My Simple Walt Disney World Christmas Vacation – The Plan

Have you ever considered visiting Walt Disney World during the month of the December to enjoy all of the Christmas festivities, but then decided against it after getting overwhelmed by thoughts of the crowds and all the planning that’s required? Well, not to worry, it really isn’t as difficult as it might seem to enjoy a joyous and simple Walt Disney World vacation during the holidays, and I’m going to show you how. I will soon be traveling to Walt Disney World for a few days to soak up as much Christmas spirit as possible before coming home to spend the holidays with my kids. In this post, I will share with you all of my plans, and in a couple of weeks, I will share a trip report post, letting you know how it all worked out. So grab yourself some Christmas cookies and hot chocolate, and let’s begin!

Expectations

First thing’s first, managing expectations is so important. When planning a visit to Walt Disney World during the month of December, we have to be realistic about our expectations. This time of year is going to be busy, there is no way around it, so if we start each day expecting short waits and no crowds, we are going to be very disappointed. Also the weather could potentially be a factor, the temperatures could vary from the 80s to the 40s in a single trip, possibly in a single day, not to mention in Florida it could rain at any moment, so we need to pack accordingly.

Purpose

Christmas GoofyThink about your trip as a project or business. You wouldn’t begin an important project or start a new business without having a mission statement. What is the purpose of your vacation? What is your hope for this trip? For us, we would like to enjoy as many of the Christmas offerings as possible. Knowing that this vacation is all about Christmas, helps tremendously when making plans from what to see, where to go, and even what to eat. When things change, or a curve ball comes your way during your stay, remember the purpose for your trip and that will help you make quick decisions without stress.

Traveling Party

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For this trip, I will be traveling with a friend, so for most of the time, we will be making dining reservations, Fastpass+, and plans for just two people. However on one evening, we will be meeting up with two more friends for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Getting last minute Fastpasses and dining reservations is always easier with fewer people, so this is something we’ll want to keep in mind during our trip.

Packing

I am a procrastinator, so I tend to pack just a few hours before heading to the airport. To make this bad habit easier, I have a small basket in my closet that holds all of the important things that I take on every trip to Walt Disney World. So when it comes time to pack, everything I need is in one place and all I need to add is clothes. My travel basket has items in it like my MagicBands, raincoat, umbrella, sunglasses, drawstring backpack, and travel wallet. For this trip, I will also be taking my new Mickey Mouse buffalo plaid Santa hat with ears that I got specifically for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

As for clothes, because the weather forecast is up and down while we’re there, I will be taking my favorite Mickey Mouse short sleeve shirts, with some long sleeve solid color t-shirts that I can wear underneath them for the cold evenings. (Think Sheldon on Big Band Theory.) I live in Colorado, so we deal with cold and snow eight months of the year, but keep in mind, due to the humidity in Florida, it can feel a lot colder than you might expect. A sunny 60 degree day in Colorado feels a lot hotter, than a 60 degree evening in Walt Disney World. With that in mind, I will also be bringing a jacket, scarf and gloves.

Resort Stay

There are so many choices of where to stay when visiting Walt Disney World it can be a little overwhelming to choose. Depending on when we go and who we’re traveling with, we have stayed at a variety of places including onsite and offsite, from value resorts to vacation homes with private pools. One thing we always try to look for is a bargain. For this particular trip, we had booked four nights at Pop Century in a standard room with an Annual Passholder discount for approximately $899 total including taxes and fees. We chose Pop Century this time around, because the rate was fantastic and we were looking forward to using the Disney Skyliner. Sometimes we find that the crowds and noise levels at the value resorts can be a lot after a full day in the parks. Of all of the value resorts, Pop Century is by far my favorite, but if I’m looking for a relaxing place to unwind or just a quiet walk around the resort at the end of a busy day, Pop wouldn’t be my first choice in locations. Knowing that on this trip, we are planning on focusing on Christmas, which means our time in the parks will be different than one of our normal trips, we decided we would check back with Disney to see about an upgrade.

