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Everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in December

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Disney World in December is full of festive cheer. And with the festivities comes large crowds, long ride wait times, and some of the coolest temperatures Orlando ever sees—and when I say cool, I mean 24°C, which to us Brits is far from the same thing. 

But although Disney World is considerably busier than other months of the year, there is nothing quite like celebrating Christmas in the parks, which is why so many people flock to Orlando each and every year. 

Everything you need to know about visiting Disney World in December

From Christmas parties and Christmas decorations to Christmas-themed treats and all the characters dressed in festive outfits, it’s hard not to get into the Christmas spirit, making Disney even more fun than usual—if that’s even possible. 

After visiting the parks throughout various months of the year, I know full well that Disney planning for any season can be stressful. But even more so over Christmas.

So, here is everything you need to know about Disney World in December so that way you’re prepared and ready before you even step off the plane. 

The average temperature in Orlando in December

The average temperature in Orlando in December ranges from highs of 24°C (75°F) to lows of 13°C (55°F).

Temperatures are comfortable throughout December—especially compared to the summer months when you can expect 33°C+. But in the early mornings and evenings, you can expect the temperatures to drop significantly. So, I advise packing an extra layer for those times when the sun is no longer in view. 

Luckily for December Disney guests, however, rain isn’t too much of an issue. But Florida weather can be unpredictable, and if you get caught in a rainstorm, you’ll definitely know about it.

For this reason, I always like to take a poncho or an umbrella with me to Disney—no matter which month I visit—as walking around in dripping wet clothes isn’t ideal—unless you’ve just been on Splash Mountain, that is. 

Light pole christmas decor, Christmas at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort

How busy is Disney World in December?

December is the busiest month in Disney World as international and American families book tickets to the parks to experience the festive celebrations.

With that being said, however, the first week of December has the lowest crowds of the entire month, making it a great time to visit if you want to see the parks dressed up for Christmas. But as the month goes on, crowd levels pick up—especially between Christmas and New Year’s—so be prepared for long wait times and hoards of people all around you. 

If you are debating visiting Disney World in December—simply to experience Christmas in the parks—visiting in November could be an excellent alternative. Disney transforms for Christmas at the start of November.

And although there are two holidays—Veterans Day and Thanksgiving—which see larger crowds in the parks, the rest of the month is relatively quiet, offering you the benefits of Christmas at Disney, just without the crowds. 

Special events at Disney World in December

If the Christmas decorations, parades, and fireworks weren’t enough to entice you into booking a December Disney World trip, then the extra special events that go on throughout the month definitely will. 

With Disney Jollywood Nights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and New Year’s Eve celebrations, there is tons of fun to be had in all of the Disney parks.

Minnie and Mickey Mouse Christmas Parade, Christmas at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort

Christmas Decorations and Parades

Nowhere does Christmas quite like Disney World. And all four theme parks, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Resorts get a holiday makeover as soon as the Halloween decorations come down.

From November 2nd, Disney guests can experience the parks dressed up for Christmas with trees, wreaths, and other decorations around each and every corner. 

And if the decorations weren’t enough, Christmas also brings with it a holiday parade, a Christmas firework display, and new Christmas outfits for Disney characters all over the parks. It really is one of the most magical times to visit. 

Christmas Tree decorated ,Christmas at Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

One of the biggest events to take place in Disney in December is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which runs from November 9th to December 22nd.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an extra ticketed five-hour event that starts at 7:00 PM on select nights throughout the month. However, guests can enter the park from 4:00 PM onward.

During the party, you get to experience Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. You’ll also get to snack on complimentary cookies and cocoa at booths around the park. 

Extra ticketed limited capacity events like the Christmas Party also bring with them low ride wait times which is music to everyone’s ears. With December being the busiest month of the year in Disney World, you may struggle to ride Magic Kingdom’s busiest rides—even with Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

So, having a ticket to the party could just be the opportunity you need to smash out your must-do Magic Kingdom attractions all in one go. 

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

The great thing about EPCOT is there is always some sort of festival going on. And December is no exception.

EPCOT puts on the International Festival of the Holidays from late November all the way through December. And with a Candlelight Processional, festive entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, and of course, holiday-inspired dishes and snacks, it’s a festival not to be missed.

