Enjoying A Disney World Thanksgiving

Enjoying A Disney World Thanksgiving. You may be thinking to yourself, how is that even possible? How can you enjoy yourself with expensive hotels, long lines, enormous crowds, and extensive wait times? With a spoonful of planning, a positive mindset, and a sprinkle of patience, you will absolutely find yourself Enjoying A Disney World Thanksgiving.

It’s Not Actually Thanksgiving

Enjoying A Disney World Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you will actually be enjoying Thanksgiving. First and foremost, you have to understand that when you are visiting Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving, it’s not actually Thanksgiving. You aren’t going to see larger than life pumpkins and cornucopias. There won’t be a Thanksgiving turkey miraculously skating along Tinker Bell’s skyline in Magic Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if Disney World abandons Thanksgiving altogether. It’s just that Thanksgiving takes on a much lighter undertone to the Christmas transformations that have already begun. You are likely to see some Thanksgiving decorations at Epcot. And sure, you might see Mickey and Minnie dressed in their Pilgrim outfits. But, don’t go to Disney World to spend Thanksgiving if you’re expecting to see beautiful Thanksgiving decorations. The parks are pretty much transformed from Halloween to Christmas overnight.

A Spoonful of Planning

Resort Planning

You are sure to find yourself Enjoying a Disney World Thanksgiving if you have planned in advance. A Thanksgiving Disney trip should never be a last minute decision. Where do you want to stay? Do you want to choose a hotel that is in close proximity to the parks you plan to visit? Would you rather choose a hotel that is easy on your wallet? Do you want to consider staying at a hotel that also has fine dining options? For example, some of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels that usually offer Thanksgiving dinners are: The Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. No matter what your preferences are, you should book your hotel as soon as you decide you want to go to Disney World for Thanksgiving. Like dinner reservations, hotel reservations fill up quickly.

Planning for Dining

While you can begin making your dining reservations 180 days in advance of your trip, Disney may not have released its Thanksgiving menus at that time. 28 different Disney restaurants will offer some sort of special, Thanksgiving meal. Some of the most popular Thanksgiving meals have been found at the following restaurants in Disney World Parks:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
  • Akershus (Epcot’s Norway)
  • Biergarten (Epcot’s Germany)
  • Coral Reef (Epcot’s Future World)
  • Le Cellier (Epcot’s Canada Pavilion)
  • Rose & Crown (Epcot’s United Kingdom)
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)
  • The Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)


Cinderella’s Royal Table photo

Photo by HarshLight

Out of the four parks, Epcot offers the most Thanksgiving meal options.

Many restaurants located inside various Walt Disney Resorts have also offered Thanksgiving meals in the past. You don’t actually have to be staying at a particular resort to eat there. Some of the most popular Thanksgiving meals have been found at the following Disney World Resorts:

  • Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort & Spa)
  • The Wave (The Contemporary Resort)
  • Chef Mickey’s (The Contemporary Resort)
  • California Grill (The Contemporary Resort)
  • Whispering Canyon (The Wilderness Lodge)
  • Cape May Café (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)
  • Captain’s Grille (Disney’s Yacht Club Resort)
  • Boatwright’s Dining Hall (Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside)
  • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort)
  • Trail’s End (The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort)

To make reservations and to check restaurant availability, visit: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/#/search=thanksgiving/sort=relevance/

To inquire about Thanksgiving menu options, call the Disney Dining Reservations Line at: (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463

Park Planning

When planning for your Thanksgiving Disney trip, you will want to consider how to spend your time at the parks. Your best option for enjoying a Walt Disney World Thanksgiving is to plan a trip for the entire Thanksgiving week. This way, you can spend most of your time at the parks in the beginning of the week before things get really busy. If this is not an option, then you should map out a plan that allows you to visit parks when crowds, lines, and wait times are not as long. You will definitely want to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours. In doing so, you should even try to get to the gates earlier than they are scheduled to open. This will increase your chances of getting on your favorite rides and waiting in shorter lines before the crowds begin to pile in.

If you are able to use the Extra Magic Hours, you have the opportunity to start at one park and then hop to another park before the crowds get too large. However, it’s important to note that if you are planning to park hop, you have to keep in mind that it is possible that one or more parks will reach capacity at some point during Thanksgiving week.

You should also keep in mind that crowds will be particularly large at Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Thanksgiving Day because many locals tend to visit this two parks the most. As a result, you might want to consider visiting Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios for all or part of Thanksgiving Day.

Disney World Thanksgiving - Cinderella's Castle

Fast Passes Are A Must

In order to fully enjoy the parks during Thanksgiving, you must take advantage of your Fast Passes. Begin to book your Fast Passes as soon as possible. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, you can start book Fast Passes up to 60 days prior to your trip. Consider your favorite rides, your favorite parks, and your favorite character meet and greets. You’ll also want to consider the most popular rides. For example, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom is one of the most popular attractions. If this is a ride you are hoping to get on, and you don’t want to wait in a long line, you will want to get this Fast Pass as soon as possible. Additionally, it is best to reserve your first 3 fast passes early in the day so that you can grab more as they become available during the day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What better way to spend this delicious holiday than at the most magical place on Earth? After you have carefully planned out your trip, the rest is easy. No matter how busy the parks get or how long the lines are, just remember to be patient and stay positive. With the right mindset, you and your family are sure to find yourselves having the time of your lives Enjoying A Disney World Thanksgiving!