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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tip Tuesday: New Year's Eve at WDW

Welcome to the final Tip Tuesday for 2009.

With New Year's Eve nearly upon us, I thought I'd share a few quick tips about spending the final night of the year at Walt Disney World.

The first that many will say is: DON'T!!!

It's no secret that the week between Christmas and New Year's is the busiest, most crowded time of the entire year at WDW, and they would be right. According to the crowd calendar at TouringPlans.com, the crowds at the parks are a full out 10 (meaning peak standby wait times for the headliner attractions of 2+ hours) from Christmas to New Year's Day.

This being said, though, there are still plenty of ways to have a wonderful and magical New Year's Eve at the happiest place on Earth.

First, stay away from the Magic Kingdom. Unless you are dead-set on seeing the New Year's Eve fireworks (which are incredible, I hear), then you would be well-served to avoid the Magic Kingdom like the plague. If you do want to be in the Magic Kingdom for New Year's Eve, then get there early because it is very likely that the park will hit maximum capacity by mid-day and will close to new guests. Also plan on finding a place to watch the fireworks at least 90 minutes in advance. Be prepared to sit or stand a while.

If you really want to see the special New Year's Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, there are some other options that won't be as crowded, though it requires some advance planning.
  • Try to schedule a Wishes desert cruise on the Grand One or other boat. It will be expensive, but there won't be a crowd.
  • Get a boat from Grand Floridian, Contemporary or Wilderness Lodge and sit out on the Seven Seas Lagoon to watch the fireworks.
  • Go to the beach at the Polynesian and watch from across the lagoon (the beach next to the Wedding Pavilion is good too).
  • Stand on the docks near Narcoosee's at the Grand Floridian.
  • If you time it right, take the ferryboat from the TTC to the main entrance and sit up top.
  • There's always the California Grill -- just be ready to make that ADR 180 days in advance!
So if you shouldn't go to the Magic Kingdom, where should you go?

You can try Epcot, though it's nearly as crowded as the Magic Kingdom. Your best bet for a park is either Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. This is mostly because many guests are interested in the nighttime events (Wishes or Illuminations) that have special New Year's Eve shows. Normally Hollywood Studios doesn't have fireworks, so most guests tend not to go to the Studios on New Year's Eve. While the park will be crowded, it won't be totally nuts like the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

Here's the extra gem: For the past few years, Disney has put on a smaller fireworks show at Hollywood Studios for New Year's Eve. So you might just get to see some fireworks after all. Besides, you can always hang out at the Boardwalk near Jellyrolls to see some of the fireworks over at Illuminations.

Personally, my recommendation for a nice New Year's Eve is to make an ADR (remember to book 180 days in advance!) at a signature restaurant with your significant other. What better way to end the year than dinner with someone you love.

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