Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

Themeparking During Christmas

Walt Disney World: Can anyone provide me with some feedback on how Walt Disney World and the Universal Studios parks are during Christmas and New Years?

From Steven McLaughlin
Posted September 7, 2006 at 9:45 AM
Can anyone provide me with some feedback on how Walt Disney World and the Universal Studios parks are during Christmas and New Years? I've been to Disneyland during July a few years ago, so I know what the "busy crowds" can be like, so I'm not overly concerned about this issue. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Pete Brecht
Posted September 7, 2006 at 10:33 AM
I believe that all the parks in Orlando will be much more crowded between Christmas and New Year's than Disneyland ever gets in July. If you're dead-set on doing it anyway, make sure you get to the parks really early and maximize the FastPass.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted September 7, 2006 at 11:22 AM
Very very crowded. I went in Christmas and New Year 2004/2005. Universal after New Year wasn't very crowded. But WDW at Christmas... WOW! Just use FastPass a lot and visit the best ride first in the morning.

O yeah, in holiday sauch as Christmas, FastPasses are very fast to be "sold out". So be careful.

From Erik Yates
Posted September 7, 2006 at 1:58 PM
Disney is a nightmare. Do not do it. Universal, while crowded...very crowded...isnt near as bad. Christmas day is actually the best day of the time to go, if not Christmas Eve. We went on Eve last year, and not only did we hit IOA/USF before noon, we got in the car and did all of MK before 6. Do your shopping early and get everything done before Christmas Eve!!!

From Gareth H
Posted September 7, 2006 at 2:56 PM
Disney, magic Kingdom, went Christmas last year and it was packed.
Couldn't get into a restaurant and lines were very long.

Went to USF New YEars eve and that was also very busy!

Apparently MGM, Animal Kingdom and Epcot are a lot quieter..

From Tom C
Posted September 7, 2006 at 3:39 PM
I don't recomend being in any of the Tourist areas in Orlando from Christmas Day till New Years Eve. You will find that New Years Day will be one of the slowest days in the parks, and it is a great day to go.

From Dustin Kern
Posted September 8, 2006 at 6:24 AM
Let me give you an example of how crowded it is:

You know how crowded shopping centers are the day after Thanksgiving? Multiply that by 10 and you get WDW and everything around Orlando. It's tough to walk through the park to get anywhere. If you've got young kids, keep an extremely close eye on them! I know that when my family and I went years ago, there were many close calls between us all getting seperated.

From Wendy Purdy
Posted September 8, 2006 at 10:33 AM
I've only been to WDW once during the Christmas holidays, and it was quite the experience.

We only went because my in-laws (who lived in Melbourne, Fl. at the time) had some passes from a friend who worked at the parks. This was several years ago, so we decided to go to MGM because at the time it was the only WDW park I had not visited.

Anyway...MGM was a madhouse. I'm glad I've had a chance to visit again since that time, because all I really remember from that visit was the blur of people all around...waiting forever in line...and the fact that it was actually COLD!!

The thing I remember most, though, was hearing the announcement that they had actually stopped admitting people to Magic Kingdom because of the crowd situation there.

I don't remember the exact date we went, but it was during that week between Christmas and New Year's.

From Erik Yates
Posted September 8, 2006 at 1:46 PM
The only time I've ever been to Magic Kingdom during the week of christmas was on NYE. Wow, what a party. No alcohol, but it was great. Space Mountain broke down, and we had been in line for an hour at this point. It was broken down for two hours, and we loved it. The beach ball was passed around, everyone did the hokey pokey and disney actually passed out egg nog. It was spectacular.
But I will never do it again.

From Karin S
Posted September 11, 2006 at 5:49 AM
We made the mistake of visiting during the Xmas/NY week a few years ago. On one particular day, 3 parks closed due to capacity crowds - Epcot was the only one open. The traffic was terrible (with visitors being turned away, roads in both directions were bumper to bumper - not unlike Boston at rush hour). Not a fun way to spend your vacation time.

