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Sometimes we just have to laugh.  The travel professionals at My Vacation Lady often get phone calls for a last minute vacation during Christmas week or a deal on a Christmas week vacation.  When we explain that it’s the most expensive and busiest time to travel, they’re shocked.  Why would anyone want to travel during Christmas?  The same thing holds true for Disney World at Christmas time.

Why would anyone want to travel to Disney World during Christmas?

  1.  Kids are off from school
  2. Kids are off from school
  3. Kids are off from school-
photo credit: Sharon Boyle

photo credit: Sharon Boyle

Many parents wouldn’t consider pulling kids out of school to go on a vacation so going to Disney during school holidays is especially popular.  Add to it the holiday decorations and special events going on during that time of year and you have the makings of the perfect storm- the onslaught of people heading to Disney World!

Even knowing that it is the busiest time to be in Walt Disney World, you weren’t deterred so you’ve packed your bags and you’re heading to Orlando.

Here are 5 tips to help you survive Walt Disney World during the holiday season:

photo credit- Sharon Boyle

photo credit- Sharon Boyle

  1. Dining- Book dining reservations way in advance– actually as soon as they become available to book (180 days prior to the date of arrival).  With so many guests taking the dining plans, pre-reserving dining is imperative.  Also, if your restaurants is inside one of the theme parks, plan to stay in that park that day.  If you are going to a quick service restaurant for lunch or dinner, try to schedule meals to avoid the crunch time.  So for lunch, try before 11am or after 2pm.  For dinner, get there before 4:30 or after 8pm.  You might have a better chance of avoiding some of the crowds.
  2. Book your Fast Pass + reservations before you arrive.  These reservations open 60 days prior for Disney resort guests and 30 days prior to guests not staying at a Disney resort.  Book Fast Passes for the most popular rides and attractions as soon as they are available. You’ll be limited to only 3 Fast Pass + advance reservations per day but you can add more in the park, once you’ve used the first 3.
  3. Stay at a Disney hotel and take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours (particularly in the morning).  It’s pretty common for the Magic Kingdom to open early (8am) every day during the last 2 weeks of December and with the Extra Magic Hours, you can get in at 7am, if you stay at a Disney on site property.  According to the December 2016 planning calendar, that’s exactly what is planned for as well- 8am regular opening and Extra Magic Hours every morning for the Magic Kingdom.   For those early risers, get yourselves out of bed and at the Magic Kingdom entrance by 6:45am and you may have up to 2 hours of relatively short lines!
  4. Stay at one park per day.  Disney will close a park (most often it’s the Magic Kingdom) if it reaches capacity so if you leave the Magic Kingdom on a day that it reaches capacity, you may not be able to re-enter it.  There are different levels of park closures (sometimes you’ll still be able to get in if you having restaurant reservations at a restaurant within the park but that could always change).
  5. Plan plan and plan some more.  Set your priorities.  Which rides are your top choices?  Make a list of the top 5 must do/must experience and then add your next 5 really would like to do.  Make a touring plan for your time in Disney to maximize your time.  If you don’t know where to start, our Disney Travel Specialist can help set one up for you.  If you want to see the Fantasmic show, buy the dinner package or use one of your Fast Pass + selections for the show.  If you want to see the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, buy the Candlelight Processional dining package or you might not see it.  Plan meals around shows and shows.

Our biggest hints——

  • Don’t wing your Disney vacation during Christmas week.
  • Schedule some down time and don’t be upset if you can’t do everything you want.  You can always come back again (hopefully during a slower time of year)
  • Book your vacation with a Disney Travel Specialist who knows their way around the parks and can offer you other tips and touring plans to make your holiday visit the best it can be.