By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Thanksgiving 2013 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Hoop Dee Doo RevueUpdate October 23: New extended operating hours and 8a openings.

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 Autumn-Winter-Spring Itinerary works for Thanksgiving Week,  but you will need to arrive at MK and AK an hour earlier than it indicates.

Moreover, a couple of other things are worth noting.

First, this itinerary has you largely off on Thanksgiving itself, and with the only formal meal a morning brunch. Your meals otherwise are in your hotel food court.

If you are looking for something both more formal but fun in your Thanksgiving dinner (not necessarily in menu, but in ambiance and waiters and such), then consider

  • Reserving the Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom Thursday, or
  • Changing your Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort from lunch Tuesday to dinner Thursday, or
  • Moving your Hoop Dee Doo Revue reservations from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening

The first option means both another table service meal and another day of park tickets; the other two don’t cost any more, as they are just moving items already in the Autumn-Winter-Spring Itinerary to another day, and are at resort hotels, not parks.

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. Adjust your Friday itinerary for this change in times.

The Candlelight Processional also begins the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Moreover, Disney has changed the operating hours of the parks to accommodate the crowds.

This includes 8a openings all week at the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Disney may also add additional Extra Magic Hours and more 8a openings.

These changes mean that some of your days need to start one or even two hours earlier than the itinerary suggests.

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!



1 Samantha { 05.30.13 at 5:00 pm }

We are going to Walt Disney World this Thankgsiving, Tuesday, November 26th through Friday, November 29th. We are doing one park per day. We are staying at the Port Orleans Riverside and have the dining plan with one sit down and one quick service meal per day. We are traveling with 6, 6, 9, 15, and 19 year olds. We are doing the Fantasmic Dining Package at Hollywood and Vine, the Tusker House Donald Duck Breakfast, the Akershus Princess Breakfast, and the Crystal Palace Winnie the Pooh Breakfast. I thought it would be easiest to start our day with a sit down breakfast all together and then we can eat lunch and/or dinner wherever and whenever in case we split up and we don’t want to get out of lines to make our reservations. Is there anything you suggest for our short time with mixed ages? Is there one fabulous American Thanksgiving dinner we should do? I was disappointed there aren’t really any extra magic hours or anything special going on when we are there.

Thank you!


2 Dave { 05.31.13 at 7:53 am }

Samatha–that week has the normal extra magic hours…

The best place, in my judgment, for a family Thanksgiving dinner is the Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom. However, while everything everywhere will be wildly crowded all that week, MK will be particularly mobbed on Thanksgiving Day. AK or HS is a better park choice that day, and neither has a signature meal. Hoop Dee Doo revue after AK would be a fun Thanksgiving–see this

Breakfast is often a mistake. The best time to be at the parks is when they open–and breakfasts usually gets in the way of that…

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3 Jennifer { 07.11.13 at 5:02 pm }


We were at Disney World Thanksgiving 2012 and stayed at Riverside….Thursday to Thursday (thanksgiving day). Even though there is a lot of talk about how busy it is, we will likely return at this time of year only for all of our future trips. Here is why:
1. Not hot! Totally different experience when you are not sweating your rear off.
2. Christmas Decorations – absolutely amazing and they are everywhere.
3. Great meals. We also recommend Liberty Tree. What we did was schedule Liberty Tree earlier in the week and had our official Thanksgiving celebration as a family then. We ate there on a night when the MK was open until 3am for extra magic hours! It was amazing to be in the park at that time!
4. Holiday Atmosphere!

Just FYI, extra magic hours will likely change once your week gets closer. That is what happened last year. We monitored it, via our Disney Travel Advisor, and compared the crowd level calendars when selecting which parks to go to daily and what extra magic hours we were going to utilize.

Just a bit of advice, be in the parks early then nap in the afternoon or rest in some way. I suggest this because Disney at night is simply magical!


4 Dave { 07.12.13 at 8:52 am }

Jennifer, thanks for weighing in!!

5 Hope Owens { 07.31.13 at 1:57 am }

I’m staying in the disney corondo springs resort this thanksgiving. How is it??? And is the thanksgiving parade gonna be on tv ??

6 Dave { 07.31.13 at 8:19 am }

Hi Hope! Well, it’s wildly crowded. What aprade are you thinking of? The rooms have tvs with tons of channels, so whatever parades are on TV will be shown. There’s no special Disney thanksgiving parade…

7 catherine { 08.04.13 at 10:23 pm }

I am going the 22-27, and staying at coronado springs. There is 7 of us, we have went this week before and love this time of year! First time at this resort, but it just worked out this way this year. Can’t pass up free dining!

8 Dave { 08.05.13 at 7:05 am }

Great, Catherine!! I think you’ll enjoy Coronado Springs. See this for a review, updated form my January visit:

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9 lilly { 08.07.13 at 11:11 am }

i am thinking of Disney from wed to sun of Thanksgiving week….exactly how crowded is wildly crowded…my dilemma is that i have always been in less crowded times, late august and march, and i may be spoiled. So, with just that short time, am i better planning for a late august 2014? Will we still be able to move around? What are the waiting times like? thanks!

