Christmas Day @ DLR

Hi there… I realize it’s pretty early to start talking about Christmas at DLR (I won’t even mention that our trip isn’t until Christmas NEXT year!)… We will be there for a week 12/23-12/25/17.
Anyway, I was hoping to pick the brains of some of you experts with a couple of things.

Firstly, have you ever experienced the parks on Christmas day? I’m really trying to figure if we should use one of our park days on actual Christmas day, or if this should be one of our “off” days, where we can have a traditional Christmas morning at our VRBO and then maybe do a nice Christmas dinner.

Secondly, we’ve never been away from home on Christmas and we have two young girls. If you ever experienced this, how did you handle the “Christmas morning” with gifts, Santa having visited, etc?

(If this is not the appropriate forum, please remove.) Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Insanity. There’s a LOT of “spirit” and excitement, but don’t expect to ride many things…

Thank you! We expect the insanity and the crowds, however, we will be in the parks for at least 4 days so hopefully we won’t feel rushed to get everything done all at once.

We’ve been to DL twice during the Christmas holidays, both times from just after Xmas to just after the 1st.

It was a complete zoo. The “bumblebees” (CMs with yellow vests and light batons) were everywhere, keeping Guests to he right of the rope lines that were also everywhere. Not even TUG can really prepare you for how to work the parks on days like that.

Most importantly, you will need to prioritize what you want to do. Use Fast Passes ruthlessly, although if your girls are short enough (under 40", in general) that may not be a factor since you won’t be going on most of the rides for which there are Fast Passes. Haunted Mansion, Soarin’, a few others that don’t have as strict height requirements and are more kid-friendly.

Get up very early, if you can, and get there at the rope drop, which means getting there way ahead of time (TUG has details).

Oh, and that will be the first Xmas after the opening of the new Star Wars land, so I expect there will be extra crowds.

I would focus on shows. You can get Fast Passes for Fantasmic! if it is open again by then; also for WoC. Parades are great time wasters, depending on how your girls deal with staying in one place; or one parent holds the place and the other shepherds the children.

If you want to have meals at restaurants that take reservations, make them as soon as they open. While it can be a splurge, it’s also nice when it’s more crowded to have a nice sit-down. This also applies to the DTD and hotel restaurants.

It is a lot of fun, but you have to be physically and emotionally prepared to be surrounded by shoulder-to-shoulder crowds almost all the time you are in the parks.

The Crowd Calendar shows XMas Eve and XMas as 8/10 where it shows the days following XMas as 9/10. Friday the 23d is 7/10. So given that the holdiay weeks are definitely going to be a zoo, it seems like The couple days leading up to XMas, and XMas itself, aren’t the worst you can do. Also, and this is based purely on intuition, I’m thinking a lot of families will do their XMas morning rituals, then go to the parks later than usual, so the 25th may be a great day to get up and get out there using EMH or at rope drop. That’s how I’m gonna play it, anyway.

The best DL touring I have ever done was at 7:00 AM EE on a Sunday morning; there was NO ONE there.PP, SW, Toad, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Teacups, Matterhorn x2, Astro Jets, and Buzz - all in the first hour. By the end of the second hour I had finished SM, HM (Holiday), BTMRR, and Splash (SR line). Granted, it was a predicted CL4 day in Sept, but still… Maybe you’ll have a bit of a reprieve first thing in the AM on the 25th…

Thank you so much for the reply and being honest and realistic. I truly think that our priorities will be character interactions and really just enjoying the magic and making memories versus trying to get on as many rides as possible.

And thanks for the heads up about Star Wars land- I didn’t even think about that!!

Thank you for the reply!! My biggest hiccup was deciding whether to do Disney on Christmas day or do a traditional Christmas day. After some thought, and your advice, I think we might do the early morning in the park… it’s not often we would get that opportunity to spend Christmas at Disneyland anyway!

Thanks for the optimism! As it gets closer, I will keep checking TL’s crowd levels and choose our days accordingly. I did mention in one of my earlier posts, that we aren’t really going to stress getting in all the rides (although, Fantasyland will be our priority.) Instead, we’re going to try to focus on the shows, character interaction (even if that means a couple of character dining experiences) and taking in the magic of the season.

