By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Thanksgiving 2015 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Thanksgiving 2014 at Disney World

Thanksgiving week at Walt Disney World is busy–particularly Wednesday through Saturday.

While not as crowded as some other holiday weeks–Easter and Christmas, for example–it can be very challenging, and the material below gives some hints on how to deal with it.


Park schedules indicate that this site’s FastPass+ Itinerary for High-Crowd Weeks mostly works for Thanksgiving Week, with one change and one however.

  • The change is that you need to swap First Sunday and Wednesday in both the itinerary and its To-Do List.
  • The however is that the parks–especially the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom–likely will open an hour earlier than it indicates many days Thanksgiving week, and may also have morning Extra Magic Hours added as well–making the day start two hours earlier than indicated on the itineraries.

So you’ll need to stay in touch with schedules–even on the night before–to make sure when you need to arrive to beat park openings.  As these openings are announced I’ll update this page, but see below for links to Disney’s calendars.

Moreover, a couple of other things are worth noting.

First, this itinerary has you off on Thanksgiving morning, and at the Animal Kingdom park Thanksgiving afternoon, with all meals at counter service joints.

Believe me–that’s a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving.  Animal Kingdom likely will be the least crowded park, and you’ll need a low-impact day by this point in your vacation anyway.

However, if you are looking for something both more formal and fun in your Thanksgiving dinner (not necessarily in menu, but in ambiance and waiters and such), then consider moving your Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue reservations from First Sunday evening (changed from Wednesday, remember?) to Thursday evening.

A more formal option would be to take advantage of the nearness of the Animal Kingdom Lodge–just a short bus ride away–and book dinner at Boma or Jiko there.

Note that to get a sit-down meal on Thanksgiving it’s critical that you make your dining reservations well in advance. See this for more.


Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Epcot is open thirty minutes later, and a special Christmas version of Illuminations is shown nightly at 9.30p rather than 9p. Moreover, the Candlelight Processional also begins the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Even though Epcot will be quite crowded Friday, you may wish to swap the Monday and Friday itineraries to see these elements of Epcot’s Christmas program.


You can get updated park operating hours when you arrive at Walt Disney World. If you want to know what’s up before then, check the park calendars a day or so before you depart for Florida, and then while you are there as well.

Click the links for park calendars

And Disney veterans–please feel free to add more suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner at Walt Disney World to the comment box below!

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1 Michelle { 04.21.15 at 3:31 pm }

We are planning a trip with our 7 year old to Daytona Beach the week of November 21 -November 26. Do to budget, we are only planning one day at Disney (Magic Kingdom) and I am curious to what day you would suggest us to go there for the least crowds? Since it is only one day, I want to try to make it as enjoyable as possible!

2 Dave { 04.23.15 at 7:59 am }

Michelle, all days are crowded during Thanksgiving week, but 11/22 is your best bet.

3 Annahleise { 10.13.15 at 11:11 am }

We will be traveling to Disney for Thanksgiving. We will have the 26-30 for parks. Do you have a recommendation for which park which day?

4 Dave { 10.14.15 at 4:53 pm }

Hi Annahleise!

The 26th the best park, hands down, is the Animal Kingdom
The 27th, any park but AK
The 28th, avoid MK and HS
The 29th avoid HS
The 30th avoid MK

5 CJ { 10.16.15 at 10:16 am }

We will be at Disney World 11/22-11/24, then Universal Studios 11/25-11/26, and last Day at Disney World 11/27. What parks do you recommend on those days? My plan is 11/22 – AK, 11/23 – Epcot, 11/24 – MK and 11/27 – HS. Would you recommend different days than what I have planned at WDW?

6 Dave { 10.17.15 at 11:07 am }

CJ, your WDW park choices look sound to me!

7 Maribel Diaz { 10.19.15 at 1:47 pm }

Hi, first of all I love your post, it has been so helpful. We will be going 11/23-11/28. I read your recommendations for 11/26-/11/28 but what are your suggestions for the beginning of the week? Thank you so much!

