Our Family Christmas Trip, Dec. 21-27

lauradee

New member
Thanks for opening up this thread with the boring title. I just figure that if you are looking for a Christmas trip report, you're wondering if it's a good time to go to WDW for you, and you want to know what you're reading about. So here's my tale of my family's visit during one of the busiest weeks.

The What: Christmas trip to WDW for our family
The Who: me, DH, DS18 and DD15
The When: Dec. 21-27
The Where: POR, plus a side trip to Islands of Adventure
The How: "Free" dining, 7-day tickets without Park Hoppers, Magic Bands
The Why: Our last family trip was in December 2010. We are all tied to the school calendar, and we like December temperatures at WDW better than summer ones, so it is actually a choice for us to go at Christmas. Since DS is planning to go to college in the fall, this will probably be our last family trip for a while.:RpS_sad:

Saturday, Dec. 21: Our plane arrived at MCO with a slight delay, so around 3:45 p.m. instead of 2:50. We got our first test with the Magic Bands with the Magical Express, and they worked great. No checking in! Although we signed up for a text about our room, that never happened. At POR, I went to the online check-in desk, which I didn’t find to be that much different from the regular check-in desk. The CM joked that DS would be responsible for the charges, and he said, “Sure! I have her credit card!” I had given him my credit card for gas, and he still had it! DH went to the concierge to change our FP+ times. We headed off to building 26 and then to the West Depot to a not recommended red DHS, arriving at the gates around 6 p.m.

We chose DHS because we wanted to see the Osbourne Lights and Fantasmic, and we weren’t sure if we would have another night to do those. First up was FP+ for Toy Story Mania. FP+ worked in our favor the very first night because under FP-, we would not have gotten FPs for much. We decided to take our chances with the ABC Commissary, which wasn’t bad. They even had a pretty good gingerbread cupcake.

Next was FP+ with Tower of Terror. We walked into the 8:00 F! There were sections blocked off for the dining package, which confused me because I thought the dining package was only for the first show. I don’t think the stadium completely filled up on the far end. DH’s glowing ears changed colors along with the show. After that, it was time to use the FP+ at Star Tours and to go see the Osbourne Lights. The Streets of America were pretty uncrowded by that time. We got some breakfast muffins at The Writer's Stop and headed home to POR.

Lowlights: really nothing

Highlights: getting three FP+ times with a late afternoon arrival, having a good first night at DHS
 

lauradee

New member
Sunday, Dec. 22: Today was a side trip to Universal. I’m the only one in the family who hasn’t been. We checked into renting a car but ended up taking a taxi. That ended up being a good choice because it was less $, less hassle, and much more convenient. Trips to and back, with tip, were around $40 each.

We got there close to 8 a.m. and were kept in what my kids jokingly called “a corral”. At 8:30, the employees said, “Have a fun day!” and we were off to The Hulk. I briefly wondered what the early admission people thought about having only 30 minutes in the park instead of 1 hour. Maybe early admission started at 7:30 instead of 8? We walked onto The Hulk and Spiderman and then headed to the Wizarding World.

One thing we don’t like about Universal is the lockers. Just as we got to those, the employees loudly advertised that the Single Rider Line, where we were heading, was very short, leading to tons of people going that way. Then, there were “technical difficulties”, and we were in the Gryffindor Common Room through a couple of dialogues. But it was still only about 15 minutes of waiting during Christmas Break. We all LOVED the ride and went through single rider a second time.

There was a short wait for the Chinese Fireball with Dueling Dragons. By then, it was close to 11 a.m., so we popped into the Three Broomsticks for lunch and Butterbeer.

It was on to Seuss Landing where we rode the The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley. I loved the decorated truffula trees. But the Wizarding World was definitely the best part of the park.

So that was it for Islands of Adventure. To summarize, I felt it was worth the tickets and cab fare just for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we are very casual fans. DS is the only one who has read all of the books and watched all the movies. But this part of Islands of Adventure is truly amazing and made us feel like we were there with Harry.

