Home » Walt Disney World Braces for MASSIVE Attendance Jump This Holiday Season

Walt Disney World Braces for MASSIVE Attendance Jump This Holiday Season

It’s no secret that 2019 has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Disney Parks. The year started off with low crowds, which then led to a guest level crash during the summer months, with Disney explaining away this phenomenon with promises of blockbuster attendance after the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. However, when this new land failed to move the attendance needle at neither Walt Disney World nor Disneyland, Disney went in to cost-saving mode, cutting entertainment all around the resort in response to the low crowd levels. 

However, it looks like crowds have returned to Walt Disney World just in time for fall and the upcoming holiday season, and we can’t help but notice some early indicators that seem to point towards the end of 2019 being a very busy time for the resort. 

1. Disney extends holiday hours at several parks

Image: Disney

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom have all extended their hours in November and December, according to the most recent updates to Walt Disney World’s official calendar, with all of these parks now open for an extra hour or two most evenings this holiday season. 

These extra hours will be especially crucial for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which may see higher guest levels thanks to the December 5 opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the much-anticipated “E-Ticket” attraction many have been waiting to experience at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. 

2. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party already sold out for opening date

Image: Disney

Though we’re still in the midst of the Halloween season,  the opening night of the Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on November 8th is already sold out. All other dates currently remain available, but if you are wanting to experience this special holiday offering, you’ll want to purchase tickets soon. In case you need a reminder, here are the big changes coming to this year’s holiday event 

  • A new fireworks show called Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks will debut. Here’s the official description: Hosted by Minnie Mouse, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show will celebrate the magic of Christmas with medleys of beloved holiday songs, from “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls” to “Up on the House Top” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor will have a new show
  • Space Mountain will be filled with lighting and high-energy holiday tunes
  • Tomorrowland Speedway will be filled with thousands of lights and stylized décor
  • Mad Tea Party will feature four new holiday combos of lights and music

3. Discounts are dwindling

Image: Disney

We were shocked earlier this year when Disney offered deep discounts for the holiday seaosn, offering deals on dining, room stays, theme park tickets, and more. However, though some deals remain, as of this writing, free dining is all but sold out, the majority of Florida Resident and Annual Passholder discounts are unavailable on most dates this holiday season, and discounts on packages are also unavailable on most dates. 

While Disney would normally be ramping up their discounts in advance of what might be an attendance shortfall, it looks like discounting has stalled for the most part in recent weeks, which may seem to indicate that Disney is projecting guest levels will be higher this holiday season. 

4. We’ve already seen a pre-holiday attendance bump

Image: Disney

Though the timing of school holidays and of course Halloween may play a factor, the last two weeks at Walt Disney World have been uncommonly busy, with fan-favorite attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight, Avatar: Flight of Passage, and even the new Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attracting multi-hour waits for the first time in months. 

Of course, there’s no way to predict with absolute certainty what crowd levels will be this holiday season at Walt Disney World, these early indicators seem to point towards what could be a very busy period for the resort. So if you are planning on visiting Walt Disney World in November or December, you’re going to want to make sure to lock down those FastPass+ reservations as early as possible, and make sure you have all your dining reservations set (but not by phone!