Remember Disney allows guests to cancel up to five days prior to arrival without penalty, so if you’re looking for an upgrade start calling about 7 to 10 days before your trip to see if anything opens up as other guests change their vacations. On my first try, a King bed studio room in the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs was now available, but even with the passholder discount it was still $1800 for the four nights. As much as we love Coronado Springs and Gran Destino specifically, we couldn’t justify the high price tag. The next day, I tried again, and as luck would have it, a King bed standard view room had opened up at Caribbean Beach Resort. With the passholder discount applied, our new rate was only $1006 total including all taxes and fees, which was just a little over $100 more than Pop Century, so of course, we jumped at it. Even when changing your reservation and switching resorts, there are no worries, because you keep the same reservation number, so all of our dining reservations and Fastpasses were still in place and ready to go.

Now that we have all of the basics out of the way, here’s the plan…

Day 1 – On Our Way

We always fly out at night, so I will spend most of the day wrapping up last minute things on my To Do List and packing. We have a tradition of going out to dinner and checking out the Disney Store before we leave town, so we’ll get the suitcase and backpacks in the car and head out at about 6:30pm for our 7:00pm reservation. We’ll spend a couple of relaxing hours enjoying a nice dinner and browsing our local Disney Store (shout out to Cast Member Cory that knows us well from all the times we’ve stopped in), before making the drive to the airport. Right now, the forecast looks clear, so hopefully the drive will be a smooth one. It takes us about an hour to get there and drop the car with the valet. If you’ve never looked into valet parking at your airport, I highly recommend it. Believe it or not, it isn’t as expensive at you might think. For example at Denver International Airport, where we fly out of, it is $35 a day for the first three days, but then it drops to $14 a day. It is definitely worth doing the math, especially if you live someplace like we do where you can expect to come home and find your car buried under a huge pile of snow.

We have our packing down to a science now, so we never check a bag. Once we drop off the car, we’ll head inside and go straight to the security line. Luckily, Denver security moves fairly quickly, especially later in the evening, so we should be through and to our concourse in no time. We almost always fly Frontier, and this time will be no exception. Frontier is one of those airlines people seem to either love or hate. For the most part, we’ve had pretty good luck with them, and when something has gone wrong, they’ve been pretty good about compensating us with some sort of travel voucher. Before we board, we’ll make our regular stop at Hudson News to grab a water and a diet Coke for the flight, and we’ll download a couple of things to watch on Disney+ if we can’t sleep. Before we know it, it will be 11:30pm and time to board for our midnight departure, and with any luck, we’ll sleep until we land at 6:00am Orlando time.

Day 2 – Hollywood Studios

Once we land about 6:00am, we’ll head straight over to hop aboard the Magical Express, and if the wait isn’t too long and traffic moves smoothly, we should be arriving at the Caribbean Beach Resort around 7:00am. It never hurts to stop by the front desk to see if a room might be available for early check in. I would say about 75% of the time, we are able to get our room right away. If you have made several requests such as location, floor, etc., the chances of checking in early goes down, but we normally have no special requests, and are happy to take whatever they have ready. Worst case scenario, we’ll just change our clothes in the lobby restroom and drop our bags with the bell stand before heading to the Skyliner. If the ride goes as planned (fingers crossed!), we should be at Hollywood Studios in about 5 minutes or around 7:30am.

Now once we arrive at Hollywood Studios, anything could happen. The park is scheduled to open at 8:00am, but as we all know, it has been opening as much as three hours before the posted time to accommodate the crowds for Rise of the Resistance. Our hope is to get into the park and secure a boarding group for later in the day before they are gone, but realistically that might not happen. Before our Fastpasses open, we’ll try to sneak in rides on Slinky Dog Dash and Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. We have a 9:35am Fastpass for Tower of Terror, a 10:40am Fastpass for Star Tours, and an 11:45am Fastpass for Muppet*Vision. Between attractions, we’ll probably check out some of the holiday decorations and merchandise, maybe try a Cinnamon-Apple Lunch Box Tart at Woody’s Lunch Box, and take some festive photos. Before heading back to Caribbean Beach Resort for a break, we might try to squeeze in a stop to see For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, to add to our holiday spirit with a little snow. Then it’s back to Caribbean Beach for a nice long nap and maybe a snack of empanadas and key lime pie at Sebastian’s Bistro. We’ll plan to wake up to return to Hollywood Studios later in the day, possibly to ride Rise of the Resistance if we were lucky enough to snag a boarding group, and also to see the holiday decorations at night. We definitely want to catch Sunset Seasons Greetings and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Then it’s time to catch the Skyliner back to Caribbean Beach for a good night’s sleep!