There’s been no official announcement when Star Wars Land will open so not sure where you heard 2017. DLRR, ROA attractions and Fantasmic will reopen summer 2017 which Disney did announce.

Good point. I was conflating the re-opening of Fantasmic! etc. with the opening of SWLand.

Yeah, I was wondering ‘how did I miss Star Wars land is opening next year?’ I think the earliest (and still very aggressive) date I have heard is Dec 2018, but it’s all rumor and myth. Not one tidbit on official dates.

It’s definitely progress that Fantasmic, Railroad and Rivers will be opening in 2017, but all it means is they’ve re-routed everything out of the way to then focus full-on Star Wars Land.

I think you’re plan to hit the parks early on the 25th will be a good strategy. That day can fill to capacity so if you take a midday break to do more traditional Christmas activities, be aware you may not be able to get right back into the park after break. If your girls are early risers you could still do a Santa present very very early to still hit the parks early. Maybe a Disney souvenir to go along with all the fun they will be having.

If you do decide to do a Christmas morning and nice Christmas dinner that is a great option to escape the crazy crowds, plus keep the Christmas spirit even away from home.

My experience over the holidays is starting the 26th and according to the people we talked to that day the two previous days were just crazy but the 26th was more of a “hangover” day for people, still a 10 but early in the morning was a lot less crowds they noted than the 24th & 25th. We were there the 26th-29th in total and it was a totally different pace than most trips because the crowds only allowed about half the usual amount of attractions as we were used to, even coming in summer months. We spent a lot more time pin trading, experiencing the Christmas events (Viva Navidad was our favorite) and enjoying the atmosphere. Your decision to focus on character interaction is definitely a good strategy. And I second the decision to make some ADRs in advance. They make for a great scheduled seat and sit-down meal for a break from the crowds.

Yes, but won’t it be nice to have those back? I can’t tell if that will add to crowds due to pent up demand for Fantasmic! etc. Probably not a big draw but at least some who will think there is more value with those open.

Oh, I think it’s going to be a HUGE draw. Everyone will be clamoring to see the new track of both the rivers and railroad and rumor has it that Fantasmic! is getting a re-working to include updates and more recent films so I am definitely sticking to it will be a huge draw. I know I am having my Fantasmic! withdrawals, even if I am enjoying the nicer, emptier west side of the parks without all the hubbub that Fantasmic! brings to the narrow walkways.

You said a week but then had 12/23-12/25 which is not a week. The 26-31 has closed to capacity each day for the last 3 years, and Disney capacity is shoulder to shoulder people with no ability to move. There’s crowded and then Christmas crowded–no comparison. Christmas morning should be one of the lightest of the week but only early in the am. It will be slammed by early afternoon. I go to DLR ALL the time, like 1/week and no way would I go there Christmas week, but last year they changed the AP structure, so only the $1049 pass gets peeps in those 2 weeks. This will be the first year that blockouts applies, so maybe it will be lighter with fewer locals. I’m curious if it helps and they don’t have to close DL each day. I hope so for the sake of the tourists like you.

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We did Disneyland during Christmas once, 12/22 to 12/26, and it was crowded. We just didn’t stress over trying to do everything. Early morning visit makes a HUGE difference. We did that one morning and squeezed in sooooo much just within the first hour.

DD was 8 at the time. We’d bring one gift for her to open to Christmas morning. We picked a small/packable size gift that was a toy/activity that she could spend quite some time playing with after opening it. (It was s Rainbow Loom. Remember when those were the “hot” item to get and they were kinda hard to find? LOL)

As for Santa’s gifts …
On the day we left home and the kiddo was already in the car, I’d say I need to run back inside to “grab/check something” or “use the bathroom”. I would quickly place Santa’s gifts by the Christmas tree. I’d also remove any cookies/snacks left out for Santa. So the kiddo would be surprised when we returned after Christmas. See? We “proved” Santa existed. :wink:

We just made the decision to book DL for Dec 26-31, 2017. We’ve never experienced DL on Christmas day but, we have done Christmas day at WDW when DD was small. We packed a separate duffle bag that had a tree, lights and her gifts from Santa. She and her aunt stayed in an adjoining room so, it was a little easier to pull off Christmas morning.