Christmas is our favourite time of yr at Walt Disney World, and throughout the vacation season, there’s a week-long window that we actually love. This put up discusses why we advocate visiting after Thanksgiving however earlier than the height weeks of winter break, with a rundown of what makes this time of yr particular–and completely different from the busier weeks. (Up to date October 13, 2023.)
That is hardly a secret. Lengthy-time readers of the weblog would possibly know that our #1 favourite week of the yr at Walt Disney World is the one after Thanksgiving. We’ve beneficial it numerous occasions over the past decade-plus, and it’s been our go-to for ages. Again once we lived within the Midwest, our annual Christmas journey normally began the Sunday after the vacation. (Even once we have been nonetheless in class, we used to skip a pair days to make it an extended weekend journey!)
I don’t maintain monitor, but when I needed to guess at which week of the yr we’ve got spent probably the most minutes in Walt Disney World since 2007, it could be this one. Most likely by a fairly extensive margin. We completely love the week after Thanksgiving. Final yr, we truly ‘prolonged’ our method and skilled the primary two weeks of December, and have been pleasantly stunned with each.
The second week (or first full one) of December was noticeably busier final yr, however nonetheless not even remotely on par with Thanksgiving or what we’re anticipating within the lead-up to Christmas and New Yr’s Eve. It’s additionally value noting that irrespective of what number of occasions we’ve shared this “greatest stored secret,” it has remained reliably uncrowded.
To make certain, late November into early December is busier now than it was a decade in the past. However that’s true of virtually all dates of the yr. Walt Disney World annual attendance has elevated by a number of hundreds of thousands of individuals, and park growth has not stored tempo. So crowds are worse, throughout the board, than they have been in 2009 and even 2018!
Accordingly, these of you with time machines in your possession might not even need to trouble with this put up, and as a substitute dial in any random date in 2002 for decrease crowds. Everybody else ought to proceed studying, as the vacation season has curler coaster crowds with each actually excessive highs and low lows!
In truth, our lists of the 10 Greatest and 10 Worst Weeks to Go to Walt Disney World in 2023 to 2025 include a number of weeks in each November 2023 and December 2023. It’s truly fairly wild how the parks go from chaotic to quiet (comparatively talking) nearly in a single day from one week to the following. Level being, though the parks are busier now than a decade in the past, there are nonetheless noticeable variations between the busier and fewer busy dates inside 2023.
Right here’s what we love about this timeframe throughout the vacation season at Walt Disney World, and why you need to go to throughout one among these weeks when you’re already planning a 2023 or 2024 trip throughout Christmas-time…
“Full” Christmas – Even with out the Dream Lights and different issues which were misplaced over the past decade-plus, the vacation season is much and away our favourite time at Walt Disney World. We’ve gone into this at size in quite a lot of different posts, together with our Final Information to Christmas at Walt Disney World, so we gained’t belabor the purpose.
On the subject of Christmas, we like just a few completely different home windows. The primary is the very starting, earlier than any vacation crowds arrive. The second is after the week of Veterans’ Day, however earlier than Thanksgiving. The issue with each of those is that it’s not utterly Christmas throughout them. Many resorts nonetheless aren’t decked out for the vacations, and EPCOT continues to be “celebrating” Meals & Wine Pageant. This leaves the 2 weeks after Thanksgiving because the candy spot to go to Walt Disney World for a full Christmas.
Resorts – Final yr, I stayed in a newly-refurbished room at All Star Sports activities, and it was completely incredible. Not simply the room, however the expertise as a complete. I’m not usually an All Star fan, however I used to be impressed. I stayed there as a result of it was far and away the most cost effective choice and I needed to see the way it contrasted to the ‘previous days’ when ESPN Extensive World of Sports activities hosted main youth occasions this time of yr.
In each manner, my expectations have been exceeded. The grounds have been wanting nice, the meals court docket was by no means overly-crowded, and there have been by no means rowdy teams of children enjoying on the soccer area. Bus service was immediate, pickup occasions have been correct, and it was solely shared on one late evening getting back from Magic Kingdom. Regardless of leaving late, I at all times made Early Entry with time to spare.
