My name is Kuleen and I survived New Year’s Eve at Disney World 2013. My family chose to spend the day at Disney Hollywood Studios and escape back to our resort as soon as the party hats and horns were handed out. However, my brother and his family braved Epcot where the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder and the restroom queues were over an hour long.
Still planning to spend the busiest day of the year at Disney World? Read on for tips on how to survive New Year’s Eve without going insane.
go to bed early and hit the parks early on new year’s day
Consider skipping the New Year’s Eve festivities and getting a good night’s sleep instead. While the New Year’s Eve revelers sleep in, you can enjoy the low early morning crowds. It is not unusual for the Magic Kingdom to open as early as 7:00 am for Disney Resort guests.
celebrate a day early
The Magic Kingdom performs a practice run of the New Year’s Eve fireworks at midnight on December 30th. We avoided the crowds by watching the show a day early.
attend a ticketed new year’s eve event
Guarantee your spot at a celebration by attending a ticketed event. The Contemporary Resort hosts the Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration. Backdrops and props from Toy Story, The Incredibles, and UP! decorate the family-friendly event that includes a buffet dinner. The evening ends with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
The Contemporary also hosts Down in New Orleans: A Disney New Year’s Eve Dining Experience for guests 21 and over. The event has reserved seating for a premier dining experience.
To check availability and make reservations for either event, visit the Walt Disney World website.
make a new year’s toast at a disney restaurant
The following Disney restaurants have scheduled New Year’s Eve events — California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grove, Il Mulino, Monsieur Paul, Shula’s Steak House, Todd English’s Bluezoo Lounge, Victoria & Alberts, and Victoria & Alberts Chef’s Table. Reservations are necessary and may be made on the Walt Disney World website.
have a ball at a disney resort
Select Disney Resorts host New Year’s Eve celebrations in the lobby. To ring in the New Year, we skipped the park and enjoyed the live entertainment and countdown at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check with each resort to find out about New Year’s Eve activities.
kick up your heals at disney’s boardwalk
The Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney’s Boardwalk hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration with a DJ, dancing, and drinks. The celebration is only for ages 21 and older and tickets may be bought by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
ring in the new year at disney springs
Take a last look at the holiday decorations and shop ’til you drop at the Disney Springs stores that all stay open until midnight. Other options are bowling at Splitsville Lanes, a movie at the AMC Theater, or watch La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil. Many of the restaurants such as Raglan Road and House of Blues have live entertainment.
stay on disney property
At some point on New Year’s Eve, the Magic Kingdom will approach capacity and stop allowing people to enter. The park will close to non-resort guests first, so if you stay on property, you have a better chance of getting in. As a Disney Resort guest, you are also able to take Disney transportation to the parks instead of fighting for a parking spot.
go to the disney parks early and stay late
If you plan to ring in the new year at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot , you should plan to go early and stay late. Get to the park by 10:00 am and stay at the park until midnight. Expect both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to be shoulder-to-shoulder crowded with long waits in all lines including to enter the park and get food.
My brother’s family experienced 45-minute to an hour waits to use the restrooms. Hollywood Studios is the least crowded of the three parks that host New Year’s Eve celebrations. (Animal Kingdom does not celebrate New Year’s Eve.) When we visited, crowds were low in the morning, average by mid-day, and began to get crowded around 4:00 pm.
Good luck, Godspeed, and Happy New Years!