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Sue Holland

News Year's Eve at Walt Disney World Not Like Previous Years

One of the light displays at the Studios welcomes in the New Year
One of the light displays at the Studios welcomes in the New Year

It appears that the cutbacks this year have expanded to include some of the "extras" usually found on New Year's Eve. Typically each major park at Walt Disney World schedules several additional entertainment acts and special events to ring in the New Year on December 31. Not so in 2001. Whether or not the extra entertainment and events return next year is anyone's guess - for now let's look at what's happening on December 31, 2001.

Each theme park will be open until 1:00 am on December 31, with the exception of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and will present extra-large fireworks displays. Expect larger-than-normal crowds, as well. In previous years it was not uncommon for some of the parks to close after filling to capacity, so the savvy visitor should arrive early.

Florida residents may not use their reduced-price Seasonal Passes, as they are not valid on this date. Likewise, Disney cast members may not enter the parks for free using their main gate passes. Ordinarily you could not pay me to go to the parks during this busy season, but this year I will be there thanks to some friends visiting from Scotland!

The only real special event for New Year's Eve this year is the party at Pleasure Island. A special ticket is required, and all other passes that normally include Pleasure Island admission are excluded on the real December 31. Admission is strictly limited to those age 21 and older. For $65 plus tax per person, you get a complimentary dessert, a champagne toast, and a special fireworks display. Appearing on the West End Stage will be headliner Cyndi Lauper, with additional performances by Joyce Collins Group and Devonshire. The party runs from 8 p.m. until 2 in the morning. In past years the price has been at least double, but included bigger-name entertainment and a bountiful buffet. This event typically sells out in the week or so leading up to the party.

Pleasure Island is New Year's Eve party central (photo by Brian Bennett)
Pleasure Island is New Year's Eve party central (photo by Brian Bennett)

There has been no mention of additional bands performing at Disney MGM Studios as in previous years, and the two showings of Fantasmic are scheduled for 6:30 and 8:30. If you are thinking of visiting this park, check at guest services to see if any extra entertainment or fireworks get scheduled at the last minute. The Osborne Lights will be operating through January 6, and are not to be missed.

Epcot is scheduled to run Illuminations at 11:45 p.m. rather than at 9:30 p.m., but otherwise nothing special is noted. The Holidays Around the World festivities are scheduled to end on December 30, with nothing additional planned for December 31.

The Magic Kingdom is undoubtedly where the biggest crowds will flock. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade make its final run for the season at 2:00 p.m., with Spectromagic scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The fireworks will be presented at midnight over Cinderella's Castle, and should be a larger-than-usual display.

Atlantic Dance will host a New Year's Eve party (photo by Brian Bennett)
Atlantic Dance will host a New Year's Eve party (photo by Brian Bennett)

Three special events are being held at the resorts this year.  A New Year's Eve party is being held at Atlantic Dance on The Boardwalk.  There's another one being held at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort.  A third will be at Narcoosee's.

California Grill and Narcoosee's will host New Year's Eve parties (photo by Brian Bennett).
California Grill and Narcoosee's will host New Year's Eve parties (photo by Brian Bennett).

As with any holiday special event, reservations are required (and they go VERY fast).  If you decide that the special event prices exceed your pocketbook, however, priority seating arrangements are definitely recommended at all resort restaurants on New Year's Eve, too.

Crowds in the parks are expected to remain high through Sunday, January 6 (the day of the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half-Marathon, both of which are run right through the theme parks).  This will be affected somewhat by local crowds, too, since so many schools are out of session through that weekend. On the other hand, the morning of January 1 will most likely be fairly light -- a great opportunity for early risers to get several attractions out of the way while most other people are sleeping in after their late night!

While New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World is certain to be very crowded, many people return year after year at this time. The long lines and big crowds are offset by the fun of spending that special night with family and friends -- and of course the chance for much warmer weather than you left back home! Happy New Year!


If you'd like to write Sue you can reach her at sue.holland@mouseplanet.com


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Photos on this page, unless otherwise noted, by Sue Holland

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