Disney at Christmas Question?

My family is doing WDW the week of Christmas this year. I know it is not the best week of the year to be there but it is the only time everyone can get off work and out of school. For those that have done Disney in December, I have a few questions. Your advice is much appreciated.

1) We are staying at the Art of Animation Resort. Are be better off using Disney transportation to get to and from the parks or drive our car from park to park? We are planning on doing some park hopping on a couple of days.

2) We have some close conflicts on FastPass and dining reservations. If we arrive at the beginning of a FP time should we be in and out within an hour?

3) We have already made our 3 allowed FastPass selections for each day. Once we have used them, can we get additional FPs for the day?


Life is an amusment park -and I can't get off of the damn spinning teacups!
Jeff's avatar

You're right, you're going on the absolute worst week of the year in terms of crowds. That said...

1) I think it depends. If you're doing Magical Express from the airport, you presumably won't have a car, which is the way I like to roll. Your resort is physically I believe the furthest from Magic Kingdom, and it's a haul. However, it's pretty fast to Epcot and Studios. You can take a boat between those two as well. I'm personally a fan of using the transportation, but other people like parking. The parking tram service is pretty robust.

2) Depends on the attraction. If it's something with a big pre-show or something, it takes longer to get through it. I would bank on most things requiring 20 minutes. I mean, the walk in and out of Space Mountain alone takes forever.

3) I'm pretty sure you can still get any number of paper FastPasses (with the usual restrictions in between) as you want. The word on the street is that general use of FP+ will roll out before then, so keep in mind that it won't just be resort guests with magic bands.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I thought there was some talk that Disney Resort guests will only be issued MagicBands without an accompanying Key to the World in the near future (if not already) in an effort to cut down on guests pulling paper or "legacy" FastPasses in addition to their three FastPass+ allotments.

Also, a number of Disney blogs have been reporting that paper FastPasses for the most popular attractions have been disappearing quickly each morning as the roll-out of MyMagic+ encompasses all on-site Resorts. It's hard to say what the situation might look like in the very busy weeks around Christmas.

"Thank the Phoneticians!"

slithernoggin's avatar

I don't care for Disney's bus system -- well, I don't care for buses in general. Takes too long to get anywhere with too many starts and stops.

We always rent a car in Orlando as we like to go out and about to favorite restaurants and thrift stores in the city, and like the convenience of zipping from park to park.

Anyways: car or no car depends on you. If you don't think you'll mind using buses, and fancy the idea of being car free for a week, go car free. If you think you'll mind being reliant on the bus schedules to get around, get a car.

Hopping from park to park is easy at Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Studios. MK and Epcot are connected by monorail, and Studios and Epcot by short walkways and boats. Animal Kingdom would require a bus ride.

Jeff's avatar

I suppose I could ask around, but I would be surprised if they ditched the paper ones. Last week we had them for Space Mountain, picked up at 7 and used an hour later. That doesn't seem like they're weighing them heavily toward resort guests.

Interestingly, I can tap my annual pass at the FP+ terminals right now, and it just says I can't score any more passes today. I've only tried at night.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I will say something about the transportation service: if you take the buses, you usually get dropped off closer to the gate and have less of a walk back to the car, even with tram service. If you're hopping parks and doing Disney all day and all night, that shorter walk at the end of the night feels like a godsend. Plus, if I remember correctly, access to Magic Kingdom is a 2 or 3 step process if you're not using the transportation, whereas the buses pull up much closer to the gates. I could be wrong about this, but I only remember having to take a ferry or monorail over from the parking lot to the gates when we were not using the Disney transportation services (we were not onsite guests).

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

^The rumor on all of the disney sites is when this thing goes "100% live" paper fastpasses will cease. As they are still not allowing off site guests yet is why they still are running.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

Jeff's avatar

Maybe it's true, but the more I get in the loop, the more I find those sites are often not even close, especially when it comes to Disney.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

If you know the Disney World property, rent a car, if you don't enjoy the motorcoach.

Legacy Fastpass should still be going thru the end of the calendar year and your key to the world room key will work assuming it is connected with your admission.

