by Lara Koenig
Hi Dad! We were fortunate enough to stay the Grand Floridian this past August. It was dreamlike and well you know, Walt Disney World is just pure magic!
Our friends recently surprised their kids with a visit to Disney World and when that first pic of them in front of the castle popped up and we saw the looks on our children’s faces, we knew we had to do something.
We have booked a surprise trip to Walt Disney World for 12/25/11 to 1/1/12 at an All Star Resort. I know it’s a world of difference but it was between not going and stay at a Value Resort. My heart is literally twisting in knots over not going.
Is there anything you can tell me to put my mind at ease? We are thinking of switching to the Pop Century being that it is your favorite. I love reading all your posts and inside info. I think I am most sad about not being able to enjoy the fireworks from our balcony at night. I don’t we will be getting much sleep on this visit with all the late Extra Magic Hours though!
Also, we will be arriving in Orlando at 11am and are wondering if, by the time we check in and bolt for the Magic Kingdom, we stand a chance of getting in and if not which park we should attempt otherwise. Thank you so much!
What to see on your Surprise Trip to Walt Disney World
|Photo by Don Sullivan
Dad’s very soothing Answer
First, take a deep breath. And then let out a shout. I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!
Yes, you are going to Walt Disney World the busiest days of the year. Yes, you are going from the flagship hotel on the property to the cheapest hotel at Disney World. That’s all true. That’s the bad stuff. Let’s talk about the good stuff.
Christmas at Disney World
Christmas time is the best time of the year at Walt Disney World. You won’t believe how the parks, the hotels … everywhere you turn you’ll see Christmas. It’s when the resort is at it’s absolute best. If you don’t ride a single ride you could spend your whole time looking at the Christmas decorations, watching the shows and checking out the Gingerbread houses. It’s mindblowing.
Pop Century vs. All Star Resorts
Now, about the All Star Resort vs. the Pop Century. Yes, Dad’s favorite is the Pop Century and yes, I think you’ll be happier there. Why? Because of the bus situation. It’s less noticeable during the busiest times, but the All Star Resorts share buses. The Pop Century has dedicated buses. Plus, the Pop Century has a better food court. (Disney learned lessons from the All Stars and put them into the Pop Century.) If you have a child that loves sports, one of the movies, or music you might want to stick with the All Star Resort because there is not that big a difference, but all in all I prefer the Pop Century.
Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day
I wouldn’t even try to go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day. Been there, done that, never going back. It sound so romantic, but the reality is something very different. By 11am, on Christmas day the Magic Kingdom will be closed to all visitors. It might be open to guests staying in a Disney Hotel, but I doubt it.
If you did get in, you would have to stand in line for everything. Just getting something to eat can take an hour or more and that’s at the “fast” food places. Waits for rides will exceed 2 hours for almost every ride. Just walking down Main Street is difficult. No, I’m not a fan of the Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day.
So which park to go to when we arrive on your surprise trip to Walt Disney World? Epcot. My recommendation for Christmas Day is Epcot. Why? Because it has the biggest walkways and handles crowds better than the other parks. I would highly recommend you get a reservation for the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package. I can’t think of a better way to end Christmas Day then listening to the Christmas Story.
Dealing with Crowds
The week of Christmas is the most crowded of the year. So you really need to have a plan when it comes to dealing with crowds during your surprise trip to Walt Disney World. Get to the parks early, ride the busiest rides first, try to eat at off times, HAVE A PLAN. Touringplans.com is a great resource for assisting in your plan. They have park plans that will help you minimize the effect of the holiday crowds.
Dad’s Bottom Line
Lara, a surprise trip to Walt Disney World is a really good thing. Yes, it will be different, but you’re going to Disney World! Go, relax, see the sites, don’t worry too much about the rides, slow down, take everything in and have fun.