I love your site! My family and I are taking the plunge and will be visiting Disney for Christmas this year! We’re arriving on December 21st (for free dining) and staying until December 27th. I’ve read your book cover-to-cover and have been doing a ton of research to ensure we plan the best possible trip. As of right now, my family, which includes me, my husband and my three kids: son: 12, daughter: 9 and daughter: 7 will be staying at the Coronado Springs Resort. My husband and I have been to Disney a bunch of times, but this will be the first “real” trip with our 7-year-old daughter.
We’re excited to be visiting, but I’d be lying if I said the crowd reports don’t make me a bit nervous. People keep asking why we’re doing it – why put yourself through all the stress. Frankly, I’m starting to have second thoughts. So… why do you do it? You obviously enjoy it during Christmas, as you continue to go each year.
I totally agree with the concern over the crowds. When we first booked our trip in 2009, I supplemented my studying for finals with research about Disney during Christmas. I started reading about the crowds and how the attraction wait times could be astronomical. I remember calling my mom and telling her that I thought we’d made a mistake. She replied by telling me “we’ll make the best of it.”
We made a lot of mistakes on that trip. For one – we totally under packed and were not prepared for the unseasonably cold and inconsistent temperatures of Central Florida. Back then, there were no FP+, so we just winged our days. If we felt like going to Magic Kingdom one day, we went. I’m not saying this is a bad way to enjoy the parks – I know plenty of people who wing it. But, with Christmas being so busy and crowded, and with the addition of FP+, it would be a mistake not to plan out your days.
I’m not helping yet, am I?
Okay, so why do we keep going back? Well, it’s Disney. Growing up, my parents didn’t venture too many places for vacation. They didn’t like flying, so they stuck to destinations accessible by car. Yes, my dad drove from New York to Disney – he was a real trooper. Our vacations usually consisted of a Disney trip every 2-to-4 years, with smaller trips to New Hampshire or Pennsylvania sprinkled in between. My sister and I grew up at Disney. The same way someone may have fond memories of their “summers at the shore” or family vacations at Lake George, my family has countless memories at Disney.
But that doesn’t quite sell you on Christmas, does it?
As you probably know, Disney is an incredibly magical place. There’s a special feeling you get from the moment you arrive. Everyone is happy and smiling, kids and adults are wearing ridiculous Mickey ears, and there’s a feeling of nostalgia. Now, imagine that tenfold. You’re literally at the happiest place on Earth, during the happiest time of the year. There’s Christmas music playing everywhere you go, the parks are decorated, and the resorts have gorgeous Christmas trees and displays – what more could you ask for?
Another big motivator is the weather. I’m almost afraid to write this, but we’ve been incredibly lucky the past two years. We had very cold weather during our first two Christmases at Disney. We packed short-sleeve shirts and jeans and were miserable. I think it dipped into the low 30s one night. Last year? It was around 80 degrees and sunny most of our trip, with the last three days being muggy and rainy. If you get the 80-degree weather, it’s a nice treat for guests from cooler climates. It’s even nice to get weather in the 60’s!
Also, think about this – while your friends and family are cooking and cleaning the table on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you’ll be wiping your mouth clean after a big dinner at one of Disney’s restaurants. You don’t have to worry about clearing the table or washing dishes. My family doesn’t even really decorate anymore! We put up some lights, but for the most part, Disney does the decorating for us. So when everyone is packing up their decorations on January 1st, we’re packing our bags to come home from a relaxing stress-free holiday vacation.
This biggest motivator, for me at least, is that it feels like Christmas lasts longer. The countdown to Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. You wait and wait and before you know it, it’s over. At Disney, we celebrate Christmas together, and then wake up and celebrate again. If we were home, December 26th would mean returning to reality. We’d return to work or go out with friends. But at Disney, it means another day at the parks creating memories. That, Molly, is the number one reason that keeps us coming back.