Advice for First Timers

We are heading to DL in December for the first time. DH and myself. I have lots of experience with WDW but understand DL is somewhat different.

We are going December 24th to 26th (these dates are set, no flexibility to change them). We have three day tickets with Genie + but not park hoppers. Current reservations are DL on the 24 and 26th and DCA on the 25th.

We are staying at the Solara Inn and planning on walking to the parks and/or using ART. Either way maps shows entering at the shuttle drop off area off of Harbor Blvd and walking in. Is that possible? It looks very straightforward to me.

Our plan is to arrive early and get as much done as we can at opening then leaving at lunchtime and returning later. Is there a possibility that the parks will reach capacity when we are taking a break and we won’t be able to get back in?

What is our best way to see WOC? We will only be at DCA on December 25th so we only have one chance. We are willing to pay to do the dessert party, if it is worth it. I currently have a lunchtime reservation at Wine Country Trattoria with the hopes of getting the dining package but it seems you cannot reserve ahead of time and it is first come, first served. Do I need to worry about them running out of vouchers?

Is the holiday time tour at DL worth it? I have read a few reviews online and I’m still on the fence about it. Does anyone have any personal experience? I see that they are supposed to start up again on November 10 so I plan on checking for reviews for this year’s tour next week.

We know to expect crowds and manage expectations going at Christmas. Roller coasters are not a priority for us, or any ride that is the same as WDW. I am hoping that will help us see everything we want to. We can do long touring days if we need to, but it looks like if we can RD and use LL we can see everything and take afternoon breaks. Any other advice for first timers?


Paging some DL experts - @Jeff_AZ and @lolabear_la


Good strategy. There is a risk that the parks will reach capacity in the afternoon but my impression (I could be wrong) is that they will often re-open in the early evening after some folks start to leave. You may want to ask about being let back in before you leave.

A dessert party is the best bet if you absolutely want to guarantee, but a dining package should be fine and even standby can be fine since you don’t have kids with you. A good standby spot is along the bridge heading to Lamplight Lounge.

Here is a good thread to peruse. A few of us ranked DL rides in comparison to their WDW counterparts. Plus there are some other posts that might be helpful.

Good luck!

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The WOC dessert party is pretty awesome. My family did the dessert party back in August, and we loved it. The seating was great and entirely unobstructed at a high-top table. You had choices of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and a fixed selection of desserts are delivered to your table. In my opinion, it’s worth it.


I have no experience at DL over Christmas, but we really enjoyed the dessert party for WOC when we were there in September. The view was perfect. I enjoyed the desserts. They included some cheese and crackers too, not just dessert.


We also enjoyed the dessert party. It’s very nice to have an unobstructed view without fighting crowds. Not to mention the benefit of sitting after a long day.

Everyone gets the same plate of cheese, crackers, grapes, and five(?) small desserts. Way more sweets than we needed. We enjoyed the drinks and had a wonderful server.

I’d say it’s worth doing at least once. Especially on a very busy day that may be your only chance to ever see WOC.


Yes, pretty straightforward, but in case you wanted more particulars on how the pedestrian path works I’ve marked up a map of the drop-off area for the shuttles and pedestrian entrance on Harbor Blvd. Coming from Solara Inn, when walking you’ll pass by the hotel shuttle loop (pink cirdcle in the map below) and then be able to use several designated crosswalks that join up with the pedestrians (the lime green path). If you take the ART you’ll be dropped off more directly & close to the pedestrian path (the busses drop off in the bus lines I’ve marked with thick blue). If you were coming from the other direction or across the street on Harbor the main pedestrian entrance is that red X. The red path is the pedestrian walkway through all that ends up at the green security tents.

One note about the walk from the area where Solara is: it’s long & can be lonely at the end of the day. The majority of park goers stay either across the pedestrian entrance on Harbor or down towards the convention center the opposite way. It’s not unsafe necessarily, but would not be a walk I’d at all feel comfortable doing alone or even just DH & I after 10pm or so. Definitely learn up on the ART bus route & use that as much as possible to save that long walk.

I never say never, but it’s highly unlikely to reach the level of capacity that would limit entry as has been seen in years past. The way Disney’s arranged the passholder blockout days (no passholders will be able to get in with their pass that day, no matter which one they have) & especially with Disney in control of the overall number of reservations that have a limit, the days of capacity closures should very much be behind us. Also, I have never heard of DCA ever being at capacity and I do believe it’s never happened before, so on your DCA day at least you can rest a little easier.

