Planning a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth during the most wonderful time of the year? Here’s what you need to know!
Traveling to Disney World in December has a ton of perks! You’ll find festive decor, seasonal entertainment, and delicious holiday treats throughout all the parks! But, before you plan your trip, there are some important things you need to know. Here are all the essential deets about Disney World in December!
Crowds at Disney World in December
If you’re headed to the parks during the first two weeks in December, the crowds will probably be light to moderate. This is a great time to go if you want to take advantage of the holiday offerings before things start to get really busy! BUT, as it gets closer to Christmas, the crowds will start to build and BUILD.
The crowds start to get extremely heavy a few days before Christmas, and the parks will stay packed until after the new year. In fact, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are two of the busiest days of the year at Disney World.
On Christmas Day the past few years, Magic Kingdom has hit capacity within a few hours of opening. So, if you’re planning on spending Christmas in Magic Kingdom (and don’t mind dealing with the intense crowd!) be sure to get to the park early and plan to stay all day!
On New Year’s Eve, both Magic Kingdom and Epcot will often hit capacity. So again, be sure to arrive early and plan to stay all day if you have your heart set on spending the holiday in a specific park!
Park Hours at Disney World in December
During the first two weeks of December, the parks close relatively early, with closing times ranging between 6 PM and 10 PM depending on the specific park and day. But since Disney anticipates the increasing crowds in the days before Christmas, the park hours extend. The last two weeks of December, the parks usually close between 9 PM and midnight.
On New Year’s Eve, all of the parks stay open late. Hours for this year haven’t been posted at this time, but in past years, Magic Kingdom and Epcot have closed at 1 AM, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have closed at midnight.
Weather at Disney World in December
If the intense heat of summertime in Florida isn’t your thing, then December might be more your speed! The temperatures are pretty mild throughout the month, with an average high of 75 degrees and an average low of 55 degrees.
And more good news — December is typically one of the dryer times in Disney World, with an average of 4 rainy days during the month. So, if you’re looking for comfortable temps and minimal rain, December is a great time to visit Disney World!
How to Pack for Disney World in December
With average low temperatures in the mid-50s, you’ll definitely want to pack clothes and accessories that can be layered! It’s helpful to have a light jacket/sweatshirt, scarf, hat, and gloves, especially for little ones. That way, you can dress warmly when you head out to the parks, and take off your layers as needed throughout the day!
Another tip for those of you who prefer to wear sandals to the parks — we recommend bringing at least one pair of comfortable closed-toe shoes! That way you have a warm footwear option in case of extra-chilly weather! Your toes will thank you later!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
If you’re looking for an extra dose of Christmas spirit on your December Disney World vacay, check out Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom! This separately ticketed event is available on select nights throughout the month. Guests can enjoy festive entertainment, specialty treats, complimentary snacks, and lighter crowds!
Party entertainment offerings include Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show, character meet-and-greets, A Frozen Holiday Wish Castle Lighting Ceremony, and the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade!
If you’re traveling in early December, you’ll only be able to catch this parade during the party — but in the days leading up to Christmas, it’s also shown during the afternoon for day guests!
Guests also have plenty of holiday treats to enjoy! Select complimentary snacks like cookies and hot chocolate or cider are included with admission to the party. And there are also party-exclusive food and beverage items available for purchase!
Guests can also purchase tickets to Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant! This party-within-the-party includes small bites and desserts, plus beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests can come and go as they please, and they also receive reserved seating for the 11 PM Once Upon a Christmastime Parade!
Tickets and dates have yet to be released for 2020 but last year, prices ranged from $99 to $139, depending on the night. If you’re looking for an extra dose of Christmas magic on your December trip, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party might be the perfect fit for your family!
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Guests can also get festive at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays! The festival celebrates holiday traditions from various cultures with decorations, stories, music, cuisine, and additional special events. The festival is included in the cost of admission to Epcot, although some of the special events do require an additional fee.
One of the longstanding guest favorites of the festival is the Candlelight Processional. During this event, the Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator while accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and choir. This event is wildly popular, especially for more notable celebrities, so if you want to see it we highly recommend booking a Candlelight Processional Dining Package that will guarantee you seats for the show.
And, of course, no Epcot festival is complete without FOOD! Guests will find Holiday Kitchen food booths throughout the World Showcase which serve holiday dishes from cultures around the world.
