LIMITED QUANTITIES AVAILABLE!

Black Friday

Save up to 40%

on a Universal Orlando ticket & hotel package
Get This Deal

Offer applied in cart. Blockout dates & restrictions apply.

Gobble, Gobble! Your Guide to Thanksgiving at Disney World

by Mommy Frog on November 1, 2020 31

It's no surprise, really, with the kids out of school for at least part or all of the week that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest weeks of the year at the Orlando theme parks and Walt Disney World Resort in particular. After all, who wouldn't want to experience Thanksgiving at Disney? But if you're planning a trip on or around the week of Thanksgiving, you should plan on longer waits for attractions and larger crowds everywhere you go. With the Disney Park Pass reservation system in place to limit capacity in the parks through early 2022, things should be more manageable than in years' past! However, it's important to note that Park Passes are booking up quickly — so be sure to hop to it if you haven't already!

Despite the crowds, Thanksgiving at Disney World is a decidedly low-key affair as far as the actual holiday is concerned. Don't expect to see window fronts decorated with cornucopias and pilgrims everywhere you turn. All of the parks will be decorated for the holidays — just not the Thanksgiving holiday — and that's fine by us. Those of you visiting during this time will be eased right into the Christmas spirit, and there are already plenty of Disney holiday events already hoppening in the parks. The one exception to this is the Land Pavilion at Epcot, where pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows are usually on display in Living With the Land and the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot. Here are the Frog Family’s best tips for making Thanksgiving at Disney World an enjoyable one!

Top Tips for Enjoying Thanksgiving at Disney World

1. Pick Your Park Wisely

Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World - Decorations in Front of Castle

If you're headed to Thanksgiving at Disney World, you want to pay even closer attention to our Crowd Calendar, so you can pick the best day to visit. While this week isn't as crowded as the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, it will still be very busy. In fact, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be especially busy. It's entirely possible that some of the parks will reach capacity these days, and that Disney Park Passes will not be available for certain (or all) parks. Disney's Hollywood Studios remains a fan-favorite to try to snag a Boarding Group for the popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction, and Magic Kingdom's all-new holiday offerings are a big draw for guests as well. Guests can and do cancel their Park Passes, so check back before your trip if you want to swap parks — but know that you'll have to cancel your current Park Pass before booking another, so there is a little risk involved.

2. Have a Plan

The next most important thing to do is to have a plan when experiencing Thanksgiving at Disney World. Is your goal to go on as many rides as possible? Do you want to take your time and enjoy the atmosphere? Maybe the holiday sights and sounds are your top priority?

Don’t wait until you get inside the park to figure out what everyone wants to do. We always put together a short list of priorities by family member. That way, we can best strategize and make sure no one, especially Tad and Lily, are left out. Be sure to check out our Park Plans for Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld before you go. Also, make sure to download our Orlando Planning app to follow our touring plans or customize your own. If you're looking for special seasonal food, beverages or merchandise, we always find it hopful to have those on-hand, too, so that we know exactly where to stop. (I know, I know — it's a little overboard, but I can't tell you the number of times I've walked out of a park only to magically remember a specialty snack, popcorn bucket or spirit jersey that I had my mind set on! With sensory overload in the best way happening all around the parks, it is so easy to froget.)

3. Think Ahead for Dining

Thanksgiving at Disney World - Minnie's Seasonal Dining

With your park plan, it helps to have some idea of what meals will be like during the day. Are you planning on taking advantage of quick-service all day? Are you hoping to enjoy some seasonal dining, such as Minnie's Holiday Dine (where Minnie and friends will say hello in their seasonal best), or Liberty Tree Tavern for a Thanksgiving-esque feast? If your gameplan involves table-service restaurants, be sure to make a reservation in advance! Guests can book dining reservations 60-days in advance of their trip ... and guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can book for their entire length of stay!

No matter where you'll be feasting, you'll want to have the My Disney Experience app handy. It's where you'll make your dining reservations, access Mobile Ordering service, check for walk-up availability for last-minute reservations, check-in for your dining reservation and even access the menu for the restaurant. Not able to snag a reservation for your first restaurant pick? Be sure to keep checking in the days leading up to your visit for cancelations. Check out our ins and outs of Disney's ADR for even more hopful tips.

