Disney Dining Blog: Thanksgiving Day at the Parks: Yes or No?

Disney Dining Blog:  Thanksgiving Day at the Parks: Yes or No?


During the summer I do not spend all that much time in the theme parks. Quite honestly, I do not like the crowds. On extremely busy days there are wall to wall people. The lines are long, parking is a hassle, and half of the things on my to-do list don’t get done. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest park days of the year, and since I don’t like extreme crowds you might think that I would stay as far away from Disney as possible. You’d be wrong. I love spending part of Thanksgiving Day at one of the parks, especially at the packed Magic Kingdom.

Maybe I enjoy it because my expectations are lower on Thanksgiving. I know that even Tomorrowland Transit Authority is going to have at least a 45 minute wait, so we won’t try to ride anything. To me, visiting a park on Thanksgiving is more about soaking up the atmosphere than anything else. The weather is much more comfortable than those crowded July days. The parks are decked out for the holidays, which always brings a smile to my face. We never stay long, we’re there to soak it all in for a couple of hours and then we leave.

I know plenty of people who refuse to go anywhere near a park on a major holiday. I can’t blame them, because it can be frustrating. For me, though, it’s worth it.


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If your plans include spending Thanksgiving Day at one of the theme parks, here’s my advice. Arrive as early as you can. If possible, show up at least an hour before the park officially opens. That’s your best chance of being able to ride something. Take advantage of FASTPASS whenever you can. The new FASTPASS+ system is going to make things easier for those who are eligible for it. Consider trying some of the less popular rides so that you will be able to say that you did something. You might find a new favorite.

If you want to eat in the park of choice and haven’t yet made a reservation, time is running out. Calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) might be your best bet, the operator will do his or her best to get you a reservation. Thanksgiving might be a good time to try a resort restaurant, but those choices are running thin as well. If you have a car and don’t mind leaving the property, there are plenty of local restaurants that will be open. Many of them will offer a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

One final tip. The Magic Kingdom will often reach capacity fairly early on a major holiday. You might want to enjoy a different park instead. The park will usually reopen a few hours later. Remember too that there is only one water park open this time of year. If the weather is warm enough, that will probably reach capacity as well.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.