Christmas Week

Now that the busy holiday season is over, I have a question for all of you who visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Why?

When I applied to work at Disneyland, the interviewer made it very clear – I would work while others played. This meant weekends, nights, and especially holidays. I started as a Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper at the Blue Bayou Restaurant in May, 1971. After my initial training, I began my regular duties. I caught on quickly and survived the hordes during Easter week, the mobs of summer vacation, and the masses over the long Thanksgiving weekend. But nothing prepared me for Christmas week and I was taken by surprise at just how busy the park can be at this time of year. I had never experienced such a work load before that. For seven days straight, the Blue Bayou Restaurant had an hour-long line from the time we opened at 11:30am until closing at midnight. (This was in the days before reservations.) Mandatory overtime was instituted and many of us worked six or seven, 10-12 hour days. It was hell.

In the picture below, imagine the inside lobby of the Blue Bayou Restaurant completely filled with a zigzagging line that exits the door then snakes out of sight along the side of the building. And this was just to eat at a restaurant. The really long lines were for the attractions. Most of you who visit Walt Disney World have never had to experience long lines to eat at a table service restaurant.

Blue Bayou Restaurant

I have often asked myself, “Why would anyone visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year’s?” This is hands down the busiest week of the year. Park closings due to capacity issues are a daily experience. Of course, the answer to this question is simple. The kids are out of school this week and very often mom and dad have coordinated their vacation to coincide with this. But I’m here to tell you, a trip to a Disney park over Christmas week just might not be worth it.

Living in Orlando, I can go to Disney World anytime I like. And writing for AllEars requires that I visit here 3 to 5 times a week. But I avoid Disney World like the plague between Christmas and New Year’s. It’ simply isn’t worth it. It’s too darn crowded. Even Interstate 4, Highway 192, and the streets near Disney become a clogged mess during this time of year.

But the question “Why do people visit during this week” kept nagging at me. I know not everyone was doing so because of school schedules. There must be something I’m missing about this week that attracts so many of you. So I decided to take a drive down to the Magic Kingdom on December 29th (2011) to see if things are as horrible as I remember.

First, I knew I needed to arrive before 10am. The Magic Kingdom is the busiest of the four parks and is always the first to close due to capacity issues. I wanted to make sure I arrived before this happened. A complete description detailing Disney park closing policies can be found at the bottom of this blog.

When a park is reaching capacity, Disney will post signs around property, informing guests that a particular park is closed. However, these signs are easily missed. Once you reach a “point of no return” on the roadway, you are committed to drive all the way to the toll booth where you’ll be asked to make a U-turn. This can take a lot of time as the cast members must explain the disappointing news to each and every car ahead of you.

If a park is open, you will still have many vehicles ahead of you at the toll plaza when it’s busy. I must admit, Disney is magnificent at parking cars efficiently, but it can still take a lot of time to pay the attendant and be directed to a space.

If you’re staying at a Disney resort, by all means, use Disney transportation during Christmas week. It’s easier and will save you a lot of time and hassle.

I parked my car in the Magic Kingdom lot at 9:30am. I had to wait for three trams before I could board for my trip to the TTC. Once there, the lines to catch the monorail and ferry boat were incredible. I opted for the ferry and was able to catch the second boat to pull in. Once at the Magic Kingdom, the lines for bag check were humungous, as were the lines to pass through the turnstiles. In all, it took me a full hour to get from my car to the tunnel under the train tracks.

Waiting for the Tram

Waiting for the Monorail

Waiting for the Ferry Boat

Waiting for the Monorail and Ferry Boat

Waiting at the Turnstiles

Waiting at the Turnstiles

Since my objective was to blog about the day, not experience the park, I did not ride any attractions. I simply circled the park and took pictures and shot videos. Here are few photos of Main Street and The Hub.

Crowds on Main Street

Crowds on Main Street

Crowds on The Hub

Crowds on The Hub

Take a look at Tomorrowland.

Crowds in Tomorrowland

Crowds in Tomorrowland

Crowds in Tomorrowland

If you want to avoid lines at counter service restaurants, eating at off times is absolutely necessary. These next pictures were taken at Cosmic Rays Starlight Café at 11:30am. As you can see, it’s already pretty busy. But this is nothing compared to what it will look like at noon. Even at 11:30, cast members were guarding every doorway leading into the restaurant. All were designated as “exit only” with the exception of one which was designated “entrance only.” Disney does this to facilitate better crowd control. In addition, cast members had the entrance to the main dining room barricaded. You were required to have trays of food before being allowed to find a table. Past experience has shown that people will save tables, thus taking up this precious space for twice as long as necessary.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

By the way, did you know that Disney raises the prices on counter-service food over this week – just because they can?

This is Fantasyland around noon. There were still some open spaces, but you had to use your best maneuvering skills to negotiate the walkways.

Crowds in Fantasyland

Crowds in Fantasyland

Crowds in Fantasyland

In Liberty Square, the line for the Haunted Mansion began near the entrance to the Liberty Belle.

Crowds in Liberty Square

Haunted Mansion Line

In Frontierland, the wooden walkway that skirts the edge of the Rivers of America was designated as a two-way street. Masking tape had been placed on the ground with arrows indicating direction. Cast members were stationed along the route about every 15 feet to keep things moving. There was no stopping allowed. Traffic was so regimented in this area, I was not able to stop and get a picture. This next shot was taken In Liberty Square as you approach the Frontierland walkway.

Walkway Leading to Frontierland

The area in front of Thunder and Splash Mountains was a mob scene. There must have been a couple hundred people in line just to get FastPasses for TM, which was already stating a comeback time of 2:45-3:45. And remember, with crowds like these, returning to this area when your FastPass comes due is going to take additional time.

Crowds in Frontierland

Crowds in Frontierland

As you can imagine, Adventureland was as crowded as the rest of the park.

Adventurland Crowds

Adventurland Crowds

The shortest stated attraction line I ever saw was in Tomorrowland. Shortly after I arrived at 10:30 the line for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor was 20 minutes. However, before I left the area, it was 30 minutes. The sign posted for Snow White was 40 minutes, Dumbo 60 minutes, Small World 75 minutes, and Space Mountain 2 hours. But mind you, all of these signs said “From this point” and the lines extended well past the signs, which could add another 10-20 minutes to your wait. Even the People Mover and Swiss Family Treehouse had lines – attractions that never see people waiting. Carousel of Progress was playing to almost full theaters.

As I circled the park, I kept saying to myself, “I’m glad I’m here just to document the crowds and I’m not trying to get my money’s worth.”

I have created a humorous 3 minute video to better illustrate just how crowded things were that day. Check it out.

People often ask me how I can take pictures and videos at Walt Disney World with few or no people in the shot. Well one thing is certain, I don’t attempt this the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

After spending three hours at the Magic Kingdom, I’m still shaking my head. It is beyond me why anyone would spend their hard-earned money to visit Walt Disney World during Christmas week (other than it coincides with school vacation). If you want to see the holiday decorations, you can do that with manageable crowds from December 1st to around the 18th. The only thing you’d miss out on seeing during the early weeks of December is the Christmas parade. However, this is available if you attend one of the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties.

If you’re thinking that you’ll get to see the filming of the Christmas Parade and special entertainment broadcast every Christmas morning on ABC, think again. This was filmed weeks earlier at both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland when the crowds were manageable.

So folks, help me understand. Send me your reasons for visiting during the busiest week of the year (besides school vacation). Tell me why you’ll pay top dollar to stand in hour-long lines day after day when you could experience the parks at slower, less expensive times during other parts of the year. Would you do it again? I’d also like to hear some of your experiences, both good and bad, that occurred over Christmas week. I know I’d enjoy reading them and I think my readers would as well. (Try not to write a book. LOL)

When I worked at Disneyland in the 1970’s, the projected attendance for the day was posted backstage for the cast members to see. Christmas week regularly attracted 60 to 70 thousand people per day. Disney now guards this information judiciously. So don’t ask me how many people visit. I don’t know.

Below are the official Disney guidelines in regards to park closings at Walt Disney World. Note, it is common for the parks to reopen later in the afternoon as guests begin to leave.

Alternate Parking:

All Walt Disney World parks are open, but due to parking limitations, guests will be requested to park their vehicle at a different theme park and use Disney transportation to their ultimate destination. For example, guests wishing to visit the Magic Kingdom may be directed to park at Epcot and use the monorail.

Phase 1:

The following guests will be turned away at the Auto Plaza:

“¢ Day guests with Magic Your Way Base Tickets
“¢ One-Day/One-Park Tickets
“¢ Guests without theme park admission
“¢ Cast members using Main Gate & Silver Passes.

Phase 2:

Only the following guests will be allowed entrance:

“¢ Disney Resort guests*
“¢ Annual and Premium Annual Passholders
“¢ Guests with Park Hopper tickets coming from another park visited earlier in the day
“¢ Guests re-entering the same park
“¢ Guests with dining reservations
“¢ Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, The Pirates League, or Harmony Barber Shop (Magic Kingdom)
“¢ Guests with reservations for Wild Africa Trek (Animal Kingdom)

Phase 3:

At this phase, park admission is limited to:

“¢ Disney Resort Guests*
“¢ Annual and Premium Annual Passholders,
“¢ Guests with dining reservations
“¢ Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, The Pirates League, or Harmony Barber Shop (Magic Kingdom)
“¢ Guests with reservations for Wild Africa Trek (Animal Kingdom)

Phase 4:

Closed to all guests as the park has reached total capacity

* The following non-Walt Disney World hotels are considered part of the Disney Resort:

Swan and Dolphin
Shades of Green
The hotels along Hotel Plaza Blvd (provided guests arrive via their hotel shuttle bus)

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99 Replies to “Christmas Week”

  1. One might have to be totally mad or oblivious to choose to go to Disneyland knowing its that crowded. Being in a crowd like that and absorbing all those energies all day is tampering on you without you realizing it. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars you’re paying and wasting to walk around in a cattle stampede all day and maybe get on two rides if you’re lucky. You can go on a nice trip to another location for less money. Maybe some people don’t mind it with all the Christmas stuff hanging up. Just doesn’t seem exciting to me.

