Surviving New Years at Walt Disney World
December 29, 2018
It’s no secret that New Years Eve at Walt Disney World is c r a z y ! Who wouldn’t want to see fireworks at the place that does fireworks the best?
Surviving New Year’s Eve
Get to Magic Kingdom early!!
It would be awesome to spend the day relaxing at your Resort and arrive at the Magic Kingdom shortly before midnight to watch the fireworks.
Unfortunately, Magic Kingdom has a tendency to hit their maximum capacity on New Year’s Eve (And hours before the fireworks even begins).
If you must be in Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, be sure you get there early, even if it means getting there by 10 AM for the midnight fireworks.
Since you’ll be there all day, consider using this time to people watch, check out all the hidden Magic you miss when you’re spending your day running from ride to ride, or maybe finish that Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game you started. Everyone knows that it’s overly busy, so using the day to complain about crowd levels is not a good way to spend your day. And if you can make it on a ride or two, consider it a bonus.
To better your chances of getting into Magic Kingdom, stay at a Disney Resort. The Park will close to non-Disney Guests first. So, if you’re staying on-Property, you do get a better chance of getting in over another Guest who is staying off-site. If you see some people getting turned away while others are being allowed to enter, it means that the Magic Kingdom is reaching full capacity, so prepare yourself for mayhem.
And remember, please be patient with Cast Members. They’re just doing their job.
Consider EPCOT or Hollywood Studios
Both of these Parks also do their own New Year’s Celebrations. If crowd control is an issue, Hollywood Studios should be the least crowded of the 3 Celebrations and they still feature fireworks and fun.
While the popular choice for New Year’s is Magic Kingdom, EPCOT will have its share of crowds, too. But, since it’s a much larger park, with a larger viewing area for fireworks, it’s likely that it won’t seem as compacted as Magic Kingdom. But, be prepared for LOTS of waiting in this Park, too. It WILL be busy!
Celebrate at nearby Resorts
If you’re not in the mood to fight for an inch of personal space, there are other places to see the fireworks besides Magic Kingdom (and they don’t even require a Park ticket).
If Magic Kingdom’s fireworks are what you’re after, several area Resorts are within view.
Hitch a ride to the Polynesian, the Contemporary, or the Grand Floridian and stake out a spot. These Resorts also have music piped in from the Park, so you won’t miss anything.
You won’t have an entire area to yourself, but at least you won’t be squished into the Magic Kingdom like sardines, either. But again, other Guests will have the same idea, so plan ahead and get there early.
If you’d like to plan a special night out or you want the benefit of being able to park at one of the Resorts, book a Dining Reservation. Garden Grill, at the Contemporary, has an especially amazing view of the fireworks. And unless someone taller than you blocks your view, you shouldn’t have to fight for a good view, either.
Book a VIP Experience
For the ultimate New Year’s Eve Experience, you can book Disney Countdown to Midnight: A New Year’s Eve Celebration and celebrate like a celebrity in the Convention Center at the Contemporary.
This does cost $275 per Guest (tax and gratuity included), but that’s the running price for luxury, I guess.
Spend your night eating signature dishes from California Grill, Flying Fish Cafe, Jiko – The Cooking Place, and Narcoossee’s. Dance the night away in the Fantasia Ballroom (with a drink in hand, if that’s your thing). Don’t forget to take those all-important selfies in front of the variety of themed photo ops and backdrops before being led out to Porte Cochere to sip champagne and see the fireworks.
I agree, it’s expensive. But, not a bad time, if you ask me.
With a slightly less price tag, the Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration is a fun, family-friendly celebration, also at the Contemporary.
For $190 per Guest (tax and gratuity included), you’ll munch on a Pixar-buffet that is sure to have something for everyone. I’ve seen items like mahi-mahi and Manhattan filet on the same menu as kid-favorites like mac and cheese and chicken fingers.
Once you’ve had your fill, get your dance on with an interactive DJ who looks like he just drove out of Radiator Springs. There will also be kid friendly activities to keep the little ones busy.
Just like the Disney Countdown to Midnight Experience, the night ends with fireworks at Porte Cochere.
Both experiences can be booked online – just click the highlighted Celebrations to bring you to their respective pages. At the time I wrote this post, there was still availability for both Celebrations.
Take a more relaxed approach at your Resort (or other Resorts)
Select Resorts celebrate the New Year in the lobby. Each resort will have their own thing, but traditionally the Grand Floridian holds a balloon drop in their lobby.
Many Guests will either not know that anything is going on at the Resort or they will be fighting to get into the Parks, so it’s likely the Resorts won’t be jam packed for New Year’s. But, the best part is that when you’re done partying, you’re just a quick walk back to your room for the night.
Celebrate on December 30th
Both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT are showing the New Year’s fireworks 2 days in a row. Sure, watching the fireworks right at midnight on December 31st is the preferred way to celebrate the New Year. But for those of us who aren’t big on maximum crowd levels (and is not blessed with height), I would happily watch them a day early if it meant escaping that madness.
And since you already caught the fireworks the day before, you may want to make a plan to go to Animal Kingdom on the 31st. They don’t have a New Year’s Celebration, nor are they open extremely late that night, so I would expect Animal Kingdom to have the lowest attendance that day.
You can then party at your resort that night or head to bed early for Rope Drop the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be ready to ride while the rest of the Guests sleep in after partying into the early morning.