Any advice for a last minute Christmas trip?

carj

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 6, 2008
We are looking at going between Christmas and New Year’s. I know that it will be crazy busy. All the hotels the offer the express pass are unavailable. We’ve never been to Universal but have been to WDW in June and July so it’s always been crowded.
We would arrive Dec 25, staying off site and leave Dec 29th in the evening. Flights and hotels are no cost with points. 3 day tickets plus one day express pass is about 2K. We will probably Uber but aren’t opposed to renting a car
I know this is personal preference but is it going to be “worth it” to be there are one of the busiest times? We have a high school junior and a college freshman so no little ones.
My thought was to spend day oneDec 26 exploring and maybe doing lower crowd rises and activities and getting the lay of the land and make it an early night. Dec 27 buy the express pass for this day and plan to stay most of the day. December 28 and 29 are open and we can go to Universal one day and maybe downtown Disney or something else another.

What are your thoughts about that plan?
This forum was so helpful when planning for WDW, I’d love to hear any advice. Thanks!
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Universal has a 5 day ticket + Express deal on their website right now, for $549.99. I know you don't need that many days, but it might be cheaper than adding EP separately a second day, and would allow you to go on arrival day if you wanted.

Or, visitorlando.com has good deals and an additional 10% off right now for Cyber Monday. Make sure to check through all their options, some of the good deals are hiding as regular tickets but give a decent chunk off when you actually look.
 

carj

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 6, 2008
Thanks! Do you know if the express passes are good for one day only during the five days or for the length of the ticket? I think the wording is confusing on the website.
 
  • CAPSLOCK

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2017
    I had assumed the length of the ticket, but I really don't know. I'm sure they'd tell you if you call. I also looked at it a bit further, and that's the starting price, it is in the $600s for your dates. You have to select at least 1 adult or child ticket to see the prices each day.
     

    carj

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 6, 2008
    Thank you so much! I did call and it is more expensive because of our dates but the express pass is for all the days! (I called to clarify that and a couple of other things.)
    I am SO glad you posted this because for just a little bit more, I was able to get the express pass for all the days. For our dates, I think that will be totally worth it!
     

    Alynw

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2018
    Thank you so much! I did call and it is more expensive because of our dates but the express pass is for all the days! (I called to clarify that and a couple of other things.)
    I am SO glad you posted this because for just a little bit more, I was able to get the express pass for all the days. For our dates, I think that will be totally worth it!
    Yes, it is definitely going to be busy as you are going at the busiest time of the year but ur not alone, I'm also going during this time and have been now for years. Not to worry though, seeing as u were able to get Express passes for all ur days you are good to go. They only sell a specific amount of passes per day and it's been my experience they do a pretty good job of limiting them and keeping the Express lines under 30min with an average wait around 15. One thing u should note though, the Express pass cannot be used on the new hagrid's ride and I have also seen where no Express pass was allowed for either of the Harry Potter rides during the extremely busy days. Not saying they cant be used at HP this time, just that I've seen it happen several times over the years on the days its really busy during xmas week. While your there, definitely go see the Grinchmas Spectacular Show, it is so good. Have a great trip.
     

    only hope

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2014
    Be prepared for massive crowds and lines everywhere. Lines at the parking booth, to actually get to a parking spot, for the bathroom, for food, to get locker, to re-open your locker...it’s absolutely nuts. Normally express gets you on in about 15mn or less. But the goal is half the standby or less. During your dates express lines for popular things can easily be 30-60mn. Definitely see the Grinch show- but catch the first one so you don’t have to wait through an entire show to get in. Even with express, during that week you should be at the gate at least 40mn early if it doesn't have early entry, a bit less if it does, and head straight to a headliner before the express line has a chance to build.

    Be careful with bag size as the free lockers are quite wide and deep but only about the height of the longest side of a credit card. If you opt not to pack your food, eat at off times. Bring reusable water bottles so you can just fill them at fountains and not wait in line (refillable is always better anyways).

    There’s lots of Christmas stuff to enjoy besides Grinchmas. The parade is good, the Frog Choir and Celestina both sing Christmas songs, and the projection show on Hogwarts is good (but don’t try seeing the first few, you’ll have to wait through at least once before you get close enough to see). The parks are nicely decorated, especially the wizarding world. There, each shopkeeper has done their own decorating.

    With nearly four days you’ll be able to
    do everything once and some things twice. Normally park hopping is recommended as the parks are so close together, but at that time of year it will take awhile to get in so I would minimize hopping to no more than once a day. The Hogwarts Express is two different experiences, one each way.
     
