So confused Christmas and FastPass+ help

So it’s been about six years since our last trip and the strategy we used before was to ride a few of the big rides right at rope drop then utilize the fast passes (old style when you made the mad dash to get them inside the park and you could use them late)
So here’s my dilemma and where I am confused-
We are traveling Christmas week and I know parks are going to be jammed packed!! I am trying to figure out the whole new fast pass system and how do utilize the best strategy to wait in lines as little as possible - Am I still to follow the rule of thumb to ride some of the big ones right at rope drop and make my fast passes for return time of late morning? Or am I to use fast passes right away so I can try to attempt to get more it sounds like they now run out pretty quick especially at Christmas! Also is it is still a good rule of thumb to get to the parks about 45 minutes before opening? Or should I plan on them doing a soft opening and if so how soon before published park time should I arrive Christmas week?
Are we crazy for going Christmas week !!?
Please don’t answer then because we’re going anyway!:joy::joy:

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Sounds like you are on the right track! I haven’t done Christmas, but the approach you just described is the approach I use. I rope drop and ride a few big rides right away. My first fast pass is usually scheduled for about half hour after rope drop so that I can start using my fast passes about an hour hour or hour and a half after opening. As soon as I use my first pass, I try to modify my next pass to be a bit earlier so that I can use it right away. Same with the third. Then I start booking what I can get.

This always works very well for me in MK. AK, EP, and DHS can be a bit different because there are not as many FPP attractions. I general, I make a TP including only my first FPPs, but then I let what I can get day of take me off plan when necessary.


@Tborkowski119, we will be at WDW the week before after a 7 year hiatus. So, I understand what you have gone through and will be going through to plan this WDW trip for the Christmas week. Of course, you have the week of Christmas and we have the week before Christmas.

Touring Plans has lots of resources for planning and getting some idea on the expected wait times for each day at each park. Then, there are the people who are part of the Forum who have lots of tips and are gracious to look at plans, answer questions and provide customizied tips.

Wait Times: These are the expected wait times. You can get them for each day and for each ride. The opening of Millennium Falcon and all the unknowns make it challenging to plan. And The opening of RotR on December 5th really throws an unknown wrench for the Christmas season. :woozy_face:

Touring Plans: These are the different types of touring plans that you can customize for you. Do note that each plan includes suggested FPP times. I personally plan to RD the main headliner for each park but DS18 has been glaring at me over RDing everyday… For example, regardless if anyone else will join me, I plan to RD 7DMT. Then move on to other Fantasyland rides with short wait times (maybe PP, Small World, Tea Cups, Barnstormer… or depending on what the Lines App has for wait times). FPP reservations for 10, 11, and 12. Plans to move the 11 and 12 up as we use the 10 FPP. And when we tap the 3rd FPP, get another FPP. And after we tap the 4th FPP, get another FPP and so on. I plan to enjoy the lands as we move through them, minimize walking (the old paper FP required lots of walking!!!), get on rides along the way as the Line App shows short wait times (Noticed I said “I” and not “We”?). I hoping some rides will go down and/or there will be rain so that we can get a number of anytime FPPs.

RDing: It is hard to get up each morning for RDing but totally worth it. We will have to RD 7DMT, SDD, and FOP. Let’s see how DS17 will do. We may have to leave him at the hotel. Since we are offsite but at a hotel with Disney Perks, we can only do FPPs at 60 days and not 60 + 7 days.

Same Day Drops (SDD): Current same day FP drops. SDDs are not guaranteed but will be invaluable to get more FPP for headliners or FPP headliners for the sleepyhead DS17. He will have to do it on his own! :crazy_face:

Hard Ticket Events: DH and I will arriving in WDW on Monday, December 9th. We will be there 5 nights before the kids will join us. We do not have park tickets for the period the kids are not there. Instead, we purchased 2 nights of MVMCP tickets. We have never been to MVMCP and will unlikely return to WDW for Christmas since we live in CA. DH and I decided to do two nights of MVMCP to fully enjoy it, do all the event specials, and get on some rides. Parties are good times to do rides because of the significantly lower wait times. I’m toying with getting the family EMM for Toystory Land but that will get expensive. And there are other hard ticket events that have lower crowd levels. I don’t think we will do a hard ticket event for Star Wars Land. We are a 7 hour drive from Disney CA or a 1 hour plane ride. Both kids are in college in Southern CA. We may go to Disney CA later, during a less busy time when DH and I are visiting the kids.

Setting Expectations and Priorities: In the past, our normal touring style is from opening to closing and riding our favorites as many times as possible. Afterall, we are paying big bucks for park tickets, airfare, and hotel. We wanted to get our money’s worth. DH and I are getting too old for that touring style! Knowing that and the crowd levels, I’m trying to set realistic expectations and priorities for the family (DH, DD21, and DS18). We will ride our share of rides but I want to enjoy the magical Christmas displays, be engulfed within the bubble, and enjoy our time together as a family (those days are rare and far between as the kids are in college and soon they will fully fledge the nest.)