  2. We have visited Disney World during that dreaded time twice…once as 3 adults and once 3 adults and a 1.5 year old(Grandma went with us). I will NEVER go again while my kids are little. Then again, I may never go that time of year again…period. It was a 45 minute wait just to use a BATHROOM. It was insane. Elbow to elbow people no matter where you went. Long lines, cranky parents and children – beautiful decorations yes, but not worth the extra price. We’re trying the first week of January this year!

  3. I just saw this video and thought it was so funny b/c we were there the SAME DAY! I noticed in one of your pictures the CM working the sign for the HM. She looked very familiar to me as we walked past her a few times. Seeing the video I didn’t the crowds were as bad as that, yes it was busy, but we had patience and managed. We had PL reservations for my kids that day so we got to the park early afraid we wouldn’t make it in. Parked at the Contemporary as we were doing P&PFV that night. Going in wasn’t too bad, got breakfast at CC and SH. Found a table inside b/c it was chilly (got lucky I might add!) Went over to PP and got a FP. We rode POTC and went back to PP. Got in line for BTMRR, but confused my time for PL and didn’t want to be late (we could have made it b/c we waited a while). Lunch was crazy b/c the lines were so long for QS we decided to do hot dogs. I had PVH (which was not crowded suprisingly)for dinner with my DS5 and my DH and DS8 had hot dogs again. We saw the parade which we sat down for EARLY and enjoyed it. Lines were long for the bathrooms and yes it was crazy, but we still had fun. You ask why we did it at this time of year. Obviously the time off (my work is closed b/w Christmas and NY. We had the AP and live in NJ and we drive so we need extra time for the trip there and back. This year and it was either Thanksgiving or Christmas to see the decorations. We had more time at Christmas and I didn’t want to be home for NYE. Gave us an excuse to not have a party at home this year and I loved the fireworks in Epcot. We had a great time, but if I didn’t have the AP and couldn’t do all the rides if I was only going once this year I would have been really disappointed. I would never do it again though! It’s crossed off my bucket list 🙂 Now wish me luck for Easter!! In the future I would take time off and take the kids out of school early Dec. and late Sept b/c I do want to see the Halloween decorations too. I don’t think it will be as much of a problem taking time off of work in the future as long as I can afford it!

  4. Hey Jack

    Sorry for the late posting, but I had to chime in on this one. I can say I have been in Orlando with my parents and sisters, during the Christmas season… TWICE!

    (Edited due to length)

    So, to sum it up, Christmas Week at WDW:
    – Plan, plan and plan ahead some more.
    – Look for the spots off the beaten path.
    – If you don’t have a fast pass, don’t ride.
    – If you have the right mindset and steer yourself, you CAN find some Disney magic on Christmas time.
    – Would I do it again? Maybe. I have a high tolerance to pain and a lot of patience. Would my family do it again? That’s a resounding NO.

  5. It’s sometimes hard to love Disney unconditionally when we’re constantly barraged with the news of them doing the sorts of things that massive corporations tend to do when they lose sight of the little people. The latest blow for me was Marvel’s countersuit against one of the creators of Ghost Rider that took away his very rights to lay claim to his part in the creation. Still, I weather the storm and come through on the other side still a die hard Disney fan!

    But, man, they make it hard. Sentences like this…

    “By the way, did you know that Disney raises the prices on counter-service food over this week — just because they can?”

    …really make me wonder about my loyalty to a massive entity that clearly doesn’t care about me in the slightest.

  6. Dear Jack,

    I meant to comment on this long before but got busy. I’ve never been to Disney World around the Christmas holidays nor would I ever attempt it but I did go to Hong Kong Disneyland this past Christmas day just for kicks. I knew HK Disneyland wasn’t going to be nearly as nice as the ones in the US or Tokyo Disneyland but after being in Asia for over 2 weeks I wanted to do something that made me think of home and Disney World especially on Christmas day. We didn’t know what to expect but I was braced for the worse and expecting US worthy crowds but to my surprise it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I expected. The crowds are more like a summer day in Disney World. We got there at opening and were able to ride most of the rides in Tomorrowland with little to no wait. We rode rides in Fantasyland and got to see their Broadway like show that was really quite good. Once the afternoon came around the park got crowded but not unbearably so and by the time we made it to the Toy Story Land it was quite crowded that the lines for the rides were too long to wait for. They were mostly kiddie type rides that were well themed but not worth the wait and this land was the most crowded because it seems the Pixar characters are popular in Hong Kong. I have heard HK Disneyland referred to as Disney lite and it is an accurate assessment even though I saw signs that stated that expansion was in the works. The other observation I had was I felt the lack of Disney heart in the park and probably the only place I felt that familiar pull of the heart strings was during the Broadway show. Usually any one of the Disney shows make me tear up. I also didn’t feel it from the guests as well. When you go to the US parks you can feel the emotion coming from the other guests. You know most of the people visiting grew up with Disney and and have looked forward to visiting the parks all year or longer. The parks means something special and you can see the magic of the parks reflected in a lot of people’s faces. In HK Disneyland you didn’t get that feeling. Maybe it will take a generation later for the sense of history and legacy to be felt. It almost seemed like it was just a fun place to visit the cute characters and hang out for a day. The park was clean and themed but not over whelmingly so. It just lacked magic and that special something that sets the Disney parks apart from other theme parks. It was themed just enough to say it’s Disney but not more.

    Christmas was done nicely. They had a couple cool parades and shows to mark the day which is what we mainly came to see since we have ridden most of the rides elsewhere. The park closed early 9:00 pm which I thought was weird and we didn’t want to stay for the fireworks because we didn’t want to be caught in the train rush. We were also hungry since the food was mediocre at best. We are Chinese so it wasn’t because we didn’t like Chinese food we just didn’t like HK Disney’s food. They really need to improve the offerings. It was a good call to leave early because it took us a long time practically standing the whole way to get back to the center of Hong Kong where our hotel was. I can’t image what it would have been like to go home with the rush. We probably wouldn’t have been able to get on a train for a long time.

    Overall, I’m glad we did it but I don’t know that we would come back again for a long long time. It certainly fell far short from the US parks and Tokyo’s park. I can’t speak for Disneyland Paris as we’ve never been there. I just thought I’d let you know of our experience on Christmas day in Hong Kong Disneyland.

    Thank you,

  7. We went December 21 – 26. I was concerned about the crowds (but I knew the next week would be worse), but it is one of the few times of the year we can go due to school and sports and various other obligations. We did go in October in combo with a cruise, so this was a repeat trip. It was a surprise Christmas gift for my children. I warned them that it was going to be much more crowded than we were used to, and that we were going mostly to enjoy the Christmas “magic,” and to do a few things we didn’t have time to do in October. Still I was worried. But from the moment we stepped on Disney property for our dinner reservations the first night until we departed the last day, we had an absolute BLAST!!! We have been to Disney before, so we know how to plan, but we’ve never been during the holidays. But by arriving early (park opening), and riding early/late and making efficient use of Fastpasses, we were able to take in the Christmas atmosphere during the middle of the day and enjoy smaller experiences we don’t normally stop to enjoy, and still were able to ride more rides than we normally do! (We rode Soarin twice, Test Track twice, and Big Thunder twice, and Toy Story Mania three times — we’ve never managed to do that before!) So we would absolutely do it again. You just can’t expect to arrive late and wonder around with no plan, leave early, and expect to do everything in the middle of the day when it’s most crowded….

  8. LOL! the short answer for the reason we went that week was because Disney required it! My daughter danced in Downtown Disney on Dec 30 so that set us up to be there that week. They also required each dancer to have a minimum 3-day park ticket. The ticket rate was discounted but not the hotels–we only received about 10% off the regular rate. But since we have been before, we had a scaled down touring plan and made looking at the decorations one of our priorities.

    The main thing to any trip to Disney is to do your homework. We went to Animal Kingdom on New Year’s Eve because I figured that would be the least crowded park since they didn’t have alcohol and special fireworks. We had a 10-minute wait for Lion King, the safari ride, and my husband had no wait in the single rider line for Everest! ALL DAY! It was amazing. Then we went to Magic Kingdom on Jan 1 because I figured everyone would sleep in. Again, we had little to no wait times. The longest we waited was 20 minutes for Pooh and there was no wait at the Teacups AFTER LUNCH!

    There were also lots of internationals there becasue they are on holiday that week too. But the decorations were worth it especially at the resorts.

