Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — 6. The Christmas Season at Walt Disney World

December 2019 at Walt Disney World

WHAT IS DECEMBER LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

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, and major New Years Eve celebrations.

[Read more →]

June 10, 2019   No Comments

Basic 2019 December Disney World Itinerary

This  draft Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving 2019.

The days in the parks, dining, and special events to target are all set.

It is a draft in the sense that I have not yet confirmed (or posted) the daily touring plans and pre-booked FastPass+ selections that support it.  In particular, I am waiting for Hollywood Studios FastPass+ tiers to be confirmed. The daily touring plans will be set well before the 60 day FastPass+ windows open, at the end of September for the earliest date discovered by this itinerary.

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.

A detailed  To-Do List covers all the planning steps you need to undertake now. And by the end of September I will provide detailed daily guidance.

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 2019 version differs from previous ones in a couple of ways:

  • It shifts the Christmas Party night from Tuesday to Thursday, to create an earlier bedtime on Tuesday
  • The two Hollywood Studios days are re-shaped to account for Galaxy’s Edge, with an early morning plugged in on Wednesday
  • It adds some time to Magic Kingdom, as I suspect that the projection-based new fireworks at the party will trap people in the hub for more of the early evening than past iterations–meaning folks will miss a ride or two that they could have seen during the Christmas Party in past years.

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.

 

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June 9, 2019   2 Comments

November 2019 at Walt Disney World

On March 7, Disney announced that the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land would partially open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29.

Crowds in the new land will be a mess, and likely will spill over into the other thrill-style rides at that park. While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure.

The opening date of the rest of Galaxy’s Edge has not yet been announced.  If it opens in November, I may bump up my crowd forecasts for November by a point or so for each week.  See this for more.

WHAT IS NOVEMBER LIKE AT DISNEY WORLD?

Mid-November has 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, beginning 11/2 in 2019, sees moderate crowds and higher prices at the deluxes. Thanksgiving week, beginning 11/23 in 2019, with high crowds and higher prices than the rest of the month, should be avoided.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year. See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!

[Read more →]

May 1, 2019   27 Comments

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP”) in 2019

DISNEY WORLD’S SPECIAL CHRISTMAS PARTY IN 2019

While Christmas itself is December 25 of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Christmas celebration at the Magic Kingdom many nights in November and December.

This celebration is called Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or MVMCP for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open with low waits, and cookies and hot chocolate, special events, a Christmas parade, special fireworks, and even snow (!) are offered.

The official Disney World page for this event (where you can also buy tickets) can be found here. For a review of the 2018 version of MVMCP, see this.

MORE ON MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY

This party occurs from 7p-12MN on certain evenings at the Magic Kingdom in November and December.

The 2019 dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are as follows:

  • November 2019: 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 17, 19, 21, 22, and 24
  • December 2019: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 22

With one exception, this is exactly the same pattern we’ve seen for years now.

The exception is Sunday December 22.  In the past, the last party has been the Friday before Christmas week. Having a party happen during the wildly crowded Christmas week period is a mistake–it means that the other three parks will be even more overburdened on December 22.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party from yourfirstvisit.netYou need to buy a special ticket for this party. This ticket is different from regular Walt Disney World park admission tickets.

  • The special party ticket does not allow you to enjoy the rides and attractions of the Magic Kingdom before the Party starts–you need a regular ticket for that (note that you can usually enter and enjoy the rides as early as 4p–although your ticket will say 7p. The 4p entry is unofficial, and not guaranteed, though it has happened that way for years)
  • Regular tickets used to enter the park earlier the day of a Party do not give you access to the Party–you need to have the special Party ticket

Mickey and Minnie at Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at MVMCP 2014 from yourfirstvisit.net_

The party tickets are expensive, so why would first-time visitors be interested? A couple of potential reasons

  • Evening fireworks shows are rare this time of year, so going to one of the parties is a way to guarantee you can see them. There are rumors that the evening fireworks may be updated for 2018
  • Operating hours at the Magic Kingdom are shorter this time of year, so the Party allows you more time there within the same visit
  • Walt Disney World sells only a limited number of tickets to each party, so the evening can see much lower ride waits (except at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan), particularly compared to whenever the Magic Kingdom is open late that week. Note that the outdoor areas of the park, especially near the hub and along the parade routes, will be quite crowded.  Where you won’t see crowds is in the ride lines, other than the two noted above

Many families go the first time for one of these reasons…and then going becomes a tradition!