From Chris Walton
Posted September 11, 2006 at 6:14 PM
One year, '96 or '97 we went to WDW on New Years Day expecting to go to MGM, but MK and MGM were filled to maximum capacity, so we ended up going to Epcot.

From Sean Rust
Posted September 11, 2006 at 8:26 PM
Disney + Christmas = mucho magic

From Don Neal
Posted September 12, 2006 at 5:44 AM
I would be interested to know this as well. We are tossing around the idea of going down there the week after Christmas.

From Karin S
Posted September 12, 2006 at 1:27 PM
Don - If you mean the week between Christmas and New Year, forget it. If you mean the week after NY, it's slower, but they usually hold their half marathon and marathon in the beginning of January and the place is filled with the runners and their family/friends. Definately check to see what special events Disney is hosting because it has an impact on the crowds.

From Don Neal
Posted September 13, 2006 at 4:59 AM
Thanks for the feedback Karen. :)

Are other parks around the area like Busch Gardens and Sea World just as bad?

From Sean Rust
Posted September 13, 2006 at 8:07 PM
I would plan to check in on or before the 18th of december b/c the rates go from lowest of the year to highest of the year after that day. As long as you check in my that day, you get that rate for our entire stay.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 13, 2006 at 9:34 PM
Its going to be crowded, simply put!

Though there are many great things at WDW during this time especially The Candelight Processional at EPCOT and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom!

From Erik Yates
Posted September 14, 2006 at 1:09 PM
Those things happen every night, mostly. They would be best to be done before the holidays...as I've said the entire week before is a wasteland.

From rosemarie branda
Posted September 16, 2006 at 6:05 PM
i have two of the guide books, the passporter and birnbaum's WDW. they both have that time of the year listed as peak crowds. it is slow from the week after thanksgiving unitl the week before christmas. someone told me they were there for new year's and had 300 min. wait. no thank you!!!we always go the second week of november and both disney and UO have no waits.

From Mary Jo Harris
Posted September 20, 2006 at 5:03 PM
Our plans are to go to Disney Dec. 17-24, just wondering what the crowds are prior to the 25th. If it is elbow to elbow, then I would rather change our plans for a different time. We were there March 2006 and there was not lots of people, I think the longest we had to wait was at Dumbo and Pooh, each being about 20 minutes, that was late in the afternoon. But with three children under the age of 6, long lines are not fun even with fast pass.

From Erik Yates
Posted September 20, 2006 at 5:33 PM
Your plans are perfect, dont change them. You'll find that the closer you get to Christmas the emptier the park will be. The further away you get from Christmas, the busier it gets.

From Ros Harriott
Posted October 15, 2006 at 2:36 PM
We were there Christmas 2006 from 9th - 31st December. Our first week was bliss - no lines to wait - FABBO! We then went the second week (17th onwards) and couldn't move!!

From Trevor Pearce
Posted October 23, 2006 at 11:13 AM
Hey great, were coming over from London on 9th Dec until 23rd. So you think we should do all the parks we want ( AK,STUDIOS,EPCOT,US,IA + seaworld, phew! ) in 1st week and Kennedy, B.gdns and SHOPPING !!! in the 2nd. Hows that sound for an itinary ? input would be appreciated.Thanks

From Sharon Culian
Posted October 30, 2007 at 9:36 AM
We will be in Orlando Jan 1 to Jan 7. Is the Magic Kingdom going to be busy like the week in between Xmas and NYE?

From Gareth H
Posted October 30, 2007 at 9:42 AM
I do believe its busy as hell until the 5th, then its just busy.

From Chris Walton
Posted October 30, 2007 at 12:08 PM
People always make the mistake of assuming that the parks are nearly empty on the holidays when in fact it's the opposite. I attempted to go to the Magic Kingdom on New Years Day one year and the park was filled to capacity (literally!), so we ended up at Epcot.

From Gareth H
Posted October 30, 2007 at 11:29 AM
Ooh, I did the Magic Kingdom thing on Christmas day once. I got there at about 12.30, got in ok but the place was jam packed. 90 min wait for haunted mansion.