Disney Jollywood Nights

Disney’s Hollywood Studios finally jumped on the after-hours events train, bringing a night of festivities, event-exclusive shows, and themed entertainment at venues and hotspots throughout the park. But one of the biggest perks of the Disney Jollywood Nights event, however, is, of course, the low ride wait times. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has some extremely popular rides like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

As I’m sure you can imagine on a regular day in December—or any month for that matter—there is no way you’d be able to get on all of them. But don’t worry, that’s where Disney Jollywood Nights comes in.

With a limited capacity, for five hours from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, Hollywood Studios will be at its quietest, bringing ride wait times down to a matter of minutes—some may even be walk on.

New Year’s Eve

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days in all four Disney parks. With park hours open later than usual, countdown fireworks at both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. And New Year’s Eve parties and specialty snacks, a Disney New Year’s Eve is one to remember. 

If you are planning to secure a spot for the fireworks, you’ll need to do so well in advance, as people often set up camp hours before the show even begins. Remember that crowds will be at their biggest. So if you want a good spot, head to Main Street as early as possible. 

Early Entry for Disney Resort Guests

Disney Resort guests get an extra 30 minutes in the parks every morning. And although December has significantly larger crowds than other months of the year, these extra 30 minutes can make a big difference.

Now you won’t get to do as much as you normally would on a quiet day in the parks. But 30 minutes can see you ride one of the biggest attractions with a very low wait time.

Or if rides aren’t your thing, then you could snap the ultimate photo on Main Street. Or simply just enjoy the somewhat tranquility of the parks before the mayhem begins. 

Early entry for resort guests is one of the biggest perks of staying onsite. And I highly recommend you make full use of it every morning—regardless of what you spend those 30 minutes doing. 

Extra Park Hours for Deluxe Resort Guests

Deluxe Resort guests get the even bigger benefit of an extra two hours in either EPCOT or Magic Kingdom on select nights during their stay. Once a week, either park opens up for two hours past closing to allow Deluxe Resort guests free reign of the parks from 10:00 PM to midnight. 

These extended evening hours see EPCOT and Magic Kingdom at their quietest, making them the perfect time to hop on all the biggest attractions. Many of the most popular rides will be walk-on. And cast members often if you want to stay on the ride and go around again—how great is that?

Check the Walt Disney World website before your trip to see which park has extended evening hours during your trip. The additional two hours are valuable. And if there is any place where it is acceptable to keep your kids up late, it’s Disney.

What to wear to Disney World in December

December temperatures in Disney World are comfortable throughout the day, meaning shorts and T-shirts are appropriate attire.

However, of an early morning or evening, you may feel a slight chill in the air, so it’s always best to take along an additional layer. 

I always so like to take rain coat or a poncho as you just never know when the heavens will open over Orlando. Rain storms in Florida are seriously no joke.

In a matter of seconds, you could be completely drenched from head to toe. So, do yourself a favor and prepare for rain, even if the forecast says otherwise. 

What should I pack for Disney in December?

When packing for Disney World in December, you’ll want to include warm weather clothing, as well as a jumper and long pants for the evening hours when temperatures tend to drop.  Don’t forget these Disney Packing Essentials either!

But on top of your clothing, you’ll also want to pack the following along with anything else you think you may need. 

  • Comfortable shoes
  • A sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops for days in the water parks or around the pool
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Poncho or raincoat (Rain is a possibility)
  • Handheld fan
  • Suncream and regular toiletries
  • Backpack

Tips for visiting Disney World in December

Being an avid Disney World-goer, I’ve gathered some useful Disney World Tips and Tricks that can really help make your days in the parks run more smoothly. From booking dining reservations to Disney Genie+ and packing your own snacks, here are my top Disney World Tips and Tricks. 

Rent or Take a Stroller

One of my biggest tips for families visiting Disney World is to take—or rent—a stroller. Walking around the parks is tiring, even for adults.

If you plan to be there from rope drop until the fireworks, then your kids are inevitably going to get tired and cranky from all the walking and standing.

Strollers are the perfect solution to stop potential tantrums—and they double up as a carrier for additional layers, snacks, and Disney merchandise. So really, what more could you ask for? 