After a quick cab ride, it was back to Riverside where we all took a nap. Around 6 p.m., we headed to a not recommended Epcot with FP+ for Soarin’, Nemo and Mission: Space and a dinner reservation for 8:20 at Teppan Edo. Our first ride was Soarin’, followed by Nemo which really didn’t need a FP+, and then single rider on Test Track with a posted wait of 20 minutes. Next was both versions of Mission: Space without waits in either line.

We headed to Japan. We had eaten at Teppan Edo once before with another family from Texas. Guess what? We got another family from Texas this time, too! Their kids were in college, so DS connected with them while the chef from “Pensacola, Japan” joked around with DD because she wanted her steak well done – “Just go outside and watch the fireworks, walk around, and then maybe your beef jerky will be ready.” What can I say? She’s my daughter. We don’t like pink in our meat.

We caught the second half of Illuminations from the steps going up to the restaurant. I thought it was a pretty good view, and there was a Christmas message. We took our time on the way out, so we were at the end of the crowds. DH really likes Illuminations. I feel like I haven't given it a fair shot because I've never seen the whole show, but it is my least favorite of the nighttime shows. It was still great to watch it and then walk out without the crowds, though.

Lowlights: again, not really anything

Highlights: The Forbidden Journey, The Three Broomsticks, Soarin’, and Teppan Edo
 
M

Merida

Guest
I'm reading along, too! As my daughter gets older and when we can no longer take her out of school (and because we hate heat) I imagine that a Christmas trip may be in our future, too!
 

deebee

New member
This is great. I've been "doing" Christmas for our family for over 30 years, and I'm tired. I've threatened to take off to WDW for Christmas one year in the near future, and I'm not really kidding! I've been wondering what it's really like to be there that time of the year, and you are even staying in my favourite resort! If it sounds like something I can handle, next year may be the year (whether DH likes it or not!). :RpS_biggrin:
 

lauradee

New member
Josh, this post is more meaningful now.

fizboBunny and Merida, thanks for reading!

deebee - your future trip depends on my report?!? Yikes, the pressure! POR was not heavily decorated, but it was very pretty and never felt crowded, even at the food court. I would definitely stay there again during Christmas week.

Monday, Dec. 23: It was back to Epcot, the most recommended park. DS decided to sleep in. My kids are used to being the only ones on the bus in the morning, but we never were. I guess easywdw’s recommended days are taking off. We arrived about 8:20, and even though we were far from the first ones in the park, everyone was lined up in the middle. We were the first ones in a turnstile on the right. People in the middle lines kept looking at us. A few others joined us, and then as soon as the CM’s showed up at turnstiles, there was a big push to the side turnstiles. The gates opened closer to 9:00 than 8:45.

We were in the first group of riders for Soarin’. Then it was off to Test Track for a short wait in Single Rider followed by Starbucks. We decided to check out the line for Frozen, but at 10 a.m., we were looking at a 2 ½-3 hour wait! If it had actually been Idina Menzel greeting, we would have jumped on that, but instead we decided to check out other things. Spaceship Earth was at a 30-minute wait – nope. We walked around the aquarium and waited for Turtle Talk with Crush. But it was 90 degrees outside and about the same inside, and DH accidentally deleted our Soarin' FP+. Instead, we decided to go to a FP+ kiosk so DH could adjust FP+times while DD and I looked around Mouse Gears.

By this time, DS had joined us at the “Character Spit”, as I texted him. We did Test Track with Single Rider again – about 20 minutes – and then took a Friendship Boat to Italy and our 12:45 CP lunch at Via Napoli.

Luigi was a charming waiter. We have never had bad service here. He gave us his recommendations, and DS got those and gave them high marks. Unfortunately, Via Napoli no longer has the doughnut dessert DS was anticipating, but he enjoyed the crème soda, and I got my favorite dessert ever with the chocolate and cherries.