  9. I have to answer that if you plan well, it is not so bad. I went this past Christmas week for the first time in 5 years. I also stayed off property for the first time in Davenport at exit 55 off I-4. I couldn’t resist $50 at Holiday Inn. I never ran into traffic getting to the parks. The trip consisted of my mother, myself, and my daughter who’s 15. We arrived before park opening every day so we never had the crowds at the TTC. We did the major attractions/rides at each park first, ate a early lunch, concentrated on our fastpasses and shows in the afternoon. I NEVER waited in a long line for anything. I attended MK on Dec 30 not the 31st. Did AK the 31st-it was completely empty. I also found the parks emptier at 8:00am this week than 9:00am this past January through Marathon weekend. I obtained a Toy Story Mania fastpass at 8:01 with no line! I was pleasantly surprised that our plan worked so well. I guess I can’t really answer your question, but I thought I would share our experience.

  10. Hi Jack

    My family and I did a road trip to Florida and it was amazing! My family decided to do it because we hadn’t driven to Florida before and I have not been to Disney for four years (and I missed it!) We managed to miss a few of the big crowds by planning our week accordingly. The only really big crowds were on the 30th of December. We went to the Magic Kingdom. The crowds were a bit busy but because I have a disability I got an alternate entrance card which got us into the FastPass lines which were not too bad. The key was timing. We would see any parade that we had not seen before FIRST and if there was a second showing, we would take that opportunity to go on the hot ticket rides. Then we would take advantage of the hours. If it so happened that a park stayed open later than the last fireworks of the day, then we’d stay behind and catch up on all the rides as most people were leaving. We went to Hollywood Studios (MGM in my heart)for New Years which wasn’t too bad considering. The key to this was to go on all the attractions first and see the shows as late as possible. (Thus a park times guide and a highlighter or a pen should be something you carry at all times!) I was actually surprised that Star Tours wasn’t as crowded that day. But then after that, the people disappeared.

    Sure there’s a lot of people! But when we all get together under the hat for the New Years Eve Kickoff party, it’s one memorable night. I especially liked the giveaway of the hats and horns. You could hear them all the way down to Lights, Motors, Action. And lots of people that didn’t have one that would spot us with ours would whisper loud “Where do you get one of those? Quick check the times guide!”
    And even when you are stuck waiting for another tram and are disappointed when you miss the previous one, you have thousands of others to share your despair with, and then joke about it afterwards!

    Would we do it again? Absolutely, if conditions are favorable like they were this year. There’s something about the holiday season that makes the parks extra magical, and that’s what I like about it!

  11. Omg, the post from Dale who says that the lack of smiles speaks volumes is so true. That is no way to vacation in my mind. We’ll stick to going to Disney World in Oct. or Nov., thank you very much!

    Going again this year to HS Cheerleading Nationals this Feb. 11-13. Over a week before Presidents week, so the parks should be nice and empty! (unless there’s another event I don’t know about) Just hope it’s not as cold as last year.

  12. Jack, my girlfriend (Cassandra above) and I are passholders and are making up for lost time this year due to being sidelined by an ankle injury. We would NEVER pay extra to do this week in the parks – it was nuts! We are annual instead of seasonal passholders because we enjoy the included parking and stopping by for those hot summer evenings just to take in fireworks and a parade. If you upgrade your seasonal pass for this blackout period to be removed – you’re not spending your money too wisely.

    That said, we made sure to be staying on property (All-Star Movies) and to make dining reservations for each day, just to be as sure as possible that we’d be granted entrance to the parks. The fireworks at MK on the 30th and MGM (yes, it’s still MGM to us) on the 31st were AMAZING, but we did not even expect to ride a single ride and feel lucky that we got a few in during Extra Magic Hours.

    Next up: Coronado springs this weekend and the Keys to the Kingdom Tour the following weekend… excited to see much less traffic in the parks!

    Thanks again for helping me visit the parks from my sick bed!


  13. I’ve been to WDW on 6 different months out of the year on various trips and being there at this time of the year was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it. I went twice with my family when my sister was still in high school and I was in college. We don’t believe in missing school for anything other than sickness so the holiday break was our only opportunity to see the holiday displays. We have been so many times that we didn’t need to rush around and see everything. We would pick about 3 rides per park that were our favs, wait in line and catch up with each other. We would also see the candlelight processional, go visit the decorations at other resorts, and spend time in the nice restaurants. Would I do it again? Yes. Probably only a few times more so my husband can experience it and maybe once when we have a family. The decorations and entertainment are magical and should be seen at least once by Disney fans if this is the only time you are able to go for the holiday magic. But I would never plan this as my only Disney vacation for the year but as a supplement to my annual trip. If you go as your main trip you will be very dissappointed.

  14. Hey Jack,
    I’m tagging in late so hope you don’t mind. Very cool and interesting blog subject this time around! I will tell you that we spent New Years Eve at WDW. Why? Because I never have and Iwanted to see the Holiday Fireworks. Did we dare go to any of the parks? No Way!! knew better than that. What we did do though was book a nice room at the Pop Century and had a wonderful dinner at The Wave. Follwing dinner we hung out on the 4th floor balcony of the Contemporty and watched the midnight firework show. It was AWESOME!!!
    Quite frankly I dont understand why anyone would attend the parks the week of X-mas/New Years. Dont get it. Then again I dont get why people go inthe Summer either. Even when I wasnt local I would plan my trip in Fall. I get the whole kids have off for Winter and Summer break,but to be quite honest I feel if done properly a Kid could benefit educationaly from a visit to WDW, particularly EPCOT, maybe even more so than setting in a stuffy old class room for a week. Am I advocating pulling a kid out of school for a week in the Fall or off season for a better WDW experience? Dare I say it but yes!! Thats just mu humble opinion:)
    Why do people insist on torturing themselves and attend WDW the week of X-mas? Dont really know. I’m guessing its partly the old saying that people just like to me miserable. Then you have the type that probably attend because they just want to see the train wreck of it all. Others I think just completely have no clue what it is really like that time of year and probably truly belive they are the first to come up with the idea “Hey lets spend X-mas a WDW, Wont that be fun? No one else will be there,right?”. LOL 🙂 In short I’m sure its a combination of all of these points and more. Happy Holidays!!

  15. Jack, thanks for braving the crowds to share with everyone what the parks look like during the busiest week of the year. Despite having grown up in Central FL and knowing what to expect, we decided to bring our son down for his second trip just after Christmas 2009. We had pulled him out of school for his first trip, but as kids get older, that gets harder on them.

    In any case, we arrived on Dec 27th and stayed until Jan 3rd. It was crazy busy up through the 31st. 150+ minute wait times for some of the bigger attractions were pretty common. We were however smart enough to spend NYE in AK and then had a late dinner at our resort. The next day things were emptying out, and by the 2nd, we had the MK almost to ourselves. Even though it was crazy, we *did* have a lot of fun and enjoyed the trip.

    This year, while we could have arrived on New Years Day and stayed just the quieter first week of January, we intentionally planned to arrive in time to spend NYE in one of the parks. Why? That’s a really good question. I think the best answer I can give is that a holiday is more special if I can spend it at WDW than if I spend it on the couch at home.

  16. Wow. That gave me anxiety just looking at the pictures and watching the video. I seriously could not imagine ever visiting that week. My favorite part of the video is the Photopass photographer at about the 2:40 mark…he’s just staring at the crowds like he would not even begin to know where to start taking pictures – his expression is great:)

  17. Jack,

    Enjoyed your post, as always – thanks for bringing the magic of Disney into our homes!

    My boyfriend and I spent December 30th – January 2nd in the parks. We are passholders and were looking for something different to do for the holiday. We’re not the kind of people to party hard on New Year’s, and as we love everything Disney, spending the holiday there just made sense to us. We mostly people-watched (which we LOVE to do), stood amazed at the more-fantastic-than-ever fireworks shows, and rode a few favorite rides during late EMH – and we’d do it all over again! However, it is NEVER a way I would recommend ANYONE visit Disney World if they have any intention of going on all the rides and seeing everything there is to see.

  18. My husband and I go to Disney every year in January. My husband had never seen the holiday decorations so we decided to go December 10-19th, 2011 (the 19th was a Monday). The first part of the trip was ok. The crowds I know were still low but not as low as when we go in January. By the time Friday came we knew we had stayed too long. The mass of crowd started Friday and only got worse as the weekend went on. I do not do well with crowds and by Sunday I was so overwhelmed I did not want to even attempt to enter the parks again. Our favorite walk on ride, Wedway Peoplemover, jumped to a 30 min wait and Space Mountain was not worth the 160 min wait time offered. Even some of the cast members told us they don’t even go in the park if they can’t walk on the Peoplemover. I know this is probably nothing compared to the week of Christmas but we defiantly got a taste of something we don’t ever want to do.

    We did learn one thing on this trip though. It pays to stay at a deluxe resort at this time. My boss went with her family the same week and stayed at Pop Century. I heard stories of her waiting for over an hour and 5 buses just to get back to her resort. We stayed at the fabulous Wilderness Lodge and waited no more than 15 min while many times we were the only ones on that bus or boat.

    Your blog made me laugh because that is the question I have asked for many years. It also showed us that we will only be going back in January.

  19. We were there that day and even made your video! Our reason: We go to my in-laws’ house in FL (we live up north) every year that week and usually
    spend the whole week at their house. With my in-laws.

