by Ryan Kilpatrick on December 19, 2011
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for anything except going to Walt Disney World. If you’ve followed the crowd levels at Disney through the years, you’ll know that the week preceding Christmas is a heavy crowd level, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is even worse. In the Unofficial Guide, it’s one of the times that is definitely recommended to avoid. However, if you have to go during this time of year, as I have ended up doing at least three times in my life, then there is a way to make it worthwhile.
Part of TouringPlans.com is, of course, the touring plans, and for the crowded times of year, there are the Holiday Touring Plans. These plans are specifically designed for this time of year, to counteract the effects of the crowds. As I said, I’ve been to the parks many times in the past during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and have used the Holiday Touring Plans before. Let me give you an example – the Animal Kingdom Holiday Touring Plan for Adults.
You’ll find for the most part that the Holiday Touring Plans do not differ much from the normal plans, but the changes are enough to make a difference. For example, the Animal Kingdom Holiday Touring Plan for Adults starts off with the same first steps as the Unofficial Guide One-Day Touring Plan. Arrive at the park 40 minutes early for the holiday plan, then proceed straight to Expedition Everest to get FASTPASSes. I tried this out with my family a couple of years ago, which was quite difficult, as Animal Kingdom opened at 8 a.m., meaning we had to be there at 7:20. It was worth it, though, as we got right to work without delay.
It’s there where the Holiday Plan diverges from the every day plans. The normal next step is to ride Triceratops Spin, but during these larger crowd times, some attractions have to be skipped in order to have a full experience in the park. So, in the Holiday Plan, my family went past Triceratops Spin to Primeval Whirl, which is the next step. Things from there proceed to DINOSAUR, which was a bit much for our youngest, but that’s the way things go. After a quick ride through time while she waited with Mommy outside, it was on our way to the next step.
The next step is Kali River Rapids, which did not seem a great idea in the 40 degree weather. We proceeded on to Flights of Wonder to enjoy the birds, who managed to overcome the cold and still put on a fabulous show. Next on the plan is enjoying the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which was a great treat. During this time of year, it was nice to get out of the crowded walkways to see the animals and enjoy a less populated area. After a nice stroll, the plan called for a quick stop to get FASTPASSes for Kiliminjaro Safaris then lunch.
Tusker House is the recommended location for lunch, and it’s a recommendation I highly concur with in every way. The buffet is fabulous for all palates, and it’s usually easy to get a seat. We did so when we were touring, and had a nice, warm meal to satisfy ourselves before venturing back out into the park. In the normal plans, we would have ridden Expedition Everest before lunch, but on the Holiday Plan, our next step was instead to head out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. After taking some time there and then returning back to enjoy the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, it was time for the Kiliminjaro Safaris FASTPASS, just like the plan stated.
The rest of the afternoon of the Holiday Plan is filled with the shows – Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical and It’s Tough To Be a Bug. We skipped the last of these, as Hopper and his bugs are little too intense for our daughter, but after finishing the first two, we managed to jump on Everest for a couple of rides with our FASTPASSes before exiting the park.
So do the Holiday Plans measure up, at least in this instance? Absolutely. Beforehand, we had been to Animal Kingdom during the holidays and had a horrible experience. The crowds kept us from doing anything except the Safaris and the animal trails. Even the shows were too crowded. Use of any touring plan during this time of year is a must, but the Holiday Plan kept us from distracting ourselves at the wrong time or the wrong place. If you’re like me, and you have to go down during this most crowded time of the year, make sure to plan for it with the Holiday Touring Plans.