10 Dave { 08.08.13 at 7:08 am }

Hey Lilly! Well it kinda depends exactly when you have gone in March, as (other than the first week) March can get pretty darn crowded. I don’t do daily crowd forecasts or projected waiting times, but expoect that the parks will see 2 hour+ waits for the best rides by mid-afternoon Weds; on Thurs, except for the Animal Kingdom (which should be fine), it will be even worse, and Friday will be like Weds. Things will be a little better Saturday, and much better SUuday

11 Brandy { 08.16.13 at 2:52 pm }

We got APs this year and are planning our second trip for the week of Thanksgiving (probably 26th-2nd and will be doing MVMCP on the 1st). Of course the suggested dining is all reserved but I was thinking of doing HS on Thanksgiving so we can do Osbourne lights that evening. Have they released what restaurants will be doing traditional dinner or lunch there? Or anywhere for that matter…I can’t seem to find a list for this year, only for 2012.

12 Dave { 08.17.13 at 8:53 am }

Hi Brandy, I don’t think anything is out yet. My guess-and it’s just a guess-is that Brown Derby will be doing it. If you can afford the prices there, you can also eat there as part of a Fantasmic package, and kill two birds with one stone…for more on the Fantasmic Package, see this:

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13 Kym Langford { 08.20.13 at 9:58 am }

Hi, my name is Kym Langford. My family and I will be traveling to Disney Saturday November 23rd to Sat the 29th. Our trip is made possible with Make-A-Wish Oklahoma. I was wondering of our days which days would you think would be the best (lease crowded) days for Magic Kingdom? We have a 9, 6, and 3 year old. Also do you recommend bringing your own stroller from home or renting one from Magic Kingdom? Thank you for your time.

14 Dave { 08.21.13 at 8:58 am }

Hi Kym, on the stroller point, if you have a folding stroller, bring it. You’ll then have it outside the parks as well, and will be able to save the step of renting one inside the parks.

The week that includes Thanksgiving is one of the busiest weeks of the year, so no days are good at the Magic Kingdom. Of them, I like best Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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15 Christin { 08.23.13 at 1:49 pm }

We are planning our second trip to disneyland in Cali, we were looking at Nov 15-17, I had called disneyland and spoke with someone and they said they are always busy but the weekend of and after thanksgiving is best to come, we were going to holloween but told that would be very busy. I was wondering what other times are not so busy before the new year? Thanks so much.

16 Dave { 08.24.13 at 9:17 am }

Sorry, Christin, I don’t track Disneyland crowds. Check out this:

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17 Jenn { 08.30.13 at 9:00 pm }

We will be traveling on my son’s 10th birthday on 11/22/13 and staying through the following Friday. Reservations for the Princess lunch at Akershus on Thanksgiving b/c Liberty Tree is totally booked. Any good birthday tips, info or important things to know? We haven’t been there in about 8 years!!!! need to pack as much fun as we can into this week 🙂 thanks.

18 Dave { 08.31.13 at 10:41 am }

Hi Jenn! See this for some birthday ideas:

Also, if you will be staying at a WDW resort, take a look at this:

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19 Sara { 09.02.13 at 1:05 pm }

I will be going to Disney this year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving this year, do you think its worth it considering I will only have 8 hours because I am going through my cruise line. Will it be crowded??

Thank you!!!!!!!

20 Dave { 09.03.13 at 7:00 am }

Sara, one day tickets are pretty darn expensive (see ) …and when will your 8 hours begin? That date–December 3–is not crowded, but the parks do tend to crowd up by late morning. So if you can’t make opening (9a) I wouldn’t pay those pieces for 8 hours…

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21 Erika { 09.04.13 at 3:15 pm }

Hi all! We are going this Nov from the 22-26. We have an RV so we always stay at the campsites at Fort Wilderness and here is why:
1. Cheapest resort and still the same experience as any of the others. They have a lot of things there for kids to do, dog park (if you want to bring your furry friend) and during the summer months a huge water slide pool sure to cool you off during that afternoon break from the parks.
2. Transportation straight into the park without the crowds of resort people you normally have to deal with.
3. Whether RV or tent the kids can be much rowdier than in a hotel

Also, when going during Thanksgiving it’s nice to be outside in the cool air when your not in the parks. Another tip, if you don’t take advantage of the fast pass system you’re missing out. Go into the park, straight to the rides you wanna do first and get your fast passes. Then go walk around and enjoy some things until your designated time to come back. 😉 Best thing in the world those fast passes. We’re penny pinchers and we still get the full experience. Also, instead of having everyone begging for souvenirs, set a day (preferably the last one so the kids can get plenty of ideas of what they want) where you will buy souvenirs. Let everyone know that until that day souvenirs are off the table. This allows the kids to figure out what they want and the adults to enjoy the trip without constant nagging. My parents made our trip fun without taking out a loan. I enjoyed every second and can’t wait to go again this year 😉

22 Dave { 09.05.13 at 7:17 am }

Thanks Erika! I love Fort Wilderness—see this:

And of course all my itineraries use Fastpass–see for example this:

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23 Rachel { 09.08.13 at 1:19 pm }

We’re going the week of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day we’re planning to go to Epcot and have late lunch reservations at the Coral Reef. If we’re getting park hoppers, how should we split up Friday and Saturday between Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios? Would it be better to do one per day or go to both on one or both of the days?

24 Dave { 09.09.13 at 8:47 am }

Rachel I would not split–you’ll waste time traveling, and get behind on the Fastpass return times. I’d go to HS on Fridya and MK on Saturday.

