By Darlin’ Diva
If you’re up on your planning calendar and are headed to Walt Disney World for Christmas and/or New Year, then you know you need to be thinking about Christmas in late June or early July (at the latest). That 180-day mark means it’s time to take a serious look at dining, park, and touring plans during the hottest time of the year for the holiday season. Summer thoughts about Christmas – it can be a challenge! Having spent Christmas week at Walt Disney World last year and heading back on Christmas Eve this year, I’ve got a few tips that might make your merry trip planning a bit easier.
Disney World Planning – Christmas in July
Tours and Special Events Make Great Gifts – If you’re looking for great Disney gift tie-ins for your December trip, consider a tour or other special magical event. We’ve taken the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure (a Segway tour) and want to try one of the Animal Kingdom tours next. There’s something for all ages and mobility levels and most tours offer Passholder or DVC Member discounts. The most important part of pulling off the surprise gift of a tour or event is booking early.
Embrace the Crowds – If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Know that you will face the most extreme crowds of the year and plan accordingly. My favorite tip for this is to arrive at park opening and use your first three FastPasses early in the day. You might not be able to get any more at super-popular attractions, but you’ll have had time to see and do quite a bit before the crowd level becomes unbearable. Then you can head off for a nice lunch at one of the resorts, and weather-willing, an afternoon swim at your resort pool. OR, spend the early part of the day relaxing or shopping and book your Fastpasses for later in the afternoon/early evening. Know that the crowds will make both transportation and moving around in the parks more challenging later, but if you’ll be satisfied with three attractions and playing the rest by ear, do it!
Epcot’s Extra Special During the Holidays – From the Candlelight Processional to Holidays Around the World, Epcot’s World Showcase is not to be missed during the Christmas season. With more than just a few extras, this magical time touches Epcot in many special ways!
Tour the Trees and Decorations – Everywhere you go, the holiday decorations are spectacular. Sure, the parks are amazingly festive, but there’s so much more to see! Hop aboard the monorail and take a tour of the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts – each has incredibly beautiful and unique. No matter where you go, you’ll want to take a minute to check out the festive holiday touches. Personally, I love looking at the differently themed trees and the beautiful ornaments that make each of them a work of art.
Focus on Resort Dining for Table Service – We booked more ADRs (advance dining reservations) for lunch during the week after Christmas than ever before and were very happy with this strategy. We got to try new places and spent a bit less on table service dining by using our sit-down meal for lunch instead of dinner. When the crowds in Magic Kingdom were getting high, we were catching a boat to Wilderness Lodge (practically alone) for our lunch at Whispering Canyon Café. It’s a short walk from Epcot via the International Gateway to the Boardwalk or the Beach and Yacht Club for lunch or dinner. And don’t forget about Disney Springs – it’s less crowded from 10:00 am (when most of the stores open) through lunch time, so if you’re looking for a lunch and shopping excursion, book an ADR at one of the new places at Disney Springs. We enjoyed a great lunch at Morimoto Asia and did a bit of shopping one day before spending the afternoon and evening in Epcot – a great place for counter service in the evenings.
Sure, the holiday season at Walt Disney World presents its own set of unique challenges, but it’s also all about magic, celebration and creating amazing memories. By starting to plan your end-of-the-year vacation in July, you’ll have a stress-free, wonder-filled and very Merry Christmas indeed!