One of my favorite times of the year at Disney World is December. There’s so many holiday activities and special events happening that the entire month of December is an absolutely magical time.
But, is it a good time to visit the Disney Parks and Resorts? I’m often asked by friends and family who want to enjoy the winter holiday season at Disney about planning a Disney World vacation in December.
So, let’s take a look at visiting Disney World in December. We’ll consider some of the factors that make it a good and bad time to visit. This includes the weather, crowds, resort promotions, and all of those special events and holidays.
Disney World in December is all about the winter holiday season. Festivities start early in the month and go right through the end of it. But, when is the best time for you and your family to go?
Before we dive into ways you can beat high crowd levels and when in the month of December is most ideal to visit, let’s first discuss what you can expect in terms of weather.
The Weather in December
I can tell you that the weather at Disney World in December can be erratic. It can go from cool to hot in the matter of a few days or even in the span of a few hours. The average temperatures in Orlando during December are in the low to mid-70s. Mornings and evenings are cooler with temperatures ranging from the low to mid-50s.
Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you bring plenty of layers and clothes for both cooler and warmer weather.
But one thing you won’t have to worry about? Snow!
Generally, the weather in December is quite nice, with milder temperatures in the evening and warm sunny days. There is always chance for rain, but it’s much lower than the summer or early fall. Hurricane season is also over too.
Disney Resort Promotions
Depending on when you visit in December, you might be able to get some good discounts. You also may be able to take advantage of the free dining promotions, since Disney has begun to offer this during December for the past several years.
Room only and other package discounts are also usually available offering 20% to 35% off rates per night.
Early December is under Fall season rates, which are slightly higher than Value Season Rates, so if visiting Disney on a budget is important to you, this may be the best time to go in December.
The rest of the month increases in price dramatically the closer you get to the Christmas holiday. Holiday Season prices typically begin around December 22 and go through the end of the year and are the highest prices of the entire year. It’s also the most crowded time to visit, but we’ll look at that later in this article.
December Special Events and Holidays
If I had to pick a month for the best special events and holiday offerings, it would be December.
If you love the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to visit. Disney offers ticketed special event experiences and also offers a ton of events already included in your general park ticket admission.
So, you definitely won’t run out of things to do. Here are a few special events and holidays that take place in December.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom: The holiday season starts early at the house of mouse. This means guests wanting some Christmas spirit can get their holiday fix with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It’s the perfect way to enjoy Christmas at Disney without having to visit on Christmas Day. This ticketed special event is available at Disney’s Magic Kingdom on select nights. Prices are around $70-$80 per person depending on the date attending and discounts for annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members.
Candlelight Processional at Epcot: Guests looking for a holiday event included with their park admission will love the Candlelight Processional. The Candlelight Processional is a seasonal event that features a celebrity narrator, orchestra, and choir retelling the story of Christmas. Guests can experience this throughout the entire month of December. Admission to the Candlelight Processional is included with your admission, but guests can book a Candlelight Processional dining package to receive preferred seating at the American Adventure Pavilion Theatre where the show is held.
Holidays Around the World at Epcot: In addition to the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, the park also includes Holidays Around the World. This daily event highlights holiday celebrations around the world and takes place at every country location found in the World Showcase. This means you can learn about the Julenissen (Christmas Elf) in Norway and Ramadan in Morocco. You can also enjoy live music and even sample holiday foods at various booths and kiosks throughout the World Showcase, similar to the booths you’ll find at Food and Wine Festival.
New Year’s Eve: Forget Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, Disney World is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is the second busiest day of the year at Disney (just behind Christmas Day). Crowds will be extremely large and most of the parks will close to capacity by the afternoon. Epcot is known for its elaborate New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks, but you’ll find fireworks and festivities at any Disney Park you go to.
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: New to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2016 was the Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam fireworks show, replacing the long standing holiday tradition, the Osborne Lights. While it’s hard to say if this event will continue, Hollywood Studios is sure to have holiday fireworks and shows to keep everyone in your family delighted and feeling the holiday spirit.
As you can see, there are a lot of holiday offerings and special events that can affect the crowds in December. No matter when you go during the month, you’ll want to make sure you have Fastpass+ and Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) planned. This way you don’t miss out on any of the seasonal fun.
December Crowd Calendars
As we’ve discussed, December can be an extremely busy month. There’s no getting around that. But, with a little bit of planning, you may be able to take advantage of the holiday festivities offered while avoiding the worst of the crowds.
Using sites like Easy WDW and Touring Plans can give us a pretty good idea on what the busiest and least crowded times are. One rule of thumb? Avoid Christmas Day, unless it’s the only time you can go.
Here are some other considerations to think about when deciding whether or not you should go to Disney in December or not.
Typically, the busiest times (aka the most crowded) in December include:
- Pop Warner Week: Pop Warner is the largest and oldest youth football, cheer, and dance program. During the first week of December, Pop Warner brings their “Superbowl” event to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. This doesn’t necessarily mean higher crowds in the parks, but it definitely means higher crowds in the resorts. Those who stay at value and moderate resorts often report extremely crowded and busy stays during this time. If you want to avoid the Pop Warner crowds, consider a Deluxe Resort stay during this time, or visit another week.
- Christmas: This is the busiest day of the entire year. Parks will close to capacity early, and crowds will be intense. Wait times will be extremely long — many lasting for several hours. If you do plan on visiting Disney during the Christmas holiday, I recommend avoiding the park on the holiday itself.
- New Year’s Eve: The second busiest day of the entire year. Crowds will be extremely large and most of the parks will close to capacity by the afternoon. Epcot is known for its elaborate New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks, and it’s usually the most crowded park that day, with guests noting wall-to-wall crowding in the World Showcase. If you plan to go to a park on New Year’s Eve, I recommend the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios parks for the lowest crowds. But, be prepared for extremely large crowds no matter where you go.
The least crowded times in December include:
- The first week of December: If I had to pick one week to go to Disney in December, it would be this one. You have the best chance of lower crowds. Why? Because Thanksgiving weekend, which is another of the most popular times to visit, has just concluded and some guests will want to wait closer to the Christmas holiday before they visit. Crowds will be higher than slower months like January, but if enjoying the seasonal celebrations is important to you, this is the week to go.
What Days of the Week Are Best?
Because December is so busy in general, it’s hard to know what days will be best to visit. Generally, avoid the weekends, if possible. And, if you do go on the weekends, plan to visit less popular parks, such as the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.
You’ll also want to really take a look at Extra Magic Hours and park hours. If a park has longer hours or Extra Magic Hours, you may want to avoid them or go earlier in the day, so that you can park hop to maximize your time. I find that the parks with longer hours and Extra Magic Hours are the busiest parks.
Overall, visiting in December can be a great time to visit the Disney Parks and Resorts. But, it also depends on your family’s vacation needs. If you’re hoping to get lots of holiday and special events in, early December is your best bet for the most affordable prices and lowest crowds. The most crowded times of the month begin right before the Christmas holiday and end shortly after New Year’s Eve.
To decide if going to Disney in December is right for you, you’ll want to think about all the pros and cons for the month, along with your own to-do list. If you love the holiday season as much as I do, you’ll find December to be a great month to visit.
But, no matter when you go, you’ll have a magical time at the Disney Parks and Resorts.
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