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Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

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calgary, Alberta
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Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

I have posted before about our group of 9 travelling at Christmas,

Mom Dad and 7 kids 11-22 for 10 days.

Well the advice I have recieved so far has been amazing but the more I read the more I am starting to think I am travelling at the absolute wrong time of the year! However, it can't be helped due to school and work schedules and the flights and villa are booked so "Look out Florida...here we come"!

So we have to make the best of it...are we really facing 3 hour line-ups? Are there tips to avoid it?I've read about the Fast Passes but are there special rules for them at the extremely busy times?

Is there really the potential of the parks reaching capacity and not getting in? We are staying off site in a villa.

We were thinking of one of the parks for New Years Eve but what time would we have to arrive?

I was going to do the 4 day passes for WDW (and doing one park per day) however considering the age of the travellers would we be better off doing Universal;- instead and which Disney park should we skip? We are also planning on Typhoon Laggoon(weather permitting) and Sea World.

My anxiety is that the parks are going to be soo busy that everyone will hate it. Can that happen?

This is our first time and I really want everyone to love it!

Kentucky
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1. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Relax......

It'll be fine.

You'll love it!

IL
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2. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Hello sirdieseldog good to see you again,

Well, even though I don't recommend first time visitors to tackle Disney the good news is your well prepared and know in advance that it will be crowded! The parks are so beautiful and festive this time of year and your one of the lucky ones to be able to experience the excitement that all the parks have to offer! The key is to have a plan before you arrive. Make a list of must see attractions. And immediately grab a fast pass for the first attraction on your list for each park so you don't miss it! For example at Epcot head over to Soarin first. Last year my older son got to Epcot as soon as they opened, there was a 10 minute wait and grabbed our fast pass tickets for us. By noon the fast past tickets were gone and the wait was 3 hours!!!!!!!!! I'd never wait that long but people did. I think you have your dining reservations already correct? If not make all your Disney table dining now! On this visit to Orlando I would simply concentrate on Disney as even though you could skip one of the parks, I'd hate to see you miss Dinosaur, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest, at Animal Kingdom. And at MGM Twilight Tower Of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Show, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Star Tours, Fantasmic!! and not to mention the fabulous Osborne Spectacle of Lights, don't miss them! At Magic Kingdom Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Mickey's Philharmagic, Space Mountain are all worth a visit. And the Wish's fireworks are sooo beautiful!! The problem with Orlando vacations is people try to fit too much into one vacation and it's impossible without killing yourself!!!!!!!! It takes more than one vacation to Orlando to experience all it has to offer. We have had just Disney vacations and others where we plan Universal, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and other adventures seperately and have found that to work the best. Believe me, in the early years when our children were younger we tried fitting it all in. Big mistake!!!

Oh and by the way, we have never been denied access to a park during the Christmas holiday, I do not recommend going to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day or New Years Eve unless you absolutely have your heart set on it. We have gone to MGM on Christmas Eve and Epcot on Christmas Day and have found those two parks to work out well.

Take a deep breath, make a plan and you'll be fine.

IL
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3. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Meant to tackle Disney during Christmas! LOL

Florida
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4. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

The most crowded day that week is usually the 26th of December, but all of the days will be very busy. Fastpass is a wonderful tool to use to help make the most of your time (and it's free!). Before Fastpass, you could go to Disney for a day during Christmas week and be lucky if you got on two rides (I'm not joking - I've been there!). The key is knowing how to use Fastpass correctly.

Get to your chosen park each day before it opens, so you are waiting at the gate to get in. Know ahead of time which two or three attractions are the most important to you in each park, and where they are located. Once you are in the park, you have a couple options. If you have one very fast person in your group, they can take all the tickets and run to the first attraction you want to get a Fastpass from, and then catch up with you as you are walking to another attraction. For example, if you are going to Epcot, the fast person can run to Soarin, get the Fastpasses for your family, and then catch up with the rest of you who are walking to Test Track at a more realistic pace. You would be able to ride Test Track with a minimal wait (probably less than 30 minutes) and you would have your Fastpass to Soarin to guarantee a ride. Just remember that whoever is getting the Fastpasses needs all the admission tickets, as one pass is issued per ticket and you need one pass per person.

You can't get Fastpasses for a lot of attractions at once. You have to wait until either you use the current one, or until two hours have passed since you got your last one (whichever comes first). During Christmas week, it's not uncommon for Fastpasses to the popular attractions to completely run out by lunch time. That's why it's important to have an idea of what you want to see, and then a plan of what order to see them. It may seem like a lot of work, but it really will help you maximize your time with the least stress while you are in the park.