  • starlionblue

    Recovering Disney addict but still failing
    Joined
    Mar 19, 2006
    You need to get there early, like before they open. Trust me, Harry is giving Mickey a bit of a run for his money and, sadly, many frequent visitors say "slow" days are disappearing all the time.
    I cannot say whether the Express Pass is worth the extra money because I've never, wait, scratch that. I haven't been there in over 19 years so I don't know if it helps you beat the lines. I DO remember when Disney World was so crowded that the Fast Pass was barely any help.
     

    KatieCharlotte

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2010
    You need to get there early, like before they open. Trust me, Harry is giving Mickey a bit of a run for his money and, sadly, many frequent visitors say "slow" days are disappearing all the time.
    I cannot say whether the Express Pass is worth the extra money because I've never, wait, scratch that. I haven't been there in over 19 years so I don't know if it helps you beat the lines. I DO remember when Disney World was so crowded that the Fast Pass was barely any help.
    Express pass will be a huge help, but getting there early is always a good idea. Sometimes, especially on rides like Gringotts and FJ, the single rider line can be faster than express, but you never really know. You will be very, very glad that you have express passes for those dates and will be able to have a much more relaxed experience.

    Try to time your meals for slower times of the day, especially if you want to eat at Three Broomsticks. With no young kids, you might get away with a very early lunch, snacks, and then a late dinner.
     

    leebee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 14, 1999
    Any advice for 12/26? It's just DH and me. Planning on buying a 1-day-2-park ticket. We are only interested in the WWoHP, no interest in roller coasters or other rides. Not staying onsite, so no express pass. Will we be able to see/enjoy any of the Potter-stuff, or should I save the money and stay at the hotel pool?

    ETA: I'm not buying the park ticket until we get to Florida, as we can print them from email. Maybe if DH has too much on our Disney Day (12/24) he'll re-think Universal on the 26th. I'd be just as happy to go to Kennedy Space Center!
     
    Last edited:

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    Any advice for 12/26? It's just DH and me. Planning on buying a 1-day-2-park ticket. We are only interested in the WWoHP, no interest in roller coasters or other rides. Not staying onsite, so no express pass. Will we be able to see/enjoy any of the Potter-stuff, or should I save the money and stay at the hotel pool?
    It`ll be crazy busy!!!

    For guests with EP the lines will be longer than usual, but both parks will be filled to the brim. Lines for bathrooms, food and just crowded everywhere.

    We`ve just come back and it was busier than the previous Decembers, and our 11 nights were considered a quieter time.....but, some days it felt incredibly busy.

    I`d stay at the pool......:thumbsup2
     
  • KatieCharlotte

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2010
    Any advice for 12/26? It's just DH and me. Planning on buying a 1-day-2-park ticket. We are only interested in the WWoHP, no interest in roller coasters or other rides. Not staying onsite, so no express pass. Will we be able to see/enjoy any of the Potter-stuff, or should I save the money and stay at the hotel pool?
    We usually have hotel EP but have done a spontaneous trip between Christmas and NY without EP. You'll be able to enjoy the non-ride parts of the WWoHP as long as you're not bothered by crowds of people in small spaces. Some people are bothered by that, and some people don't mind. If you get an interactive wand, you'll have to wait longer for your turn to cast spells, which may make it less magical, but we found it manageable.

    Get there as early as possible. If you want to eat at Three Broomsticks, try to eat lunch when it first opens to avoid a very long wait outside. If you want to see the night lights on Hogwarts, don't try for the first couple shows after sunset because it's crazy crowded. If you're riding Gringotts, FJ, or Hagrid's, consider using the single rider lines if you don't need to ride together -- you'll miss some things in line but your wait will be more tolerable. OTOH, if you're not trying to get to rides, you might not mind a long slow walk through Hogwarts to enjoy all the details. You will have to wait quite a long time for the Hogwarts Express in a line that gets boring quickly, but just be prepared. We made the time go faster with HP-related debates. Each direction is a different experience.

    If you love HP, you will probably have a good time, but not an ideal once-in-a-lifetime trip because it will be crowded and you will need patience.
     

    damo

    Proud Redhead
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2001
    My recommendation is to make sure you try the warm butterbeer! It is my favourite of all the kinds.

