First Timers - Can you help?

I am bringing my family of 6 (kids ages 12, 9, 7, 3) to WDW for 3 days from Dec 6-8. We are from Washington state and none of the kids have been before. We are staying off-site.

Couple questions: The Christmas Party looks very interesting. Is it worth it by itself or should we use our 3rd day for another full day ticket (limited budget keeps us from doing both)? Also, should we try to squeeze in all the parks with park hoppers or should we just stick to a couple of them?

We’re looking at the following 3 options but would be open to other recommendations:

  1. Animal kingdom one day, magic kingdom one day, very merry Christmas one day
  2. 2 day park hopper passes and very merry Christmas on 3rd day
  3. 3 day park hopper passes and no very merry Christmas

I would love any suggestions you might have for us to make this an amazing trip for our family. Thank you!

Given Park Hoppers would run you $3-400 for your group I probably wouldn’t bother. Just enjoy 1 park each day and don’t worry about pushing everyone to parkhop if you’re tired. For a long trip, I highly recommend park hoppers as it gives you options to rest and parkhop for dinner or some event - on a 3 day visit it’s probably overkill given the price.

I’d probably lean option 1. MVMCP will run you around $525 for your family while an extra day in the parks clocks in at just under $600 to extend a 2 day to a 3 day so Very Merry is cheaper. Given you can get into MK at 4PM on party ticket and go until Midnight, I’d presume 8 hours would be plenty for your young kids. You also have the option of sleeping in, enjoying the pool where you’re staying before the party so you have a shot at getting near midnight. Now if you know your 3 year old will be lights out by 9PM regardless and that will put a crimp on your touring plans, that might change the equation.

I would make your regular MK day one where the park is open late (no party) so you have options if you want to spend a lot of time in the park. Even if you rope drop and rest, it may be you want to take your 12 year old back for a late night at MK and if it’s a party night you won’t have that option.

Have fun…


It’s only a difference of $61 (1686 for 3 day tickets, no hopping vs 1747 for 2 day no hopping + party tickets). I personally would go to the party. You can get in at 4pm and stil have an 8 hour park day plus the unique experience of the christmas party especially since it seems you are not frequent visitors.

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One of us has our math off. Three kids three adults.

I show MVMCP for these dates = 571
Two day no hoppers = 1176
Total = 1747

Three day no hoppers = 1686

So the three day tickets are cheaper, but I would still opt for MVMCP since the difference is only $61.


D’oh! I was just rolling with 2 adults & 4 kids forgetting that a 12 year old is a “Disney Adult”. So my pricing is off. That’s what I get for rushing…

I’d agree that for $61 I would likely do the party over a 3rd day to do MK and experience the party…


Also do the MVMCP on the first day. Tuesday parties are less busy than Friday parties, and also what a way to start the visit!

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We were wondering about whether to start the week off with the party or finish the week off with the party. Our last day would be Thursday (not Friday) - Are Tuesday crowds much different from Thursday crowds at the party?

Oops. Sorry about that!

“Day of the week tends to matter as well, with Monday through Thursday evenings being less busy than the weekend events.”

So either Tues or Thurs. Benefit of doing it Thurs is if you do it Tues you’re a late night up against a park day on Wed which could be tough. Since it’s not a Friday we are talking about, do the Thursday. Great sendoff! :smiley:

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Way back in April Touring Plans Blog made a SWAG on the best dates for MVPCP for ride wait times:

The prediction was Tuesday the 6th is the 4th best day to go of any offered while Thursday the 8th is the 10th best (out of 20). Not sure that’s a monstrous difference to gate which day to go but Tuesday is likely to be lower wait times than Thursday.

I’d also consider which day the family can rest/nap to be primed to go from 4PM to Midnight and what you’re doing the next day. Thursday may work better from that angle as if tired from the parks Tuesday/Wednesday the kids might sleep in and enjoy a leisurely pool day before a late night at the party. And if you’re just leaving the next day, it doesn’t matter if the kids are tired. If you go Tuesday and want to get up early to hit a park Wednesday that could be a problem so I’d look at your other plans as well…

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Wow! Great thoughts. I sure appreciate your insight on this.

Are you just doing WDW or do you have other days on the East Coast? Wondering about the time zone change. This is a big factor when we travel from coast to coast with our kids. On the one hand, staying out til midnight won’t be such a big deal when it’s only 9pm to you. Then again, with a shorter trip staying out late that first night makes it that much harder to adjust so you can get up early for rope drop the next days. Going on your last day could be a nice way to get back to Pacific time. Pros and cons both ways, just a reminder to consider the jet lag!


It’s hard to answer your question without knowing how your family likes to travel. If you like to have some time for relaxation at the pool or in the hotel, then you might be content with one park per day. If you try to see as many things as possible when you visit new places, then park hopping make a lot of sense.

With such a short trip, you won’t see everything in the parks. You won’t even come close to doing that, but you can have a great time enjoying what you do see. You can easily see a few of the best HS attractions in one morning, then head somewhere else for lunch and more attractions. You can also easily see some highlights of AK in a morning or a late afternoon/early evening. If you’re going in December, then Epcot has special holiday presentations around World Showcase and a special “tag” at the end of their fireworks show.

For me, I’d want to hop to see as much as possible and take advantage of whatever park is open latest each night. However, with your group, I’d have to consider whether everyone would want/need rest or if they’d enjoy a hectic few days.

We have 4 kids too (similar ages at our last trip) and visit every other year. We typically stay for a whole week-so a little more time than you are planning. But even so, I find that park hopping is time-consuming and involves walking and waiting that is not fun for the younger set. We have park hopped to go to Epcot for dinner after a day in another park but with young kids and a short trip, I would think longer days at a single park would be more fun, relaxing, and full of magic. Hit Epcot and AK for full days and then MVMCP for your MK day. I took my older three to MVMCP last visit in 2015 and they said it was their favorite park day ever.

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This is all such great counsel. So maybe for a little more context. We will be in Orlando for an entire week. We are flying in on Friday the 3rd. Saturday we are planning on going to Kennedy space center. Sunday is a church day for us and and a day of rest so we are planning on taking it easy and possibly just “touring” some of the Disney resorts. Which resorts are the coolest to just look at? Monday we will be doing a park hopper at Universal Studios and just focusing on the Harry Potter stuff. Tuesday - Thursday are our WDW days.

We hadn’t even considered using MCMVP as our only magic kingdom day. Could that be enough? It would allow us to spend a day at one of the other parks.

No to the park hoppers. Even if you’re driving and parking at each park, it takes a lot of time and each park can tire you out. There will be a strong temptation, once you hit that (hot) car seat, to just keep going back to where you’re staying for some pool time.

I used to buy the park hoppers ‘just in case’, but found it was a waste of money, as we filled our days at each park. There was just that much to do, even with a good plan.

Yes, that party will be enough time for your only MK day, I think. It’s a full 8 hours with short times on the rides. Make sure to see the parade - from Main Street near the shops, for a big surprise. As long as the kids dont need to meet the characters, lots of them, it should be enough. Then I’d do AK and HS, personally. Likely only the 3 year old will not ride R&R coaster and TOT, but the rest of you could take turns riding. Also, try to go to HS on a day with Fantasmic! or the new JBJB show/fireworks.

As far as resorts to visit: the Grand Floridian has a lifesize gingerbread house, Wilderness Lodge and AK Lodge are always worth visiting, although AK is a bit out of the way…

I, personally, would do another MK day instead of HS with kids that age.

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