Planning to visit Disney World sometime between August 2017 and July 2018?
I've got a Disney World crowd calendar of predicted crowd times based on school calendars of many of the biggest districts, holidays, runDisney races, and years of experience being in the parks at all times of the year.
Whether you have planned a Christmas trip that spans across New Year’s Day or you’ve decided you just want to ring in January 1st with Mickey, New Year's Eve at Disney World offers lots of options for both dining and entertainment.
The added crowds from the holidays means you need a plan in order to get the most out of the experience. While the offerings might differ slightly from year to year, here’s a taste of what you can expect to find if you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World on New Year’s Eve.
New Year's Eve at Disney World: Entertainment
Unlike the other 3 parks, the Magic Kingdom does not serve alcohol, so if you are looking to ring in the New Year with a toast you'll have to do that elsewhere. What it lacks in adult beverages, however, the Magic Kingdom makes up for with a spectacular fireworks display that is shot off "in-the-round" and includes fireworks over the castle as well as along the perimeter of the park.
It is not uncommon for the Magic Kingdom to go into a phased closure during extra busy times such as New Year's Eve.
Holiday Wishes (scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 and 31 in 2016)
On New Year’s Eve, the Magic Kingdom has 2 fireworks shows, and typically the first of the evening is Holiday Wishes. In 2015, this show had some expanded fireworks and a New Year's Eve countdown to give families that would like to make it an early night the feeling of New Year’s Eve without having to stay up until midnight.
Fantasy in the Sky fireworks (scheduled at 11:48 p.m. on Dec. 30 and 31 in 2016)
This spectacular fireworks show is one of the best shown at the Magic Kingdom. In 2016 you can catch this show both New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Eve's Eve at 11:48 p.m. To maximize your New Year's experience, plan to catch the fireworks here on December 30 for (slightly) less crowds and then spend New Year's Eve in another park.
At Epcot, New Year’s Eve takes on a "global party" feeling. In years past you have been able to find music and DJs in the World Showcase, special dining options, and 2 showings of Illuminations (6 and 11:40 p.m.). The 6 p.m. show typically includes the holiday finale while the 11:40 p.m. performance usually includes a countdown to midnight and a “pyrotechnic salute to the New Year.”
Out of all 4 parks, Epcot can hold the most crowds and while it will still be quite busy, the World Showcase provides lots of space for people to spread out making it a good choice if you want to be in the parks for New Year's Eve.
Illuminations (New Year's Eve edition - scheduled for 11:40 p.m. on Dec. 31 in 2016)
In 2016, guests visiting Hollywood Studios will be treated to 2 nighttime shows: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. The construction at Hollywood Studios limits the available space they have to shoot off fireworks which means in order to get the best view you need to plan to be as close to the Chinese Theater as possible.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! (scheduled for 9:00 p.m. in 2016)
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (scheduled at midnight in 2016)
In years past, Animal Kingdom has not hosted anything special (beyond some live music) for New Year's Eve and the park has closed before midnight. The lack of fireworks and the early closing makes Animal Kingdom your best option if you're looking to avoid the crowds.
If you're looking to avoid a park on New Year's Eve but you still want to party Disney-style, Disney Springs will have live music and plenty of spots to grab a drink. Like the parks, though, this will be a popular spot, so if you are staying at a Disney resort plan to use Disney Transportation or take a Taxi/Uber to avoid traffic congestion in and around Disney Springs.
New Year's Eve at Disney World: Special Dining Options
Every year Disney World offers special dining events for New Year’s Eve. In 2016, you'll find 9 different restaurants and a couple different dining experiences offered.
Restaurant: California Grill Location: Contemporary Resort Cost: $650 per guest Day & Time: New Year’s Eve, 7:30 to midnight
What’s included: This is probably the most elegant (and definitely the most expensive - OUCH!) of all offerings. Not just a meal, Disney bills this experience as a “gala” which includes a dress code, all-you-care-to-enjoy dining including a complimentary bar and unlimited wine by the glass.
In addition to free flowing food and beverages, guests are also entertained by several characters including Mickey, Minnie, Baby New Year Donald and Father Time Goofy. Of course, the main focus of the evening is the wine are the fireworks at midnight from the Magic Kingdom and California Grill’s superb location and deck make this an ideal spot to catch those.
Restaurant: Chef Mickey’s New Year’s Day holiday dinner Location: Contemporary Resort Cost: $53 adults/$32 child Day & Time: New Year’s Day, 11:00 am - 9:00 p.m.
What’s included: The only difference between this experience and eating at Chef Mickey’s on any other day are some of the offerings on the buffet line. All of the regular buffet items are there but you’ll find seasonal and holiday items mixed in as well.
Restaurant: Garden Grove Location: Swan Cost: $46.99 adults/$19.99 children Day & Time: New Year's Eve dinner served until 9:30
What’s included: A “gourmet” buffet which includes main dishes such as chicken schnitzel, short ribs, wild mushroom ravioli and snow crab legs, lots of sides and several soup options plus desserts. There is a menu and a selection of food for children if the food on the buffet doesn’t appeal to them.
