Heading to Disney World during the 2022 holiday season? Well then STOP everything — there are some big things you need to know about!
Though some of the holiday festivities have yet to be announced, there’s a LOT that we already know and can expect based on announcements already made and what we’ve seen in the many years of our reporting about Disney World. So before you get too deep into your holiday trip planning, let’s go over 12 things you NEED to know.
1 — Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is coming BACK to Magic Kingdom in 2022 after a brief hiatus. It will be offered on select nights in November and December and is a separately ticketed event — meaning your regular park ticket won’t get you in, you’ll need to pay for a ticket to this party separately.
During the event, you can enjoy some free snacks (like cookies and hot cocoa typically), check out exclusive entertainment, go on rides (of course), and take in all the seasonal fun.
Tickets are already on sale for this event and most dates are currently available, but that might not last long. ALL tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for 2022 sold out before October even arrived. So if you’re looking to go to this year’s Christmas party, you’ll want to buy those tickets sooner rather than later.
Keep in mind that Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members can get a discount on tickets, so don’t miss out on that savings if you qualify!
Click here to learn more about the Christmas party to determine if it’s something you want to go to!
2 — The Christmas Party IMPACTS Park Hours
While the Christmas Party can be great fun, if you will NOT be going to the party during one of the nights when it is offered on your trip, there’s something important you need to be aware of. On nights when the Christmas Party is offered, Magic Kingdom will close EARLY to regular guests who are not attending the party. The party officially starts at 7PM on nights when offered, so Magic Kingdom will typically close to regular guests shortly before then.
For example, on Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights (that party also starts at 7PM), the park has been closing at 6PM to regular guests. You can expect something similar to happen with the holiday party.
If you’re heading to the party that night or you have a Park Hopper pass, that early closure might not be a problem. But if you’ll be doing 1-park-per-day passes (no Park Hoppers), then going to Magic Kingdom on a Christmas Party night, when the park will close early and you’ll get way LESS time in the parks than normal, could be a HUGE mistake.
Carefully look at the list of dates for the Christmas Party and see if you’ll be in Magic Kingdom with a 1-park-per-day pass on any of those nights. If you will be, you might want to change those Park Passes around. And if you’ve got Park Hoppers, prepare to head to another park for the night!
3 — Park Pass Reservations
Right now, Park Pass reservations for November…
…and December are fully open for guests with park tickets, those staying at select Disney resort hotels, and Annual Passholders. But that could all change.
We’ve seen popular dates (including those around the holidays) fill up in the past, and it’s likely that some big dates will fill up in the future. This is particularly true for dates like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
If you’ll be heading to the parks this holiday season, our advice is to make those Park Pass reservations A.S.A.P. You can modify, cancel, or change your Park Passes later if you change your mind about those park plans, but if you book them now, at least you’ll be guaranteed to enter a park on those days. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get the Park Passes for the parks you want. It’s a real danger you should try to avoid.
4 — Hotel Discounts
If you want to make sure you get the BEST deal on your Disney World hotel this holiday season, don’t forget about the Disney+ hotel discount.
Disney+ subscribers can actually save up to 20% on rooms at select Disney World resort hotels for most nights from December 11th to December 25th, 2022.
You can sign up for a Disney+ subscription if you don’t already have one (at a discount if you act fast) and save some cash on that hotel stay. If you already have a hotel reservation booked, see if you can apply this discount or cancel and rebook to get the best deal possible.
Disney World Passholders can also save big on hotels this holiday season. Passholders can save up to 25% on Disney World hotel stays on most nights from October 23rd through December 25th, 2022 (with some exceptions).
If you’re a Passholder, check to see if you can take advantage of this deal to stay at one of the hotels for LESS.
U.S. Military members can also get some special rates at Disney World hotels through December 16th, 2022. Click here for our full list of current Disney World discounts.
5 — Think Through Your Dining Strategy
Planning a trip to Disney World during the holiday season requires a little extra planning when it comes to dining. Because it’s a popular season to visit the parks, dining reservations can fill up quickly.
Dining reservations can generally be made 60 days in advance (those staying at Disney World hotels can make reservations for the entire length of their stay — up to 10 days — up to 60 days in advance of their arrival).
Here’s when you can make dining reservations for popular dates this holiday season:
- Thanksgiving (November 24th, 2022) — Reservations open September 25th, 2022
- Christmas Eve (December 24th, 2022) — Reservations open October 25th, 2022
- Christmas Day (December 25th, 2022) — Reservations open October 26th, 2022
- New Year’s Eve (December 31st, 2022) — Reservations open November 1st, 2022
- New Year’s Day (January 1st, 2023) — Reservations open November 2nd, 2022
Mark those dates down and set alarms so you don’t miss your chance to get the reservations you want!
Here are a few more tips for handling dining reservations during the holidays:
- Get your reservations as SOON as you’re able to
- If you don’t get the reservations you want, keep checking because availability can change
- Don’t forget about the walk-up waitlist option
- Place your mobile orders EARLY when in the park
For more tips, click our post below all about strategies for dining in Disney World during Christmas week!
6 — Holiday Parade
During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, an iconic piece of entertainment generally exclusive to the event is Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. It’s got toy soldiers, Mickey and Minnie in their holiday best, and SO much more.
BUT you might be able to catch it during regular park hours if you plan your trip carefully. In the past, Disney has sometimes offered the holiday parade during regular park hours on select dates closer to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In 2021, for example, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade was offered to ALL Disney World guests during the day on December 22nd-29th, and December 30th-31st.
