Guide to Visiting Walt Disney World on a Major Holiday
So you’ve decided on visiting Walt Disney World on a major holiday. First of all, let me applaud your optimism and bravery. I don’t want to sugarcoat the situation for you. A LOT of people will be there. You’re going to face crowds with everything you do. Don’t worry, though!
You’re at Walt Disney World and will have a great time no matter what. Here are a few suggestions to guarantee that you have the time of your life, even while visiting on a major holiday.
Grab Any FastPass You Can Get
I generally don’t tell people how to spend the day at a park. Everyone vacations differently, and there’s certainly no right way to approach a park visit. There are a few wrong ones, but guests who do a bit of research ahead of time generally avoid those mistakes.
A Disney park holiday is an entirely different situation. I’m going to be a bit more forceful than normal with my suggestions. I feel strongly that a couple of poor decisions could ruin your holiday, and I want to help you avoid that.
For starters, you NEED to book FastPasses. You should have done this at the 60-day window, but it’s never too late. Just don’t show up on Thanksgiving morning without FastPasses. If you can’t get book good ones today, those are still attractions that will have short lines.
Also, please remember my previous article on using My Disney Experience in the parks. You can and absolutely should book new FastPasses once you’ve finished your original batch. I don’t want to mislead you here. On a holiday, FastPasses will go quickly. You may not have terrific options.
Adapt to this knowledge. Don’t be greedy and obsess on getting that Slinky Dog Dash FastPass. The odds aren’t ever in your favor. Instead, be less selective. Just take what you can get. Again, you won’t have to wait long in these lines, and most Disney attractions are phenomenal anyway. You’ll have a better time when you’re not waiting in massive lines. FastPasses help you avoid that fate.
Pro tip: Disney veterans know that the FastPass list on My Disney Experience changes with each refresh. When you can’t get any good options, close the app. Then, reload it. You should have a new set of suggestions.
Think about Epcot in the Morning
For 2018, the Extra Magic Hours option is in the morning at Epcot. Since the park opens at 9 a.m., guests staying onsite at official Disney sites can enter at 8 a.m. You could feasibly ride one (or more!) of Test Track, Frozen Ever After, or Soarin’ Around the World before most people even enter the park!
The negative with this strategy is that you’ll need to wake up extremely early on Thanksgiving to enter Epcot at first opportunity. For morning people, this isn’t a problem. If you’re a night owl or in vacation mode, it’s something to think about but it’s not ideal. I’m just tossing out suggestions.
Something I will say is that Thanksgiving is an ideal day to visit the World Showcase. Most people rush through this section of the park since it doesn’t have many rides. Many park guests think of the World Showcase as a place to eat, drink, and be merry. Some of the shows, architecture, and exhibits are wonderful, too. During a crowded park day, you could avoid the lines some by looking at the exhibits at places like the Japan and Norway pavilions.
Also, I’m a devout believer that a few minutes of shopping is the quickest way to improve your mood at Walt Disney World. The World Showcase features some of the best shops anywhere, particularly at the France, Japan, and Mexico pavilions.
Information Is Power
You’ll want to keep My Disney Experience open for another important reason. The top of the front page of this app displays wait-times. Something I’d strongly suggest is for you to keep an eye on the traffic at all four parks. Presuming that you have a Park Hopper ticket, you should maintain flexibility.
For example, you may notice that Pandora – the World of Avatar has pulled a large amount of traffic into Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This might cause crowds to filter out of another park like, say, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot.
Similarly, the sheer volume of rides at Magic Kingdom means that it can address a massive amount of traffic better than the other parks. You may discover that some of your favorite attractions have manageable wait-times there.
I don’t know this, of course. All I can do is speculate based on historical traffic patterns and educated guesses about 2018. What I want you to understand is that studying My Disney Experience will help you decide the best way to maximize your time. And it’s easy to do this since you’ll have time while you’re standing in line anyway.
Don’t Ignore the Resorts
You won’t find any rides or true attractions at Disney’s official resorts. You will, however, discover a slew of entertainment options. On holidays, Disney is known to host special character greetings, and some resorts have them anyway.
You’ll find a lot of surprising entertainment available, too. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can interact with animals just as you would at the park. The difference is that you’re not fighting the crowd as much. A monorail ride through the three monorail resorts will provide all sorts of distractions such as a live band, some relaxing lobbies, and some gorgeous beachfronts for long and romantic walks.
On extended vacations, my family usually builds in a resorts-only day. We don’t spend much of this day at the parks. Instead, we pick a couple of Disney resorts and explore every inch of them. The theming is so detailed that it’s the only way we’ve found to appreciate the beauty of each place. On Thanksgiving, you could have a much calmer down by doing a bit of resort hopping.
Eat at Strange Hours
This final tip is one of the most important ones. People are creatures of habit. When we eat at a certain time at home, we generally try to mirror that behavior on vacation. The outcome of this herd mentality is that 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. will be impossibly crowded at restaurants. Your wait-times at these places might rival or surpass some actual attractions!
You can side-step this bit of group-think by changing your habits a bit for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any major holiday. Eat early or eat late or eat very, very late. You’ll avoid the mob and still eat a great meal. You should always use Mobile Ordering when you eat Quick Service meals. That way, you’ll avoid one line. Expect your food to take a bit longer than normal to prepare, though.
With these tips and a bit of alertness to changing your conditions, your holiday at Walt Disney World should be a blast. Have fun!