Christmas day is coming up FAST, folks. In just a little while, we’ll be hanging stockings with care and leaving out cookies and milk for Santa.
We know that a lot of people are planning to celebrate this holiday in Disney World, so we’re taking a look at what you should expect if you’re visiting the theme parks on Christmas day. What kinds of special activities will there be? What about the food? And how will those holiday crowds measure up? Let’s take a look.
We’ll start by going over some basics. Disney World is open and ready for festive fun on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On both days, the Magic Kingdom is open from 9AM to 10PM, EPCOT is open from 10AM to 10PM, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is open from 8AM to 8PM, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is open from 9AM to 9PM.
So you’ll have plenty of time to party in any of the four theme parks you choose to visit during this season. Each park has some special holiday activities and treats, but first we’ve got to address the elephant in the room.
There’s one holiday addition that’s likely on everyone’s mind as you plan your trip to Disney World: the CROWDS. We’re not going to sugar-coat this one — the holiday crowds get very big in Disney World, especially on Christmas day. Here’s what you can expect as well as some tips for avoiding and dealing with those crowds during your trip.
All of the Disney World parks get very crowded on Christmas day — lots of people just want to celebrate a magical day in a magical place.
But the park that definitely gets the MOST crowded is Magic Kingdom.
In the past, we’ve seen the Magic Kingdom reach capacity pretty early in the morning on Christmas and remain at capacity for most of the day. Already, the park pass reservations for Magic Kingdom on December 25th are completely sold out, unless you’re an Annual Passholder with an Incredi Pass.
For everyone else, there are no more passes available for either Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
There are, however, some passes available at EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom still available. But you’ll want to grab those passes soon if you’re hoping to visit the parks for Christmas, because it’s possible that those will run out as well.
Whichever park you’re visiting, be prepared for lots of crowds and some long lines at the attractions, restaurants, and shops.
So what can you do to prepare for and deal with those big holiday crowds?
How to Deal With the Crowds
One great way to escape the crowds for a while is with an advance dining reservation, so that you can go sit down and enjoy a meal at one of Disney World’s restaurants. If you’re in the Magic Kingdom, a good option for dinner is the Liberty Tree Tavern, which serves up holiday-inspired meals all year long.
If you don’t have an advance dining reservation already, it might be difficult to get one for Christmas day now (since you can make those reservations 60 days out, and many guests have likely already filled the reservation spots). Instead, you’ll want to make use of Mobile Order so that you’re not stuck waiting in a long line for lunch and dinner.
Mobile order your meals as soon as you enter the park you’re visiting. You can select the time frame in which you want to eat and place your order immediately. If you wait until lunch time (or whenever you get hungry), odds are good that most restaurants will be booked for at least a couple of hours past the time you order.
So get those orders in ASAP for the best possible counter service dining experience!
We’ve dealt with the long lines for food, but what about those lines at the rides and attractions?
If you’re hoping to get on some popular rides on Christmas, you’ve got a few options. You can rope-drop (be at the park at least a half hour before its opening time) and head to those popular attractions first to get in line before that line gets crazy long.
Remember that Disney World hotel guests can enter any park a half hour before that park’s official opening time. So if you’re heading to Magic Kingdom on Christmas, Disney World hotel guests can enter the park at 8:30AM instead of 9AM. We recommend being at the Magic Kingdom by 8AM to be safe.
Use those extra 30 minutes to get on some of your favorite smaller rides or hop in line for the big rides that get long wait times later on in the day. Remember that not all of the rides open at each park for the Early Morning Entry — for example, sometimes just Fantasyland and Tomorrowland open in the Magic Kingdom during these extra 30 minutes in the morning.
Besides getting to the parks early, you might want to consider buying Genie+ for Christmas day.
Genie+ costs $15 per ticket per day, and it allows you to book your spot in Lightning Lanes at certain attractions, which basically means you can skip the line.
Besides Genie+, there are also the Fancy Rides(TM), which Disney calls Individual Attraction Selection. Basically, each theme park has two rides (usually the most popular ones) that aren’t included in Genie+. Instead, you can pay a separate fee to skip the line at those attractions.
The fee for these rides changes, depending on the time of year and crowd levels in the parks. As you might expect, we think the prices on Christmas day will be the highest yet. We’ve already seen some surge pricing on holidays and weekends, and with the massive crowds on Christmas, we expect to see even more. So far, the cost to skip a ride have not been higher than $15 per person, but Disney hasn’t said how high the surge pricing can go.
For the Fancy Rides(TM), you’ll want to make your reservations as early in the day as possible. Guests can make those reservations starting at 7AM on the day of their visit, and we recommend booking yours as soon as possible. Most of the Fancy Rides(TM) attractions do not normally sell out, but we’ve seen some of the popular ones (like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) sell out pretty often.
And on Christmas day, with so many guests in the parks, it’s possible that more of these passes will sell out faster than usual.
Now that you know how to handle all of the crazy crowds, let’s move on to the fun stuff! What kind of special shows, activities, and food can you expect to see in the parks?
Festive Activities and Shows
There are all kinds of fun, festive activities in Disney World right now, some of which have been going on for a while now.
You can stop by EPCOT to visit the International Festival of the Holidays, where guests can try tasty holiday food from around the world and listen to storytellers teach about the countries’ traditions.
Also in EPCOT, the popular Candlelight Processional is back this year. At this show, you can hear the Christmas story read by celebrity narrators and hear the impressive choir and orchestra play Christmas carols.
In the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is running during the day on Christmas and Christmas Eve at 12PM and 3:45PM.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can watch holiday projections on the Tower of Terror each evening during the Sunset Seasons Greetings show.
Santa Claus is out visiting guests at several different locations, including Disney Springs (which means you won’t need a park ticket!).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the Merry Menagerie, which is a group of gorgeous animal puppets like penguins, polar bears, and reindeer. You can visit with the animals near the entrance to the park.
So it turns out there’s a good reason for all the crowds in Disney World — there are a LOT of fun, festive things to do at all four parks during this season.
There are also some very delicious festive treats to find in the parks!
You can get holiday treats in all the Disney World parks, like Reindeer Mousse at Trolley Car Café in Hollywood Studios…
…an Apple-brined Pork T-Bone at Tiffin’s in Animal Kingdom…
….a Christmas Cookie Sundae at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies in the Magic Kingdom…
…and TONS of options at the holiday kitchens that are part of EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays.
Keep following AllEars for more updates and tips as you plan your Christmas day in Disney World!
Are you heading to Disney World on Christmas day? Let us know in the comments!