Thus far, Disney has not confirmed whether this will be done again in 2022, but we expect it might be offered like this again. If you’ll be heading to Disney World during that time, you may want to plan for your Magic Kingdom day to fall during those days so you can try to catch this parade during the day, if offered.
7 — Holiday Snacks and Merchandise
The holiday season typically comes with special snacks and merchandise! Thus far, we’ve only gotten a peek at the holiday merch (which will include NEW ears) but we expect that many more details are on the way.
The key here is to set aside some extra funds in your budget for all of the new snacks and merchandise you might be tempted to snag while in the parks during this festive time. And leave enough space in your food plans to grab a few extra treats!
8 — Park Hours
If you’ll be heading to Disney World during the holidays, you’ll want to keep a close eye on those park hours. We already discussed the park hours problem with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but aside from that, park hours can vary a lot during the holiday season compared to other times of the year.
In the past, we’ve seen park hours extended at Disney World during the holiday season. Sometimes those only get extended in portions — meaning you may see one week extended at a time. So check those park hours OFTEN ahead of and during your trip to stay up-to-date on the changes.
9 — Hotel Perks
During the holiday season, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the hotel perks available for those staying at Disney World hotels.
Extended Evening Hours lets guests staying at Disney World’s deluxe resorts and deluxe villas (and those at select other hotels) stay in select Disney World parks for EXTRA time at night on select days. Right now the schedule has been revealed through much of November and December. These are the dates:
- Nov 2nd — Magic Kingdom — 10PM to midnight
- Nov 7th — EPCOT — 9PM to 11PM
- Nov 9th — Magic Kingdom — 10PM to midnight
- Nov 14th — EPCOT — 9PM to 11PM
- Nov 16th — Magic Kingdom — 10PM to midnight
- Nov 21st — EPCOT — 9PM to 11PM
- Nov 23rd — Magic Kingdom — 10PM to midnight
- Nov 28th — EPCOT — 9:30PM to 11:30PM
- Nov 30th — Magic Kingdom — 10PM to midnight
- Dec 5th — EPCOT
- Dec 7th — Magic Kingdom
- December 12th — EPCOT
- December 14th — Magic Kingdom
- December 15th — Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- December 19th — EPCOT
- December 21st — Magic Kingdom
- December 22nd — Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- December 26th — EPCOT
- December 28th — Magic Kingdom
Be sure to mark these down and factor them into your plans if you’ll be at a qualifying hotel.
Aside from extended evening hours, ALL Disney World hotel guests can take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry, which lets hotel guests go into any park of their choosing (with a Park Pass) 30 minutes early on any day. But that arrangement can get a little bit sweeter during the holidays.
In 2021, Disney World took things up a notch, and from December 19th, 2021 through January 3rd, 2022, Early Theme Park Entry got bumped up to 60 minutes before park open. Thus far, Disney has NOT announced that they will be doing the same thing for 2022, but it’s something to keep an eye out for!
10 — Crowds
If there’s one thing the holidays really bring out in full force, it’s CROWDS. Some of the crowd levels this year have surprised us by being shockingly low, but during other busy periods (like spring break) in 2022, we’ve seen BIG crowds. If holiday crowds from 2021 are any indication, the holiday season could be PACKED this year.
While you can’t necessarily avoid all of the crowds during the holidays, you do need to account for them. Give yourself lots of time to get places, give yourself lots of grace, and pack a whole bucket of patience — you’re gonna need it!
11 — Weather
Weather in Florida can be unpredictable, and the holiday season is no exception. Some winters it’s cold, some winters it’s hot, some winters it’s in between — you’ve got to be prepared for it ALL.
Right now, the Weather Channel shows Orlando, Florida as having highs in the mid to lower 70s throughout the month of December, with lows in the mid to low 50s. That, of course, is subject to change! A cold snap could make Orlando much cooler, or a bit more heat could make things feel toasty.
Check the weather ahead of your trip and pack accordingly. But you may also want to pack for the full range of weather. The key is usually using layers. If you start with a t-shirt and layer a sweater (or two) on top, you’ll be prepared for the cooler mornings and nights, but can take off layers during the warmer days.
12 — EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays
And finally, we can’t forget about all the festivities going on in EPCOT! Starting on November 25th, 2022, EPCOT will celebrate the International Festival of the Holidays with food booths, special merchandise, and entertainment.
Of course, the food is a critical part of this festival, but the entertainment is often what makes it so unique, with holiday storytellers from around the world sharing their traditions.
And we, of course, have to mention the much beloved Candlelight Processional. This elaborate show features live musicians, dozens of singers, and a celebrity narrator, all put together to tell the story of Christmas with some gorgeous songs. If you want to grab a closer seat for the show without waiting in a standby line, you could consider grabbing a dining package.
And that’s just the beginning! There’s also holiday decor to look out for at Disney World’s hotels (which typically include some epic gingerbread creations), special holiday entertainment (like the Merry Menagerie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom), and MORE. Some holiday happenings haven’t been confirmed for 2022 yet, but we’re on the lookout for more details.
Want to make sure you CONQUER the holidays in Disney World this year? Grab our Guide to the Holidays at Disney World! Our book has over 500 pages of information to make sure that you make the most of your trip.
Crowd-avoiding tips? We got ’em! Where to eat when the restaurants are booked solid? We got that too! An FAQ section, bonus items, and even holiday recipes? We got it ALL. Use code “PEPPERMINT” to get 20% off now!
And stay tuned for more holiday news!
Are you planning a trip to Disney World for the holiday season? Tell us in the comments!
The post 12 Things to Know Before You Plan Your Christmas Trip to Disney World first appeared on the disney food blog.