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

Now available in PDF format!—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

December 2015 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

December   January   February   March   April   May   June    July


December 2015 at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netThis page reviews December 2015 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

Early December, with lower crowds, lower prices, and wonderful Christmas decorations and events, has the best weeks of the year to visit.

Later December with Christmas and New Year’s weeks has the highest crowds and prices of the year.

Park closings to additional guests are common in this period, as are 8a openings and daily morning Extra Magic Hours.

December also has a special party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special evening event–with its own ticket–that has become a family tradition for many.


Early December is one of the less crowded periods at Walt Disney World.

Later December–beginning the 19th in 2015–is the most crowded time of the year at Walt Disney World.

On a crowd scale of 1-11, the week beginning 11/28 has a crowd rating of 3/low, the week beginning 12/5 4/low-plus, the week beginning 12/12 3/low, and the weeks beginning 12/19 and 12/26 11/highest.

However, because of the crowd effects of the Christmas Party, even the first three weeks you can face higher much waits if you go to the parks on the wrong days.  See this for how to avoid these crowds.

See this for more on 2015 crowds at Disney World.


December 2015 prices begin 10% higher than the lowest of the year at the values, 8% higher at the moderates, and 10% higher at the deluxes.

On 12/11, they increase to 45% higher than the lowest of the year at the values, 30% higher at the moderates and 16% higher at the deluxes.

On 12/18 prices go to 80% higher than the lowest of the year at the values, 50% higher at the moderates, and 33% higher at the deluxes.

Value and moderate prices stay at this level the rest of the month; prices at the deluxes go up one more time on 12/25 to 55% higher than the lowest of the year, and stay at this level the rest of the month.

See this for more on 2015 resort hotel prices at Walt Disney World.


Deals are available for December 2015. Details are here.


Average temperatures trend down over December, and weather becomes quite variable.  Days can be perfect, or quite cool.

Disney World Temperatures and Percentile Distribution Click the image, or go to Weather and When to Go to Disney World, for more on temperatures.


December brings delightful Christmas festivities to Disney World:

  • At the Magic KingdomMickey’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 2015, November 7
  • 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 typically 6p.


New Year’s Eve festivities and fireworks will happen on December 31, 2015 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 New Year’s Eve fireworks, but will–for the first time– be offering a “New Year’s Eve Street Parti” in Africa’s Harambe Market from 3:30p to 8:30p.

Hours may be extended, but here’s what’s currently scheduled:

  • 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 until 2a
  • The Magic Kingdom will have Wishes at 6.30p, and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.50p
  • Epcot will have its Illuminations fireworks show at 6p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have fireworks at midnight
  • 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.


Park operating hours vary by the day, and sometimes change without notice. It is rare for hours to be shorter than Disney has publicized, but Disney may lengthen them in response to unanticipated crowds.

The best way to keep up with operating hours is to check Disney’s official calendars, usually available six months in advance.

These calendars can be found by clicking the following links:


The week rankings that follow below are from 2015 weeks to visit, ranked in order, and are designed for first-time visitors who do not know whether or not they will return.

Disney World 2015 Week Rankings from (960x1280)

Click the image for a calendar view of 2015 weeks (when open, keep clicking to enlarge.)

  • 11/28/2015  Low prices at values and deluxes, moderate prices in moderates. Low crowds. Crowd ranking=3.  Week ranking=1. Recommended week. Use the Basic December Itinerary, but swap Wednesday and Thursday
  • 12/5/2015  Pop Warner Week. Low prices at values and deluxes, moderate prices in moderates. Low-plus crowds. Crowd ranking=4.  Week ranking=2. Recommended week. Use the Basic December Itinerary, but swap Wednesday and Thursday
  • 12/12/2015  High prices at values and moderates, moderate-plus prices in deluxes. Low crowds. Crowd ranking=3.  Week ranking=3. Recommended week. Use the Basic December Itinerary, but swap Wednesday and Thursday
  • 12/19/2015  Christmas week. Highest prices at values and moderates, higher prices in deluxes.   Highest crowds. Crowd ranking=11. Week ranking=45. Use the FastPass+ Higher Crowd Itinerary, but swap Tuesday and Wednesday in both the itinerary and its To-Do List
  • 12/26/2015  Christmas week. Highest prices at values, moderates, and deluxes.   Highest crowds. Crowd ranking=11. Week ranking=47. Use the FastPass+ Higher Crowd Itinerary, but swap Tuesday and Wednesday in both the itinerary and its To-Do List


Want a second opinion?  Then check out my book lol.

