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Thread: Parenting in the Parks: Christmas Week Crowds? Maybe... or Maybe Not

  1. #1
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    Parenting in the Parks: Christmas Week Crowds? Maybe... or Maybe Not

    Christmas Week Crowds? Maybe... or Maybe Not by Adrienne Krock

    The Parenting Panel members shares their opinions about traveling to Disney theme parks between Christmas and New Year's.

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    I have been lucky to live near both Disneyland and Disney World. This means I have experienced both during "busy" and "slow" times of the year. I have to say, I would NOT visit Disneyland the week of Christmas through New Years Eve. You have max capacity crowds, long lines, it is elbow to elbow people, and you can't really "enjoy" too much. There are times where it can take you nearly and hour to walk from the area around the Haunted Mansion to Main Street. This isn't much fun at all. The parks can and typically do reach capacity during this two week stretch which means extremely long lines for every attraction. Also, you run the risk of not being able to get in to Disneyland if you don't want to go when the parks open. With kids, this makes for a lot of stress. Not only do you have to deal with huge crowds; you also have to really focus on keeps your kids with you. While you should do this anyway, it is much more difficult when you have 60,000 people in such a limited area.

    As far as Disney World goes, I think a lot of people are only considering the Magic Kingdom. Outside of cost (hotel cost and the lack of dining promotions make it more expensive during this time!), you can really still enjoy Disney World during Christmas. When things got really busy around the Christmas season, all parks were definitely impacted. The Magic Kingdom really felt it the most. At the other parks, only the E-Ticket rides really seemed to get bad. If you plan it right, you can hit these right away and then spend the rest of your time enjoying your day doing other stuff. Also, with things like Extra Magic Hours to enjoy, you should be able to get to almost everything. One thing we learned living in Florida is; no matter how busy the other parks are, you can ALWAYS enjoy EPCOT. The lines for most rides (outside of Soarin' and Test Track) are short year round. You can stroll through World Showcase at your own pace. Finally, it is so large, even with crowds, it never really feels "full." Even during Food & Wine, EPCOT doesn't feel "full".

    So, if money wasn't something I needed to consider, I WOULD visit Disney World during the week of Christmas. I WOULD NOT visit Disneyland during this time.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by MousePlanet AutoPoster View Post
    Christmas Week Crowds? Maybe... or Maybe Not by Adrienne Krock

    The Parenting Panel members shares their opinions about traveling to Disney theme parks between Christmas and New Year's.

    Read it here!
    With "Catching Fire" due out this week, one can actually draw comparisons between the Hunger Games and a visit to Disneyland between Christmas and New Years. We live 8 miles away from the park "as the pixie flies", but it's 12 miles via streets and the 57 freeway.

    -Strategy plays a key role: What are your objectives? In the Hunger Games, jumping headlong into the fray is a strategy that can get you "killed" in a hurry. You have to pick your target carefully, trying to avoid the rest of the pack. This usually means a strategic strike in the park: Arriving for rope drop, hitting 2 or 3 key rides or attractions immediately, then sitting back while the crowds smash themselves into oblivion.

    -The Holiday Factor: Interestingly, I find that the parks are more crowded during this week than during the summer, but it's more bearable because there is the "holiday factor": People are nicer to each other during the holidays. Maybe it's because it's not so hot. Perhaps people feel that Santa is watching. Whatever the reason, I find myself enjoying the holiday season. There are fewer "Grinches" in the crowd.

    -Expectations: It's OK to have a list, but you must be able to change your battle plan, based upon current conditions. Katniss Everdeen had a plan when the Games started, but it changed and evolved due to conditions. That's how you survive. If your favorite ride goes down or has a huge line, be able to switch gears and find something else to enjoy. As passholders, that's a credo we live by.

    So, would we go during the peak period? Yes, we would. And we do. Go in for a bit of cheer, then get out before the any Grinches can spoil your time.

  5. #4

    While I admit that Disney makes the holiday season impressive (as they do most everything) with the Osborne Family Lights, Candlelight Processional, and more, I agree with the panelists to steer clear of Disney during the Christmas-New Years week. I think that if you're a local with an annual pass and you are just there to see the holiday season stuff but not necessarily to ride rides or see shows, then by all means, but if you're not a local who is trying to get the most out of your trip, then go the week after New Years or two weeks before Christmas. You won't have the stress of the crowds, of the waits, and of everything else and will be able to see most of the holiday stuff (I think they start taking down the Lights, etc somewhere around Jan 4 or 5 usually).

    But at the end of the day it's a simple cost-benefit analysis. Pros: See Disney Holiday shows/displays. Cons: Greater Expense, Longer to get on rides and into shows, More Crowds. By my calculus at least, the Costs outweigh the benefits.

    I almost never tell people to not go to Disney, but if someone tells me they are going to Disney Christmas week, I tell them go another time, and if they can only take a trip that week, then go somewhere else. Take a cruise on the Disney Magic, go visit an island in the caribbean, or my favorite, go skiing in Vermont, but don't go to Disney.

  6. #5

    I am smiling remembering a visit during max capacity crowd times, we were leaving DCA to head over to DL and a CM was announcing that DL was nearing capacity so we should stay in DCA. I went up and asked what we should do if we really wanted to see fireworks (or something like that in DL) and she had a very conflicted look on her face- so I just smiled and said, "should we run?" and she laughed. We made it over.

    I also remember waiting in the freezing drizzle and scrunched packed lines for a hamburger at the spaceport an incredibly long time and thinking I'd never go at busy times again. And trying to find somewhere to eat that was warm...

  7. #6
    Romance @ Disney Goddess
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    I tell people who want to go to DLR during the holidays to go outside and slam their hand in their car will be less painful than dealing with the crowds at the park that week.

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    There's nothing like listening to "Feed the Birds" while sitting on the steps of St. Paul's.

  8. #7

    Our family would never, never, never go to either Disney resort during the week between Christmas and New Year's. We do, however, go during the Christmas season to both resorts. Our favorite time to visit WDW is during the first two weeks of December, and our favorite time to visit DL is right after New Year's. You get holiday decorations during those times, but with MUCH smaller crowds.

    As DVC members, we love that early December and all of January are "low" season, in terms of points per night, also. It's easy to get reservations at the resort we want, yet everything is as festive as can be.

    We did have some friends who took their family during Christmas week a couple of years ago; they said it "wasn't bad," but when we quizzed them about their experiences, we found that they only managed to ride about three rides a day, and they had to stake out spots for parades and fireworks up to three hours in advance. In addition, they couldn't get any dining reservations. For those of us who are used to traveling in the off-season, that sounds pretty bad...

  9. #8
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    We went to WDW last year Dec 20-26 and would do it again! Our strategy was to hit Magic Kingdom early in the week and avoid it on Christmas Eve and Christmas. We also avoided Extra Magic Hours parks as those seemed to be more crowded. We went to Animal Kingdom on Christmas Eve and Epcot Christmas Day. It was crowded, but not ridiculous (and actually seemed better than crowded days at Disneyland since there is just so much more space.) One caveat is our kids weren't tall enough for most of the E-ticket rides so we weren't stressing about getting to the most popular rides, and we used Fastpasses for smaller attractions. I am pretty sure however that we wouldn't be brave enough to attempt Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day.

    Whether you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.



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