Whether you take your own stroller or rent one from Disney for $18 for a single or $36 for a double—plus tax—you’ll be so grateful you did. Strollers have saved us many a time. And it would be impossible to do Disney World without one.

If you do plan on taking your own stroller, ensure that it is smaller than 31” (79 cm) in width and 52” (132cm) in length. I’ve also put together a guide to What is the Best Stroller for Disney?

Pack Your Own Snacks

Disney snacks are yummy. But they’re also pricey. And the same goes for drinks.

Purchasing food and drinks in the park can get expensive—fast—and if you don’t want to fork out an arm and a leg just for food and drinks, it’s best to take your own.

At the very least, I always like to take a refillable water bottle that we can fill up at stations throughout the parks. Cast members at kiosks are also more than happy to fill up your bottle, saving you $3.50 each and every time.

Yes, a single bottle of water is almost £3 in Disney. And if that doesn’t put things into perspective, then I don’t know what will.

For some recommendations on ideal Disney World snacks, check out the Best Snacks to Bring to Disney World.

Schedule Naps for the Middle of the Day

You may find around midday that the Florida heat is just too much for your little ones. But even if it’s not hot, heading back to the hotel for a nap and a swim is a tip that I swear by.

Disney can be overwhelming, and it’s hard for kids to process. So letting them take a break can really help with their energy levels and their overall emotions. 

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

In December, because crowds are so large, Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes can help you ride your must-do attractions. The Disney Genie+ service allows you to use the Lightning Lane entrance on select rides throughout the parks—you will still have to wait, but the queue should be shorter than the regular standby line.

Whereas Lightning Lanes give you the option to pay to skip the queue of two attractions per day. Not all attractions in the parks are included in Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

So, it’s best to do your research beforehand to see if these features are worth spending the extra money on.

For more information on Disney Genie+, head over to An Easy Guide to Using Disney Genie +.

Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Queue Cheat Sheet
Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Queue Cheat Sheet

Head to Blizzard Beach in the Morning or Late Afternoon

Disney World has recently decided to open one water park at a time, with Typhoon Lagoon operating from March to September and Blizzard Beach from September through to March.

People visiting Disney in December often don’t prioritize the waterparks due to Orlando’s low-ish temperatures. But even so, Blizzard Beach can get busy around the hottest point of the day.

To experience the waterpark with lower crowds, try and enter the park in the morning or late afternoon. 

Download the Disney World App

The Disney World app has so many cool features that can help your day run smoothly. With dining reservations, a park map, ride wait times, and virtual queues are your fingertips, the Disney World app is a must-have for anyone visiting the parks.

I recommend downloading the app before your trip so you can explore all its features, create an account, and learn how to use it to aid your Disney Day.

Book Dining Reservations 60 Days in Advance

You can book your Disney dining reservations 60 days in advance. And if there are any restaurants that you really want to eat at during your trip, you need to be ready and waiting at 6:00 AM (EDT).

It’s no exaggeration when I say dining reservations book out fast—and I mean in a matter of seconds. So if you don’t want to be disappointed, have a plan in place of where you want to eat, what dates/times work for you, and potential backups in case your first choice is fully booked.

If you don’t manage to get the reservations you wanted, keep checking the Disney World. As people change their plans, reservations become available, meaning you could snag a booking even when you’re already in the park. 

FAQs 

How busy is Orlando in December? 

Orlando is extremely busy in December as Americans and international visitors head to Disney World and the surrounding area to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Generally, the first week of the month is the least busy period. But from the second week right up until January, you’ll see significant crowds all over the city. 

What to wear to Disney in December? 

December is somewhat cool in December, so although you’ll want to wear lightweight clothing throughout the day, you’ll also want to take a jumper or a jacket in case temperatures decide to drop

Are Disney parks busy in December? 

December is Disney’s busiest period, with people flocking to the parks to celebrate Christmas and New Year. 

Is Disney World worth it in December?

Disney World is worth it in December as the parks put on festive celebrations, firework displays, and holiday parades to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

However, crowds are the largest the parks ever see, so if you are after a peaceful holiday, then December may not be the month for you.

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