New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days of the year at Walt Disney World. Crowds are shoulder-to-shoulder, and there are even queues to use the restrooms. Despite the warnings, do you still plan to ring in the New Year at the Most Magical Place on Earth? Then follow these nine tips to survive New Year’s Eve at Disney World.
Nine Tips to Survive New Year’s Eve at Disney World
My name is Kuleen, and I survived New Year’s Eve at Disney World in 2013. My family chose to spend the day at Disney Hollywood Studios, then we headed back to our resort as soon as the party hats and horns were handed out. We spent a quiet evening at our resort, then rang in the new year in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Resort.
My brother and his family headed to Epcot in the morning and didn’t return to the resort until after 2:00 a.m. They waited in long lines for food, bathroom breaks, and the Disney buses. But despite the crowds, they are glad they went. Here are nine tips on how you can survive New Year’s Eve at Disney World.
TravelingMom Tip: If your Disney World holiday plans include Christmas, Candid Traveling Mom has tips on How to Christmas at Disney and I know 10 Free or Cheap Holiday Activities at Walt Disney World.
Counting Down Our New Year’s Eve Survival Tips
9. Stay at a Disney Resort
At some point on New Year’s Eve, the Magic Kingdom will approach capacity and stop allowing people to enter. The park will close to non-Resort guests first. So if you stay on property, you have a better chance of getting in. As a Disney Resort guest, you are also able to take Disney transportation to the parks instead of fighting for a parking spot.
8. Go to the Disney Parks Early and Stay Late
If you plan to ring in the new year at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, you should plan to go early and stay late. Get to the park by 10:00 a.m. and stay at the park through midnight. Expect both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to be shoulder-to-shoulder crowded with long waits in all lines including to enter the park and get food. My brother’s family experienced 45 minutes to an hour waits to use the restrooms.
Hollywood Studios is the least crowded of the three parks that host New Year’s Eve celebrations. (Animal Kingdom does not celebrate New Year’s Eve.) When we visited, crowds were thin in the morning, average by mid-day, and began to get heavy around 5:00 pm.
7. Attend a Ticketed New Year’s Eve Event
Guarantee your spot at a celebration by attending a ticketed event. “Disney Countdown to Midnight – A New Year’s Eve Celebration” is held at the Contemporary Resort Convention Center. The family-friendly event includes dancing, food and wine pairings, and themed photo backdrops and props. The evening ends with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. To check availability and make reservations, visit the Walt Disney World website.
6. Ring in the New Year at Disney Springs
Take a last look at the holiday decorations and shop ’til you drop at the Disney Springs stores that all stay open until midnight. Other options are bowling at Splitsville Lanes, a movie at the AMC Theater, or watch La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil. Many of the restaurants such as Raglan Road and House of Blues have live entertainment.
5. Have a Ball at a Disney Resort
Select Disney Resorts host New Year’s Eve celebrations in the lobby. To ring in the New Year, we skipped the park and celebrated at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There were live entertainment and a countdown to the new year. The Grand Floridian traditionally holds a balloon drop in the five-story tall lobby. Check with each resort to find out about New Year’s Eve activities.
4. Make a New Year’s Toast at a Disney Restaurant
The following Disney Restaurants hold New Year’s Eve events: California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grove, Il Mulino, Monsieur Paul, Shula’s Steak House, Todd English’s Bluezoo Lounge, Victoria & Alberts, and Narcoossee’s. Call 477-WDW-DINE or make reservations online at the Walt Disney World website.
3. Kick Up Your Heals at Disney’s Boardwalk
The Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney’s Boardwalk hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration with a DJ, dancing, and drinks. The celebration is only for ages 21 and older. Call 407-WDW-DINE to buy tickets.
2. Celebrate a Day Early
The Magic Kingdom performs a practice run of the New Year’s Eve fireworks at midnight on December 30th. We avoided the crowds by watching the show a day early.
1. Go to Bed Early
Not fond of crowds? Consider skipping the New Year’s Eve festivities to get a good night’s sleep. While the New Year’s Eve revelers sleep in, you can enjoy the crowd-free morning on January 1st. It is not unusual for the Magic Kingdom to open as early as 7:00 am that morning for Disney Resort guests.