    Sharing a warm butterbeer and apple pie at Three Broomsticks is yummy. Warning that the apple pie is massive!
     

    angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    We're not doing it last-minute (booked in January), but are crazy and going Dec. 30-31. We may spend some evenings there too before that. But, we are staying at RPR, so get to have express passes those two days. We are settling for doing less which is fine. Just happy to be out of snow and cold! Warm butterbeer, the castle show, and the Whoville show are things we will try. We are also up for not sleeping and just getting there really early, breaking for the afternoon, and staying really late.
     

    Minnie368

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 13, 2014
    We’re going to be there Jan 4&5, Sat&Sun. What can expect as far as crowds that weekend? We’re staying at WDW Jan 3-11 but booked the night of the 4th on top of that at Royal Pacific for the express pass on those two days. Will crowds from New Year’s have died down some by then?
     

    Alynw

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2018
    Any advice for 12/26? It's just DH and me. Planning on buying a 1-day-2-park ticket. We are only interested in the WWoHP, no interest in roller coasters or other rides. Not staying onsite, so no express pass. Will we be able to see/enjoy any of the Potter-stuff, or should I save the money and stay at the hotel pool?

    ETA: I'm not buying the park ticket until we get to Florida, as we can print them from email. Maybe if DH has too much on our Disney Day (12/24) he'll re-think Universal on the 26th. I'd be just as happy to go to Kennedy Space Center!
    If u have never been to universal the week of xmas or new year and ur not getting express pass, then save ur money and stay at the pool. If u want to just get out u can go to universal city walk for free (free parking after 6 I think) and still have a blast there. Really nice places to eat and drink, maybe see blue man group for $60 pp. I can tell u first hand, the other posters are not exaggerating about the crowd, it is hands down the most crowded time of the entire year. But, with that said, if ur ok with just walking around and spending time in HP world then by all means go and if u dont mind waiting for the hp ride, it will be around 120-180min up to 230min at times. Also note, if u do go and decide to get Express pass, u should know they sometimes dont allow EP for the HP attractions so be sure to ask before buying.
     

    bchbetha

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2016
    If u have never been to universal the week of xmas or new year and ur not getting express pass, then save ur money and stay at the pool. If u want to just get out u can go to universal city walk for free (free parking after 6 I think) and still have a blast there. Really nice places to eat and drink, maybe see blue man group for $60 pp. I can tell u first hand, the other posters are not exaggerating about the crowd, it is hands down the most crowded time of the entire year. But, with that said, if ur ok with just walking around and spending time in HP world then by all means go and if u dont mind waiting for the hp ride, it will be around 120-180min up to 230min at times. Also note, if u do go and decide to get Express pass, u should know they sometimes dont allow EP for the HP attractions so be sure to ask before buying.
    ? Of the HP rides, only Hagrids doesn’t currently take Express Passes. They opened EPs up to the HP rides a few years ago.
     

    KatieCharlotte

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2010
    We’re going to be there Jan 4&5, Sat&Sun. What can expect as far as crowds that weekend? We’re staying at WDW Jan 3-11 but booked the night of the 4th on top of that at Royal Pacific for the express pass on those two days. Will crowds from New Year’s have died down some by then?
    I'm sure it won't be as crazy busy, but the crowd calendars are predicting that it will still be crowded until Monday. I think that seasonal pass blackout dates lift on Jan 4, and they will still have Christmas decorations and shows that weekend. I would assume there are fewer tourists and more locals. But, you'll have express passes.
     

    mickey1968

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2012
    I'm going to be at Disney the 23-26 and am thinking about taking one day to go over to see the Wizarding World and Grinchmas on one of the days. I will be traveling solo and have a fairly high tolerance of crowds. It is easier to maneuver when you are solo. Do you think using single rider lines I will be able to do all of the HP rides and areas in one day? Anything else would just be extra.
     

    only hope

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2014
    Easier than if you had kiddos in tow or a large group but it’s still masses everywhere, so don’t expect to walk quickly. You could do all of the Wizarding World in one day, single rider or no. On such a busy day you may not get anything else done. Single rider skips pretty much the entire queue for everything though. I would be at IoA 90mn before open, do Hagrids, Forbidden Journey, Hippogriff, train, Gringotts, and train again (different each way), then look around at shops, see the shows, etc. Do the Ollivanders show at Universal- there are more rooms so the line goes faster. There are two different Beedle the Bard shows; they alternate. Don’t forget to find Knockturn Alley. If you’re a huge HP fan (sounds like you are), be sure to dine in both restaurants, even if it’s just a snack or drink. Do that in off times for a shorter (but not short) wait.
     

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