Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on December 31, 2019.
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Visiting Disney World at Christmas was always a bucket list experience for us. We had heard that the decorations and added experiences are worth the visit, and we have to say, they did not disappoint.
But before you rush out to buy that ticket for an upcoming holiday season, there are a few things you may need to keep in mind before you go. To help with this, we put together a few of our favorite pros and cons to know for Disney at Christmas!
Pro – Christmas Decorations at Disney
To say that the Christmas decorations at Disney are impressive are an understatement. They are quite beautiful and can be found in almost every section of each of the parks. Main Street at Magic Kingdom is decked out in holiday designs, large Christmas trees can be found at every property, and even some of the characters in Pandora at Animal Kingdom can be found wearing Christmas hats!
The nice thing about the decorations here is that they are tastefully done and are not overwhelming, and supplements the Disney ambiance rather than taking it over- perfect for us.
Con – The Crowds Can Be Quite Large
With the decorations come the crowds, and Disney is quite popular throughout the month of December- especially on weekends. During our visit none of the parks were ever at capacity, but we saw heavy lines with hour-plus waits being common at many of the top attractions.
The crowds are noticeable the most at Magic Kingdom, and during shows, parades, and the nightly fireworks show you'll do well to arrive early to get a prime spot. Likewise, when leaving be sure to plan your escape in advance as the lines for the monorail, ferries, and buses were quite long. Despite there being a direct monorail option to the transportation center, we found the resort line to be shorter despite the added stops!
Pro – Christmas Shows and Events
In addition to the decorations at Disney, many of the parks have extra shows and experiences that are themed specifically for the holidays. This includes a Candlelight Processional with celebrity narrator and 50-piece orchestra at Epcot, a custom show displayed on the Tree of Life at night in Animal Kingdom, and more.
So if you are a fan of the shows at Disney, Christmas will have just a bit more for you during a visit.
As an added bonus, be sure to ride the Jungle Cruise, which is aptly re-themed to be the Jingle Cruise during Christmas!
Con – Magic Kingdom Closes Early Some Days
Magic Kingdom has an even larger Christmas experience on select nights known as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This is a ticketed event that is sold separately from general admission and is for exclusive hours at the park in addition to more themed shows, parades, and more.
The downside with this one is two-fold. First, on days of the event the park closes at 6pm for guests with general admission. This means no fireworks show, no night time rides, and can cause a bit of confusion if you did not realize this in advance (which is why the Park Hopper pass is always good to have). Second, guests who visit for the Christmas Party itself can enter the park at 4pm, which results in increased wait times during these hours.
There are some silver linings to go along with this as well. On the Saturday of our visit, Magic Kingdom was open to midnight (despite closing early the Friday and Sunday surrounding it). Likewise, crowds on Sunday morning were fairly light as many guests were visiting that day for the party. For these, your mileage may vary.
Pro – Holiday Themes at Epcot's World Showcase
Our final pro is a bit tangential to the previous one about Christmas shows and events, and is all about the holiday features at the World Showcase at Epcot. Here, many of the countries have extra experiences for the holidays, and some even go further with additional food and beverages special to the holiday season as well. Drinking around the world gets just a bit more enjoyable at Christmastime!
Overall, we think the pros most certainly outweigh the cons when visiting Disney World at Christmas, as the holiday decorations, shows, and overall ambiance is worth the trip. Yes, there will be more people, and yes, Magic Kingdom does close early, but you can plan a Disney trip accordingly (even at last minute like we did) and still have a great time.
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.