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1 Debbie { 05.14.15 at 3:20 pm }

Hi we are going to Disney World during one your recommended weeks (thanks a lot btw) and have a quick question. We are going to Magic Kingdom on a party day. When booking FP+, do the times have to be before the party begins or can we book them for during it? (we are arriving the day we do MK and the party so we will be at parks by 3:30) If the FP+ have to be before the party, would they be booked for before 4pm or 7pm? Thanks a lot!

2 Dave { 05.16.15 at 11:20 am }

Debbie, there are no FP+ during the party, so all FP+ windows offered will end by the official start time, 7p.

3 KE { 05.25.15 at 9:52 am }

Just wondering if there were any calendars available for after November 30th? That’s as far in advance as I can see hours, etc…THANKS!

4 Dave { 05.26.15 at 8:12 am }

KE, see this for December: January should be out in 2 or 3 weeks.

5 KE { 05.26.15 at 9:15 pm }

Why I love this site, Dave!

THANKS so much! :)

6 Dave { 05.27.15 at 8:42 am }

:) KE

7 Nakita { 06.02.15 at 1:19 pm }

Hello! This may be a foolish question, but I’ve never been to Disney outside of spring/summer. I’ll be at MK on 12/14. Will the princesses and other characters be around for autographs just like any other time of year?

8 Dave { 06.02.15 at 5:14 pm }

Hi Nakita, yes they are!!

9 Jeff { 06.09.15 at 12:12 am }

First, the book is great and I am looking forward to putting your advice into action. We will be visiting December 12th-19th. We want to attend the Christmas Party on a separate night and we would prefer a day in between each park day, if possible (two small kids, three old grandparents). Our plan is MK one day, MVMCP one night and HS one day. My dilemma is which days to visit each park/event. We are staying off-site so would prefer to avoid EMH if we can. I was thinking:
Sun 13th – MK
Tues 15th – MVMCP
Thurs 17h – HS

Do you think this is a solid plan or would you recommend a different itinerary? I would love to end at MK or MVMCP but am worried the crowds will be higher on Thursday (17th). Any advice would be appreciated.


10 Dave { 06.09.15 at 7:59 am }

Hey Jeff, glad you love the book!! The 17th would be fine at MK, but not the 13th at HS, so your best bet is MK the 15th and MVMCP the 17th.

11 Jeff { 06.09.15 at 1:05 pm }

Thanks for the quick response, Dave!! I am a little confused though. You said HS would not be good for the 13th (EMH, I assume). Did you mean to suggest we do MK on the 13th and MVMCP on the 17th? Leaving the 15th for HS? Thanks again!

12 Brett { 06.10.15 at 6:11 pm }

Hi Dave, thanks for the great info. My family of 5 (me, wife, boys 14, 14, 16) is planning what feels like a last minute trip this December 11-19 after we received a special promo offer in the mail. Two quick things. First, which parks do you recommend on which day. We have a late flight on both days, so we cant do a park on arriving day but we can go on departure day. Next, we heard the Osborne Holiday lights at HS are rumored to be closed when we go. On my promo letter, Disney writes about the Light Show so I thought it will be open. I want to have a professional opinion because I’m worried we’ll miss it when we go.. Thanks for the help in advance.

13 Brett { 06.10.15 at 6:20 pm }

Sorry I forgot to mention, our flight arrives at Orlando International Airport at 6:25pm, when do you think its safe for us to book dinner, I was thinking 9:30 at our resort or a nearby one. Speaking of resorts, which do you prefer for my type of family (see above), Poly standard room, Poly deluxe studio or wilderness lodge villas deluxe studio. Thanks again!

14 Dave { 06.11.15 at 7:21 am }

Oh Jeff, sorry to be an idiot! Yes that’s what I meant…

15 Dave { 06.11.15 at 7:36 am }

Brett, Osborne should be on this year.

The 11th, avoid AK
The 12th, avoid HS and MK
The 13th, avoid HS
The 14th avoid MK
the 15th avoid Epcot
The 16th avoid AK and MK
The 17th avoid Epcot
The 18th avoid AK
The 19th avoid HS and MK

16 Dave { 06.11.15 at 7:41 am }

Honestly, Brett, with such a late arrival I would not book a dinner that night. You have plenty of time on your trip, and things happen, so having one less schedule item to worry about on your arrival may be helpful. That said, 9.30p at the Poly or GF or Contemporary should be fine.

