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10 Ways to Improve Your New Year's Eve Experience at a Disney Theme Park

10 Ways to Improve Your New Year's Eve Experience at a Disney Theme Park

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So you're in Orlando right now and really have your heart set on having that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Of ringing in the New Year while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 50,000 other people inside of a Disney theme park while fireworks explode overhead.

Well, know this: New Year's Eve at Walt Disney World is not for the faint-hearted. The crush of the crowds that you'll encounter tonight often gets to a lot of people and can ruin their enjoyment of this event. Which is why it's important -- before you head out to the parks today -- to do at least some advance preparations.

"What sort of advance preparations?," you ask. In the spirit of the season, here's my own New Year's Eve countdown. Which list the Top Ten things you can do to make sure that tonight's experience is far more enjoyable for you, your friends & your family.

10. BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE -- No matter where you go today at Disney World, you're going to encounter lengthy lines. So why not eliminate at least one of those lines by purchasing your admission to the parks in advance? At...Oh, I don't know... some reputable local ticket broker like...say... Orlando Fun Tickets?

9. ARRIVE EARLY -- New Year's Eve at the Walt Disney World Resort is always an incredibly busy time. But if you can beat the rush, get to your theme-park-of-choice today before the bulk of the crowd arrives, you'll definitely be ahead of the game. So head out ASAP. But please be sure and...

8. BRING ALONG THE PROPER SUPPLIES -- Whatever the weather is like right in Orlando, chances are that -- by midnight tonight -- things will have cooled down considerably; which is why it would be wise to bring along a coat, hat, and gloves today. But also remember that -- in order to hold your spot for tonight's festivities -- you'll likely be standing in the sun for several hours today; so some sunscreen and bottled water will be needed as well. And given that there'll be long lines at all of the parks' restaurants and food service locations, bringing along a few snacks would probably be a smart idea too. Not to mention a book or an iPod, just in case you get bored while standing there. Plus a cell phone (in case of emergency and/or to stay in touch with family & friends) and a camera (to record the event). And don’t forget the extra batteries for your electronics, so that you don’t miss a beat of the event!

Though -- to be honest -- the very best thing that you can bring along today is...

7. A BUDDY -- Someone to hold your place while you slip off to use the bathroom or go to get food & a drink; someone to stay & protect your viewing spot for tonight's fireworks extravaganza. Notice how I keep saying things like "hold your place" & "stay in one spot?” Given the huge crowds that you'll encounter today & tonight, that's why it's important to...

6) HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS -- If you really want to stake out a primo viewing spot for tonight's fireworks, this is not a day that you should plan on experiencing too many rides, shows and attractions. There'll be so many people in the parks today that the lines are just going to be impossible. Even if you make use of FastPass, you're still looking at two and three hour waits.

And it's going to be like this at ALL of the WDW theme parks. So...

5) DON'T PARK HOP -- Pick the one Disney theme park that you really want visit today, the one fireworks extravaganza that you want to see tonight and then stick with that park. Sure, Disney World has a wonderful transportation system. But given the huge number of people who are on property today, it's quite likely that WDW will begin restricting access to its parks by late morning/early afternoon; literally turning people away. So unless you want to wind up on the outside looking in, once you get inside one of the theme parks, stay there.

Photo by Jeff Lange

And once you get inside that park, as soon as possible...

4) STAKE OUT YOUR SPOT -- Think about all of the other fireworks shows that you've seen inside of this particular theme park. What was the best possible location for viewing that show? If you don't know and/or have never been to that Disney theme park before, ask a Cast Member for directions and then head immediately to that location. Find yourself a bench to sit on and/or a fence to lean on and then park it. Yes, it'll be hours 'til the New Year's Eve entertainment is finally underway. But all this extra effort will be worth it in the end.

What's that you say? What if you get there late and then can't find a primo viewing spot for the fireworks. Not to worry. All you have to do is...

3) LET THE THEME PARK'S SCHEDULE WORK FOR YOU -- Here's something that most WDW visitors don't realize. On New Year's Eve, Walt Disney World typically presents two fireworks shows at each of its theme parks; so that those parents who've brought their young kids into the park can then go home happy, knowing that they've at least experienced some holiday entertainment. So keep in mind that a large number of people will be exiting the parks with their strollers around 10 p.m., which means that a lot of spots are suddenly going to open up in the heart of the park right about then. So if you plan your moves accordingly, you may soon find yourself a great spot for viewing tonight's fireworks.

But that being said, you should always...

2) BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS -- Let's remember that you're not the only one who's in the parks today trying to experience New Year's Eve. So please try & be respectful of the other folks around you, which means that you shouldn't continuously fire off your flash and blind everyone else in the crowd. And, please do not hoist your child up onto your shoulders at the very last moment and then block the view of everyone standing behind you. A little courtesy can go a long way in a hyper-crowded situation like this.

And speaking of crowds...

1) BE PATIENT WHILE EXITING THE PARK -- If you're in the Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot tonight, chances are that -- once the fireworks are over -- you'll be one of 50,000+ people who are then trying to get back to their hotel room or car. In a crowd that big, it's easy to get separated or maybe even hurt. Which is why -- if it's all possible -- once 2009 arrives, you should immediately find a bench and sit down for a half hour or so. Do some people-watching while the crowd recedes, grab one last Mickey ice cream bar, or reminisce with your friends and family about your favorite parts of your day at the park. Once the walkways in the Park are wide open again, then head for the exits. That way, your New Year will get off to a trouble-free start, rather than having to push & shove your way onto the Monorail.


What's that you say? This sounds too much like work? And you want to be able to enjoy your New Year's Eve? Well, if that's really the case, both SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando are holding hard ticket events tonight. The SeaWorld New Year's Eve event starts with a reception at Shamu's Underwater Viewing area followed by a buffet dinner. Guests will then be treated to an exclusive interaction with the park's killer whales, then VIP seating to that night's Shamu Rocks show as well as Michael Andrews' 11:45 p.m. concert which will conclude with fireworks.

Meanwhile, over at Universal Orlando, Guests will enjoy an exclusive evening of entertainment at CityWalk. There'll be a live performance by the Doobie Brothers, not to mention all-you-can-eat gourmet fare like filet mignon & jumbo shrimp. Then -- at the stroke of midnight -- there'll be a free champagne toast.

Sounds great, right? Well, just keep in mind that you actually have to pay for all this VIP treatment. Tickets for SeaWorld Orlando's News Year's Eve at Dine with Shamu are $99 for adults and $69 for children (ages 3-9). Tickets for New Year's Eve at Universal CityWalk are $124.99 plus tax. Though American Express cardholders can save $5 on each ticket as well as get express line access into this Universal Orlando event.

Anyway... That's the skinny on spending New Year's Eve at the Orlando area's big three attractions. Wherever you wind up ringing in 2009, please be smart and party responsibly.

From all of us here at Orlando Fun Tickets, have a Happy New Year!

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