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How to Deal with New Years Crowds at Disney World

by Chris
(Deltona, FL, USA)

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“Me and my boyfriend have been going to Disney with our passes for a few months now, and we love it. We have hit every event that is possible, including the Halloween and Christmas party in the same year. (We are crazy.) However, we have wanted to branch from our comfort zone in terms of avoiding the crowds, and join the crowds for more intense holidays such as New Years for 2020.

We know for a fact it will be packed to the brim, but we would love to have some advice on how to fully enjoy the day full of chaos. Would you happen to have any advice you could give us for planning out a insane day such as one of these holidays? Thanks, Dad!”

Dealing with New Years Crowds at Disney World

The New Year's Eve Fireworks

The New Year’s Eve Fireworks are SPECTACULAR – Photo by Laurie Sapp

Oh, boy Chris. What a challenge. I do know a thing or two about dealing with crowds at Disney World so let’s see if we can give you some ideas.

Dad’s WDW Crowds page

My first and best way to deal with the crowds at WDW is to avoid them, and yes, on New Years Eve you can somewhat avoid them by going to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom will have lighter crowds than the other parks because there aren’t any fireworks.

But that’s probably not what you have in mind. You probably want to get right into the “chaos” and probably the fireworks. Mmmm…

Dad’s 3 Rules

Dad's Rules for avoiding crowds at WDW

The Rules

Here are my “3 Rules” for dealing with crowds. First you need to get to the park early. I’m talking at least an hour before regular opening time and 30 minutes or more on Extra Magic Hour days. Yes, I know, we’re talking very early in the morning on a day when you are going to be up very late at night, but you asked how to fully enjoy the day of chaos.

Dad’s Extra Magic Hours page

In 2018, the Magic Kingdom had morning Extra Magic Hours at 7am on New Years Eve. That means you would need to be at the park at 6:30.

If you’re not into that early of a morning, Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened at 9, which would mean arriving at 8. (But in 2020 I would avoid Hollywood Studios at all costs on New Years Eve with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”.)

So the first rule/advice would be to get to the park early.

Have a PLAN

As Herman Wouk famously said years ago “when in danger, when in doubt, run in circles scream and shout”. That’s kind of what a lot of people do when they arrive at Walt Disney World.

I am really big on having a PLAN, especially when you are going to be there on busy days. You should have a PLAN especially for that early morning time. That’s when you are going to get the most done. If you are there for Extra Magic Hours, you should be able to get several attractions done by noon.

You HAVE to have a PLAN so you’re not running in circles…

I have a whole book about how to create a Simple, Fun, Magic PLAN for your vacation.

Dad’s Simple Fun Magic Guide to WDW Planning book

Busy Rides and FastPass+

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in action

You really need a PLAN if you want to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Photo by Brett Svenson

The biggest thing you need to PLAN is your strategy for which attractions you want to visit. This part of the PLAN starts with FastPass+. Hopefully, you’re staying at a Disney Resort and can book FastPass reservations at the 60 day mark. Get the best ones you can (busiest rides).

Next comes riding the other “busy” rides in the morning. Whatever busy rides you don’t get FastPasses for, those should be the first things you tackle in the morning. For example, if you don’t get a FastPass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, that’s the first thing you should ride.

Those “rules” will help you work through the chaos.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

Chris, New Year’s Eve at WDW is a great thing to experience. If you spend follow the “3 rules”, I think you’ll have a great day and will be able to relax in the evening and start a new year in style.


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