I’ve been struggling to define a sharp reason for picking the Studios vs a standard room because of the mix of pros and cons. See this and then this for the details so you can decide for yourself.

17 Sue { 06.14.15 at 11:57 am }

Hi Dave,
So this is my itinerary – had some success with my 180 day ADR’s last week and will get 4 day pass.

We will be in Orlando from Dec 5 to the 12- staying off-site until Dec 8 when we come to stay at the Grand Floridian.

Dec 7- at AK as you suggested, lunch reservation? made at Rainforest cafe but I didn’t think they accepted reservations- do most off-site hotels (on International blvd. perhaps offer shuttle buses to the parks? or should I drive with my rental car?)
Dec 8- check in to Grand Floridian- booked dinner at the GF cafe
Dec 9- MK and dinner at Chef Mickey’s- will go to MK after dinner for street party and fireworks
Dec 10- Cindy’s table booked for Breakfast, no dinner booked but will eat at MK, bought tickets to the Very Merry Christmas party that night; will go for part of the day to MK and back later for the part- not intended on spending the whole day there
Dec 11- MK during the day, booked dinner at GF Citricos, may go on monorail after dinner to see some of the other resort christmas displays or maybe downtown disney and pack
Dec 12- have to check out by 11 so won’t do MK but may do downtown disney on our way out on our way to the airport

any other thoughts? too ambitious? I splurged on the xmas tickets for the 10th. We will play it by ear in terms of how long we may spend at the MK park on the days we go but with a 5 year old would you recommend some park time in the morning and going back in the afternoon after some down time at the hotel.
Your insights are so valuable and thanks for the tips.

18 Dave { 06.15.15 at 7:53 am }

Hi Sue! Many off-site hotels have shuttles, and they typically are lousy–they start too late and are too infrequent. Check the schedule when you arrive then decide whether or not to use your car. Yes Rainforest does take reservations, both via Disney and via its own system. With kids that age, if you can get them up, mornings and evenings in the parks (no evenings, though, at AK) with the afternoon off tend to work best.

19 Jeff { 07.09.15 at 11:11 pm }

Hi Dave,
We have 2 day magic your way tickets (no hopper) and tickets for MVMCP on Dec 17th. My plan was to go to MK on the 13th & HS on the 15th. However, the recent closures at HS and the rumors about more to come make me wonder if HS is worth a full day anymore. We will have a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old boy with us along with three grandparents. Is spending two days at MK and going to the Christmas Party too much Magic Kingdom? We think Epcot is too grown up for the kids. We know we will be back in a couple of years. Maybe shelf HS until the (rumored) expansion is complete? I’d love your thoughts.



20 Dave { 07.11.15 at 9:33 am }

Jeff, on HS despite the closures it’s still hard to design a one day itinerary that covers everything for older kids. That’s becasue the rides closed are largely minor and the shows are hard to fit. If there’s a lot there you would skip anyway because of the ages–Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller, Star Tours, Fantasmic–then AK or MK might be a better choice, but not becasue of the closure of the e.g. the Animation Academy. You have, frankly, three great choices–HS, another day at MK, and AK. I don’t think any of these would be an error.

21 Patrick { 07.21.15 at 8:24 pm }

I know Disney has posted December hours, but what are the chances they will be extended? We’ll be in MK 12/20 & the posted closing time is 11 pm. Any guess on what it will be by that day?

22 Dave { 07.22.15 at 8:31 am }

Patrick, the first hours posted are always very conservative. They are usually updated and expanded the month before. For the final hours last year, see this.

23 Shay { 07.31.15 at 4:37 pm }

Hi Dave,

Its been awhile since I’ve been to Walt Disney and it the first time my children will be experiencing a Disney Christmas vacation. We’ll be there 12/15-12/18. Any suggestions on places to avoid and places they are great for families. My children are 2 yrs old and an 11 year old. Hope you can help! Love your site!

24 Wendy { 08.02.15 at 12:03 pm }

Help! I just do not know which way to go for our 3 days at WDW in Nov. We have two days at Cabana Bay and then we move to WDW. We are, at this time, in a Royal Guest Room at Port Orleans Riverside with the room only discount. The place looks great (your book made me check it out!) – and since it is not our one and only time – we thought it was a good fit for us.