    WDW is a 3-hour drive from their place. We decided to break up the week with what I called a “kamikaze” MK trip — we drove up the night before, stayed at a value resort, and woke up early to get in some rides before all hell broke loose. And it worked. Between 8 and 10am, we did Peter Pan, Thunder Mtn, Splash (2x), Pirates (3x), and Haunted Mansion, and then got fastpasses for Buzz. We spent some good time on Tom Sawyer Island and had an early lunch at Columbia Harbor House. (We even got a table on the
    overpass.) We did some other less-crowded rides in the afternoon (people mover, carousel of prog, carpets). My kids have been to MK many times, so they knew what they wanted to do and have already had a chance to soak in the Disney atmosphere on other trips. We left early and drove back that

    I would never recommend that week for anyone going for the first time. And
    I would never fly to Orlando that week. But escaping from the in-laws’
    place for a day doing my kids’ favorite rides? It was worth fighting the
    crowds, and it was easily the highlight of the week for my kids.

  20. Happy New Year! Thank You for your many blogs, I do love reading them. But on this one I had to just put in a little of my own experience with Disneyland as I grew up. Every year we traded off going to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm (throughout the 80’s up till 94). We always went about 2-4 days before Christmas, and usually found the park empty. Sometimes to the point where a ride operator would let us just sit in the ride and let us go again, since hardly anyone would be waiting in line! I can see now that times have changed, and you probably couldn’t pay me to go during those crowds now! Especially when I have such fantastic memories of an empty holiday Disneyland Park to look back on!

  21. WOW. Thanks for showing us that. Some friends of mine were there; they didn’t complain about the crowds at all! They had a blast! But there is NO WAY I’d do OK in that sort of situation! I always go for the least crowded times possible.

    The hub and Main Street USA! HELP!

    My next trip is next month (!!) before President’s Day, so I’m hoping for LOW LOW LOW crowds but decent weather. 🙂

  22. We went this year December 10th thru the 17th and the crowds that week were much heavier! We go every year that week, and 2011 has got us rethinking our dates for next year!

  23. Nice article Jack. We prefer to visit during the first 2 weeks of December and it’s really nice. I cannot imagine going during Christmas week…and your photos clearly demonstrate why. Have you noticed that in all of your photos….no one seems to be smiling???
    Happy new year!

  24. I spent a week at WDW this past Christmas and actually found it surprisingly pleasant. When I get a chance to go it’s usually during the off season, but I love seeing the parks at Christmas so I thought it would be worth the extra waits for something a little special. I actually didn’t encounter anything nearly as bad as you did. Having a lot of time there, along with Park Hopper tickets, certainly helped. Whenever a park seemed unusually crowded I’d just go to another, and had good luck with that. Just by rotating parks I was eventually able to do everything I wanted, but it definitely required being flexible. Showing up to a park determined to stay there the entire day would be setting yourself up for failure. I made several reservations well in advance and ate a lot of meals Downtown and at the resort, which also saved a lot of suffering. Christmas day was the only truly absurd part. I spent the day at Epcot, which was crowded but not at all unpleasant, but out of curiosity I wanted to see how things were at Magic Kingdom that night. I went just before the parade and it was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. I wandered around for a little while in the mass of people, then eventually had to exit behind the buildings in Main Street because the parade crowd was too dense.

  25. Another great blog Jack! I enjoyed the comments as much as the blog itself:) I too was curious as to why anyone would go when there are that many people there and I think my eyes have been opened to why it works for some people and not others. I’m part of the group that would most definitely stick with the ‘not so busy’ times of the year as we don’t live close enough to go that often. I think if I had the luxury of going more frequently I may brave a NYE fireworks display as I think that would be spectacular! I think the energy that people speak of at those special events would be great to experience some time, but until I’m able to go more frequently, I’ll stay away from the crowds in the video…very well done, by the way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it! I’ve heard its busy, but never seen it. Thanks Jack for braving those crowds and sharing with the rest of us:) Happy New Year!

  26. I have been looking at these pics everyday since you posted them!! They blow my mind!! But I especially wanted to comment on your comment to Matt S. above. I have been going to Disney World since 1991. And when I go now with my husband, I always tell him “The parks were just not that busy back then” and he just thinks Im crazy and remember it fondly because it was my childhood. But I specifically remember riding Splash Mountain 5+ times a day! You could get off and get right back on! And now, we are cheering if its a 20 minute wait. But your statment of “busy and not-so-busy times” is dead on in my book!

    Jack’s Comment:

    The crowds at Walt Disney World have always been dictated by the season. But things have changed. In the past, there were slow times, moderate times, and busy times. In my opinion, the “slow” times have all but disappeared. Now there are busy times and not-as-busy times. It is not your imagination.

  27. Got to comment on this one as Christmas is my favorite time of the year to visit WDW.
    Never been the week after Christmas and never will. I absolutely cannot stand crowds and long wait times. Fortunately, I have the luxury of visiting the parks anytime since we don’t have children…yet.

    Back in 99, an ex girlfriend and I went to the World the first week in December and The crowds were the lowest I had ever seen. No wait times for anything! We were able to ride all the big rides 3-4 times with not even a 5 minute wait.
    My wife and I went last December (2011) that same week and it was clear that times had changed. We were dissatisfied with our hotel room and requested to be moved to another room or even another hotel. Every hotel was booked solid!!! We knew Pop Warner was going that week but, that wasn’t the issue. A hotel manager Told us that they were full convention mode also. Bummer.
    Even with the cheerleading and conventions going, wait times were nearly as bad as what I just saw in Jack’s video. Ugh! I got stressed and irritated just watching it.

    I’ve done some research on when the best times to go to WDW are but, I want to know what other people have experienced to better plan our next World trip. 😉

    Jack’s Comment:

    This past December was busier than usual. Even the first week of December was somewhat crowded. I read an article that in spite of the recession, people are starting to take vacations again and theme parks are their first choice.

    When I moved to Orlando almost 13 years ago, There were busy times and slow times. However, lately it seems like there are busy times and not-so-busy times. There are rarely really slow times.

    January and February are reasonable times to go — except it’s cold. And avoid President’s Week.

    The first two weeks of September are also good as everyone has just gone back to school and parents haven’t started taking their kids out of school yet to visit Disney. However, it’s very hot.

    Spring Break takes place in March and April, but the crowds are manageable and the weather is perfect. Avoid the week before and after Easter.

  28. Frankly, I’m glad these people go at this time and not when I go. I need these people to go at xmas and not go when I go. Thank you everyone! I hope you had a magical time lol!!

  29. We went on Christmas day in 2005. We purchased our tickets at the counter in the All Star Music resort on Christmas day and took the bus to Magic Kingdom and after battling the crowds we finally arrived on Main Street at approximately 11:00am. We headed over to the Jungle Cruise where a cast member told us the ride was closed, over to Pirates and we had the same answer, it wasn’t until we headed past Splash Mountain and when that was closed I finally asked what was going on, the cast member said that the electric had blown and as a result, most of the rides had been down for almost two hours and they didn’t have a time that they expected it to be back. So we were in Magic Kingdom with no attractions for our five year old. We tried to regroup for the remainder of the day, but between the massive crowds and a seemingly endless stream of bad luck (way too much to write about here) we ended up in our hotel that evening tired and frustrated. Definitely not the experience we had planned. To this day, this was the only unpleasant time that I had ever experienced at a Disney park or resort.

    But fortunately, Disney managed to send a little magic our way. After we came home, I found myself a little bothered by a few of our experiences over the Christmas holidays. Crowds are not something that can be controlled, but there were several unpleasant experiences that we had that just didn’t say “Disney” to me when they happened. So I wrote an email sharing our experience and within two days received a call from a customer service representative asking for a little more information, which I supplied, and then she informed me that
    Disney was replacing our tickets and we would expect them in about a week.

    We make it a point to visit Disney several times a year, and while there is something magical about the thought of Disney and Christmas, I know better now. Being a Florida resident, I treat Christmas in Disney the same way I treat Disney in July with a 90 degree heat index, there’s so many other days for me to go at my pace and really enjoy it.

  30. Jack: you always give such great perspectives on Disney. We live in Orlando and have seasonal passes…why? Because there is no way I would step foot on WDW property during Christmas, Easter, or most of the summer! Notice there are always about three families in every Disney ad including on Main Street USA? It’s nice to have the ‘park to yourself’! Disney on January 17th…now that’s the ticket! Thanks for the post 🙂

  31. We were at Epcot for NYE and had a blast! yes, it was insanely crowded, and we knew it would be, but with fastpasses we were able to ride everything once (that’s all my kids ever want to do anyway).

    Why did we go that week? I wanted to experience Illuminations and the fireworks around World Showcase for NYE. and it was AMAZING! I don’t regret being there. We had a great time.

    My husband is a teacher, so going during the off-season isn’t an option. My company shuts down the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so heading to WDW during that week is a way for us to get a Disney fix without me using any of my vacation time. Even with the crowds, it’s better than sitting at home!

    I wouldn’t plan your FIRST visit to WDW during that week though…’d likely be quite disappointed. I saw lots of kids in tears when fastpasses were gone and parents didn’t want to stand in 90 minute lines….but since we’ve been there many times over the years, for us it was all about the excitement and atmosphere of the Holiday season…

  32. I’ve always wanted to go to WDW the week of Christmas. Until now. I can’t believe these pictures. They’re crazy! I’ve been twice in July, once at Thanksgiving (busy enough for me), and three times in October. October is so much calmer and enjoyable than this!
    I’ve told my husband that I want to just go and be in the “magic” at the holidays, see all the decorations, visit all the resorts, etc. I think if we were to go that week, we’d have to do the free things (resort hop, etc.), and stay out of the parks.
    One of my favorite things about WDW is that everyone is in such a great mood (for the most part). I don’t think I could handle the humbugs that are in your pictures. It would ruin the trip and my Christmas.
    Thanks for the visual heads up!

