January 2015 in Disney World

Infrared photo of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Tips for getting into infrared photography: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/infrared-photography-guide-tips/

January at Walt Disney World is sort of the month of the holiday hangover. Some of the Christmas entertainment keeps going for a few days in early January, and there are still decorations up for the first half of the month. The big draw during the month of January is the Walt Disney World Marathon held the second weekend of January, and after that things are mostly quiet.

Most guests who wanted to visit during the winter planned an earlier trip to visit during the Christmas season, and most planning 2015 Walt Disney World trips just started planning after Christmas, and probably won’t visit until Spring Break, at the earliest. There are a lot of upsides to visiting in January, from light crowds to temperate (actually, sometimes downright cold) weather, but I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fan of Walt Disney World in January. To me, it really does feel like a hangover. There are straggler decorations that feel out of place or forgotten, and all of the rest of the entertainment for the year isn’t yet ready to start. This is entirely a matter of personal preference, as I know plenty of people like this time of year.

In terms of crowds, January is one of the slower months of the year once you get past the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. It used to be the case that crowds basically plummeted starting New Year’s Day, but Disney has wisely placed the Marathon Weekend at a point in January such that holiday crowds leave and runDisney crowds pretty much arrive simultaneously. The week or so between New Year’s and Marathon Weekend isn’t as crazy as the weeks leading to Christmas and New Year’s, but it is pretty busy. By mid-January, the parks are dead. Because of this, expect shorter park hours throughout January, with all parks being closed by 9 pm on many nights. (more…)

Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea’s “Christmas Wishes” event is the park’s November and December during which time the ports get into the holiday spirit. Whereas Tokyo Disneyland does a lot along the lines of Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Christmas, everything DisneySea does is unique, anFor DisneySea’s Christmas festivities, there are stage shows, attraction overlays, special merchandise, and seasonal food menus.

This post takes a look at “Christmas Wishes” at Tokyo DisneySea (here’s the official page in Japanese) based upon our time in the park last year at Christmas, with photos plus my thoughts. We have a separate post covering Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland. Little has changed from last year, but keep in mind that things can change in the future, so there’s more a trip report than a strict planning post for those of you visiting Tokyo DisneySea in 2015, 2016, or beyond.

Because Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort is so different than in Walt Disney World and Disneyland (and most readers are presumably regulars of the US Parks), a little background is in order. I already covered most of this in the Tokyo Disneyland Christmas post, so I’ll be brief. As is the case with Tokyo Disneyland, Christmas Wishes special entertainment is included in regular park admission. This is a great value given that park tickets for regular attractions and Christmas entertainment cost under $60, making a full day cheaper than the hard ticket Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World alone.

Also mentioned in the Tokyo Disneyland post is how Christmas is more of a date holiday in Japan. This is even more noticeable at Tokyo DisneySea. Since it first opened, Tokyo DisneySea has been marketed in Japan as the more mature foil to Tokyo Disneyland, aimed at adults and the aging population. This is evident in some of the beautiful marketing the park uses in Japan. A bit of this adult edge has been lost with the rise of characters in the park, but it’s still the EPCOT Center of Tokyo Disney Resort. Can you really imagine a better romantic date night than an early dinner at Magellan’s, followed by a dusk ride on the Venetian Gondolas, catching the last show of the Broadway stage show, Big Band Beat, and a romantic nighttime stroll from the Arabian Coast to the Aquasphere? I get goosebumps just thinking of it. I’ll bet there’s a lot of risky business going on in those rooms in the MiraCosta after couples share an experience like this. I mean, how could there not be?! ;)

If you’re going as a couple, this romantic itinerary absolutely should be on your agenda (it will be crazy-busy during the Christmas season, especially weekends, so make sure to follow our 1-Day Tokyo DisneySea Itinerary for at least the morning if you want to keep your sanity), but for now let’s take a look at things on the actual entertainment slate at Tokyo DisneySea during the Christmas season… (more…)

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Tips


Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a celebration of Latino holiday cultural traditions in Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure from November 13, 2014 – January 6, 2015. It is a really high energy celebration with a wide array of appeal for just about anyone, taking place in the Paradise Garden corner of the park (it’s near beloved Disney institution Corn Dog Castle for those unfamiliar with DCA). This post takes a look at the various things going on during ¡Viva Navidad!, and provides some tips…to the extent that they are actually necessary. It’s a pretty straightforward and easy-to-experience event.

The Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is the main draw of ¡Viva Navidad!, and it’s like a party that rolled straight out of circa-1982 EPCOT Center. With its marrying of authentic culture with Disney fun, it has shades of vintage EPCOT Center, and reminds me how well that park used to integrate entertainment, education, and culture. (more…)

Christmas at Disneyland Paris

November 9, 2014 through January 7, 2015, Disneyland Paris celebrates “Disney’s Enchanted Christmas,” during which the park is decked out for the holidays. Disneyland Paris’ Christmas features lights, a beautiful Christmas tree, Disney Dreams of Christmas, and other special Christmas entertainment. Disneyland Paris at Christmas-time is much like Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom or Disneyland in California, but with its own unique twists. If being cold is an important part of the Christmas experience for you, you’re in luck! Christmas at Disneyland Paris has weather you’d actually associate with winter, and a real snowfall in late November or December is not uncommon.

This post has been updated with new photos and information for Christmas 2014 at Disneyland Paris; those using it for 2015 or 2016 Disneyland Paris vacation planning should keep in mind that entertainment changes from year to year, so this is more a pseudo-trip report or rough outline of what to expect rather than precise info on what to expect. For exact details of what’s offered, check out the official Disneyland Paris Christmas page.

Before we get to the details of Disneyland Paris at Christmas, if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland Paris, you’ll want to check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide.

Before we go any further, let’s set the mood. No, I’m not going to dictate that you turn down the lights, pour a cup of eggnog, and light the fireplace. But I do think it would “enhance” your enjoyment of the rest of this post if you read and viewed it while listening to the greatest Disney theme park Christmas song known to mankind: Chante, c’est Noël. This song is the unofficial theme song of Christmas at Disneyland Paris. It was once (apparently) played during a Christmas parade at Disneyland Paris. Then it was played at the close of the previous Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Now, I think it’s just played back in Santa Claus Village at Cottonwood Creek Ranch. Why it’s no longer prominent is beyond me, because it rocks.

Now that the mood is set, let’s head to Paris and take a look at a Parisian Christmas, Disney-style!

Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland

Disney Christmas is the seasonal event at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea during November and December consisting of “Christmas Fantasy” in Tokyo Disneyland and “Christmas Wishes” in Tokyo DisneySea. There’s a great holiday spirit around Christmas-time in Japan; although the holiday itself has a largely different meaning in Japan than in Western countries, the parks and guests celebrate similarly to the US Parks in terms of Christmas offerings. Much like Disneyland and Walt Disney World, there is a Christmas parade, attraction overlays, holiday stage shows, special merchandise, and seasonal food menus.

This post takes a look at Tokyo Disneyland’s “Christmas Fantasy” (here’s the official page in Japanese, which contains much more info; your web-browser should translate most of it, and it’s worth clicking around randomly on things you can’t read to figure out the rest). from our visit last year, with photos plus my thoughts. This info is now a year old, making some of it stale for pure planning purposes, although there are many things that remain the same from year to year. Consider this a hybrid post of info and a portion of the trip report I didn’t find the time to write. Just keep in mind that what’s pictured here probably won’t be exactly what you’ll see in 2015, 2016, or beyond.

Let’s start with a little background: like all seasonal offerings in the Japan parks, Christmas Fantasy’s special entertainment is included in regular park admission. At just under $60 for a 1-day Tokyo Disneyland ticket, a full day at Tokyo Disneyland including regular attractions and Christmas entertainment is actually cheaper than just the hard ticket Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World. I mentioned this in the Halloween at Tokyo Disneyland post, but I think it bears emphasizing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Christmas Party at Walt Disney World, but I am not such a fan of the rising cost of party tickets each year. I think it says something that Tokyo Disneyland features better seasonal enhancements and manages to include them in the cost of a regular day ticket (one that is also cheaper than the US parks). In fairness, demographics are different in Japan (annual passes are much more expensive than they are to the US parks) and getting there from the United States has its own expensive costs… (more…)

Packing for Disney in Winter


If you’re visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland during the Christmas or winter season (pretty much November through February), what you will need to think about packing will be different than visits throughout the rest of the year. I was reminded of this today when I was checking out the long term weather forecast for Walt Disney World, and noticed a low of 39 degrees tomorrow. While low temperatures this low are the exception and not the rule, the weather can get cold on both coasts, and ever since being caught off-guard by below-freezing temperatures a couple of years ago at Walt Disney World in December, I’ve been very cognizant of the weather forecast.

The difficulty of packing for Walt Disney World or Disneyland this time of year is the large variances in the weather. You could experience four seasons of weather during your trip…in a single day. Most people aren’t going to want to carry the luggage that would be required to pack for every weather scenario, making what to bring a tough question. This post will cover a few things you should take on any winter trip to the Disney Parks, plus some additional items to consider when the weather is expected to be unseasonably cold.

Note that this list only covers items you’ll want to pack specifically during the winter months. For our full all-seasons packing recommendations, check out our Unique Disney Packing List post, which contains a lot of innovative and cool things for your trip that you otherwise might not have considered. Now, let’s check out what you should pack for Disney during those winter months… (more…)