Now, I see a studio at Poly for about 130 more a night (may be gone by the time I make a choice!) We will be going to MK for the MVMCP and then two days at Epcot…so the location of Poly would be good. I do not love the theming, but the pool looks very nice. The construction is an issue – 130 more night to look at a hole in the ground? and to hear construction noise? I know that question of “worth it” is crazy, BUT what might you suggest?



25 Wendy { 08.02.15 at 12:09 pm }

I have no idea why I posted that question here – sorry! I thought I had picked the Nov section…yikes.

26 Dave { 08.03.15 at 7:25 am }

Hi Shay! Those dates,

12/15 Avoid Epcot
12/16 Avoid Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom
12/17 Avoid Epcot
12/18 Avoid Animal Kingdom

27 Dave { 08.03.15 at 7:31 am }

Wendy, with 3 days at WDW you won’t be spending much time in your room. So I would put little emphasis on the construction at the Poly. If you can afford it, I’d stay there for sure at that price.

28 Wendy { 08.03.15 at 5:48 pm }


29 Wendy { 08.03.15 at 5:55 pm }

Oh, all – the room is no longer available…

30 Wendy { 08.03.15 at 5:56 pm }

Oh, well…not oh, all.

31 Claudia { 09.02.15 at 12:29 pm }


Once again I am going to WDW during Christmas week (dec 19 to 27). Last time I had absolutely no problems regarding crowd levels, as I would arrive at MK at 7am, return to the hotel at noon and go back to MK at 9pm and stay until 2 or 3 am. I have been checking the schedule for this year and I don’t see the 8am opening and everyday am and pm EMH. Is this normal? I am starting to get very worried, as with regular opening hours at the parks my plan to avoid crowds will not work… Thanks a lot!!

32 Dave { 09.03.15 at 12:20 pm }

Claudia, Disney for w while now has posted limited hours at the 6 months, then done a major update a month before. So don’t panic–I expect to see lots of 8a opens and 7a EMH to be posted in mid-November…

33 audrey { 09.06.15 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Dave I have a family of 7 ranging from 16. 13, 7 ,1 3 months wanting to stay the 19 through the 22 what rate or package would that cost us

34 Dave { 09.08.15 at 12:31 pm }

Audrey, that’s among the most expensive (and corded) times of the year, so I can’t recommend it, particularly for such a short visit. The lodging price will vary by which hotel you are in–they will run those dates from around $200 per night per room (you’d need two) to almost a thousand per night. Tickets will cost more than $300 per person three or older.

35 Jeanne { 11.17.15 at 5:52 pm }

I’m overwhelmed, it’s just me and my husband for two days (Dec 13 & 14) in Epcot. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been there and he’s never been there (late 50″s). I love the countries and just want to show his around but, I’m so confused on where to go and making dinner reservations. Any two day plans for us?

36 Dave { 11.18.15 at 9:41 am }

Jeanne, almost all my itineraries have a day and a partial day in Epcot. See this for one adapted to the holiday season (ignore the days of the week–your two days are just fine.

Note you have to get your FastPass+ ASAP.

A fuller two day Epcot itinerary is in my book.

37 Jazmine { 12.06.15 at 11:43 pm }

Hi I have a question,
We are going to WDW on Dec 12th. That’s not one of the dates of the party (they were all sold out) will they still have the Christmas parade and the lighting of the castle? What is the difference from one day to another?


38 Dave { 12.08.15 at 6:38 am }

Jazmine, on regular days you see the regular evening parade and regular fireworks, not the Xmas parade or Xmas fireworks. The caste lighting–and lighting show–is the same on both types of days. Ride waits are MUCH higher on regular days.

39 Wendy Petty { 01.03.16 at 2:08 pm }

Happy New Year:) I’m trying to start planning and budgeting for a Christmas at Disney surprise for my kids this Christmas 2016. We wanted something different and wanted to go when it wasn’t so dreadfully hot. I was always told Disney around Christmas wasn’t super crowded and of course the weather is great, however after reading the information on his site I’m having second thoughts about our decision going on Christmas. It’s 2 adults and 3 children (9, 8, and 7). What parks do you recommend? Which onsite villas/hotels would be the best? We are flying in on Christmas and are looking at staying 3-4 days. Any suggestions would be great. I haven’t been in 30 years, so I have no idea AT ALL!

40 Dave { 01.03.16 at 5:23 pm }

Wendy, the two weeks that include Xmas and New Years are, by far, the most crowded and expensive of the year, and have always been so. Earlier December, however, is a great choice.

My hotel and park recommendations, etc, are all linked to from here:

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