Food, hmm. As we ealked up the front part we enquired and were told not restaurants had free seating but the burger joint (Sit down) said they could fit us straight in.
So my Christmas meal was a chicken burger. Won't ever make the mistake of going to Disney at Chrimbo again.
I've done Universal once, for about 2 hours. More for the parage and atmosphere. Still busy though!!

This year I'm heading to the beach!! Or w water park maybe!

From Tyler W.
Posted October 30, 2007 at 12:57 PM
I went to Disney Dec. 26-Jan. 2 last year and it didn't seem too crowded. But that was my first time so I don't have anything else to compare it to. Our longest wait was Test Track at 1 hour and 30 minutes so that's how crowded it was lol.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 30, 2007 at 2:22 PM
Packed!

But they do have some great stuff going on there like the Candle Light Processional, Christmas Around the World, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Universal probably has things similar to it!

From Brady Allen
Posted October 30, 2007 at 5:39 PM
Stay away from the Magic Kingdom on Christmas day the other parks are less crowded with less kids but still n the busy side. everybody flocks to the park to see the X-mas parade

From Jake Strite
Posted October 31, 2007 at 8:46 PM
TRY HERSHEY!!! answer to everything, right?

From Lee Mak
Posted November 1, 2007 at 7:37 AM
its madness...but worth it at least once for the splendor; My entire family used to only go during week 52 because the parks were open the latest and the parks were beautifully decorated (it was also the only week my father could get off of work : ) Anyway, we did this just about every year from 1985 to 1995 and we learned the tricks. So, if you are gonna go, these will help you out.

1) The buses start running to the parks a hour (sometimes two hours) before they say the buses start running. They lie to all of us to handle the capacity of the sold-out on property hotels on the WDW transportation system.

2) They say the park closes at a certain time, and they do close the rides when the park closes, but they do not empty the lines to the rides until the last person is off. Hit the ride that you could not get on all day right before the park closes...they will let you in (even if the line is an hour long, they will allow you to ride and escort you out). If you walk up to a ride and there are ropes on the entrance and an attendant up front...use a little holiday cheer and ask to be kindly let in. People will be more responsive than you think. (just don't do it with a bunch of people around; they can get in trouble for doing so)

3)Hit the rides that have the longest lines from 1-3pm and from 5-8pm. This is what I have noticed takes place every day. The parents with multiple kids burn out an hour or so after lunch and retreat to the hotel for a few hours...parents with kids tend to eat lunch around 11am-12noon, so that is the first window of opportunity. Since most of America eats dinner from 5-7pm, and most of America can be very "hungry", they do not miss meal times for anything. Since parks and hotels have so many sit-down dining options, the parks get a little breathing room and lines are thinner. It may sounds simplistic, but the best things are. Adjust your eating around this and you will be able to squeeze in two extra rides a day. (you can usually only hit six "big name" rides on your best day during week 52) Eight is awesome!

4) No matter how tired you are, do not sleep in!!! The parks often get to capacity by 11am (only two hours after park opening) and they will turn you away from the gates. This goes on every year and you will not be compensated. You snooze, you lose...your entire day is shot until the parents bring their kids back to the hotel for the afternoon break and they re-open the gates to guests

5) When you leave the hotel for the morning, do not plan to come back at all. Pack everything you got and keep on truckin'. This is the "got to be in it to win it" attitude that will get you to the next ride.

6) Bring your hap-hap-happiest disney self on this vacation. The parks can be over-packed, the ride lines can be ridiculously long, and patience can get very thin. A good number of the guests will be very nasty and the holiday spirit is lost on them and they will get in your way more often than not. Its like being a human bumper car all day long, except your shins are the bumpers and strollers and children on leashes are the other cars...but the decorations, special parades, events and overall level of magic is superior to any other time at WDW.

Enjoy the vacation...and get your game face on; it can be rough at times, but fully worth it.

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

How to save money on a Disney World trip

Saving money at Disney World

Insider's Pick: You can afford that Walt Disney World family vacation of your dreams. Get started with 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World, a great guide to planning an affordable trip to the Vacation Capital of the World. Why wait? The sooner you start saving, the sooner you and your family will be enjoying your vacation!

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks