No matter how hard we study the Disney World crowd calendars, many of us do not have schedules that allow us to take time off outside of the busiest times of the year. Thanksgiving in Disney World is one of the most popular times for visitors to enter the parks because many have the time off. Mr. Geek and I just returned from our Thanksgiving trip with lots of tips and advice to share! If you are in one of the professions with pre-scheduled vacations, should you go to Disney World for Thanksgiving? Continue reading to find out.
Is it crowded?
This is always a difficult question to answer. Each person has a different level of comfort when it comes to crowds and what they can handle.
The crowds seemed manageable to me, but Mr. Geek was a bit overwhelmed at first. Going into our trip, we saw on many crowd calendars that the first two days of our trip would be 7-8s out of 10, then increased to 10 out of 10 the last two days. After each day, I revisited TouringPlans.com and they rated the first two days of our trip a 10 out of 10 and it decreased in the final two days.
Wait times for super popular attractions were sometimes well over 2 hours, but in the big picture I can only think of one time we waited in a ridiculously long line.
This is because we came in with a plan! Although Mr. Geek thought I was INSANE in my trip planning (okay, obsessing), we had very minimal time waiting in lines and managed to check off most of our wish list. Here are tips on how to plan your days at the parks during Thanksgiving week:
Make sure you take full advantage of FastPass+
- Guests staying on Disney property can make their FastPass+ selections 60 days out–as in log in to My Disney Experience at 7am at the 60 day mark!
- Guests staying off Disney property can make their FastPass+ selections 30 days out
- Once you use all 3 FastPass+ picks, select more! However, sometimes it won’t let you due to bugs with the My Disney Experience App or they stop with FastPass+ after a certain time (that happened to us during our trip)
Hop to the park with late night Extra Magic Hours
- This is my third time to Disney World and I have NEVER been to Disney World without the Hopper option on our tickets. For those that don’t know the “Hopper” option: this option on your park ticket allows you to entrance to more than one park a day–you can hop to as many parks as you want! Call me spoiled, but I do not want to be limited on the fun!
- I wouldn’t recommend this with young children, but we were able to get on many attractions we wanted at this time. If you are going to do this with children, make sure you schedule a rest/hotel day the following day because we were wiped the next morning!
Mobile Ordering for Quick Service Dining
- Many Quick Service restaurants offer mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience App. For example, our first day at Disney World we ordered lunch from Pecos Bills on the bus to the Magic Kingdom. Once we arrived through the gates, I clicked, “I’m here. Prepare my order.” Our meals were ready by the time we weaved around parade crowds and into the restaurant. One person in your party can stake out a table. Someone else picks up the food.
- If you do have someone in your party with a food allergy, it is a little easier to just wait in line and order at the counter in case you need to make more substitutions. For example, Mr. Geek needed gluten AND dairy substitutions–but the menus through mobile ordering are limited to gluten only and dairy only substitutions in one meal. If we needed more substitutions at that specific restaurant, we just waited in line.
Advanced Dining Reservations
- Our daily schedule for each park was based around 2 major components: our FastPass+ selections for the day and our dining reservations. That way we knew at least three attractions we were going on and where we were eating. Everything else was a bit more flexible.
- Advanced Dining Reservations can be made up to 180 days before your trip–which I recommend making ASAP! Especially if you want to get those hard-to-get reservations, like Be Our Guest.
- Mr. Geek and I had dining packages for advanced seating for both Fantasmic! and The Candlelight Processional. Although it was extra money (two dining credits on the meal plan or out of pocket cash), it was so worth the ease of knowing we had seats for these incredible shows without having to line up HOURS before.
What is the weather like in Orlando, Florida?
I’m not a meteorologist, but we knew when we booked our flight in November it would be fairly mild compared to the super humid high temperatures of summer and spring. On our trip we had highs of 77-80 degrees fahrenheit with sunny skies or partly cloudy. (Sorry to everyone back home in Massachusetts that enjoyed Thanksgiving in 19 degrees fahrenheit!) It does get cool at night in Orlando, however, so make sure you have pants and a jacket for night time activities.
Is Disney World decorated for Christmas?
YES! After the final Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party of the year, the amazing cast members use their magic to transform the park for Christmas. This was one of the reasons why I picked Thanksgiving week for our trip. Instead of dealing with the MASSIVE (like shut down because parks at capacity!) crowds during the actual week of Christmas, you can still enjoy Disney’s Christmas magic the week of Thanksgiving.
If you’re a “turkey before tree” kind of person and firm in this belief, this might not be for you. Although I agree with “turkey before tree”, we took this year off. It is Disney World after all…
What park is best for Thanksgiving Day?
We spent Thanksgiving Day in Epcot. It was by far the best day of the trip! The great thing about Epcot is that it is so big and spread out, you would have no idea how crowded it actually is. It is also a low-key park, which allowed us to mosey around the World Showcase and enjoy The Festival of Holidays, snacking around the world, and pin trading. Mr. Geek was very pleased with our mellow Thanksgiving after our park days at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, then back to Magic Kingdom for late-night Extra Magic Hours.
If you have little ones (under 10) or you’re looking for a more energetic day, you may feel differently.
Can I still enjoy a Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner?
Absolutely! Many restaurants in the parks offered a roasted turkey special on Thanksgiving Day–including allergen-free options. It was delicious! Just make sure you have Advanced Dining Reservations ahead of time to cut down on your wait. The list of restaurants offering this meal is released in the summertime.
Should you go to Disney World the week of Thanksgiving?
Mr. Geek’s Bottom Line:
Although Mr. Geek enjoyed himself, he thinks it was because it was just two adults and we were not with children. He doesn’t think bringing young children (10 and under) to Disney World during very busy times is a good idea.
Chrissy’s Bottom Line:
Of course I disagree with Mr. Geek–my vote is YES! Prepare for high crowd levels with a well planned schedule and a positive mindset. Waiting in lines is part of building anticipation and Disney Magic! (and with our tips, you won’t be waiting very long) You’ll get to enjoy the holiday decorations and activities without the IMPOSSIBLE crowds of Christmas Day and New Year’s. Go in with a plan to attack the day, but stay flexible if it doesn’t go as planned. Remember, you are making memories with your loved ones at the most magical time of year.