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…)

Disney World 2015 Trip Planning Guide

Planning your 2015 Walt Disney World trip can be intimidating, especially for first-time visitors. This guide will give you tips to save money, time, and make the most of Walt Disney World, navigating its four theme parks, dozens of hotels, hundreds of restaurants, and a variety of additional entertainment activities and options that can make for really complicate planning. Walt Disney World is a busy place, so determining when to visit and how to tour the parks to avoid crowds is a critical step in the process. Add to that trying to save money on park tickets and hotels, and planning can be daunting, especially for first-time or infrequent guests who want to plan a memorable trip.

If you’re feeling yourself being sucked into the rabbit hole that is Walt Disney World vacation planning, our updated-for-2015 Walt Disney World trip planning guide is here to help…or perhaps drag you deeper into the rabbit hole. Think of it as Walt Disney World Trip Planning 101, organized into the 10 most important aspects of Walt Disney World vacation planning. As complicated as the process might seem right now, it’s really not that bad, and the ultimate payoff will be huge. You’re also a bit fortunate that you’re being sucked into the rabbit hole now, as many first-time visitors don’t realize Walt Disney World planning can be so complicated until they arrive, and are then overwhelmed. The commercials make it look like a carefree world where everyone runs around holding hands with Mickey Mouse while laughing and riding all of their favorite attractions without any problems…but that’s definitely not the reality.

Even after dozens and dozens of trips to Walt Disney World, we still don’t know everything there is to know about the place, but this post contains most of what we do know (most stuff, at least…not the nitty-gritty details like which drinking fountains are coldest!). We wouldn’t visit so much if we didn’t like it, so our opinions are colored by the fact that we are Disney fans. That said, we don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, and we try to stay as objective as possible here, sharing the good and the bad. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of other planning sites that offer only positive or only negative spins on Disney.

This vacation planning guide applies to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. That might seem silly to point out if you’re a seasoned Disney fan, but a lot of people don’t know. (You did see the episode of The Middle where they made that mistake, right? All TV is obviously based on real life!) World=Florida, land=California. If you are visiting California, please consult our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide. If you’re trying to determine which coast is right for you, read our Walt Disney World v. Disneyland post.

This page is a jumping off point to give you some background information on each aspect of your trip, with links to other blog posts that offer much more detailed information. Each post opens in a new tab, so click away as you read and prepare to waste the better part of a day or more reading all this.

We promise that the payoff will be worth it, so let’s get started! (more…)

Tips for New Year’s Eve at Disney World

A lot of people will visit Walt Disney World for New Year’s Eve 2014, and there are festivities and great fireworks shows justifying the parks as one of the top places in the world for New Year’s. Unfortunately, Walt Disney World is also one of the busiest places in the world for New Year’s Eve, and judging by many emails and comments we’ve received the last few days, many people visiting for the holidays don’t know this.

If you’re already in Walt Disney World and are looking for ways to avoid the crowds, and for the best experience on New Year’s Eve, this post is here to help you out. If you’ve wanted to visit for the holidays but have always been afraid of the crowds you’d encounter, this post might just present a game plan that makes the visit more appealing.

We’ve visited Walt Disney World for New Year’s Eve, and while it was incredibly busy, it also was incredibly fun, and something we’ll definitely do again. While the crowds are a downside, additional entertainment to help with crowds (parades, characters, fireworks, shows, etc.) are a plus-side. Here are some tips for making the most out of a New Year’s Eve (or Christmas to New Year’s) visit to Walt Disney World based upon our experiences. (more…)

5 Tips for Surviving the Crowds at Disneyland

The busy holiday season is upon us, with the weeks leading to Christmas and New Year’s being two of the busiest weeks of the year. This post will help you avoid the long lines at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure if you’re visiting during these two highly crowded times (or any other busy holidays, for that matter, such as Easter, July 4th, etc.) with 5 of our best tips for surviving the crowds at Disneyland Resort.

Before we get started, let’s make it abundantly clear that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are both madhouses on holidays. Based on comments and questions we receive, a lot of people seem think they can “outsmart” others by visiting on days like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve, and are surprised to find that tens of thousands of their closest friends have also had the same idea. It’s like the movie theater: it seems like people would want to stay home with their families instead of going to movies on holidays, and yet the theaters are slammed, too.

That’s the unfortunate thing. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your time spent waiting and line and maximize what you accomplish. To be clear, you will encounter hordes of people and lines in the middle of the day for popular attractions will be ridiculous. There’s no magical hack to avoid that. This post is not written from the perspective of having the most amazing time ever with no crowds–it’s about making lemonade out of lemons. If you envision a day skipping around from one headliner thrill ride to another, it’s time to adjust your expectations.

With that said, here’s what you can do to improve your experience, based on our holiday visits to Disneyland Resort when the parks have been crowded… (more…)

When To Visit Disney World in 2015

People often ask, “when is the best time to visit Disney World?” Some days and times of year are better to plan your trip to Walt Disney World. The least crowded times of the year are typically after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, early December, the entire month of January and early February, and late April. That said, nowadays especially in 2015 now that New Fantasyland is complete and ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is at its peak, there really is no “slow season” at Walt Disney World.

Crowds should not be your only consideration when planning when to visit Walt Disney World. There are some great seasonal events, such as the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Food & Wine Festival, runDisney, and other fun events. You may also be constrained as to when you can visit by school schedules, vacation time, and other factors. Add to that weather and various other considerations, and when to visit Walt Disney World isn’t as cut and dry as visiting in late September, early December, or February when crowds are low.

Of course, choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials.

With that said, let’s take a look at when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World… (more…)