The holidays are a magical time to plan a vacation to Disney World. The parks are decorated with Christmas trees and holiday lights from mid-November through early January. Magic Kingdom has extended hours on many days during this season, as well as a separately-ticketed event, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
With all the special décor, music, shows, and events, Magic Kingdom will be quite busy during the holidays. Whether this is your first Disney World Christmas trip or an annual tradition, keep reading to learn some helpful tips about ride wait times, dining options, park entertainment, and much more to maximize the amount of fun you will have.
1. Learn How to Use the My Disney Experience App
This first tip is one you can practice before you even get to Orlando! The My Disney Experience mobile app can be downloaded onto your phone by visiting your device’s app store. The My Disney Experience app has become an integral part of planning an efficient trip. Features include listing up-to-date park hours and entertainment schedules, park maps with wait times and dining options, mobile ordering at select restaurants, transportation options and directions, and a lot of other options.
By downloading and familiarizing yourself with the app, you will be prepared to utilize all these features and navigate around the park. You will see in some of our other tips, when used properly, the My Disney Experience app will save you time and provide convenience during your trip – an essential during peak park days.
Bonus Tip: Pack a portable charger or power bank to keep your phone charged during long park days. Running the My Disney Experience app will drain your phone battery faster due to location services.
2. Shorten Your Wait Times with Disney Genie+
All rides are open in Magic Kingdom during the holidays, including the Jingle Cruise – which is the Jungle Cruise’s ride re-branding for Christmas. Because Magic Kingdom sees so many visitors during this time of year, guests will notice rides having longer wait times. Many popular rides will have wait times averaging an hour or more. If you are visiting Disney World with the goal of riding as many rides as possible, you might want to consider investing in Genie+ Service.
Genie+ includes Lightning Lane, a service that took over the old FastPass system for shorter line wait times at select attractions. When you pay for this additional service, you can book slots on Lightning Lane for select attractions. You will receive a callback time to go to the ride, scan your pass to get into a shorter queue, and enjoy significantly reduced wait times. The app lists eligible experiences so that you can know in advance which rides are part of the Lightning Lane system.
3. Know Your Dining Options
There are tons of dining options at Magic Kingdom. From Quick Service to Character Dining to Signature Dining and more, you will want to be familiar with mobile ordering and dining reservations at Disney World. When you have so many options, choosing a place to eat is not something you want to do on an empty stomach!
Mobile Orders allow you to place your food order for select restaurants and have a window of time to arrive at the restaurant to receive your meal. This can be filtered in the My Disney Experience App by opening the park map, selecting “Dining” from the drop-down menu, and adding a filter for “Mobile Orders.” From there, you can choose a restaurant, order your food, and pay for it. When you arrive at the restaurant, you check in on the app, and your food is prepared quickly and freshly for you.
If you want to enjoy a higher-end dining experience, there are a few Magic Kingdom restaurants where it is recommended that you make reservations in advance. Save time by browsing your dining options before your trip and making reservations (if available) for your chosen restaurants.
Travelling with picky eaters? We have a plan for that too! Check out our article here: Disney World for Picky Eaters.
4. Take an Afternoon Break
If you want to maximize your Disney World Christmas trip, you probably plan to be at Magic Kingdom from opening to close. During holiday season hours, this can mean over 12-hour-long park days. While being at the park around the opening and closing times can mean shorter wait times and fewer crowds, it’s not going to be a fun experience if you are too exhausted by the end of it to wake up early and do it all again a second or third day in a row – that’s why we strongly recommend an afternoon break!
An afternoon break can come in many forms. If you are staying on resort property, it could mean a short monorail or bus ride back to your hotel room for a power nap or a dip in the pool. If you would rather not leave Magic Kingdom, this could mean grabbing a Quick Service snack and sitting down at a picnic table or bench further away from the action or going to a low-wait show attraction like Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress or Mickey’s PhilharMagic, where you can sit in an indoor theater and enjoy a show. These are all great options to recharge before continuing with your day!
5. Plan Around Park Entertainment
Some of the most special, unique holiday experiences during your trip will be watching the Christmas-time park entertainment. You can find park entertainment information on the My Disney Experience app. When you open the app, scroll down until you get to the listed Magic Kingdom park hours and select “Today’s Showtimes.” The app will then populate the park’s entertainment schedule for the day. This will let you know the exact times and locations of various parades, shows, and fireworks so that you can plan around them and witness the magic during your Disney World Christmas trip.
Bonus tip: Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes to an hour in advance to get a good spot for shows.
Looking for even more tips for Disney World, we’ve put together a list of mistakes not to make during your next visit.