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Christmas in July: Plan Your Holiday trip to Walt Disney World

Can you believe it?

The rest of 2017 is open to book for dining at Walt Disney World. Even though Christmas seems so very far away, the time to plan is NOW! Here is my story of our Christmas trip to Walt Disney World.

As my children have gotten older, we have found that it's very difficult for them to miss school. This leaves us with few choices for visiting Walt Disney World: spring break, summer or Christmas. Last year, we decided to take the plunge and spend Christmas at Walt Disney World.

We heard all the horror stories of crowds. We heard it would be wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder, crushing crowds. We heard we wouldn't be able to ride anything. Yes, we heard it ALL and we went anyway. Our reasoning was that we had visited many times before and we will visit in the future. Our list of Must Do's was extremely short and we had an expert planner on our side: ME!!

I am happy to report that, while there are crowds, a Christmas trip is not only do-able, but also very magical. Careful planning and packing our patience went a long way.

Here are my tips:

1. Start planning early! Like NOW! You will want to reserve the resort with the best location you can afford. If you can afford to stay in a Deluxe resort, they generally are located close to one or more parks. Being close to the parks comes in handy when lines for buses and the monorail get long. We reserved the Beach Club, which is in walking distance to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. This eliminated bus rides to two parks altogether.

2. Plan ahead, but know that park hours will likely be extended. When reserving your dining, bear in mind that Magic Kingdom can open as early as 7:00 a.m. I would not recommend an 8:00 a.m. breakfast for that reason. You will be stuck eating during prime touring hours. We planned our breakfasts for 10:30 or so, which allowed us time to enjoy a bunch of attractions before our reservation.

3. Try to plan your arrival BEFORE Christmas Eve. This gives you a better chance of some lower crowd days. Our resort had some special events leading up to Christmas Day, including an appearance of Mickey & Minnie in special outfits in the lobby. We also enjoyed carolers in the lobby.

4. Plan some time to check out the resort decorations. This gets you out of the crowded parks and it's pretty special. Our resort, Beach Club, features a chocolate carousel, while Yacht Club had a model train set up. The Grand Floridian always has a life size gingerbread house. Plus, many resorts have Christmas trees decorated with the resort theme in mind. It's a good way to spend some time and enjoy some yummy holiday treats!

5. I recommend making extra dining reservations. For example, at any other time of year, I wouldn't make more than a few table service reservations as they can take a lot of time away from touring. I wanted to guarantee at least one meal per day where we had a seat without fighting the crowds. In addition, you will want to book a dining package for Candlelight Processional. It is the one and only way to guarantee a seat at this magnificent show in EPCOT.

6. Plan plenty of time to see the special holiday offerings: the parade at Magic Kingdom, Candlelight Processional, Holiday Storytellers at EPCOT, the special holiday ending to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. All are well-worth your time and add a lot to your holiday.

One last thing that our family really enjoyed. We shipped a small, tabletop tree and ornaments to our resort. Our girls enjoyed decorating it and falling asleep to the pretty lights each night. I also brought along their stockings and some little gifts to put inside to keep the magic of Christmas alive for them - even away from home. I wouldn't do this every year (well, maybe I would!) but it was a truly unforgettable trip and we love

If you'd like to plan a Christmas trip, contact me to start planning TODAY! Resorts and dining will sell out, so the earlier, the better.

Mary Graham is a Vacation Specialist, specializing in Disney destinations and a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. She travels frequently to Walt Disney World and cherishes the special memories her family has made. She LOVES helping families plan their Disney vacations.

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