Xmas for a First Visit?

I have a friend who wants to take her 6-year old daughter and husband to WDW over Christmas this year. I told her that’s the busiest time of the year and she then asked me if it was a mistake to go for a first visit during that time - none of them have ever been.

I honestly don’t know how to answer that.

I personally would not choose to go at that time because of the crowds, but I know different people have different experiences and some people love going over Christmas. On the other hand, it’s not a great time to go simply because you can’t do as much and a novice Disney visitor may not know how to use Fastpasses to their full advantage. And the crowds can be quite intense during that time too. But I’m not sure if I should discourage her to go at that time or not.

What would you tell someone who asked if Christmas is a bad time to go for a first-time visit?

If they strictly mean their trip will include 25th December, then they should prepare themselves both practically and psychologically. And stay on-property.

But if they are willing to be flexible, the weeks leading up to Christmas have all of the Christmassy goodness without any of the horror. (Well, provides they do MVMCP.)

I don’t believe they have a lot of flexibility because of their daughter’s school, so it will include Christmas and several days after. They do plan to stay on property.

It can be a great time for a visit - even a first visit - if they are willing to put in a lot of research and if they are able to be flexible. We did the week before this year which was effectively a first visit as a family. If she can do the week before Christmas, it’ll be more enjoyable (but that’s with the huge SWGE disclaimer).

Without really doing the homework, I wouldn’t recommend it for a first visit.


I will ALWAYS recommend folks to find ANY OTHER TIME to go but the Christmas/New Years time period. Run away as fast as you can and don’t look back or you might turn into a pillar of salt!

And yet, people still end up going. Some even have a good time. But, as has been said before, a CL10 during this time period is MUCH MUCH worse than a CL10 any other time of year.

If there is no way around it, then do as others have suggested and plan, plan, plan. Then put on patience hats. They’ll need them!

@AlyQ is bang on the money.

An actual Christmas trip will need very careful planning and — crucially — very careful expectations management.

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I agree. I don’t want to scare her, but I have told her that she’ll need to have a plan of attack and do her research.

I’m voting for the week before. (I get a vote, right?)

Much simpler. Surely schools are out by then?


I’ll let her know you’re vote!

I would seriously discourage them if I was you. I don’t know if any amount of research could prepare them for the reality of those crowds.


I think that’s the wrong tactic. Scare her into choosing another time. And, in fact, I fear that due to the upcoming opening of SWGE, this may be the busiest Christmas season at WDW ever!


Can you stop being right about things, please. It’s getting irritating.

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Sorry. Which reminds me. Did you know that people who are right 90% of the time are wrong 10% of the time? It’s true! Look it up!

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For a first visit? No. I would try another school break first. Once they have the hang of planning and the parks, then I would say do Christmas week if you dare. :slightly_smiling_face:

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This is good. You’re learning from me. Focus on the negative. That’s right. Let it grow. Let it wash over you and envelop you.

10% wrong. That’s a lot isn’t it.

Just warn her that its going to be absolutely mobbed… like Times Square on New Years Eve crowded. Like the subway in Tokyo or Mumbai level crowded. If she’s OK with that, and maybe even likes the extra excitement, then she can probably just get by if she books the FP+'s 60 days out and makes reservations for every meal – maybe even goes off site for a few meals.

With a six year old, she’s probably not going to need the production that you would need if she had teenagers or were a group of older enthusiasts. 3-4 rides a day (and you’re pretty much guaranteed that with FP+ 60 days out) may be enough if you’re dealing with the endurance of a six year old.

The FP+ may not get you 7Dwarfs, FoP, or Slinky enough you’re staying for two weeks at the resort, but 60 days should get you anything else. You burn through the tree, and you book a 4th, or just suck it up and stand-by 1-2 other rides. So you could even get your production to 4-6 rides if you’re patient.

If you’re dealing with a kid’s school schedule, and you’re responsible enough to prioritize their education over trips to Disney I would suggest the summer – especially August. Known breaks and holidays are going to be much, much worse than the summer – because you have three months to take trips over the summer, parents are waiting eagerly to take trips on the short breaks they get in the school year. Its about outfoxing the competition. But as I was saying, if you’re not super concerned with production, don’t worry about it and just really focus on getting good FP+'s.

OK I’m THAT person - take your daughter out of school and go the week after Thanksgiving. You will get all the beautiful decorations without the crowds. If it makes you feel better, I’m a teacher – I’ve been teaching middle school for 32 years, and I know that school is important, but so are adventures and family bonding. For a first time, I think it’s totally worth it.


We did the week between Christmas and New Years this year for the first time. We are experienced Disney travelers (this was our 5th trip to Disney with our 7 year old) and we knew what we were up against. We researched and planned extensively and only went because we wanted to see Christmas decorations/entertainment and it was the only time that worked with our busy schedules and it was a bucket list item to be there NYE.

I do not regret doing it at all, we had an amazing time and honestly we accomplished a LOT more than I anticipated. But… we looked at each other several times and day and commented how miserable it would be if it was your very first trip to Disney or even trying to push a stroller through that crowd (my daughter no longer needs one). As I said, we accomplished a lot more than I had planned on us doing, but it was still probably only about 2/3 of what we normally are able to do.

I should also be transparent that we ponied up for a lot of extras as well in anticipation of crowds (EMM at HS, NYE fireworks dessert party, LOTS of TS reservations, etc.). Lastly, our FPs covered the major rides (FoP, 7D, etc.).

Having said all of that, I would not recommend they go this Christmas simply due to SWGE. I realize that the Christmas season this year was light compared to what will happen next year. I truly can’t imagine it and I’m not someone who has bad things to say about the Christmas weeks like most do. If the Christmas week(s) are the only time they can ever find to go then I would highly recommend they wait until December 2020 to give it a shot as a first timer.


There has to be some good photo comparisons of crowd levels or just have your friend watch a Christmas crowd video on youtube vs crowd video any other time.

Also Star Wars…for a first trip there is so much going on, to see, to do, better to go BEFORE that opens and just soak up all the other great stuff before the madness ensues.

Thank you for this!!! I have be going back and forth for weeks agonizing over whether to take my daughter out of school next year (2020) for a trip the week after thanksgiving. I have always been a follow-the-rules, people pleaser, and have been feeling super guilty for even considering it. Knowing my daughter is considered “gifted” by the school system and not being concerned about her falling behind, I recently just decided to go for it. And your comment makes me feel even better about our decision. :slight_smile: