Crowd Levels at Disney World in December

Photographed by Michael of Countdown to Magic

If you booked your Disney trip for December, you probably want to take part in the holiday festivities the parks have to offer. You should know, though, that you aren’t the only one who had that idea. December is like Disney’s second summer season; everyone wants to take part in the holiday magic. With some careful planning, you should be able to navigate through the parks with relative ease.

Get yourself prepared, because there’s a lot to cover!

Crowd Levels at Disney World in December: The Kids Are Out

One thing is certain about December: kids aren’t in school for at least two weeks. While the dates of winter breaks across the country may vary, everywhere has one. That means there will be a huge influx in families around December. These are the people that probably couldn’t manage to make it out to Disney over the summer, but they still want to get in a vacation before the year ends.

What better time than winter break? Taking the kids out of school won’t be an issue because they’re already off, and the parents most likely saved some vacation days to take off for the holidays anyway. In fact, you may be included in this category if you’re reading this article right now! It’s also good to remember that kids under 3 years old can go to Disney for free.

What’s that? Kids free at Disney? Yes, you read that right! Children under the age of 3 can enter any park completely for free. Because of that, you’ll definitely experience crowds with little ones.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of your children’s time off of school, but you should know that other people have the exact same idea as you. This means the crowds will be larger no matter when you book your trip in December. There are very few days that don’t see higher than average crowds, so just be prepared for that. No need to stress about something you can’t change!

The Weather Outside Isn’t Frightful

Florida, in general, never really sees temperatures below the 50s, but in December it gets pretty close! You can usually expect the temperatures to hover around the 70s, 60s, and 50s. The best part about Florida in December, though, is that there is absolutely no snow.

For some people December without snow borders blasphemy, but to others, a snowless December is the best holiday season possible. Whether or not you personally love snow doesn’t really impact the crowds at Disney, but the people who really hate snow will flock to the parks as soon as snow starts to hit the ground near them. Because of this, you’ll find that a lot of people book trips to Disney in December purely to get away from freezing cold temperatures and blizzards and experience the tropical weather at Disney World. Maybe you’re one of these people, or maybe you just wanted to see what Disney had to offer for the holidays, but either way you’ll be faced with masses of people that want to have a warm December.

Events To Know

It’s no secret that December has way more crowd-bringers than other months. Like it was stated earlier in the article, people want to experience Disney during the holidays. Here are some of the events that are known to happen during the month of December:

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom: This is the big Christmas event everyone wants to see. Even though it starts in November and runs until a few days before Christmas, the crowds never quite die down.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays: For Epcot’s holiday event, the focus shies away from Christmas and leans more toward international winter holidays. Although, there is a nightly production the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, so if that’s not your cup of tea, maybe skip out on this and go to one of the World Showcase nations to see something a little less Bible-centric.

Sunset Season’s Greetings at Hollywood Studios: Running from November to the beginning of January, this event will probably bring in less people than the previous two events, but it’s still good to know that it does, indeed, happen in December. It’s a fun evening show projected onto The Hollywood Tower Hotel—a.k.a. the Tower of Terror—paired with some songs and overall holiday cheer.

Holidays at Disney Springs (previously called Downtown Disney): Though Disney Springs doesn’t directly impact the crowds at the four parks, it still can be a bit much if you plan on spending a day shopping and relaxing at this downtown area. During the holiday season, Disney Springs features a Christmas Tree Trail where you can have some fun looking at decorated pine trees.

New Year’s Countdown Fireworks at Epcot: After Christmas, Disney puts on a fireworks show to ring in the new year. This one happens at the World Showcase, so you’ve got a little more room to move around, but there’ll still be some crowds!

December: The Best Days

It’s at this point in the article you may start to feel a little anxious. Don’t worry, you should already know that December can be crowded. Take a deep breath, and try your best to plan for the least busy days you can.

  • The best days: 1st, 2nd, 11th-13th
  • Moderate days: 3rd– 10th, 14th, 15th
  • Heavy days: 16th-21st
  • Unbearable days: 22nd-31st

You’ll notice that the number of lighter days doesn’t come anywhere near the number of dates for heavy days. And what’s worse, the unbearable days make up the last two weeks of the month—a.k.a. the two weeks you probably want to go to the parks. Don’t be discouraged, though. You can still enjoy your time at Disney if you do decide to travel there in the last two weeks.

One of the main things you need to do before you get there is accept that there will be crowds. The more you try to fight the crowds, the less fun you’ll have. Just know you won’t be able to avoid them at least once during your trip, and you’ll find that you’re much more relaxed about the whole thing.

If you don’t mind skipping out on the actual “holiday” days, then going to the parks during the first two weeks shouldn’t be anymore crowded than other months. Of course, the major downside to this is you may miss out on some of the holiday cheer. Luckily, the parks run the events all throughout December, so you’ll definitely be able to catch some fun holiday specials.

Daily Park Breakdown

To help you avoid at least some of the chaos, it’s good to go over which parks tend to be the busiest on each day of the week so you can plan your trip accordingly. Having an idea of where to go and when to go there will significantly lower your stress levels during your vacation.

Let’s start on Sundays. You want to avoid Disney Hollywood Studios on this day. Luckily, that’s the only really busy park on Sunday, so you’ve got your pick of Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. Surprisingly, Magic Kingdom sees less crowds on Sunday, so maybe take this chance to get in a Magic Kingdom day. Normally Magic Kingdom is somewhere you want to avoid on the weekends, but for some reason, December isn’t too bad.

Mondays, on the other hand, are the worst days for Magic Kingdom. This is probably because everyone who took the weekend to travel want to start their week at Magic Kingdom. Animal Kingdom also sees higher than usual crowds, but the reason for that is a little blurrier. You’ve got a choice between Epcot and Hollywood Studios for Mondays, then.

Tuesdays are pretty good for Hollywood Studios, but horrible for Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Avoid those two places and you’ll be set. Wednesday, again, is good for Hollywood, this time with the addition of Epcot. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom not so much.

Finally, on Thursday you get a bad Hollywood Studios day and the rest are good to go. Friday and Saturday are both bad days for Epcot and, surprisingly, great for everything else. That one is strange, but the Disney crowds are anything but regular.

Travel Days

If you’re struggling to find travel days after that breakdown, it’s okay. It’s much easier to decide than you think. Remember that thing about families traveling on the weekends? There’s actually something to that!

Most travelers don’t want to waste their weekend on an airplane or driving. However, this means that those who do travel on the weekend usually don’t have to pay as much for plane tickets. Not only that, but you really won’t be missing much. There are plenty of days during the week that don’t require you trudge through massive crowds, so why try schedule around the overall busier weekends? It doesn’t make much sense. Instead, use your weekend to travel to and from the parks. That way, you’ll get a whole week of fun and still be able to visit all four of the parks.

December: Good or Bad?

Overall, you’re going to experience crowds at Disney in December. There’s no getting around it. That doesn’t mean you need to scrap your vacation and start over, though. As long as you’re aware that lines will be longer for everything, and that you probably will feel like a sardine at some point, you’ll be able to take it all in stride.

If you are someone who absolutely cannot function in crowds, though, maybe schedule your trip for another month. It sucks to miss out on holiday festivities, but if being around so many people will really impact your mental health negatively, then it isn’t worth it. You want to be able to enjoy your vacation, so pick dates that will make that possible for you and your family.

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