Christmas 2013 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Epcot's Holidays Around the WorldThe Christmas season at Walt Disney World includes both the best and the worst times to visit, with both prices and crowds at both lower and very high levels over the period.

Decorations, special Christmas shows, programs, and events, and Christmas trees are everywhere, making Disney World as special a place to celebrate the holidays as you can find.


December crowds at Walt Disney World begin at lower levels. They will begin to build on 12/19, and by 12/22 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 4, 2014

Walt Disney World resort hotel December prices at the beginning of the month are at one of the lowest levels of the year. On 12/13 they go up a lot, and on December 20, 2013, they increase 50-90% to their highest levels of the year.

December weather is cooler and variable. While the average daily high is 73, this masks tremendous variability.


Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and special Christmas events, most of which begin in early November or right around Thanksgiving.

  • At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights through the first two-thirds of the month. Later in the month, its signature events—a special Christmas parade, and special Christmas fireworks—are available to all guests. Christmas decor is in place by the night of the first party–in 2013, November 8
  • At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Illuminations has special Christmas additions. In addition, most nights Christmas carols are sung by massed choirs in the Candlelight Processional. Many of the countries in Epcot’s World Showcase have special Christmas events as part of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World program. Epcot’s special events usually begin the Friday after Thanksgiving
  • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Christmas celebration is the Osborne holiday lights in the Streets of America area. The evening opening ceremony is 6p. These typically begin in early November
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 3.45p parade is redone to a Christmas theme

See the Basic Itinerary, particularly Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday, for more details on these Christmas events.


New Year’s Eve festivities will happen on December 31, 2013 at Disney World’s Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30.

The Animal Kingdom has no special events.

Here’s what’s known now (hours will be extended later):

  • Epcot is scheduled to be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until midnight for the general public, and 2a for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests; and the Magic Kingdom is open until midnight (this likely will be extended later to 2a)
  • The Magic Kingdom has Wishes at 9p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.50p
  • Epcot has its Illuminations fireworks show at 6.30p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios will likely have fireworks at midnight, and several sets over the evening from “Mulch, Sweat and Shears,” a live band
  • Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom, but is available at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Magic Kingdom will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.

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1 Pam { 05.22.13 at 8:53 am }

We will be arriving in Orlando on Sunday, December 15 2013, mid-day. I know Monday’s are busy for Magic Kingdom because that’ usually the first place people go that check in on Sunday. So I’m wondering since my kids are college age, should we go to Magic Kingdom after lunch on Sunday and plan to stay until close. Or, do you think it will be a waste of money?

2 Dave { 05.23.13 at 7:11 am }

Hi Pam, MK closes at 7p on the 15th, so you won’t have much time there…

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3 Kirsty { 06.08.13 at 3:44 pm }

Hello, what date in November does Disney put all the Christmas decorations up? Thank you in advance. Kirsty xx

4 Dave { 06.09.13 at 8:18 am }

Hi Kirsty! In 2013, Xmas decorations will be fully in place in the Magic Kingdom by November 8. The other parks and the hotels will begin decorating about the same time, but the fill Xmas program won’t be entirely in place everywhere until November 29…

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5 Stuart poulter { 06.11.13 at 10:46 am }

I’m coming out on the 11th nov for 2 weeks.
Will the Christmas effect be open then or does it start later on in the month.

6 michele { 06.11.13 at 9:08 pm }

when will I be able to book Candlelight procession Diner special in Epcot? we will be there week of 12/1 which is over 180 days and the are still not opened.

7 Dave { 06.12.13 at 7:35 am }

Stuart, the Christmas program will be largely in place over your trip. The last part to open, at Epcot, will open on 11-29.

