While there is no bad time at all to visit a Disney Park, without a doubt one of the most popular times to visit is a holiday. There’s something special about holiday decorations, whether it’s for a Patriotic holiday, Halloween of Christmas. It adds a little extra Pixie Dust to that already magical experience.
If you are one of those planning out your visit to the Magic Kingdom or any other park for an upcoming holiday, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Going to Disney during a holiday does mean more magic, but it also means higher crowds. In order to get the most magic, and the least frustration out of your trip, there’s a few things you’ll want to take into consideration!
If you are driving your own car, be prepared for a much longer walk to and from your parking space. Arrive as early as you can for the best parking space possible. There will also be longer lines or wait times to take the parking tram.
Because holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially, are such popular times to visit, Magic Kingdom can reach capacity. What does this mean? A holiday at capacity happens in stages, so knowing those stages can make sure YOU get inside. Disney can change the way they do things at any time, but this is generally how it happens when it starts getting closer to capacity. Usually you’ll only need to worry about this a few days before, and after Christmas.
Guests with one day, single park tickets or those using cast member passes will not be allowed to park, they will be turned away at the toll plazas.
Any guest staying at a Disney Resort, even if they drive themselves, is allowed in. Also, anyone with a multi day ticket, or park hopper tickets, annual passholders, someone hopping in from another park, anyone arriving by Disney transportation or anyone with an existing in park reservation.
When the second stage occurs, the only ones allowed into the parking lots, or through the ticket turnstiles are:
Those staying at a Disney resort, annual passholders, those re-entering the park from earlier that day, those hopping from another park, those with in park reservations or those coming by Disney transportation.
Once it reaches the third stage (which isn’t too often, the second stage it the most common) the only ones allowed into the turnstiles, or the parking lot are:
Those staying at a Disney Resort, annual passholders, those with in park reservations.
The fourth stage, the park is entirely shut down, to all visitors. This has only happened once though, so it’s unlikely you will need to worry about it.
If you are visiting during a holiday, and NOT staying on property, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half early in order to make sure you get into the park. Remember, with the new opening procedure for the park, the hub is open an hour, sometimes earlier, than actual park opening. Once that is filled, and it will fill on a holiday, people will be stuck between the gates and the turnsiles, backing up to to the arrival areas and it will take much much longer to get inside of the park and get where you want to go. Holiday are NOT a time to get there late.
There will be crowds, but like any Disney crowd, common sense will see you through. If you’ve small children, keep them in the stroller or tightly hold their hands so they don’t get lost, or knocked over. It only takes the blink of an eye for your group to be separated when another group pushes past you, so something like matching hats or shirts can go a long way towards spotting each others.
First-timers- please note! You will NOT be able to hear your cell phone ringing, and the person you are trying to call will not be able to hear theirs! Even on a regular park day, it’s just too loud in the park to hear it, so plan to take frequent breaks to look to see if you’ve missed a call or text from another in your group.
If there was a sit down place you wanted to eat, or if your little princess wanted a makeover, I hope you’ve already got reservations. You can start booking your preferred restaurant 6 months in advance. Didn’t do that yet? It’s okay, and you might still be able to get a reservation, but the sooner you start checking, the better. As time draws closer to your trip, if you haven't been able to score a table, don’t give up. Things happen sometimes with the others who hold those reservations, and it’s not unlikely, or impossible to get the restaurant you’ve been longing for, a few days before your trip. The trick is to keep trying, and not stop. Check the odd times too. It doesn’t matter if it’s quick service or not, tables are filled more from 11:30am-1pm.
This really goes along with the crowds, but you know there will already be some longer crowds. While it’s a little harder to beat the crowds on a holiday, it’s not impossible to minimize your wait time if you have a plan. If you don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to eat, the lines are going to get longer and longer and you are going to start feeling frustrated. Disney is such a great place to visit, don’t let your magical trip be ruined by something so small like an hour per park that you’ve made at least a general outline of what order you are going to do things.