After lunch, we wandered around the World Showcase and tasted wine samples from Germany and liked 1 of the 3. We saw The Three Kings in Mexico, rode the Gran Fiesta, and then used FP+ for Maelstrom and caught a bit of the Norwegian storyteller. By then, it was around 3:40, so we went to check out the line for the CP. There were already people in line, and we are big fans of Steven Curtis Chapman, so we got in line just before 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. show. Luckily, our spots were in the shade.

We ended up in the third row with a great view of everything – the musicians, the Voices of Liberty, the choirs, and Steven Curtis Chapman. He did a wonderful job of narrating and with his closing remarks. I didn’t miss the song cuts, but I did miss “One Solitary Life”.

We decided to end the day with our FP+ for Soarin’. We took the bus to Riverside and shared some quick-service meals at the food court. DS barely made a dent in his huge box of pasta! Then, it was off to bed for an early day at MK.

Lowlights: 2 of the 3 German wines, long lines for Frozen, overall increasing crowds, hot day

Highlights: Candlelight Processional, Via Napoli, top row of Soarin’
 
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lauradee

New member
Tuesday, Dec. 24: This was easyWDW’s first recommended park for us, MK. With an EMH of 7 a.m. Yep, that's 6 a.m. Texas time. We left our room around 6:15 a.m. The bus was full by the North Depot, and we saw a lot of confused-looking people as we bypassed the East Depot. The bus let us out at MK as the train was pulling up for the Good Morning show. DS had used her left finger for the first couple of days because her right finger had a band-aid on it. Today was the first day the turnstile turned blue, but a CM quickly reset her Magic Band. It was a little strange walking down Main Street with a dark sky and all the lights on. Fortunately, there was an internal Rope Drop at Tomorrowland, so we were able to catch up and be among the first 25-30 riders for Space Mountain. We learned that we could be at the back of Rope Drop but still be ahead of most of the crowds.

Next was Buzz, which DH won. We headed to Fantasyland, walked onto Dumbo, waited about 10 minutes for Ariel, then walked onto Peter Pan. Next was a wait for Cinderella and Aurora. The posted time was 10 minutes, but they took a break before our group. We headed to Big Thunder with a steadily moving line. DH and DD braved Splash, another walk-on but with a stop in the middle. It was at this time, about 9:30 a.m., that we started noticing the park getting more crowded.

Next was the Jingle Cruise with a short wait and Pirates, a walk-on. We got an email that Space was down, which would affect our FP time. We decided to ride the Transit Authority – and got to see Space with the lights on! Fortunately, Space wasn’t down for very long, so we used FP+. We moved our other two FP+ times to the evening. On the way to lunch, around 11 a.m., DH and DD decided to go to Cosmic Ray’s while DS and I headed to his favorite, Casey’s Corner.

I’m a speech therapist (SLP), and through Instagram and blogs, I had connected with another SLP who loves Disney and just happened to be at MK on the same day! I could tell she was a little leery of meeting someone in person, but really? How bad could it be? We were both at Disney with our families. Plus, I had met a few people from TGM in the past, so I figured it was pretty safe. She described her party, and I embarrassed DS by walking up to them and saying, “Are you sparklleslp?” It was, and we had a nice visit for a few minutes. It was the first time I had met a fellow SLP blogger in person but hopefully won’t be the last.

My family met at the yellow umbrellas to share lunch. We caught the end of a castle show and our 33rd viewing of the Celebrate parade. Despite our best efforts, we did not beat it out of the park. If I had planned better, I would have known that the Christmas parade was at 12:30, but my kids were ready for their afternoon nap, so it was back to POR.

And speaking of planning, I have become much more lax the more we've gone. Note #1: buy baggies in different sizes and stock up before the trip in case I decide to fill up baggies with Christmas cookies and hand out the day before the flight. Note #2: remember breakfast bars since that's what we eat in the mornings. Note #3: Fulton's General Store does not carry hair gel. Buy beforehand along with the baggies in case DD decides to use the remaining drops from the almost-empty tube to tame the wispies around her forehead.