  33. I was at Disney from 22 December to 1 January and it was busy. Christmas day and New Years Eve were the worst days. I knew it would be busy but it was the only time I could take my kids out of school for that long over the holidays.
    New Years Eve was extremely crowded and not very enjoyable. I was told that over 67,000 people were in the Magic Kingdom. My youngest daughter did not get on any rides until after nine at night.
    I have another daughter in a wheelchair and it was actually dangerous to navigate the crowds. Many people climbed over her or ran into her due to rudeness or just being oblivious.
    I know Disney wants to maximize profits but it is inexcusable to allow the parks to go beyond a managable and enjoyable capacity. I’ll never visit the parks during this time again.

  34. This. Is. Insane.

    I don’t know why anyone would want to be there during this time. I agree with you that you can get the “holiday magic” going a little earlier. I would be miserable. Spending your hard earned money (and more of it with peak pricing in effect) to wait in line for 2 hours for one ride? I don’t get it.

    I also have no clue why no one knows that this week is the busiest week of the whole year. We just got back from a trip from Dec. 16-23rd and everyone I talked to asked why we returned before Christmas. When I tell them how it is the busiest week, they have a surprised “oh really??”.

    If you are spending all this time and money, wouldn’t you research the best times to go/crowd levels before you book?? We generally go in March or Oct. ( I prefer Oct crowd levels).

    Thanks for taking one for the team Jack and braving the crowds!

  35. Jack,
    First of all I want to THANK YOU for writing this article. I always read about the “magic” of visiting over christmas week and I’ve read warnings that the crowds are busier that time of year…but I have NEVER seen pictures or footage of the actual crowds. This has to be one of your MOST informational blogs yet. I totally agree, I would not want to waste my hard earned money to visit during such a crowded time. I have to save for well over a year to visit (and I would bet MANY other families do the same). I would be so disapointed (and honestly saddened) if I showed up for my trip and had to wait two hours for each ride. I am not kidding when I say this is your most informational blog yet…this is truly VALUABLE information that potential visitors need to know!!!! THANK YOU!

  36. Hi Jack,
    My family spends christmas in the world every other year. Our most recent trip was 23-28 of Dec 2011. While MK can be very crowded, especially christmas day, we noticed on this recent trip, that the parks were not at the same capacity as in past trips. The day after christmas we noticed a difference, but it was still not the same as in past years. My children are grown and I have grandchildren now. I know what to expect and staying on property helps, with the extra magic hours. We generally take advantage of early magic hours and the late hours also. The crowds are no different then when we would travel to wdw for the fourth of July when the kids were growing up and then you had to deal with the heat. The decorations are beautiful, the weather is wonderful (I live in texas, and the spirit of the season makes it a wonderful place to be!

  37. Christmas Week I completely agree with you Jack. I wouldn’t visit WDW between Dec 20 and Jan 5 even if someone else was paying for everything. Take a close look at all of the pictures. No one is smiling, not even the cast members. That speaks volumes!! I’ll pass.

  38. We travelled from the UK for Christmas in 2009. My family was fortunate enough to be able to stay for 3 weeks, off site in a fabulous villa just minutes away from AKL. We arrived on 12th, my mum and dad on 17th and my sister and her family on 19th. We were all together, in the most magical place in the world, and would do the trip again in a heartbeat.

    The first few days of our trip we were one of first cars in the parking lot every day and no wait time on any of the rides, but by the second week our experience was the same as yours, taking one hour to get from the car into MK and maybe managing to ride three rides per day. We could not take advantage of EMH and by far the worst was TSM at HS as when we headed over for a fastpass at 10.30 and the return time was 8.00 pm. Our daughter had always wanted to be in Magic Kindgom on Christmas Day and we were there in the rain, so it was not as busy as we had anticipated. We had lunch at the Crystal Palace and didn’t feel rushed at all and spent a lot of time with each of the characters. It was truly an amazing day for the children and the adults and one we will never forget.

    I had been planning this trip for two years and even the crowds could not dampen my spirits. Every time I think of the Candlelight Processional narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, or the “snow” falling on Main Street,the gingerbread house, fireworks on NYE, getting a hot chocolate in the Writers Stop and walking down Osborne Street of Lights, etc. I wouldn’t change a thing! Our next trip will be Easter 2014 another busy time, and the plans are already well advanced, with lots of help from you, Jack.

    With best wishes for the year ahead.

  39. My family and I have visited DW during the Christmas break twice (2008 and 2010). We did this for a couple of reasons, one it was our children’s Christmas present and two they were out of school. We were there the week of Christmas ( a few days before and then on Christmas day) but not the week between Christmas and New Years. I know in 2010 we were at Epcot on Christmas day and there were signs saying Magic Kingdom was closed due to reaching capacity. We were fortunate enough to get in because we were resort guests. I can say that it is truly magical for us to be there at Christmas time. We have enough knowledge of DW that we know how to plan for the crowds. I could not imagine going and not being able to know how to deal with the crowds. We are going back this year but have decided we will go the week prior to Christmas so that we can be home on Christmas day. This will mean keeping the kids out of school for a few days but it will be worth it to be able to go and experience the holiday season again at DW but not the crowds. I think that DW is one of the most magical places to be at during the holidays.

  40. Happy New Year Jack!

    I enjoy reading your articles not only for the interesting information that you bring but those moments of humor. That video was hysterical!

    It’s wonderful that WDW is open all year, allowing people to experience the magic in whatever level of chaos they choose :o). I, myself appreciate the quieter non-Holiday times that I go to the Mouse House.

    Thank you CMs for your commitment to Guests throughout the year …no matter the crowd!

  41. Jack: Happy new year. OK, I think I have an answer for you on this one. Ready? THESE PEOPLE ARE ABSOLUTELY NUTS. I run into them at work all of the time. And then they say to me, “I hate Disney World. How could you keep going there?” Hello, I don’t go the busiest week of the entire year!!! Anyway, I’m glad to see you survived. I probably would have been escorted out and never been allowed to return again due to my non-stop screaming of, “Get out of my way!!” LOL And thanks for this article.

  42. Hi, Jack! Great article, as always :0)
    We visited this year from Dec. 16-21, the closest to Christmas we’ve ever been there. The first few days were fine, but by the 20th, the madness was descending and we noticed a definite change. It’s no fun to tell your 10-year-old that he can’t ride anything because the waits are 120 minutes plus. But, we made the best of it by seeing shows and lining up early for Fantasmic. My husband and I agreed that we will never visit that close to Christmas again. I shudder to think about the crowds during the week following. I think we’ll stick to our beloved November, thank you!

  43. Hi Jack,

    I’m surprised you didn’t poll people at the park that day and ask them why they had chosen to be there. Most of them probably don’t follow AllEars and I’m curious if any of them were surprised it was so busy.

    I would love to experience the Disney Holiday magic, but being around those kinds of crowds would drive me batty. I’ve only been to Disney in May (a lovely time, btw) and I plan to go next time in September for my birthday. No crowds and value pricing!

  44. Hi Jack! I’ve actually spent the Christmas weekend in 3 different parks before, and the experiences for all 3 were definitely different.

    Firstly, to answer your question, I agree that the main reason why people choose to go to Disney parks during Christmas week is because that period is one of the few times everyone in the family can go on a vacation, especially if there are kids and teenagers in the family. My first visit to Disney World was way back in 2003 when I was still a student. Me and my friends decided to go to Orlando during our winter break and I can honestly tell you that none of us expected the crowd to be so crazy! The worst was when we went to The Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day. The park reached its full capacity and it was really insane. We were so overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that we decided to leave the park and went to Epcot where the crowd was less crazy.

    Another reason why I think people choose to go to Disney Parks during the Christmas week is because I think once you start working, Christmas week is definitely one of the easier times to take a long leave since everyone is in the holiday mood. Such is the case when I spent Christmas in Tokyo back in 2006. I opt to go to the Tokyo Disney Resort on the 25th and 26th of December. When I went to Disneyland on the 25th, it was raining all day long and even so, the crowd was still pretty crazy. I heard from my tour guide that this is because the Japanese are used to having rain, and rains won’t deter them from going to the park. However, when I went to Disneysea the next day, the park was pretty empty even though it’s right after Christmas. I found that to be pretty weird, but then again, the Japanese have always seem to prefer Disneyland (I’ve been to Disneysea 3 times and the park was always pretty empty all 3 times).

    My first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland was back in 2008 and I went there on the 28th of December. I arrived at the park slightly after noon and I can tell you that I managed to ride ALL of the attractions by nightfall. It was so empty and there were hardly any lines at all. I guess this was partly because the HK park is the smallest and least popular of all.

    All in all, I think I would still choose to go to Disney Parks during Christmas week if that is the only time I can take leave from my work. But if given the choice, I’d definitely choose to go during other times, preferably on a weekday as the crowd seem to be less crazy then 🙂

  45. I haven’t seen this mentioned yet: We go during Christmas-New Year’s because we are “escaping” into chaos on purpose!
    We have very little extended family, and my kids both have special needs that cause them to be socially isolated at home/school. This means that the two weeks of winter break feel dreary, and it’s very easy for me to focus on what my family lacks.
    Not at Disney World! True, the crowds were atrocious this year – worst I’ve ever seen. But we persevered, had fun, looked at getting into our favorite rides as a challenge. It was so busy and crazy and fun that we got to forget, even for a few expensive days, of the difficulties we have back home.

