By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Category — n. Approaching Dates at Disney World

New Year’s Eve 2019 at Walt Disney World


New Year’s Eve festivities and fireworks will happen at Disney World on December 31, 2019 at all four of Disney World’s theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30.

The Animal Kingdom in the past has had no special New Years fireworks events–usually attributed to not troubling the animals. In 2019, it will have  a special midnight show at the Tree of Life, but still no fireworks. This makes it the best park to visit for those trying to avoid crowds. Everything will be wildly crowded, but the Animal Kingdom will be less so.

The schedule will look like this:

  • Epcot and the Magic Kingdom will be open until at least 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open until at least midnight
  • The Magic Kingdom will have special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 6.30 and 11.50p
  • Epcot will have its Epcot Forever fireworks show at 6.30 and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have Star Wars fireworks at midnight
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have a light and music show (but no fireworks) at the Tree of Life at midnight

Magic Kingdom will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30/19. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.

Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom (other than at a few restaurants), but is available at the other three parks


Disney closes parks due to crowding often on New Year’s Eve. “Closes” means closed to additional guests–those in the parks do not have to leave.


My recommended itinerary puts you in Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve.  High crowd indeed. From a crowds point of view, the best park choice is Animal Kingdom, so you could swap First Sunday and Tuesday.

If you want to see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, but on the (slightly) lower crowd 30th, swap instead Monday and Tuesday.


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June 10, 2019   No Comments

Basic 2019 December Disney World Itinerary

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

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 you can find links to daily touring plans next.



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 both days–one optional
  • 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   10 Comments

November 2019 at Walt Disney World

 November   December    January   February   March   April   May   June


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!

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May 1, 2019   38 Comments

Thanksgiving 2019 at Walt Disney World


Thanksgiving week at Walt Disney World is busy–particularly Wednesday through Saturday.

It represents the first major long holiday period in 2019 after the August partial opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so likely will be even more crowded than past years.


This site’s Higher Crowd Itinerary mostly works for Thanksgiving Week, with one possible change and one however.

  • The possible change comes from the fact that the itinerary puts you in Magic Kingdom on Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the two crowdest parks on Thanksgiving are Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and the least crowded is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. So you will be best off if you swap Thursday and First Sunday in both the itinerary and its To-Do List.
  • The “however” is that the parks may open an hour earlier than it indicates many days Thanksgiving week, and may also have morning Extra Magic Hours added as well–making the day start one or even two hours earlier than indicated on the itineraries. These may not be added until a month before–or even the day before. So you’ll need to stay in touch with schedules–even on the night before–to make sure when you need to arrive to beat park openings.

Doing First Sunday on Thursday puts you in Tusker House for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are looking for alternatives–or not even paying attention to my itineraries–recent Disney World Thanksgiving meals are here.


Starting on the Friday after Thanksgiving 2019, Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays begins. My itinerary has you in Epcot that day.


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 in mid-October and also a day or so before you depart for Florida on the My Disney Experience website, and while you are there as well.


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April 30, 2019   5 Comments

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


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   6 Comments

October 2019 at Walt Disney World

October   November   December    January   February   March   April

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, and the dates folk have fall breaks will probably be worse than I had originally forecast.

I don’t see a huge impact outside the land itself, as the partial opening will make visiting specifically to see Star Wars less attractive, and many people will move their October trips to avoid the mess entirely.

While I don’t see much impact on the other parks, no one knows for sure, and the dates folk have fall breaks will probably be worse than I had originally forecast.  I have bumped up my crowd forecasts for October by a point for each week.  See this for more.


Late October has some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with nice weather, low-ish crowds, low-ish prices, and fun special events.

The earlier part of the month is not so good, as

  • The first week is still in the peak of the hurricane season
  • The first three weeks see extra crowds from fall breaks, and
  • The second week sees both higher crowds and some higher prices from Columbus Day.

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!

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April 23, 2019   30 Comments