For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Getting (or Giving) a Disney World Trip for the Holidays?

By Dave Shute


Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Teal. Enjoy the ride as this month we discuss what to do next if you get–or are giving!–a Disney World trip for the holidays.


When you go to Walt Disney World has more impact on your potential enjoyment than any other factor.

The biggest issue is avoiding crowds.  While you can have fun during high-crowd periods, you can have even more fun, and a much more relaxing visit, during lower crowd times. The highest crowd periods are during the times when it’s easy for families to visit–that is, when kids are on break. So they can be hard to avoid…

But some of the very lowest crowd periods are not that great for first time family visitors who may never return. September is a low crowd period, but also the peak of the hurricane season.  Late January/early February are also low-crowd periods, but in the heart of the traditional ride closure season.

See the 2013 Disney World Crowd Calendar for more on crowds.

After crowds, different families will weigh attach different weights to other factors, such pricesweather, and various special events, such as those during the Christmas season.

This site has tons of tools for figuring out when to go to Walt Disney World, but the two most important ones are


Two families can have Disney World visits identical in every way except their hotels, and one may pay $3,000 more than the other.  When you go is the most important factor for an enjoyable vacation; where you stay is the most important factor for its cost.

You can slice and dice the hotel options into more than half a dozen groups, but for most first time visitors there’s just two groups that really matter:

There’s lots more on this site on where to stay at Walt Disney World. I’m one of the few people on earth lame enough to have stayed recently for multiple nights in every single Disney owned and operated hotel at Walt Disney World.  You can find the reviews from all these stays starting here.

But if you pick one of the 5 hotels listed above, you won’t go wrong!


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Mary’s Capturing Magical Memories.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:



1 Joan { 11.27.12 at 9:31 am }

Dave, are adults allowed to have photos taken with characters, or are those lines reserved for kids only? The other Senior Princess and I really want a Xmas shot with Mickey and Minnie in their holiday outfits. Would this be possible at MVMCP and if so, where? And do you have a recommendation re a special night when we should see yeehah bob or is his show the same every evening? Thanks!

2 Dave { 11.28.12 at 8:50 am }

Hi Joan–Mary already answered your first questions! Re Yeehah Bob, I’m not sure–I’d just ask the concierge or in the lounge…

3 Heidi { 11.27.12 at 10:36 am }

Great thoughts, Dave. I wish I would get a Disney trip for Christmas! I think we’re planning a Christmas 2013 trip though. So, at least I have something to look forward to.

4 Mary of Capturing Magical Memories { 11.27.12 at 10:40 am }

Dave – Great tips. Those are the two most important factors when you start planning.

Joan – Of course you can have photos with Mickey and Minnie!!! I love doing that and I am definitely one of the Senior Princesses. In fact I pushed my son out of a picture last trip so I could have one of just me and Donald in his Snake Charmer outfit. Mickey and Minnie during the MVMCP can be found at Town Square on Main Street. : )

5 Beth Green { 11.27.12 at 10:57 am }

I completely agree about choosing your vacation time wisely! I always try to go during low crowd times- even if it’s hurricane season or if some rides may be closed. I can’t deal with the crowds or heat of the summer!

6 Joan { 11.29.12 at 12:53 am }

So glad to learn that we can comune and take photos with the characters without having kids with us. We will be dressed in our new hoodies in hot pink and purple with “Senior Princess” and our crowns on insignia with our names below. We will not be invisible so show your colors too, Dave and give us the secret your-first-visit handshake!

7 Dave { 11.29.12 at 1:02 pm }


8 Joan { 11.29.12 at 11:17 pm }

Excited that we just got an invite to be part of the Fast Pass Plus experimental program while we are there, and it includes preferred viewing of some events like parades and fireworks. Have you had experience with this program, Dave? I may have to do some juggling of our planned itinerary to make it work, but it may be worthwhile since they said we can use regular fast passes the same day also…

9 Dave { 11.30.12 at 8:13 am }

Joan that’s so cool! No I’ve never been invited…so now maybe I have to follow you around with a camera for part of the time we are both there to capture your experience for this site!

10 Joan { 11.30.12 at 10:11 am }

So here is our dilemma, Dave. The SP+ program is only available for certain parks on certain days. We were planning to do HS and our Fantasmic dinner package on Monday, Dec. 17. If we use SP+ we would need to go on Sat Dec 15 instead. Wondering the advantage of 3 extra fast passes is worth the extra weekend crowds we will probably experience on that day?

11 Dave { 11.30.12 at 12:02 pm }

Joan, that’s a great question. If you can use the FP+ for Toy Story Mania and Fantasmic, then it’s worth it! Fantasmic for the obvious reason, and TSM because beginning your day with a FP for it simplifies greatly the rest of the day…

12 Joan { 11.30.12 at 6:05 pm }

Can get FP+ for Toy Story but not Fantasmic. But I did grab a Fantasmic very early dinner package at Brown Derby that day. The others I chose at that park are Tower of Terror and Little Mermaid Voyage. Are those super busy ones that are good to have in advance too?

13 Dave { 12.01.12 at 11:02 am }

Joan, that’s great!

14 Joan { 12.09.12 at 1:06 am }

Weather forecast has gotten significantly wetter for this next week, so it looks as if,we may need to keep our itinerary flexible. Hard to do with all those adr’s! Which parks are best in the rain? Do you have a link to this, Dave?

15 Dave { 12.09.12 at 7:29 am }

Joan, the parks are great in the rain! It knocks down the fair-weather crowds. I find that except in the most driving windy rain, some combination of a hat, collapsible umbrella, and poncho works fine–you can get the poncho at pretty much any Disney spot with a cash register. You do need to attend to your footwear, tho. See this–a little focused on summer rain and one day, but mostly still valid:

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2020 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.