Whereas there, I spoke with a supervisor who provided fascinating insights about resort occupancy and constructing closures, which confirmed what I suspected primarily based on the low variety of individuals out and about on the resort. It was the same story at nearly each resort I visited. Admittedly, I intentionally didn’t do Grand Floridian or Wilderness Lodge throughout their ‘peak’ hours when crowds are likely to the worst, however even the favored Crescent Lake resorts have been fairly quiet throughout the days that I visited. As with the parks, it is a far cry from the scene throughout the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and NYE.
Decrease Costs & Higher Offers – With decrease occupancy than the height weeks of the vacation season, it ought to come as no shock that there are higher offers available between the height weeks of the vacations fairly than throughout them. Final yr, I managed to attain some nice charges at All Star Sports activities–this yr, it’s the same story, with financial savings of as much as 35% off throughout these journey dates. See All Present Reductions at Walt Disney World for a have a look at the varied particular gives.
Not solely that, however the resort rack charges and different costs are decrease to start with than throughout Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Yr’s weeks. In the event you have a look at the Most cost-effective Instances to Go to Walt Disney World, you’ll see that these two weeks are the most effective of the vacation season. Nonetheless not as little as the true low season, however fairly shut!
Crowds & Wait Instances – As measured by common wait occasions, Thanksgiving week was one of many 5 busiest weeks of final yr, behind solely Presidents’ Day, Spring Break’s peak week, and the weeks of Christmas and New Yr’s Eve. The week-to-week drop is fairly pronounced, with crowds plummeting on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and staying there for everything of the following week.
The week following Thanksgiving averaged a 34 minute wait time (2/10 on the gang calendar), as in comparison with 49 minutes throughout the week of Thanksgiving (10/10 on the gang calendar). That 15 minute distinction could appear insignificant, but it surely’s truly enormous–and actually provides up over the course of a day.
The next week was busier than early December, averaging a 40 minute wait and 5/10 crowd degree. That’s nonetheless fairly busy as in comparison with September or Might, however very manageable for the vacation season. It’s additionally skewed by Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration dates–you can do considerably higher by merely selecting the Greatest Days of the Week to Go to Every Park at Walt Disney World.
In the event you’re planning a Walt Disney World journey for 2023 or 2024, you clearly can’t rely on these actual numbers holding up. Nonetheless, that’s fairly according to what we’ve seen in regular years for the final decade or so. Sometimes, crowds fall off a cliff the Sunday after Thanksgiving, plateau for every week or so, after which steadily rise within the lead-up to Christmas.
Our expectation is definitely barely decrease crowd ranges for the second week of December 2023, and about the identical numbers for the week instantly after Thanksgiving. The premise for that is that wait occasions have been down year-over-year at Walt Disney World attributable to “revenge journey” exhausting itself. Nonetheless, it’s onerous to see early December bettering that a lot. It was already actually good final yr, and is a well-liked time for annual guests.
No matter what else occurs, all bets are off as soon as winter breaks begin. The interval between Christmas and New Yr’s Eve being one of many worst weeks of the yr, and issues not likely letting up till colleges return into session and Marathon Weekend concludes.
Eating Availability – We have been in a position to eat in all places we needed (with the essential caveat that a lot of the locations we want aren’t probably the most highly-coveted Advance Eating Reservations), and sometimes discovered same-day ADRs or availability through walk-up waitlist. This included actually no anticipate Nomad Lounge and Steakhouse 71, in addition to discovering same-day ADRs for numerous eating places (and even Fantasmic and Candlelight Processional eating packages).
Provided that we each want extra spontaneity, this positive beats visiting throughout the peak vacation weeks. Visitors doing journeys then needed to be up early to make ADRs 60+ days prematurely, and a few seemingly nonetheless didn’t get all the pieces they needed. Waits for Cell Order and Stroll-Up Waitlist are additionally a lot worse when it’s busier.
Genie+ Pricing & Availability – We purchased Genie+ on a number of separate days for analysis. If this have been our first and solely expertise with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, we’d in all probability surprise what the entire fuss is about. Genie+ was additionally “solely” $16 after tax each single day of my keep, which was good (and reflective of the decreased demand).
Suffice to say, our experiences have been (and are) a stark distinction to the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yr’s Eve, when Lightning Lane availability was or shall be far more restricted attributable to elevated “competitors” ensuing from extra individuals shopping for the paid FastPass service. Worse crowds solely compound that, with larger wait occasions and extra congestion in between Lightning Lane return occasions.
Climate – One factor I’ve realized over the previous few years is that I used to be not “constructed” for Florida warmth and humidity. To make certain, we had traveled to Walt Disney World in each month and week of the yr beforehand, so we knew what we have been getting ourselves into. Nonetheless, lots of our transplant associates reassured us that it’s not so unhealthy and also you get used to it. That by no means occurred for us, and we discovered ourselves spending far an excessive amount of time indoors 8 months of the yr.
Whereas some individuals go to Florida for the limitless summer time sunshine and heat temperatures, that’s undoubtedly not the case for us. Our ‘candy spot’ for Florida climate is from round November till February. I’ll take having to put on a coat over sweating by means of my shirt any day of the week. You’ll be able to at all times add layers, however there are solely so many you may subtract earlier than safety says, “sir, you may’t take off your shirt right here and this Miss Piggy fountain isn’t a water play space.” (Buzzkills.)
Whereas it’s not at all times excellent, we’ve discovered that 90% of the time, the climate in late November and early December is a minimum of temperate. As a lot as I like late August and September for low crowds, I’ll fortunately cope with barely elevated attendance for considerably higher climate. It’s a simple commerce off for us.
Outfits – I’m not what you’d name a classy man in any conventional sense of the time period. GQ is not going to be ringing me anytime quickly, asking the place I get my moisture wicking polos, quick-drying shorts, or bucket hats. In the summertime, my outfit rotation is fairly easy and restricted. In contrast to Sarah, who at all times appears good irrespective of the season or climate, I seem like a doofus who simply emerged from the sauna throughout Florida’s three seasons of summer time.
Nonetheless, roughly 75% of my wardrobe is sweaters and flannel shirts. It’s gotten to the purpose that I’ve been “banned” from shopping for extra blue plaid, as ‘that appears like a half-dozen shirts you already personal and may’t put on 10 months of the yr.’ It ought to go with out saying, however these should not the optimum outfits for Florida.
It’s an offshoot of climate, however one of many issues I like about this time of yr at Walt Disney World is that I don’t have to decorate in utilitarian clothes that appears like I’m about to go fishing. I can bust out my formidable sweater assortment or huge array of blue plaid shirts. Within the grand scheme of issues, it’s minor, but it surely’s good to have photographs of us the place we each look presentable and have enjoyable outfits.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration – For years, we’ve carried out the primary Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Celebration in early August and the primary Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration in early November. Whereas I can go from 0 to 60 in terms of stepping into the vacation spirit, the identical isn’t true of everybody else.
Not solely is the climate (normally) higher for the December events, however the vitality is nearly at all times higher. Far more company are wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, honest isle onesies, vacation Spirit Jerseys, and so forth. Simply because the MNSSHP is best in October, so too is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration nearer to Christmas. The occasion itself is equivalent, and but, higher.
It’s powerful to clarify how, however when you’ve carried out the primary evening of MVMCP and likewise one of many December dates, you understand. (We’ve got additionally been rained out manner too many occasions on the first MVMCP previously, and that might’ve occurred once more had we attended this yr. Knock on wooden, however that hasn’t occurred to us in ages throughout the December dates of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration.)
Disney Jollywood Nights – It’s a really related story with the model new for Christmas 2023 occasion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney Jollywood Nights is a vacation onerous ticket occasion providing a extra refined vacation vibe, sights of glowing décor, sounds of recent beats over traditional vacation songs, tastes of craft cocktails and decadent dishes. It’s nostalgic and it’s glitz and glam galore.
