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.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Category — 6. The Christmas Season at Walt Disney World

December 2017 at Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: DECEMBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews December 2017 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 has the highest crowds and prices of the year.

Park closings to additional guests are possible in this later December period, as are 8a openings and more morning Extra Magic Hours than other weeks.

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.

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June 13, 2017   No Comments

Christmas 2017 at Walt Disney World

OVERVIEW: CHRISTMAS 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

The 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.

THE CHRISTMAS SEASON AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

December crowds at Walt Disney World begin at lower levels. They will begin to build on 12/22, and by 12/24 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 2, 2018. Crowds will still be high–though not at the holiday levels–through January 7.

AK-Christmas Mickey and Minnie at Disney's Animal Kingdom from yourfirstvisit.net

Walt Disney World resort hotel December prices at the beginning of the month are at one of the lower levels of the year.

Prices increase 12/10, again 12/15, and again 12/22, ending at the highest levels of the year.

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

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Christmas 2014 at Walt Disney World form yourfirstvisit.net
Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (and likely Hollywood Studios) have special Christmas events, which will begin in early November at Magic Kingdom, mid-November at the Studios, and right after Thanksgiving at Epcot.

  • At the Magic KingdomMickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights from November 8 through December 22nd. Later in December, 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 2017, November 8.
  • At the Studios, in 2016 the Christmas projection show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! kicked off on November 14. I don’t know if it will return for 2017.
  • 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 are fully in place the Friday after Thanksgiving–November 24 in 2017.

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2017 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

New Year’s Eve festivities have not yet been announced, but based on past practices will occur December 31, 2017 at Disney World’s Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30. The Animal Kingdom in the past has had no special New Years events, but may well in 2017.

Based on the past, the schedule will look like this:

  • Epcot will be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until at least midnight, and the Magic Kingdom until 1a or later
  • The Magic Kingdom likely will have Happily Ever After at 7.30p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.48p
  • Epcot likely will have its Illuminations fireworks show at 6p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios likely will have fireworks at midnight
  • There may be a New Years Eve show at the Animal Kingdom–the first ever
  • Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom (other than at a few restaurants), but is available at the other three parks

The Magic Kingdom likely will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30/17. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.
The 2017 easy Guide

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June 12, 2017   No Comments

Disney World Crowds: Christmas 2017 and New Year’s 2017/2018

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS FROM LATER DECEMBER 2017 TO EARLY JANUARY 2018

Disney World sees its highest crowds and prices of the year in the later third of December and the beginning of January, in the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This is for a pretty basic reason: kids are out of school then.

However, not every school district has the same break schedule.

In 2017, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s than before or after.

Unlike 2016, because of the Monday Christmas (the first since 2006), there’s not a lot of kids out the week before Christmas. Crowds the first part of the week of December 16 will be fine, but will build at the end of the week and be massive by December 23, 2017.

The week after New Years in 2018 has many more kids on break than usual, so I expect it to be heavily crowded through January 8, 2017.

SCHOOL BREAKS AND DISNEY WORLD CROWDS

Most years, there two typical sorts of breaks:

  • Long breakers–districts that take at least 2 full weeks (and three weekends) off
  • Short breakers–districts that take off as close to only December 25 to January 1 as they can

As a result, the period Christmas-New Years is always mobbed at Disney World, as everyone is out of school then, but the periods before and after vary from year to year depending on what day of the week Christmas falls.

In 2017, a Monday Christmas put long-break districts in the position having to pick when to schedule their second week–before Christmas weekend, or after New Years. Enough put it after New Year’s that I expect to see heavy crowds that week.

Note that I had originally forecast the week beginning 12/16/2017 as “high crowds.” However, more long-break schools than I’d expected put their second week in January rather than December, so I am now calling that a moderate-plus crowd week–which is the combined effect of moderate-minus early in the week and high late in the week.

ACTUAL 2017-2018 CHRISTMAS SEASON SCHOOL BREAKS

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including more than 270 of the largest relevant US public school districts with almost a third–more than 15 million–of total US school kids included.

The holidays are red, the weekends black, and weekdays blue.  Click the image enlarge it.

You can see that some breaks begin Saturday the 16th, with hardly any kids on break before then. More kids go on break beginning the 2oth, and by the 23rd everyone is on break.

Pretty much everybody stays out of school through January 1, 2018, and while many go back to school January 2 or 3rd, almost 40% of US schoolkids remain on break through January 7.

The 2017 easy Guide

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May 29, 2017   2 Comments

To-Do List for the 2017 Basic December Itinerary

This To-Do List is for the 2017 Basic December Itinerary. For To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.

A. MORE THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR PLANNED ARRIVAL DATE

(Note that a good travel agent, such as Kelly at Destinations in Florida at 980-429-4499 or at Kelly@DestinationsInFlorida.com can do almost all of this for you, for free. If you use Destinations in Florida as your travel agent and tell them you came from this site, then they share a bit of the pixie dust they get from Disney with me.)

1. Confirm your budget, planned dates, intended hotel, kids’ development and heights, and your transportation choice and its availability for your planned dates.

