It’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays! The Happiest Place on Earth knows how to make guests feel merry and bright.
From beautiful Christmas trees galore, to snow in the parks, to holiday snacks, Disney World does the holidays better than any other.
They typically start the holiday decor in October (there in some overlap between halloween and thanksgiving and Christmas). The christmas holiday festivities start in November!
So we know when to expect the fun, now we just need to dive into the tips for making this the most magical holiday season at Disney World!
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8 important tips for a magical Disney World Holiday Vacation
Stay on Property
First up, if you’re staying on site, you’re going to want to book your resort early. You can book up to 499 days before your stay.
Yep, 499 days to plan!
Disney World operates at peak season during the holidays, which means resorts fill up quickly.
Staying on Disney property is a smart move because you will save tons of travel time by using their free shuttles and other transportation options to and from the parks.
As a resort guest, you are able to gain early entry or extended time after normal closing at select parks each day. They are called Extra Magic Hours.
Now, you’re thinking I’m going to tell you to take advantage of those extra hours and normally, I would.
Listen to me, NOT DURING THE HOLIDAYS! Everyone and their “I’m on school break” children will flock to the parks with EMH and it’s so congested that the extra time just means extra time to wait in line or fight the crowds.
Go to another park and breathe a sigh of relief when you find that the crowds are more manageable.
This year, in 2019, Disney is trialing their ‘extra extra magic hours’ and you guessed it, it’s more time in the parks!
We’ll have to let you know how it works out this year.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
With the parks teeming with guests the attractions, shows and parades can have extended wait times and limited space during the holiday season.
If you would like to experience the holiday cheer with less hustle and bustle, you may consider purchasing tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
MVMCP is a hard ticket event. This means that it is an additional cost to your Magic Kingdom ticket.
With a ticket starting at $95, prices can seem steep. But they are worth it for some special holiday events! Normally, Disney World puts a cap on the amount of tickets sold, but this year they aren’t doing that!
CUE the panic- just kidding.
While it may mean more people in the parks, it shouldn’t be too packed. I anticipate it will still be a wonderful time!
During the party, guests have access to special holiday merchandise like Mickey ears, mugs and ornaments. Snow falls on Main Street U.S.A. and guests can snack on unlimited cookies and hot chocolate at kiosks around the park.
Special parades and shows take place only at the party including: Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and Holiday Wishes.
Of course many rides and attractions are operating and have very short wait times of about 20 minutes or less.
You’ll be able to see your favorite characters dressed in their holiday best, as well as characters that only make an appearance once a year, just for the party!
Jack Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws, Nick and Judy from Zootopia, Princess Elena and the Seven Dwarfs are exclusive MVMCP favorites!
What’s the holidays without a little indulgence?
Disney pros love to hit the parks in search of new and classic seasonal treats. I mean, we all follow someone on instagram or facebook who is posting some delicious looking Disney snacks!
It’s easy to go for a typical Mickey shaped pretzel or bucket of popcorn, but why not try some festive food to enjoy in the beautifully decorated parks? Here’s a small list of favorites from last year.
- Peppermint Soft-Serve- Storybook Treats, Magic Kingdom
- Cookie Butter Milkshake- Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, Magic Kingdom
- Sugar Frosted Fruit Bites- Pretzel Palooza, Hollywood Studios
- Prep and Landing Gingerbread Cupcake- Multiple places in Hollywood Studios including ABC Commissary
- Feliz Navidad Nachos-Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, Magic Kingdom
- Glace au Pain d’Epices (Gingerbread ice cream with gingerbread crumbles)- L’Artisans des Glaces, Epcot
Click here for a list of snacks you should try anytime of the year.
You can book you Fastpass+ 60 days before your stay if you are staying on site and 30 days before if you are not.
The best way to get the attractions you want is to make a list beforehand so you know exactly which ones to search for once your booking day arrives.
At midnight of your 60 day mark, book those passes!
Yes, I said midnight.
There are only a certain amount of passes for each attraction and the most popular (think Avatar and Toy Story Land) go quick!
There is a limit of 3 FastPass+ per day per guest but once you use all three, you are able to add more.
It’s smart to try to book all three passes early in the day so that you can add more as soon as those are done. If you book two in the morning and one at 7pm, you cannot add more passes until that 7pm attraction has been scanned (ie. you saw the show or rode the ride) or cancelled.
FastPass+ are essential if you don’t want to wait in lines of 90+ minutes. (this is also why people are so excited for extra magic hours, they give you a shot at rides that fill up way too fast!)
Sit Down Meal Reservations
On that same token, you want to book a place to eat in advance as well.
There will rarely be seating for walk up requests and you’ll want to experience at least one sit down restaurant during the holidays because they are all decked out as well.
Dining reservations can be booked starting at 180 days of your arrival.
Also, try to be flexible with your eating times so that they don’t interfere with the wonderful holiday parades and shows.
It’s nice to know you have a guaranteed place to eat rather than winging it and crossing your fingers for a table at a quick service place.
What to Wear
Orlando typically has pretty pleasant weather during the holidays but it’s smart to dress in layers.
Some years I’m in tshirts and swimming on christmas (that’s not a joke) and other years it’s hoodie weather.
Temps are usually high during the day and get chilly as the sun sets. T-shirts and jeans with a hoodie are good choices, if you don’t want to carry around a backpack with extra clothes that is.
You might want to take along a rain poncho for those unexpected but quick passing showers too.
Whether you are staying on or off property, carve out some time to visit the Walt Disney World Resorts.
This is a fun and free way to add some holiday cheer to your vacation.
Take in all the magic of giant Christmas trees, carolers, holiday decor and life- size gingerbread houses on a self guided tour of these fabulous resorts. Trees are themed accordingly and the atmosphere is so festive.
Check them out!
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Contemporary Resort
- Beach Club
- Yacht Club
- Wilderness Lodge
- Boardwalk Inn
- Grand Floridian
- Polynesian Village Resort
We touched on this briefly with the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party but please take note that parks can operate at atypical hours during the holiday season.
Magic Kingdom and in the past, Animal Kingdom as well, will close early on party nights.
This means that guests without MVMCP event tickets will not get a full park day, as it will close at 6pm for non ticket holders.
Those nights will not have a “Happily Ever After” fireworks show either. Check WDW’s website for the party schedule and plan you park days accordingly.
That’s all for the Disney World Holiday Tips!
With these tips you’re bound to have a holly, jolly holiday time at the House of Mouse!