Disney during the holidays is a bucket-list vacation, but it can be as chaotic as it is magical.
While it can have the magic of holiday parades, crowds may be bigger than any other time of year.
Travel experts told Insider why Disney is best during the holidays, and the reasons why it's not.
For some families, visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays is a major bucket-list item, and, according to Jill Knonenborg, a travel agent who specializes in Disney destinations, it is the best season to visit.
"We always talk about holiday magic, and we always talk about Disney magic, but then when you put them together, it amplifies into something that's really fun and memorable and special," she told Insider. "If you're someone who loves Christmas, I mean, no one's going to do it better than Disney."
From the 625 trees across Walt Disney World Resort to the 5,000 oversized ornaments and 260,000 lights that decorate them, there are many reasons why Disney simply does the holidays best, but there are also cons to visiting during this special season.
Five travel experts told Insider why visiting Disney during the holidays is the best ... and the worst.
The long holiday season at Disney gives you plenty of time to take advantage of the festivities
Following the last night of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on November 1, a small army of employees turn Disney into a Christmas wonderland so that on November 2, the holiday season has officially begun, said Amber Travis, a Missouri-based Disney travel agent with Mickey Travels.
The other parks and the resorts are slower to make that change, but guests will feel the park is in the full Christmas spirit by mid-November, according to Kelsey Capps, a vacation planner for The Magic Travel Company.
The fact that you have so much time to enjoy the holiday experience at Disney is a pro that many people don't know to take advantage of, Capps said.
"I always suggest to my clients to look at the first few weeks of November, or the first few weeks of December, because you can still get that excitement and that joy and the full holiday experience," Capps said.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is the epitome of Christmas magic
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which is at Magic Kingdom, generates a lot of buzz. It allows visitors to stay after the parks close to experience special holiday offerings, such as the characters dressed up for the holidays, holiday parades, and holiday fireworks — and if you stay for the party, it snows on Main Street, Capps said.
There's also hot cocoa and specialty cookies throughout the park, Santa is dressed up for meet-and-greets, and holiday music plays everywhere.
"For many people, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," she added, especially as it cannot be experienced at any other time throughout the year, and it's never quite the same from one year to the next.
However, the party is not included with a general theme-park admission ticket but rather sold as an add-on, so visitors should remember to factor the cost into their budget.
The Florida weather is more bearable in December
In the summer months, the temperature in Orlando, Florida, regularly exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. December, on the other hand, offers the coolest weather all year, with temperatures fluctuating between 53 degrees Fahrenheit and 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, for families with children in school, the winter break may be the better option compared to the summer.
However, it's also the most crowded time of the year
Since 2020, there have been an average of 57,000 visitors a day at Magic Kingdom, 38,000 at Animal Kingdom, 34,000 at Epcot, and 31,000 at Hollywood Studios, according to the Themed Entertainment Association, as reported in The Orange County Register,
But holidays like Christmas Day and New Year's Eve typically draw the biggest crowds of the year, specifically at Magic Kingdom, with Disney reaching close to or at capacity. Last year, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance alone had a more than three-hour wait on New Year's Eve, according to Thrill Data.
"It can be shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow that week from about December 23 until January 2," said Knonenborg. "So that is not a time that I would recommend my clients go."
It's the most expensive time to go to Disney
"Depending on how big the family is, it can be anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars difference visiting on the holidays versus summertime, for example. Cost can really be a factor," said Stephanie Peters, a certified autism travel professional with Hiatt Magical Vacations.
Last year, effective December 8, the four theme parks shifted to a pricing model contingent upon date and demand, with the most expensive single-day ticket going from $159 in the off-season to $189 during the peak season, Travel + Leisure reported.
And yet, Disney creates that environment where, as soon as you walk in and see the giant tree, the castle, and the decor on Main Street, everyone's a kid again. So as long as you're prepared and know what to expect, go for it, Capps said.
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