Do you want to skip extra presents this year and take a trip to Disney during Christmas? It’s a magical time to visit, but the crowds are larger, and it’s important to know all the tips for planning your trip.
Disney World is a hotspot all year-round, but the truth is that Christmas happens to be their busiest time of year. It tends to be a little less crowded during early December, but as you get closer to Christmas and New Years, the crowds increase.
Ideally, I would suggest staying away from the parks on the week of Christmas Day, but if that’s when you really want to go, you need a battle plan to make this the best experience possible!
Here is everything you need to know about planning a trip to Disney during Christmas.
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How Much Does It Cost to Go to Disney During Christmas?
When you’re planning a trip to Disney during Christmas, you might not realize that Disney has different prices based on the day of the week and time of the year. The standard single-day one-park ticket is $109, but that’s the price for Christmas tickets.
A single-day ticket for Christmas at Disney World is $169.34 per person, and you’ll see a range throughout the week. In the week leading up to Christmas, tickets average around $145 with Christmas Day being the most expensive.
So, it’s easy to see how these extra costs add up when you have several kids! Resorts also charge more on these days, so it is more expensive, overall, to visit Disney during Christmas.
How Crowded is Disney at Christmas?
Disney’s busiest day of the year is Christmas Day. Whether you’re a local who traditionally goes to Disney World on Christmas or this is your special vacation, it’s undoubtedly a crazy day to visit the park.
Disney never releases their exact totals for the day, but it’s estimated between 120,000 and 150,000 visit the parks on this day. That’s quite a large amount of people!
Which Disney Park is Best for Christmas?
It’s no secret that Disney during Christmas is insanity, but not all Disney parks offer the same holiday offerings. Some parks are more worth visit during the holiday season.
Of course, Magic Kingdom is a must-see during Christmas; it feels like walking into an old-fashioned Christmas town on a card. They decorate Main Street, USA with all sorts of holiday decor, and Town Square has a massive Christmas Tree.
However, the rest of the park may have some decorations but not much. It looks pretty much the same as you would find it during the summer.
Epcot is perhaps the best Disney park during Christmas. The park has a massive Christmas tree at the entrance, gingerbread displays, and all sorts of Christmas icons to enjoy. Most of World Showcase pavilions are decked out, reflecting their history and culture.
Restaurants here, like the Garden Grill, feature holiday-style family meals, and you’re able to enjoy food from all around the world.
10 Tips for Planning a Trip to Disney During Christmas
1. Be Prepared for Crowds
Let’s be honest; Disney is wall to wall packed during Christmas. You think you’re prepared for the busy, but it’s hard to mentally prepare yourself for this. Don’t expect empty spaces at all – no where!
It’s easy to be surprised by how crowded Disney is during Christmas, and a lot come unprepared for that. It is overwhelming, and if you aren’t ready, it may ruin your trip.
Here are some tips when it comes to the crowd.
- It’s not possible to do everything you want to do while at Disney. The crowds will make that too hard, so pick your top must-do things.
- Pick quieter, less busy times for food or take food to go with you and find a quiet spot to eat.
- Mobile ordering is your best friend and helps you skip lines.
- Use the Disney App all the time to watch for wait times, and switch plans as needed.
2. Have a Solid, Flexible Plan
Having a good plan is essential when visiting Disney during Christmas. Talk to your family and figure out what attractions are most important to you all, and then create plans around those times.
You should also be flexible with those plans.
Heavy crowds could cause you to adjust your plans, and if you watch the Disney app, you may see shorter wait times for a must-do thing. Be ready to change as needed.
3. Get There Early and Stay Late
Get to the park as early as possible – no sleeping in for your family! By mid-morning, the park is filling up, so if you have something on your to-do list that you MUST do, then you need to get there as the doors open.
The best way to conquer Disney during Christmas is to get there when the gates open, allowing you to have the shortest wait time for all those must-do things. Then, take a break in the afternoon and head back to your hotel. It’s a great time for your kids to nap as the crowds reach their peak.
Head back in the evening when most people head for dinner. Typically, the parks close later during their peak season, so use those extended hours to your advantage. When everyone else is done for the day, you’re still going strong.
