Walt Disney World December 2016 Preview

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Walt Disney World December 2016
Walt Disney World December 2016

Welcome to TouringPlans’ Walt Disney World December 2016 preview – we hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Who’s with us and ready for December? The holidays, which started as soon as the Halloween decorations came down are in full swing. We’ve got food booths at Epcot, Christmas parties, and TENTS.

Ready for more? Read on.

Average Weather for Walt Disney World in December

December weather for Orlando - High 72, Low 54, 73% Humidity, 6 days with rain
December Weather for Orlando






December is a great month weather-wise to visit Walt Disney World. When you’re down here, you totally understand why people choose to spend months in Florida during the winter. Pack layers because there are some wide swings in temperature. One day you may want a light jacket, the next you’ll wish you had shorts.

Upcoming Live Chats for December

Both Brian and Angela are hosting regular Live Q&As. Make sure you follow our Facebook page and Twitter for the exact times and topics.


Walt Disney World December 2016 Park Crowds

December 2016 Crowds at Walt Disney World
December 2016 Crowds at Walt Disney World

December starts off with crowds just as manageable as its weather.  These are great days for a trip, it’s really and SWEET CHRISTMAS! DO YOU SEE THE END OF THE MONTH?!!! Go forth, get there early, bug out early and have a plan if you’re going to be in the parks at this time. The Magic Kingdom will reach capacity during the holidays. We have a whole page on the site dedicated Disney’s capacity closure procedures.

In 2015, some kind of capacity closure happened at Magic Kingdom on December 24, 25, and the 28th – 31st. We’ll address New Year’s Eve crowds and tips in the Special Events section.

For day by day park recommendations for travel during December, check out our Crowd Calendar.

Special Events at Walt Disney World December 2016

Holidays at Epcot ©Disney
Holidays at Epcot ©Disney


On the heels of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, we get Holidays Around the World, with cultural exhibits, entertainment, and, yes, food and beverage kiosks.

For many guests, the Candlelight Processional is a highlight of the holidays at Epcot. The dates are November 25 to December 30. Details and a list of this year’s narrators are on our Candlelight Processional page. Some narrators (we’re looking at you, NPH – Nov 28 to Dec 1) are extremely popular, and guests who have not booked a dinner package with guaranteed seating will line up hours in advance for the show they want to see.

The nighttime spectacular, Illuminations, is even more spectacular during December with the famous “holiday tag.” The holiday tag is an extra ending to the show with fireworks that can probably be felt all the way to Ocala. It’s a don’t miss.


Holidays at Magic Kingdom ©Disney

Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party runs through December 22. Remember Magic Kingdom will close early (7:00 PM) to day guests on party nights. The Christmas party includes Holiday Wishes fireworks and the Once Upon a Christmastime parade. Guests who wish to see these without the hard-ticket upcharge will be able to from December 23 to December 29. On December 30, the Christmas parade will run, but Holiday Wishes is replaced with the trial run of the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Cinderella Castle is particularly beautiful during the holiday season with the yearly Castle Dream Lights, which make it look as though it’s covered in icicles.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Guests can experience the Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM! projection and fireworks show in front of the Chinese theatre throughout December.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers a meet and greet with Santa (Santa Santa though the 24th and Santa Goofy from the 25th to 30th), the Christmas tree trail, and the Starlights drone show that runs through January 8th.


Walt Disney World offers the Yuletide Fantasy and Holiday D-lites tours in December for guests who would like to experience even more holiday magic.

New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World ©Disney
New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World ©Disney

New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World

December 31st is incredibly busy at the parks. If fireworks are your thing, this is the time to see them. The smart money is on remembering that trial runs are done on December 30. It will still be crowded, but not insane. Remember that viewing locations outside the parks, such as from the beach at the Polynesian Resort will be restricted to hotel guests on these nights.

All theme parks but Animal Kingdom are open until 1AM for New Year’s Eve. Animal Kingdom closes at 8:30PM, Disney Springs at midnight, and Typhoon Lagoon at 5 PM. Party favors like hats and horns are distributed to guests after dark.

New Year’s Eve is the one night of the year that dinner at California Grill will set you back more than at Victoria and Albert’s. However New Year’s Eve packages at both are sold out. If you want a dining reservation in a park or at a Disney hotel, you need to look now and be prepared to compromise on time or restaurant. Counter service is an option in the parks, but expect long lines. Pretty much the time to get in line is before you’re hungry.

For that matter, the time to line up at the restrooms is well before you think you should (personal experience here),

Discounts at Walt Disney World December 2016

Passholder and Florida Resident Discounts: Room-only discounts are available for stays through December 23. Details here (pass holder) and here (Florida resident).

What’s New at Walt Disney World December 2016

This week there have been cast previews of Rivers of Light. The show is still in a test and adjust phase, and we’re not sure if it will open to the public in 2016.. For any updates on Rivers of Light follow us on Twitter.

Cabanas for the rich and weary opened by Space Mountain last month.

Tiana’s Riverboat Party and Ice Cream Social debuted November 29. Watch the blog for a review.

DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom Park reopened in November after a refurbishment.

Generally because of the holiday crowds, Disney will not open new attractions, shows, or restaurants in December.

Refurbishments at Walt Disney World December 2016

Attraction Closed Reopens
Blizzard Beach Annual Refurbishment  10/23/16 12/24/16
Wilderness Lodge ongoing construction complete 2017


Blast from the Past – Previous Blog Articles to Enjoy While You Plan Your December 2016 Trip

Derek celebrated Christmas 2015 with 25 days of drinks.

Brian decided to go to Washington, DC last Christmas.

Kylene shared the story of Leonard, the Disney Christmas Elf on the Shelf.

Dani picked her top 5 holiday experiences at Walt Disney World (sorry, last year was the final Osborne lights).

Your Walt Disney World December 2016 Trip Checklist

Have you?

TouringPlans subscribers have access to all this and more and get timely reminders when they create a trip on the site. And it’s all easy to find on your Personal Dashboard, a central location for all your travel plans that all subscribers see when they log in. It even has a checklist, so you’ll know what you’ve crossed off and what’s left to do before your vacation.

We hope you have a great vacation. Let us know how it went when you get back by taking our user survey. It helps travelers just like you know the best (and the rest) of what to do, see, ride, and eat at Walt Disney World.

Thanks for reading this month!

Laurel Stewart

Laurel has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1971 when she was negative-15 years old and running the Disney races since 2007. Her favorite attraction is Big Thunder Mountain.

One thought on “Walt Disney World December 2016 Preview

  • December 1, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Thanks! Looking forward to December to build upon a great November.


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