Vote of the Week: Have You Gotten Shut Out of a Crowded Theme Park During the Holidays?

December 26, 2014, 7:14 PM · Welcome to the busiest week of the year in the theme park industry, when, right on schedule, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort in California both closed for a time today, due to overwhelming crowds.

Expect late-morning to mid-day closures at Disney's two most popular theme parks in the United States to continue over the next week, as holiday vacationers pack theme parks in Central Florida and Southern California during the days between Christmas and New Year's. And you should go ahead and expect full queues and closed-out shows at all the other parks in those area's resorts, as well.

Disney California Adventure for the holidays

The crowds shouldn't keep you from visiting the parks and having a great time, of course — provided that you know what to do. More than ever, this week makes an early arrival at the parks essential. You're not going to be able to enjoy much queue-free time early in the day with these crowd levels, but you will be able to get into the parks before they close. Even if you are visiting a park that won't hit maximum capacity during the day, get their early before the spill-over from the closed parks starts cramming the park you're visiting.

If that makes you wary of visiting during a holiday week, don't be. This can be one of the most delightful times of the year to visit. Parks are staffed up for the big crowds, with extra shows and events on the schedule to soak up the overflow crowds. Wonderful decorations and seasonal food options abound, and people generally seem to be in a better mood thanks in part to the season and in part to the fact that no one's sweating through the summer heat and humidity in late December. (And folks from up north typically are just be happy to be somewhere warmer.)

But, yeah, it's a big disappointment when you've planned for that holiday vacation, only to arrive at the park and find the gates closed. Has that ever happened to you?

Are you in the parks this week? Have you visited during this week in previous holiday seasons? Please tell us your experiences — and advice for dealing — with the crowds, in the comments.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Replies (10)

December 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM · Went to Animal Kingdom on Christmas Day. Was not as crowded as I expected it to be.
December 26, 2014 at 8:10 PM · I would never go to a theme park around this time of year. For me it's so hard to enjoy it with all the crowds. We wait until after the new year is over to venture out to a theme park.
December 27, 2014 at 2:01 AM · I've never been "denied" entry, but we decided to go to Hollywood Studios instead of Epcot for New year's Eve one year because we feared it would be at capacity at Epcot (and most of the restaurants did not have reservations left anyway). I very much enjoyed New Years Eve at Hollywood Studios though. Maybe even was more fun than going to Epcot would have been! We got to see Fantasmic and the Osborne Lights show prior to the midnight fireworks, which were great since they shot them overhead so you looked up to see them, rather than out like I fear Epcot's would have been since it seems they do all theirs over the lake.
December 27, 2014 at 2:15 AM · A true TPI member is never denied anywhere. 'Nuff said
December 27, 2014 at 11:52 AM · I'm at Universal Studios Hollywood right now, it's really busy.
December 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM · We did a coast to coast trip for the 24 hour One More day event 2-29-12. We hit the Magic Kingdom at opening and hit almost every ride by late afternoon. Then we headed for the airport. We got to Disneyland about 11:00 and it was closed due to the crowds. We did stick around for a while until they started letting people in. It was so packed in New Orleans square we could hardly move so we gave it up
December 27, 2014 at 12:49 PM · We always went to Universal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until they expanded the blackout dates of Power AP , which my wife has. Too bad, we usually spent a bundle! But would never go Christmas week.
December 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM · I don't visit theme parks during holiday periods if I can avoid it as the crowds are always insane. Therefore, I've never arrived at a park to find it closed due to capacity. However, I have gotten denied entry to a waterpark on a regular summer day due to a large number of groups causing it to hit capacity.
December 28, 2014 at 1:38 AM · The crowds shouldn't keep me from visiting the park and having a great time? I can't imagine going to a park at peak times during the summer/Christmas months. This is why when I ask my friends how there Disney trip went the response is always that they hated it. I would hate it as well in those crowds. Some people may not agree, but I think park tickets should be higher during the peak months of the year, seasonal prices are not unheard of. The parks would make just as much money, maybe more, and the guest willing to pay the higher cost would have a better experience at the park.
December 31, 2014 at 1:17 AM · Our family, a group of 5,all adults now, went to Disneyland at 9:30 am, 12-26-2014. By the time our monorail arrived nearby Small World by 9:45 am. It was closed due to already large crowd. Our family only went through 4 rides, Flying Dumbo, Peter Pan, Mark-Twain Steamboat, and submarine. & 2 shows: Christmas Parade & Fantasmic . It was really crowed from 2 pm to 5 pm. It was really very difficult moving during the above time frame. Luckily, Disneyland was very good at crowd control. Most of my family did not get lost for long since we used texting messages to communicate with one another. We exited Disneyland around 5:15 pm after Watching Christmas Parade and re-entered the park about 7:30 pm for 8:45 pm Fantasmic & 9:15 Firework. We did see Fantasmic & Firework was cancelled due to gusty wind. My family did have good time at Disneyland even though just purchasing snacks took from 30 mins to 60 mins. We have not been to Disneyland for more than 14 years!! It is still the happiest place on earth like my first going to Disneyland 34 years ago!!

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