5 tips for doing the holidays in Disney World

Disney World seems to be an uber-popular vacation destination for a lot of Grand Strand families.  It takes roughly nine hours to get there by car, with a relatively easy route consisting mostly of I-95 and it’s many convenient bathroom exists. Hotel rooms are plentiful and, in the past several years, so are the discount deals.  With 11 trips under my belt, I’m the first to admit it’s hard to resist.

While I’m know this isn’t Myrtle Beach related, it’s still a post that’s been on my mind, more and more since returning from our most recent trip a few weeks ago.  For those families thinking about hitting the road during the holidays, let me share a few tips.

photo by flickr user Donna62

1.  Disney World is ten times more decorated than you imagined.  I’m hard to impress, but there are details everywhere you look and holiday music in the background.  No matter how warm it is, you find yourself in the holiday spirit.

2. It’ll be crowded. You’ll need to go ahead and get over that pretty quickly.  If this is your first opportunity to go to Disney World, I recommend against going the weeks before and after Christmas.  We were there during the week after Christmas and rang in 2010 at Magic Kingdom. During that trip there was a daily wait time of 240 minutes at Soarin’ at Epcot.  On New Year’s Eve the Magic Kingdom shut down at 10 a.m. when they reached their 80,000 person capacity.

3.  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not worth the money.  It’s roughly $60 extra per person and runs from 7 p.m. to midnight a few nights a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It includes special parades and shows, free hot chocolate, cookies, and snow.  You’d assume that ride lines are smaller since there is a limited amount of people in the park, but I’m hearing that’s not always true.  If you’re going the week before or after Christmas, you will see the same parades and shows.  Plus, if you’ve got little ones, you’ll pay quite a bit of money for them to poop out an hour after the party starts.

photo by flickr user Shoot's Nikon

4.  The Osborne Family Lights in Disney Hollywood Studios and the Candlelight Processional in Epcot are *thee* best holiday experiences ever.  EVER.  When viewing the Osborne Family Lights, an enormous lights display choreographed to music, get there a few minutes before they’re turned on for the night at 6 p.m.  Going from total darkness to brilliant light will give you goosebumps.

My advice for the Candlelight Processional, which includes a celebrity reading of the Christmas story, amazing choral music by a several-hundred member group of singers, and live orchestra,  is to get an accompanying dinner package with advance passes otherwise you’re not likely to get a seat.  And when choosing your site, aim for the middle.  There are cornet players that appear at the sides and they will burst your ear drums if you’re too close.  Aside from that, this performance will make you cry.

photo by flickr user dmartinigirl

5.  Both the Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge have the very best of holiday decorations.  In the Grand Floridian, there’s a huge, real gingerbread house.  People sell gingerbread cookies from inside it.  There is also really good lobby entertainment.  While we were there this past time, there was a beautiful bell choir.

The lobby of the Wilderness Lodge boasts a Christmas tree that is stories high.  It’s also got an enormous, cozy fireplace.  Even if it’s 70 degrees outside, the wood and stonework make you feel like you’re in a ski cabin and it’s snowing outside.

December is one of my favorite months to visit Disney World, but timing is key.  Without fail, the best dates include the week after Thanksgiving and the week that hovers somewhere between the 12th and 18th,  The week prior is the Pop Warner Super Bowl.  The week after begins visits by everyone out on winter break.

Whenever you visit Disney World, have a great time!  Look for more tips and tricks here in the coming weeks.  If you have questions about traveling to Disney World, or family experiences in the Myrtle Beach area feel free to email me at myrtlebeachforfamilies@gmail.com.  I’m happy to answer them on my blog!

Want to read more? Check out the latest on the Myrtle Beach for Families blog.


  1. I can’t belevie I’ve been going for years without knowing that.

  2. I just hope whoever wrteis these keeps writing more!

  3. We agree on the timing and that it’s tut best time to be in WDW but I would say the Christmas party is well worth it. We took our 5 yr old daughter. She slept through the first hour in the stroller while me and the wife watched the other kiddies dance to a live show in the starlight cafe. When she woke up we hit every ride and did big thunder more times than I cared. As the night went on the rides are all walk on. Right with you about wilderness lodge. Caught the choir there in our 2007 trip and my then 2 yr old daughter was mesmerized. There were only about 10 people watching and it was like our very own show.


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