My First New Year’s Eve In Disney World

by on December 26, 2012 11 Comments

Filed under: Trip Planning, Walt Disney World (FL)

Dance party in Epcot, photo by Doug Uhlig

This year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in Disney World for the first time, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve always wanted to experience this holiday in Disney World, and this year is my big chance. I’ve heard all sorts of things about this occasion in the parks from crazy crowds to awesome fireworks, and I’m pumped to experience it for myself. Being the Touring Planner I am I’ve done a bit of research into my options for the day and night, and I encourage you to do the same if you intend to spend the end of 2012 at Disney World.

As we’ve previously posted on this blog, each park seems to have its own special offerings for the holiday. To briefly recap: the Magic Kingdom will have both Wishes! and Fantasy in the Sky fireworks to enjoy. Epcot will offer dance parties in various countries throughout World Showcase and a special version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at 7:00 and 11:42. This is also one of the few times throughout the year guests can enjoy a fireworks display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Mulch, Sweat, and Shears providing the live soundtrack. If you’d rather avoid crowded park, there are several other options around Disney World property, as well. Check out the link above for more details.

So what are my plans to best enjoy this festive time of year in Disney World? You can bet my friends and I have thought about this and planned it out as best we can since we are all Touring Planners at heart. Our agenda really begins the night before New Year’s Eve since Fantasy in the Sky will also be shown at Magic Kingdom on December 30. My friends and I will try to see this fireworks show that night to avoid Magic Kingdom on New Year’s Eve. We have booked an ADR at the Polynesian that evening so that we will have easy access to the Magic Kingdom. If it is possible to view the fireworks from the beach, we will probably go with that option to stay clear of the crazy crowds in the park.

As for December 31, we will be spending that day in Epcot for a whole host of reasons: it will handle the crowds best, New Year’s IllumiNations is something I’m dying to see, the entertainment around World Showcase, there is alcohol (let’s be honest!), and Epcot is our favorite park. After discussing the logistics with my friends, we booked one night at the Swan so we could have easy access to our park of choice. The biggest advantage here is being able to walk back to our room in the wee hours of the night after the festivities have ended. I’m sure we’ll be grateful to be able to stroll home rather than wait for a bus or sit in traffic getting out of the parking lot. We picked the Swan because it provided the cheapest way to stay in the Epcot resort area.

Since we probably won’t make our way into Epcot until the evening, I may try to visit another park early in the morning just to see what the craziness is all about. I think I could handle the Magic Kingdom early in the morning but will be less enthused when the park is busting at the seams with people. When things get too crazy it will be my cue to head back to my resort and hang out with my friends until we head into Epcot for the night. Please keep in mind the Magic Kingdom will often have phased closings during this busy time of year. If you intend to spend your holiday there, you will want to get there as early as possible and stay until the fireworks have been shown.

As you might imagine, I’m thrilled to ring in the new year with some of my dear friends with a little Disney magic. Since this is my first New Year’s Eve in Disney World, I’d love to hear any advice from you veterans! Please let me hear your tips in the comments. No matter where you’ll be spending New Year’s Eve, I hope the new year brings you all health and happiness!


Posted on December 26, 2012

11 Responses to “My First New Year’s Eve In Disney World”

  • My wife and I have the same plans. We were lucky enough to get a Be Our Guest ADR for 12/30 so we’ll already be in the MK. We’ll probably resort hop the morning of NYE.

  • WE were in Epcot on New Year’s Eve a few years ago. As the evening progressed it was almost shoulder to shoulder crowded in World Showcase. We did have a little one in a stroller so it wasn’t the most pleasant thing! If you are just a group of friends you will have a blast. We got cute party hats and noisemakers, so look for those around Epcot! We were staying at the Poly so we ended up leaving and doing our toast and watching the fireworks from the beach there. It was definitly the way to go with little ones. This year we are staying at the Contemporary with theme park view so we will catch the fireworks closer to “home” on our balcony. Have fun@ Kristen!!!

  • hey!!! what a great blog!! wow, I’m sooo surprised to have found a person with similar plans for the NYE, but then again, it makes sense that people want some Disney magic for the New Year;) so how did you get access to this party in epcot, do you need to buy a special ticket or u just bought a ticket for epcot on the 31 and it’s included in the price? also, how did you get the option to visit other parks? I need to finalize my planning tomorrow, so please reply asap 🙂 have fun!!

    • Thanks for the comment. The festivities in Epcot are free (with the exception of a dinner buffet) are included with regular admission. You may visit other parks on the same day if you purchase the park hopping option. This is a flat fee for you stay which allows you to visit any of the 4 main parks on any day of your visit. Have a great trip!

  • Thanks for your great advice. I too will be spending my first NYE in Disney. Many wishes for a great time and New Year to all.

  • We are planning our first NYE in WDW for 2013 and need suggestions for the best viewing places for the MK fireworks. This is something my family of 5 has been wanting to do for years. We don’t have small kids (13-18-21) so they’re all excited to take on the crowds! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • We will be going for this coming New Year’s to Disney with our 3 kids and my husband’s sister and family. The kids are all high school or older so no issues with little ones. I feel like the parks sound really crowded on New Year’s Eve so might be looking for something else. Has anyone been to California Grill on NYE and watched the fireworks from there? I don’t know their hours so don’t know if it’s even possible but thought it might be a good place. Any thoughts? Our original idea was Epcot but with the crowds was it still worth it or too much trouble?

  • by Nicole Bateman on March 1, 2013, at 5:24 pm EST

    Oh, I’m so excited! My mom and I have the exact same plans this coming NYE (2013) and it sounds like it will be a blast. A bit of a warning if you’re planning to park hop that day though; all of the travel books that I’ve read so far say that, even if you are a Disney Resort guest, if the park has reached max. capacity you will not be allowed to enter. The best bet for NYE is just to plan on one park and spend your entire day there, that’s our plans, Dec. 30th all day at MK and NYE all day at Epcot. @Kristen, write a follow up so we know how it was. I’m so excited and would love to hear your experience!

  • We rang in the New Year at Disney World earlier this year. We were there from Dec 30th- Jan 7th. Although it was very crowded, we had an awesome time. The weather was near perfect! Upper 70’s most of the days there. We have two teenage girls which made the experience more bearable. I don’t think I would recommend families with young children to go during that week. On New Years Eve day, we started early in Epcot. We were able to ride all of the popular rides that morning before the crowds swelled near noon. Spent the afternoon navigating through the crowded countries. When evening came, my wife & 17 yr old decided to go back to the resort while my 14 yr old & me decided to stay for the early show of illuminations( they have two of them that evening). After that was over we decided to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom for the fireworks at midnight. They were only allowing resort guest on the monorails. Magic Kingdom was closed to everyone except those who were staying at a Disney resort. It was wall to wall people at the Magic Kingdom but the atmosphere was electric! Since we were exhausted after a long crazy day, we rested on the people mover and carousel of progress until we were ready to position ourselves for the fireworks. We actually ended up in a backlot behind Main Street where they were having a live dj playing music. People were dancing and blowing noisemakers that were passed out earlier. It was a blast! The midnight fireworks were the best we’ve ever seen. They were literally going off all around you. Imagine “wishes” times 10. I was kind of hesitant about spending New Years week at Disney but the girls were on a holiday break from school so it worked out better for us to go plus we wanted to experience the holidays at the parks. I’m glad we went cause we had the time of our lives down there making great family memories that we will cherish for years to come!