So my motto for the best way to plan a Disney vacation is always to plan, plan, and plan some more. Never is that more important than when traveling to Florida for the Walt Disney World holidays.
In our years of having visited during the week between Christmas and New Years, there are two things that we have found you definitely need to keep in mind…and plan for….
First, is the weather. Let me just say that Florida is not ALWAYS sunny and hot. In fact, traveling at any point during the winter months can provide you with a very cold…and uncomfortable…surprise, if you don’t check ahead. We have visited during the winter and been blessed with sunny days, temps in the 70s, little humidity…weather that made my heat-hating husband actually say, “You know, maybe living in Florida would not be too bad after all”.
BUT, we have also had days where the temps never made it out of the 50s during the day, and were in the low 30s at night and in the mornings. And if you combine this with some humidity and a bit of wind…well it’s actually winter-coat wearin’ weather!
So if an affordable Disney family vacation is your goal, then check the weather forecast before you leave home. Trust me, if you need warm clothes, and did not pack them, you do NOT want to pay Disney park prices for sweaters, scarves and gloves.
The second thing to consider when planning a trip during the week between Christmas and New Years, is that this is THE busiest week of the year for the Disney parks. It is typical for one or more of the parks to actually close for periods of time, during several days during this week. Disney typically does a staggered type of closing schedule where the parks are first closed to non-Disney resort guests, then to Disney guests who have not already been to that park earlier in the day, and finally, to everyone. While this is most common at Magic Kingdom, it does also happen to the other parks as well.
So keep this in mind, ESPECIALLY if you are not staying on Disney property: go EARLY to make sure you get into the park of your choice. Have a plan to visit your most important must-dos (especially those that are very popular) first thing, and make very good use of Fast-Passes. Expect the big attractions to have all Fast-Passes gone for the day by lunch, and to have lines of several hours.
With regards to this, my best advice is to have very low expectations. You will probably not see or do everything you want. But go with the flow, and take the time to enjoy the many OTHER things that Disney offers during the Holiday season. Most are absolutely free.
If you decide to leave any of the parks, make certain that you can live without necessarily getting back in. While crowds often lessen somewhat in the evenings, on nights like New Years Eve….well not so much. If you plan to ring in the New Year in one of the parks, then expect to make a … very…long…day of it.
Having said all of this, the holiday season at Disney World is my favorite time of year. We have done it many times, and will do it many more times. It can be a magical and wonderful way to create family memories….just Be Prepared!
Have a magical day!