New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World Resort

December 31, 2018

 

 

2018 New Year’s Eve Info

From celebrations in the theme parks to an upscale dining experience and dancing at Disney’s BoardWalk, take your pick of how you want to ring in the New Year. If previous years are an indication, park-goers will be given party hats and noise makers to ring in the New Year. There will also be elaborate firework displays that will decorate the skies over each park (except Animal Kingdom) at the stroke of midnight. Park visitors can expect extra live entertainment in the parks and should check their Times Guide for locations and times.

Be aware that the parks and parking lots often fill to capacity early on New Year’s Eve. Guests staying at Disney-owned resorts should plan on using Disney’s transportation to reach the parks. The Magic Kingdom almost always reaches capacity at some point during the day on New Year’s Eve. TheMouseForLess recommends arriving at your preferred park early and staying throughout the day. Park hopping is not advised and may not be permitted on New Year’s Eve. While the Walt Disney World Resort guarantees onsite guests will have park entry, it does not guarantee entry into a specific park. Late-comers may find themselves spending New Year’s Eve day at Animal Kingdom if they wait too long to arrive at the parks.

To make a long day more comfortable, pack warmer clothes for the evening and stow them in one of the theme park lockers (make sure to rent a locker early if you would like to get one). Also, guest often spend 16 hours or more in the parks on New Year’s Eve; we suggest getting plenty of sleep the night before.

If you are a Walt Disney World guest, make sure to make your FastPass+ selections well in advance so you’re assured of enjoying a few of your favorite rides, but don’t plan on making your park day all about the rides.

Make dinner reservations for one of the park restaurants well in advance, and make them for a little earlier than you actually expect to eat. Crowds can cause many park restaurants to run behind. After dinner, stakeout your spot for the celebration. As the day wears on, navigating crowds will become increasingly difficult, especially for those with small children, strollers, motorized scooters, or wheelchairs.

In addition, be prepared for high levels of traffic on New Year’s Eve night. As all of the parks begin to disperse after midnight, road closures and traffic pattern typically change around property, and particularly around Downtown Disney are. In the past, Hotel Plaza Blvd has been closed at the intersection with Buena Vista Drive with traffic routed along N. Buena Vista Drive towards CR 535. If your hotel is not located close by (preferably with direct walking access), try to find a nice spot to relax until after the major crowds have left the park. If you’re staying on property, leave the driving to Disney! The traffic created by 3 packed-to-capacity parks emptying out at approximately the same time can be a logistical nightmare.

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days (and nights) of the year in the parks. That being said, it can be spectacular, as long as you plan well in advance, know what to expect and come mentally prepared to handle the challenges.

New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom New Year’s Eve at Epcot New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Hollywood Studios New Year’s Eve at Animal Kingdom New Year’s Eve at Disney Springs New Year’s Eve at the Disney Resorts Special New Year’s Eve Dining

New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Park Hours

Magic Kingdom Park typically celebrates New Year’s Eve for two nights, on both December 30th and 31st, however complimentary noise makers and party hats will only be handed out on New Year’s Eve. One might think of December 30th in the Magic Kingdom as a full dress rehearsal for the big event, complete with live DJs and dance parties!

2018 Hours for Dec 30: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
2018 Hours for Dec 31: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.

Extra Magic Hours for resort guests:

December 30 – Morning: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Evening 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

December 31 – Morning: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Magic Kingdom Park Schedule Dec 30 & 31

  • Parade – 12:00 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.
  • Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks – 6:30 p.m. & 11:50 p.m.
  • Check the times guide or our Holiday Happenings & Events page for other seasonal entertainment

See our New Year’s Eve Dining Section for New Year’s Eve meals offered in the Magic Kingdom.

TheMouseForLess Tips

• See the Magic Kingdom’s special New Year’s Eve fireworks on December 30th when they are also shown and the park stays open until 3:00 a.m. for resort guests. This park is insanely crowded on New Year’s Eve! Plus, you’ll be able to see a second New Year’s Eve celebration at Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have your heart set on attending this park on New Year’s Eve, however, be sure to be inside before 10:30 a.m. as the park could close to some or all visitors for brief periods throughout the afternoon.

• Frontierland and Tomorrowland New Year’s Celebration Dance Parties will allow you to put on your dancing shoes and boot-scoot with a hoppin’ beat ‘til midnight in Frontierland. Or jump start the New Year with an upbeat get-together in Tomorrowland, blasting into 2018 with futuristic tunes. Dance parties will take place from 7:00 p.m. until midnight.

• While alcoholic beverages are readily available at outdoor kiosks and stands in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom park does not serve alcohol with the exception of select beers and wines available at the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Jungle Skipper Canteen, Tony’s Town Square, Liberty Tree Tavern, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Thus, while Magic Kingdom does get extremely crowded on New Year’s Eve, it tends to throw the most kid/family-friendly celebration.