4. ... and Dine Before or After Regular Mealtimes

Thanksgiving at Disney World - Turkey Leg

Thanksgiving at Disney World brings in extra crowds, which means restaurant queues will also be extra long. You'll save time waiting in line for food if you eat during off-peak times. Eat an early breakfast and have an early lunch at 11 a.m. Alternatively, eat a big breakfast and have a late lunch. Take advantage of mobile ordering. Be sure to check out our list of all the restaurants that will be serving up Thanksgiving dinner, and a few places where you can find a turkey leg.

5. Review Your Safety Plan

Large crowds and small children can make parents' anxiety levels skyrocket, especially Thanksgiving at Disney World! Have a family meeting beforehand to review your safety strategies like where to meet in case the group gets separated. On Thanksgiving Day, dress everyone in the same bright color and take a picture of your children that morning so you have a recent one with what they’re wearing. Read more on our theme park safety strategies.

6. Plan Some Downtime at Your Resort

Thanksgiving at Disney World - Horse Carriage Ride at Fort Wilderness

Whether it's taking a midday break or getting in some early zzz's, try to find quality time with the family back at the resort (either on Thanksgiving day or anytime during the busy holiday week). We know it's tempting to crank out long days at the parks, but give yourselves plenty of rest to keep that energy up. Take advantage of the fun amenities at your Disney Resort.

7. Pack Your Patience

With increased crowds and new policies in place, know that there may be some delays in your day. Whether it's waiting to get into a pavilion, a socially distanced ride queue or onto hotel transportation, there is going to be some waiting involved in your day. With complimentary transportation also limiting capacity, know that waits may be a little longer than usual. If you brought your own vehicle and are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, remember that free theme park parking is included in your stay. Likewise, with ride queues spacing guests six feet apart, know that what looks to be a long queue may actually be a walk-on — wait times are a better indicator than the length of the line itself (though these can sometimes be inflated too). Adjust your expectations going in and remember to give thanks for all the fun you're having in the Orlando theme parks!

8. Keep an Ear Open

Thanksgiving at Disney World - Anna and Elsa Promenade at EPCOT

One of our favorite experiences at the parks are the new character cavalcades and pop-up character greetings around the parks — and they're unique to each park, including some just for the holidays! You can usually tell these are about to hoppen when the music around you changes, so be sure to listen carefully. In each park, we stopped for a snack along the route and caught several cavalcades while we refueled. With Festival of the Holidays going on at EPCOT, it's a perfect opportunity to grab something tasty from the Holiday Kitchens and wave at Santa, Mickey and his pals in their holiday best, Disney Princesses or even Anna and Elsa! During our last visit to EPCOT, Lily, who was in her Anna dress, was ecstatic to catch the Frozen promenade twice — especially when Queen Anna told her, "I remember you! You look beautiful!" on her second pass! The character experiences are toadally magical and worth stopping to take in, especially if you have tadpoles!

Have you celebrated Thanksgiving at Disney World? What tips did we miss? Be sure to share with us in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our When to Visit Orlando page for more tips. Wherever and however you spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we hope you stay safe and have fun!

Related: Where to Find Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney World

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
Nov 22, 2019 at 7:32 p.m. Free trip to Disney, chaos ensues! Says...

Hello! Your site has been a tremendous help! I just wanted to see if you have any tips for the following situation:

My husband got a gig playing in the Thanksgiving Day parade! We’ve done this before, but this time we will have a new addition (1 year old son) and two grandparents. We are staying in a hotel booked by my husbands agent, and the grandparents got lodging through my FIL’s military benefits.

How should we go about meeting at various parks?

We have a half day Wednesday (evening rehearsal for hubby) so I thought we could do Epcot, MK for Thursday (because that’s where the parade is) and HS for Friday.

Because we didn’t buy our tickets, we had trouble getting access to them and just now booked what fast passes we could — we planning on checking back to look for openings.

Last time we went, we were there for 6:30am-12:30am! I know this isn’t viable with a brand new one year old, and I expect Turkey Day to be nuts.

Any recommendations for enjoying two and a half days with a toddler, gparents who love Disney but not technology or rollercoasters would be greatly appreciated!!

