Is Walt Disney World Busy On Thanksgiving?

Many people travel across state lines to visit family and friends over the Thanksgiving period and choose to visit theme parks such as those at the Walt Disney World Resort during this time. However, this might not always be a good idea.

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, second only to Christmas and New Year. Both park reservations for all of the Walt Disney World theme parks and dining reservations for the majority of the restaurants sell out far in advance.

However, if you’re adamant about experiencing Walt Disney World over Thanksgiving then there are some things you need to know to maximise your wait times and experiences inside the parks.

Is Walt Disney World Open On Thanksgiving?

The Walt Disney World Resort is open on Thanksgiving. This includes all of the Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Springs, and the Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Opening Times

The Walt Disney World theme park opening times on Thanksgiving are;

  • Magic Kingdom – 9am to 10pm
  • Epcot – 9am to 9pm
  • Hollywood Studios – 9am to 9pm
  • Animal Kingdom – 9am to 7pm
  • Disney Springs – 10am to 11pm

These are the normal opening times for the Walt Disney World parks and as such the same hours also apply in the days before and after Thanksgiving too.

Is Typhoon Lagoon Open On Thanksgiving

Sadly, Typhoon Lagoon is going to be closed for refurbishment over Thanksgiving (November 2022).

Walt Disney World’s Thanksgiving Special Attractions & Decorations

Sadly there are no special attractions and decorations put out for Thanksgiving specifically. Instead, you’ll find that the Walt Disney World Resort is decorated for the Christmas season.

What Is Walt Disney World Like On Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Mandatory park reservations for any of the Walt Disney World parks sell out well in advance, and queues at the entrance to any of the theme parks (especially Magic Kingdom) begin earlier than usual – roughly one and a half hours before opening.

To make Walt Disney World theme park reservations you need to have purchased your theme park tickets. As such, it’s best to buy your Disney tickets as far in advance as you can. That way you can maximise the reservation window and make any additional reservations such as hotels and restaurants.

Given the parks are at full capacity, researching which rides you’re wanting to go on during your trip, and which of them have the longest wait times is imperative to know where to go first.

Meanwhile, if you have the budget then we recommend purchasing Disney Genie+. Disney Genie+ allows you to skip the lines on selected rides of your choosing throughout the day.

However, unlike Express Passes for similar theme parks Disney Genie+ still requires some planning to maximise your experience – as such we recommend reading up (or watching vlogs / videos) in advance.Once the ‘rope drops’ and the park opens fast pace walk to the ride of your choosing because from there, the crowds are only going to get bigger.

By 11am, expect the park to have reached capacity and the average standby wait time for the most popular rides inside the park to be averaging around 120 to 180 minutes.

Grabbing food inside the parks can also be difficult when it’s this busy so make sure you’ve read the menus of most of the restaurants in advance and decided where you want to eat.

If you’re planning on having a table service meal either for lunch or dinner you’ll want to make sure you reserve a table as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a quick service meal then consider downloading the My Disney Experience mobile app so you can place a mobile food order for pick-up rather than having to wait in line.

If you’re staying at Magic Kingdom for the fireworks then be sure to stand and reserve a good space at least an two hours before the show starts.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to purchase any Disney souvenirs make sure you do that prior to getting your space for the show since a large majority will wait to grab souvenirs as they exit which can make browsing the store incredibly difficult.

Remember if you’re staying on-site you can have all your souvenirs dropped off at the front desk of your hotel for free to leave you free to enjoy the park for the remainder of the day.

If this is your first time at the Walt Disney World Resort, make sure it’s not your last. I think it’s incredibly difficult to experience the true Disney magic here when the crowd levels are so high.

What’s Walt Disney World Like On The Week Of Thanksgiving?

How busy Walt Disney World is on the week of Thanksgiving really depends on the day specifically.

Given the long weekend, you’ll often find that the Walt Disney World Resort is as busy on Thanksgiving weekend as it is on Thanksgiving specifically.

As such if you’re visiting on either Black Friday, Saturday or Sunday I’d reference my notes from Thanksgiving above.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting Monday to Wednesday on the run-up to Thanksgiving or the Monday to Wednesday following Thanksgiving then you’ll generally find that the crowds are beginning to subside and peak time normality at the Walt Disney World Resort is resuming.

This also means that Walt Disney World Resort hotels and other hotels within Orlando will be slightly cheaper when compared to those peak Thanksgiving holiday dates.

These two things combined make Monday to Wednesday the best days to visit the Walt Disney World Resort if you’re looking to incorporate a trip here into a Thanksgiving getaway.

Where To Have Thanksgiving Dinner At Walt Disney World

If you’re spending Thanksgiving with family and friends while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort then you may be looking for somewhere special to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Some of our favourite options include;

Trattoria al Forno, Disney’s BoardWalk

Here you can dine on Thanksgiving Sage & Thyme Oven-Roasted Turkey – Cornbread and sausage stuffing, sour cream-mashed Yukon gold potatoes, green beans and rainbow carrots with herb butter, cranberry citrus compote, pan gravy and Parker House Rolls.

Disney’s All-Star Resort

Disney’s All-Start Resort serves Thanksgiving dinner including; turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry relish and a choice of apple or pumpkin tart.

Cinderella’s Royal Table, Magic Kingdom

Thanksgiving at Cinderella’s Royal Table includes a delicious roast turkey breast with gravy, dressing, sweet potato mash and cranberry jam and also provides you with the opportunity to meet some of your favourite Disney princesses.

Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom

Situated in the Frontierland of Magic Kingdom is the Liberty Tree Tavern.

This New England style restaurant is known for serving one of the best Thanksgiving meals 365 days of the year!

Restaurantosaurus, Animal Kingdom

If you’re looking for an on-the-go Thanksgiving delight consider heading to Restaurantosaurus where you’ll find the delicious Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

Garden Grill, EPCOT

The Garden Grill restaurant at EPCOT not only provides you with an opportunity to dine on a family-style Thanksgiving feast but also enjoy a meet-and-greet with some of your favourite Disney characters.

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