Christmas in July!

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 24, 2001, Issue #96 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

Prompted by a reader question last week, we realized that many of you are currently in the process of planning your holiday trips to Walt Disney World. This week, therefore, we thought it was time to talk about... Christmas in July!

WDW has made the December holidays a special celebration throughout the parks and hotels. This is grand time to visit WDW and get in the holiday spirit!

Just like each person has his or her own personality, so does every theme park and resort at Walt Disney World. Each has its own distinctive design, style and feel, defined by its decor and furnishings -- its so-called "theme." The holidays are the perfect occasion to express their themes in their own unique ways -- and to ensure that this goes off as flawlessly as possible, Walt Disney World employs a Christmas Decorations staff of more than 20 full-time, year-round Cast Members, with additional part-time staff added during the holidays!

This staff is responsible for scattering 1,200 Christmas trees throughout Walt Disney World, as well as draping 5.2 miles of garland and decking all the halls with 130 tractor-trailor truckloads of decorations.

The main holiday events at WDW include Epcot's Candlelight Processional and Storytellers Around the World, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Part in the Magic Kingdom, and the Disney-MGM Studios display of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.

This year, there are enormous resort discounts available to Annual Passholders (up to 45%) through December 25th -- your holiday visit to WDW can be more affordable.

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READERS FORUM

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Recently, Dot Filz wrote to ALL EARS®: I would love to see something on your site about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Where would be the best place to eat with children on Christmas Eve? Does Chef Mickey's do anything special or different on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Would Donald's Breakfastosaurus be a good place to eat Christmas morning breakfast? Would anything out of the ordinary be going on? How difficult would it be to get Priority Seating on these dates? Are the parks really crowded? What do you recommend?

We received so much worthwhile input from you when we asked for comments about Cirque du Soleil that we thought, "Who better to ask for ideas to help out a fellow reader??"

Here's what you had to say in answer to Dot's "holiday in WDW" questions!

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IS IT CROWDED???

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While most everyone agreed it is a very crowded time of year, the majority of ALL EARS® readers believed the atmosphere was worth the experience!

***Jim Fly: Are the parks crowded around Christmas? YES! Very much so! On our most recent Christmas visit (three years ago), the MK was closed by 10 a.m. several days during Christmas week, and didn't reopen again until 6 p.m.

***Chris: Christmas day we went into the Magic Kingdom and had to stay there rest of the day as the park reached its maximum occupancy by 11:00 am and would not let anyone else in. The parades are wonderful and it is the best place I can think of to be in for Christmas Day. All throughout the park there is festive music playing, they even dubbed it into the Main Street Electrical Parade. Also, make sure to catch the official tree-lighting ceremony each night.

***Judy Fallon: Last December 25th I went to Epcot. I had thought it would be uncrowded because others had told me that everyone would be at the MK. Not true. We arrived before 9 a.m. and the parking lot was pretty full. It didn't bother me, as I just was so happy to be at the "World." But there were long lines for the rides and attractions. On the 26th we went to MGM just to see the Osborne Lights. Again it was crowded, but totally worth it. I never thought the Osborne Lights would be so breathtaking!

On the other hand, a number of folks were pretty adamant about not going Christmas Day and avoiding the crowds:

***Becky: The few weeks around Christmas are very busy. Expect long waits on everything. The Magic Kingdom is the center of a lot of the festivities During the season the 3:00 parade will be the annual Christmas parade. DO NOT go to Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day. You probably shouldn't go on Christmas Eve either. That is the park that everyone wants to go to. Last year, it was filled to capacity by 11 a.m.

***Pam B: We spent the Christmas holidays at Disney several years ago. I would not do it again. The parks were way too crowded! We will never go back at that time again. If you have a chance, go after Thanksgiving when the holiday decorations are up! The lines are not long and you will have a great time!

***Imelda Arsenault: We went to the park on Christmas Day. I would not go again because of the large crowds. If you have small kids, you will need a lot of patience.

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WHERE SHOULD WE EAT DINNER?

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For Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner, many of you recommended dining in Epcot and attending the Candlelight Processional.

***Cathy Pentola explains: We were at WDW for Christmas 1997 - our daughter was 13. We went to the Candlelight Processional on Christmas Eve (saw Sandi Patty - awesome)! We still talk about that Christmas.....can't wait to go back!!!

***Fran Cinicola agreed: Whenever I'm lucky enough to be in WDW at Christmastime, the first thing I try to do is book the Candlelight Processional Dinner package for Christmas Eve -- it just seems extra special then. I try to plan it so that we do the Tree Lighting Ceremony under the canopy of lights, then on to dinner and then the Candlelight Processional. (The Garden Grill is probably the most fun for kids, although make sure you leave in enough time to make it over to the Processional. I think they begin seating as soon as the previous show empties out, and even though you have reserved seating and will be let in before the others, it's still first come/first served for the best seating inside. You'll need to get to World Showcase even earlier if you want the kids to visit with the different Santas around the countries, I don't think they're around after 5:00.

***Tim Gropp: Last Christmas evening we made reservations for the 6:45 Candlelight Processional and after we had dinner at the Rose and Crown. While we were having our dessert and coffee we watched IllumiNations. I would recommend this for anyone.

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WHAT SHOULD WE DO CHRISTMAS EVE?

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***Tim Gropp: On Christmas Eve, during past stays at the Wilderness Lodge, strolling carolers, a brass band, and three country singers playing guitars along with Disney characters and Santa all made for an exciting Christmas Eve. You will never get homesick on Christmas Eve there.

***Robison: I took a trip last year and we left on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve morning, we were greeted with a program of events that our resort was hosting slipped under our door. Some of the things I remember were a special dinner at the hotel restaurant (CBR) and Santa Claus visits in the lobby reading The Night Before Christmas.

***Laura B: Go to Celebration. They made it artificially snow down Main Street while playing Christmas Songs..... It only lasted a few minutes, but it was wonderful, and one of my favorite memories of that trip!

***Chris: While we were in the Wilderness Lodge, Minnie and Mickey came out of a door and right up to our family (we got a great picture with the two mice). When we arrived inside our hotel that night (All Star Sports) we found a letter that said that because of the expected attendance on Christmas Day they were going to allow resort guests to arrive at the parks two hours earlier than rest of the public.

*** Fran Cinicola: Another nice thing to do on Christmas Eve is to have dinner at Tony's in the Magic Kingdom and request window seating on the Terrace, so you can see all the decorations and hubbub all around Town Square. It really makes you feel Christmassy. There's a really nice show at the castle, but check the times and get there really early if you want good viewing. It's extremely packed, but a beautiful show, and they add extra stuff for Christmas Eve.

I'm getting goose bumps just telling you about it. Have a great time!!

***Megan, Kalamazoo, MI: My family and I went to WDW during Christmas of 1992. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, and they had a Christmas Eve dinner. I don't recall the cost, it was maybe about $15 per person. There was a band playing music, as well as Christmas cookie decorating. There were characters were out too. It was a great time for both parents and kids. I recommend this, if they still offer dinners such as these. -Megan, Kalamazoo, MI

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WHERE SHOULD WE EAT ON CHRISTMAS DAY?

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***Becky: During the holiday season all the countries do their own celebrations. If your nationality is represented in the pavilions, you could always go to that country for Christmas dinner. Since my family is German, we are planning on going to the German pavilion on Christmas.

***Janet and Tom Sansone: Last year my husband and I were at WDW for the holiday season. We found that having dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern was a great break from the crowds and helped pass the time while waiting for the fireworks. The dinner is family style -- the children in our party loved everything. The characters come and visit your table for photo ops in an uncrowded, relaxed fashion, and we enjoyed the chance to sit down and unwind for a while. You do need reservations, so get them early for the best times.

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Last week's ALL EARS® Reader Survey polled your top choices of the best place for Christmas dinner. The top two choices left the competition in the dust - Liberty Tree Tavern and Cinderella's Royal Table!

Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge placed third. Honorable mention goes to: Chef Mickey's, California Grill, Crystal Palace, 50's Prime Time Cafe and Victoria and Albert's.

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MAKE PRIORITY SEATINGS!

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***Priority Seating guru Scott Thomas addressed the issue of Priority Seatings very specifically: I know one thing, Dot. For PS, you should plan on calling EXACTLY 60 or 120 days depending on the restaurant AND just on or before WDW Dining opens. I would treat it like a Cindy's Breakfast reservation for all meals. The restaurants do not usually have any menu information that far out, but most will be putting on special meals or entrees for the holidays. And, of course, to figure out those calling dates, use my PS Planning Guide. In fact, on Wednesday, July 25, it will be 120 days prior to November 22nd or Thanksgiving Day. (http://pscalculator.net/pscalc.php).

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And lastly, Debbie S summed up:

My family and I spent Christmas at Disney this past year. As my son was 6, he was really worried about Santa finding him. So, before we left for Disney we made a trip to see Santa. We were able to visit a Santa where he wore an ear plug and while your child was sitting on Santa's lap, an assistant was asking you questions that were be fielded to Santa, who assured him he would definitely be able to find him. All in all, just the holiday season itself at Disney was wonderful. I can't think of a better place to spend Christmas (other than home).

Be sure to make your reservations early! We had a blast and hope you do, too.

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Editor's Note: If you go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day expecting to be part of the live Christmas Parade on TV, think again. The parade is taped earlier in December!

MORE INFORMATION:

For complete Holidays Around the World information and photos visit: http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.