What You Need To Know If You’re Going to Disney World on New Year’s

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Every year, revelers from all over the world flock to Disney to ring in the New Year.  I know Times Square gets a lot of the love during this time of year, but Disney is a destination not to be missed if you are looking for a place to celebrate in style.  With that said, visiting the parks to count down those last ten seconds to midnight requires some preparation and planning.  If you are looking to visit Disney World for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, here’s some information that might be helpful!

What are the operating hours?

Here are the posted operating hours as of 12/15/15.  These times are subject to change, so please check with a Cast Member the day before you visit the parks to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.  The information is also available in the My Disney Experience App.

New Year’s Eve, Thursday, December 31:

  • Magic Kingdom: hours are 8:00 am – 2:00 am (Extra Magic Hours from 7:00-8:00 am)
  • Epcot – Future World: hours are 8:00 am – 1:00 am
  • Epcot – World Showcase: hours are 9:00 am – 1:00 am
  • Hollywood Studios: hours are 8:00 am – 12:00 am (Extra Magic Hours from 12:00-2:00 am)
  • Animal Kingdom: hours are 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Disney Springs: hours are 10:00 am – 12:00 am
  • Typhoon Lagoon: hours are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Blizzard Beach: closed until January 2nd

New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1:

  • Magic Kingdom: hours are 8:00 am – 1:00 am (Extra Magic Hours from 7:00-8:00 am)
  • Epcot – Future World: hours are 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (Extra Magic Hours from 9:00 pm-11:00 pm)
  • Epcot – World Showcase: hours are 11:00 am – 9:00 pm (Extra Magic Hours from 9:00 pm-11:00 pm)
  • Hollywood Studios: hours are 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Animal Kingdom: hours are 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Typhoon Lagoon: hours are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

How crowded will the parks be?

You know what it looks like in Times Square – truth is, Disney won’t be too far off.  It will be very crowded, so you will need to change your normal expectations around personal space for one night.  There is a good chance that the park will go through some type of phased closure during the day, too – click here for our handy guide around phased closures at Disney and what they mean.  If you are looking to be at the parks for the midnight countdown, it is highly recommended that you get to the parks early and do not leave until after the fireworks are done.  Yes, that means you stay in the parks, without leaving, from opening to midnight.  Consider renting a locker for your personal belongings, and consider bringing layers of clothing in case it gets chilly in the evening.

What special events and activities will there be?

Here are some New Year’s-themed special events inside and outside of the parks:

  • Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks (Magic Kingdom) – this breathtaking fireworks display at the heart of Cinderella’s castle will go off ten minutes before midnight.  Special tip: this fireworks show will also be displayed on December 30 if you want to celebrate earlier and avoid the sure-to-be packed Main Street on the 31st.
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Fireworks (Epcot) – what is normally a grand fireworks show becomes even more special to ring in the New Year.  There will be two viewings at 6:00pm and 11:40pm.  There will also be DJs and live music throughout the World Showcase, in true international style of course, to get the crowds ready to bring in 2016.
  • Lights! Camera, Happy New Year! Fireworks Show (Hollywood Studios) – it’s a rock n rolling good time at Hollywood Studios with fireworks at midnight.  The show is scheduled to take place near the Hyperion Theater.
  • La Hacienda de San Angel (Epcot) – with seating that begins at 9:30 pm, this special spot in the Mexico Pavilion is offering a five-course prix-fixe dinner combined with alcohol pairings.  There is a mariachi band, other live entertainment, margaritas to enjoy, and of course, a view of Illuminations.
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse (Epcot) – this signature restaurant is offering a special four-course meal with seatings at 4:30pm, 6:45pm and 9:00pm.  Lunch is also available on New Year’s Eve from 11:30am to 2:00pm.
  • Monsieur Paul (Epcot) – this lovely restaurant in France has a special 3-course menu.  Seatings are available at 11:45am, 12:00pm, 2:15pm and 2:45pm for lunch and 5:45pm, 6:15pm, 8:45pm and 9:45pm for dinner.
  • Countdown to Midnight (Yacht & Beach Club Resort) – this  brand new party at the Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center is a great way to ring in the New Year.  There is live entertainment, including comedy, dancing, and a live band, as well as endless food & drink options.  Happy New Year, indeed!
  • Atlantic Dance Hall (BoardWalk Inn) – enjoy a live band, see Illuminations at midnight, and have a champagne toast to ring in the New Year.  There’s even a special VIP experience, which includes access to the VIP section, which includes a dedicated bartender and a dessert bar.
  • Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort) – this fantastic restaurant overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon will be serving a four-course meal, with first seating between 5:00pm and 5:55pm and the second seating between 8:45pm and 9:40pm.
  • Victoria & Albert’s (Grand Floridian Resort) – celebrate in grand style with a ten-course menu that includes 8 savory courses and two dessert courses.  There is also an option to do a nine-course wine pairing.
  • Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort) – the iconic restaurant will have a special New Year’s Day menu.
  • California Grill (Contemporary Resort) – plenty of food stations will be scattered throughout the restaurant.  There is an open bar all evening, and you can cap off the night with an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.

What other tips do you have for me?

Because peak crowd levels are expected over New Year’s, here are some tips to help you navigate through the crowds:

  • Plan as much as you can ahead of time.  This especially includes fast passes and dining reservations.
  • Consider eating at off-peak times to avoid the long lines at quick service locations.
  • The parking lots can get full pretty quickly.  Disney transportation, if available to you, is a good alternative.
  • If there is a phased closure at the park and you can’t get in at a certain time of day, keep checking.  Although chances are slim, there’s a chance restriction levels may change at some point during the day.
  • It’s New Year’s so get dressed in your best 2016 attire!
  • There will be long lines – at bag check, at the rides, at quick service locations, at stores.  A little patience and a lot of Disney good cheer goes a long way!
  • Find a PhotoPass photographer, and ask for holiday-themed Magic Shots!
  • There are many special treats and meals to choose from, so indulge before the New Year’s resolution kicks in!

With that, I will turn it over to you.  What else do our visitors need to know if they are going to Disney World on New Year’s?  What tips have worked well for you when you visited during this time of year?  Sound off in the comments below!

Hi there, I’m Myra and I’m a huge Disney nerd and addict!  I’m also an Independent Travel Agent at World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts.  I’m happy to help you plan a holiday trip you’ve always wanted, at no cost to you!  Please visit mypage or send me an email at myra@worldofmagictravel.com to get started!

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