Disney Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Disney Thanksgiving

While many American families are gathering around the table at home with family and a turkey, there’s a place that does the holidays like no other – Disney! Now before you get too excited about booking your holiday excursion, it’s important to note that the holidays (including Thanksgiving) are some of the busiest times at Disney Parks. But, no need to fret! We’ve put together these top insider tips for a Disney Thanksgiving survival guide to help you make your turkey day full of magic.

ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations)

While we recommend this for ANY time you are traveling to Disney Parks, this is especially important if you plan on taking advantage of the Thanksgiving dining feasts. You’ll want to book 180 days out via the website and don’t delay, because the best restaurants will go fast.

Stay On-Property

Crowds are going to be heavy and staying on property will ensure that getting around Disney property (either Disneyland or Walt Disney World) will be much less stressful. You’ll also get a chance to experience the holiday décor, experiences, and music. Disney goes to the extreme to make every detail feel magical.

Disney Thanksgiving

Fastpass, Fastpass+, Maxpass

Study up and take full advantage of these systems so that you can avoid the long lines and crowds. No one wants to wait several hours to ride an attraction and these systems are the key to limiting your wait times. Check out our full guide to Maxpass at Disneyland here.

Dress for the Weather

While CA and FL are both nicer winters compared to other places in the US during the holiday season, it’s important to note that it’s winter time and rain, snow, and colder temperatures can occur. Be sure to come prepared, check the weather forecast ahead of time, and dress in layers.

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Practice Holiday Cheer

Crowds suck. People get grumpy. Don’t let it ruin your vacation. You know ahead of time that it’s going to be really crowded (or you totally didn’t read the rest of this article) and keeping your wits about you is very important. After all, Disney is the happiest place on earth. Stop, relax, and take in the magic.

Disney Thanksgiving

Plan Parks Accordingly

Maybe you’ll have a park hopper and maybe you won’t. Check to see which special events are happening in the parks on each day and plan your visits to attend the must-do activities or avoid the parks that have them for ones with lower crowds on that day.

Disney Thanksgiving Recipes

Plan a “Break” Day

Crowds are exhausting and Disney is no exception. Our favorite thing to do when we need to leave the bustle behind is to book a massage or venture outside of Disney property for a little fun. However, if you are the shopping type and are brave enough to battle more crowds, you could take on Black Friday Disney style at Downtown Disney (CA) or Disney Springs (FL).

Prepare for Long Queues

Hurry up and wait – you won’t just be waiting in line for rides, you’ll be waiting to order food, be seated, for shows, or even to check out shopping. It’s a line everywhere, so plan ahead with fun activities and ways to entertain your party. We recommend the Disney Play app!

Disney Thanksgiving

Have a Battle Plan (But Be Reasonable)

Whenever Disney Parks are crowded it’s always good to have a plan. Document your must-do’s, make reservations, book passes, and check up on ride closures and show times. Just don’t forget that the parks are extra crowded and trying to plan out every minute of your day is only going to put added pressure on you. Keep it easy, have backups, and be okay with not getting to do or see everything.




Have you celebrated Thanksgiving at Disney?

Leave a comment below and let us know.


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  1. Leah on November 6, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Great tips! We have never been brave enough to try at thanksgiving but I’ve heard it has challenges. These are great helpers!

  2. Dina Canepa on November 6, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Love this!! We did thanksgiving a few years back. This would have been great to read before that trip! Still perfect to read now though!

  3. Michele C on November 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I spent Thanksgiving 2013 at Disney with 26 members of my family. It was the best trip we ever took! I recommend it for all.

  4. Sarah on November 7, 2018 at 6:50 am

    I have never celebrated Thanksgiving at a Disney Park. This year we will be staying in WDW right after Thanksgiving!

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