Congratulations, theme park fans! You have made it through 2019. Now it's time for the busiest weeks of the year at the Orlando and Southern California theme parks.
It's Christmas week!
The Christmas and New Year's holidays usually deliver enough incentive for fans to crowd the parks over the next two weeks, but a few parks are gilding the lily this year by actually debuting new attractions, too. We were just out at Six Flags Magic Mountain yesterday for the beginning of previews for West Coast Racers. And at Disneyland on Friday for the new version of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (which is the best Star Tours yet, IMHO.)
But the big present under the tree for theme park fans this December surely is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which opened earlier this month at Disney's Hollywood Studios. My pick for the world's best theme park ride opens officially after the holidays at Disneyland (on January 17, 2020, to be precise), but cast member previews there have begun, raising the possibility of soft opens during the holiday season. (All but the very top level, $1000-plus, annual passes are blocked out at Disneyland during the Christmas-to-New Year's period, meaning that Disney could pull off a soft opening without eliciting a rush of annual passholders to overwhelm the park. And the extra capacity from adding a new ride to the park would help ease the crowding for fans who have paid top dollar to visit during these weeks, too.)
Of course, a stacked line-up of holiday shows are also playing to entertain fans looking to get as much holiday spirit as they can during this time of year. We've got a four-hour playlist of holiday-themed shows and attraction ride-through videos that we recorded at Universal, Disney, Knott's and Six Flags for you to enjoy if you can't make it to the parks this week... or if you're just looking for more theme park holiday enjoyment while you are waiting in their inescapable lines this week.
That brings me to our question: Are you visiting any parks for the holidays this year? I love theme parks at Christmas not just for the holiday shows, decorations, and food, but also for the cooler temperatures that make visiting the parks such a pleasure at this time of year. (Please note that this comment does not apply in Australia. Stay cool down there, friends!)
But I understand the frustration that many people feel about the crowds. It's possible to have just as much fun on a slammed-packed day as on one where the park is deserted, but you have to be willing to to accept that you must experience park differently to have that kind of fun. It's not about bagging a high ride count. Instead, look to discover the "extras" — the details and experiences that people often miss when empty queues pull them to rush from ride to ride, or that just aren't available during slower seasons.
I also get this can be an expensive time of year to visit, too. High demand jacks up airfares and hotel rates, not to mention some ticket prices. So there is no "right" answer to this question. Travel when and where you want! But I am curious to get a head count of who's at the parks or on their way.
Here's where I have been this holiday season, if you'd like to read my cross-country holiday trip reports:
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to all... and I hope to see many of you in the parks, either soon or sometime in 2020!Tweet
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