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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We talked a while back, about how there was very little that piglet sized kiddos can ride. In fact, they can ride almost everything! But what about the larger set? The pooh sized riders? The folks that are a little heavier? I've got good news for you as well! There is very little (if anything!) that you can't ride, too!!
Walt Disney World was created so that EVERYONE could enjoy the rides! At Walt Disney World, you will find many different styles of seats. Here's what you may run across.
You've got your bench style, like on It's A Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean. those are the style seats that allow you to have enough room comfortable, without being put into a "seat"
A lap bar style seat is typically on a bench style seat, like Peter Pan's Flight, or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, where a safety bar is pulled up towards you. This won't be a problem if riding with a companion of the same size, or alone, but use caution if a Piglet sized rider is with you, so that they don't slip out from under that restraint, say, when flying over Neverland.
Over the Shoulders
An over the shoulder restraint would be in a ride like Primeval Whirl. A restraint bar comes down over your shoulders, and locks, keeping you from falling on a ride that might be jerkier, or spinny.
On some rides, like Star Tours, you'll have a lap bet as your restraint. While you shouldn't have a problem, belt extenders are offered, so that everyone can enjoy the ride. The seats are usually wide enough, that we've never seen a rider leave, disappointed.
In some attractions, you'll be seated in movie theater style seats. These are usual size, so if you don't have a problem back home, it's unlikely you'll have a problem here.
Now this is the trickiest style seating. A very few rides have a slightly molded seat, that while you can still fit in, might not feel too comfortable on the tush. Seven Dwarves Mine Train is one. Still doable, and luckily the ride isn't too long, but just might not be the comfiest.
As you can see, there really isn't much at all you won't be able to do. Walt Disney World can easily accommodate you, so no matter your age, or size, go enough yourself! With so much to see and do, you're going to have an amazing trip!
Have you ever noticed how there's a trash can almost everywhere you look at Walt Disney World? That's because Walt Disney was very concerned about keeping the park clean. He wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the beauty of his theme park, without unsightly garbage everywhere. He wanted children to be able to play on the grass without wrappers and cups littering the ground. Doing his own research, he discovered that 30 feet was the magic number. 30 feet was the most someone would hold their trash before throwing it on the ground.
While the Spiderman bottle above was surly an accident, the cup was not. Someone threw it away. So what does that mean?
That means a cast member has to take time from something else, to go get it and throw it out. That means some of the wild life could accidentally ingest it before it's found. That means that instead of every guest coming through the gates that day and seeing the beauty of this area by the Swiss Family Tree-house, they see trash. And once your eye sees the trash, that's all you can see. Not the beauty of the rocks, the ferns, the rippling in the pool of water. The trash. With a trash can every 30 feet, that's what...15 or so steps for you? Why not throw it away, and help keep the park beautiful for everyone?
Around the edge of the decorative fences at the Main Street Plaza Gardens, you'll find adorable little statuettes. If you aren't familiar where these gardens are, this is usually the place for the reserved viewing of Happily Ever After.
It is so easy to overlook these tiny little statues, but they are absolutely adorable, and very detailed. There are eight in all. While it was raining that day I took these, so the background is rather gloomy and raindrops decorated everything, these precious little statues brought a smile to our face. Once again, as I was taking these pictures, I noticed so many guests rushing past in their haste to get to rides, they missed out on things, like they had missed these characters strolling around interacting. Walt Disney World is an amazing place to visit, and there is so much to do, too much for one trip, but it is important to stop, and explore the details!
Here is a photo of each of the statues. Which one do you like best?
While I am a Donald fan, through and through, there is something very sweet and special about this Dumbo statuette! Next time, I'll need to get a better close up of Mr. Timothy Mouse!
Disney has had a LOT of price changes in the last few weeks. The Disney Rapid Refill Mugs are not excluded. Is it still worth it to buy one?
The price of the rapid Refills Mugs in 2017 was $17.99 for the length of your stay. 2018, it's $18.99, 2019 it has gone up to $19.99 plus resort tax. That's just a dollar and tax more, but... is it worth it?
Lets start off with a review about what the Rapid Refill Mug is.
Disney offers a really nice perk to those staying on Property. A souvenir mug that's not only solid quality but will stand up to many times in the dishwasher and many tumbles onto the floor without any fading, cracks or marks. We have a ton of these mugs and they get used more than any other cup in the house for hot or cold beverages. With the exception of, surprisingly, the 2019 mugs, none of them from 2014, 2015, or 2017 show wear.
Anyone staying at an on property resort can buy one of these refillable mugs, but those who purchased the Disney Dining Plan get to have the mug included at no extra cost. If you want to learn more about the Disney Dining Plan, click right here to read my post about it.
What is this mug?
The refillable Disney mug lets you fill up your mug as often as you want, with whatever you want in the food court area of your resort, or any other for the length of your stay. There is a RFID chip in the bottom of it, that allows the owner to fill it up. There is a small time delay between fill ups. If you tried to use a different cup, say a regular sports bottle without the RFID chip in it, the machine won't dispense the beverage.
What can you fill it up with?
Disney has Coke products, and you'll generally find the same things on tap that you would most any fast food place, Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, Hi-C, lemonade, root beer, etc. You can also get tea from their tea machine, which usually has four different kinds available, sweetened, unsweetened, white citrus or green. If you like hot drinks, it's all you can drink hot tea, hot coffee or hot chocolate. You will not find juice or milk available to fill in the mug. There are also mug wash spots near the drink dispensers to rinse your cups so if you want to fill your mug with orange soda, the last few drops from your morning coffee won't make it taste strange.
How much does this cost?
The mug, and it's unlimited refills costs $19.99 for the length of your stay.
Where can I fill this up at?
At your resort, or any other Disney resort if you feel like carrying it around. You cannot fill it up within the Parks though. If you want to fill it up in the morning and drink it at the bus stop, be prepared to carry it with you until you get back to your room. Since parks no longer have lids or straws available when you buy a drink, it might actually be worth it.
How does this work?
After you have selected the color mug that you want, (usually available are red, green, blue, yellow, purple and pink) take it to the cashier and he or she will activate it. Go over to the drink station and follow the instructions on the digital pad. (Basically setting the cup down, waiting a few seconds, then pushing the button to dispense the beverage choice)
Why is this right for me?
This might be right for you if
Why should I skip this?
You might not want to buy the mug if
If the average person bought only three drinks a day, let's say (current prices, and subject to change) a morning coffee ($3.29), an afternoon soda ($3.99) and an evening tea ($3.29), based on food court prices it would come to $10.57. On a 3 day stay that equals $31.71. The mug is more than paid for, and it's cheaper to have the drinks, plus the mug to take home as a run reminder of your vacation. Chances are good, you'll fill your mug more than three times a day, too.
I'm on the fence as to if I should get this.
In our opinion, it's completely worth it for the mug since just three drinks in it a day and it's paid for by day three, sooner if you drink more, but I know there are people who don't drink anything other than water, so you'll need to figure out what works best for you. There is always the option of just buying one or two mugs for a family, if some are soda/tea/coffee drinkers and some are not, and sharing.
Since our family does buy the mugs, but also likes to save HUNDREDS with this super easy trick, we consider our drink savings covered.
What about you? Have you ever gotten the Refillable Mugs before? Do you like them or is it not a good buy for your family?