That being said, because I never say never, if DL has a crazy historic day & it does happen, if they follow what they’ve done in the past it will be in phases first stopping those coming for the first time later in the day. If you were already there that day and coming back after a break, Disney would’ve had to really be off of their game on the number of reservations they allowed. The only capacity day we have seen (a 24 hour day at the start of DL’s 60th anniversary celebration in 2015). We took a short midday break from just 1:30-3:30pm and were able to come back in just ahead of DL being closed for capacity. I truly don’t think you’ll need to worry about it, but if you feel on your DL days it is getting crazy, then I would stick to your plan of leaving at lunch and being back as close to 3pm as you can, 4pm at the latest.

The best views of WOC will be either the standby bridge that Jeff mentioned or the dessert party tables. We’ve splurged a couple of times on the party and while the desserts/drinks are fine, it’s really the seat & the view you’re paying for. And they are IMHO well worth the cost to enjoy the show especially if your time is limited and you don’t have flexibility to go on a day when it’s not a busy day.

I personally dislike the WOC packages. The one & only time we did a viewing package our view was way worse than a normal section because we were told to show up 30 min before and we did, but the section was already crammed full so we were at the back looking at other people’s heads, listening to WOC. I was so mad I’d paid for that. So my take is, if I’m going to have to spend the full 50 min ahead of showtime camping out for a good view, I might as well do it for free with the VQ and take a QS snack/meal of my choice to enjoy while waiting or splurge and get the seats & dessert.

That said, I do think they’ve reconfigured how they divide the dining packages within the viewing areas, so it’s a little easier to get a good rail view now than previously and instead of having reservations for more of them, they limit them to first come, first served. I don’t think they usually sell out of those, but if there is a week they do, it would probably be Dec 24-31st. So a very good reason to just get the dessert party. You could still keep the reservation for Wine Country though and enjoy an in-park rest off your feet in a very nice relaxing area of the park that gives you great views of the park.

I’ve never done it but reviews I’ve read about it seem like it was a great tour once upon a time (and I did know someone who did the holiday tour & loved it back in 2016-17) but has declined in its offering so people who’ve repeated it have been especially disappointed. I don’t think I read any reviews of it last year though, so definitely keep an eye out for reviews as they come out.

I would strongly, highly suggest doing some of the same. Space Mtn, Pirates, Big Thunder and the DL Railroad have unique things from their WDW counterparts and are well worth a try here. The thread that Jeff linked has some great comparisons and opinions so definitely worth a read to help you make a decision on what you want to try.

Try to soak in the magic of DL being the only park Walt got to walk himself while alive & focus on the charm it has as the original. That will go a long way to forgiving the 1950’s crammed walkways and queues (especially those in Fantasyland) that you’ll be navigating on some very busy days.

Hope you have a blast & let us know if you have any other questions!


When you guys say standby, do you mean there are areas where you can view without a VQ?


I’m a little concerned about this “while alive” disclaimer… :man_zombie: :laughing:


Yes. The VQ areas have varied over the past years but I believe most recently the bridge has been standby whereas all VQ / Dining packages has been along the tiered waterfront closer to Little Mermaid.


:rofl: :rofl:

I mean I’m sure Ghost Walt probably does visit the other parks around the world with his name & legacy. But I totally meant that it’s the only one he got to see built before he died. And I used to say “only park walked” but he technically walked all over the land that is WDW before he passed so I’ve been trying to find a new way to say DL has the specialness of being one that got to see operate.


The bridge used to be included with the VQ area (back in the days when it required a paper FP instead of a VQ). But now with VQ the bridge area is all standby.

Other WOC areas that they’ve been using as of late are: the area near Golden Zephyr and the very front “pier” area of the WOC viewing section (you will most definitely get misted on and on a night the wind is blowing the direction of the viewing area, get a pretty good dousing).

On super busy days they’ll tape off areas in front of the Little Mermaid ride building and that is also standby. The same crowd that camps out directly on Main St with blankets for parades/fireworks will usually setup blankets along this building.

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Wow, I got home from a long day at work to all this awesome feedback. Thanks so much everyone.

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