Theme Park Insider

Crowds pack Disney theme parks as Christmas celebrations begin

November 11, 2017, 9:39 AM · LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It's officially the Christmas season at Disney's theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, and the crowds have come out to celebrate.

The combination of a no-school day and the official start of the holiday decorations and overlays at the Disneyland Resort led the resort to close its Mickey and Friends parking structure by early afternoon yesterday, with crowds packing what seemed like every yard of space in Disneyland a Disney California Adventure.

Meanwhile, in Florida, visitors poured in the Walt Disney World Resort parks for the start of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom and the new Sunset Seasons Greetings celebration at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which includes the new projections on the Tower of Terror.

As I wrote yesterday, I spent the day aboard the Disney Dream, which is decked out in holiday decor, including this amazing gingerbread house, which fills the ship's lobby with the delectable smell of gingerbread.

Disney Dream Gingerbread House

That's just one of the many gingerbread houses that Disney's culinary team has created across the country, including the famous gingerbread house centerpiece for the grand ballroom in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday, which features a seven-foot-tall Oogie Boogie this year.

Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house

How are you celebrating the holidays away from home this year?

Full holiday coverage:

Replies (11)

November 11, 2017 at 10:59 AM · I don't have an AP and haven't for the past few years, but I still visit Disney Parks during the Holidays for a day. I'm just hoping the crowds on a weekday early next month aren't as bad as this no-school day looks. I don't even want to think about how crowded the parks will be during the holidays once Galaxy's Edge opens!
November 11, 2017 at 12:16 PM · Was watching the wait times yesterday in prep for a visit next month. It's a Small World was 95 minutes at one point!! Was the longest wait in Magic Kingdom! Hope this is just a start of Christmas rush!
November 11, 2017 at 2:13 PM · I can’t wait for someone to say “No one is going to Disneyland because it is too crowded.”
November 11, 2017 at 3:58 PM · There is no magic with crowds like this!
November 11, 2017 at 6:34 PM · Still miss the Osbourne Lights at the Studios, always a great sight to experience. But good work still. Love seeing American Adventure with Voices of Liberty doing traditional carols.

I always feel overlooked are the WDW resorts with special motifs. Love the gingerbread houses at Grand Floridian or the "island" theme ones for Polynesian and nice turns at others. Love overall how magic this time of year is at Disney.

November 14, 2017 at 11:40 AM · I went on Thursday at Magic Kingdom and had a ball! My favourite experience of them all. Although it was a sell-out, we walked straight on most attractions except for Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan. Fireworks were amazing and is there anything better than watching the parade on Main Street being covered in artificial snow with the castle glistening as the backdrop? Disney do it better than anybody and it was an absolute pleasure to have experienced it again on our last night.
November 12, 2017 at 4:53 PM · My big extended family with a long history of Disneyland AP pass-holder's dropped off several years ago. It was once a family tradition to visit the park's during the holidays, but it went from a magical family experience to a chore and became not so amusing, magical or fun. The crowds, the open-your-wallet and let Mickey clean it out was enough already. We do simple now, and the kids are just as happy.
November 12, 2017 at 7:22 PM · There’s lots of other things to do than Disneyland and still have that crowded Disney feeling like shopping. Are the other theme parks are better? Not that much better at Knott’s or Universal.

I just went to Kohl’s this weekend. You would think it’s already Black Friday.

November 13, 2017 at 3:44 AM · What a rip-off while it had a truly magical parade and the park was beautifully decorated.
There was a total of 18 attractions open and the park was absolutely jammed.
Not my idea of fun for a couple of hours and an entrance fee of almost 100 dollars.
November 13, 2017 at 6:53 AM · It was the last weekend for Food and Wine at EPCOT. The crowds we almost the biggest I've seen there. All the extra food places takes up walking space.

Sunset Season was good. It plays over and over in the evening so you only have to see it for one cycle of projections. Jingle Bam fireworks were good and you can see them from all around the park.

The photographers had their cameras covered because of all the snow.

November 13, 2017 at 10:06 AM · Just visit the Florida parks the first week of December... and you'll find *relatively* easy going. I still think that's one of the best weeks to visit and avoid the crowds crushing the parks during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.

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