New Year's Eve: Are You Going Out or Staying In?

December 30, 2022, 3:24 PM · What are you doing for New Year's Eve?

Plenty of theme parks are hoping to entice fans and bank some last-minute income with big New Year's Eve spectaculars. Here in Southern California and across the country in Central Florida, all the major resorts are planning New Year's Eve celebrations. Even Legoland is holding an early NYW celebration for kids (and their now-vacation-exhausted parents) who have early bedtimes.

When I moved back to Los Angeles many years ago, I eye-rolled during an editorial meeting at the LA Times, when some New York transplant bemoaned that Southern California did not have any big New Year's Eve gatherings like the Times Square ball drop in Manhattan. As the website rep, I didn't get to talk much at those afternoon editorial meetings, but I did feel the need to mention that Southern California annually hosts at least two major crowd events on New Year's Eve.

Disneyland crams tens of thousands of revelers into Walt's original park on December 31 to count down the arrival of the new year. And in Pasadena, tens of thousands of other people celebrate out on Colorado Blvd. while they camp all night to save viewing spaces for the next morning's Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Rose Parade will not happen on January 1 this year, due to the Tournament's long-standing "never on a Sunday" policy. That used to be an accommodation for the many churches along Pasadena's Rose Parade route, which did not want to be kept from holding their Sunday morning services due to the parade. These days, though, it's more of a concession to the NFL, which owns the Sunday morning TV schedule. Either way, people won't be camping out until Sunday night this year, awaiting the Rose Parade on January 2.

Disneyland is raising its profile for this year's New Year's Eve celebration, however. Disney's ABC has taped several headline music performances at the park for inclusion in its "Dick Clark's New Year’s Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2023" broadcast, which is watched by millions of viewers across the country.

Just to reiterate, those were pretaped segments. You won't find Ben Platt, Aly & AJ, Halle Bailey, and others performing at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure on Saturday night. But you will find tens of thousands of theme park fans there, awaiting the arrival of midnight and Disneyland's New Year's fireworks show.

So what are you doing for New Year's Eve this year? (Or, if you are reading this in 2023, what did you do?)

However you celebrate - or not - I wish you a happy, healthy, and rewarding 2023. And thank you for spending time with us here at Theme Park Insider.

Stay tuned on New Year' Day, when I will announce the winners of the 21st annual Theme Park Insider Award. It's the biggest New Year's Day show in Pasadena this year. (Hah!)

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Replies (7)

December 31, 2022 at 12:11 AM

Happy New Year, Robert! I myself will be going out this year. I don't often have opportunities to get away from my kids, so it's worth a splurge. I'm going to the New Year's Eve Party on the Piazza at the Portofino Bay Hotel. It's $180, but the ambiance is top notch (great Opera performers and dance party) and you get unlimited beer wine, and small plates.

If you want the fireworks stuff, I recommend checking out Disney's NYE fireworks rehearsal performance they put on December 30th. I especially enjoy them after a nice meal from a comfortable distance at the Polynesian or the Grand Floridian. I did NYE at Magic Kingdom one year and the hub was so packed that during the dance party you couldn't refrain from moving....and I was crammed against a bunch of teenaged girls. Never again.

December 31, 2022 at 12:41 PM

I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for a pseudo-New Years celebration last night (the 30th), and honestly, I think it could become a tradition. Ops were good even though the park was packed, and we were able to ride every major coaster that was open. The atmosphere was also nice with Christmas lights still up, Hot Cocoa stands, and food trucks scattered around the park (picking up the slack of the park's and Sea World as a whole's recent dip in food quality). They also did a pretty decent 5-minute firework show at the end of the night.

December 31, 2022 at 6:59 PM

Wishing my TPI family the very best in 2023 ... Thank you for adding color, insight and so much great humor ove the previous years. This is a remarkable (and growing) community of fantastic people/personalities.

January 1, 2023 at 9:33 AM

We flew home from London yesterday, so we got to celebrate the new year twice. Very chill travel day, for which I’m grateful. Looking forward to the year ahead!

January 2, 2023 at 12:14 AM

I stayed in because I had to wake up early to go to work.

January 2, 2023 at 10:07 PM

If you are interested in the fireworks, you should attend the rehearsal performance that Disney has planned for New Year's Eve fireworks , which will take place on December 30. I find that I enjoy them the most after having a nice meal at either the Polynesian or the Grand Floridian and watching them from a comfortable distance.

January 3, 2023 at 2:11 PM

2023 - The year of the Green TPI Banner...

Happy 2023 folks....

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