“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Winter for many of us means cold weather, snow, and a lack of Vitamin D. Forget all that and make this winter one to remember by visiting Disney! Walt knew what he was doing when he decided to place Walt Disney World in the heart of Florida. He knew it would be that perfect place to visit year-round – and boy, are we thankful for that. As you start to plan your winter season vacation (between December 21 and Mar. 20), check out these 10 things to know before you visit Disney World in the winter.
Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy
1 – It Does Get Chilly
All the northerners are laughing at us southerners, but it does, in fact, get chilly even at Disney World. There have been some visits where we had to wear hats, mittens, and scarfs as Elsa froze things in the Sunshine State. Sure, it might not be as cold as wherever back home is for you, but typically jackets, pants, and maybe a hat are essential to have just in case. Now, let’s turn that around and let you know that we’ve also visited during winter when it feels like Hades is breathing down our necks. Tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits aren’t out of the question. We also must mention that Disney’s pools are heated! The bottom line is to check the weather in advance. Average temperatures can range between the low 40s and go into the upper 70s.
2 – Watch the Crowd Levels
Winter holds four major holidays, including Christmas, New Year, Martin Luther King Jr., and Valentine’s Day. You’ll want to know that anytime there is a holiday, Disney gets flooded with people. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are the two busiest times to visit Disney World with regular park closures due to max capacity. If you are planning to visit during these holidays, you can expect mass crowds. If you are interested in lower crowd levels, mid-January, February, and early March are ideal times!
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, attendance levels are limited and capped. Disney has not given an end to the phased reopening with crowd limits.
3 – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
After winter rolls in and Christmas is in full force, Magic Kingdom flourishes with Christmas decorations and music around every corner. It’s really a beautiful time to see the park! The best way to get the most out of Christmas at Magic Kingdom is by purchasing a special event ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The party is held on select nights after Halloween through Christmas. This is a great way to get the early start to your winter season rolling!
Editor’s Note: no decision has been made on whether or not the 2020 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will run this year. It may not, as the Halloween party was canceled.
4 – Epcot Is the Place to Be!
While Magic Kingdom rocks the Christmas season, winter at Epcot is amazing! During the winter season, Epcot has two memorable festivals. The first one that starts to wrap up in early winter is the Epcot International Festival of Holidays. Stroll around the World Showcase to experience what holidays are like in multiple different countries by hearing storytellers, tasting holiday food, and drinking special holiday beverages. You’ll also want to catch the Candlelight Processional. Once this festival is over after the Christmas season, Epcot launches the International Festival of Arts. This is the perfect winter season festival with artistry everywhere, including visuals, entertainment, music, and tastings.
Editor’s Note: the Festival of the Holidays may be modified this year. No decision has been made on whether or not the Candlelight Processional will run this year.
5 – Hollywood Studios Gets in the Spirit
Hollywood Studios also gets in the spirit in the early part of winter and through the Christmas Season. Guests will have a chance to watch a special fireworks and projection display on the Chinese Theater known as Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Sunset Blvd comes alive with Sunset Seasons Greetings, where it snows on Sunset Blvd, and there is a fantastic projection show on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
6 – Disney Springs Fun
No admission or park ticket needed! Disney Springs has more shopping, dining, and entertainment now than ever. This is a great place to visit anytime, but we especially enjoy the winter season here. The weather is perfect, so you aren’t melting as you move from shop to shop. Plus, in the early winter season (Christmas Season), you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Christmas Tree Trail, which has numerous Disney-themed Christmas trees on display. You can also meet Santa Claus! After the year wraps up, some of the shops offer discounted merchandise, particularly if it’s Christmas themed or has the old year on it.
Editor’s Note: currently during the phased reopening, character greetings are suspended. Greetings with Santa may not take place.
7 – Resort Hop
One of our favorite things to do in the winter season is to resort hop! Disney Resorts have their Christmas decorations up until roughly a week after the New Year. Take the Monorail loop and visit resorts like Disney’s Grand Floridian with the massive gingerbread house and Contemporary’s large outdoor tree. Take a boat ride over to the Wilderness Lodge Resort to see their lovely Christmas decorations. It’s an experience not to be missed!
8 – Make it a Memorable Valentine’s Day
What better way to celebrate your sweetie than to take him or her on a memorable Valentine’s weekend to Disney World! There are so many excellent places to spoil your loved one. Dine at one of Disney’s many signature dining restaurants, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, set sail on a fireworks Cruise, taste your way through a dessert party, or simply act like kids again and ride all the rides until your heart is content. Keep in mind that you’ll want to book any special reservations for dining and/or events well before arrival as restaurants do sell out for the special holiday.
9 – runDisney Events
The winter seasons hold not only one but two special runDisney events! This is especially great because the weather is perfect for a run. If you’re the running type or just want to try out your running/walking legs, sign up to take part in one of the races within either Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (usually the second week in January) and/or Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (late February). Both are extremely fun experiences. Plus, this is a great way to keep that New Year’s Resolution alive and well!
Editor’s Note: While the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and Princess Half Marathon Weekend are currently scheduled to run, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend that takes place in November, has been turned into a virtual race and will not happen on the property.
10 – Seasonal Goodies
Last but not least, Disney’s winter season offers the chance to check out their seasonal goodies! It all starts with their winter and Christmas season merchandise, which changes from year to year. From special Minnie ear headbands to that perfect t-shirt, there is winter merchandise available for just about all your needs. And of course, you don’t want to forget about your taste buds! Try one of the many seasonal treats located in the different parks, Disney resorts, and even Disney Springs. From that perfect Christmas beverage to the Festival of Arts pop treats, and sweet Valentine’s inspired chocolate-covered strawberries… enjoy until your appetite is content!
So, who’s up for a winter visit to Disney World?! We’ll see you there!
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.