It’s the week of Christmas, and you know what that means — Disney World is BUSY.
We saw high crowd levels in Disney World for Thanksgiving week, and we already got a hint of the Christmas crowds last week in Disney Springs. If you’re visiting Disney World for the holidays, we’re here to tell you that the holiday crowds have officially arrived!
Crowds have been picking up throughout the last few weeks of December, and with Christmas on Saturday and a lot of schools now on holiday break, you can expect more people in the parks.
According to Disney World’s Park Reservation Calendar, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are sold out from December 20th through the 31st. On some days Animal Kingdom is also full. And all four Disney Parks are sold out on December 22nd, 25th, and from the 27th-31st. On December 24th, only EPCOT is still available. Note that Park Pass availability is a bit different for Annual Passholders. Keep in mind this availability is all subject to change.
When it comes to crowds, we’ve seen quite a lot of people in the parks recently. This is traditionally a busy time of year in Disney World, so make sure you pack your patience!
Magic Kingdom was especially crowded near the entrance to the park during one of our visits. This is something you can typically find during busy times, especially first thing in the morning.
If you’re staying at a Disney World Resort hotel, you might want to get to the front entrance early to take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry, which lets you enter the parks before opening time. Disney World has extended this perk to allow guests to enter the parks 60 minutes early (an increase from 30 minutes) for a limited time from December 19th to January 3rd!
You might find Disney anticipating long lines in some areas, like with this taped queue for Guest Relations.
You may also see long lines at food and drink spots like what we saw at Joffrey’s Coffee. It’s not totally out of the ordinary to find long food lines in Disney World, but you might yourself waiting a bit longer during the holiday period, and especially during peak meal times.
There were also standby lines extending quite a ways out for some popular rides. Be sure to keep an eye out for Cast Members directing guests with the “End of Line” signs, like we saw in Hollywood Studios with Tower of Terror…
…Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster…
…and Slinky Dog Dash. The Slinky Dog Dash line extended nearly to the edge of Toy Story Land during one of our trips. If many guests decide to utilize Disney Genie+ and purchase Genie+ or Pay-Per-Ride, you may also find some slightly longer Lightning Lanes, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to rely on Genie+ or Individual Attraction Selection.
As of Monday, December 20th around 12PM, wait times were trending pretty high, but there were also a few low waits.
Some rides hovered around 35 to 40 minutes…
…while others were in the 55 to 60 minute range. The Seas with Nemo & Friends was up to 55 minutes!
The 65 to 75 minute range had some of Disney World’s most popular rides, like the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom and Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Leading the pack was Avatar Flight of Passage at 185 minutes. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was at 145 minutes and Frozen Ever After trailed closely behind at 120 minutes.
If you’re nervous about visiting for the busy holidays, don’t forget to check if you’re eligible for either Early Theme Park Entry or Extended Evening Hours to get extra time in the parks with potentially slightly less crowds. You can also look at buying Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes to bypass some of those LONG standby lines, and see whether that purchase would be worth it for you.
You might have a totally different crowd experience when you visit, so keep in mind that crowd levels can vary depending on which park you’re visiting and what you want to do. If you need a break, find places to stop and take a rest away from the crowds, like we did in Hollywood Studios at the fairly empty Walt Disney Presents: One Man’s Dream.
Rainy days can often be less crowded days in Disney World, so if you’re someone who really hates crowds, you might want to consider taking advantage of a rainy day.
Just make sure you bring your rainy day essentials, like a compact umbrella, a poncho, a waterproof bag, and waterproof shoes or an extra pair of socks to stay dry.
And if you combine Early Theme Park Entry with the lighter rainy day crowds, you might be able to get a lot done! Many Disney World rides are indoors, and you can take advantage of the time in line to dry off, warm up, AND enjoy the ride.
Wednesday’s cool, sunny weather brought back the crowds again. EPCOT was pretty busy, as you can see.
The line for Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie was all the way out the door. We recommend using Mobile Order when you can, especially during busy times, but Les Halles does not yet accept Mobile Order.
There were a few areas where the crowds slightly thinned out, so you might still have luck finding a spot to step away and take a breather.
Over in Magic Kingdom, it was VERY crowded, to say the least.
Like, really, REALLY busy.