• Hats and Horns will be distributed to Guests on December 31.

• Due to heavier crowds, consider dining during non-peak hours, avoiding noon until 2:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m until 8:00 p.m.

• To help with elevated crowds, Disney usually opens up some backstage areas for special entertainment and also as extra exits for after midnight. Also, consider staying in the park after midnight to avoid the rush to the parking lot.

• The New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Magic Kingdom are spectacular and are shot over the castle as well as all around the park perimeter. Even the midnight countdown is done in fireworks that form the actual numbers. Those wishing to view Magic Kingdom’s special fireworks from outside the parks can do so from the observation deck on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort, from the beaches (piped in music) of the Polynesian Village Resort, from the marina dock (piped in music) at the Grand Floridian Resort and from Transportation and Ticket Center along the walkway to Ferry loading area (breathtaking free views with piped in music), as well as restaurants such as California Grill or Narcoose’s, or for a large group a fireworks cruise (see Epcot tips for more info on special event firework cruises).

• During the holidays, many Walt Disney World Resort quick-service restaurants issue dining receipts with a coupon for 20% off merchandise at select shops during hours before 1 p.m. While coupons have an expiration date, they do not have to be used the same day they are issued.

New Year’s Eve at Epcot

Epcot Park Hours

2018 Hours Dec 31: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Park Schedule Dec 31

  • IllumiNations Peace on Earth holiday version – 6:30 p.m.
  • IllumiNations New Years Eve version with Countdown & Fireworks – 11:40 p.m.

Live New Years Eve DJ Parties

Live DJ dance parties will be featured throughout Epcot on New Year’s Eve, including in Future World on the Fountain Stage and at World Showcase at America Gardens Theatre. There are usually dance parties in the courtyards at Italy, United Kingdom and China as well. Epcot will be awash in changing colors from lasers and even flames jetting into the air above some dance party stages. Temporary Bars will be available on the promenade as well. Complimentary hats and noisemakers are handed out in the evening, as well.

DJ Dance Party Schedule

Epcot will feature DJs in both Future World and World Showcase. They will be found from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. at the following locations:

  • the Future World Fountain Stage
  • China – flame effects and smoke-billowing dragon
  • United Kingdom – British Invasion
  • Italy – Euro-pop and lasers
  • Japan – “Silent Groove” party
  • America Adventure – America Gardens Theatre Stage

 

TheMouseForLess Tips

• Epcot’s midnight fireworks include a special salute to each country as, one at a time, fireworks are launched over each pavilion and traditional music plays. Look for more fireworks over the pavilions during the countdown to midnight and a huge firework finale. Additional space is usually set up for New Year’s Eve firework viewing on either side of the promenade walking from Future World to World Showcase.

• New Year’s Eve is the one night of the year where guests can take backstage bypasses to quickly get from Future World to World Showcase. Typically, there is a bypass open between Test Track and Norway-China and one between Imagination and the Showcase Pavilion next to the U.K. Epcot will also usually add some high-end restroom trailers between Future World and World Showcase in anticipation of crowds and open up the grassy area where Future World and World Showcase meet for Illuminations viewing. Bring a blank to sit on and enjoy the show.

• Epcot is very popular with adults due to the sheer number of dining options at this park. There are also a couple of restaurants with a great view of Illuminations. None will guarantee a window or patio seat, but if you book your reservation at Spice Road Table in Morocco or Rose and Crown Tavern in the United Kingdom about 2 hours prior to the show, you might be lucky enough to score a prime viewing spot. Whatever your choice, make sure to make your dinner reservations well in advance.

• For a uniquely different way for a group to see Epcot’s firework finale, consider booking a private fireworks cruise, complete with champagne! Securing one of these cruises is not for the faint of heart, however. Disney doesn’t announce when it will begin taking reservations for special event fireworks cruises and availability is extremely limited. We suggest calling Disney’s Recreation line (407-WDW-PLAY) as soon as phone lines open (7 a.m. EST) each morning, every day beginning six months out for a midnight boat. Yes, you heard right, every single day!

• Hats and horns will be distributed and will last until supplies run out.

New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park Hours

2018 Hours Dec 31: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Park Schedule Dec 31

 

See our New Year’s Eve Dining Section for special meals and celebrations offered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Restaurants.

TheMouseForLess Tips:
• Of the 3 parks with midnight fireworks displays, historically, Disney’s Hollywood Studios tends to be a little less crowded than the rest.

• For the best view of Disney’s Hollywood Studios fireworks, find a spot on Hollywood Boulevard facing The Chinese Theater.

• Temporary bar kiosks will be set up for New Year’s Eve at select locations throughout the park.

• New Year’s Eve crowds in the park can be challenging for groups. Bringing as many cellphones as possible is great way to reunited with any members of your party that may have become separated and good tip for all of the parks, especially during overcrowded events.

