Every photo has a story.
Disney Christmas decorations are amazingly beautiful, and it’s a magical time to be in Orlando. Your kids are out of school, the weather is cool, and Christmas carols are ringing in your ears. But is Christmas really the best time of year for you to visit Walt Disney World?
From Christmas Day to New Years is the absolute busiest time of year at WDW. I’ve been multiple times during this week, and crowd levels can feel absolutely insane, most especially mid-afternoon. Talk to anyone who has crossed the gates of any Disney theme park this time of year, and they will all use pretty much the same words…crowded, insane, magical! But if you can only take off time from work during this week, and thousands do, should you brave the holiday crowds? If you just need to be in the Disney parks after Christmas, get ready to stand in long lines and be surrounded by huge crowds everywhere you go.
- Can you feel the people surrounding you just by looking at the photo above? Let that soak in a moment. It took me by surprise, and I’d planned this vacation 11 months earlier, knowing full well it would be busy. Ok, I expected it to be busy, but not so much, because we’re in a recession, right? Nobody has money to take a vacation, right? I think I had deluded myself, and this photo stands as proof.
- Yup, it was c.r.a.z.y.
Last year after Christmas, just after I took the Hollywood Studios crowd shot with thousands of my closest Disney friends, three of four Disney parks reached capacity. If you can calmly imagine standing shoulder to shoulder with up to 92,000 people in the Magic Kingdom at one time, then you must really want to be vacationing at Disney World. One to two hour waits without a Fastpass- yikes! I found our best option was to leave the parks around one p.m. and go back in around six or seven. It’s still busy- crazy busy– but people start to leave after the fireworks, and lines are more manageable, especially if they offer Extra Magic Hours and you stay in a Disney Resort. However, we can’t all afford to stay on property.
So make no mistake, the week after Christmas is totally packed-out and really only a last resort vacationing choice, if you just can’t schedule a Disney visit any other time of year. Thanksgiving weekend is also very busy, but there are other options.
Books like The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, which also runs touringplans.com, suggest two alternate times. This way you can still see the holiday decorations without waiting two hours to ride Space Mountain.
- Thanksgiving to the week before Christmas.
- The second full week of November through the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Now of course, anyone reading up on the best time to go to WDW that can, will try to schedule vacations during this time of year, and it might be more crowded then as well. But it can’t get any more crowded than right after Christmas.
I’ve stood on Main Street, U.S.A., as the clock struck midnight on Christmas Eve, ushering in a fantastic Christmas Day. The Disney snow was gently falling, the holiday lights were twinkling, and people walking around were extra-Disney-magically happy. Christmas carols were playing, and I was grinning, hugging my kids and taking their picture. (Cue the scary Snow White music here.) And thousands of people were waiting to descend upon the Disney parks the next day.
Do I recommend you go right at Christmas like we did? No. Would I go again at that time? Yes. Maybe. It all really depends on how just bad you want to feel that Disney magic.