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! (You can also find our 2024 guide here!)
- 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 is Magic Kingdom’s ticketed Christmas event, which takes place on select nights from November 9 through December 22! The ticketed party will take place on 25 select nights this year:
- November: 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30
- December: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22
Another festival that will begin in November is the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which will take place November 25 – December 30, 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, there will once again be seasonal decorations, holiday-themed photo opportunities with Mickey and Minnie, and the Tree of Life holiday awakenings each evening. Also included in this year’s festivities will be the return of The Merry Menagerie! Located in Discovery Island, these life-size, artisan-sculpted winter animal puppets will come to life. Interact with reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins, and more while accompanied by serenading musicians.
Disney Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios is a brand-new nighttime party that will be held on select nights from November 11 to December 20, 2023! The ticketed party will take place on 10 select nights.
- November: 11, 18, 20, 27, 29
- December: 4, 6, 16, 18, 20
Be sure to visit our guide to celebrating Christmas at Disney World for more information on all the holiday fun Walt Disney World has to offer this year!
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!)
ESPN Wide World of Sports typically hosts several athletic events each month. These events don’t usually have a major impact on crowds in the parks, but they can affect resort availability and crowds at Disney’s value resorts. Here are the events scheduled so far in December:
- Disney Boys Soccer Showcase – December 27-30, 2023
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.)
- Tron Lightcycle Power Run is now open!
- Splash Mountain closed 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!
- EPCOT Forever returned on April 3, 2023 (replacing Harmonious which permanently ended on April 2, 2023)
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana opened on October 16, 2023!
- Luminous: The Symphony of Us, a new nighttime spectacular will be debuting on December 5, 2023.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid is temporarily closed with no reopening date yet.
- Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple has permanently ended.
- Primeval Whirl is permanently closed
- It is anticipated that Dino-Rama, as a whole, will likely close at some point to make way for a major expansion. Disney has shared plans for potential replacements, such as a Moana Mini-Land, which includes detailed concept art. Additionally, there is the possibility of a Zootopia Expansion beyond Dino-Rama. Although these proposals are promising, it should be noted that they have not yet been approved or funded by Disney. Therefore, the fate of Dino-Rama remains uncertain, but it is evident that its days are limited.
- Blizzard Beach closed on March 19, 2023, for refurbishment, and it will reopen on November 6, 2023.
- Typhoon Lagoon will close on November 6, 2023, for winter refurbishment. No opening date has been announced.
- Disney Skyliner Gondolas will experience closures in mid-to-late January 2024. This will be a phased closure that will occur first with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios side of the routes, followed by the Epcot side.
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. It’s best not to completely rely on them when making your Disney World vacation plans.
While crowd calendars can be a big help in knowing what to expect, 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.
On top of that, many are choosing to travel differently these days. Quiet months have become popular due to runDisney events as well as other Disney events and promotions, while busier seasons have seen a downward trend in the last couple of years.
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!
Ready To Start Planning Your Visit To Walt Disney World In December?
Here are some resources to help you get started!
Walt Disney World Resorts:
Walt Disney World Dining:
Walt Disney World Attraction Guides:
There’s nothing better than knowing what to expect on your Disney World vacation. Our monthly guides can help you visit with a plan!
November | December (you are here)
Planning your first Walt Disney World vacation? Be sure to visit my step-by-step guide to get started!