On the other hand, families following one of the standard 8-night itineraries on this site will see the fireworks and evening parade, and have plenty of time at the Magic Kingdom. For that reason, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not designed into this site’s pre-Thanksgiving itineraries.

It is, however, built in to this site’s Christmas-oriented Basic Itinerary, which works for the three weeks beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For details on what the party offers, suggested approaches, etc., see this!

Here’s the 2018 party brochure–as always on this site, click to enlarge:

 

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April 29, 2019   4 Comments

Christmas Breaks in 2019 and Disney World Crowds

DISNEY WORLD CROWDS FROM LATER DECEMBER 2019 TO EARLY JANUARY 2020

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 2019, as always, there’s more kids out the week between Christmas and New Year’s than before or after.

However, because of the Wednesday Christmas, there’s not a lot of kids out the week before Christmas week–fewer than we’ve seen some recent years.

Crowds will be massive by December 21, 2019, and will be at their worst between 12/24/2019 and 1/1/2020.

More schools are taking two week breaks over the holidays in the 2019-2020 school year, so the week after New Years in 2020 has many kids still on break. Thus I expect Disney World to be heavily crowded through January 5, 2020. [Read more →]

April 9, 2019   No Comments

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a holiday and Christmas celebration at Epcot, including decorations, dining, shows, and activities.

Renamed a few years ago from “Holidays Around the World,” the Festival of the Holidays keeps all of the former crowd-pleasing elements of Holidays Around the World and adds more dining options, making it parallel to other Epcot seasonal festivals.

In the past, the offering has run from the Friday after Thanksgiving until December 30. In 2018, for the first time, it had Thanksgiving as its first day. For 2019, it returns to the Friday after Thanksgiving opening and will be offered November 29 to December 30, 2019,

DECORATIONS AND CHRISTMAS TREES AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

As in all the Disney World parks, you’ll see holiday decorations in Epcot.

Future World does not lend itself to much in the way of traditional garlands and lighting, but you will find the Epcot Christmas Tree here.

World Showcase—especially the parts from the Western tradition—has much more, including this Christmas tree in the American pavilion…

…and more garlands and lights elsewhere in World Showcase; Italy is above;

Germany;

The UK.

THE HOLIDAY STORYTELLERS AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

At many World Showcase pavilions, you will find performers who depict the holiday traditions of the respective countries.

Check your Times Guide or park signage for when these shows occur.

There’s more on the Holiday Storytellers in Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays here.

THE HOLIDAY KITCHENS AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

New the last few years has been a greater emphasis on dining during this Christmas celebration.

A dozen minor venues typically offer a few tasting-menu sized savory and dessert offerings, along with pairings of wine, beer or other drinks.

My co-author Josh of easyWDW.com has posted reviews of each of these—see this, for example.

THE CANDLELIGHT PROCESSIONAL AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

The Candlelight Processional is a much-loved Disney World traditional that combines a massed choir with a re-telling of the nativity story by a celebrity narrator–for example–during the week of my 2018 visit, narrators included Whoopi Goldberg, Bart Millard, Blair Underwood, and Gary Sinise.

(c) easyWDW.com

The Candlelight Processional shows in the America Gardens Theater three times every night during the Festival of the Holidays, but can be hard to get a seat for unless you book a Candlelight Processional Dining package.

More on the Candlelight Processional at the Festival of the Holidays—and the package—is here.

ENTERTAINMENT AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

There’s more entertainment as well.

Some of the usual offerings take on a holiday flavor, as for example you’ll find in Canada.

There’s also a stage in World Showcase where you can hear “uplifting gospel, R&B, and holiday songs” a few times during the day—not worth a special trip, but give it a test if it’s about to happen when you are in the neighborhood.

THE HOLIDAY TAG TO EPCOT’S FIREWORKS AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

A temporary new show will replace Illuminations in 2019, while Disney does the infrastructure work to support a permanent new show that will come after that. I’d imagine it will have some holiday add as well.

TOPIARIES AND PLANTINGS AT EPCOT’S FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

All over the park, you will also find lovely plantings and fun topiaries. Here’s some of my favorites:

For Disney World’s page on the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, see this.

 

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December 17, 2018   No Comments