If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World during the holidays, there is one thing you need to know. It is crowded. And by crowded, we mean really crowded. So how can you still have the most wonderful time of year at the most magical place on earth during the holidays? Here are our best Disney holiday tips to deal with the crowds.
How to Handle the Disney Crowds During the Holidays
Keep in mind, we don’t travel to Walt Disney World during the summer months on purpose. And we’ve never ventured there during New Year’s Eve either. So while we can’t compare this time of year to those times we can share that December had unbearable crowds at Walt Disney World. So unbearable, that from day one we quickly began to come up with ways to get there earlier in the season. And also some ninja time management strategies to make sure we wouldn’t have to deal with hoards of people. Here are our BEST ( birthed from frustration) Disney Holiday Tips to help you beat the crowds. Trust us, these will save your sanity, restore your faith in humanity, and actually help you have a nice holiday vacation at Walt Disney World.
Get to Disney Parks Early and Leave Late
We know, we have said it over and over again. But really how hard is it to wake up early? Or stay out late? It’s such a simple fix to a major problem!!! Drink that Coffee for goodness sake and just do it! This will continue to be one of our TOP STRATEGIES! Get there as early as you can. And by early we mean to be at the Parks as early as 7 am if possible. Maybe even earlier. If you get to your bust stop at 6 am, and the bus doesn’t arrive for 20 minutes… you’re already behind. Check the My Disney Experience App for bus arrival times at your resort, and try to be on the bus early. Take a break mid-day at a resort or at a nice restaurant for a table service meal. And plan on staying out late.
Disney Crowd levels during the holidays by 9:00 am are already long. Add in security checks and they’re even longer. In the mornings be there before at least 9 am if possible. In the evenings, at 10 pm people begin to leave the Parks. Ride lines get shorter, food lines get shorter, bus lines get shorter. Less waiting means less wasted time and probably less headache.
Leave the Parks
Obviously don’t leave the Parks entirely. But, during that middle morning, an early afternoon time period where the endless sea of people seems impossible to navigate, head to Disney Springs or the Resorts to escape the crowds. Even the resorts were more crowded than we are used to, but they are nothing compared to the crowds in the Parks. And they’re all beautifully decorated for the holidays, so we recommend seeing them regardless. And if you’re looking for one of the best Disney Holiday Tips, head to the Boardwalk. You can see Gingerbread creations and settle your toes in the sand on the beaches to de-stress. Or take the boat from Port Orleans Resort to Disney Springs for the Christmas Tree Stroll.
Grab Lunch or Dinner at a Disney Resort
We found that wait times for quick service restaurants at lunch and dinner were considerably shorter at the Disney Resorts. This is not surprising, and by no means less fancy. In fact, we often like the resort restaurants better! You can head to Contempo Café at the Contemporary Resort, Captain Cooks at the Polynesian or even Grand Floridian Cafe! Check out all our favorite quick-service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Reconsider your Disney Transportation Choices
Were you really looking forward to that free Disney transportation during your stay? Consider other options during the busiest days. For the most part, the transportation wasn’t that bad during our trip around Christmas. But sometimes, waits for the buses at Magic Kingdom were over an hour. Yes, an hour. And there was a Saturday that we literally waited in line at the Contemporary for the monorail for close to an hour as well. In retrospect, we should’ve just walked to Magic Kingdom to grab a bus, but we’re just so sure it wouldn’t take that long. When the lines get too long, remember there are a bunch of other ways to get where you are going. Skyliner, Monorail, Uber, Minnie Van, and Walking Paths are options. Disney Transportation is always complimentary and not obligated to get you ANYWHERE at a certain time. Please be mindful of this and respectful of the bus drivers too.
Get Prepared with Even More Disney Holiday Tips
Having a Plan for the Holidays is EVERYTHING. Especially if you are not an avid Disney vacationer and known the ropes. From making sure you have fast passes, dining reservations, show schedule, and party schedule ready to figuring out transportation ahead of time. Have a plan before you venture out into the Parks. A lot of the delays, and frustration during the holidays we saw centered around a few things. MagicBands and how they work and FastPasses and how they work were a struggle for many. The need for Dining plans and not realizing you need a reservation this time of year. Party Days and not realizing Magic Kingdom closes early on those days. The transportation issues include buses filling up very very fast and leaving you waiting at a bus stop to watch three buses get filled and leave before one is empty enough for you to board. Check out our Disney Quick Information Guides on most of these things and be ready.
Make Mobile Order your new best friend
Once upon a time, we had the option of losing out on our Flight of Passage FastPass (not ever an option btw) or waiting 40 mins to eat at Satuli Canteen. As we are not people who wait in lines for 40 minutes, Mobile Order arrived in time to save the day. We were able to order our food while standing in the Flight of Passage FastPass line, ride on the back of a Banshee through the beautiful world of Pandora, and pick up our food when we were done. No waiting is required. We felt like superstars- which is what happens when you know how to push buttons in the Disney App. Not enough people know about or even use Mobile Order, but on days when Columbia Harbor House has a 50-minute order line, Mobile Order can save you a ton of time. The catch? At the writing of this post, Mobile Order doesn’t currently allow for use of the Disney Dining Plan, so if you’re using dining credits, you’ll have to wait in line. Read up on how to streamline your vacay with Mobile Order.
Disney Holiday Tips
Hopefully, these Disney Holiday Tips can help you navigate Walt Disney World during the season! Let us know your favorite ways to enjoy the Holidays at Walt Disney World. We’ll be adding to this post as we come up with new fun ways to tackle our favorite season at the most magical place on earth!