Take advantage of the great service Disney offers that’s totally free! Have the shop send your purchases to the front of the park for pickup on your way out, or even better, back to your resort! Keep in mind though, if you are sending back to your resort, don’t send anything back in the last 24 hours of your trip because it might not get to you in time.
Holidays at Disney have some extra special photo opportunities, so be sure to take advantage! You’ll find Mickey and his friends in seasonal costumes, as well as characters you might not get to see during the rest of the year. There will be special parades, music, shows and of course, lot sof special treats to sample that you can only get during these special occasions.
Disney also offers special seasonal events, such as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These have special things like trick or treating, or cookie and cocoa stations throughout the park as well as other fun surprises.
Keep in mind that if you are visiting the park on a day where one of these parties is held, the park does close early to those who do not have tickets for these events. Tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s best to get yours the moment you know you will be there during a holiday. It is very unlikely that you will be able to buy a ticket the day of the event.
Patience, patience, patience
While this is a top tip, other than planning, for any Disney vacation, it’s needed more than ever during a Disney holiday. Have patience. Patience with the family who just cut in front of you, patience with that REALLY annoying family remember who keeps slowing you down, patience with your kid who had to stop for the 11th bathroom/pretzel/pin trading moment in the last hour and a half. Don’t forget to have patience with yourself, too. You might not get to do everything you want. That’s okay. Enjoy what you can!
Remember, a little prep, a little planning will go a long way towards making the most out of your vacation. It can be a little overwhelming to plan a Disney trip, but it’s far worse to be standing there in a panic as the lines get longer and longer and you’ve no idea what anyone wants to ride! Like the old adage, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
Stay sane, and have fun during your Disney holiday!
Want some more ideas?
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It's back to school time and my kids aren't the only ones learning! I learned something really interesting about Walt Disney that I never knew before!
Did you know, there are quite a few schools named after Walt Disney? Further, he actually helped create some of these schools. At least one has some original Disney artwork on the walls! You can see some of the pictures here!
As a boy, Walt Disney didn't have the best experiences in school, and was discouraged by his teachers when he would draw, or tell stories. It's a little sad to think that even though most teachers are encouraging, and try to foster a child's interests, there are still some that don't. Who knows what sort of genius they are stifling? Thank goodness Walt Disney didn't give up!
Throughout his life, Walt Disney felt education for all ages was key. He often spoke about education through various methods. He felt that education didn't have to be uninteresting. Like Mary Poppins said, "In every job that must be done, you find the element of fun, and snap! The job's a game!"
I found these two quotes below quite fascinating. What he spoke about all those years ago is still something on the mind's of parents and educators today.
"Crowded classrooms and half day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource- the minds of our children. " -- Walt Disney
"School age youngsters are capable of absorbing and retaining a tremendous amount of learning. Given the change they have an amazing aptitude for knowledge. We must not deny them that chance through shortages of classrooms and inadequate educational facilities.
having spent most of my life observing their potential, I feel convinced that a full time education for our youth is our best investment in the future." -- Walt Disney
Children are indeed our future! We can't expect teachers to do all of the educating though, it's so important that we teach them as well! Especially common sense, something that isn't a common as it should be!
On Animal Kingdom's approximate 500 acre Park, there are about 1700 animals, representing 250 species! While those animals are scattered about the park, and you might not get to see all of them every time you go, Animal Kingdom has a nifty little guide that you can have to keep track of who you do see! There are more detailed (though, not able to take home) guides on some of the trails, including the trail with all of the birds) and the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Take a peek here, and enjoy a preview of some of the creatures you'll find on your next safari to Animal Kingdom!
Isn't it amazing how many animals they have? They'll be getting more too, with the arrival of those sweet little tiger cubs, some of the last in the world of that species. Disney does a lot to help preserve the lives and species, and I didn't realize just how much until I took the time to actually listen for a while on our last visit there.