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25 Maria { 09.24.13 at 10:42 pm }

Hi, we are in Orlando Nov. 26-Dec. 1. We have a 10 and 12 yr old boys. thinking Universal is where we mostly want to hang out, but love Epcot too, and want to see Disney for the xmas decorations I think. any advise?

26 Dave { 09.25.13 at 7:06 am }

Hi Maria!

Well, everything everywhere will be a zoo form the Thanksgiving crowds through the 30th. I’d strongly advise staying in Universal hotel, as you’ll get some great crowd-avoiding privileges from that. See this:

Epcot will be pretty bad the 26th, 28th and 29th, and best the 1st…

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27 Aretha { 10.06.13 at 5:40 pm }

Hi! I’m going with two boys 6 And 11 from 24th to 5th. Thought about doing MK monday, HS tuesday, AK wednesday And EC thursday. Friday I was planning to go to Busch Gardens And when we come back, Then go to Sea World, universal And Island of adventure. Is it a good choice?

28 Dave { 10.07.13 at 7:58 am }

Aretha–what month? And your boys may be too young to get the best of Epcot and Universal–I’d target two days at MK…

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29 Tracey { 10.09.13 at 7:40 am }

My family and I are spending our first Thanksgiving in the USA but 5th trip to DisneyWorld is there anything you would highly recommend about Thanksgiving day that we really shouldnt miss??

30 Dave { 10.09.13 at 12:57 pm }

Tracey, there’s no real Thanksgiving events other than some special meals at a few restaurnats. My main advice would be to visit the Animal Kingdom that day, as MK and Epcot in particular will be mobbed!!

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31 Amanda { 10.11.13 at 2:36 pm }

My family is taking our first trip to Disney Land. Thanksgiving week Monday-Thursday we have five kids ages 10,9,7,5and 13 months. We have rent a house within five miles of the park grandparents are also coming. Any helpful tips?

32 Dave { 10.12.13 at 9:04 am }

Hi Amanda, I’m sorry, but I cover Disney World, not Disneyland…

33 Mindy { 10.14.13 at 9:29 pm }

We are headed to Disney Nov 26-Dec 2nd. We have a 3 year old. My plan is:
27th Magic Kingdom
28th universal studios
29th HS
30th Animal kingdom and back to MK at night
1st Epcot
Do you think that sounds ok or would you switch things around? Thanks!!

34 Dave { 10.15.13 at 7:18 am }

Hi Mindy, you are going during Thanksgiving week, so it will be wildly crowded thru the 30th. You also have “Universal Studios” on your list–not a Disney park, and with hardly anything for a 3 year old…

For a 3 year old I’d skip Epcot entirely, and add a Magic Kingdom day. You’ll see wild crowds the 28th everywhere except the Animal Kingdom, so I’d do that the 28th.

Give me your reactions to skipping Universal and Epcot, and then based on that I’ll give you thoughts on your days!

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35 Mindy { 10.15.13 at 8:54 am }

Thank you for the quick reply! We are not opposed to skipping Epcot if you think that it is best. I haven’t been to Epcot in years and couldn’t remember how much was there for kids. I kept it based solely on Disney’s website showing Nemo rides and activities. As for Universal, that is the only day my son is staying back with my family at the resort and having a play day there and in downtown Disney. I’m really excited to see some of the attractions there, so we would like to keep that on the itinerary. Thanks again for your help!

36 Kyra { 10.15.13 at 12:21 pm }

We were thinking of going from the 16th-19th, will the crowds already be there by then? We are wanting to get in a big vacation for my sons last birthday as an only child, but if it is going to be wicked crowded we may just need to think of something else for this trip… When is a good, not so crowded time to go?

37 Dave { 10.16.13 at 6:57 am }

OK, got you on Universal being fixed for the 28th. I’d definitely swap the 1st from Epcot to MK, but otherwise I think this is sound, Mindy!

38 Dave { 10.16.13 at 7:16 am }

Kyra, the 16th-19th will be great! See this, where the week they fall in is ranked 11th-best of the year:

However, you can run into massive waits if you go to the wrong park on the wrong day. Your dates, in particular avoid MK the 16th and 18th…

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39 Julie { 10.22.13 at 1:54 am }

**Feel free to not post this or edit, and you can also email me, if I dont scare you off.
First, your posts are AMAZING! Let me also preface this with I just had surgery and with the pain meds, I may have no recollection of this, until I see your response. Ok, here’s the dilemma (and I recognize this may be more of a therapy session). We are taking time from Nov. 23-Dec. 3(ish). We need to go to GA for 2 or 3 days, and the rest of the trip Disney World. Boys are 7-8 and have never been to Disney, and I know that time of year will be exceptionally magical. It seems like everything gets into full holiday swing on the 27-28th? Would the experience be better (crowds, festivities, etc) Nov 24-28 or 28-Dec 2. If I can avoid Thanksgiving with the Mother in-law (also my Bday) all the better. But if it would be a better experience for the boys other dates, I can hold my tongue a few days (I’ll save some pain meds!). Sorry this got long!!! We’ve even debated the Disney cruises. Is there a good blog w/ cruise info you recommend? Take care, Julie
(Are you with Disney or just a blogging aficionado? If so, I hope they’ve given you a yearly family pass!)

40 Dave { 10.22.13 at 8:08 am }

Hi Julie and thanks, and no I don’t get anything from Disney–nor have I asked! That independence lets me be fiercely objective.

