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Traveling to Disney During the Holidays – PREP 339

Traveling to Disney During the Holidays – PREP 339

Shannon spoke with three Disney World travelers about their experience visiting Disney at Christmas and New Years. We hope that their experiences will help you plan your future holiday trip or decide if a holiday trip is worth it for you!

Kelly’s Trip

Kelly and her husband celebrated his 40th birthday at Disney World December 16-29. They ended up extending their trip by a few days. 

Kelly’s husband’s birthday is on the 23rd of December. They have traveled to Disney over the holiday before and wanted to do it again. 

They had cold weather, but it wasn’t bad. The crowds were higher than they’ve seen in previous years. The crowds were heavier as it got closer to Christmas and New Years. 

They adjusted their park touring because Kelly’s husband was still very tired from having covid a few months prior. They didn’t go into the parks until after 11 a.m. and had shorter park days.

Because of this, they found that using Genie+ on most days was very helpful. Kelly paid a maximum of $29/person on Genie+. It came in handy because they were able to make plans during the morning for the rest of the day.

Kelly wakes up early anyway, so she was up to do the lightning lane selections but they didn’t leave the room for the parks until later.

They had a few dining reservations. Kelly didn’t have much trouble getting the reservations that she wanted with the exception of Space 220. Because they had a longer stay, they were able to book reservations toward the end of the trip. They ended up doing the Space 220 Lounge and really loved this experience. 

They didn’t really do anything special to celebrate Christmas. They do not have children, so they celebrated with family before they left. On Christmas morning they had a regular day at Disney! They took advantage of their Riviera room on Christmas and had a rest day.

They initially planned to stay at Bay Lake Tower via rented DVC points for their entire trip. However, when they booked their flights they had to add on a day at the beginning of the trip and at the end. So they added on the nights for the end of their trip at Riviera

When their travel plans shifted again, they added another night at the Boardwalk. They also experienced flights getting canceled, so they added two nights in a Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation for the end of their trip. 

Kelly and her husband flew in and out of Tampa and rented a car. They love traveling this time of year and would definitely travel again at this time of year.

Tamara’s Trip

Tamara traveled to Disney World AND Disneyland from Australia from December 7-January 4. They were at Walt Disney World from December 19-28. 

They have traveled at this time before in 2018 and it was perfect due to their work schedules. They went in with the same expectation as what they had in 2018 in terms of crowds and weather. 

However, it was very cold while they were there. Thankfully part of their trip was in New York, so they had warm clothes for the 4 days that were very cold. 

The crowds weren’t bad and they had a very quiet Magic Kingdom day on Christmas day. Compared to 2018, the crowds were so much less. The weather and the flight issues could pay into the crowds being so low. 

Tamara stayed at Pop Century for this trip which is where they visited previously. However, their previous trip didn’t include the skyliner. However, the lines were so long during their trip, so they did not use the skyliner for transportation. They used their rental car to get to the parks.

Tamara didn’t have any issues getting their rooms but she booked in April. 

Tamara was fortunate to have Genie+ included with her tickets. It was good for them but she didn’t enjoy the Genie+ System. She had a lot of luck reserving a time and modifying it later to get a time she wanted.

Tamara really wanted to do the Candlelight Processional. She booked the dining package with Garden Grill. She didn’t think they needed it, but it was lovely. 

Tamara’s children built a droid and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. With her children, they exchanged most gifts before they left for their trip. However, Santa did find them in Orlando. They did travel with a felt Christmas tree, so it was easy to pack up and bring with them. 

Tamara did notice that the cast members weren’t as happy as in the past. She guesses this is because Disney isn’t able to recruit the cast members they’ve had in the past. They noticed a lot of delays due to rides breaking down or not enough cast members to have things run smoothly.

Christine’s Trip

Originally, Christine was going to be at Walt Disney World from December 26-January 3, 2023. They’d booked DVC earlier this year and booked this trip as a Christmas present for her kids. She told the kids a few weeks after booking it, so it wasn’t a surprise.

Christine’s sister’s family also traveled because they had a medical conference that week as well. This was Christine’s first time going at this time of year. 

Christine and her family stayed at the Riviera. She had the trip booked before she purchased DVC and the trip was booked at Wilderness Lodge. They opted to use their DVC and switched their reservation to Riviera. 

Christine was traveling with two toddlers so they did not do many table service meals. They did have reservations for Oga’s Cantina, Via Napoli, and Diamond Horseshoe

They arrived to Orlando on December 26 and it was quite cold. However, they were prepared for the crowds and the weather. Because they’d been to Disney many times before, they wanted to be sure they did a few things and have a good time.

They did use Genie+ for every day except New Year’s Eve. They did the virtual queue that day but their goal was just to hang out in the World’s Showcase. 

They had 5 teenagers and two toddlers in their travel party. Christine was able to stack their lightning lanes for after noon because the teens didn’t want to wake up early. Genie+ was $29/person each day. 

They spent close to $800/day for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes. Christine priced out VIP tours to see if it would be a similar cost and it is! Christine is looking at doing that in the future. She did think that Genie+ was well worth it. 

The longest they waited was for Soarin’ and they waited about 25 minutes. It was worth it! The standby waits were very long so she was grateful for Genie+. 

Christine’s dad was also with them, so their party had a lot of different ages and stages. They paid for convenience and wanted to be sure they made it the easiest experience possible.

For New Years Eve, Christine wanted to be able to keep things very open. She wanted to see all of the dance parties at Epcot. The girls got Henna tattoos and they enjoyed some food. They stayed until about 12:45 a.m. with a 1 a.m. park close. 

They took the skyliner back to their resort and it took about 15 minutes to get through the line, which was wonderful. 

Christine’s room wasn’t serviced at all and they didn’t get any clean towels or anything during their stay. Her dad’s room was next door and was serviced everyday, so Christine wasn’t sure what was going on. 

Christine had really wonderful cast member interactions. They arrived at 5 a.m. after driving through the night the night of Christmas. Steven, the overnight cast member at the Riviera, offered them a living room to hang out before they went to Epcot. They were able to change and have a homebase before going out for the day. 

Christine’s father had a medical issue while at Animal Kingdom. Everyone was completely amazing with their whole family. The children all got free ice cream and the EMTs were wonderful. 

Christine and her brother in law spent the day at the hospital with her father. Christine spoke with Erika who made it possible for them to stay in their rooms. She also gave everyone (all 10 of them!) one day park hoppers and reservations at Animal Kingdom. 

Christine was overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness. The whole family had thank you cards to hand out to cast members to thank them for such a wonderful experience. Many cast members even cried when they were honored in this way. 

They had the best interactions on Rise of the Resistance. They handed out cards to cast members while also staying in character. It was fantastic! 

Christine says she would definitely travel at this time of year again. If you prepare and are ready, you can have a great time. There is something magic about being there for the holidays. 

Christine’s father got to be veteran of the day. She’d tried to get this done before, but she was relentless in the most kind way. She brought an article with her and she went right to guest services as soon as she arrived to Magic Kingdom. 

This was a really moving experience. They spent like an hour doing a photoshoot and cast members lined up to take his hand. 

Christine also had one of her children’s haircut at Harmony Barber Shop. He hadn’t cut his hair in years and it was a wonderful and fun experience.

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