How I Survived New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom

by | Jan 4, 2020 | WDW Blog

I spent my New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom… and I know what you’re thinking, “Are you crazy?”

To answer your question… yes. I chose to spend New Year’s Eve squished in with 100,000 other people, knowing full well I might not actually enjoy myself because of the crowds. I am someone who can become really anxious in big crowds, but New Year’s Eve was the best day I’ve ever had at The Magic Kingdom, and I would do it again 100 times!

On a normal day at The Magic Kingdom, the crowds can be a little unnerving for someone like me with anxiety, especially during parades and fireworks.

I had one goal for New Years: To see the spectacular NYE fireworks that happen above the castle. I wanted to be right in the heart of Walt Disney World when the clock struck midnight, so I ignored my anxiety telling me to spend my night at the hotel and set out to have the best New Year’s Eve ever!

Magic Kingdom New Year's Eve Crowds

Crowds on Mainstreet USA on New Year’s Eve. Photo Courtesy Matthew Hagen

On New Year’s Eve, the Extra Magic Hours were from 7 to 8 AM and my family and I arrived at the park at 7:45 AM. Upon arrival, it wasn’t nearly as busy as I was expecting. The crowds were similar to the crowds during peak days in the summer.

The first stop was Starbucks (duh!) and we waited about 25 minutes to order… worth it. We had booked three Fast Passes well in advance so we did not have to race families and dodge strollers from snapping at our ankles to get to an attraction. I decided that we were going to be patient on New Year’s Eve because I wanted to last until at least 12:00 AM!

Our Fast Pass was for 10 AM, and to pass the time we went on It’s A Small World before we could tap our bands for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We waited 30 minutes to It’s a Small world—which is kind of unheard of.

After Mine Train, we went to Main Street USA to get a spot for the parade! The parade is the same parade that steps off at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and I am so happy we got a good spot for it! We snagged a spot right in front of Uptown Jewelers, and waited for the parade!

Magic Kingdom New Year's Eve

Goofy in the parade!

The parade stepped off at 11:00 AM in Frontierland, which means it takes about 20 to 25 minutes for the first float to roll its way over to Main Street USA. We got our spot at about 10:35 AM, and considering we went looking for a parade spot 30 minutes before it was meant to start, we still managed to get a great view!

I have never seen the Christmas parade at Magic Kingdom, and I was absolutely blown away. Mickey and Minnie lead the parade in their Christmas outfits, and there were so many other Disney friends to follow them! The Toy Story gang made an appearance in scarves and mittens.

Vanellope and Ralph drove down Mainstreet covered in colorful Christmas candies, and of course, Santa greets the Guests atop his grand sleigh.

There was even a float that carried all of the Disney royals and their beaus… it was incredible.

Magic Kingdom New Year's Eve

Parade on NYE Magic Kingdom

My favorite float in the parade!

After the parade was finished we waited out the parade crowds by spending some time in Uptown Jewelers. We browsed the Pandora charms and Dooney and Bourke bags before we checked the wait times. Basically every attraction was said to have at least an hour wait.

Our main goal of the day was to see the fireworks, so everything we were going to do in between arrival and finding a spot for fireworks was just to pass time.

We were still able to accomplish quite a few attractions. We had used a fast pass for Mine Train, Dumbo and Astro Blasters. And we waited in the standby line for it’s a small world, Philarmagic, to meet Minnie and Daisy at Pete’s Silly Sideshow.

At 1:55 PM we got a notification from My Disney Experience… the park was filled to capacity! Uh oh!

Magic Kingdom New Year's Eve

Crowds in Fantasyland on New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom

We had a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table at 7:45 PM, and this was maybe out biggest saving grace. By the time our reservation rolled around we were tired of pushing our way through the crowds and waiting in lines.

The quick-service restaurants were so jam-packed it seemed nearly impossible to get a seat, but thankfully my mom suggested we book dinner for the evening (Gothel was right, mother does know best!). Although we weren’t able to start staking out our spot for the fireworks at 8 PM (which is when a lot of people started to do it), we were able to sit down, decompress, and make new memories at the castle together!

