Hope you’re all well.
I’m finally getting around to writing my blog post on our trip to Disney World, Florida at Christmas. I’ve had lots of you asking about our trip and how we got on, tickets and the park on Christmas Day. This blog post is only specific to Disney at Christmas and doesn’t apply to all year round. The only reason we went to Orlando for Christmas last year was because Sean was working the Christmas trip.
The flight went out on the 23rd and back on the 27th. Our flights and accommodation was booked by our company so we didn’t have to worry about this. I personally always recommend staying on International Drive as it’s always a good base. You need to bare in mind a lot of hotels in Orlando are quite basic. Orlando is a bit like NYC where you literally spend no time in the hotel so definitely bare this in mind when booking your hotel. A place I always recommend especially for families is Regal Oaks. We rented for 9 nights here and found it brilliant with children. You definitely need a car if you’re staying here. We always rent a car in Orlando as we find it easier to explore this way and we get this at the airport on the lower ground floor when we land in Orlando International. It’s so easy and handy that we do it every time now. We use Alamo to book cars as we get a discount for being airline crew but Alamo, Thrifty or Dollar are the cheapest. I definitely recommend to shop around for the best price and always make sure to get a sat nav included in your rental too. Uber is great but renting a car is just as easy. I get a lot of questions surround car seats when we go away with Lily. We don’t ever bring her own car seat, we always just rent one when we are there with the car and pay extra.
As we were only there for a few days, we had already planned our trip and what we were going to do. I am a planner so I always have a plan or a rough plan in place for a trip. We don’t always stick to it and we might move things around but it’s just good to know in advance especially if there is a group.
On Christmas Eve, we went to Disney Springs and for brunch in Chef Mickey’s. Disney Springs is a fabulous place to bring children of all ages. There’s lots of beautiful restaurants and shops, bowling alley, cinema and that is where the Disney Springs Hot Air Balloon is. Disney Springs is brilliant day or night. We went during the day for the hot air balloon (stunning views) and at night for the Disney Springs Christmas Tree trail. Both are fabulous and well worth doing. The Christmas Tree trail is free and the hot air balloon is $20 for adults and $10 for children.
TIPS FOR DISNEY ON CHRISTMAS DAY
Definitely book in advance. You can book online on the official Disney website HERE for park tickets and HERE for restaurant bookings. We booked these well in advance especially as it was for Christmas Day. Most restaurants were booked up by end of October so note this. We did get a booking in Tony’s Town Square and the food was delicious but it was one of the only spots left. A lot of people book Be Our Guest Restaurant as it’s supposed to be absolutely beautiful and a total magical experience in the castle. If you don’t book a restaurant on Christmas Day, you will honestly end up eating burger and chips which you will have to queue for about 45 minutes for.
Arrive as early as possible and be prepared to be there for the day. They do let you leave the park but it’s a nightmare to get parked again. We were there from 10am-10.30pm. Sometimes they do close the park when it gets to capacity so make sure to get there early. Last year they closed the park at 12pm which was actually much later than the previous year as it closed at 12.
Do not get PREFFERED parking. There really isn’t much difference and it’s double the price. Unless you’re splashing the cash, don’t bother.
Bring snacks. We had Lily totally sorted for the day and I advise this especially if bringing children. Queues are long for EVERYTHING, even a drink so pack snacks for the day in a backpack. Also definitely bring something a little warmer for the evening and a blanket for children as it gets quite cold.
Get a brochure for parade times. This is so handy so you know when everything is on. You can also look at this on the Disney app too.
Be prepared to wait for ALL RIDES. Most rides are a minimum of a 40 minute wait. We didn’t actually go on one ride for the whole day. We watched parades, had food, walked around, went into all the little shops but it was very packed so be prepared for this.
Don’t promise your children anything. Out of all days of the year, this is their busiest day at Disney. It is absolutely jammers in the park and meeting the characters will take a very long time. Queuing for over 2 hours per character so just note this as you don’t want to upset them. They will still see all the characters at the parade and if you get a good enough seat they can be so close to them.
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be in these all day so make sure whatever shoes you wear you are able to last in all day.
Obviously these little tips are just things that I noted on the day. I saw families struggle with lots of children so better to go as a group. It’s a very long day for everyone. We were so so tired by the time we got back to our hotel and just ready for bed.
WHAT AGE IS BEST TO BRING MY CHILD TO DISNEY?
Lily was 16 months which is very young. She did enjoy the parades but she was quite young. I get asked all the time about what age I think is suitable to bring a child to Disney and personally I think when they are 3. I think before then that it’s a bit of a waste. Lily was free into the parks as she was younger than 2 so it didn’t really matter on this occasion but if you’re planning a big trip and have other children, I think when your youngest is 3 is brilliant. The older they are the more they will understand and know where they are too. I think they will appreciate it a lot more also.
CAN I MEET MICKEY & MINNIE MOUSE WITHOUT GOING TO THE PARK?
Yes you absolutely can. You can book to have breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner at Chef Mickey’s. We went for brunch on Christmas Eve at Chef Mickey’s and loved it. There are other places but this is the only place I have been to meet them outside of the park.
A few things to note before going:
- You must book this in advance
- It’s very casual so shorts and t-shirt is fine. It is not a dressy affair at all.
- It is basically a big buffet however you will have a server for drinks. Alcohol is available. The selection of food is good and we liked it however it’s not absolutely FABULOUS.
- You will be guaranteed to meet Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and Daisy. Someone will come around to each table and ensure you have met all characters during your meal. If you missed one character, they will make sure they come back around. We thought this was brilliant.
- It works out with tax, the cost for the morning and afternoon meals is the same at $48.99/adult and $29.82/child ages 3-9. Dinner comes in at $58.58 for adults and $35.15 for kids.
- Don’t forget you have to also tip as well.
WOULD I RECOMMEND TO GO ON CHIRSTMAS DAY?
Personally we all agreed, no we wouldn’t go back on Christmas Day again. For the price you pay, it’s so expensive and the park is so jam packed that it’s not worth it. I have been lots of times and Christmas Day was by far my least favourite time. It’s decorated magically however if you went the week after New Year’s, all the decorations are still up but it’s empty. You would get on every ride, with no hassle or issues. As magical as it was, we still said we wouldn’t return on Christmas Day. If you really want to go then at least you have the tips and know what to expect when you are going. We did have a lovely time and it was a great experience but just a once off for us.
If you want any more tips on Orlando, check out my other blog post HERE.
Love Aoibhe xxx