Tip #1: between Christmas and the New Year, at Walt Disney World, you are not getting on any rides. During the extreme-crowd season (which this is), there is not a single attraction, from the wholly wonderful Space Mountain, to the traditionally less-popular Three Caballeros Gran Fiesta Tour (no offense), that has a justifiable wait. The misery you inflict upon yourself just by being at the resort when it reaches capacity is made much, much worse standing in any hugely-impacted line. Disney attractions are the best in the business, but if you have seen the despair seething off those exiting Soarin’ after a 200-minute wait, it’s not worth it.
Can you then justify visiting a Disney Park without going on the rides? If you aren’t keen enough to stay away completely during the silly season, there may be little hope for you. Your enthusiasm is understandable. Disney puts on quite the added spectacle for the holidays. The authentic apple-scenting alone may warrant a visit. The best way, then, to survive the seasonal ordeal, is to appreciate the extras, and try not to treat this like a typical visit.
Appreciate the little things: while everyone else is pushing their hopeless way toward one of the three rides they may manage to get on today, pull your family to the side and take in the free entertainment. Watching from safe a distance as others ruin their own day in fits of Disney-owes-us-something is much more gratifying following them down a certain chute of despair.
Spend even a minute looking at the always incredible Disney landscaping that your father always used to carry on about. Around Christmas it takes on additional levels of seasonal brilliance you aren’t going to see anywhere else this side of Calloway Gardens. Of course the kids want to ride the Mine Train, and will ignore every word you have to say regarding topiary, but in twenty years they will appreciate the effort, and will fail to pass along your wisdom, much in the way you are failing now.
Venture outside the Parks: this is an even more egregious blasphemy than skipping rides, but now is the perfect time to explore all those parts of the Resort you typically dismiss. Have you seen the lobby of the Grand Floridian? Have you seen it in December? Okay, it won’t spare you the slings and arrows of those with their hearts set on the Frozen sing-along, but it’s a lot easier to see up close, and the aggravation you avoid might save your holiday.
Bottom line, know what you’re in for: it’s going to be crowded. Disney is the undisputed best at handling massive crowds, but there is only so much anyone can do. They also set and maintain a legendary customer service standard. But again, they don’t owe you anything above and beyond the extraordinary level of accommodation they are already providing. Okay, you traveled a long way, and sunk a fortune to be here, but so did everyone else. Try not to hold the nineteen year old with the name tag responsible for the ridiculous Peter Pan line. If there’s something they can do, they will. Try to be patient. Try to remember you are there on purpose. Try to enjoy yourself.