Around 4:30 p.m., we headed back to MK. I trust Josh that it was a most recommended day. But know that going on the most recommended day during Christmas break means walking single file among wall-to-wall people, some of whom will stop in the middle of a path to set up tripods or to park strollers and scooters while checking the map. A recommended day during Christmas Break might be a non-recommended day any other time of the year.

We used an FP+ for Big Thunder. Next was the Castle lighting at 6:15. DS held a little girl up so she could see, and the wonderment was all over her face. After the show, everyone was trying to take pictures, and there was no way out. I had a 6:45 ADR at Be Our Guest that I was not going to miss, so we single-filed out along the side. Check-in took forever. What takes so long about checking in? Ours usually takes seconds, but it seems like wherever we go, the people in front us take much longer. Is that just my perception?

We were in the Rose Gallery with Frankie. We pretty much agreed this was the best room. The West Wing is nice, but dark and small, and everyone walks around the tables - and close to the food - to see everything. The Ballroom is big and loud, although tables near with windows with the snow would be nice. Our room was quiet and light.

DH got the rack of lamb, the kids got the steak, and I got the seafood pastry puff. Desserts were the fruity puff for DH and DD, the chocolate cupcake for DS, and the grey stuff for me. The Tropical Fruit Cream Puff was the surprising winner and Frankie’s suggestion. DS thought the chocolate cupcake wasn’t as good as it looked. The chocolate under the grey stuff was more like a cookie or wafer.

The whole experience was wonderful! Be Our Guest is my new favorite restaurant! The Beast greets each room about every 45 minutes, plus you get a picture with him after the meal.

After dinner, it was time to use FP+ for the Jingle Cruise. We caught the end of the first parade and Celebrate the Magic before Holiday Wishes near the bottom left of the hub. After the fireworks, there was a time when the crowd did not move because there were so many people leaving. We ended up at the train station with a wonderful view of the second parade and easy exit to the buses.

Highlights: Accomplishing everything we wanted to, Be Our Guest, Holiday Wishes, lots of CMs quickly helping with Magic Bands and FP+

Lowlights Crowded walkways, lack of Christmas jokes on the Jingle Cruise
 
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beachta1

Well-known member
You covered SO much ground on xmas eve. I'm impressed!! Sounds like the crowds didn't totally affect your day which is awesome. Looking forward to hearing about the rest!
 
I was amazed at how much we were able to accomplish this past week. It was crowded, but it didn't stop us. As everyone says, a good plan makes Christmas week enjoyable. Of course, you have some REALLY early mornings. And we never made any firework shows… We were just far too tired. Something for next time. This is a great, detailed report! Thanks for sharing!
 

deebee

New member
It sounds like you got so much accomplished, even with the crowds. We are early morning people - always do rope drop, etc., so I'm thinking it would be possible for us to have a fun time in spite of the wall-to-wall people. As long as DH gets to ride Soarin' and TOT, he would be happy. Thanks for giving us a sense of what it would be like.
 
It sounds like you got so much accomplished, even with the crowds. We are early morning people - always do rope drop, etc., so I'm thinking it would be possible for us to have a fun time in spite of the wall-to-wall people. As long as DH gets to ride Soarin' and TOT, he would be happy. Thanks for giving us a sense of what it would be like.
We did ToT 3 TIMES!!!! two of those were in the morning in a row with no FP at all. RR at that same time. If you are already accustomed to RD then you'll have no troubles. And seriously.. it didn't feel that crowded to me. Just make sure you are on top of it with reservations, etc… I don't think anyone on here would have troubles. The people who didn't know what was going on were ticked off, but they were arriving at the parks at noon with no fast passes and pissed that lines were 2 hours and all FP distributed.
 

lauradee

New member
beachta1 - yes, we did everything we wanted to!
IHearAllThingsDisney - always leave something for the next time! We didn't do the late stuff till our kids were older.
deebee - I think a Christmas trip would be very possible for you! Some of our friends went over Thanksgiving and had success with night EMH, but we are all on the school schedule and were still in that early riser mode. Of course, it's getting very easy by this point in my break to have later mornings at home. Your DH could probably ride ToT several times in a row.

