Disney World tips?


DH and I are planning on taking the kids to Disney World the week of Dec. 12-21. This is the only time we can go due to my school schedule and DH’s work schedule. We’ve pretty much already got our hotel figure out. We’re staying off-site so we can have more $$ to spend in the parks.

Should we expect it to be crowded this week since it’s so close to Christmas? Will we freeze? :eek:

Money saving tips? Especially eating in the parks, yikes!


Well, we just got back…we stayed on site as it’s easier for us–we don’t have a car there so we use the Disney transportation. You can save quite a bit by planning the trip in advance and using their packages. We used the dining plan and it was easy to use and I think saved us money since we only ate from the plan–no extras…However if you don’t want to do that, think about sharing most meals as the portions are pretty generous. If you want to do character meals, get those set up way before you go–we had tons of fun doing these and the meal plan can be used for them.

Don’t know about weather and such, though :slight_smile: I do recommend avoiding the weekends like the plague–Sat and Sun were CROWEDED, but the weekdays were quite pleasant, crowdwise.

Have fun!!! We had a great time :slight_smile:


Oooh FUN!
Christmas time IS busy at the parks… but it’s actually my FAVORITE time there too… it’s SO festive and beautiful… the lights and decorations always bring tears to my eyes!

First off… PLAN to see the special Holiday events…
#1 - Candlelight processional at EPCOT… beautiful! A guest celebrity will read the biblical passages of the nativity with interludes from a gorgeous choir… makes me literally cry every year!
#2 - Disney Hollywood studios (formerly MGM) - go see the Osborn lights! They even have a beautiful nativity scene set up every year!

Yes, it can get chilly, but not COLD, LOL!
Here’s the averages by month for Orlando…
A nice warm fleece sweatshirt should keep you plenty warm…

You CAN bring food into the parks… so pack your own snacks and drinks in the backpack! Also, plan ahead on meals… Disney has special “meal plans” that I’ve heard are great (we’ve never used them, though)… but one thing to keep in mind… if you want to eat at sit-down restaurants you’ll need to make reservations WAY in advance… otherwise you’ll wait forever.
Park Hopper passes are a fantastic feature… especially if you have kids that’ll need a nap… or if you want to leave one park… go out to lunch for quick fast food… then head to another park.

We have annual passes and go ALL the time! So feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like (or PM me)…

Have fun planning!!!


Ok, and here’s another question…

I noticed that the kids menu’s at the sitdown restaurants are for ages 3-9. Does that mean a ten year old can’t order off of that menu? My oldest will be 10 and 11 and there’s no way they’ll eat an adult portion…and trying to get two kids to agree on one meal to split is like pulling teeth. :rolleyes:


Would it be less crowded if we went the first week in January when the kids all go back to school?

I hate to have the kids miss that week because I think they will miss more important stuff than the week before Christmas break when they have parties and movies. BUT, I do NOT want to deal with crowds. DH will be miserable and therefore make the rest of us miserable. :rolleyes:


We never had a problem with ordering the smaller portions. I think the age range is given in case you get the Dining Plan, as it is less money for the dining plan for guests under 9. Character breakfast/dinners will make you pay the adult price for children over 9. We tend to avoid sit down dinners, and usually get counter service because it is way faster. Some restaurants are lovely, so I can see why you would like to eat there, but really they can be pricey and take time away from the parks. Dining staff is great, totally accommodating. They are really all about the kids and making them happy and making your vacation happy.
We have been to Florida in January and the weather was fine. Of course we are from the Northeast, so it was freezing here. The disney hotel pools are heated. It is actually a little nicer to be in Florida then rather than in the summer. I would opt for the week after Christmas, because it will give the kids something to look forward to after the holiday.
Disney is crowded. Always. More people means the parks are open later and there are more shows. Fastpasses work great. I would stay on site to get the benefit of the transportation system and just to be able to go back to the room to crash in the middle of the day if it is needed, unless you are planning on seeing Sea World or Universal. The commute to the parks from the outside can get pretty backed up, we find this to be true when driving to Mass at one of the local parishes. We are always happy we stayed on site after that.
Have a great time!


We wanted to stay in one of the value resorts, but with 4 kids I don’t think that’s possible without getting two rooms. That’s where we’d rather stay…But there’s no way we could afford two rooms.


My kids are still young, so we haven’t hit that age threshold on the kids meals… but I don’t think they’re going to ask for proof that they’re 9 years old. The restaurants are like any other, be nice to the wait staff and they don’t really care, kwim?

Hmmm… I think it’s still usually busy at Disney a little past New Years… but once the majority of schools go back (usually after the 5th or 6th or January the parks are practically EMPTY… that’s actually one of our favorite times because of the lack of crowds! So if that’s a concern for you, then definitely consider skipping that first week back at school…

The special holiday events are usually over then… but still, it’s fantastic weather-wise (not HOT at all… perfect!) and empty parks!


hi mason:)
we live in florida and my husband works for disney…i don’t think you will freeze at all…coming from ohio (i see your location) you will find 70’s quite warm. it might be in the 60’s, but never can tell with florida weather. i think the best for your money is the park hopper…and book your reservations like 180 days out, my husband always tells people. he is an itinerary planner, mainly for execs, golf packages, etc…but, he does get the occasional family who is saddened when they try to book everything they’d like, 2 months out, so make sure you book about 4 to 5 months out, to ensure that you get in to what you want to see.

it will be very crowded during winter break. when we lived in pittsburgh, we went during christmas break for a vacation, and i just remember only being able to go on a few rides in 6 hours. it was pretty bad. but you can purchase these ez passes i think they are called, i’ll have to ask him, and they allow you to go to the front of the line–so that cuts your wait time. i can’t fully remember how they work.

i would try to take in some of disney’s beaches…wow, we want to do that soon. hope you enjoy your trip!!