Every World Showcase Pavilion also has its own Holiday Storytellers who share the traditions that are practiced during the season in the country they represent.
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a great way to appreciate and celebrate the holiday traditions of cultures around the world!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Holiday Celebrations
You won’t find an official “festival” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but they still get in on the celebration! Here, you can take in both the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM fireworks show, and the Sunset Seasons Greetings projection show each night.
And the holiday spirit is sprinkled throughout the rest of the park as well! Seasonal decorations add an extra touch of theming and charm! We LOVE seeing how they deck out Toy Story Land for the occasion!
And of course, Hollywood Studios offers plenty of treats to help get your tummy in the holiday spirit as well. We’ve seen treats like a chocolate chestnut pinecone, winterberry margarita, Mickey Santa hat mousse, and SO MUCH MORE!
Hollywood Studios has the entertainment, treats, and atmosphere to put you in the Christmas spirit!
Animal Kingdom Holiday Celebrations
Animal Kingdom upped their game last year, adding their own holiday entertainment, decorations, and snacks! If you’re looking to get festive, you can enjoy the Merry Menagerie puppets, decorations, and a seasonal projection show on the Tree of life.
You’ll also find limited-time snack and drink offerings. The exact menu items vary from year to year, but a few of our favorites last year were the Double-Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Sikukuu cocktail!
Animal Kingdom isn’t quite as decked out for the holidays as the rest of the parks, but it does offer some really fun entertainment and snack options if you’re looking for a lower-key take on the season!
Disney Springs Holiday Celebrations
The celebrations aren’t just in the theme parks! Disney Springs also has plenty of holiday offerings for guests to enjoy. One of our favorite things to do in Disney Springs in December is to check out the FREE Christmas Tree Trail showing off gorgeously decorated trees themed after your favorite Disney movies and attractions! Oh, and don’t forget to grab a snack while you’re on your stroll!
And for the kiddos who are still working on their Christmas lists — you can meet Santa Claus on the Christmas Tree Trail!
You can also grab seasonal menu items at many of the restaurants in Disney Springs! Last year, we LOVED how Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar got into the holiday spirit with seasonal eats and festive theming!
Disney Springs is a great place to enjoy free holiday entertainment, grab delicious eats, and knock out some of that gift shopping!
Holiday Decor at the Resort Hotels
All of the Disney World Resort hotels put up holiday decor, but some definitely go bigger than others! At most locations, the main attraction is a Christmas tree in the hotel lobby — and we have seen some INCREDIBLE versions in years past! In general, the bigger the main lobby, the bigger the tree! Head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa for some of the BIGGEST trees!
Several of the hotels also construct edible decor! Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is known for constructing a giant gingerbread house every year. It’s large enough that it functions as a sweets shop, and guests can actually buy gingerbread (and other sweets) from Cast Members inside the house!
Wanna make a day out of enjoying giant gingerbread displays? Hop on the monorail to check out a gingerbread Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Contemporary Resort! Last year Disney’s Wilderness Lodge added a gingerbread cabin for the first time, so hopefully, we’ll continue to see a display there as well! And finally, don’t forget to check out the gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort!
In addition to the amazing designs, these gingerbread creations also make the hotel lobbies smell INCREDIBLE! You can find smaller displays at a number of resorts as well, including Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, so going on an adventure looking for gingerbread can be a fun way to spend the day!
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Each of the four parks have some special offerings for New Year’s Eve as well. At Magic Kingdom guests can celebrate with dance parties and the special Fantasy in the Sky fireworks!
Epcot also has a ton of great entertainment, including New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout the World Showcase, live music, and a fireworks show!
Hollywood Studios holds a midnight countdown and a fireworks spectacular!
Of all the parks, Animal Kingdom is the most low-key — there are NO fireworks at this park for the safety of the animals! But, you can still ring in the New Year with specially-themed food and beverage options!
Just remember, New Year’s Eve is another crazy-busy day, so there’s a chance that the parks could reach capacity (especially Magic Kingdom and Epcot!) So, if there is a certain park that you realllllly want to visit for the holiday, be sure to get there as early as possible and plan to stay all day!
There are so many unique and super fun things happening at Disney World in December. And while the last two weeks of December tend to be one of the busiest times of the year, the beginning of the month is a great chance to enjoy the holiday entertainment with lighter crowds! Keep these things in mind when planning your trip, and you’ll set yourself up for a magical ending to your year!
Are you planning a trip to Disney World in November? Let us know in the comments!