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8 Dave { 06.12.13 at 7:49 am }

Hi Michele, they will release it sometime this summer…

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9 Dee Dee { 06.16.13 at 2:43 pm }

Hi! We will be spending Christmas and New Years in Disney World. We wanted to go to Magic Kingdom or even Epcot which ever seems to have a better show for New Years Eve. Are there any special tips or dinner reservations that we should be looking into to celebrate and still see the special new years fireworks?? It will be my husband, 2 kids- 14 and 8, and myself.

10 Dave { 06.17.13 at 11:22 am }

Hi Dee Dee! Well, that’s about the worst time of the year to go. For New Years Eve, see this: For an itinerary for then, see this:

…are you sure you want to go then? Prices and crowds are just spectacular…

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11 Deb Verducci { 06.18.13 at 4:18 pm }

OK I’m scared to death! We are doing this because we thought it would be cool but it never occurred to us that there would be many families as crazy as we are, in giving up our traditional Italian Christmas Celebration and traditions to wake up on Christmas morning with the Mouse. OK I know.. Living under a rock is never a good thing, after making resort reservations and buying all the tickets for the five of us an clearly communicating to the Kids that this WAS their present…. I decided to do some research… after doing so, I kinda freaked out a little … thinking I might have single handedly ruined everyone’s holiday because we were not going to be able to move in the parks, eat anywhere, or do anything else…We got our loggings very affordably, so what I decided to do to help, was I booked a Disney resort room, as well for two of the days the park will be busiest, so that I could have my best shot at dining reservations and so we could all take advantage of the extra magic hours on Christmas eve and Christmas day Plus be closer to the parks to avoid getting stuck in traffic .. I do not know if it will help us much.. I am a bit sad at the thought of not getting to go on any rides, so what I’m asking is this,.. I know the parks are beautiful that time of year but are they really that busy? I mean, is it really impossible to do anything at all, like I have been hearing?

12 Dave { 06.19.13 at 12:21 pm }

Deb, take a look at this: It’s from last year, and aimed at WDW hotel visitors, but there’s some ideas there.

But if I were you…I’d cancel, take the kids out of school, and go in earlier December. It’s still the Christmas season, still wonderful, but oh so much less crowded…

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13 Ashley { 06.26.13 at 3:51 pm }

Hello :-) Do you happen to know what time they usually open reservations for the Holiday Sleigh Rides at Fort Wilderness? Some websites say you can reserve 90 days in advance while others say 180 days.

14 Dave { 06.26.13 at 4:29 pm }

Ashley, Disney’s site says 180 days–see this:

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15 Jennifer { 07.26.13 at 9:45 am }

Hi Dave ,
I am wanting to go To Disney Dec 15-19 2013 and was wanting to see what the crowds would be like then.

16 Dave { 07.26.13 at 6:49 pm }

Hi Jennifer, see this:

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17 Grandma09 { 07.28.13 at 4:27 pm }

Trying to plan a trip, but will be staying outside the park. Tentatively, arriving on December 5, 2013 and leaving on December 9 or 10. We have 4 adults and a 4 year old girl traveling. Any help would be appreciated.

18 Dave { 07.29.13 at 6:35 am }

Hi Grandma, I focus on kid s8 and older, so won’t be much help. For a four year old you can focus on just the Magic Kingdom and spend two or three mornings, one afternoon, and one evening.

But take a look at these: and

There’s also a special(and expensive) Christmas party going on your dates–it may not be worth it til she’s a few years older, but take a look at this:

Your dates, MK will be best the 8th and 10th and worst the 5th, 7th and 9th.

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19 Jill { 08.01.13 at 3:50 am }

Hello, I just found your site last month and it has been very helpful. My adult daughter and I are going to stay at Disney(Contemporary Resort) for the Christmas/New year holiday(24 Dec-2Jan). Can you suggest an itenerary? We were last there in the mid 1990s when she was about 10.