This was the best thing we could have done (thanks Mom!) because we were able to slow down for an hour and a half and really enjoy our time together as a family—the purpose of our trip!

Magic Kingdom New Year's Eve


After dinner, we chose to watch the fireworks from the side. Have you ever been in Ye Olde Christmas Shop? It’s right at the entrance of Liberty Square and diagonal to Sleepy Hollow, a quick-service restaurant. Well—that is where we posted ourselves at 10:00 pm to wait for the countdown!

At first, I was worried that we weren’t going to be able to witness see the entire firework experience, but it turned out great! We were in a spot that wasn’t too crowded and had a restroom nearby. We also were able to see more than half of the castle, which means we saw the projection show… and of course, the fireworks were so unbelievably magical, I almost didn’t believe they were real.

New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom

I was truly speechless! The fireworks were incredible!

As I said earlier, I would do this 100 times again. Being in the Magic Kingdom with my family as we rung in the new year was possibly the most special memory I have of my time in Walt Disney World. That being said, now that I have done it for the first time, I think I know what I can do a little bit better next New Year’s Eve at The Magic Kingdom!

New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom

Aly’s Tips for New Years Eve at Magic Kingdom

Stay on Disney Property!

We were staying at The Yacht Club, which meant we were able to use Disney Transportation to get to and from our hotel. Disney transportation has its own lanes, which means it is way quicker and efficient on days where there is heavy traffic. We were told that the regular traffic stretched 2 Miles outside of the Magic Kingdom gates. If we did not have access to Disney Transportation, we would have been stuck in traffic for the rest of the night… no, thank you!

Although it only took us about 45 mins to get to our hotel (including waiting for the bus and the commute), I would want to stay at The Contemporary. It is a 5-minute walk from The Magic Kingdom and I think I would have stayed in the park longer if I was able to get back to my comfy bed within minutes.

Get there early!

We arrived at 7:45 am, and when I think about it, we were kind of late! We were able to see the castle show, which I love, and we grabbed our coffee, but if we were there 45 mins earlier we might have been able to have a slower pace in the morning while we got organized.

Make Reservations:

Cinderella’s Royal Table was a much-needed recharge for me and my family. We snuck away into the castle as the crowds started to migrate over to Main Street for the fireworks. And although this meant we weren’t able to see the castle head-on, I much preferred the calmness I felt when we had more space and a spot altogether.

Change of Clothes:

I brought a change of clothes for two reasons: 1) for photos and 2) for comfort.

I wanted to wear a sparkly dress during the countdown, but during the day I wanted to be comfy. It was a long day after all, and I knew anything could happen in a full day at Disney. I brought a few comfy shirts in my bag as well as a change of socks. If it rained, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t miserable. What’s worse than wet socks after Splash Mountain, am I right?

Bottom Line:

Even if you hate crowds (like me) you will enjoy yourself! I will 100% be going back to The Magic Kingdom for New Year’s Eve. Patience and regular breaks were the keys to our success, and I am so happy I ignored the negative chatter about the reputation of Magic Kingdom on NYE, because it was simply and truly magnificent.

New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom

After everything…it was all worth it.

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Posts by Alessandra Sferlazza

Aly is the Social Media Coordinator for WDW Magazine as well as a contributing writer. For the past five years, she has worked with The Walt Disney Company and completed her BA, B.Ed, and a certificate in Journalism. Aly loves spending every second she can at Disney World with her best friends and family. Follow Aly on Instagram

Authored by
Alessandra Sferlazza

Aly is the Social Media Coordinator for WDW Magazine as well as a contributing writer. For the past five years, she has worked with The Walt Disney Company and completed her BA, B.Ed, and a certificate in Journalism. Aly loves spending every second she can at Disney World with her best friends and family. Follow Aly on Instagram
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