Walt Disney World is at its busiest over the Christmas period, however this doesn’t mean your visit should be less enjoyable. The holiday season brings out the best in the parks and hotels, which are decorated beautifully in order to help you get in the Christmas mood. It is important to be prepared for your trip, knowing what to do and what to avoid in order to have a stress free vacation.
I visited Walt Disney World last Christmas and whilst crowds weren’t as high as in past years due to the economic crisis there was still high attendance at all the parks everyday of my visit. In order to avoid the parks I firstly followed a touring plan. Using a good touring plan is integral to ensuring you get around all the attractions you want with minimal waits. My personal favourite touring plans are those provided in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and those at Theme Park Insider. Whilst following a touring plan can seem a bit of a chore its worthwhile as the time you’ll save waiting in line is considerable. If you don’t want to follow a touring plan then ensure you arrive at the park early in order to avoid the bigger crowds.
A major aspect of going to Walt Disney World at Christmas is what you’re going to do on the big day. As with all holidays Walt Disney World offers a host of options to help you pass December 25th, whether you’re on a budget or willing to splash out for that extra special holiday celebration. Preparation is integral if you’re planning on doing something on Christmas Day, especially when it comes to dinning. As you may be able to guess everyone wants to be at the restaurants on-site over the holiday period, so there’s no chance you’re going to be able to walk into any of the better on site restaurants without an advance reservation. Advanced dining reservations can be made 180-days out and for Christmas you’ll have to be ready on the phone in the morning to call 407-939-3463 (001-407-939-3463 UK).
It’s important to note that both Illuminations at Epcot and Wishes at Magic Kingdom have special Christmas versions that are shown during the holiday season. Whilst Illuminations only has a holiday section added to the end Wishes, or Holiday Wishes, has a whole new show which is an absolute must for those visiting Walt Disney world over the holiday season. As both shows are only featured over the holiday season it’s important to ensure that you get into the position you want to see the show from 45 minutes to an hour before the show starts, even longer in the few days building up to Christmas. To find out show times on the day of your visit pick up a Times Guide when you enter the park, these can be found alongside park maps around the entrance to all of the four theme parks.
I’ve always said that a car is not integral to a Central Florida vacation, especially not when you’re staying on-site at Walt Disney World. However, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year and the Disney Transportation System is pushed to the limit. If you don’t want to wait hours for shuttles to get back to your resort when the park kicks out, especially after a show, it may be best for you to consider a car rental. This should especially be considered for those with young children. After the night shows at Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios kick out there a rush for the shuttles and there’s a chance your child can get lost, something no parent wants. This can be avoided at the Magic Kingdom to a certain extent as the park doesn’t always close after Holiday Wishes, meaning you can tour the park with pretty low crowds and wait for the shuttle stops to calm down.
My final point is one which is important to parents visiting at this time of year. Ensure that your child knows where to meet if they get split from the group. It’s already traumatic enough for parent and child getting split up without the added problem of not knowing where to go. Set a meeting point when you get to the park that’s specific. For example don’t just say ‘at the Sorcerers Hat’ as this is a relatively large area that gets very crowded on busy days, especially when American Idol Experience kicks out. Make sure that the place you chose isn’t too crowded and is easy to find.