20 Dave { 08.01.13 at 8:06 am }

Jill, that’s a horrible time to go…can I talk you out of it? Three hour lines, parks closed due to capacity…if you must go then, see this itinerary (ignore that it’s called summer) noting that additional Extra Magic Hours and 8a openings will require you to get up much earlier than it indicates:

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21 Kathleen { 08.03.13 at 2:00 am }

Thanks for your website! Its been a great help planning our trip; Dec 1-6th.

First, should we plan on spending the money on the very merry christmas party. I will have a 1 year old and a 4 year old (they are both night owls so i’m not worried about it being so late). This probably will be our only time being at Disney for Christmas time. Some blogs are saying its a not miss; wait times for rides and characters are next to nothing, others are saying we should avoid it due to it being so busy. Any idea?

Planning on doing HS on Monday
Tuesday- mickeys party if we decide to do it– if not we will do MK this day.
Wednesday- morning at MK then Epcot half day just because we are doing the candle light
Thursday- AK
seem ok? or should we switch days on something?

22 Dave { 08.03.13 at 12:05 pm }

Hi Kathleen–waits at the party are both short and long. They are short for the rides, but long for the characters. So it kinda depends on what you think your kids are going to want to do. I wouldn’t spend the money if their aim is characters…

I like the days you’ve picked, but am not keen on the half day at Epcot. There’s next to nothing there for those ages, and the Candlelight Processional–whihc is much more like a church choral service than it is a kids show–will also likely be dull to them. I’d advise you to just take this afternoon off.

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23 Nora85 { 08.08.13 at 3:23 pm }

Hi Dave! My husband and I will be going to Epcot, AK and MK November 6,7 and 8th. Since it’s during the week, do you think that the parks will be very crowded? We want to do the food and wine festival and hopefully see some Christmas decorations. We were planning on going to Epcot the 6th, AK the 7th and MK the 8th. I just read above that the decorations will be up the 8th. Will MK be open late enough for us to see the lights will our regular admission tickets? Thanks!

24 Donna { 08.08.13 at 9:40 pm }

Hi Dave. Husband & I, 25yr old & 27 yr old kids wanted to visit Florida Dec 19-24. What is in Disney for this age group plus we want a nice beach and nite life and activities for this age group in a descent area? Any Tips of where to go.

25 Dave { 08.09.13 at 11:36 am }

Hi Nora! That week is “Jersey Week,” so the parks will be kinda–but not horribly–crowded all week. See

I would not go to Epcot the 6th, or MK the 7th. So I’d flip your AK and Epcot plans.

The MK decorations aren’t really “lights,” so you can see them fine in daylight. What you will miss the 8th is the parade and fireworks, because of the early closure for the party that night.

If the fireworks and parade are a priority, go to MK the 6th, AK the 7th, and Epcot the 8th. Most of the decorations will be up the 6th…

26 Dave { 08.09.13 at 11:41 am }

Hi Donna, this site focuses on families with kids so I’m afraid I don’t really have much to say on your age group. However, a coupla things I do know–that’s a horrible time to be in Florida, beginning the 21st, as everything will be mobbed. Also, there are no beaches at Disney World, which is in the middle of the state away from the oceans…

27 Colin { 08.16.13 at 2:53 pm }

Hi we get to Orlando about 17.00 on Xmas day 2013 is it worth trying to get in to magic kingdom that evening or wait and go Boxing Day nice and early cheers

28 Dave { 08.17.13 at 8:55 am }

Colin, waits Xmas day by the time you arrive will be three hours plus on the major rides, and not much better any other day that week…but at least the next day you can get there early before the waits build…

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29 Alisa { 08.19.13 at 9:31 am }

Unfortunately, this is the only time of year we can go… We went to Universal this same time a couple of years ago and stayed in a resort and had a great experience! Is Disney World that much different? I know at Universal the “fast pass” (or whatever they call it) came with the resort room and so we got to wait in shorter lines and we also got into the theme park an hour before everyone else. Does the fast pass help you get on a few rides? Is there really any advantage to staying in a resort at Disney World vs another hotel that will shuttle us to the park?

