‘Twas the season of Christmas and all through the house, every creature was stirring to visit a mouse. The suitcases were packed by the chimney with care, in hopes that the drive would be smooth and they soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of princesses danced in their heads. And mama with her sunglasses, and dad with his cap, had just settled down for a pre-cation nap.
But in preparation for this adventure there arose such a clatter, mom and dad forgot to plan a few matters. Away to this post they flew like a flash, for wisdom that would help make memories last.
December is a fabulous time to visit the Disney parks. The weather is better, humidity is low, but the crowds are huge. For some people, crowds are an extreme deterrent. But we’ve never been afraid of crowds unless they’re comprised of zombies. Which hasn’t happened. But we’re prepared for.
So what are a few things that you can do to make sure that you don’t let the crowds get the best of you? Here are a few tips to keep your trip merry and bright.
For tips on traveling with younger children, head over to our Disney with Minis post.
If you haven’t downloaded the My Disney Experience app, drop what you’re doing and do it now. If you can purchase your tickets in advance online, or have annual/season passes, you can schedule up to three fastpasses each day exactly one month in advance (if you’re staying at a resort, you have 90 days). Once you’ve used all three for that day, you are able to schedule one more. So play it smart. Arrange your passes for the rides that tend to be more packed, earlier on in the day. Once you’ve finished them all, schedule one more straight from your phone.
When to get to the parades and firework shows.
The best time to ride the busier attractions that you don’t have fast passes for are typically during the parades, fireworks, and dinner time (but if you wanted to hit up these things, which are a huge part of the Disney experience, snag a spot at least an hour early).
Where to eat?
If you have the My Disney Experience app you can easily make reservations like, now. If not, you can always take the monorail to the larger resorts such as the Polynesian (home of the best breakfast food in all of Disney), Contemporary, or the Grand Floridian. If you do pass through the Grand Floridian, check out their life-sized walk-through gingerbread house. Yes, this is real life!
I always advise quick meals (especially for lunch). Also, if you can bring PB&J for the kiddos and eat your meals at off-times (for example, brunch/late lunches instead of lunch and dinner), it helps avoid crowds and saves you $$.
Extra Magic Hours and later visits.
One way to avoid crowds is to take advantage of the extra magic hours. However, these are only available to those staying at Disney properties. If you don’t (we don’t), and if your kids can handle later nights, I STRONGLY suggest either going to the hotel for a midday nap or going to the park later as the crowds after the fireworks die down MASSIVELY. When Isabella was smaller and up at all hours of the night, we’d go to the park around 11 or noon and we’d stay until midnight/closing. Crazy, but we’d ride more rides after 8:30pm than we had all day.
Plan your park dates.
The larger parks like the Magic Kingdom and Epcot are most crowded on the weekends so try to look up the wait times each morning on your My Disney Experience app to get a feel for the crowds. Just note that all bets are off the last two weeks of December.
Allowing yourself to deviate from plans is the simplest way of ensuring less stress. Remember, you’re there to enjoy your family. If rushing to rides and waiting through lines is stressful, take a step back and reevaluate. Having a good time and doing less is better than going nuts trying to maximize your time.
Be sure to comment with any additional tips or questions that you might have. We hope you all have a stressless and happy holiday season!