Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Or not? It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but the Disney resorts are already decked out for the holidays. This week, we asked our Parenting Panel: Christmas Crowds: Would you go to a Disney theme park between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day?
Chris, also known as GusMan, is always planning his next family trip to the Walt Disney World Resort and loves to help others plan their trips, as well share his experiences. Chris writes:
There is nothing like the Christmas season at the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW). Everything is decorated to the max. There is a lot of joy in the air. There are seasonal treats that you can’t get at any other time. In short, it is a wonderful time to visit and it can be a unique visit at that even if you are a frequent visitor to the resort throughout the year. But if the question is if I would ever take my family down to the parks during that week between Christmas and New Year's my answer would have to be a solid no.
Before you scroll past the rest of my comments, thinking that there was a time where I would actually want to avoid WDW, I would like to elaborate a bit to give you a better idea as to my train of thought.
The number one reason that makes me steer clear of the parks during this time is the crowds. It is, by far, the busiest time of the year to go, and you will consistently see crowd levels that bring the Magic Kingdom to its maximum capacity. This does not simply mean that attraction wait times start rising dramatically. It also means that it becomes more and more difficult to shop, enjoy the sites, and even simply maneuver through the parks. It changes a certain dynamic of the park that goes from festively busy to nearly wall-to-wall people. Keep in mind, I do not mind crowds. In fact, I tend to visit during some of the busier times of the summer months, as well. However, I never experienced a capacity-level crowd.
Personally, that is just not my style.
Granted, I have several close friends of mine who went during this time of year and they had a great time. Sure, they battled the crowds and they would probably agree with my assessment above. But they said, with a good plan, you can still enjoy many of the attractions without wasting too much time in line. Their tip to me was to target your activities of the day do not go in with the slightest thought that you will get everything on your wish list done. In essence, it was doable as long as you set your own expectations properly. I think that is what scares some people away – not knowing what to expect. I think I fall into this category.
I’ve always said that a bad day at Disney would beat nearly any other day. I still think that is true. Maybe instead of me saying that I would answer “a solid no” to the question, it would be more accurate for me to say" no, but some day I might be willing to take the chance." I do feel that I would have to prepare myself for something like I have never experienced before, but at the same time, there was a time where I never thought I would want to go to WDW during that time in the first place.
MousePlanet columnist Chris Barry his wife, Diane, 14-year-old Samantha, and twin 11-year-olds, Casey and Alex, live on Long Island, and are all major Disney and Walt Disney World fans. Chris writes:
I have no interest in going on a Disney vacation the week between Christmas and New Year's. Nor will I go during Easter/spring break, or during the February break. These are no-brainers for me and my family. It’s almost as easy as deciding to go in the first place. “Yes. Let’s go!” is usually my immediate response to anyone asking about going to the Walt Disney World Resort. The next two responses are typically “When are we going?” and “How much are we paying?” The first response is always, “Not during a crazy-busy time!”
As far as the latter response, I will always stand by my belief that a Disney vacation is a good deal. It isn’t cheap. But considering everything that I’m getting when I go down there, it’s a bigger bang for my buck than most any other travel destination. And if you pay attention, you can get a great Disney-offered special.
We’ve gotten Disney's Polynesian Resort in August for 40 percent off of the already lower room rate for that time of year. Spending $289 for a night at the Polynesian is a great deal. Similarly, we’ve stayed at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside on a Disney special for around $130 per night, which is also a great deal. However, neither of these deals can ever be had during the week between Christmas and New Year's. Those are premium times, and that commands full-price rates. So the bottom line for me is: I’m not paying full price just to be there during that week. I’d rather go another time and save quite a few bucks, which brings me back to my first response: “When are we going?”
I have no interest in being there during peak travel times. We’ve been to WDW during the first week in December for a long weekend and experienced all the glory and pageantry of the holidays for far less money and with far fewer crowds. It’s completely worth it to see what the Disney parks and resorts do for the holiday season. It’s wonderfully magical, and you should make it a point to see it. But, trust me, you don’t have to be there Christmas week shoulder to shoulder with everybody else. Go earlier in December for a quick weekend and you’ll see all the same things the people crammed into the parks during the holiday week see, if not more.
Plus, from a New Yorker’s point of view, I need the cold weather for it to be Christmas. It’s just what I know. You may not have grown up that way, but my fireplace, a sweater, and maybe some snow on Christmas makes it real for me. Warm weather, shorts, and air-conditioning don’t spell Christmas cheer to me.
So, my personal advice is: Save money. Avoid the crowds and head down there in early December to see the Disney holiday amazement. Every Disney fan should see it, at least once, but you might as well get a good deal and make it stress free. Don’t you think?
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
Visit the Parenting in the Parks forum on our MousePad discussion board, and share your opinions about this topic or many others, or send your suggestions via e-mail. Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!