Day 3 – Magic Kingdom

Contradictory to all Walt Disney World planning advice, we will be sleeping in. Remember the focus of our trip is Christmas and relaxation. So for us, we’ll be sleeping in, staying up later, and enjoying the holiday decorations and offerings each evening. We’ll get up in time so that we can take a bus to Magic Kingdom, and then a monorail over to the Grand Floridian Cafe for our 1:00pm lunch reservation. If you haven’t eaten there, give it a try sometime, especially the Mickey Mouse waffle with the toppings…sugar cookie crumbles, whipped cream, and strawberries…YUM!

 

After lunch, it’s back to Magic Kingdom for Fastpasses on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain before Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. For the party, we are meeting our dear friends, fellow Disney blogger and social media queen, Krista Joy of Disneyways and the incredibly talented Elvis tribute artist and former Jungle Cruise Skipper, Peter Alden. We plan on riding attractions, stuffing ourselves with tasty treats, enjoying all of the entertainment, and laughing the night away!

Day 4 – Epcot

After closing down the Magic Kingdom the night before, we’ll be sleeping in again this day, before heading over to Epcot in the afternoon. We plan on hitting our 1:15pm Fastpass at Spaceship Earth, our 2:15pm Fastpass at Soarin’ and our 3:15pm Fastpass for Living with the Land, before making our way to the World Showcase to enjoy the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. We’ll take our time soaking up all of the special holiday entertainment and decorations. And when we get hungry, we’ll be sure to stop by the Holiday Kitchens for some delicious snacks. I’ll definitely be saving room for the Holiday Cookie Stroll, this is must-do on my list this trip! At the end of the night, we’ll catch Epcot Forever, before taking the Disney Skyliner back to the Caribbean Beach Resort to sleep.

Day 5 – Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs

One more morning of sleeping in before we make our way to Animal Kingdom for our Na’vi River Journey, Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR Fastpasses, and our Restaurantosaurus Dig Site Sundaes and Gourmet Burgers dinner which looks yummy!

 

After dinner, we plan to make a stop at Disney Springs for some last minute holiday shopping and a stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail before heading back to Caribbean Beach Resort to pack.

Day 6 – Going Home

And of course, the saddest day of all, going home day. Our flight leaves crazy early, so we’ll be making our way to the “tragical” express bus stop at the ungodly hour of 2:30am. But at least that way, we can sleep on the four hour flight home if all goes smoothly.

Wrap Up

Be sure to check back next week, for my follow up post where I will share lots of photos and details on how our plans went. If you would like to follow along in real time, you can find me on Twitter @DWEnthusiast or over on Facebook. And if you happen to see us in the parks, be sure to say hello and stop to take a picture, we hope to see you there. Merry Christmas!

Helpful Information For Your June 2020 Disney World Vacation

So you are planning a vacation to Disney World in June?
June is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World!

Weather

The weather in Disney World during June is hot and rainy. The average high is about 91 degrees, the average low is about 71 degrees, and the average rainfall is about 8.32 inches. You can expect some rain every afternoon or evening, so be sure to bring your poncho!

Crowds

You can anticipate the crowd levels throughout the month of June to be moderate as many families enjoy a summer vacation to the most magical place on earth. Unlike Spring Break or Christmas, summer travelers are spread out over a three month time frame making this a much more manageable time of year to visit.