    Worth it? Incredibly so!

  46. I have went to Disney twice during Christmas and would again, but I never saw crowds like in your pictures. First time, we went in 2006-2007 for the first time besides a day visit with our sons. We did dining and 10 days of Disney so we knew we could walk away from long line and return later. We got there Christmas Day and left Jan 3. It was wonderful. I also went last year, but only 5 days and from Dec 19-24. It is cold but crowds were not bad. Everyone should go once at the holidays, but maybe not twice. I am a Teacher and cannot go when all the great deals are.

  47. We did our first christmas week in 2009. Got engaged in the Magic kingdom on the 29th. Rang in 2010 in Epcot. We had my 87 yo grandfather with us so we were set to be on a slow pace anyway. We got there at opening both days and stayed til close. Grandpa and mom left early on New years eve, it was a long day. We got everything in that we wanted to do.
    Did we wait in line for spaceship earth for an hour? @ the normally very short wheelchair entrance? You bet. Were we basically touching our neighbor while watching the fireworks? Yup.
    Would we do it again? In an instant! Once christmas aligns on a day where I can take a week but not miss christmas back home we will be there. Why? It’s magical. For disney fans like us that have been 25+ times it’s nice to slow down. It’s nice to maybe visit an attraction you haven’t in years because no matter what you will be waiting. I don’t think I have ever experienced a new years eve like that one. The amount of people, the energy…it felt amazing. Then again I am a crazy who would like to do NYE in times square at least once in my life!
    If this were a first trip for a family I would hope they could go at a less crowded time so they don’t get put off. But with research and great websites like this anyon can pull off an amazing vacation anytime of year.

  48. Uh, yeah… I had visions of one day going during the holidays- this has changed my mind!!! I will cook in the heat of the summer (June and August have been good to us!) instead of spending my vacation standing in line! Thanks for battling the crowds and reporting this for us!!

  49. Hi Jack,
    Happy New Year. Our family spend the week of Christmas through New Years day at the Animal Kingdom Logdge and had a wonderful time. Having been to Disney many times we just adjusted our schedule and missed nothing. We were at the Magic Kingdom at 7 and saw everything. New Years eve was very slow at the animal kingdom as they have no party there so it turned out to be a fantastic time to visit that park. No waiting at all, saw every character in the park with no waiting. The only difference we noticed was that the service at the full service restaurants was really lacking. The worst was at the Captains Grill at the Yacht club where there were bugs on the silverware, just not up to snuff. All in all I would do it again in a second it was a magical experience.

  50. I went to Disney World twice during Christmas week, 1994-95 and 2000.

    It wasn’t until after the 2000 trip that I really got “smart” on Disney and started researching trips in sources beyond Disney’s propaganda, like guidebooks and the internet.

    Honestly, I had only ever been there during Christmas and the summer so I really had no idea that what I was experiencing was anything different than Disney was always like.

    It wasn’t until I started visiting in the off season that I realized just how amazing it was to go when the lines for Space Mountain weren’t 3 hours long.

    I can’t imagine ever going back to those times, but to give you some insight into what most people are thinking, it’s that they’re probably not. To them, Disney is this really popular place where you have to wait in long lines for everything.

  51. My ballet teacher Alison and her kids were there on Christmas day. I warned them about the crowds, but they were going to be in FL to visit family and the kids really wanted to go.

    When I was speaking to her beforehand, she didn’t seem to take my doomsaying seriously, declaring, “Why would people want to be at WDW during Christmas?” Mind you, they’re Jewish, so maybe that changes the mindset? But I think a lot of people make the same assumption. I used to work at Medieval Times, and the same sort of holiday mentality applied.

    All that having been said, I know one reason why I might go during that week: my birthday is December 26 and I want a birthday treat! Unfortunately I’m too sane to attempt it and postponed my next trip to early January (and by that I mean OMG I LEAVE TOMORROW!!! :D). Reason #1,289 I refer to Dec 26 as National Letdown Day.

  52. I wanted to thank you for posting the pictures of what the crazy crowds look like during that time. I knew it gets bad, but yikes! That is so much worse than I would have imagined! As a child our yearly trip was in June, and my trips as an adult have been in Sept, early Dec, and mid January. I now truly appreciate how “uncrowded” it is when we go now relative to going right at Christmas time!

  53. Happy New Year from frigid Canada (it is -28C with the windchill factored in, midday!!)

    About 10 years ago, my family got the misguided notion to meet in Orlando and experience Disney during the holidays. The plan was to spend Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom, then subsequently visit the other parks later in the week. We arrived at the monorail station, took one look at the horrendous line, then headed to Epcot…however, the lineups were deceiving. We were like a sea of lemmings once we arrived in the park. And even worse, we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, as the lineups there were outrageous. We ended up eating fries from the McDonald’s huts they used to have back in the day. Forget about christmas dinner…..we ended up driving to Denny’s late in the evening, as this was the only place without massive lineups on International Drive. Yup, christmas dinner that year was Sliders and Fries — good times – LOL!!

    The next day was just as bad – we were silly in thinking Magic Kingdom would be better on Boxing Day — WRONG!!! Not only did you pretty much have to tilt your head up and gulp for fresh air, but you didn’t head to the attractions you wanted to see. You headed to the attraction you noticed had the lesser lineups. We did, however, decide to lineup for The Haunted Mansion, and managed to get in, drumroll please…..2 1/2 hrs later!!!

    The remainder of the week was more of the same, with the only redeeming factor being that we knew the weather back home was about as cold as it is today, and won’t we make people jealous if we come home with a sunburn — small guilty pleasure, I guess 🙂

    Anyhow, the moral of my story is this: Stay away from Disney during Christmas Week, plain and simple!!! We now go in the summer. We’d much rather have to handle extreme humidity than extreme crowds anyday…

    And that, folks, is my story 🙂

  54. I’ve been there that time the past 8 years to coach a team from Northern Illinois in a baseball tournament at the WWoS. It is an amazing time even with the crowds. I am able to give a dozen teenage boys the experience of a Disney holiday vacation and play at a beautiful facility. It is something almost all of them have never done before or will do again. It is something they do not even know they will love until they do it.
    Just being able to be a part of the crowd and feed off of the energy and see all the wonderful things Disney has to offer.
    You could make the same negative arguments about attending something like the Super Bowl every year. It is crowded, overpriced, the view is not as good as it is at home on your TV. The lines are long, the food not as great as at a friends place. Still just being there and feeling the vibe of the whole place makes it so much a better experience.
    I plan on going back every single year until they don;t let me do it any more.

  55. Hi Jack,

    After Thanksgiving I told my father that I had probably cooked my last holiday meal. Even splitting the work into two days, I was completely exhausted by mealtime, with a horrible backache. I suggested eating out. I was thinking Denny’s or Perkin’s, but dad suggested Disney.

    I went online and just plugged in December 25th to see what if anything was available. I made reservations at Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for 5:05.

    Dad has a handicap placard, so that made parking easier. Although the park was crowded, we had a rather pleasant time, and even took in the Osborne Family Lights before leaving. I thought we were rather fortunate.

    Today I have a doctor’s appointment in Orlando, and I’m leaving in 15 minutes (1 1/2 hours before appointment time) because I don’t know what I’m going to run into on I-4. Fortunately, there is an electric sign giving how many minutes to Colonial (Hwy 50) before the exit to the 417, it I should need to take alternate routes.

    This year just seemed to be worse than any before. I think perhaps due to the economy, Floridians have not taken out of state Christmas vacations, and elected to stay home and flood the theme parks.

  56. Hi Jack,

    Happy New Year!

    Way back in the 80’s my family did visit DW during Chrismas week and it wasn’t as crowded as this year. I still remember walking down Main Street on New Year’s Day morning and only one other couple walked with us and said ,” Do you believe this?”

    Now my one friend went this year because his daughter’s 21st birthday was on Christmas Day and he did say how awful it was especially at the MK. You walked around with your arms down at your side and moved at an ant’s pace. By the way his son works at the MK and loves it there.

    At least it was warm during the week!

  57. We went from December 18-27 in 2004. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They had some lovely special events at our hotel on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that made our holiday very magical! The parks were very manageable due to cold weather and rain, which the CMs said kept the locals away. On December 26, I have photos of my daughter all alone in front of the castle– the park was almost empty! But by that afternoon, the temps went up, and we experienced those insane crowds for the first time. I remember how difficult it was to try and get down Main Street to get out of the park! Would I do it again? Yes, but I would come the week before and leave on December 26.

  58. We were there the second week in December and the crowds were very manageable. However, like some others mentioned, the same holiday music everywhere in the parks and resorts grates on me after a couple of days — and I’m a musician. I prefer hearing that old familiar background music that says WDW.

    We’re old Florida hands and from an early ’70’s experience of not even being able to get close to Disney World on I-4,we know better than to try. (You can tell the Florida veterans — they refer to the Magic Kingdom as “Disney World” ’cause that’s all there was for a decade.)

    Even UnivSt and Legoland hit capacity last week, so maybe that’s a sign the economy is recovering.

  59. Hi Jack! OMG! Who in their right mind would do Disney the week between Christmas and New Year? Nothing is worth waiting in those lines or trying to manuever through those crowds. And, I’m the Mouse Stalker!!!! No way, count me out. Take the kids out of school. That’s what I always do…So worth it!!!