At any retail spot in Animal Kingdom, you can also make a donation to the Disney Conservation Fund. They'll give you a really cool button as a thank you that you can wear to remind you, or someone else, about the important conservation efforts Disney does throughout their parks, not just at Animal Kingdom.
When we went last, the button was of a sea turtle. Do you have any yourself?
This is part three of a three part series. You can click here to read part one and here to read part two
Once you get home from the park with your newly traded for Disney Pins, chances are good you are going to want more. There might be sets you want to complete, or maybe you saw some in the parks and didn't have a chance to buy or trade for. In my case, it's both of those, and that I just want more. You can never have too many Disney Pins! But...now what? Disney's alllll the way over there, and you aren't...
Now, you go online!
Before you dash off to Google, Facebook or Ebay, let me give you a few tips to SAFELY buy pins online.
Buying or trading pins online can be fun, but there also is a small amount of risk. If you are trading with someone, there is a chance, though usually very small, that either you will not get your pins, or something will happen and they won't get theirs. That's why it's important to trade through a reputable group.
Where can you find pins online?
There are several Disney Pin Trading or Selling groups on Facebook. Search for Disney Pins and you will have a lot of places pop up. You can also find various Disney forums that have members hoping to buy, sell or trade. It doens't matter if you sell or if you trade, be sure that you mail your pins in a bubble envelope, mail when you say you will, and send over the package tracking number. Those three simple steps go a long way in assuring that people will want to trade with you again!
If you'd rather just straight out buy your pins from a place, Ebay is my first stop. While you CAN buy mystery lots of pins, I prefer not to, because I like to know what I'm getting. If I can't see the actual pins I'm buying, I tend not to buy because many of the mystery lots are priced well, but will have pins that are damaged, much older and the parks will be flooded with them, and there's a good possibility the pin might be an overrun, or a scrapper pin, which are better used for crafts, or decorating, and not trading.
There are loads of people selling perfectly legitimate Disney pins on Ebay though. Some of the best buys are when you search “Booster pack” or “Mystery pouch” because those usually contain between 5 and 7 pins each. Often you can get those for around $10 a package, and if these are going to be pins you want to trade, or collect, $2 or so a pin isn't bad at all! Often I can get lucky and get them for just under $2 each. That sure beats in park prices. Another time when being prepared pays off!
You can also find a lot of single pins, including ones that are currently sold in the Disney Parks, for half the price, so it's worth a quick look. There are several sellers I've had good luck with and both feedback, plus a listing with good photos and enough information about your pin are indications of a good seller.
Need some good suggestions?
I am happy to suggest the names of groups I have bought or traded pins from before on Facebook. If interested, just send me an email!
There are also stores that sell the pins online, and some people sell through Pinpics. I have not done either of those myself, so I don't feel confident in recommending any one place in particular.
I've just made an online trade! What's the best way to ship it?
Congrats! Now let's make sure that pin makes it there safe! Always secure your pin when you ship it, either with bubble wrap, in a ziploc bag, or pinned through some cardboard. That keeps the pin from being tossed around and getting damaged, especially if there are other pins in the envelope. The pins headed your way might not arrive like that, but you should always do the right thing and package it nicely. Once you've mailed it is the next most important step: always send the tracking info to each other. Tracking info isn't a fail safe, but by doing so, it not only shows you mailed or were mailed your pins, but that you also took reasonable precaution in sending them with tracking. Tracking comes free with first class mail packages in the USA.
That's really all there is...now go have fun browsing and daydreaming about all of the millions of pins out there! Just buy responsibility! It's addictive!
If you have bought, sold or traded pins online, would you like to share some of your favorite places?
If you haven't gone inside of your post office in the last few days, RUN RUN RUN! They have Disney villain stamps there! They are also Forever Stamps, so that means if the postage goes up, the stamps won't need more postage applied. I was excited to be the first person at our Post Office to get a sheet. I even got to see her take them out of the vault!
Aren't these adorable? I LOVE how even the back has an image, and quotes! Not sure I can bring myself to use these!
I ask you....is there anything a little Disney CAN'T make better?