I am a planner but planning for WDW is wilting me. I have learned from other here to be flexible, enjoy the journey, and use the wisdom of the people on the Forum and Lines instead of stressing. Looking forward to being in WDW in 132 days!

Best wishes for getting ready.

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Also, plan on soft openings. Liners and Forum folks are currently reporting getting onto the headliners before park opening. You can ask liners who are at WDW the day before you go to a park what time it opened. For a 9 am MK opening, guests are in the hub by 8:30.

Welcome @Tborkowski119.
We’re going Christmas - New Year too. Our last trip to WDW was 5 years ago.

Hard to set any strategy now for HS since there is so much unknown about SWGE. For rest of parks, I’m planning FPP early in day (9,10,11 ish) to try to take advantage of picking up more FPP during the day. Expectations will be set that we’ll only be able to do a fraction of what we normally do ( most of our trips were CL 5 or less). We’ll focus on a few key attractions and everything else will be a bonus.

Still have lots of time before we need to make any decisions on FPP, so I’m trying to enjoy playing with TPs now.

Gates at MK open at 8 for a 9AM opening (a little earlier if you have a breakfast ADR). They let guests in to Main St and the hub. Someone correct be if I’m wrong, but I think that is the official operation - not something that may or may not happen. So, definitely plan on that.

Good general rule for AK is 75-90 minutes before opening if you want to be front of pack. Same for DHS, but that will change with SWGE. EP is by far the simplest right now - getting there 30 before seems to be fine for most people.

When you say the Christmas week, do you mean the week leading up to Christmas, or the week between Christmas and New Year?

From Christmas onwards, possibly even Christmas Eve, there will almost certainly be 7am EMH at MK, and normal park opening at 8am. Other parks may open around 8/8:30am, although World Showcase never seems to open up before 11am. And this can happen at any point; there was one day we got a flyer under our door telling us there was an even earlier EMH.

And the day after the last Christmas Party, there will be two afternoon parades at noon and 3pm (check the times, it could be 12:30). Those will be the Christmas parades.

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Question about MK - I’m planning a trip for 2 adults with park days Dec 22-24. Our MK day is 12/23 and right now is showing a 9 am open so I snagged an 8:05 breakfast reservation at BoG. Will that be useless as they change park opening times closer to the date? Was hoping to hop in line for SDMT right after breakfast and save our FPs for the mountains but this is my first trip and I’m trying to learn everything I can far in advance!

We were there for Xmas 2019, we had no issues w/ parks being jammed packed. Disney is so huge that crowds are evenly everywhere. I got my fast passes early in the day, had lunch around 2. Even able to obtain fast passes for the evening. We (my 2 sons (15) & (24) actually took our time, enjoyed everything. We got to each park at opeing. If you can get fast passes for the 3 best rides at opening then you should be just fine. Remember, everyone is having lunch at the same time so plan on snagging fast passes at lunch or dinner time. You should be fine.

Our usual strategy (not Christmas week, so YMMV) is to book both an early BOG reservation and a 7DMT FP. If hours stay the same, we keep the breakfast reservation, ride 7DMT right afterward, and then have the option of riding 7DMT a second time with our FP or modifying it to something else. If hours change and we cancel BOG or the ride goes down, the FP is our insurance policy. It’s easier to get the mountains same day than to get 7DMT same day.

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Hey there! My family will be there 12/20-01/03. This is our 6th trip overall, 5th over Christmas/New Years. Last trip we did very much what you’re describing as we were a group of 7 adults. This time around we have a 2 yr old and 1.5 yr old so lots of breaks and back to the resort involved. My general rule is to avoid any wait in my personalized TP of more than 30 minutes, and I’ll only accept over 20 minutes for an attraction that’s REALLY important. We have 10 day PH+ tickets so we are able to take our time but we’ve done it in less days as well. It sounds like your’re on to a great planning strategy! You can get a lot done in EMH if you want to utilize them.
MK will certainly open an hour before “official” park open when you can do some shopping on Main Street and make your way to the Hub. The rest of the parks are hit and miss with what happens around park opening.
Christmas is a little crazy - especially Christmas Day and NYE. We’ve actually planned to stay at the resort on both of those days to relax and enjoy our time rather than braving the parks. Don’t get me wrong though - there is something FABULOUS about ringing in the New Year at a Disney Park so I don’t want to dissuade you from this. Best advice - be realistic with everyone’s abilities in your party and recognize/respect each other’s limits. Most of all, just enjoy the magic of it all!