Wednesday, Dec. 25: Merry Christmas from Animal Kingdom! Again, we left the room an hour before the 8 a.m. park opening - after Santa found us - with a pretty full bus but just missed Rope Drop. I was not on FP+ with the other three members of my family, so I stopped at a kiosk while everyone else went to Exedition Everest. Because Animal Kingdom is only FP+ now, the kiosks were slightly full but moved quickly. The first CM found our family’s FP+ to be confusing, so a manager fixed it.

Meanwhile, DH and the kids were riding single rider at Everest over and over. They ended up with 12 times each, breaking the previous record of 11, while I broke my previous record of 1 with a whopping 4 trips.

Then it was off to walk-ons at Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, and It’s Tough to be a Bug before going back to Everest with a 10:30 FP+. We hit the 11:00 show of Finding Nemo, which was not full. Lunch was at Anandupar quick service followed by a 12:30 Safari with FP+, 1:30 Lion King, 2:20 Pocahontas meet, and 3:00 Flights of Wonder. We had an FP+ for Lion King at 2:30, but we decided to go to the earlier show. And then I convinced everyone to stay for the birds since I'd never seen the show. After that, it was time for our afternoon naps.

We headed out around 5:30 p.m. for our 6:30 ADR at Ohana but didn’t get there till about 6:45. We found Ohana to be disappointing. I know it was Christmas Day and it was probably the end of a very busy day and the servers probably wanted to be home, but we felt the service was kind of like, “Here’s your food, eat, and leave”. The beginning course was delivered very quickly after we sat down, and the meat soon followed. I asked for well-done steak. That request was forgotten and once remembered, still arrived very pink in the middle. The best parts were the salad, noodles, and dessert. Basically, we felt rushed, and I'm not sure Ohana will stay on our must-do list. DH and I had a better experience at Kona Cafe in April, but the kids are hard to convince to change.

The nice part was taking a relaxing boat ride back to our bus at MK.

Lowlights: Ohana
Highlights: Doing everything we wanted at AK (with only 2 FP+), the boat ride from the Polynesian to MK, Christmas Day with my family at WDW

Note about FP+: The FP return lines at MK seemed busier to us, which we attributed to the use of both FP+ and legacy FP. But at AK, which did not use legacy FP, the FP lines also seemed busy. We did return near the opening of our window, as did a lot of other people, it seemed. It might be better to arrive in the middle of the window. Also, when the line for FP was long, the CM's blocked off the stand-by line and cleared out the FP line, leaving some very unhappy looking stand-by guests. I don't know how to time stand-by waits to avoid a FP rush, but I know I wouldn't want to be waiting on the FP line to clear out. As DH says, WDW ran FP+ during Christmas break, and it seemed to be successful. It's here to stay.
 

lauradee

New member
Well, I don't know if anyone is still reading, but I have two days left to cover, and I feel like I need to finish.

Thursday, Dec. 26: MK was a bright green with a 7 a.m. EMH opening. When the alarm went off, DS turned over in the murphy bed and said, "I'm sleeping in", so we left him. DD's reply was that she didn't know sleeping in was an option, but she decided to make Rope Drop with us.

Shortly after getting to the bus depot, THREE MK buses pulled up! We just got on the first one. Here's another lesson learned: the first driver was slow. As in going 20 miles below the speed limit. There were only two families getting on, but the other two buses were out of sight quickly. That means the next two buses actually caught up with and passed the first bus. My only consolation is hoping they made another circuit around POR before heading to MK.