Magic Kingdom Welcome ShowJune 1 – June 6
Average Crowd Level 5.8 out of 10
June 7June 13
Average Crowd Level 6.1 out of 10
June 14June 20
Average Crowd Level 6.4 out of 10
June 21 – June 27
Average Crowd Level 6.3 out of 10
June 28 – June 30
Average Crowd Level 5.3 out of 10

Magic Kingdom ClockPark Hours

Magic Kingdom
Open most days from 9am – 10pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Epcot
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Hollywood Studios
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Animal Kingdom
Open most days from 9am – 8:30pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)

For specific hours on each day during June, please click this link. Remember that park hours are subject to change and are often adjusted two weeks prior.

Events

A wonderful part about visiting Disney World in spring is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. In 2020, the event runs from March 4 through June 1 and features over 100 topiaries, interesting gardening demonstrations, beautiful flowers, weekend music concerts and several outdoor kitchens serving delicious foods and beverages.

On select nights in June, Disney Villains After Hours is held at Magic Kingdom. This special ticket is a fun-filled family friendly event. There are fantastically frightening shows, exciting dance parties, stunning fireworks, and tons of popcorn, ice cream novelties and select bottled beverages which are included in the price of admission for everyone! Adults and children alike really get into the villainous spirit of the event by dressing in costume. For more information, please click here.

Refurbishments

Periodically throughout the year, Disney closes attractions for refurbishments and enhancements. Here are the currently scheduled closures during June (subject to change without notice):

Magic Kingdom
Tron Themed Attraction: Opening in 2021
Walt Disney World Railroad: TBD

Cinderella CastleEpcot
Guardians of the Galaxy Themed Attraction: Opening in 2021
Journey of Water: Opening in 2021
La Creperie de Paris: Opening in 2020
Mary Poppins Attraction: TBD
PLAY! Pavilion: Opening in 2021
Ratatouille Attraction: Opening in 2021
Space Themed Table Service Restaurant: Opening in 2020
Wondrous China: Opening in 2021

Hollywood Studios
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: Opening in 2020
Roundup Rodeo BBQ: Opening in 2020

Animal Kingdom
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Water Parks
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Disney Springs
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Planning Tips

If you are traveling to Disney World in June 2020, your planning is probably well under way at this point. Here’s a checklist to make sure you are on track:

  • Make sure you have created your My Disney Experience account. If you haven’t, click here to sign up now.
  • If you haven’t already made your dining reservations, be sure to make them now by clicking here.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to customize your MagicBand on your My Disney Experience account by picking the color and adding your name. And if you really want to make your MagicBand special, personalize it with your own custom designed MagicBand Skin from Magic YOUR Band. Click here to get started!
  • Now is a great time to research what attractions you and your family would like to see at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Because Walt Disney World is so large, it is very difficult to see everything during one trip, so be sure to get everyone’s top priorities. This is also a great time to begin looking at menus for counter service restaurants so that you have an idea of which locations serve foods that your entire family will enjoy.
  • Whether you are staying on site or off-property, be sure to purchase your admission tickets and link them to your My Disney Experience account.
  • 501 WaysOnce your tickets are linked and at exactly 60 days in advance of your check in date (7:00am EST time) if you are staying on site or 30 days in advance for all other guests, login to your My Disney Experience account and book your Fastpass+ reservations.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to check in online at 60 days out from your arrival date.
  • Double check your flight times and if you will be using Disney’s Magical Express for your airport transportation make your reservation at least 60 days in advance by clicking here.
  • It’s never too early to start creating a packing list so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Need more help planning? Please check out my UPDATED book 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation, for hundreds of insider tips and secrets for having the most magical Disney World vacation possible!

Special Offers

If you haven’t already made your June 2020 reservations, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save money:

Join The Fun

I have created a Facebook Group called Disney World Enthusiast! It is the perfect place to talk about your next Disney vacation, ask your questions, get them answered, and share the magic. Everyday you’ll find posts, photos, trivia, tips, and more that we find all throughout the Disney Universe. If you’re counting the days until your next Disney vacation or just dreaming of one, we would love to have you join in the fun! Please click here to be a part of the group!

Have a magical vacation!

Helpful Information For Your May 2020 Disney World Vacation

So you are planning a vacation to Disney World in May 2020?
May is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World!

Weather

The weather in Disney World during May is beautiful. The average high is about 89 degrees, the average low is about 65 degrees and the average rainfall is only about 3.1 inches. By traveling in May, you are getting your vacation in just before the rainy season begins. But don’t forget to pack your poncho just in case!