Reply
Nov 25, 2019 at 8:03 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

How fun! What an awesome experience for you and the whole fam to have again! As far as a meeting point, we generally suggest meeting inside of the park of the day. The front entrance has a lot of touch points and it can be pretty busy, so we tend to meet just inside of the park. "Guest Relations" is a good place to meet if grandma and grandpa aren't familiar with the parks, as they tend to be just inside of the entrances of each park. Then, you can hop to the second park of the day together. Our first suggestion would be to book everyone's tickets under your My Disney Experience account - link them as friends and family (and walk them through the process while they're next to you if you need to). This will allow you to be the FastPass gatekeeper and book for everyone in your party. Like you already mentioned, keep checking back for cancellations, as they do happen! As far as your little one, go with the flow in terms of his schedule - if he's an early riser, awesome! Take advantage and rope drop to hop on some rides before the biggest crowds are in the parks. Be sure to either bring or rent a stroller so he has someplace to nap or rest. Of course, breaks are always good (especially for tadpoles), but only you know whether a quick nap in the stroller (or your arms) at the parks will suffice, or whether you'll need to hop back to the hotel for a longer break. That could also mean that you get some more happy park time out of him in the afternoon before heading home for the night! If you haven't already, you can request a pack and play from the front desk. And last not not least, bubble wands (which you'll see everywhere) are a great way to entertain him while waiting - for a ride, for a parade, for transportation, etc. Have a wonderful visit!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 16, 2019 at 1:43 p.m. Tracey Says...

We are planning a trip the week before Thanksgiving..(Nov. 17th thru 22nd). How do you think crowds will be this week? Hoping to leave before it gets crazy!

Reply
Oct 17, 2019 at 10:51 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tracey!

Expect the first few days of your trip to be lighter in terms of crowds, with the 20-22 ramping up for the Thanksgiving crowds. You can see a day-by-day breakdown on our Crowd Calendar. Even as it ramps up, things shouldn't be too crazy just yet - 7/10. Have a great time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Apr 24, 2018 at 5:29 p.m. Emily Says...

Your articles have been so helpful. We are planning our honey moon for thanksgiving and will be doing dining on May 19. I took a look at your crowd calendar but wanted a first hand opinion. Which park is the least crowded on Thanksgiving day? Or which park would you most recommend we spend our time at that day?

Reply
Apr 26, 2018 at 9:53 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Emily!

Congrats on the honeymoon, that will be so much fun! Holidays are always super busy at the parks, but Magic Kingdom always tends to bring in the largest crowds. You can check out our Crowd Calendar for details, but we usually recommend Animal Kingdom on holidays, as it tends to be the least crowded (although still busy!)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Apr 13, 2018 at 9:47 p.m. BW Says...

Are any of the attractions closed during thanksgiving week, such as water rides.

Reply
Apr 13, 2018 at 6:01 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

You can check the current list of scheduled refurbishments here, but note that these are subject to change as the year progresses.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 27, 2016 at 5:40 p.m. Jennifer Says...

We are visiting the week after Thanksgiving. Would it be better to visit MK on the Sunday after Thanksgiving or Monday?

Reply
Nov 3, 2016 at 1:09 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jennifer,

It's really a toss up with the crowd levels and park hours. I would pick the one that works best with your schedule.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 23, 2016 at 1:04 p.m. Jared Says...

We are thinking of going to Florida/Disney during the week of thanksgiving. We are only planning on 2-3 days in the actual amusement parks. Would it make sense to pick the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday leading up to thanksgiving? Is it still crazy packed?

Reply
Mar 28, 2016 at 9:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jared,

Those days are better, but it will still be crowded!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 17, 2015 at 10:10 p.m. Jennifer Says...

Hello,

Our kids have always wanted to see Disney at Christmas time. We are thinking of going Thanksgiving week as that is the only time we can get away. Will the parks be decorated for Christmas? Will characters be dressed in Christmas outfits? There isn't a Christmas party scheduled the days we will be there, will there be any Christmas themed parades or shows? Thanks so much. We hate to spend all the money for the trip and miss out on Christmas events, decorations, music etc.

Reply
Sep 23, 2015 at 11:34 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jennifer,

The parks will be decorated, and some of the characters will be in Christmas attire. Don't miss The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and you can take part in Epcot Holidays Around the World and the Candlelight Processional the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Nov 19, 2014 at 7:32 p.m. Dan Says...

I am planning a vacation for my family the first week of December, 11/30 - 12/6. How are the crowds then??

Reply
Nov 20, 2014 at 9:50 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dan,

Should be a good week. Here is the Crowd Calendar.

Leap

Reply
Nov 16, 2014 at 7:43 p.m. chelle belle Says...

