If cooking, cleaning up, and entertaining the whole family for a meal that can last hours isn’t your idea of a fun holiday, perhaps you should consider letting Disney host your Thanksgiving holiday this year.
Whether you bring just your favorites – I mean immediate – family members or the whole clan, Thanksgiving can be a great day in Disney World. You can get a great meal, enjoy smaller crowds than other holidays, and even get some Black Friday shopping done!
Let’s take a look at what Thanksgiving in Disney World is like!
5 – Manage Crowds
Your first question is probably something like, “how are the crowds?”
Well, holidays in Disney World will, with out a doubt, have higher crowds than a typical school day. However, Thanksgiving is one holiday with lower crowds. It’s not even close to the same level as Christmas or New Years Eve.
Your best bet is to do some planning and no lollygagging. Arrive at rope-drop whatever park you plan to visit. You’ll be able to see and do more in the first couple hours than you can do all afternoon when the crowds have swelled. However, they hardly ever reach capacity on Thanksgiving.
Regardless, I’m always a fan of a mid-day break when crowds and temperatures reach their peak. Come back in the evening for some more fun!
4 – Weather
Speaking of temperatures, you should be prepared to experience several seasons in one day. Late fall in Florida can get pretty chilly in the morning and in the evening, but the sun can really warm things up during the day! Wear layers and plan to shed them during the day and replace them at night.
3 – Know How You’ll Celebrate
Thanksgiving isn’t as big of a deal in Disney World as some may think. It’s no secret that Disney World transforms the parks from Halloween to Christmas over night from October 31st to November 1st, which means that Thanksgiving really gets skipped over. There’s no parade, no cornucopia decorations, and very little reference to the holiday at all because Christmas is already in full swing.
It’s okay though because Christmas in Disney World is beautiful! There are stunning Christmas trees, special entertainment, and impressive displays like the larger than life gingerbread houses at Disney’s Deluxe Resorts.
2 – Get Some Shopping Done
If part of your Thanksgiving tradition includes shopping til you drop, you won’t have to forgo that fun during a Disney World vacation. Disney Springs has recently been expanded exponentially to include world class shopping, which is much more than the limited stores available less than a decade ago when the area was called Downtown Disney.
Disney Springs has only been offering Black Friday Shopping for a few years, but each year has been better and better even lasting into the weekend with special merchandise released each day.
The shops typically open around 8am, and Cast Members are on hand to pass out flyers with the sales and discounts. Not all of the stores participate, but most do including the recently remodeled World of Disney store.
This “world class” shopping means “expensive”, and prices are probably not discounted as much as you might find at your local mall. However, you could get some really cool stuff with relatively low crowds especially in the early hours.
Disney Springs restaurants even offer some special food and drink options for shoppers!
1 – Enjoy Special Menus
Many Disney World restaurants are featuring a special menu on Thanksgiving. In fact, this menu will replace their typical menu. While this means your favorite items may not be available, you will get a special Thanksgiving meal, which only happens once a year in most places!
One restaurant, however, serves a Thanksgiving meal year-round: Liberty Tree Tavern. This Liberty Square restaurant in Magic Kingdom features an all-you-care-to-enjoy Patriot’s Platter with turkey, pot roast, pork, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, stuffing, and mac & cheese all year. While this is a great place to visit, it will probably be the first thought for many people, and since you can get this meal regardless of when you visit, perhaps you should consider one of the special menus at other restaurants.
In Epcot, restaurants in Future World and World Showcase are celebrating the holiday. Check out Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway, Biergarten Restaurant in Germany, Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room in the United Kingdom Pavilion, or Coral Reef in Future World’s The Seas Pavilion. All of these restaurants will serve both lunch and dinner.
Some of the Disney resort hotels offer a turkey-day meal too! Consider Disney’s Beach Club Resort’s Cape May Café or Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel for dinner or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge‘s Whispering Canyon Café or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge‘s Sanaa for lunch or dinner. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge’s Trails End Restaurant and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort‘s Ale & Compass are even serving brunch in addition to dinner.
If you can’t get Advanced Dining Reservations at any of these restaurants or you’re watching your budget, the food courts at Disney’s Value Resorts always serve some kind of Thanksgiving meal on the special day.
Have you celebrated Thanksgiving in Disney World? Would you like to?