  60. Thanks for another fantastic blog Jack! I go to Disney to avoid the crowds. I was keeping tabs on the crowds from home, and DH and I just could not imagine going and dealing with that. I am a huge Disney fan – but the only way I would go at this time is if I haven’t been in a really long time, and I was prepared to do rope drop and EMH, which we rarely need to do. I am really glad you did a blog on this!

  61. While this comment has nothing to do with the Christmas crowds, I just wanted thank you for this informative blog. When you’re a veteran to the Disney websites, a lot of the information is something you’ve seen before. This “expose” on just how crowded it gets at Christmas-time was something I’ve never read about before. Thanks!

  62. Hey Jack, loved your video!! I couldn’t resist since it processes through YouTube, I had to add the “falling snowflakes” really topped off the music and holiday “joy” hehehehe I’m more apt to head to Disneyland during the holidays but, only rarely during Christmas week- I know better 😉

  63. “Music Box Dancer” has always been a personal favorite, so thank you for using it in the video. It really works well here!

  64. Hi Jack!

    I’m a teacher so it is not possible to go to Disney during value season or at off times because it is a violation of our contract. We don’t get vacation like some other employees do. Next year we are hoping to go to Disneyland during Christmas vacation because we have a convention bring held in Anaheim to attend. So we have discount tickets available to us. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to go to Disneyland.


  65. I’m a current Disneyland CM and during this past week, a lot of guests did ask me why it was so busy. My answer was to rework the line “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” to “It’s the Most Busiest Week of the Year.” Many were truly shocked at how busy it was. I will say it’s the busiest we’ve been the last couple of holiday seasons. I’m not sure what the ride wait times were like as I work in foods, but my restaurant sure was busy pretty much all the time. And as of today, still is.

  66. Jack,

    Thanks for yet another informative post. I never have planned to go during Christmas week but always wondered just how bad things really got. Kind of like the fascination many have for extreme weather, I guess.

    I do think if you have a plan and very realistic expectations it may still work, but in that case you’ve already resigned yourself to the crowds, so it’s all good. What do Orlando area residents think of this week? Do they all stay away from WDW and Universal?

  67. I have never been during Christmas week, but I went during February Vacation. We planned well, but my cousin, who is about 4 feet 6 inches was constantly lost, jumbled, pushed, he even got run over by an aggressive mom with a stroller! I think that as fun and educational Disney is people don’t want to take their kids out of school, so they take them during the Christmas Break. If that was the only time I could get my disney fix, though, I would go again.

  68. Jack, that is just insane. I’d heard a lot about the crowds being crazy at Christmas, but seeing the photos just shows how packed it really is. We’ve always gone in late January/early February, and while they lack the holiday decorations, it’s so nice to have the lighter crowds. I’d end up spending the day at Carousel of Progress or something without a crazy wait if I was ever there with those lines. I enjoyed the post. Those photos are priceless.

  69. Yikes! The crowds are exactly why we go the last week of September.

    We did a New Year’s Eve at the MK in 1987 and it was a ton of fun. But, I was also a teenager and I don’t think the crowds then were quite what they are now. Having grown up 15 minutes from Disney, we knew when to stay away.

  70. Amen, Jack. It is absolute lunacy for anyone to go during Christmas week. I’ve never met a kid who can’t afford to miss a week of school to go during the offseason and actually experience everything the park has to offer.

    As an aside, I spent 3 days at Disneyland this past August and ran into similar crowds/waits on Friday night. It was so bad we simply walked the loop of the park and left. Every inch of the park was packed with people.

  71. we usually go the first week of december to avoid crowds but like collette said this year was insanity! we were there up until the december to remember events and it was wall to wall people. i was very disappointed by this it seems like people caught on that during this week you can still see all of the christmas parades and fireworks if you are willing to spend some extra money but it almost always works out because you get free dining! almost all the rides were still walk ons or with very little wait but there were people everywhere and they were all cranky! though it did help that my bf proposed on our first night there!i do LOVE disney at this time and will be coming back during december the parks and resorts are so beautiful at this time of the year and the weather is generally mild so its worth the money for me but i will def never go between xmas and nye!

  72. Sorry, just a random comment. I noticed that no one is smiling in any of your pictures. That in itself speaks volumes to me about visiting during Christmas week.

    Have a great new year!!

  73. We spent the Millenium at EPCOT and it was crazy but the atmosphere was so amazing. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood and patient. My partner and I were talking about doing it again in the next couple of years — going down on the 30th and watching the Magic Kingdom’s NYE fireworks from the Poly on New Year’s Eve-Eve and then spending NYE at EPCOT and maybe book the special party at La Hacienda if they do it again. Attractions would not be a part of the mix. 😉

  74. Even during the week of the AllEars® December to Remember, it was shoulder-to-shoulder in the Osborne Lights section of Hollywood Studios at dusk for the “turning on”. I’ve never seen anything like it! One could barely shuffle forwards or backwards for the first half hour or so. I imagine that is one little area that is always that crowded throughout December, not just Christmas week. Yet it was impressive to see how well-prepared the CMs were to direct traffic into and out of the light show. And after awhile, the crowds thinned out enough for folks to walk normally again. However, getting pictures was still pretty difficult, as there was always someone in front of you holding their cellphone up high or a child on someone’s shoulders. The first thing was kind of frustrating, but the latter made a nice shot if you framed it right! Happy New Year!

  75. I once went to Disneyland Paris over New Year’s. The crowd didn’t really bother me, it was the decorations and the constant Christmas music that did my head in after four days straight.

    It was nice, though, which gave me a fuzzy feeling, but maybe only because it was DLP, which has more seasonal holiday charm than DL or WDW due to the climate.

  76. Wow! I thought the ‘official’ Disney News Blog (12.30.2011) video of the New Year’s Eve fireworks looked like something that would be worth seeing, but now I think I stick to the value seasons.

    By the way, how much did you speed up the video and music (just curious; ain’t digital editing wunnerful)?

    Happy New Year!

    Jack’s Answer:

    When I set out to shoot this video, it did not occur to me to speed things up for a humorous effect. This idea came to me after I arrived at the Magic Kingdom and had already shot some video. As you know, if you speed things up, you need a longer video to begin with. If you notice, some of my early shots were rather short. Because I had various lengths of video, I used various speeds. These ranged from 2 times up to 4 times faster than normal.

    After I had the video completed, I manipulated the music to fit the video. The software I use for audio just has a sliding scale to change the playback rate. I’m not sure exactly what I used.

  77. Happy New Year, Jack~~
    Well, now that I’ve seen your pictures, I’m really re-considering going for New Year’s Eve. I’ve always wanted to ring in a New Year at WDW, but I’m not really a crowd person & by your pictures, this would be totally crazy. But after reading some of the other posts by folks, it may not be as “bad” as I may think. I am an early riser, so that would be good in going to the parks and I do like seeing other resorts all decorated. But the issue of crowds really has me thinking!! We are going in a few days to WDW & this will be our first trip in January. We have traveled in June, October, the first week in December & the week before Christmas. So this will be a new time of year for us. I’m hoping for low crowds and pleasant weather.
    Maybe one day I will make it to WDW for New Years Eve. But as you said, it may not be worth spending that much money to get crunched in a crowd!!

  78. Well I’ve never been at this time of year but thank you very much for solidifying my choice to never EVER go between Christmas and New Year. I’m not good with crowds, especially in the Magic Kingdom, so I would be having a panic attack. I’m with you completely, it just doesn’t look worth spending the money and time to go at this time of the year. We’ve gone at Spring Break the past few years and haven’t had too much of a crowd problem, and we went the week of Thanksgiving last year and didn’t have any trouble at all.

  79. Happy New Year Jack!! Hope you enjoyed your holiday time off!!

    One of my coworkers and his wife surprised their kids on Christmas morning by having their last gift be their carry on luggage–they left at 6am Christmas morning from New Jersey to head down to Orlando and just left yesterday morning. Before they went I kept reminding him that it was going to be crowded (something that he began to realize when he tried to make character breakfast reservations two weeks before) but I never realized it was THIS bad. Your (hilarious) pictures are definitely an eye opener and I will NOT be planning a New Year’s Eve trip anytime soon lol!

    I’m perfectly content with celebrating a Disney Christmas earlier in the month (just not around the time of the parade taping–we watched it on tv and as a person who’s yearly trip to Disney as a kid was the week before presidents week I have zero desire to wait in any crowds–plus I work in television so I know better than to try and squish into a crowd to have my face on tv for half a second)

    Thanks for the insight!

  80. Hi Jack,
    I believe that as long as you stay at a Disney resort, you can still have a great vacation at Disney World during the week of Christmas. My family took our 15th trip to Disney for the week of Christmas in 2008 and it was different than any previous vacation, but still great! We went with low expectations about getting on all the attractions, but ended up getting on every E-ticket there! The trick was going to the park at the right times. We took advantage of every extra magic hour. This meant spending most of our time at the parks early in the morning and late at night and spending the middle of the days relaxing at the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s beautiful pool. The day after Christmas, we were able to go on every ride at magic kingdom with little to no wait-because we were there from midnight to 3am and basically had the park to ourselves! And on New Year’s eve at Epcot I saw longer lines than i could ever imagine but i would definitely do it again. The fireworks were spectacular and the atmosphere was fun and not at all rowdy or uncontrollable like crowds at city’s might be on that night. Despite the crowds and the price, it is great to be at a place you love with your family during the holidays. I can’t think of a better way to spend your Christmas day then seeing the candlelight processional before having dinner at Le Cellier and then watching Illuminations. Not many rides were ridden on Christmas, but the Disney atmosphere was enough to make it very special.