By the time we got to MK, the opening show was over. No train, no last strains of "Good morning, good morning!" We went to Space, which was closed and then walked onto Dumbo and Ariel's Undersea Adventure and met Alice with a super short line. We went back to Space, but it was still closed, so we headed back to Fantasyland and Pooh and went to the Rapunzel/Snow White Meet and Greet. There was a 10-minute wait posted, but again, we hit it around 7:45 and their first break, so we left the 10+-minute line and went to a steadily moving line at Big Thunder, and even though I had ponchos, no one wanted to ride Splash. We went back for a quick walk-through the cemetery at Haunted Mansion and then went to Small World. After that, we saw the Tremaines, DD's favorite characters. They were meeting for their first set, so DD jumped behind the cast member and got to be the first one in line. The Tremaines were unhappy that Cinderella was making them meet in a puddle outside of the castle, ha. We spun on the teacups. By this time, Space was open with a very long line. Buzz also had a long line, but we got in with 25-minute wait, and it took about the whole 25 minutes, but was pretty good for Christmas week.

We had been texting DS so that he could make our 10:30 FP+ with Belle. He was on the bus, so we jumped on the TTA while we waited for him. We all went to Philharmagic then to Enchanted Tales, where DS got to be soldier and gamely played along. We headed out to the boats and our lunch at Whispering Canyon.

I have to say that Whispering Canyon is not my favorite. I really just like to be served without antics, and I don't think the food justifies the joking around. We've had waiters over- and under-the-top, and I was annoyed with both. However, the other three members LOVE it, and the apple caramel dessert is DD's favorite and the one thing she won't miss. And I do love Wilderness Lodge. The restaurant was very uncrowded, and we went with the platter. We had a waiter who was just right for us. He joked around but provided great service. In fact, my kids are still laughing about how he taught me to take a selfie. It was really a fun lunch. And DD found a new favorite dessert, the caramel cheesecake I got.

We headed back to POR for an afternoon break and left our room about 5:00. DH decided he wanted a Main Street Barber Shop haircut, and a teacher I work with had just arrived at MK with her family. DD stayed with DH while DS went with me to Dumbo. It was pretty nice to see someone from our hometown! We used FP+ at Big Thunder, which we like at night. We were ready for a quick-service meal, and I suggested Tortuga Tavern, not realizing that it had turned into table-service for the holidays. There were plenty of CMs passing out menus and encouraging us to come to the $35/person all-you-can-eat buffet, but it didn't feel right to us. DS wasn't excited about The Diamond Horseshoe, so we ended up on the top floor of Columbia Harbour House and were all happy. Then, we walked BACK to use the night-time FP+ at Jungle Cruise. The FP+ line was longer than the stand-by line, and one woman even questioned that. Soon after, the queues in the FP line opened up, and the FP people were all loaded onto boats. Long FP lines can be a perception instead of a reality.

On the way out, DS decided to try a Dole Whip, which he loved. We watched a bit of the Christmas show at the Castle. The line for Space was still too long, and we ended up exiting the backstage way just before the 9 p.m. parade. I wanted to go to see the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, but everyone else was tired, so it was back to POR and bed.

Lowlights: slow morning bus, crowded walkways at MK, Space being closed
Highlights: Whispering Canyon, seeing friends, doing everything we wanted
 

lauradee

New member
Friday, Dec. 27:This was our last morning, with a flight leaving at 2:30 p.m. We headed to the 8 a.m. opening at DHS and were the first ones in line at a turnstile. Much like Epcot, there were a lot of people in the center turnstiles but none at the side turnstiles. I watched the CMs for some kind of signal, but I don't get when they decide to open. All of a sudden, closer to 8 than 7:45, our CM turned around and told us to go, and the green Mickey band lights started swirling. The day before, DH had set up some FP+ times with our concierge, but we weren't able to get Toy Story Mania, so that was our first ride. Buzz and Woody were already meeting and didn't have a line, so we stopped in there. Breakfast was at Starring Rolls, where DD declared her danish the best she ever had.

