December closes out the year with holiday festivities, slightly cooler temps, and some of the busiest days of the year.
Here's what you need to know.
How our Crowd Calendars Work
Ready to dive in? Jump down to the December Crowd Calendar
1. For each day of the month, we tell you on a scale of 1-10 how busy the entire Walt Disney World Resort is when compared to other days of the year.
2. Then, for each park you'll see the park hours and any special events that are planned.
3. We also track refurbishments and closings (which you can toggle on and off).
4. We have a handy feature that allows you to automatically add your Advanced Dining Reservation date to your calendar.
5. And, one of the most useful features is the ability to be able to print the calendar so that you can have a paper copy for planning (or to just use as a backup).
What order should you visit the parks?
Depending on the length of your trip, here's how many days we recommend for each park:
When it comes time to decide which days are best for each park, here are some general things to keep in mind:
- Hollywood Studios is consistently the first park to reach capacity, primarily because of popular attractions like Rise of the Resistance and Slinky Dog Dash.
- Magic Kingdom is the most popular park overall. It is also the park most first-time visitors think of when they think "Disney World". Saturdays are the busiest, with mid-week typically the least busy.
- Epcot hosts nearly year-round festivals, and those festivals are popular with both out-of-state visitors as well as with locals. And, since a lot of what the festivals are famous for are alcohol and food, the areas around the Festival Booths can be a lot busier (and a bit rowdier) than what you'd find during the daytime hours on the weekdays. If that isn't the vibe you are looking for, you may want to skip Epcot during the nighttime on Friday and Saturdays.
- Even with the new Park Pass system, Animal Kingdom remains one of the "easiest" parks to fit into a trip. You should be able to plug it in wherever it makes the most sense for you.
We go into a lot more detail in our guide on The Best Days to Visit Each Park.
Planning for Disney World in December
Disney publishes its park hours about 75 days in advance, but those hours can (and very often do) change.
Note: This used to be about 180 days in advance, but since the reopening, they have transitioned to a roughly 75-day window.
As the dates get closer, it isn't unusual for Disney to tweak either the opening or closing times. And during especially busy times of the year, they may change both.
That means to avoid having your plans sidetracked, you'll definitely want to keep checking the park hours - including while on your trip.
When it comes to park hours - in general - the heavier the crowds, the longer the parks will be open during the day. Of course, that also means that the parks will be open fewer hours of the day during less busy times of the years.
That means in December you can expect to see the parks open more hours the week of Christmas and New Years.
- Guide to Magic Kingdom Park Hours
- Guide to Epcot Park Hours
- Guide to Hollywood Studios Park Hours
- Guide to Animal Kingdom Park Hours
PRICES AND DISCOUNTS
Even though the end of December are some of the busiest days of the year, discounts aren't uncommon for the first few days of the month.
50th Anniversary Celebration
October 1, 2021 is the official kickoff for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Extending all the way until April 1, 2023, this celebration will offer guests the opportunities for new experiences, entertainment, and of course merchandise and treats.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Note: Due to current health and safety measures, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was suspended for 2020. We will update with 2021 information as soon as it becomes available.
One of the hottest parties around, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a specially ticketed event (translation: it costs extra) at Magic Kingdom. During the party you'll find special character meet and greet opportunities, dance parties, a special parade, fireworks, and special treat stations where you can get hot cocoa and cookies.
Festival of the Holidays
Typically starting at the end of November and running through the end of December, Epcot's Festival of the Holidays introduces guests to holiday customs and traditions throughout the world.
December at Disney World typically brings slightly cooler temps. But, while some days can be chilly others may still be warmer than you'd expect. Since temps in December at Disney World can get cool in the mornings and evenings, consider dressing in layers so that you’re comfortable throughout the day.
During December, the temperatures will range from lows in the 50s to highs in the low 70s.
Rain is also less of a problem in December with the entire month averaging a little more than 2.5 inches.
But even though the rain chances aren't as high, we still recommend that you come prepared with ponchos, multiple pairs of shoes (in case one pair gets wet), and umbrellas just in case. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than blisters from wet shoes.
Swimming in December
Even though it may be too cold to swim in December where you live, at Disney World the pools are heated which means even if the air is a bit chilly, the pools are still a comfortable temperature.
In addition to the pools at the resorts, at least 1 of Disney's 2 water parks will remain open.
WHAT TO WEAR
Visiting Walt Disney World in December? You'll definitely want to pack layers.
Some people may find shorts and t-shirts comfortable, but for others, you may want longer pants or even a jacket.
A lot of what will feel good to you will depend on what the weather is like where you're coming from. For example, if you live in a colder climate the temps in Florida may feel just about perfect for shorts, even if they are only in the 60s.
And, definitely check the forecast in the final days before you leave because while December temperatures can be beautiful, it also isn't unusual for it to get downright cold which means you'd want to pack something warmer.
REFURBISHMENTS AND CLOSURES
While routine refurbishments aren't typically scheduled in December, you'll likely still run into a few attractions that are closed.
We keep track of those on the calendar below.
To see what will be closed on your trip, toggle the "attraction closings" tab.
During the colder months, Disney also typically closes Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon (one at a time) for refurbishment.
These scheduled closings typically take place between the end of October and mid-March.
Make sure you check the calendar below to see what park will be open during your visit.
At this time, no major new attraction, restaurant, or show is scheduled to open in December.
TIPS FOR DISNEY WORLD IN DECEMBER
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party can sell out so if you're sure you want to attend, consider purchasing your tickets early.
- Keep checking for discounts. Even if you've already booked discounts can still be applied.
- If you are traveling over the busy Christmas holiday, make sure you have a plan to maximize your time in the parks.