Crowds

May typically has moderate crowd levels. You can anticipate crowds to pick up Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Epcot will also see slightly higher crowd levels over the weekends as many locals enjoy visiting the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Magic Kingdom Welcome ShowMay 1 – May 2
Average Crowd Level 5.0 out of 10
May 3 – May 9
Average Crowd Level 4.6 out of 10
May 10 – May 16
Average Crowd Level 5.4 out of 10
May 17 – May 23
Average Crowd Level 4.1 out of 10
May 24 – May 31
Average Crowd Level 6.0 out of 10

Magic Kingdom ClockPark Hours

Magic Kingdom
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Epcot
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Hollywood Studios
Open most days from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
Animal Kingdom
Open most days from 9am – 8:30pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)

For specific hours on each day during May, please click this link. Remember that park hours are subject to change and are often adjusted two weeks prior.

Events

Epcot International Flower And Garden FestivalA wonderful part about visiting Disney World in May is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. In 2020, the event runs from March 4 through June 1 and features over 100 topiaries, interesting gardening demonstrations, beautiful flowers, weekend music concerts and several outdoor kitchens serving delicious foods and beverages.

Refurbishments

Periodically throughout the year, Disney closes attractions for refurbishments and enhancements. Here are the currently scheduled closures during May (subject to change without notice):

Magic Kingdom
TRON Lightcycle Run: Opening in 2021
Walt Disney World Railroad: December 2018 – TBD

Epcot
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: Opening in 2021
Journey of Water: Opening in 2021
Mary Poppins Attraction: TBD
La Creperie de Paris: Opening in Summer 2020
PLAY! Pavilion: Opening in 2021
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: Opening in Summer 2020
Wondrous China: TBD

Hollywood Studios
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: Opening in Spring 2020
Roundup Rodeo BBQ: Opening in 2020

Animal Kingdom
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Water Parks
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Disney Springs
No Scheduled Refurbishments At This Time

Planning Tips

If you are traveling to Disney World in May 2020, your planning is probably well under way at this point. Here’s a checklist to make sure you are on track:

  • Make sure you have created your My Disney Experience account. If you haven’t, click here to sign up now.
  • If you haven’t already made your dining reservations, be sure to make them now by clicking here.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to customize your MagicBand on your My Disney Experience account by picking the color and adding your name. And if you really want to make your MagicBand special, personalize it with your own custom designed MagicBand Skin from Magic YOUR Band. Click here to get started!
  • Now is a great time to research what attractions you and your family would like to see at the Magic KingdomEpcotHollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Because Walt Disney World is so large, it is very difficult to see everything during one trip, so be sure to get everyone’s top priorities. This is also a great time to begin looking at menus for counter service restaurants so that you have an idea of which locations serve foods that your entire family will enjoy.
  • Whether you are staying on site or off-property, be sure to purchase your admission tickets and link them to your My Disney Experience account.
  • 501 WaysOnce your tickets are linked and at exactly 60 days in advance of your check in date (7am EST time) if you are staying on site or 30 days in advance for all other guests, login to your My Disney Experience account and book your Fastpass+ reservations.
  • If you are staying on site, be sure to check in online at 60 days out from your arrival date.
  • Double check your flight times and if you will be using Disney’s Magical Express for your airport transportation make your reservation at least 60 days in advance by clicking here.
  • It’s never too early to start creating a packing list so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Need more help planning? Please check out my book 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation, for hundreds of insider tips and secrets for having the most magical Disney World vacation possible!

Special Offers

If you haven’t already made your May 2020 reservations, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save money:

Join The Fun

I have created a Facebook Group called Disney World Enthusiast! It is the perfect place to talk about your next Disney vacation, ask your questions, get them answered, and share the magic. Everyday you’ll find posts, photos, trivia, tips, and more that we find all throughout the Disney Universe. If you’re counting the days until your next Disney vacation or just dreaming of one, we would love to have you join in the fun! Please click here to be a part of the group!

Have a magical vacation!