Gina asks: “Hi! I am a crazy mom who decided to go to Disney the week of Dec 26th – Jan 1st. My whole family is going. (18 of us) I am overwhelmed with trying to plan what days to do what parks. We have children all ages, infant – 17 years old and my grandmother who is in a wheel chair. What park should we to to on NYE? I have a non-park-hopper pass for 4 days and do not want to suffer at the parks. Pretty much any advice you could give me would be much appreciated. I do not want it to be chaotic.”
Great question Gina. My family and I spent NYE at the parks and it was a very memorable time. I guarantee this will be a special event you and your family will remember forever!
Christmas and New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the year for Walt Disney World, so crowds will be an issue. Sadly, there is no way of getting around it. Breaking your family of 18 up into smaller groups will allow you to cover more territory in the parks and experience more attractions. Each of the four parks will offer different events and atmospheres on NYE. The Magic Kingdom will have the most family-friendly environment and may your best bet since you have young children in your group. The decorations at MK are amazing and there will be a special NYE fireworks display at 11:50pm. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also a good choice with live musicians performing under Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat with acts complete with pyrotechnics. The Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is wonderful and is something everyone in your party will thoroughly enjoy. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be the least crowded choice for NYE, but they do not have any special celebrations planned and do not offer fireworks because of the animals. EPCOT is the largest of the four parks and will have a more adult-themed atmosphere. There are two showings of Illuminations and dance parties with DJs throughout the park.
Alcohol is not allowed at The Magic Kingdom, but it is available at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studio. I didn’t give this much thought when I planned my NYE day at EPCOT, but as it got closer to midnight, and the alcohol was abundant with 100,000+ people, it became a bit too much of a good thing for my family and we ended up leaving at 11pm.
Whichever park you choose, plan to arrive at opening and stay all day. On high park attendance days, it is very possible that the parks will close when they reach maximum capacity and not allow any new guests in.
Table service restaurants will be impossible to get into unless you have already made advance dining reservations. There should be plenty of dining options at quick serve spots along with seasonal treats.
To still experience the Disney holiday magic without the crowds of the parks, don’t forget to visit the resorts. Hop on a bus, ferry or monorail and tour the resorts. The decorations are beautiful and completely over-the-top.
I hope this helps to give you some direction on your family vacation. Have a wonderful time and let me know if you have any other questions.