To that time, Nineteen Fifties vacation apparel is beneficial for this seasonal soirée and a giant a part of the occasion would be the glamorous vibe and environment. Clearly, you can assemble an outfit with layers that might work for probably scorching or chilly climate in mid-November. Or you can go later within the month or early December 2023 when temperatures are more likely to be cooler.
One other wildcard right here is that, because it’s the primary yr of Disney Jollywood Nights, it would take just a few nights of the occasion earlier than issues are operating easily. As such, I’d in all probability fairly attend in late November than one of many first couple of events. There are additionally 4 occasions in fast succession over the course of late November and early December, and it’s doable that these dates gained’t promote out and will thus be much less crowded. (Potential doesn’t imply possible–we’re anticipating all dates to promote out!)
Candlelight Processional – I’m a sucker for Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. The pageantry of all of it, stunning music, and energy put into the spectacle by so many expert and passionate Solid Members. Suffice to say, Candlelight Processional is one thing particular. From the choir to the orchestra to the conductor to the ASL interpreter, I like watching these gifted performers give it their all. It’s an awesome custom–one began by Walt Disney at Disneyland and imported to EPCOT a lot later–and one thing I hope by no means ends.
I’m not significantly ‘huge’ on celebrities, so the narrator issues much less to me. (If something, I favor among the much less well-liked ones as they draw smaller crowds of their followers.) With that mentioned, there are some I get pleasure from greater than others. I don’t need to ‘identify names’ and disparage anybody (or alienate their followers), however I’m not significantly eager on the narrators who incessantly seem throughout this window. Maybe it’s simply my notion, but it surely looks as if Walt Disney World books the most effective narrators in mid-to-late December.
The upside to that is low crowds for Candlelight Processional. I managed to snag seats twice with no eating bundle and no wait in line. Positive, I used to be in the direction of the again, however I’ve seen it sufficient that I’m completely glad with solely an okay view. Not having to purchase a eating bundle (to not point out the stress of making an attempt to attain ADRs) or wait in an extended line is a greater than honest tradeoff, from my perspective.
In the end, it ought to be simple to see why that is our favourite week (or weeks?) of the yr at Walt Disney World. Though wait occasions for sure headliners are nonetheless excessive, the decrease congestion ranges as in comparison with Thanksgiving week makes a enormous distinction when it comes to general consolation degree–and the higher climate additionally helps! Final yr, the one time and place we ever noticed crowding was within the hub and Fundamental Avenue throughout Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration, however that’s about par for the course.
In the event you’re presently planning a visit, our suggestion can be to make November 26, 2023 your first day within the parks, leaving by December 2, 2023. That’ll nearly actually be the candy spot for the most effective of crowds, wait occasions, climate, seasonal spirit, and so forth. With that mentioned, if we had to decide on a next-best set of dates from a qualitative perspective, it’d be tough to resolve between December 3-9, 2023 and November 12-17, 2023. The large tradeoffs can be barely larger crowds vs. full Christmas and probably higher climate.
It’s the same story for subsequent yr. Whereas it’s untimely to set any dates in stone as lots can change between every now and then, I’m inclined to pencil in December 1-7, 2024 as my first alternative and December 8-14, 2024 as my second alternative. I’m much less assured about that second week, because it’s nearer to Christmas than the identical timeframe this yr or in 2023. Regardless, some potential journey dates to contemplate on your future journeys to Walt Disney World!
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In the event you’ve carried out Walt Disney World post-Thanksgiving, what was your expertise? In the event you’ve visited this identical week in prior years, how do you assume this yr compares? Ideas about anything coated right here? In the event you’re a frequent customer throughout this timeframe, what’s your tackle crowds, wait occasions, seasonal spirit, climate, and so forth? Agree or disagree with our evaluation of those two weeks as the most effective time throughout the vacation season? Any questions we can assist you reply? Listening to your suggestions is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!