Something to note is that parks can come under phased closing, and Magic Kingdom is the most likely for that to happen. Phased closures happen when a crowd reaches a certain level, so only particular guests may enter. It helps with the crowd levels, but you should be prepared for this since Christmas is peak season.
- If you planned to buy tickets on arrival, you will be turned away first in the parking lot booths, as well as guests with single day tickets.
- Next, the phased closures happen when only those stay on-site or at a partner hotel may stay in the park, along with those who have dining reservations and guests with park hopper tickets.
- Then, Disney phases to allow access to those above but refusing entry for park hopping or guests who left and try to re-enter.
- Finally, this is rare for Disney, but they may refuse entry to all guests when crowd levels are at their peak capacity.
4. Avoid Park Hopping on the Busiest Days!
Park hopping is typically not recommended during the busiest times. If you see crowd levels 9 and 10, don’t try to park hop. Plus, moving between parks takes a lot of time, and more people will be using all of the Disney transportation options.
With that being said, I have one recommendation if you MUST park hop.
Animal Kingdom and Epcot have never reached their max capacity, so start your day in Magic Kingdom and hop to the less populated parks as the crowds get heavy. See what you really want to see in Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios early in the morning then go to Animal Kingdom.
5. Make Sure You Have a Safety Meeting Spot
One of the scariest things that could happen when crowds are this heavy is to become separated from your kids or other family members. It’s easy to get separated or turned around when walking through heavy crowds, so be prepared.
At the start of the day, pick a place you’ll meet as a safety meeting spot in the event that you get split up. This is a designated area all members of your family should know.
Also, when you enter the park, find a cast member and show your child how to identify a cast member based on their badges. All cast members will chat with your kids and make them feel better about approaching them. They are all super friendly and trained to help families who get split apart.
6. Make Dinner Reservations ASAP
Don’t wait until the week before you leave to make those dining reservations. Disney allows guests to make reservations up to 60 days in advance, so as soon as that window opens, make them.
This is especially true if you want to a hard-to-get reservation like the Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table.
If you don’t have any reservations, you will have fewer options for table-service dining. During their peak season, it’s best to have a reservation every evening of your stay.
7. Eat Breakfast Early and Bring Snacks & Drinks
Typically, we stock our hotel room with breakfast goodies, but if you want to eat out, get there as soon as the restaurants open. Then, head to the park.
Remember, by 10 AM, the park is getting busy. You need to be there early!
If you eat a hearty breakfast before hitting the parks, you may not need to get any food inside of the parks, which is pricey. Pack your own drinks and snacks, or Disney even lets you bring entire picnic lunches with you.
By lunchtime, the restaurant crowds are often heavier than the ride lines, so if you feed your kids as you go with snacks, take advantage of the ride lull time.
8. Dine During the Off-Times
So, what are the best times to eat then?
Restaurants in the park get busiest during traditional dining times. 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM is the busy lunch time, and 5 PM to 7 PM are prime dinner times.
If possible, have your meals outside of these times. Keep your hunger at bay with snacks until the rush is over, and you can dine is a bit more silence.
You should also use mobile ordering; it’s a lot easier and saves so much waiting time!
9. Rent a Stroller in Advance – If Not Bringing Your Own
If you don’t plan to bring your own stroller with you, make your stroller rental in advance. Having a stroller at Disney is a must, especially when the masses get this heavy. It’s hard to keep track of kids on foot, so putting kids in a stroller, even older ones, ensures everyone is kept together.
10. Wear the Right Clothes – Disney Still Gets Cold!
Just because Disney World is located in Florida doesn’t mean it’s always warm. December in the Sunshine State still brings cold snaps, and it’s important to be ready for all weather.
Day time is often nice with sunshine and blue skies with the average temperature between 60 and 70. However, the evenings get chilly, so be ready with hoodies and even coats. At times, it’s downright cold at Disney in December.
I suggest bringing layers. Have a jacket or sweater for covering up at night and always have a light blanket to put over your child in the stroller.
Lockers are essential if you plan to stay in the park all day. Toss the sweaters and blankets in here during the day and retrieve them later.
Rain happens sometimes in December, so grab a few rain ponchos before you come. It’s better to have them and not need them than wish you had packed them!
Planning a trip to Disney during Christmas is an awesome idea, but be ready for the crowds and craziness. If you know this ahead of time, you will have a great time.