December at Disney World - Tips & Information

The waiting is almost over and you’ll be headed to Disney World soon so I wanted to share some important information to help you have a great December Trip to Disney World:

Tips & Information for your December Holiday Trip to Disney World - Christmas events, crowd tips, and more.

Tips & Information for your December Holiday Trip to Disney World - Christmas events, crowd tips, and more.

Weather:  Bring a jacket and plan on layering your clothes because the temperatures can go from shorts weather to jacket weather within the same day, especially when the sun goes down. You can rent lockers near the front of the parks if you don’t want to carry jackets all day.  The Disney World resort hotel pools are outdoors and are heated to about 82-86-degrees.  The Disney World moderate and deluxe resorts have towels available near the pools; the value resorts and campground do not provide pool towels so be sure to request extra towels from housekeeping.

  • Average high temperature: 72-degrees
  • Average low temperature: 53-degrees
  • Average humidity: 73%
  • Average number of days with rain: 6

Online Resort Check-In: If you’re not particular about your room location and feel comfortable about your ability it to find your room, online check-in can save time since you will probably receive a text with your room number and may be able to by-pass the front desk altogether – you’ll be able to unlock your room using your MagicBand.   If you have a room location request or multiple rooms, you may prefer to wait until you arrive to check-in. 

Lots & lots of holiday events at Disney World – There are too many incredible holiday experiences to list here so please check for information at this link: http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/disney-world-holidays

Parades in the Magic Kingdom:

  • Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade will be presented daily at 3:00PM through December 22nd.   It is not offered from Dec. 23 – 31 but returns on January 1, 2017
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade will be presented daily at 12:00PM and  3:30PM on December 23 – 31, 2016.  This parade is also presented during the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties offered on select evenings in December (special ticket required).
  • Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade is no longer presented at Disney World.

 Magic Kingdom Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks –  New Years Fireworks display will be presented at 11:48PM on December 30 & 31, 2016.   

Disney Theme Parks Open Early to Everyone on select days in December - The Disney World theme parks typically open to the general public at 9:00AM but there are days during the holiday season where one or more of the theme parks will open to everyone (not just guests of the Disney World hotels) at 8:00AM.   The early bird gets the shortest lines so this is important information.   The Magic Kingdom will open at 8:00AM on Dec. 3, and Dec. 17 - 31.  Disney's Hollywood Studios will open at 8:30am on Dec. 18 - 24 and at 8am on Dec. 25 - 31. Epcot and the Animal Kingdom will open at 8:00AM on 8am on Dec. 25 - 31.  Disney may expand their early openings as we get closer to Christmas break. Early openings typically correspond with high crowd expectations so arrive early to enjoy the lowest crowds of the day and use a good Disney theme park touring plan.  Extra Magic Hours benefits for Disney World resort hotel guests may be available in addition to these early openings.

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Keep a screenshot of your FastPass+ reservations on your phone:  This isn’t affecting everyone (thank goodness!) but  Disney had a “system enhancement” in November that changed all of the Disney vacation package reservation numbers and it seems to be affecting FastPass+ recognition with some MagicBands.  Have a screenshot of your FastPass+ reservations and they’ll probably honor them without sending you to Guest Services. You can use the screenshot as your smartphone wallpaper so that the information is handy.    If you do have to go to Guest Services due to problems with your MagicBands, be sure to ask if they can give you any extra FastPass+ reservations to make up for the time you lost; they can often do that.     We hope you don’t have any problems but you may want to scan our “What to do when things go wrong” article at http://www.buildabettermousetrip.com/when-things-go-wrong.

Holiday Crowds:   We’re not telling you this to scare you, just to prepare you - 

  • Disney World will have moderate to moderately-high crowds from December 1 – 18
  • Disney Holiday Peak / High crowds from December 19 – January 5.
  • Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – when multiple performances are offered, the later performance is always less crowded than the earlier show.
  • Arrive at the theme parks at least 45-minutes prior to park opening to enjoy the lowest crowds of the day.   When crowds are high, it is better to arrive early and take a mid-day break than to arrive late. 

Do You Know How to Use Theme Park Touring Plans to Manage Crowds? When you book your trip through us, you will receive either a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Disney World (printed guidebook) or a subscription to TouringPlans.com because we really know for a fact that their touring plans will save you a lot of time otherwise wasted in line - especially during the busy holiday season.