You will have a MUCH better visit if you go to Disney World as late in your window as you can. Crowds will be spectacularly bad through the 30th, but much better the 1st and 2nd…

Sorry, I don’t have a strong website on the cruise line to recommend…but I would not cruise that time of year–the chances of it being chilly are too high!

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41 Alyssa barns { 10.22.13 at 11:57 am }

I’m staying at Coronado springs resort durning thanksgiving week, how Is the crowd at the hotel and is the hotel nice? Also are the pools gonna be open? How is the crowd at MK that whole week? Thanks in advance

42 Darren Ahearn { 10.22.13 at 9:29 pm }

We have been to disney 3x in the past 10 years all between christmas and new years- the crowd was over the top and no fun at all- we are highly considering going the week of thanksgiving as I was told the crowds are much less than christmas week? is that true or will be still see the crowds as the same size ? thanks

43 Dave { 10.23.13 at 7:12 am }

The polls will be open, and I like this hotel a lot. See this for the review:

Thanksgiving week is very crowded.

44 Dave { 10.23.13 at 7:27 am }

Darren, no crowds are as bad as those between Xmas and New Years. But they are still lousy Thanksgiving Week. See also this:

45 tillit { 10.23.13 at 7:47 pm }

If you go to wild kingdom on thanksgiving does it have the holiday feeling ? Heard so much about Disney during the holidays are is it best to go to the mk?

46 Pia { 10.23.13 at 8:46 pm }

Hi. I was thinking about traveling to MK on the 29th of November to celebrate my daughters bday which is that day. Is that a good idea? Would it be insanely crazy??

47 Dave { 10.24.13 at 7:26 am }

Yes it does. While no park has the holiday feeling that the Magic Kingdom does, that is best enjoyed on a day other than Thanksgiving!

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48 Dave { 10.24.13 at 7:27 am }

Pia, if you have to go that week, the 29th at MK is a little better than some other days that week, since so mnay will have gone to MK the 28th. Me?–I’d avoid that week entirely…

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49 Jen { 10.24.13 at 5:42 pm }

We are taking our 2 and 5 yr old girls to disney nov 25-28. Which parks should we go to and on which days? and what other activities would you recommend within the parks (ie. brunch with the preincess)?

50 Dave { 10.25.13 at 12:57 pm }

Hi Jen, I focus on much older kids, but here’s my thoughts:

1. The parks will be wildly busy those days. At those ages, you could focus just on MK, but it will be particularly mobbed on the 28th, and AK will be least crowded then, so I’d do MK the first few days and AK the 28th. Figure to get MK each day before it opens, and stay into mid afternoon–one day til after the 3p parade. Return one evening for the evening parade and fireworks.

2. For what to do, see this:

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51 Hope { 10.29.13 at 8:37 am }

I have a family reunion planned for Thanksgiving weekend (16 of us, ranging from 8 years to energetic seniors). We plan to do Animal Kingdom on Thanksgiving day 11/28/13, Magic Kingdom on Friday 11/29, and Hollywood Studios on 11/30. Is there any problems you see in this schedule? I picked Friday for Magic Kingdom due to it being the park with the longest operating hours, so that we would do Hollywood Studios on Saturday, thereby, getting to bed a bit earlier so we are rested when we leave for home on Sunday morning. I am really worried about the crowd level…. I know it’s a busy time of year… but I’ve gotten conflicting reports… some consider it to be one of the best times of the year to go, and others the worst… what do you think? Also, do you think they may offer anymore Florida resident specials for that weekend? A few years back, they had a great 3 day deal for that time of year. Your thoughts?

52 Edith { 10.29.13 at 9:50 pm }

Hi Dave…we’re going on nov 22…(7 people).will it be wildly crowded?

53 Dave { 10.30.13 at 2:30 pm }

Hope, I guess I wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to anyone who says Thanksgiving and the two days following is a great time to visit–as it isn’t–it’s wildly crowded.

AK is the best choice on Thanksgiving day, but I’d flip the two following days. MK has the same hours both days–8a to 1a–but HS will be more crowded on Saturday, as it has morning extra magic hours…

I don’t track Florida resident deals…sorry…

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54 Dave { 10.30.13 at 2:36 pm }

Hi Edith! I expect high crowds from 11/24 through 11/30…

55 Robin { 10.30.13 at 2:53 pm }

We have a trip planned Nov 23-27 2013. Does anyone know how the “pre” Thanksgiving crowds are? also we have the new Magic Bands..anyone have details about the photopass? We use to buy the CD with all the photos online after we get back can we still do that or has that changed as well?

Thank you so much,

56 Dave { 10.30.13 at 3:06 pm }

Robin, it’ll be wildly crowded from 11/24 through 11/30. And you can link photopass to your magicband…

57 Brenda { 10.30.13 at 11:33 pm }

We are going to Disneyworld 11/24-11/30. This is our first trip during the Holiday season. What should we make sure to do and see?

58 Dave { 10.31.13 at 1:42 pm }

Brenda, it will be wildly crowded then…I don’t have an itinerary that exactly matches your dates, but take a look at this: Note that 1. many days you will have to begin an hour earlier than it indicates, and 2. that it has none of the holiday stuff in it. For the holiday stuff, see this: All the holiday stuff it notes will be fully in place your dates except for the Epcot stuff, which fully launches 11/29.

