This is what we’re looking at for December. Click to enlarge or view as a prettier PDF. And if you don’t know what the numbers/letters mean, read the top of this post. The full operating schedule is available here.
December continues the Extra Magic Hours schedule that began in October, moving Magic Kingdom’s morning Extra Magic Hour from Thursdays to Mondays and its evening Extra Magic Hours from Saturdays to Wednesdays, in addition to Epcot moving its evening Extra Magic Hours from Fridays to Thursdays and Animal Kingdom moving one of its morning Extra Magic Hours from Sundays to Fridays. That schedule continues through the third week of the month, until we see another slight change as Christmas approaches. Unfortunately, Disney omitted additional Extra Magic Hours that we can expect over the two weeks that comprise the busy Christmas/holiday season. To get an idea about what I’m talking about, take a look at last year:
You’l notice that from December 21st through the end of the month, Magic Kingdom has daily morning Extra Magic Hours, in addition to the occasional third Park offering an additional Extra Magic Hour to help spread crowds out over the day. It’s possible that Disney, in their infinite cheapness, won’t run daily EMHs at Magic Kingdom. After all…nobody is really there at 7am anyway. It’s the reason why Disney cut evening Extra Magic Hours down from three to two. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to operate Magic Kingdom at 2:30am in June for a thousand people. But the early morning does give park stormers an opportunity to visit the major attractions before the casuals start arriving at 10am surprised that Christmas at Walt Disney World is crowded.
Speaking of last year, make sure you check out the final December 2014 schedule here: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/dec14.pdf to get an idea about what the hours are actually going to look like. Those of you considering 8am breakfasts at Magic Kingdom in particular will want to consider that it’s very likely that the Park will open at 8am daily, eliminating a lot of the value of an early reservation. You could certainly book those breakfasts – just be prepared to cancel or have a backup plan. My personal preference is to book the expensive table service breakfasts around 10:45am, once you have an opportunity to visit the priority attractions with short waits. 8am Be Our Guest breakfasts make a lot of sense because there’s no characters to worry about and the advantage to Mine Train and Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall is (currently) huge. We might not see Disney move Magic Kingdom openings to 8am until the middle of November, which is frustrating.
A couple things to consider about early December…The first is the ABC Christmas Parade taping that occurs at Magic Kingdom. For many years, it took place over the first weekend in December. Last year, Disney moved the main parade taping to Monday. It’s not yet known when that taping will occur this year…but Magic Kingdom would remain distinctly not recommended on either Saturday or Monday regardless with the long operating hours and rare nighttime entertainment.
The Pop Warner Football and Cheer Championships return December 5th through 12th. They fill the All-Star Resorts and will likely return to Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs Resorts as well. You certainly want to avoid those resorts if you can. Pop Warner closes the Studios on the 9th at 6pm for a private after-hours party. There’s currently an unrelared 6pm closure at the Studios one week earlier on the 2nd.
Otherwise, the first couple of weeks see average crowds for the most part with much heavier crowds on the weekends. The Mickey’s Party schedule continues to dictate crowds and makes seeing the nighttime spectaculars there more difficult. Epcot tends to be a little busier in the evening with the Candlelight Processional and other holiday celebrations there. Crowds and resort pricing rise significantly moving into Christmas and once December 26th comes along, expect daily capacity closures through the end of the year.