Walt Disney World in December is certainly the most wonderful time of the year! Truly, no one does the holidays quite like Disney. Lights, decorations, festive music, ticketed holiday events, specialty entertainment, seasonal dining… there is something for everyone during the holidays at Disney World.
There are definitely a few things you’ll want to keep in mind, however, if you’re planning a vacation to Disney World in December. First of all… Christmas crowds are no laughing matter. As Disney goes above and beyond to make the holidays truly special, this typically results in some of the biggest crowds of the year. (It also doesn’t help that schools are on winter break during the second half of the month!) But even with the crowds, visiting Walt Disney World in December can be truly magical, especially with a little bit of planning.
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Planning a Disney World vacation in 2023? Be sure to check out our guide to all that the Walt Disney World Resort has to offer this year including the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster, updated nighttime spectaculars, and more!
- Major refurbishments are not typically common in December. Disney tends to schedule their refurbishments during less busy months (such as January or February), but that doesn’t mean closures can’t or won’t happen in December.
- Epcot festivals are quite popular with locals. Consider visiting Epcot on weekdays if you’re trying to avoid the crowds of the International Festival of the Holidays.
- Christmas at Disney World is truly magical… but also very crowded. If you’re trying to avoid crowds in December, consider enjoying the parks during the first two weeks of the month. It will still be a bit busy, but crowds surge towards the second half of the month as schools are released for winter break.
- Magic Kingdom will likely see the return of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2023! This is a very popular ticketed event, so be sure to purchase tickets early if you want to attend. No official announcement has been made yet regarding 2023, but we anticipate it will be back for the holiday season!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… No one does Christmas quite like Disney. Holiday decorations start to spring up throughout the parks and resorts shortly after Halloween.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will likely return to Magic Kingdom for the 2023 season. While no official announcements have been made yet, this is typically a highly anticipated, popular event for Disney. During the holiday season in 2022, the ticketed event took place on select nights from November 8 through December 22. Here are some of the highlights from the 2022 season:
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
- Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration (castle stage show)
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show on the Rockettower Plaza Stage
- Club Tinsel (dance party!)
- Disney Junior Jingle Jam (a dance party for the youngsters in Storybook Circus)
- Character greetings with characters dressed in their holiday best
- A festive holiday overlay on The Jungle Cruise (which is also available during non-party hours)
- Party exclusive transformations of Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
- A range of holiday treats and drinks (available for purchase)
- Special Disney PhotoPass opportunities
- A holiday-themed special 50th Anniversary commemorative keepsake
Magic Kingdom isn’t the only park to have special holiday events. Epcot offers the International Festival Of The Holidays, which took place from November 25 through December 30 in 2022. (No dates have been announced yet for 2023.) Featuring traditions from around the world, including some incredible cuisine and holiday treats, this festival is certainly to put you in the holiday spirit. It offers some unique holiday entertainment including a celebrity-hosted Candlelight Processional.
While there isn’t necessarily a formal party held at Animal Kingdom, guests will typically find seasonal decorations, holiday-themed Disney character flotillas on the Discovery River, and the Tree of Life holiday awakenings each evening.
Like Animal Kingdom, there is usually no formal festival or event at Hollywood Studios for the holidays, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t holiday fun! 2022 offered holiday projections, Santa Claus on Hollywood Boulevard, Frozen characters, holiday character dining, and vintage-themed decorations throughout the park.
And then there’s New Year’s Eve… All four parks have special countdown events in place, and they all see a huge surge in crowds. It is worth noting, that Magic Kingdom and Epcot see the greatest crowds as Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are a bit more low-key in terms of events for the day. Keep in mind that Epcot also sees more of an “adult” crowd due to its assortment of bars and specialty entertainment. (Let’s face it, many like to drink their way around the world in World Showcase!)
December Refurbishments & Closures
*We’ve included all current refurbishments here on this list… even ones that may be open in time for December 2023. (Please note that this list could change at a moment’s notice.)
- Walt Disney World Railroad is finally open after nearly 4 years of closure due to Tron construction!
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow reopened on January 15 in Storybook Circus.
- The Little Mermaid meet and greet with Ariel officially returns on January 22, 2023.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle is reopening on February 19, 2023.
- Happily Ever After (an updated version) is returning to Magic Kingdom on April 3, 2023.
- Tron Lightcycle Power Run is opening on April 4, 2023.
- Splash Mountain is closing permanently on January 23, 2023, to become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The newly rethemed attraction is scheduled to open in 2024.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is now open!
- Moana: Journey of Water, a brand new attraction, will be opening in 2023.
- Canada Far & Wide in CircleVision 360 is closed through November 2022 (most likely for the Food & Wine Festival)
- The American Adventure is closed from September 19 thru December 16, 2022
- A new nighttime show will be opening at some point in 2023 to replace Harmonious.
- Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away (stage show) has permanently ended
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration will be closed January 9-27, 2023
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will begin a length refurbishment beginning February 20, 2023. It is expected to reopen in the summer of 2023.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid is temporarily closed with no reopening date yet.
- Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple is also temporarily closed.
- Primeval Whirl is permanently closed
- Kali River Rapids will be closed for refurbishment beginning January 9
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park will be closed for refurbishment beginning November 13, 2022.
The weather can sometimes be a bit unpredictable in the month of December, but it is typically one of the most pleasant months to visit Disney World. The average high is 73 degrees and the low is typically around 53 degrees. It may be a little cooler, but it is typically one of the dryest months of the year in terms of rain. You will want to dress in layers as the days will feel warm but the evenings will undoubtedly be a bit chilly.
December Disney World Crowd Calendar
Crowd calendars are very popular, but they can also be a bit unpredictable. That being said, the pandemic has made predicting crowds even more difficult than normal.
While crowd calendars can be a big help in planning your trip, keep in mind, they are predictions at best. When designing our calendars, we take a look at events, school calendars, ticket prices, park hours, holidays, and typical monthly patterns. But unfortunately, our crowd calendars cannot predict other things such as weather, travel advisories, pandemics, or last-minute openings or closings of shows and attractions.
If traveling to Walt Disney World in December, be prepared with a plan as the parks are rather busy. Typically, the beginning of December sees moderate crowds with the final two weeks of December being two of the busiest weeks of the year. That being said, the holidays can be a magical time to visit the parks as the parks go all out when it comes to holiday festivities!
**For a free printable PDF version of this crowd calendar, be sure to visit our resource page to become an email subscriber! You will also gain access to other printable resources to help you plan your next Disney vacation!
Ready To Start Planning Your Visit To Walt Disney World In December?
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Guide to Walt Disney World in 2023
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Walt Disney World Attraction Guides:
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