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59 Keyonna { 11.01.13 at 1:40 pm }

I plan on going to Disneyworld arriving 2am on Nov 28th (Thanksgiving) and leaving 6am on Dec 1st. I have a 3 year old and we want to spend a day at MK and a day at AK. Any suggestions on what days to go and how to avoid the crowds? Thanks

60 Dave { 11.02.13 at 10:13 am }

Hi Keyonna! You can’t avoid the crowds–both days will be crowded everywhere. But to get lower crowds, I’d go to MK the 29th and AK the 30th.

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61 Wendy { 11.03.13 at 6:17 pm }

Do you know where I can get a menu for Artist Point for their Thanksgiving meal? Thanks!

Thanks, Dave!


62 Marie { 11.03.13 at 6:47 pm }

We have been to Disney many times before but never this late in the year!! Can you tell me how busy it will be from 11/11/13-25/11/13?and what weather we should expect? Will we miss the Thanksgiving crowds? Thanks, Marie

63 Dave { 11.04.13 at 7:16 am }

Wendy I’ve checked the usual suspects and can’t find one…

64 Dave { 11.04.13 at 7:18 am }

Hi Marie! The 11th will be busy, but after that you will be fine until the 23rd. For more, including weather, see this:

65 Pauline { 11.04.13 at 8:36 pm }

We are family of 6, age 7, 8, 12, 14. We were in Disneyworld Thanksgiving 2009, and it was largely empty, ( 10 min lines) …I am thinking we were blessed by the economy? We can get to Disneyworld by Nov 23/Saturday, Noon. We want to spend 1-3 days. Do we spend it on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and/or Tuesday? We are planning a trip to Cocoa Beach to relax, so we are flexible from Nov 23-30th. I am trying to outweigh Disney costs vs. Crowds vs. a Quiet Beach. Thank you!!!:) MK and Epcot will probably be choices. Oh, why can’t Starwars be inside MK???LOL

66 Wendy { 11.05.13 at 1:09 am }

Thanks for trying – a surprise is always fun!


67 Dave { 11.05.13 at 7:49 am }

Pauline, I think you got lucky–Thanksgiving week has been really crowded since then. The best days will be earlier in the week…

68 Victor { 11.06.13 at 8:12 am }

Hi Dave! First of all, your blog is amazing. Im from Argentina and since ive started my research several months ago, I can say that i have found the best tips in here. Ill be in Orlando nov 20 until nov 28, have 5 days ticket, just me and my GF, no kids. We’ll use the other days for Universal and shopping.
I Would love to get advise regarding which days would be better for each disney park, and when should I stay away from this magical place.
From what ive been reading, nov28 would be a good day for AK.
I know this might not be your area, but according to local knowledge, is thanksgiving week a good time to shop or is it total madness?
Thanks again!

69 Deena { 11.06.13 at 4:05 pm }

Hi Dave! We are going up to Orlando from Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and leaving on Sunday the 1st. My 3 year old REALLY wants to do MK and we have the after 4 passes so I am worried about the parks closing down due to crowding. We have done the 4pm-1am thing in the past and got more rides done in that time then in the morning and afternoon but never on thanksgiving weekend. What are your thoughts on the best day to go??

70 Dave { 11.07.13 at 7:55 am }

Hi Victor and thanks!

First the 20th-23rd will be much better than the rest of your period, and the 24th-26th better than the 27th and 28th. So push all your park visits as early as you can.

Parks to avoid by day:

20: Avoid AK
21: Avoid Mk
22: Avoid Epcot–and this will be the best MK day over your dates
23: Avoid HS
24: Avoid MK
25: Avoid HS and AK
26: Avoid Epcot
27: Avoid AK
28: Avoid Mk and Epcot

I’m not sure about shopping. The biggest driver of shopping is visitors from out of the US arbitraging Orlando vs home country prices. Since Thanksgiving crowds are more US based, tied to a distinctively US holiday week, shopping may not be that bad…

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71 Dave { 11.07.13 at 8:04 am }

Well, Deena I’d go to MK Friday or Saturday…I dunno if MK will close or not on Thursday, but regardless it will be wildly mobbed…

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72 chinya { 11.14.13 at 2:34 pm }

we are going to disney world first time during 24th thru 29th. We 2 and have a boy ( 16) and girl (11) and stay in carribean beach resort. plan is to go

MK -24
AK – 28
Universal – 29


1. is this schedule looks ok or want me to change.
2. any suggestion for aniversary celebration idea
3. any things we must see

thanks a bunch

73 Glendaliz { 11.14.13 at 8:14 pm }

Hi, I will be in Disney from november 24-30, 2013. We are a group of 18 and in that group there is 5 children 4 teenager the rest are adults. Our plan is
24- Epcot
25- Animal Kingdom
26- Hollywood Studios
27- Magic Kingdom
So what do you think of our schedule.

74 Dave { 11.15.13 at 7:31 am }

Chinya, the first three days you’ve picked Extra Magic Hour days. These tend to be much more crowded than days the parks don’t have EMH–and the week will be wildly mobbed anyway. I’d keep AK the 28th, but do HS the 24th, Epcot the 25th, and MK the 26th.

For must sees, see this:

Not sure what to tell you on the anniversary front, as much will be all booked up, but see this

75 Dave { 11.15.13 at 7:37 am }

Hi Glendaliz! I’d flip Epcot and AK, but the rest looks great!

76 Cristina { 11.16.13 at 11:25 am }

We’re going to be in Orlando Sun 11/24-Thur 11/28. The only parks we definitely want to visit are Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and Magic Kingdom. Other than that, we’re open to any of the other parks. Can you tell me which days are the best for which parks?