  • Clip-out theme park touring plans (itineraries) are available beginning on page 814 of the 2017 Unofficial Guide to Disney World, and near the very back of any other edition. 
  • Printable theme park touring plans (itineraries)  are available in the Touring Plans tab of our TouringPlans.com account or you can access their itineraries through their smartphone app – must have a subscription.
  • We include printed, standardized plans in the packet of documents and information mailed to our clients shortly before their trip.

Do you know which plan you want to use? Do you have questions about how to use the plans or how to include your FastPass+ & dining reservations into the plans? We don't expect our clients to figure it all out on their own.    When you book through us, you can let us know where you are confused or have questions because Steve, our theme park guy, is available most evenings and on the weekends to talk with you about your touring plan questions.   With a little advance planning, you can have a great time regardless of the crowds.

Expect crowds at Disney World - Dec. 2016 / Photo courtesy of TouringPlans Blog

Expect crowds at Disney World - Dec. 2016 / Photo courtesy of TouringPlans Blog

Winter-Summerland Miniature Golf This is a very cute Christmas themed miniature golf and you should have four free miniature golf vouchers (must start your game by 4PM) in your Disney Documents.  Winter Summerland shares a parking lot with the Blizzard Beach water park so it can be a little tricky to get to when Blizzard Beach is closed.  If there is a transportation cast member (Disney employee) on hand, ask for instructions; otherwise, you typically take Disney transportation to Epcot (main entrance area) and then catch the “Coronado Springs / Blizzard Beach” bus.  Let the driver upon boarding that you want to be dropped off at Winter Summerland.

Click Here for Disney World Ride Closure & Refurbishments in December

Can you access the email address you used for your MyDisneyExperience account from your Smartphone?   If a ride breaks down or something else happens that forces Disney to change one of your FastPass+ reservations, they will send a message to the email address you used for your MyDisneyExperience account.   This message may provide a new time or it may give you the option of using a FastPass+ at any other FastPass+ enabled attraction, if they don’t expect to be able to resolve the problem in a timely fashion.  

Disney Magical Express - Departure Day Information:   Because Disney is using MagicBands for so many things, many Disney guests don’t realize that they still need to use the printed Disney Magical Express vouchers that will be left on your hotel room door on the morning prior to your departure day.   It is a good idea to take a look at the contents of that envelope to make sure they have your correct flight information and to confirm the time you need to be at the front of the resort.   Also, be aware that Disney’s Magical Express runs around the clock but  the airline check-in desk in your resort lobby is only open until the early afternoon.   If your airline participates in the resort check-in option, you’ll need to have prepaid any baggage fees if you intend to check your bags at the resort.   Carry-on items can be stored at your resort’s baggage services desk for those of you who have a later flight and want to make the most of your last hours at Disney World.  

Using Disney Dining Credits after check-out on your departure day – Any unused Disney Dining credits should be available to you until 11:59PM on your departure day but guests sometimes have trouble using them after hotel check-out time.   Don’t panic - the manager at the restaurant can usually resolve this easily enough.   If you have unused snack credits, you may want to use them on Disney themed treats from your resort food court or gift shop, just remember that liquids will not be allowed past the security gate at the airport.

Don't Miss Out on Great Experiences at Disney World!

We want to help you have the most wonderful, most memorable Disney vacation possible. We know that giving you good, up-to-date information and a few simple tools will make a huge difference in your Disney vacation. Long lines become short lines and you will have great memories of shared experiences instead of missed opportunities.  That's why we're called Build A Better Mouse Trip.

Here’s how we help you have a great vacation:

  1. Your travel agent – You have one agent from start-to-finish who knows your name and your priorities and who wants to do everything possible to help you have a wonderful experience.
  2. “Best Days” Itinerary – We’ll help you build an itinerary that includes your priorities for fireworks, parades, crowds and shows. Then we help with dining & Fastpass+ reservations.
  3. Saving Money – Of course we watch for discounts and promotion and automatically apply the best available offer to your reservation but we also help you avoid up-sells and options you won’t use.

We Are Fee-Free - We book directly through Disney and we never charge a service fee so you never pay any extra to use our services when you book your trip through us.  You can have all the benefits Disney offers PLUS all the services we offer.  You can also purchase planning services through us if you've booked on your own or through another travel agency

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