Christmas at Walt Disney World!

ALL EARS® reader Dot Flitz wrote: 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 anything out of the ordinary be going on? How difficult would it be to get a reservation on these dates? Are the parks really crowded? What do you recommend?

"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 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 the Studios 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 when 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, 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 Storytellers around the countries.

***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 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.

***Tim Gropp: 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!!

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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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TIP FOR FAMILIES
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Laura Bonke writes:

I had two little ones at the time who were very scared that Santa could not find them at Walt Disney World, so we sent Santa a letter telling him where we would be on Christmas morning.

My husband and I packed an entire bag full of presents. My sister and I packed a three-foot artificial Christmas tree, and we had collected several ornaments prior to our trip. Add some Christmas lights, and it was a miniature version of home! We set it up late Christmas Eve, when everyone was asleep. You can imagine their surprise when they saw it Christmas morning complete with gifts! We even strung some lights in our hotel window! We just had it shipped home when our trip was over so we didn't have to deal with it on the plane. My mother has set it up along with her real tree every year since!

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!

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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.