On New Year's Eve, you will want to select a park, arrive early, and plan to spend the day. This is the one day when the crowds continue to build all day, and there is a good chance that some of the parks will reach capacity (and they won't allow more guests in). Epcot can usually hold the most people, but it can depend on whether any of the parks have special entertainment going on that would draw a larger than normal crowd. All of the parks, including Sea World and Universal, have special fireworks and other shows on NYE.

Keep in mind that Sea World and Unversal's parks do not have any complimentary front of the line system like Fastpass. You can buy an Express Pass Plus ticket at Universal that will allow you to use the express line once per attraction, but it is not always available during holiday season, and if it is, they are in limited supply and sell out quickly. Although you may think by the age of your kids that the Universal parks would be more appropriate, it might be a good idea to have a family conversation about the crowd issues and the fact that you can actually get on some rides at Disney without a hassle, vs. waiting forever in lines at the Universal parks. They may decide that waiting three hours in line for a three minute ride isn't what they want after all. Universal might be best saved for another time, when it's not so crowded. I think Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Mission Space are more than enough thrills for the average teen/young adult.

Trinidad
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5. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Just remember that it can get cold at that time of year so don't plan of wearing shorts every day. But then again you are from Calgary so low 60's must be a heat wave for you for that time of year.

I went last chirstmas and it was amazing. The week before chirstmas is actualy a good time to visit the parks but that may not be your schedule.

If you plan on doing other things like character meals of a dinner show, you have to book 3 months in advance. We wanted to do Dolly Partons Dixie Stampeed christmas show, but every night in december was sold out due to advance booking.

Colorado Springs
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6. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Have a good touring plan that factors in and you'll get to do quite a bit - you shouldn't have 3 hour waits at all. Tourguidemike.com has holiday information. www.buildabettermousetrip.com does custom touring plans that factors in holiday crowd information.

calgary, Alberta
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7. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

Thankyou all!

Fla4fun and Healin1...what day is best for you to meet us there to be our personal tour guides???You 2 are most helpful and very valuable contributors to this forum.

Our friend from Trinidad...60 degrees....WOW. I can't wait...we'll be leaving our parkas at the airport in Calgary and slipping on our shorts before we land! Of course we'll be the group with the stark white legs!!

We really will love it...but not one of us is the type to enjoy 3 hour line ups. So I will still go with the 4 day Disney pass (ONE PARK PER DAY), Typhoon Lagoon if the weather and our energy levels allow, and Sea World. Epcot for NYE, because I also think that will be everyones favorite park and good to have a long day there...although the "Christmas around the world sounds good and is only on till the 30th...OH NO...another quandary!

Orlando, Florida
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8. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

I have been to DW many times during Christmas/New Years time and I have been when the park closed because it reached capacity. Just get to the parks early and you shouldn't have a problem though.

I have been on New Years Eve and personally I would not go then again. Park closed late morning because it was filled. It was so busy it was hard to enjoy it we ended up leaving early, but that is just my opinion.

You are only allowed 1 or 2 fastpasses at a time. So even if you do this you will still have to wait in some lines. Go on the more popular rides when a parade or such is going on as this can reduce the line wait.

If you were going to skip one park I would say Epcot. It is my favorite park, but if you are traveling with children this would probably be the one they would enjoy the least as there are not as many rides as the other parks.

St. Louis, MO
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9. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

I've been down to Orlando five different times over the Christmas holidays. On theme park days definately get up early and get to the park early. The first two hours you'll have will have very short lines and it will be so enjoyable and worthwhile, especially when you see the mid day lines. Fast passes really do help, though at these busy times. My brother and his family who have traveled with our family on all these trips always takes advantage of the Disney parks being open until 2:00 a.m. too (We're not as much of a die hard and his family, but I give them credit. They take advantage of the long hours and have a blast.). He'd have his little ones there early., back to the condo for an afternoon nap and swim, and then there for the evening festivities. They'd enjoy the evening light shows and do rides until the wee hours (not too much competition to get on Dumbo at 1:30 a.m.). Since we typically don't do parks everyday, this worked well for him. They could sleep in the next day. Sea World too is a great park that never really seems to be that crowded even at Christmas. If you're not trying to cram in a theme park every day, their free deal to come back all week (just stop by a ticket window before leaving to get your pass) is really nice. We love a bargain and usually do two relaxing days there on every Orlando trip we take. We like the cheezy parks like Gatorland too and have done that on many Christmas weeks.

IL
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10. Re: Amusement Park/Christmas Holiday Anxiety

LOL sirdieseldog,

I would love to meet you there this Christmas and be your personal Disney guide!!! We have had many Christmas visits but we won't be there this year and am bummed about it. Any other questions don't hesitate to ask!