77 Dave { 11.16.13 at 12:04 pm }

Well, Cristina, it will be wildly crowded everywhere, without much difference among the days. Sunday, Monday and Thursday will be the worst days at MK. I’m not sure about Universal. Sunday or Thursday might be good choices.

78 Glendaliz { 11.17.13 at 6:42 pm }

Hello again Dave,

Where can we get cheapest tickets to sea world and universal studios?

79 Dave { 11.18.13 at 7:30 am }

Sorry, I don’t know, Glendaliz. Deals for them are much more complicated and common than deals for Disney World, and for that reason I don’t track them–I can barely keep up with WDW!

80 Gracie { 11.19.13 at 3:06 pm }

Hi! Your info is really great! I’ve been reading to see if I can find the answer to my question. We are a family of 6 traveling to Disney on 11/20 and leaving 11/30 in the morning. You mention to avoid MK on 11/21 and this what we actually intended to do (MK on 11/21). We would like to fit Universal & Sea World into our intinerary also. Any particular reason why 11/22 is better for MK? Is it less crowds or more events? Our children are 11,8,5&4. Thank you so much!

81 Dave { 11.19.13 at 4:53 pm }

Gracie, MK closes early both days (whihc much lowers crowds), but the 21st, it opens an hour early to WDW hotel guests. This will make it a little more crowded after 9a than it will be the 22nd…The 21st will be OK–especially if you are a WDW resort guest and can take advantage of the early hours–it’s just that the 22nd is better.

Thanksgiving crowds will being to pour in the 23rd…I don’t track Universal or Sea World closely enough to have a good idea of when to go there over a holiday week….

82 Cindy { 11.20.13 at 9:13 am }

So helpful! Thank you! Going to Disney (first trip) on 25th and 26th but have 2 college kids and one high school. After reading your information, going to Epcot on 25th and MK on 26th. Any suggestions on how to form an itinerary for those two days? (Son is military – military tips?)

83 Dave { 11.20.13 at 3:03 pm }

Hi Cindy, all my itineraries are 6-8 days…suggest looking at and for one and two day itineraries!!

84 Gracie { 11.22.13 at 9:48 pm }

Thank you for the info! We went to HS Thursday (11/21) and lines were 10-30 min (most 10-15), not bad. We headed over to Epcot in the evening and did Spaceship Earth, Mexico and Norway rides and the fireworks show. We would like to go back for a few more hours at some point to do Nemo among a few other attractions. Today we went to MK and most lines were 0-10 minutes, Peter Pan and Space Mountain were 30 min. Overall, very short wait times. We feel like we need a one day break but don’t want to go when the crowds come next week. Do you think tomorrow will be crowded since it’s a Saturday or should Monday still be ok for MK? We also need to go back to HS to do a few rides and AK will be done next week. Thank you again!!

85 Nubia { 11.23.13 at 9:47 am }

Thanks for your information. Going to Disney for the first time from November 28 to December 2. We will do MK the 28th, AK 29th and Universal Studios 30th. We have a 5 year old kid. Some of my family will take the 29th for shopping day. So i decided to take my son to Animal Kingdom, just me and the kid. o you have any suggestions for my itinerary. Thanks

86 Mona { 11.23.13 at 10:40 pm }

Hi! Love your site – has been so helpful. We are at WDW from 11/26-11/30. Plan is to spend our half day on 11/26 at Downtown disney (we have a BBB reservation there for our 6 year old). I’m wondering if we should try to do a park after the Boutique?
Then MK on 11/27, HS morning of 11/28, then Akershus lunch and Epcot on the afternoon and evening of 11/28, finally back in MK on 11/29. What do you think?

87 Dave { 11.24.13 at 9:32 am }

Gracie I got behind, so tomorrow has already come and gone–sorry…

88 Dave { 11.24.13 at 9:39 am }

I’m sorry, Nubia, but my stuff is almost all focused on kids 8 and older…do take a look at this, as it may help:

89 Gracie { 11.26.13 at 10:20 pm }

No prob! 🙂 we went to MK Saturday and it was not crowded in the morning/early afternoon at all. By late afternoon there were lines for Peter Pan, Dumbo, Space Mountain etc but we got fast passes for a few rides and managed to do a lot. Today we went to Animal Kingdom and it was great! Your info helped a lot in helping me plan. 🙂

90 Dave { 11.27.13 at 8:10 am }

Thanks Gracie! Have a great trip…

91 Wendy { 12.01.13 at 4:47 pm }

We are back and had a great trip. Many of your tips made it even better. My family was so pleased with all of the planning I knew to do – thanks to you.

A few comments – we LOVED Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom. We had a great table for 10 – terrific service – and really amazing food.

Be Our Guest – we had a terrific dinner here for 4. It lived up to all the hype, and we so loved the food and the feeling of the place. We were in the West Wing – so perfect.

Artist Point – none of us were impressed – at $65.00 per person/$22.oo for the kids. We waited 40 minutes past the reservation for the table (other parties of ten with later times were seated before us) – and 1 hour and 40 mins after our reservation, we still did not have our main dishes. They did come right after I spoke to the manager – hum…

The food was good – but not great. We had little kids with us and waiting for well over an hour to eat was crazy…

I would not recommend it to anyone – the food was not worth the lack of organization, wait or price. We frequent very pricy places in Napa BUT this was not worth the $$$. We really liked the Whispering Canyon, however, and that food was good.