I've visited WDW Thanksgiving the past 5 years and the crowds were just fine for my family of 6 (2 adults 4 children 15,7,6.3) Yet I've never thought about a special turkey day dinner - we're at Disney enjoy the memories :) Arriving on the 22nd and leave on the 30th #teameeyore #teamolaf

Reply
Oct 29, 2013 at 12:44 p.m. Disney World, Universal & SeaWorld Planning for November Says...

[...] … or at least a turkey leg at the resort. If you’re visiting the week of Thanksgiving, here is our survival guide (including where to eat). There are a ton of other events going on this month, and we [...]

Reply
Nov 22, 2012 at 2 a.m. katherin3 Says...

Having just left Magic Kingdom I will reiterate it is crowded. Long lines and lots of people. The upside is you can take food and drink and we were prepared. The kids enjoyed it but we are all exhausted.

Reply
Nov 26, 2012 at 4:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for sharing!

-- Leap

Reply
Nov 16, 2012 at noon Disney & Parks News: Test Track Gets Closer to Launch; Will Universal Get More Simpsons? Says...

[...] [...]

Reply
Nov 16, 2012 at 6:16 a.m. best apps for health and wellness, iphone ipad health apps » Disney World Dining Says...

[...] Best Disney World RestaurantsThe “DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2012″ Grand Launch and Discount!News! Temporary Closure in 2013 for Disney World’s California GrillDisney Dining PlanDisney Gift Guide: Cookie Season is Here!Thanksgiving Planning for Disney World, SeaWorld & Universal [...]

Reply
Nov 15, 2012 at 2:46 p.m. Where to Meet Santa at Disney, Universal and SeaWorld Orlando Says...

[...] Related: Thanksgiving Survival Guide for Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando [...]

Reply
Nov 14, 2012 at 10:14 p.m. Amy Kennedy Says...

I just want to thank you for all of the helpful advice you share. We are having a family trip to WDW next week and I am so excited. For several in the family, it will be their first trip. Your information and advice have already been invaluable and we haven't even left our home state. Again, THANK YOU!!

Reply
Nov 15, 2012 at 1:49 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Amy,

You're welcome. We love being a resource Have a great trip!!

-- Leap

Reply
Nov 9, 2012 at 7:31 a.m. Disney & Parks News: Star Wars Miniland Opens, Festival of the Masters Heads to Downtown Disney Says...

[...] The pastry chefs at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have created what Mommy Frog is calling “the most scrumpt-a-licious cupcakes ever” and they’re themed for the holidays. Yep, even Thanksgiving. [...]

Reply
Nov 6, 2012 at 9:27 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi everyone!

Please share if you have any tips for surviving Thanksgiving week at Disney World, SeaWorld or Universal!

-- Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 6, 2012 at 3:45 p.m. When to Visit Says...

[...] Thanksgiving [...]

Reply
Nov 1, 2012 at 12:47 p.m. Planning for Walt Disney World in November Says...

[...] more information on this in the coming weeks or you can get a look at last year’s information here now. There are a ton of other events going on this month, and we list a number of them [...]

Reply
Sep 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Mariana Quiroz Says...

Sorry..

Which would be the best days And parks? Thanks!!

Reply
Sep 21, 2017 at 8:44 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mariana,

Looking at our Crowd Calendar, we're forecasting heavy crowds during each day during your visit. Friday the 17 is listed as average, so definitely visit a park that day.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Leave a comment
Name is required. Email is required. Please input a comment.
About Us
About Undercover Tourist

Undercover Tourist is the leading supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions, including Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and more.

Sign up for our newsletter!
Please enter your Name
Please enter your Email address
footer grass

Contact:  1 (800) 846-1302 (USA)  |  1 (386) 239-8624 (Worldwide)

Sign up for Our Newsletter Let's Plan a Better Family Vacation

monthly news, planning tips and special deals

Please enter your Name
Please enter your Email address

Contact Us

Send Feedback

Or call 1 (800) 846-1302 (USA)

1 (386) 239-8624 (Worldwide)


©2000–2020 Undercover Tourist. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions
As to Disney photos, logos, properties: ©Disney
lilypad
Newsletter logo

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

monthly news, planning tips and special deals from the Frog Family

Please enter your Name Please enter your Email address
×

Thank you for joining our email list!

Joined email list logo

You should be receiving your first email soon!
Thanks for being a part of the family.

×
Create an account

Create An Account

In order to save your favorite items, you'll need to create an account. Already have one? Sign in.

An Undercover Tourist account allows you to:

Join The Frog Family
No, thanks. ×