2. Make your plane reservations, if flying. Make any other needed transportation arrangements.

3. Create your My Disney Experience account here and add your family members to it

4. Set up your hotel and tickets. Call 407-939-7675 (preferred, because this allows you to tell the reservationist which building at your resort you wish to be in), or click here to use Disney’s online system.

  • If you are following my itinerary, you want the hotel you’ve picked for 8 nights, nine day, no hopper tickets, the Dining Plan, and Disney’s Magical Express
  • You also wantto order your MVMCP tickets for your planned date there. These may not be on sale until later May or even later.
  • Itineraries other than mine will have different requirements here

B. 181 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.net1. Login to your MyDisneyExperience.com account, click the “Things to Do” tab at top right, under Dining hit “Make Reservations,” and practice trying to reserve restaurants (hint: use the search box at the upper right).

This may well drive you crazy, but the site works better than it used to…and is likely the only way you can get your Cindy reservations done! (as the site opens up a new reservable day at 6a, whereas the phone reservation line opens at 7a).

2. Collect your planned restaurant reservations together. You will want to do them online in order of hardest to reserve first. This is how they are listed below. Note that the two dining packages–Rivers of Light and Candlelight Processional–may not go on sale until later in the summer.

C. EXACTLY 6am EST, EXACTLY 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

1. Be on the restaurant website by at least 5:50am EST, and have your Cindy reservation all set up on the page. Keep refreshing, as you will be let in as soon as Disney’s system decides it is 6a.

2. Make the following reservations in the exact order listed (the two dinner packages may not yet be open for booking at 180 days):

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Thursday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Thursday 6.15p show. The later time will keep you up later than you need to be, OK if all you can get. Avoid the earlier time–it’ll cut into your park time too much
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan, one credit) Second Saturday 6p.  Later is OK, but not a whole lot earlier as you have a late lunch this day
  • Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining Package (dining plan, one credit). First Sunday 5.30p. You can schedule for as late as Disney will allow you to do so, but not earlier.
  • San Angel Inn as Candlelight Processional Dining Package (dining plan, two credits): Friday 5.45p. Can be earlier but not later.

For any you don’t make online, make them by calling call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)

D. 60 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

Liking the Name on This MagicBand1. Go to your MyDisneyExperience account at 7am and set up the following FastPass+

  • First Saturday evening at Epcot: Book just one, Test Track, for 6-7p
  • First Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids. Set Na’vi for 10-11a, Nemo 11.30 to 11.45 for the noon show, and Kali River Rapids at 12:40p
  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Toy Story Midway Mania. Tier Two: Star Tours and Frozen Sing-Along. Set Toy Story Midway Mania for 1.30-2.30p, Star Tours for 2.30 to 3.30p, and the Frozen Sing Along for after.
  • Tuesday at Epcot: Frozen Ever After 12.30-1.30p, Mission Space 1.30-2.30p, Spaceship Earth 2.30-3.30p
  • Wednesday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Tier Two: Tower of Terror and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Set Voyage for 12.30-1.30p, Tower of Terror for 2.30-3.30p, and Rock ‘n’ Roller for 3.30-4.30p.
  • Thursday at Magic Kingdom: Book FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain. Design the times for them around the time of your reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table, and don’t set one for 2.30-3.30p, as you will need that time for the afternoon parade. (A FP+ 2-3p and/or 3-4p is OK, as you can use them at the beginning of the 2p window or end of the 3p window without interrupting your parade viewing.
  • Friday at Epcot: Soarin’ 11a-noon, Living with the Land noon-1p, Turtle Talk with Crush 2p show
  • Second Saturday at Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1-2p, Peter Pan’s Flight 2-3p, Haunted Mansion 3-4p
  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage and Festival of the Lion King. Set Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a, and Festival of the Lion King for 10.30-10.45a for the 11a show.

2. Do online check in, requesting as you do special location points

3. Customize your MagicBands

E. NOTES ON PACKING ETC. BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Bring your MagicBands in your carry-ons

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport unless you arrive late in the evening/at night or are an international traveler. Disney will get them for you and, eventually, deliver them directly to your room. Your bags may arrive hours after you do; so, depending on the weather forecasts, have a carry-on with an appropriate change of clothes for Orlando weather on Saturday, as you will almost certainly go to Epcot on Saturday before your checked bags arrive.

3. Follow the instructions in the Magical Express packet you will receive in the mail regarding both tagging your bags pre-departure, and where to go at the Orlando airport to find your transport to your resort.

4. Bring a copy of your room reservation, confirmation numbers and any tickets for special events you may have received in the mail.

5. Pack breakfast utensils, as they are not always available in the gift shop: bowls, spoons, napkins

6. When you arrive at the hotel, look for the special “On-line Check-in” line, and get into it.

The 2017 easy Guide

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May 7, 2017   No Comments

Basic 2017 December Disney World Itinerary

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.

ITINERARY DESIGN GOALS

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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May 7, 2017   13 Comments

November 2017 at Walt Disney World

June   July   August   September   October    November   December

OVERVIEW: NOVEMBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews November 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

Very early, mid and late November are some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with cooler weather, low crowds, low prices, and fun special events.

Other parts of the month are not so good. Jersey Week see moderate crowds. Thanksgiving week, with high crowds and higher prices than the rest of the month, should be avoided.

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April 27, 2017   17 Comments