They did take some off of our check – but it was still not a good experience.

MagicBands are awesome! One CM did tell us that we could not use the regular Fastpasses because of the MagicBands – but later, we gave the room key cards a shot, and it worked.

Being there at rope drop is worth the effort to say the least…

We liked the transportation – and only had to wait more than 10 minutes on the last day.

Thanksgiving at MK was not very busy. 6 of our group went between 2:00 – 5:00 and had no wait longer than 10 minutes (they did have Fastpass+ for Big Thunder which had a long line of 40 mins). We think the cold weather might have affected the crowds.

We loved the meal plan – it was fun ordering whatever you wanted, not thinking about the price. My Yak and Yeti meal was shrimp and steak…so so so good!

We had character meals – we should have skipped the meet and greets in the park – and waited for the meals. That would be a great reason to have the meals in the first day or two. I spread ours out.

I pre-paid for the Photopass+ – for our group, it was worth every penny. We have over 400 pictures – many of the whole group of 10. They are great reminders of the whole event.

Pin trading was so much fun for my kids. I know people feel the quality of the pins has been affected by lots sold on eBay…but for us, it was really a blast seeing what we could find as we walked around the parks – it was like a treasure hunt. The “worth” was in the fun – not the quality of the pin. We wish we had brought more to trade!

We wish we had skipped the park-hopper. The parks are not that close, so we did not get a chance to use it. Funny, at Disneyland, we hop back and forth all the time…but the parks are so close.

Our favorite “new” ride is PeopleMover – short lines, a great view, restful and fun. We liked it best at night!

I am not sure all of this fit – I cannot see the start of this post…maybe that is a hint to bring it to a close.

Thanks again, Dave, for all of your help. It was a fantastic trip – and your info really helped make it so.

Until the next trip,


92 Wendy { 12.01.13 at 4:48 pm }

The last part should read “and your info really helped make it so.”

I am sure that is not the only error!


93 Dave { 12.02.13 at 6:52 am }

Oh Wendy, I’m so glad that other than Artist Point it seemed like you had a great trip! And I’ll miss your comments and questions–you know, you can still come back to the site and ask them even if your next visit isn’t for a while 🙂

What did you think of the Wilderness Lodge overall?

94 Dave { 12.02.13 at 6:52 am }


95 Wendy { 12.02.13 at 12:08 pm }

We loved it. We did not find it hard to get to the parks – very little waiting for buses, and we loved the boats. Having your tip about the morning boat to the Contempory was great…got to MK well before rope-drop. It was a long trip to Downtown Disney – but that was OK. We loved Earl of Sandwich and were happy to find we could use our dining plan there.

We would highly recommend it to families (first time and other) – but we think we will try a different one if/when we return. There were so many to pick from!

A question – my son was wondering how many days you spend at WDW a year…AND he thinks Disney should pay you since you help make trips go better – leading people to return for other trips due to the success of the last one. He was a bit shocked to learn that they did not at least give you free passes and hotel rooms!

Take care,


96 Dave { 12.03.13 at 7:23 am }

Thanks, Wendy! Re your son…this year, counting the visit that starts TONIGHT 🙂 I’ll be on property about 40 days. Disney pays me after a fashion by competing (via Google Adsense) to put ads on the site–if people find those ads worth clicking, then Disney pays both me and Google. But I’ve never asked for free tix or hotel rooms, as paying my own way for everything means I can be completely objective, and don’t lose touch with how much stuff really costs!

97 Wendy { 12.04.13 at 7:09 pm }

40 days! We think you are awesome!


98 Dave { 12.05.13 at 9:01 am }


99 Molly { 12.31.13 at 4:45 pm }

We are going Thanksgiving 2014, yes I know it will be busy, but that’s what works for our family. We are going with 5, 8, and 9 year olds. Do I need to purchase a special ticket for MK during the holiday time like the mickeys magical Christmas? We will be doing the parks Monday through Friday.

100 Dave { 01.01.14 at 7:33 am }

Hi Molly, all you need is regular tickets. The Christmas party is not scheduled during Thanksgiving week….

101 Courtney { 01.04.14 at 8:10 pm }

Hi, we are planning to arrive Thanksgiving Day 2014 and depart Dec 1. We will have a 2 yo and an 8 yo with us. This will be everyone else’s first visit and I have only been once. We know we want Epcot, MK, AK, but not that interested in MGM. What would your itinerary suggestion be?

102 Courtney { 01.04.14 at 8:14 pm }

Oh, we are staying at Art of Animation and also want to know if park hopper is worth it

Thanks 🙂

103 Courtney { 01.04.14 at 8:16 pm }

Shoot I meant HS, not MGM… But still not all that interested

104 Dave { 01.05.14 at 9:16 am }

Hi Courtney, I can guess based on old patters, but I’d rather wait until Disney’s calendar for then is out–which it will be in a few months. So can you check back in late April??

105 Dave { 01.05.14 at 9:16 am }

Usually you can work without a hopper!

106 Sharon Harris { 04.12.14 at 1:17 am }

We are travelling to Disney from the UK on Tuesday 25th – Saturday 9th December. Me and my husband have been numerous times but it is the first visit with our Daughter – 3 yrs. We originally wanted to avoid Thanksgiving knowing it would be busy but it actually worked out much cheaper to fly the Tuesday rather than the weekend after! We obviously want to book the Mickey party, candlelight processional dinner package etc. Do you think everything will be published end of April? We ideally would love to see Neil Patrick Harris if he is doing it again!

