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Holiday Week Advice at Walt Disney World

December 20, 2021

Welcome to the two craziest two weeks of the year at Walt Disney World! From today through January 3rd, the Disney campus will be mobbed.

Those who have often visited the parks during the holidays are well aware of the overhead, but some are likely doing this for the first time. These tips are for the latter group.

Here’s some holiday week advice that will (hopefully) improve your park visit while reducing your stress.

Let’s Talk about the Crowds

You’ve undoubtedly heard that COVID-19 infections are surging again. I’m presuming that won’t impact park traffic. 

So, please think of this discussion as the worst-case scenario for crowds. Feel fortunate if you show up and don’t find the parks crowded!

I’m comparing this year’s holiday attendance to 2019. That’s the last “normal” time before the pandemic. 

2020 likely isn’t applicable since Disney had capped throughput at the time. That won’t be the case now. 

During the 2019 holiday, Christmas fell on a Wednesday, which does matter. However, this year, it’s a Saturday, meaning you probably won’t have any “down” days for traffic. 

In 2019, the two parks that weren’t as popular were Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

I suspect one of those trends will hold, while the other sounds comical. Unfortunately, Hollywood Studios will almost certainly be the worst in terms of attraction wait times.

Those of you who don’t want to stand in line should target Animal Kingdom or EPCOT, the latter of which should require the shortest waits. 

Magic Kingdom is always steady with its crowd flow. Of course, it’ll be about as mobbed as you’ve ever seen it, but you’re expecting that, right?

Magic Kingdom would “sell out” in previous years on and around Christmas Day. Now that we have Park Passes, that’s not an issue.

Photo: Disney Tourist Blog

Let’s Talk about Park Visit Tips

This brings us to a different point. You can and should consider Park Hopping, presuming that you have that type of admission ticket. 

You can tell on My Disney Experience which parks offer the best bang for the buck on a given day…and the answer changes regularly. 

Go to the one with the shortest lines unless you’re totally set on specific attraction experiences. Flexibility wins the day when the parks are overflowing.

Speaking of which, I wouldn’t rely on Disney Genie, at least not much. Its suggestions remain…perplexing. 

Conversely, if your vacation budget allows it, I strongly recommend Disney Genie+. 

For $15 per person in your party, you’re pretty much guaranteeing your family/friends eight attractions during your visit. 

You’ll enter the shorter line queue and thereby spend less time waiting. Please understand that Disney Genie+ attractions book, though.

As such, you should target your highest priorities earlier in the day. If you snooze, you will almost certainly lose. 

If you missed the news, Disney has temporarily switched four previous Lightning Lane attractions, one per theme park, to Disney Genie+. 

This move will help with Disney Genie+ inventory, and you should target those rides first. They are Expedition Everest, Frozen Ever After, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Space Mountain.

Meanwhile, if you want to ride one of the current Lightning Lane attractions, those sell out as well. So, you should book early. 

The remaining Lightning Lane rides are Avatar: Flight of Passage, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

Over the next two weeks, spending the money for a Lightning Lane ride makes more sense. Remember to try for the virtual queue on Ratatouille first, though!

Other Park Tips for People Staying at DVC Resorts

Please remember that since you’re staying at an official Disney resort, you gain the benefit of Early Theme Park Entry.

You can enter the place where you have a Park Pass 60 minutes before most guests. 

The way that Disney operates this amenity, you really should show up 30-45 minutes before that. So, we’re talking at least 90 minutes before the official opening time at the applicable park. 

If you’re not an early bird, I understand. This is a time where you’ll get rewarded for setting your alarm clock, though. 

Presuming that you’re inside a park 60 minutes before it opens, you should get to ride at least two attractions before the place officially opens. That’s huge.

Utilize this strategy to maximize your enjoyment during your holiday visit. 

Also, presuming you’re staying at a DVC property, you get the added benefit of Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. And this one’s a massive bonus right now.

On December 20th and 27th, EPCOT will remain open from 10 p.m. to midnight exclusively for guests staying at Deluxe Disney resorts. Yes, that’s the DVC hotels. 

On January 3rd, EPCOT will offer the same amenity from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Similarly, Magic Kingdom will host its own version of December 22nd and 29th

The Extended Evening hours there are 10 p.m. to midnight on those dates. 

Folks, you can do a LOT in two hours, especially when very few people are in the parks. If you’ve ever attended an after-hours ticketed event, you know what I mean. 

Take full advantage of this benefit on those two dates. Disney had never offered anything like this before now. This might be one of the most magical things you ever do at Disney. 

Oh, and most importantly, have a great time! You deserve it!

There is still plenty of time to plan a Walt Disney World getaway and experience the holiday season at the most magical place on earth!  Head over to the DVC Rental Store Confirmed Reservations page and view available reservations that can save you up to 65% off regular Disney room rates!

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