Christmas won't even wait until July for those who are planning a holiday visit to Walt Disney World. That's primarily because making dining reservations is a priority for most guests, and in order to secure a table at some of the most popular restaurants, it must be done as soon as the booking window opens. And that time is now.
All visitors can make reservations for table-service restaurants up to 180 days in advance. Guests who are staying at Disney hotels can book dining reservations for their entire stay up to 190 days from the day they check in for the length of their stay.
Recently I have just spent several days making reservations for the holidays, and even at 180 days prior to my preferred dining dates, I still couldn't get some reservations. And that, unfortunately, is the new normal. Be forewarned that it's almost impossible to get a Be Our Guest reservation unless you are staying at a Disney resort and are able to book ahead of the general public. Still, there's always the possibility of a last-minute opening -- especially the day before -- because Walt Disney World's dining reservation policy imposes a $10 per person fee if the reservation is not used or cancelled one day in advance. So keep calling 407-WDW-DINE and checking online at My Disney Experience.
In addition to dining, there certainly are other aspects of a December vacation at Walt Disney World to lock down now. As I mentioned, choosing to stay at a Walt Disney World hotel can give visitors an advantage in booking dining reservations -- if it's done enough in advance. Not sure which hotel to choose? Of course, that is a personal preference and one that relies heavily on your allotted budget. If you want to control your spending by staying in a value or moderate resort, though, you should be aware that there usually is a large number of kids and coaches staying at a couple of the value and moderate hotels during the first half of the month. That's because the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade taping, which features a grand-scale production number on Main Street U.S.A., typically takes place the first weekend of December, and the Pop Warner youth football championship is hosted by ESPN Wide World of Sports during the second week.
Other reservations you should consider making in June are for special Christmas entertainment offerings. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party takes place on select nights in the Magic Kingdom in November and December and requires a separate ticket. Many of the nights are discounted if purchased in advance. Annual passholders, Disney Vacation Club members and members of the U.S. military also receive further discounts if they purchase their tickets in advance. Finally, be aware that even the early dates may sell out, so if you need to go on a certain night because of your touring plans, don't wait to buy your tickets at the gate. The first night of the party sold out last year! Tickets went on sale at the beginning of May for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party dates.
Epcot's Candlelight Processional is the very popular retelling of the Christmas story that includes a mass choir, live orchestra and celebrity narrators. It's performed three times each night from the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 30. Guests line up hours beforehand just to secure a seat in the open-air theater. However, there is a way to avoid those lines. Lunch and dinner packages are offered, which guarantee the participant reserved seating at one of the performances and a designated viewing area for holiday fireworks that night, in addition to the meal. Packages are expected to go on sale soon.
Christmas events at Walt Disney World probably seem like a long time away now that the first days of summer are here. But if you're planning a vacation here during the winter holidays, take the time now to book those special events that will mean the most to you and your family. Otherwise, you might find yourself missing out on some of the experiences that help make the holidays so magical at The Most Magical Place on Earth.
The previous post in this blog was What does it take to be a Disney Dreamer and Doer?.
The next post in this blog is Review: SeaWorld's Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night and Generation Nature LIVE.