Disney / Orlando Area at Christmas- help planning please!

We are considering a few options for a post-Christmas trip this year, one of them being Orlando. Dates would probably be Dec 29-Jan 3. The focus of this trip would not be Disney, but other activities around the Orlando area. It would be me, DH, DS12 (seasoned Disney veteran), DS8 (never been).

Obviously Disney would be crazy busy the entire time. A few things I’m considering that I’d like input on:

  1. If we did do one or two days at Disney (DS12 and I might go on our own one of the days, while DH & DS8 go to KSC), would it be best if we got a hotel room at Disney for a night or two and took advantage of the early admission? Would Jan 1 be a slightly better day to go (everyone is tired/hungover from the night before)? Any tips for avoiding crowds, or just get there as early as possible? I’m not really worried about me and DS12 going on our own for a day, but DH is NOT as Disney/crowd person and i’m afraid I might traumatize him LOL.

  2. What are the best non-Disney activities to do around Orlando? We’re happy to drive an hour or two away. Tampa Zoo? We like nature/scenic areas/short kid friendly hikes/playgrounds/wildlife.

  3. If anyone has a recommendation for accommodations with a separate bedroom (like a Residence Inn) I’m happy to hear about it.

Because of where Jan 1 falls, I would expect that the entire week, including the few days after New Year’s will be just as crowded. So I wouldn’t count on any reprieve in crowds during that time period.


We were at Disney for pretty much those exact dates this past year. We did one park per day on Dec. 30 & 31 and Jan. 1 & 2. It was quite busy, especially at Magic Kingdom, but by arriving for Early Entry rope drop and using Genie+ we were able to get most things we wanted to do done in the mornings. We just tried to have reasonable expectations so we didn’t plan to hit every single ride in the park though we did get to most rides in AK, Epcot and HS. We were lucky to get Golden Tickets at AK and Epcot.

I would definitely consider staying on property to be able to take advantage of Early Entry.

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The morning of 1/1 will be relatively quiet, as everyone will be partied out from the night before :smiley: Just after like 1:00 or so, it will get crazy crowded again.

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If you have any questions about what it was like this past Christmas/New Year’s, feel free to ask me!

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How early were the parks open those days? And how early did you get to them?

A couple more questions for anyone:

-on check in day, we can use early theme park entry? Do we actually need to have checked into the hotel?
-on check out day, can we access the pool at the resort for as long as we want (like until supper time)?

You do not need to have checked in to use ETPE, and you can use the pool on both check-in and check-out day.

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AK & MK both had 7:30 Early Entry. For those, we caught the bus from Pop Century at about 6:15. Had to make our Boarding Group and Lightning Lane selections while in line (actually moving towards FOP for AK!)

HS had Early Entry at 8:00 and Epcot had it at 8:30. For those, we made our LL selections in the room than headed over to take the Skyliner just after 7:00 (closer to 7:20 for Epcot).

We were one of the first groups at the tapstiles for AK, MK and Epcot. They were already letting people into HS when we got there but we had time to stop at the bakery for treats and still were close to the front of the line for MMRR.

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