going next year, 2020. Any other tips for planning way ahead?
     
  • commanderbuzzy

    Commander Buzzy
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    Thank you! I’m a super planner so as I wrote we’re actually going next year, 2020. Any other tips for planning way ahead?
    Ah, I'm sorry for reading your question wrong! You're 100% on the right track and seem like you know what you're doing :)

    All I'd say regarding fastpasses is to keep the tiering systems in mind (you can only book 1 fastpass for a tier 1 ride, which is generally a more popular ride) so I'd utilize the rope dropping system I replied with if you want to hit 2 popular rides without worrying about fastpasses!

    Also, if you're interested in going to Oga's Cantina, I'd book that now. It's the most popular restaurant in a Disney park, and for every day leading up to 2020 it is completely booked. We booked ours by playing the refresh game, and we got super lucky at that, don't be like us and make sure to plan for these things ahead haha

    Have fun! I wish you the best on your trip :flower1:
     

    MouseMama11

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2012
    We stayed the week leading into Thanksgiving back in 2013 and it was one of my favorite trips!! There were crowds but not to the extreme (I've gone during Easter and 4th of July and those were ridiculous! Thanksgiving seemed like nothing lol!)… We stayed Saturday through Black Friday and the crowds were pretty moderate until the day before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Eve they increased some and Thanksgiving Day they hit capacity in MK pretty early. We had an ADR at Tony's for Thanksgiving dinner so we ate there, then left for a resort pool day. From the looks of the other comments, things may have changed a little bit but hopefully its ok!

    We are currently planning our trip for the same week in 2020 too with my mom! Our kids are older now so we will be taking advantage of the Extra Magic Hours... seems like that is the way to go!
     

    Jennifer Underwood

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2019
    Thanks for your info and comment! Here’s hoping next year Thanksgiving week is close to what we remember😉 Since you have older kiddos, we loved the late hours after fireworks at night...cooler and we ran on rides. It felt like no matter how early we got there in the morning, it was packed but the nights almost always cleared out especially all of the Littles with strollers who are wiped. Good luck planning!
     

    Memorymakerfor4

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 15, 2018
    We leave tomorrow morning for our Sat-Sat Thanksgiving trip, so ask me in a week! You might check out the November 2019 board on the Trip Planning Strategies forum to see how everyone is going about it this year. People there now are saying it's busier than they thought it would be, even the week before, which is usually slow.

    We made at least one ADR a day. 180 days out things went pretty quickly, so be ready to spend some serious time stalking to adjust your times. Don't worry about actual Thanksgiving day reservations if you don't see what you want that day, Disney released them sometime later, I don't know why. FP day was similar. I got everything I wanted except for Slinky Dog and was able to get it about three weeks later.

    We have a pretty detailed plan, but are ready to ditch it if we're overwhelmed with crowds and spend time resort hopping or in the pool. I'm going in with pretty low expectations of how much we can get done, so hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised.
     

    wdw71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 30, 2007
    We leave tomorrow morning for our Sat-Sat Thanksgiving trip, so ask me in a week! You might check out the November 2019 board on the Trip Planning Strategies forum to see how everyone is going about it this year. People there now are saying it's busier than they thought it would be, even the week before, which is usually slow.

    We made at least one ADR a day. 180 days out things went pretty quickly, so be ready to spend some serious time stalking to adjust your times. Don't worry about actual Thanksgiving day reservations if you don't see what you want that day, Disney released them sometime later, I don't know why. FP day was similar. I got everything I wanted except for Slinky Dog and was able to get it about three weeks later.

    We have a pretty detailed plan, but are ready to ditch it if we're overwhelmed with crowds and spend time resort hopping or in the pool. I'm going in with pretty low expectations of how much we can get done, so hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised.
    So how was your trip? We are thinking about Thanksgiving week or the week after in 2021 now I know the 50th anniversary may create whole new crowd issues but still curious about this year.
     

    Memorymakerfor4

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 15, 2018
    So how was your trip? We are thinking about Thanksgiving week or the week after in 2021 now I know the 50th anniversary may create whole new crowd issues but still curious about this year.
    I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Staying an entire week was key. We got two days at each park, so we weren't pressed for time and when the parks started filling up in the afternoon, we left. There were some surprisingly uncrowded moments, but for the most part it was moderately busy. Having at least one ADR a day was a home run too. I have two regrets. First, Friday at Epcot was almost too much for us crowd-wise, but it was the day after Thanksgiving and the first day of Festival of the Holidays. Second, MVMCP. It was the only one that week and was really crowded, in our opinion. Also, our kids are just too young to really have fun that late, but that's a problem for our family, not for everyone.

    I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone. The weather was the best I'd ever experienced in Florida and as long as you don't expect to be a park commando you'll be fine.
     

    caroline5177

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2019
    Our family of 4 has been over Thanksgiving several times. As others have mentioned, the crowds will be lighter the weekend before and then only increase from there. We’ve never let crowds get us down and have had awesome trips every single time! A little research and planning goes a long way too! We usually stay at YC or BC and absolutely love that area. Park hopper tickets are always a good plan.

    Dining: Book as soon as possible! Everyone in our family picks a meal they’d like and that’s where I start with reservations. We have teens & love eating in Epcot- this year’s trip included Le Cellier (ADR go quick!), Teppan Edo (always a fave and these go quick too), La Hacienda de San Angel, Biergarten (great Thanksgiving meal spot, btw; we had a late lunch). If you don’t get your ideal time, keep checking...or, adjust your plan to fit your meal. example: we adjusted our Wednesday evening reservation at La Hacienda de San Angel to 4:30pm (rather than 7:45pm); enjoyed our meal and the sunset; then leisurely made our way to MK and had tons of fun and snacks during late hours. We also picked up a last minute reservation at Rose & Crown on our last evening before we headed to HS to check out Oga’s Cantina. Oga’s was super fun! Definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. I was excited to snag a reservation, despite it being at 7:45 the night before our 6am flight. California Grill is a favorite and may be good for y’all since you have children and grandparents.
    We lucked out and got the free dining this last go round and that was a plus.

    FP: I always try to use crowd calendars and pick parks/FP using those, but in all honesty each park is busy over that week. I had a harder time getting FP that we really wanted this last trip due to the tier system. At MK, we had some luck with rides during the late hours, especially after the fireworks since many leave after.

    Odds & ends: As with any trip- take some time to nap, go to pool or just chill. Also, the holiday decor at the resorts is pretty fun to go check out too.
    When the kids were younger we did the MVMCP one year and really enjoyed that. Check the dates and reserve early if that’s something your family may enjoy. Agree with others, I have heard it is more crowded. I really can’t speak to that though. We did that about 5 years ago and loved it.
    The Candlelight Processionals will start that week in Epcot. We’ve never done this, but it always looks like plenty of folks love it. There will be plenty of holiday food & goods available throughout the park during Festival of the Holidays (starts the Friday after Thanksgiving).
    Epcot has recently had scavenger hunts that we (me!) loved. Over our spring break trip they had “Eggstravaganza“ and this last trip was Festival of the Holidays...searching for wreaths featuring Chip & Dale in each country of the World Showcase. Yes, you pay for the map & stickers (I heard complaints, but oh well! it may not be for everyone) and get a “prize” which was an ornament.

    Overall, we have always had an amazing time over Thanksgiving! When the kids were younger we could get by with taking them out of school for more days and go when crowds were a little lighter. With a high schooler, it just doesn’t work out as easily.
    We do our planning and reserving as much as possible, but also go with the flow once we get there.
    Happy planning!
     



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