30 SuVonne { 08.19.13 at 10:53 pm }

Could you make some recommendations for touring Dec. 18-21? Bought Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas tickets for the 19th. 5 adults – 20 yrs – 50 years. 4 Day Park Hopper tickets.
Arriving on 18th at 3:00 p.m.

31 Dave { 08.20.13 at 7:13 am }

Alisa, there are some advantages to staying at a WDW resort, but nothing remotely close to what you get at Universal. As a result, waits will be silly long by late mornings…it is possible that Fastpass+ will be generally out for the WDW resorts by then, whihc will be a real help–see this:

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32 Dave { 08.20.13 at 7:48 am }

Hi SuVonne! With 4 days and MVMCP, you could see every park, and–because of MVMCP–MK twice. I’d suggest
HS the 18th
AK the 19th, heading then to MK for MVMCP
MK the 20th
Epcot the 21st

I don’t have any itineraries for trips that short, but take a look at this for some ideas (it’s optimized for the Xmas season and shows…)

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33 stephanie { 08.21.13 at 5:38 am }

Hello me and my husband are coming to Florida Nov 11th to 21st this year for our honeymoon. We have bought tickets to all the parks. Is there any sort of plan about what park to go to first ?? And will Xmas decor be up? Stephanie

34 Julie wallace { 09.07.13 at 1:13 pm }

Over in disney from the uk for 2 weeks from 12/28/13 done it many times before so no mad rush to see everything. Looking for some info on what happens in resorts on NYE as may just head back there, staying at Old Key West. Also NY day not mentioned much des everyone sty n bed! Regards Julie .

35 Dave { 09.08.13 at 12:07 pm }

Hi Julie! There’s not much out yet (at least that I can find) on NYE outside the parks. See this–whihc is mostly 2012, but wil lbe updated for 2013:

And yes, the morning of Jan 1 tends to be fairly calm in the parks, with all the people sleeping in from the night befroe! But not as good as you might think, as savvy travelers hit the parks then…

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36 Julie { 09.08.13 at 5:06 pm }

Cheers dave
Will wait And see then. Like you been there done it, so wil make our own fun which doesn’t involve mass crowds just good old family fun. If you hear of any in house parties let me know.
On the way from the UK the Wallace family rgds Julie

37 Dave { 09.09.13 at 8:54 am }

OK Julie, I will!

38 Leanne { 09.13.13 at 3:19 am }

I’m arriving in Florida Xmas eve so were there xmas day is waltdisney world open Xmas day?

39 Dave { 09.13.13 at 1:06 pm }

Leanne, Disney World is open every day. Christmas day is one of the 2 or three busiest days of the year…

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40 Joann { 09.14.13 at 12:01 pm }

Hello, when do Christmas decorations are taken out at Disney? Is it the same for decorations At Sea World And Busch Gardens And Universal?

41 Dave { 09.15.13 at 11:34 am }

Joann, I dunno about Universal or Seaworld, but at Disney World they start coming down after New Years Day, and are often fully down by around Jan 7 or so…

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42 Mary Richter { 09.21.13 at 1:48 pm }

We are planning a family trip with grandkids from Dec 24 through the 28. I am reading horror stories regarding the crowds at that time. Also have heard that Disney makes everyone leave at 6 pm on Christmas day then lets them come back and pay another $40. Is this true.

43 Dave { 09.22.13 at 7:12 am }

Mary, the horror stores about crowds are true.

What’s not true is the seocnd part–Disney doe snot make everyone leave and re-pay! Whoever told you that is likely getting confused with park closings–see this:

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44 Stacey { 10.09.13 at 11:39 pm }

We are considering a trip Jan3-4 with the hopes the Christmas crowds might be letting up. Is this realistic?

