Theme parks get ready for another round of New Year's celebrations

October 10, 2018, 8:04 PM · What's the best thing to do to celebrate New Year's Eve?

Okay, I know. It's not even Halloween yet — forget about Thanksgiving and Christmas. But theme park fans know that it often pays to plan ahead when it comes to holiday visits. Hotels and events book up months in advance, and fans who don't plan ahead are often left without options.

Universal Orlando this week promoted its on-site events for this year's New Year's Eve, including the return of the "Eve" hard-ticket event in CityWalk. Universal Studios Florida will be open for the celebration at midnight, and the resort will host events at its hotels, too. But what's the best choice for ringing in the New Year?

I remember laughing in an editorial meeting back when I worked at the Los Angeles Times when an editor lamented that Southern California didn't have any big New Year's Eve gatherings like New York. Ever been to Disneyland on New Years Eve? Yeah, that's pretty big. But it's nowhere near the crowd that Walt Disney World packs into the Magic Kingdom or Epcot in Florida.

Happy New Year!

Heck, I get to experience a huge public get-together in my own neighborhood every New Year's Eve. (Well, in six out of seven years, at least.) With the annual Rose Parade rolling through my neighborhood in Pasadena on January 1 each year (that doesn't fall on a Sunday), the streets are packed with fans awaiting the parade the day and night before. Never drive your car down the parade route near midnight, unless you want to spend New Year's Day cleaning off the gunk people will throw or spray on it.

Yeah, I pretty much stay inside when I am home in Pasadena for New Year's. But when I worked at the parks, I loved New Year's Eve for all that sweet, sweet overtime working crowd control. And even better, the shift differential double-time the next day, when many cast members inevitably called in "sick."

What's your favorite way to spend New Year's Eve? Are you arriving early in the day to celebrate in the parks? (You'd better, if that's your choice of venue.) Or do you opt for a hard ticket event, where crowd levels might be a bit more reasonable (and the alcohol flowing)? Do you prefer a quieter, private celebration? Or are you asleep by midnight, getting ready for an early start the next day?


Got a favorite theme park New Year's story? Hit us with it in the comments.

Replies (6)

October 10, 2018 at 8:44 PM

Does it count if you spend every New Year's Eve (and every other holiday)"In The Parks" due to working in this industry?

October 10, 2018 at 9:20 PM

I try to watch on television before I fall asleep. Hey, it’s the New Year at 9pm pacific time at New York.

October 11, 2018 at 6:52 AM

I had to chose "In my room..." but it sounds like I'm living in my parents' basement. Some of us do have our own houses, you know, and I'll be in the living room with my wife watching TV, eating cheese and crackers and other snacky stuff, drinking Champagne.

October 11, 2018 at 7:06 AM

For so many years we went to my SIL house for NYE. They had a huge party. This year unexpectedly, they moved to Charlotte, NC because of work.

So, we are throwing the party at our house. My SIL and family are staying with us and we will be inviting all the people she usually invites to her Party plus our friends.

It is going to be crazy and crowded.

October 11, 2018 at 12:47 PM

The last few years have involved dinner with family and then falling asleep on the couch or recliner waiting for midnight. For several years we did go to Disneyland when they had a hard ticket New Year's Eve Party since my Dad's birthday is Dec. 31. That was his favorite time to go there.

October 11, 2018 at 2:50 PM

James, I phrased the "in my room" option thinking hotel rooms as well as homes, but yeah, you have a point there.

The lesson, as always? I am a bit of an idiot. ;^)

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Top 10 Attendance

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Disneyland
  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Universal Studios Japan
  5. Tokyo DisneySea
  6. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  7. Epcot
  8. Shanghai Disneyland
  9. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  10. Universal Studios Florida