Just how crowded are the holidays at Disney World?

QOTD Pattern option 3 SQUARE 4 - Just how crowded are the holidays at Disney World?Although lots and lots of couples and single people travel to Disney World it is probably most well known as being a "family travel" destination.

And if you are traveling as a family that likely means you'll have school-aged children. And if you do you'll probably be looking to vacation on their breaks. Along with all the other millions of families around the world.

So, anytime school isn't in session, you're going to see the parks at Disney World more crowded. And not surprisingly, one of the most crowded times of the year is over the Christmas holiday.

So, yes, its gonna be crowded over the holidays at Disney World, but that doesn't mean your trip will be miserable!

If you are planning on traveling over the holidays (or any time of the year when the crowds are predicted to be thicker) there are some things you can do to make your trip a lot more enjoyable:

Plan ahead.

Now is not the time to wing it. Even if your plan is to "have a relaxed trip" you're still going to need to have a plan in place. The holidays are the perfect time to utilize our 6 Step Planning Process. If you read through that and follow all the steps, you're going to cover all the important bases.

Keep in mind that you likely aren't going to be able to get your ideal room in your ideal resort just a few days out from Christmas. If your goal is to visit Disney World over the holidays and you are wanting to stay onsite, you'd best be booking that trip earlier rather than later.

When it comes to the trip itself, you'll definitely want to be thinking ahead. Where are you going to spend each day? What things are your "must do" items? Get those down on paper so you know what your goals are.

Early mornings and late nights will be your friend. Often times there will be Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom that begin at 7 am. If you can get your family up and around and to the park by  6:30 am at the latest, you'll have a couple of hours there before things get super crowded.

The same thing with the late nights - if you can stay for the last hour or two when the parks are open late, you'll also find that the parks thin out. The busiest times (unsurprisingly) will be the middle of the day.

Planning on dining at Table Service restaurants? You'll want to book those as soon as your booking window opens. Table Service dining can be especially welcoming during the busy travel season because it gives you a spot to relax and sit out of the heavy crowds, without having to walk around looking for a table. If it fits in your budget, we highly recommend you consider eating at least 1 Table Service meal per day during the holidays.

Stay flexible.

YES we want you to have a plan. But we also want you to have a backup plan. And maybe a backup to the backup plan. Doing your research and having lots of knowledge about the entire Walt Disney World Resort area makes it so much easier for you to be flexible. Flexibility is the key to keeping your trip magical.

It is a guarantee that things outside of your control will happen during your Disney World trip. Attractions will break down. Somebody is going to decide they don't want to ride something you'd originally planned on. You're going to miss a bus at your resort and be late.

The list of things that could quickly turn a trip sour is long - but the list of things that can make the trip amazing is a million times longer. The key is, however, that you have to be intentional about planning for the bad stuff so you're ready to counter with something else.

Crowds more than you can handle? Take a break and head to a resort to check out their holiday decorations.
Lines crazy long on all the attractions you want to see? Jump onto My Disney Experience and see if anything nearby has lines that are more manageable.
Weather not behaving? Use it to your advantage.

Bottom line:

YES, Disney World is really crowded over the holidays. It isn't unusual for the parks to close to capacity and for the crowds to be thick. But, it is also a magical time to visit.

Go into your vacation with a good plan. Use the early mornings to your advantage and do your research so you can stay flexible. If you do all of that you'll have an amazing trip and make tons of magical memories.

Thinking about traveling over the holidays? You'll want to read these:

All about the holiday season at Disney World

Guide to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

How to handle the weather at Disney World

Disney World closure phases - when they occur and what they mean

Related questions:

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