8 Dave { 10.21.15 at 2:12 pm }


11/23 avoid MK
11/24 avoid Epcot
11/25 avoid AK and MK

9 Sonya { 10.31.15 at 5:54 pm }

Hi I’m trying to take my daughter there from 11/26 through 11/28. Tight budget. Any recommendations for cheaper flight and hotel. Thank you

10 Dave { 11.01.15 at 9:22 am }

Sonya, can’t help much on flights, and given that’s Thanksgiving you’ll find a hard time with cheaper fares. That’s a crowded time at Disney World, so Disney’s least expensive hotels may well be sold out, but take a look at All-Star Music.

There are much better times to go…if you’d like help picking, see this for a start.

11 Madelyn Barron { 11.03.15 at 11:12 pm }

Hey! we are going to Disney on the 11/19-11/27 we have a 3 and yr old and are trying to find the best attractions for their age. I know MK is a must but what do you think the best days would be? we have a 4 day park hopper pass any suggestions. Also is a fast pass a must I’ve gotten mixed reviews on them, and we haven’t reserved anything yet. I’m afraid we waited to long and will miss out on fun attractions for the kids like character meals. Help!!

12 Dave { 11.04.15 at 9:02 am }

Madelyn, I need the age of the second child. FastPass+ is a must do–you will waste hours without it, and lines will already be long other than the first few days of your visit, as Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest of the year at WDW. And yes, the most popular meals will have booked months ago.

Honestly, if at all possible, I would reschedule, picking a much better week and starting much earlier with you bookings…

13 jan { 11.12.15 at 7:20 pm }

Are there any Bands playing Thanksgiving week. We saw Andy Grammer was there today. Any Christmas specials being taped ? Thanks

14 Mariela { 11.13.15 at 11:14 am }

My husband and I will be taking our daughter to Disney for the first time from 11/23-11/27. We’ll get to the hotel at 3pm on 11/23, is there anything you would recommend at that time? I was thinking Magic Kingdom on 11/24, Hollywood Studios and Epcot 11/25 (Would the hopper pass be a good idea for this?) and universal studios on 11/26.

15 Dave { 11.13.15 at 11:46 am }

Jan, no on the Xmas specials, and I don’t think there’s any bands.

16 Dave { 11.13.15 at 11:47 am }

Mariela, how old is your daughter?

17 S { 11.15.15 at 5:34 pm }

We have the option of going to MK on either Nov. 25 or 26th (Thanksgiving). Would one day be better than the other in terms of crowds, or probably the same either way?

18 Dave { 11.17.15 at 11:30 am }

S, Each is a bad day, but Thursday will be worse.

19 Mariela { 11.20.15 at 8:38 pm }

My daughter is 10

20 Dave { 11.22.15 at 11:50 am }

Mariela, MK the 24th is fine. Epcot is not a good choice the 25th. Everyplace will be busy the 26th except the Animal Kingdom. You need to get your FastPass+ right now or will face massive waits–most are likely already gone.

21 Mandy { 05.11.16 at 12:30 pm }


I was going to plan a trip to Disney over Thanksgiving week since my 5 year old will have off school and then I have another daughter will just have turned 2. We were going to go to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. (one day spent at each) and I wanted to know which days would be best for which parks? I am trying to find a different week but it is hard to do without taking my daughter out of school for an entire week and summers are too hot.



22 Dave { 05.11.16 at 12:42 pm }

Mandy the best AK days among those are Tuesday (best) Weds and Friday

The best MK days are Tuesday (best) and Friday

23 Amy { 05.25.16 at 10:18 am }

We are planning WDW 11/21-11-25 for 2016. Does this schedule sound ok: 11/21-MK, 11/22-AK, 11/23-Epcot, 11/24-MK, & 11/25-HS? If I should switch any please let me know. Thanks!!

24 Dave { 05.27.16 at 1:16 pm }

Amy, there are several of these I’d switch. See this for specifics:

25 Claudia Isabella { 11.20.16 at 3:35 am }

We are new residents of Florida and want to have Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney. We are 4 adults. What do you suggest for the best place to have lunch/dinner on Thanksgiving Day?

26 Dave { 11.20.16 at 10:47 am }

Claudia, I’m sorry to say that anything I would recommend booked up months ago.

27 viola { 03.06.17 at 9:30 pm }

spending thanksgiveing in ebcot any suggestions for a good dinner this is a family of 5 adults my children are both in the militery son 22, and daughter 23 and son inlaw 25 so we would like a nice dinner at ebcot any good placed on that day, i was leaning tored Germany, but they might want a turkey dinner is that possible

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