Thrifty Thursday: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Disney World Christmas Vacation

It may be the end of July, but it’s the perfect time to be thinking cool thoughts and planning for the most wonderful time of the year at Walt Disney World! If you will be visiting during this magical season, be prepared for beautiful decorations, wonderful music, fun festivities, joyous celebrations…and at the end of December…..lots and lots of people.

There is so much to see and do, beyond the normal overwhelming Disney World attractions. How on earth will you see and do everything you want to do? As I’ve said so many times, the key is having a plan and at no time is that more important than during the Holiday season. So with that in mind, consider the following suggestions to help you make the most of your Disney World Christmas vacation:

  1. Start with a simple thing and check the weather forecast before you leave home. Florida can get surprisingly cold in the winter and many folks are caught by surprise at this. If you don’t bring warm clothes from home, you may be forced to pay Disney park prices for sweaters, scarves and gloves…..and that is going to be a major budget-buster.
  2. Going in late December? Expect Crowds. While the beginning of December typically features lower crowds than other times of the year, as Christmas approaches, the crowd levels increase…to the point where the week between Christmas and New Years is the busiest week of the entire year. If you plan to be at Disney World during this week, then 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.  And have a plan to visit your most important must-dos (especially those that are very popular) first thing. Later in the day, the wait times for the major attractions will be an hour or more, and spending your time waiting in lines is not fun at all. Which brings me to….
  3. Make very good use of FastPass+. Expect the big attractions to have limited availability for FastPass+ so plan accordingly. If you didn’t get all the FP+ selections you wanted, then get to the parks early and avoid those hour plus wait times that will be there later in the day.
  4. Check the schedule of events and activities before getting to the parks so you don’t miss seeing what you want to see! There is a lot going on, but Disney provides you with a schedule for everything for that week, so take a look at it each evening for the next day, and plan your time around those events that are important. Download the My Disney Experience app too, it will help you stay organized with your planning. 🙂
  5. Be sure to make ADRs, especially for Christmas week. Not doing so will make your choices for restaurants and times extremely limited. I can’t stress this enough, having seen many folks scrambling to find a table service restaurant for dinner and unable to do so.
  6. Visit the Disney resorts to see decorations. They are amazing, fun, creative…and FREE! 🙂
  7. Look at a map of the park before you arrive. You’d be amazed how many people don’t. Being familiar with where things are will be a huge help to getting around efficiently….both for your time as well as your feet!
  8. Don’t miss the Holiday Storytellers at Epcot’s Holidays Around the World. It is a great way to celebrate the season by learning about the customs and traditions of countries all around the world!
  9. Try to get some evening PhotoPass pictures, as the lights and decorations will provide you photo memories unlike any you get at the rest of the year. Plus, if you go early enough in the month….you will have the perfect picture for your family’s annual Christmas card!
  10. Relax and go with the flow! Set low expectations for what you HAVE to see and do. You will probably not get to everything on your list, and that’s ok. This is, in many ways, the best time of the year to go with the flow, and take the time to enjoy the many OTHER things that Disney offers during the Holiday season. Focus on the Holiday Magic that is only there during this time of the year, share the season with your family, have patience and a sense of humor…..and enjoy the experience!

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One Response to Thrifty Thursday: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Disney World Christmas Vacation

  1. Shepard C Willner says:

    Re: #5, Be sure to make the ADRs, how about spelling out the acronym on first usage? Does ADR refer to Advance Dining Reservations? Then please insert the spell-out before the acronym. As for #7, looking at maps, I do that anyway, especially for complicated places like the Magic Kingdom where some lands seem merge into others, e.g., Frontier Land to Liberty Square to Main Street, etc. As for #6, visiting the various resorts to see the decorations, as somebody who’s Jewish by faith, it’s a little hard to appreciate the Xmas decor at each resort, so I usually look at the trees and how they’re decorated, especially if the trees are blue spruce and have contrasting color ball ornaments like blue, red, or yellow.

    I also appreciate seeing a Menorah (the 8-branched candelabra used during Hannukah, the Festival of Lights). But it the Menorah is stashed somewhere on a counter behind the reception desk at check-in (as was the case at the Pop Century Resort when I visited last December), I know somehow that the resort is just going through the motions. Please, resort staffers, consider placing that Menorah in a more prominent location so it’s meaningful for those guests who are Jewish. In addition, consider offering potato latkes (potato pancakes served w/sour cream or applesauce) someplace nearby, along with gift bags of Hannukah gelt (“gelt” means “gold”, and refers to the chocolate coins inside gold wrappers inside small net bags). You can sell them in the gift shops! 🙂

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