Walt Disney World on New Year’s Eve {Hollywood Studios}

At the end of 2012 we rang in the New Year at the Happiest Place on Earth. Most probably think this would be a total nightmare, given the crowds. This is after all THE busiest day at the parks, hands down. Surprisingly, it was the best day of our trip! Here are some great tips for surviving this major holiday at the Walt Disney World theme parks.

1. Have a plan! This is not the time to dilly dally aimlessly around the park. A good touring plan for the day would be ideal and advanced dining reservations are a must. At both lunch and dinner we saw every walk-up turned away because they were seating reservations only. We also had a good plan of action for things we wanted to do. Since we planned our day at Hollywood Studios, riding Toy Story Midway Mania was on the top of our list!

2. Arrive on time. Get to the park of your choice by opening. This worked out really well for us. We were able to get in line to ride Toy Story and also get some fast passes for later in the day. By 11:00 a.m. we had ridden Toy Story Midway Mania, played at Honey I Shrunk the Kids, rode thru the Backlot Tour, saw the Cars stunt show, enjoyed Muppets 3D, and met some characters! Whew–but that was way more than we thought we would accomplish on New Year’s Eve–and we still had the whole afternoon left!

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{Santa Goofy was still around for photos and meet and greets!}

3. Book Table Service Meals. We noticed that even while the park wasn’t that busy during the day on New Year’s Eve, that most all counter service lunch spots were crowded. We opted for table service meals and it was a nice break, with guaranteed seating. Not to mention they were all enclosed and indoors and nice perk compared to almost all counter service spots at Hollywood Studios. We did  book both meals in advance which is pretty much a must-do on holidays.

4. Do the Fantasmic! Dining Package. I can not rave enough about this! We booked our package meal with lunch at Mama Melrose {the food, by the way, was delicious and one of our best meals all week}. With this package we were given tickets for the guaranteed seating section of the stadium to view Fantasmic! at the first showing of the evening. This package was only 1 table service credit per person and allowed us to have great seats on one of the busiest show nights of the year!

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5. Avoid Magic Kingdom. Unless you are die hard about spending New Year’s Eve avoid Magic Kingdom at all costs. We heard it was shoulder to shoulder all day and by noon had closed to capacity.

6. Come prepared. Lines to the restrooms will be long. Lines for snacks may be long. Bring along extra things for little ones who may be potty training or still in diapers. Don’t forget a few snacks, baby food, etc. Dress in layers. You never can tell how FL weather will be. A light jacket may come in handy for the morning and late night.

Things to Avoid:

1. As mentioned above, avoid Magic Kingdom as it will be the most crowded park on NYE. If you do choose this park just be aware that wait times for most rides will be upwards of 60 minutes. There will be a lot of shows and other things going on to keep you busy, but if you have little ones in tow they might be disappointed.

2. Do not park hop. If you have the park hopper option, do not utilize it on this day. Pick a park by 10:00 a.m. and stay there!

3. Don’t be late. Parks will close due to max capacity on NYE. Just because you are staying on site at a Disney resort does not guarantee your admittance to any given park. Also, just because you have a meal planned at an in park restaurant does not mean you will be allowed to enter if it is full! Plan ahead, get there early, and stay put!

All-in-All Day in Review:

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Just a peek at the amazing lights!

We loved visiting this park for the new year. It was not crowded until around dinner time. I suspect some park hoppers made it over and out of the Epcot and Magic Kingdom crowds. The holiday decorations were still up and really fun. The lights at the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights were fantastic! There were beer carts set up around the park. A little perk for those of you interested :) . Live music was also on the stage near the sorcerer’s hat and the band played until midnight. Hollywood Studios also put on special fireworks for the new year, something that is not typical for this park.

Remember, no matter which park you choose, it will be busy and filled with lots of people. If you keep a good attitude throughout the day and try to enjoy the sights you’ll have a pleasant time regardless of how many attractions you’re able to squeeze in. For those considering spending New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World we highly recommend it and especially think Hollywood Studios makes for a fun day!

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