Restaurant: Il Mulino Location: Swan Cost: $105 adults/$39 children Day & Time: New Year’s Eve 7:15 until 11:00 p.m.
What’s included: A prix-fixe 4 course dinner, however alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost.
Restaurant: Shula’s Steak House Location: Dolphin Cost: $135 adults/$60 children Day & Time: New Year’s Eve 7:15 until 11:00 p.m.
What’s included: A prix-fixe multi-course meal, however alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost.
Restaurant: Todd English’s bluezoo Location: Dolphin Cost: $90/guest Day & Time: New Year’s Eve 4:00 until 11:00 p.m.
What’s included: A “New Year’s Eve Dinner” which includes dry-aged rib eye with artichoke puree, roasted chestnuts, grilled porcini, Tokyo turnips, winter truffle and bordelaise.
Restaurant: Victoria and Albert’s Location: Grand Floridian Cost: $600/guest Day & Time: New Year’s Eve dinner service
What’s included: Prix fixe, multi-course meal
Restaurant: Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert’s Location: Grand Floridian Cost: $725/guest Day & Time: New Year’s Eve dinner service
What’s included: An intimate, in-the-kitchen experience including a 10 course meal with 9 wine pairings all while seated close enough to the chefs that you can interact with them while they cook.
Restaurant: Narcoossees Location: Grand Floridian Cost: $150 adult/$75 child (early dinner) and $255 adult/$95 children (late dinner) Day & Time: New Year’s Eve, early dinner seats between 5:00 and 5:45 p.m. and late dinner seats between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
What’s included: Delicious local and global seafood selections, steaks and a view of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
Restaurant: Monsieur Paul Location: Epcot Cost: $89/person (prix-fixe lunch or dinner), $245 ($310 with wine) adults/$235 child for the premier dining event (available at the last 2 dinner seatings only) Day & Time: New Year’s Eve lunch has 4 different seating times - 11:45 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., dinner has 2, 5:45 and 6:15 p.m. and the premier late dining event has 2 seatings as well, 8:45 and 9:45 p.m.
What’s included: The lunch and early dinner options include a 3 course meal while the premier dining event includes a 4 course meal with the option to include wine pairings for an additional charge
New Year’s Eve at World ShowPlace Location: World ShowPlace Pavilion Cost: $72.90 adults/$44.38 children Day & Time: New Year’s Eve 3:00-10:00 p.m.
What’s included: A dinner buffet that includes mesquite spice deep fried turkey breast, oven baked cod, mojo roasted pork, 2 dessert stations which include treats like a snow dusted Nutella stuffed blue velvet Bundt cake plus more. In addition to the food, guests also have photo opportunities at unique vignettes within the restaurant as well as lively Disney tunes.
Note: Despite being billed as a “Disney themed meal,” there are no characters at this meal. Also, the fireworks are not visible from this location (meaning you’ll need to find a place to watch them after you dine) and there is no special or reserved seating for the fireworks show.
The biggest event held during the holidays is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) which takes place on select evenings at Magic Kingdom in November and December. It features exclusive holiday entertainment, snow falling on Main St., and complimentary treats.
Though Disney World is intended to be enjoyed by the whole family, some attractions have height minimums to keep kids safe.
Here's an overview of the attractions with Disney World height requirements and how taller people in your group can still enjoy the attractions even if you have too-short-to-ride members in your party.
If meeting Mickey is on your Disney World To Do List, you may not know that you have lots of different options of when and where to meet him (including one where he talks!). From traditional character meets to character meals, you can find the main mouse in all 4 parks and at several resorts.
Check out the list below to discover where to meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World. Since not all encounters are the same, you might want to plan ahead to ensure you get the exact experience you want.
Since the beginning, the WDW Prep To Go podcast has featured Disney World tips at the end of every episode. Now you can find the best Disney World tips below, all divided into categories so that they they are easy to find.
From park touring to dining to resorts (plus more), you'll find 100+ different ideas to help you with your next Disney World trip.
A long, long time ago (well, today, and yesterday, and tomorrow and every day after that) in a galaxy far, far away (actually right next to Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios), children between the ages of 4 and 12 are given the opportunity to hone their lightsaber skills at Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple!
This unique Star Wars show occurs multiple times a day (times listed on every park map and the My Disney Experience app) and it's quite the experience for young Padawans.
To get some advice on how your kid is sure to be a part of Jedi Training, I've teamed up with my good friend Janel (@wdw_mom on Instagram!) to bring you some tips and tricks to find out if your kid has what it takes to be part of the Rebel Alliance! (Read more...)
This is a guest post from Sarah Tavares. Follow her on Instagram. Here’s Sarah…
Walt Disney World recently introduced two Early Morning Magic ticketed events – one at Magic Kingdom, and the other at Hollywood Studios. Both include a buffet breakfast and pre-park opening access to select attractions.
I recently decided to try out the Fantasyland Early Morning Magic, which includes unlimited access to three rides – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh from 7:45 to 9 a.m., followed by breakfast at Pinocchio Village Haus from 8:30 to 10 a.m.