Next, we rode Rock n' Roller Coaster three times, twice as walk-ons with Single Rider and once with a FP+, and then tested our stomachs on the Tower of Terror with a FP+. I got a text that our flight was delayed by a couple of hours, so I stopped stressing about getting back to POR as much. We had already planned to be walking out of the park at 10 a.m., but it was only 9 a.m. We used FP+ on Star Tours then wandered around the Streets of America and met characters from Monsters Inc. University, Cars, and Phineas and Ferb.

When we left at 10:00, it was like swimming upstream. There were people coming out of buses and trams non-stop. We had to walk single-file to the bus. It was the first time I had actually seen the incoming crowds at 10, and I was amazed. It definitely made our decisions for early mornings worth it.

We got to POR and quickly grabbed our bags. We were hoping to change our Magical Express time to later, but with the number of people leaving and checking in, we weren't able to change the time. It was 11:10, and we still had gifts to buy, snack credits to use, and DH decided he wanted a bacon burger from the food court. While I stayed with the luggage, DD bought coffee mugs for herself and friend using the charging privileges from her Magic Band. I sent DS to get snacks, thinking he was 18 years old and would get Rice Krispy treats or gummy bears or something. I should have been more direct. He came back with two regular-sized bags of chips and four drinks that weren't going to make it past security at the airport. DS went to help DH get lunch, and the Magical Express pulled up. Luckily, there were a lot of people getting on. We got at the end of the line, and more people showed up. I pretended I couldn't find something in my purse and went to the end of the line to buy more time. DH and DS came back with the lunches, and we were on our way.

It was kind of hectic, but once we were at MCO, the flight before ours left, and we were able to find the good chairs with the chargers and relax a bit. I got a book to read, Reconstructing Amelia, and it was a good read for the wait and flight. So here we are back home, sadly thinking about how a future trip is really going to be way in the future with two kids going to college soon.

So, to summarize:
FP+: We didn't like this idea because we are used to getting a lot of FPs. But really, being limited to three didn't affect us at all. We still did everything we wanted to during Christmas Week. Rope Drop is more important than FP timing. On Christmas Day, we only needed 2 of our 3 FP+.
Magic Bands: Disney has made it very easy to go to the parks with the bands and a smart phone only. And yes, we joked that the bands were tracking us but that we were still happy to put them on. The kids want Magic Bands for their high school, but I don't think the idea of using RFID chips for students in a high school with 2,900 students is going to fly in Central Texas.
Lowlights: The crowds. Even though we did everything we wanted to, Disney at Christmas is not like the commercials where families have parks to themselves and just run up to characters. Be prepared to walk single file during some times of the day.
Highlights: We had a great family trip. No meltdowns or arguments. It's kind of sad but yet exciting that our family life will be changing.

If you are considering a Christmas week trip, I would say it's very doable with planning and early mornings. Keep expectations in check - there will be crowds, there will be waiting, and you will have to make choices about what to do or forego based on either crowds or fatigue. Our longest waits were a couple of rope drops and the Candlelight Processional, and we were willing to make those waits. In fact, one lady on Twitter didn't believe DH when he tweeted what we had accomplished on Christmas Eve. For our family, whose life revolves around the school calendar, this is a great time to go.
 

deebee

New member
Thanks for finishing. It's been the perfect antidote today to another weekend of cold and snow! It sounds like you really managed the crowds well, and that with a plan, even the busiest time of the year is doable. (I know you say this Josh, but it's nice to hear some experiences of people who don't do this all the time).
 

TheButterBunny

New member
I've just read through this and loved it! I'm (hopefully) returning to do my post-grad teaching qualification next year and so I'll only be able to travel when the schools are off - so Christmas will be a real possibility! I'm amazed at how much you got done in the mornings, and you still seemed to have relaxed time in the afternoon. It's really made me a lot more optimistic about travelling during peak times, thanks for taking the time to share. :)
 
Great Christmas trip report. Right now, we have 1/3 kids a teen, but I think when 2/3 are teens, we will visit WDW during the holiday season. I LOVED how much you were able to accomplish with good planning and early mornings!
 
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