45 Dave { 10.10.13 at 7:47 am }

Umm, Stacey, yes it is. Crowds will be better then than earlier that week, but will still be very high. It’s all driven by the pattern of school breaks this winter. See this:

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46 Anonymous { 10.11.13 at 3:07 pm }

Hey Dave,
My husband our 6 year old and myself are travelling to Florida early November for two weeks. We opted not to go in late Dec as We’ve heard its sooo busy. I know you only tend to advise on activities for older children but we were wondering if you could possibly recommend anything we should be looking out for whilst we are there? ( Great shows etc) Many thanks :)

47 Anonymous { 10.11.13 at 3:09 pm }

Sorry Dave another question.. What would you say is the best way to take spending money? We are not sure about taking all that cash with us. Thanks again ????

48 Dave { 10.12.13 at 9:06 am }
49 Dave { 10.12.13 at 9:07 am }

Well, most people use a combination of credit cards, charging to their room (if they are staying at a WDW resort) and cash from the ATMs that are available in the parks and hotels…

50 Amanda { 10.21.13 at 6:35 pm }

Hi! We are going to Disney 1/5 – 1/10. Will any of the Christmas decor still be up at this point? I’m really hoping to see the castle lit up but I’m doubting we will get to see it. thanks!

51 Dave { 10.22.13 at 7:53 am }

Amanda, they’ll be taking it down then, but it will take a bit to finish it…

52 Kathy Morris { 10.24.13 at 12:20 pm }

Was just wondering. trying to make an itinerary for our trip. we’re going to be there from dec 19th to jan 1st. I was wondering how long do we need to plan for each park in Disneyworld? Because i have kennedy space center, busch gardens, seaworld, legoland and both universal studio parks also.

53 Dave { 10.25.13 at 12:32 pm }

Kathy, everything everywhere will be wildly crowded then. For how long I think you should stay at WDW, see this– …but the crowds will be so high you might want to allocate more time…

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54 stephanie { 10.26.13 at 9:22 pm }

Do any of the parks have lights parades or fireworks on either Nov 12 or 13, 2013? This may help me decide where to stay at Disney…

55 Dave { 10.27.13 at 10:49 am }

Stephanie, MK, Epcot, and HS all have their full evening programs on the 12th–and since MK does not the 11th, that’s a reason it will be more crowded then.

The 13th, all three have their total program too, but MK will be a tad less busy since so many will have gone the 12th…

56 kelly { 11.02.13 at 9:47 am }

hi dave ive done alot of reserch this is my iterery plan for disneyworld just want to know if u agree with it or if i should change something thank you nov 2013 mk12,13 ep14, hs15 ep17 mk18 and any suggestions on great seafood restaurants outside of disneyworld

57 Dave { 11.02.13 at 10:21 am }

Hi Kelly, I like it! And sorry, I don’t track stuff outside of Disney World–I can barely keep up with what’s in Disney World…

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58 Laurel { 11.03.13 at 7:23 pm }

Hi. Love your site. Was wondering what the official end date of the Christmas decorations is. Wasn’t sure how far into January they extended ?

59 Dave { 11.04.13 at 7:19 am }

Laurel, the various programs are all done by January 5, but it takes them a bit to completely take down the decorations…for more, see

60 Leo { 11.04.13 at 4:06 pm }

Hi dave I would like to go on dec 1st but I want to spend the day at mk, do I have to pay twice to stay late ?

61 Sharmon Brannen { 11.04.13 at 8:44 pm }

Hi, I was wondering how many people are allowed to attend MVMCP. I already have my tickets but am curious as to what the crowd level will be during that time.

