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

Basic 2017 December Disney World Itinerary

By Dave Shute

This draft Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving 2017. Once Disney posts its December calendar–in mid-late May–I’ll update it, if needed, and also add detailed daily plans.

If you aren’t going one of those weeks, see Other Itineraries for alternatives the rest of the year, which are published about six months ahead.

You can enlarge the basic itinerary by clicking it. For a printable PDF version, click here.

A detailed draft To-Do List covers all the planning steps you need to undertake. And I’ll publish detailed daily guidance as soon as I can after Disney’s December 2017 calendar is out.


The basic December itinerary was designed to meet several goals: to ensure that you

  1. See the best that Walt Disney World has to offer, including all of its special Christmas season offerings
  2. See the parks in the order that works best for kids (essentially Epcot first, as it is potentially the most disappointing, and the Magic Kingdom last, as it is likely to be the best loved)
  3. Avoid unnecessary waiting, by using FastPass+ and other tactics…
  4. Given all the evening shows and late nights, have as few early mornings as practical

The 2017 version differs from previous ones in a couple of ways:

  • It incorporates the new Avatar: World of Pandora land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • It now has two evenings in Disney’s Hollywood Studios so that you can see both evening shows there (as I write this, it’s unknown whether the Star Wars show there will be replaced with the holiday show Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!, so one evening is reserved for Fantasmic, and one evening for one or the other of the other two).
  • It uses the Rivers of Light dining package at Tusker House to save a FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom. This added meal, plus the two evenings at the Studios, has caused some dining re-shuffling.  All the latest dining material is in the To-Do List.

If you can’t do the dates required for the Basic Itinerary, see Other Itineraries for alternatives for both the December week and the rest of the year.
The 2017 easy Guide

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1 Mimi { 05.14.17 at 12:42 pm }

Hi Dave, thank you so much for posting this December itinerary! If you would be kind enough to critique our preliminary park plans below (on a 5-day park ticket), I would be so appreciative! Also, do you know if MK is closing early on 11/30 for a cast event?
Sat 11/25- Arrive
11/26- AK
11/27- MK
11/28- Free day
11/29- EP
11/30- HS
12/1- MK
12/2- Free day
Sun 12/3- Depart

2 Dave { 05.15.17 at 7:14 am }

Hi Mimi, the park is closing the 30th at 4.30p, and I have heard it’s for a cast member event. Monday will be quite busy at MK, and Friday will likely have morning EMH–if you are eligible for them and can make it by 7.30a then it will be a good day.

3 Mimi { 05.15.17 at 1:25 pm }

Thank you! 🙂

4 Nikki { 05.15.17 at 3:16 pm }

Thoughts on December 3rd-8th! First time visit and will have a 5 year old and 1 year old. Looking forward to it.

5 Chantelle { 05.16.17 at 3:21 pm }

Hi Dave,
Can you let me know how I should adjust this for our travel dates?
November 29th-December 7th (leaving early so no park on dec, 7th)

6 Dave { 05.18.17 at 7:39 am }

Hi Nikki, I can’t really comment until the December calendar comes out, which should happen within a week. So ping me back next week, OK? (And sorry for taking so long to get back to you–I’ve been on the road for my day job…)

7 Dave { 05.18.17 at 7:44 am }

Chantelle, specifically I can’t until the December calendar comes out (which should be within a week), and generally my itineraries, which are integrated and sequenced to exact days in a specific order, don’t re-shape well. But ping me next week and I will help as much as I can.

8 Angela { 05.27.17 at 4:20 pm }

Hi Dave, I notice Chef Mickey is no longer on the sample 2017 itinerary and neither is Akershus but they are both ranked pretty high in your character dining ranking. Any reason for this ?

9 Dave { 05.28.17 at 2:14 pm }

Hi Angela, it’s a little convoluted, but here’s what happened and my thinking

–For 2017, I added a new table service, Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining package. This saves critical AK FP+, but means I had to cut a table service elsewhere.

Tusker House is a Mickey and the gang meal, so it’s redundant with Chef Mickey’s. On the other hand, Akershus is mostly redundant with Cinderella’s Royal Table. So I decided to cut both redundancies, and add Crystal Palace instead!

10 Jeff { 06.01.17 at 11:20 am }

Any idea what’s going on with Disney releasing the December calendar? I’m a little over a week away from ADRs for my trip starting Dec 9, and still no word that I’ve seen. Isn’t December usually out by now?

11 Dave { 06.04.17 at 11:40 am }

Jeff, yes it usually is, at I have some hope–and that’s all it is, hope–that it’ll be out today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile the park calendars are just advancing a day for each day that passes, and are out through December 11, as of this morning…

12 Amanda { 06.24.17 at 11:13 am }

Hello Dave! I just bought your book and can’t wait to start reading it! My family of 6 will be at Disney Dec. 13-21, staying at a 2-bedroom in OKW. This is the initiatory I have so far- any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Wed, 13- drive down from SC and relax at OKW; dinner at Olivia’s
Thurs, 14- MK; hoping to get PPO BOG, dinner at Contempo Cafe and dessert at Poly
Fri, 15- AK, lunch at Tusker
Sat, 16- Epcot; lunch at San Angel
Sun, 17- AK, lunch at Yak & Yeti
Mon, 18- HS, lunch at Sci-Fi
Tues, 19- Epcot- Bon Voyage breakfast and dinner at Garden Grill
Wed, 20- MK; breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, can’t decide on dinner!!
Thurs, 21- check out and move to Universal!

13 Dave { 06.25.17 at 7:25 am }

Hi Amanda! Unless you picked the 20th at MK specifically to see Happily Ever After, I’d advise swapping Weds and Tues, as MK will be mobbed the 20th. Otherwise all is well!

You dining looks fine. You might want to make your Tusker House lunch a Rivers of Light package, as that will save you a FastPass+

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