  81. I went to WDW during Christmas week in both 2007 and 2008. My father booked us a trip to get away from both the cold New York temperatures and the in-laws (I guess those are the reasons). Seriously, if you get up early, the parks are managable for a while. The parks open at 8:00 with Extra Magic Hours at 7:00. I took advantage of this and was able to beat the crowds to the headliners. My siblings slept in late, got to the MK at noon and saw the huge crowds in your pictures. Bottom Line imo: if you want to see attractiona and are willing to sacrafice some sleep, and/or don’t really care about the parks (i.e. just want to resort hop), it may be worth a trip. On the other hand, if you expect to sleep in and get enjoy the parks, this is not the time to go.

  82. Hi Jack. I have to thank you. My wife and I have always wanted to visit during the holidays, but after seeing your video will reconsider. We were there last January during MLK weekend and those line were tough to stomach. HS was jammed packed and we hated our day there. The rest of the week was more than manageable. We are returning this year, but the week after starting Jan 22. The crowd level according to touring plans is suppose to be in the 1 to 2 range. Ahhh now that to me is a relaxing vacation. If I happen to see you there bloggin I will say hello. Happy New Year.

  83. hey jack
    all i have to say is WOW!!!! i have never to the parks during christmas week and i never will. it is absolutly insane. the pictures you provided were absolutly incredible and the video was iceing on the cake. my family and i are planning to visit the weekend before memorial day or the week after after memorial day so hopefully the lines won’t be too crowded then. can’t wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

  84. Hey Jack,

    Happy New Year!

    I foun theclosing phases interestiong but i have to ask you a question.

    In a earlier blog, you said thet the monorail was $100M a mile. Where did you get that number?

    Jack’s Answer:

    That figure was quoted by the Orange County Sentinel in an article at least 8-10 years ago. I have no idea where they got their information.

  85. I went one year on 12/24 for a week because my son was in the college program and I wanted to help him pack up as he was finished right after the new year. It was also rainy and cold and all I remember was having to go back to our room to change and warm up. I will never go back that week again. I feel bad for anyone who has planned their trip of a lifetime during this week. It is worth pulling your kids out of school another week to avoid the crowds.

  86. HAPPY NEW YEAR JACK!! I’ve never been more pleased to read one of your blogs and watch your video! I had suggested to my husband and kids that we go to WDW to see in the New Year. You deserve a medal for even attempting to go in there when it’s so busy. Another great blog Jack thank you!

  87. Happy New Year Jack!!

    I think I can answer your question, but part of it.

    As I live in Chile, I don’t have the chances to visit holiday decorations or special show Christmas related or go to MVMCP.

    We have visited twice (yes twice) WDW during Christmas week and is exhausting but worth it. As turist we stay in a Disney Resort so we take advantage of the EMH in the morning that way, when all the crowds arrive to the park we have covered the main attraction (even in my last trip I was able to ride TM 2 times in the same day =P lucky me!!)

    The bad part is that 40% of the people is in a bad mood because of the crowds, or because they are tired. Even I saw guest being disrespectful with other guest or CM.

    If you ask me “Would do you it again?” the answer is yes! I have to wake up early, going to sleep to late…but live a different and exciting Christmas is priceless (you must consider that in Chile is summer with almost 37°C so…not a White Christmas at all)

  88. And to add like others have said…even during Christmas Week, you get to a park at opening, and you can ride your favorites several times.

    At MGM, I can remember riding Tower and RnRC each about 3 times in a row at a ten min or under wait, then 4th with FP.

    At MK, one morning was spent doing Space Mtn over and over, another was for Splash and Big Thunder several times, and another was straight for F’Land. We managed to do each several times.

    Afternoons were Resort time, and evenings were always enjoying the aambiance of the parks decked for Christmas and the occassional ride, and an awesome dinner.

  89. Been there Christmas Week and New Years each year from 2003–2006. It was incredible.

    We went the first year to see the NYE fireworks. It poured so hard and Epcot was so ridiculously flooded (knee deep at points) that we left and watched from our Yacht Club balcony, unfortunately.

    Had to return the next year to see the fireworks in person, in Epcot. Loved it!! The energy of the parks, the extended hours, and the beefed up entertainment was great.

    We went the next year with both my grandmothers–we needed to show them “Disney at Christmas and New Years.”

    Then we went the following year again because the previous year was very, very stressful, lol.

    We stopped going that year, as AP rates stopped being available when things turned into night-by-night rates.

    When we think back, they were still our favorite Disney World vacations. Parks in the morning, leave by 11, hang out at the Resort all afternoon, and head back to the parks after dinner time for late night. We rode plenty of rides and saw lots of neat entertainment–it was everywhere you looked.

    Yes, we did go once the second week of Dec, and were so dissappointed with everything closing around 7 or 9 during the Christmas season. We have gone on many, many Disney trips all throughout the calendar year…and those trips are great. But so were the Christmas ones.

  90. We go during this time absolutely knowing the crowds are horrendous, we don’t kid ourselves one bit. This is hardly our only trip of the year though, even though we hail from New Jersey. For us, there is an electricity in the air, an excitement that you get by going at Christmas. Our pilgrimage to Disney for the Christmas/New Years week has us knowing we are going there to take in the atmosphere and enjoy our family while being in such a wonderful, magical place. Rides and shows are secondary to us-thats what other trips to the mouse are for during the year. We do a lot of resort hopping to see the decor and we linger over table service meals. The crowded parks force us to go back to basics and enjoy the little things while getting some real quality time with the family.

  91. BTW, I think Karen (previous commenter, above) hit the nail on the head – I bet a large percentage of the people at the parks didn’t know in what they were getting into. They’ve planned their vacations months in advance, and once they have traveled to WDW, and paid for their tickets, (as the saying goes), “there’s no turning back now…”.

  92. I’ve been to WDW during the holidays many times over the years, for the typical reason (my brothers and I were out of school). Our family was the organized type, so we did all the things to manage the experience (get there early, have a plan, use Fastpass effectively, etc.) Now that I have my own kids, we’re definitely planning to visit during the off season as much as possible. However, I must say that the most spectacular nighttime show I’ve ever experienced was IllumiNations on New Years Eve – it’s simply breathtaking. Some year I plan to take my family to have that experience – I’d be willing to brave the crowds to see that show (it’s that good, IMHO).

  93. Hi Jack! My family of 4 just returned from WDW on Saturday. We were there Mon, 12/26-Fri, 12/30, not because we necessarily wanted to be, but because we had to be. My 17yo son played in his last-ever Disney Boys’ Soccer Showcase 12/27-30. My question is this: Why would Disney host such a premier sporting event during the week between Christmas & New Year’s??!!

    Because he had to be there, and because this was his last one (he & I went last year but stayed off property and didn’t go to the parks, just went to Downtown Disney & did all the “free” fun stuff: riding the monorail, going to the Boardwalk area, visiting the resorts to look at the Christmas decorations, etc.), we decided that the whole family would go. We’ve visited about 9 times with the kids over the years (they’re 13 & 17 now), but always at off-times(Jan-March, Sept-Oct) never at Christmas, because I’m not crazy! But we have always wanted to experience all the holiday hoopla, and for me, once they were in Middle & High School, taking them out of school for a trip to Disney wasn’t reasonable or feasible, as they’ve too much going on between honors classes and lots of activities.

    So, knowing that we HAD to go, we made the most of it! I used every trick in the book: stay on property (Pop Century), ADRs, park-hopper passes, extra-magic hours, etc. We were there in the dark to open each park, enjoyed our top rides/shows easily, and then went back to the hotel around Noon when things started to get crazy, swam/napped/went to soccer games, then back to the parks at night, but solely for the purpose of seeing the lights/parades/spectacles of each one in its holiday glory; we didn’t even attempt to ride anything.

    This plan worked perfectly! The busiest day was definitely Weds., 12/28 (I heard that all parks but Epcot hit capacity that day). We were at Hollywood Studios, and I’d never seen anything like the crush of folks there at mid-day. Happily, we’d arrived before opening and were able to easily enjoy Toy Story Mania 3 times in the first hour, and then hit all our other favs in good fashion.

    So THAT is why we went and how we managed to stay sane and actually enjoy it!

  94. I imagine some people think “it can’t possibly be that bad” and then it’s too late when they arrive. I too have always thought I’d like to try it some day, but that thought has been erased from my mind now after seeing those pictures. I’m sure it’ll only get worse as years go by too. It’s too bad, but we have gone early December and it was lovely. Mvmcp is worth the extra money!

  95. Sorry I can’t answer your question but I just wanted to say that I’d always harboured a sentimental notion of one day spending Christmas at Disney with all the family. I can definitely cross that one off my list now – it looks horrendous! Thanks for saving us the money! 😉

  96. Happy New Year Jack! We spent the last day of our vacation at the Magic Kingdom on 4 Jul and in looking at your pictures, it looked three times as crowded now versus when we were there. We had visited the Magic Kingdom on two other days prior to 4 July and our plan was to only ride our favorite rides that day. However, the crowd was so minimal in the morning that we rode many rides twice. We were able to casually walk around and didn’t have any problems with the crowd until after the fireworks. The biggest problem we had was the heat and humidity. I cannot imagine the type of crowd you experienced occuring during the hot months. I’m with you in that when I go to the parks, I want to get my money’s worth and not have to fight the crowds. Thanks for the information about avoiding the parks at this time of year.