62 Dave { 11.05.13 at 7:41 am }

Leo, a regular park ticket will only permit you to be in the park til 7p on 12/1. If you want to stay later, you’ll also need to by an MVMCP ticket–see this

63 leo { 11.06.13 at 11:08 am }

thank you so much, i have another question, if possible, what dinning character do you advise me for that day to have lunch with and then go to the MVMCP ( i decided to go just to the MVMCP since i saw that u can get in to the park at 4pm

64 Dave { 11.07.13 at 7:58 am }

So Leo, you need a character lunch that’s not in a park. Frankly, I can’t think of any such. Chef Mickey’s serves breakfast til 11.30a, but likely has been booked up for months…

65 Sharmon Brannen { 11.07.13 at 9:09 pm }

Hey Dave, I know you are super busy! Please remove my question, as it was never addressed, or not that I saw. Since I have tickets anyway, I guess it really does not matter. Thanks for all the work you put into this site. I have recommended it to several people.

66 Dave { 11.08.13 at 7:32 am }

Sorry, Sharmon! I do miss comments–especially when I’m being whammed with comment spam, as I have been this week–more than 5,000 spam comments a day. Anyway, no one but Disney knows, but the rumor is a max of around 25,000

67 Sharmon Brannen { 11.10.13 at 9:27 am }

Thank you! I am really sorry about all the spam! That has to be really irritating! Please know many of you realllllly appreciate all your hard work and dedication to keeping us informed. There are many sites for WDW information but yours is my first “go to” !

68 Dave { 11.11.13 at 8:18 am }

Thanks Sharmon!!

69 Lori { 11.12.13 at 2:33 am }

We are planning on going to Disney dec.1-6 with a 14 month and almost 3 year old.
Our itinerary
Dec.1 Sunday – downtown disney
Dec. 2 Epcot then disney boardwalk
Dec. 3 Hollywood studio then mickeys Christmas party(I looove Christmas)
Dec 4 magic kingdom
Dec.5th animal kingdom
Dec.6 magic kingdom then head home .
Does this seem like a good plan as far as usual crowds?
Any other suggestions?
Thank you!!

70 Dave { 11.12.13 at 4:04 pm }

Hi Lori, I like which parks you’ve targeted which days…however, with kids that age, you seem over-scheduled, and aimed at some stuff they will have little interest in.

I’d skip the BoardWalk, Epcot, and Downtown Disney, and aim at 3 mornings at MK, the MVMCP party, and a morning each at HS and AK…

71 Lori { 11.13.13 at 8:49 am }

Thanks! I just found out Its a small world is closed dec 2-13. So how busy is the mickeys christmas party on that Sunday dec.1?

72 Dave { 11.13.13 at 10:14 am }

Umm the two don’t really relate, Lori…Touring Plans is forecasting long lines for characters and crowds for the parades that night: Lines for the rides themselves should be trivial 5 to 20 mins for most…

73 John { 11.18.13 at 10:15 am }

I was just wondering I have a 3 year old girl what is some of the must do’s at wdw for the kids? I am also coming down on Jan 20, 2014 until Jan 25 we are staying at the animal kingdom lodge. Will there still be any kind of Christmas stuff up or will that all be gone?

74 Dave { 11.19.13 at 4:23 pm }

Hi John–I’m sorry but I focus on kids 8 and older, with some stuff for 5+, (see this for why: ) so I don’t really have much to offer. Try run by my frined Kuleeen–tell her Dave sent you :)

On the Xmas stuff, yup, it will all be down…

75 ROSY { 12.11.13 at 10:08 am }

Hi Dave
I plan to go to MK in christmas they with my parents who are coming for out country,my mom is in a wc,is any priority for disable to enter the park with out making the early you think we have to be there in christmas day.I’m verry worry now.

76 Dave { 12.12.13 at 7:12 am }

Hi Rosy, for disabilty access, see this:

I would arrive before the park opens. Right now, it’s scheduled to open at 7a for WDW resort hotel guests, and 8a for everybody else

77 Julieann { 12.14.13 at 1:31 pm }

Hi Dave. We were wondering when Disney’s last day/night is to see the Christmas decorations and lights. Thank you

78 Dave { 12.15.13 at 10:20 am }

Hi Julieann, they’ll start coming down around January 4. They don’t disappear overnight, but will likely be gone within a week from then.

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