And crowds gathered for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which will be show at 12PM and 3:45PM on December 22nd through the 29th and at 12PM and 3:30PM on December 30th to 31st. Keep in mind that if you’re walking through the parade route areas at those times it might be quite difficult to maneuver around!
On Thursday, we made our way back to the parks to see what the crowds looked like. Over at Hollywood Studios, there were some guests waiting to get into the park when we arrived, but there was still some space to stretch (at least a little bit).
As we got further past the entrance, there were some pretty big crowds around…
…particularly over by The Trolley Car Cafe. But there was some room in this area too.
Over by Star Tours, things were looking pretty busy, with some gaps between the crowds.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was busy too (no surprise there!).
It was particularly busy over at Droid Depot.
Keep in mind that more tucked-away spaces, like Walt Disney Presents, will usually have a bit more space and can be a nice break from the bigger crowds.
When you sit down to grab a bite to eat in the parks, don’t be surprised if it takes you a minute to find a table at Counter Service restaurants. You might need to wait a bit for a table to open up or walk a little bit away from the restaurant to get to some emptier spots.
Over at Magic Kingdom, things were BUSY on Main Street, U.S.A.
Morning Magic Kingdom crowds for Christmas Eve Eve! 🎄 pic.twitter.com/cAaxHt7VHn
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) December 23, 2021
The Main Street, U.S.A. area and hub area surrounding the castle were very crowded.
Since this is the central area of the park, and the portion of the park everyone essentially must walk through to some extent when entering, you may find that it is particularly busy during the holiday period.
Holiday crowds in Magic Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/hZPae34iFE
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) December 23, 2021
At Disney Springs, there were some longer lines in some places…
…but there were also some areas with lots of elbow room!
On Friday, we checked back in at Disney Springs to see how things looked on Christmas Eve!
There was a line to get into the World of Disney store, but there were also quite a few sections of Disney Springs that were not very crowded at all!
We returned to the parks on Sunday, the day after Christmas, to see if the crowds had died down yet. Our first stop was Magic Kingdom, so we headed to the Transportation and Ticket Center (“TTC”) to take a look at the lines. When we got there, it was BUSY!
The line at the TTC was packed with people at around 9AM, so we were fully prepared for a busy day in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney’s security team mentioned that Sunday was much busier than the day before. But, the lines at the TTC ultimately ended up moving steadily along.
It’s a CROWD at the TTC this morning 👀 pic.twitter.com/zZHbgQUAoO
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) December 26, 2021
By the time we got to the park entrance, the lines were several people deep to scan into Magic Kingdom. Now the real question is: how does the park look when the crowds can disperse inside?
Main Street, U.S.A. was pretty crowded, but it wasn’t as bad as it was earlier in the week. There’s still some breathing room!
Shockingly, many parts of the park were not crowded! The area outside Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe was rather empty!
Over by Cheshire Cafe, there was practically no line.
Keep in mind that some parts of the park can look crowded no matter how busy the park is — there are just some areas that tend to fill up faster than others!
Overall, though, the day after Christmas in the Magic Kingdom was not that bad from what we saw in the morning. Things would get quite busy in one area for a while and then empty out, and then the cycle would begin again. Of course, this is just based on what we experienced. Note that crowd levels can vary depending on what park you’re visiting, where you are in the park, and what time of the day you’re visiting.
If you’re visiting for the holidays, double-check that you’ve got all your bases covered!
- Are your Park Passes reserved?
- Find out if you qualify for Early Theme Park Entry or Extended Evening Hours! If you value having extra time to get everything done, make sure you take advantage of these perks.
- Learn more about Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes and decide whether that extra cost may be a benefit during your visit.
- Plan for rests to escape the crowds a bit. You might be able to find less crowded spaces around the parks where you can stop and take a breath.
- You can Park Hop after 2PM, but if a park hits capacity you will not be able to enter. If you’re worried about it, check with a Cast Member or call the dedicated number before Park Hopping!
- Check the weather report before visiting and make sure to bring whatever you might need!
- Remember that ride lines will not be the only long lines! Schedule your Mobile Orders EARLY so that you don’t end up with a late pick-up window!
- Be kind and patient. Crowds can be stressful on everyone, from guests to Cast Members.
We’ll be here with more Disney news, updates, and tips throughout the week, so stay tuned for more Disney World holiday news!
Are YOU visiting Disney World for the holidays? Tell us in the comments!