If you can, go eat at the Crystal Palace.
Pooh and his friends are there, and it’s a buffet, so there are lots of choices.
I never got to eat there until DH and I went for our honeymoon. It is expensive, but it was a lovely respite after the crowds. I would suggest that you make that reservation as early as you can. I don’t believe you can do it now, but I think you can by mid-October.

And EZ-Passes rock my world, esp since it gives you an assigned time to come back to ride the ride, plus you get to skip ahead.
And they don’t cost money.

And I second the park hopper passes.
Doesn’t Disney offer babysitting services at the on-site hotels? That might be nice if you and DH want to go to Pleasure Island or just have a little Mama and Daddy time at one of the parks.


I think the babysitting services are only for ages 4 and up. Bummer, cuz it would be nice for a “nite out”. :smiley: Oh well, I guess we can do plenty of that at home. Believe it or not, this will be our FIRST family vacation alone without other relatives. We can’t WAIT! So, I guess it’s OK that we can’t have the night out, we’ll enjoy the kids every second anyways.

We’ve decided against the Park Hopper tickets because they would be a few hundred dollars more and with four kids, including a 2 year old, I doubt we’ll have energy or time to do more than one park a day. If we get the basic ticket, it gets cheaper the more days you buy, so if we buy a few extra days, it’s only like ten bucks more total. So, if we wanted to, we could use those extra days to visit an extra park. :thumbsup:

Oh and the BIG question, where is the closest Mass and does anybody have any idea what times they are?


We are going right after Thanksgiving and staying at Port Orleans, French Quarter.

We will be there over a Sunday. Can anyone tell me where we can get to Mass? We won’t have a car.

To the OP: How old are your kids? If you can put two or 3 in a double bed, and/or two in a cot, I think you can all stay at a value resort. My boys, 5 and 7, shared a cot when we went to San Francisco last fall. A good place to book all this and find out how to save is a AAA travel agent.

Also, last time we went, we bought milk and cereal and water and had breakfast in the room everyday and carried water around with us in a soft sided cooler to save $$. This was before they had the dining plan which we bought for our upcoming trip. (We also had my BIL with us who uses an electric cart in the parks so we could use the cart to lug the water.)



Our Lady Queen of the Universe Shrine


YES YES… you HAVE to go see the shrine!
It’s right next to Disney… and isn’t a “parish”… it’s a church created specifically for tourists by the diocese.
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL… also has a great rosary garden and book store… definitely worth a visit!!!


Hi! Though our girls are grown, we are all still “Disney nuts” and like to get there periodically - dh and I, daughters, husband and soon-to-be-husband. We have had the best time immediately after Christmas, when most kids are back in school (can vary year to year.) The weather was wonderful, crowds were much lighter and many of the gorgeous decorations were still up, as it takes them a while to un-decorate everything.

We are fortunate in that several of our girls’ friends (in their twenties) are Disney “characters” and performers and have been able to get us into the parks for free on a number of occasions. If you know ANY Disney employee there, you might want to check that out.

I, too, have heard good things about the Disney packages and meal plans; I HIGHLY recommend staying on-site if you can; the budget Disney hotels are delightful and quite inexpensive, and we have gotten great deals in early January. Check out when the Disney World Marathon will be; our old daughter and her husband ran that this past year, and it was about the 13th of January, I think - lots of people then, but still much better than summer.

Have a wonderful time - Disney at Christmas is magical!


I just called and the only way we could stay at a value resort is to rent a family suite at the Music resort which comes to a grand total of $2K. Yikes! :eek:

We could also stay at the Port Orleans Riverside in one room and I think that came out to around $1800 or something. Ouch…

I think it’s really, really sad that Disney couldn’t be a little more accomodating to families with more than 2 children without breaking the bank. :frowning:

Is there any transportation there or would we have to rent a car to get to Mass?


This site should help you decide where to eat:



We’ve been to Disney World lots of times.

One of the best books to get beforehand is “The Unofficial Guide to Disney World” by Bob Sehlinger. He has a new one out every year. All his info is really good, he will tell you what to see for your age children, where to eat, etc. He is NOT a commercial for Disney like the 'Official Disney Guidebook" from Birnbaum.

After our many visits, I’ve concluded Disney World food is very average. They have exceptional ambience with the different characters and Epcot is fun with the different countries, but the food is really not that great.

I never liked the crowds either, so I would pull my children out of school and go in the ‘off’ times. That was much better.

Last time we went we used the ‘fast pass’ and it was great.

We always stayed at the Beach Club or the Yacht Club. They have an incredible pool with sand on the bottom! My kids loved it.

If you end up staying at a Disney property, figure on a couple days of just hanging at the pool. Unfortunately, you have to get there early to get a chair…but sometimes you need a break from the parks.

Have fun and let us know how it goes.


I live in Orlando.

You will need a car to get to church. What are they getting for the All Star Hotel in Disney these days? That used to be cheaper.

It will be crowded. If you could come around Holloween it is much less crowded. DON’T come in the summer unless you love 100 degree temps. If you are stuck with Christmas time then invest in the fastpass.

Let me know if you have any questions.


The book store there is great! One of the best Catholic shops I’ve been to.

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