Thanks for the advise. One additional question. If the parks hit maximum capacity, since we are staying on property, can we still park hope and/or spend time at the hotel and be assured that we can get back into a park? Would hate to decide to change parks mid-day, leave one park and then be "locked out" of getting back in somewhere.

Life is an amusment park -and I can't get off of the damn spinning teacups!

Most likely, as a resort guest, you will be able to get in.

kpjb's avatar

I could be wrong, but I think that capacity = capacity. I wouldn't try park hopping on the busiest days.


While I have not been to WDW in Decemeber Ive been there on other holidays (4th of July, Easter) here are some hints:

1. The Disney Christmas Parade is not broadcast live, they tape that thing in early December, therefore there is no reason to visit the MK on Christmas day where it will be packed with people, go somewhere else.

2. The MK shot off their 4th of July show on both the 3rd of July and 4th. I believe they also do this for New Years as well. If this is true, then I would attend the MK on the 30th and go to Epcot (the park best built to deal with and easiest to enjoy with large crowds) NYE.

3. Show up at the gate at least 30 min prior to opening, and preferably 1 hour prior to opening. If you are towards the front of the opening rush you can do two E-tickets or get a fastpass for the super popular ride and also ride it at at opening with no wait.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

Sagretti's avatar

kpjb said:

I could be wrong, but I think that capacity = capacity. I wouldn't try park hopping on the busiest days.

There are 4 levels of capacity at Disney. I'm a little rusty, but this is how it generally goes:

1. Open to everyone

2. Open to resort guests, annual pass holders, and people park hopping/already parked

3. Open to resort guests and passholders only

4. Parks closed to everyone until people leave (maximum capacity has been reached, essentially)

During the holidays, stage 2 is hit regularly, with it occasionally going to stage 3. Stage 4 only happens once or twice a year, and only lasts for a few hours. Of course, if a park does hit Stage 4, the happiest place is anywhere else on Earth.

Last edited by Sagretti,

My wife and I have gone the past two years for a few days right around New Years, really just to do NYE at Epcot. And yes it was packed beyond anything we have ever seen before. We also visit in early December when the crowds are low and we get to experience a lot of the attractions so our NYE trip isn't about doing everything. A few thoughts:

•The only park we do during that time is Epcot, and we get paper FP for Soarin around 10am for a return time of around 7pm (obviously FP is completely changing now). Don’t bother doing stand-by for Soarin or Test Track (3-4 hour waits). The Land, Nemo and Spaceship Earth however were somewhat reasonable with less than 20 minute waits.

•Epcot seems to be the last to close, and never has the times we have gone during that time. We are able to enter with no issues around 4pm on NYE (it was completely mobbed). After we got our FP’s at 10am, we went back to the Caribbean Beach to hang by the pool for a few hours. I spoke to a few Cast members and they basically said that Epcot won’t close, with the exception of the most extreme cases.

•Blizzard Beach is a great option to avoid the mass crowds if the weather is decent. We always try to spend a day there and the crowds are very manageable. (only BB is open during that time).

•Same for your resort pool…perfect way to relax and avoid the "crowds". If the weather is decent, the pool will be fairly crowded, but totally manageable; nothing like the theme parks.

•While Downtown Disney will be mobbed, you can spend a few hours there to “get away” from at least the attraction lines.

•Same for the Boardwalk…. Same for the miniature golf courses…

•Make your lunch/dinner reservations now, if you are planning on any sit down service during that week.

•Set the bar low, go into it expecting to be miserable and hopefully you are surprised and have a somewhat decent time!

Don’t expect to be able to “do” Disney like most other times of the year. Enjoy the weather and the fact you have shorts on in December (hopefully) and most of the country doesn’t…

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging,
Jeff's avatar

Downtown Disney is extra crappy right now because half the lot is closed to build a parking deck or something.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Sagretti's avatar

Oy, two parking garages, though at least they're starting with just the one, though it isn't supposed to be finished until 2015. Of course, they've also introduced a new valet service for all those people trying to find a spot in the limited, chaotic parking lots. Only costs $15 or so. It's a really crappy thing to do, since it takes away even more of the reduced parking spaces, but brilliant for making money.

Last edited by Sagretti,

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