107 Dave { 04.12.14 at 9:18 am }

Hi Sharon! The official dates for the party will be out likely in early May, and I’ll have a forecast for them out tomorrow. The processional narrators tend to firm up much later than that…

108 Becky { 04.24.14 at 2:31 pm }

Hi! We are going to Disney over Thanksgiving (arriving 11/22 but not doing parks that day; departing Friday morning after breakfast and no parks that day). Care to critique my park schedule?
Sunday – MK
Monday – HS
Tuesday – Epcot
Wednesday – AK
Thursday – MK

Any changes or suggestions? I know it is going to be crazy crowded. Thanks!

109 Dave { 04.25.14 at 8:22 am }

Becky, ummm, you have sort of hit every park on what will be its busiest day. A much less crowded and lower wait set of days would be
Sunday: HS
Monday: Epcot
Tuesday: MK
Wednesday MK
Thursday: AK

110 Ann { 05.04.14 at 9:05 pm }

Thank you so much for this great website. We are traveling to WDW this Thanksgiving. Just started our planning. We will be there nov 29-dec2. We have 2 kids (ages 6 & 3). We aren’t doing AK this trip.

We will have a 4 day pass.

Does this sound reasonable
11-29 MK (with a CT lunch reservation) (we are driving in from in laws and I think arrival would be around 9am at hotel check in)

11-30 HS

11-31 MK

12-1 Epcot (or back to MK)

111 Dave { 05.05.14 at 7:10 am }

Um, Ann, there is no 11-31…the December calendar isn’t out yet, so I can’t comment on December dates. But I would not do HS on 11-30–it will be very crowded.

112 Jennifer { 05.05.14 at 11:24 am }

My family and I will be in Disney Nov. 24th through Nov. 29th and staying at Port Orleans – Riverside. It will be our first time going for the week of Thanksgiving, we always went in June. What parks do you suggest on what days. We have the park hopper and we like to do one park in the morning then take a break and do another park that evening. We are huge Disney fans and we go every 2 years. Thanks

113 Ann { 05.05.14 at 1:26 pm }

OOPS! HAHA! Trying to sneak an extra day in!

Its 11-28 (Fri after Thanksgiving) MK with CT lunch
11-29 HS
11-30 MK vs Epcot
12-1 MK vs epcot


114 Dave { 05.05.14 at 5:17 pm }

Hi Jennifer, if you are hopping, and doing FP+ at the second park, I’m a fan of morning EMH. You can get a ton done by 10.30 or 11. However, I don’t like the morning EMH schedule that week so here’s the parks I’d start the day at:

Epcot 11/24
HS 11/25
MK 11/26
AK 11/27
Any park but Epcot 11/28, especially MK
ANy place you choose 11/29…

115 Dave { 05.05.14 at 5:23 pm }

OK Ann I still don’t like the 29th at HS, nor the 30th there. That kinda puts HS the 1st. Epcot will be crowded the 29th because of evening EMH, so do MK the 29th, and Epcot the 30th…

116 Sherry { 06.01.14 at 8:59 pm }

How crowded is Disney World on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving?

117 Dave { 06.02.14 at 7:10 am }

Sherry, it’s very crowded then.

118 Nakeyia { 06.28.14 at 6:10 am }

Hi Dave, we will be at Disney World the week of Thanksgiving 2014. I know it will be crowded, but we usually go every year around mid to late July and I was wondering if the crowd levels will be similar to that time of the year or worse. (Hopefully not worse) It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to schedule our vacation around things like “school” & “jobs” then we could just go whenever (I wish! ) 😉 Also have you heard any rumors of Disney extending park hours this Thanksgiving week like they did last year? Thank you for your help, & I love reading your posts! 🙂

119 Dave { 06.29.14 at 8:45 am }

Hi Nakeyia and thanks!! Thanksgiving week crowds are comparable to July crowds, so you should be fine. And yes, I do expect some 8a openings like last year:

120 Larissa { 08.27.14 at 9:21 am }

Hi Dave,
We will be at Disney World this November for Veterns Day week. Because of my sons school schedule we won’t be able to book a bounce back offer for the same time period. Which of these weeks would you recommend for our next trip? Week of Thanksgiving, Week before Christmas or January 5 till 13? Thanks for all of your help and I really liked the new book.

121 Dave { 08.28.14 at 8:09 am }

Hi Larissa, thanks for your kind words about the book. Your January option is the best choice!

122 Lovett { 11.23.14 at 9:46 am }

Hi, yesterday we went to Studio we had a great time even with weather. Today we are doing down town disney. Monday we need an idea for a park plus Wednesday and Thursday we want to be at the park on thanksgiving day for sure. So we aren’t sure which parks to do next, any ideas? This is our first time here we have been to California and our favorite thing is fireworks

123 Lovett { 11.23.14 at 9:47 am }

On Saturday we are going on disney cruise too, can’t wait for that

124 Dave { 11.24.14 at 11:56 am }

Hi Lovett, I get behind because of a funeral, so sorry to not be much help today. The only park I can recommend on Thanksgiving is AK. Weds, MK and Epcot are the best of a bad lot of choices…

125 Dave { 11.24.14 at 11:56 am }

Cool, Lovett!!

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