• Complimentary hats and noisemakers will be available

New Year’s Eve at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Park Hours

2018 Hours Dec 31: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Park Schedule Dec 31

No specific special New Year’s Eve celebrations or events are held at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, however there will be a performance of the nighttime spectacular, Rivers of Light.

New Year’s Eve at Disney Springs

There has been no fireworks at Disney Springs on New Year’s Eve for the past few years. For those looking for fireworks, please see our Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios sections above.

  • Live Performances – from live musicians to DJ dance parties, there’s something for everyone to ring in 2019.

Walt Disney World Resort guests should plan to take Disney bus transportation and drivers should allow extra time as heavy traffic is expected.

Additional Entertainment Info

See our New Year’s Eve Dining Section for additional meals offered at Disney Springs.

New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World Disney Resorts

If you plan on staying at a Disney resort, book your hotel as far in advance as possible. This is an extremely busy time of the year. Availability for on-property hotels is limited and will go fast. We’re not kidding! To make travel after the party easier, decide which park you will celebrate in and book the closest hotel you can afford or one with the best direct access. As an added bonus, resort hotel guests are usually treated to evening Extra Magic Hours in several of the parks on either December 30 (Magic Kingdom) or 31 (Disney’s Hollywood Studios). This is great for those who would like to stay late and ride the rides with limited crowds.

If the crowds in the parks aren’t for you and you can afford the cost of staying at a Disney Deluxe resort, you’re in luck! Almost every Deluxe resort holds a celebration of its own. Registered guests at select Disney resort hotels will be treated to live music and entertainment. For example, the Grand Floridian resort usually has a “big band” playing in the lobbyand the Boardwalk Inn has been known to throw a party on the resort’s lawn with a live DJ. Check with the front desk or concierge desk for details.

See our New Year’s Eve Dining Section for additional meals offered at Disney Resorts.

Special New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Dining

Special dining opportunities are offered at many resort and park restaurants for both New Year’s Eve and New Years Day. From lunches and dinners to a New Year’s Day brunch, there are more than a dozen spots for ringing in the New Year. For reservations or additional information for any of the meals or celebrations listed below call 407-WDW-DINE.

Epcot

Monsieur Paul in the France Pavilion will be celebrating New Year’s Eve beginning at noon with seatings throughout the day and evening. For lunch, Chef Paul Bocuse offers braised ribs with bordelaise sauce, roasted halibut with a beurre blanc sauce, roast turkey and more. For dinner, he presents fish courses that include roasted black bass with a lobster mousse and poached halibut served with seared scallops in a champagne sauce as well as meat courses of roasted venison loin and quail stuffed with truffles. Both lunch and dinner provide an array of delicious appetizers and side dishes—and a special New Year’s Eve dessert. The cost is $110.81 per Guest (tax and gratuity included). Full payment is due at time of booking.

New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner – Sip and dip your way into 2018 by indulging in a lavish buffet of savory foods and decadent desserts at this ticketed event in World Showplace. Call (407) WDW-DINE (3463).

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

A special holiday dinner buffet called Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine will take place.

Disney Springs

The following locations will offer special menus on December 31:

  • None at the Moment

Additional food and beverage carts will be located throughout Disney Springs serving cocktails, beer, wine, and small bites.

Walt Disney World Resorts

Special dining for ringing in the New Year is planned at the following Disney resort restaurants:

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk invites you to ring in the new year with a great music and high spirits. For $75 (tax and gratuity not included), Guests can enjoy tasty treats, party hats and horns, a view of Epcot fireworks, and a champagne toast at midnight. Music will be provided by a DJ.

Menu items will include:

  • assorted antipasto and charcuterie
  • Late-night dip station featuring raw vegetables
  • chips and salsa
  • pretzel bites
  • assorted flatbreads
  • cheeseburger spring rolls
  • pork pot stickers
  • vegetable samosa
  • A create-your-own slider and taco bar
  • A selection of desserts like mini cupcakes and macaroons

Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and the party goes until 2:00 a.m. Guests must be 21 years or older with valid ID to enter. For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

California Grill This year, you can take your pick from a trio of unforgettable events at this Magic Kingdom-area Resort hotel destination. There are two options just for adults… and one the whole family is sure to love:

  • Disney Countdown to Midnight — Celebrate the new year at California Grill with delectable dining, live music and a spectacular fireworks display
  • Ink and Paint Club – An add on to the Disney Countdown to Midnight experience. This includes a special VIP lounge that includes food and live entertainment.
  • Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration — Be immersed in the magic of popular Disney·Pixar films during this family-friendly holiday event

 California Grill is also offering a 1980s-style party filled with food, fireworks, music and more! Partygoers of all ages are invited to celebrate New Year’s Eve at California Grill’s 80s throwback bash.

Menu items include:

  • Grilled Spanish octopus
  • jumbo poached prawns
  • king crab legs
  • Cherrywood bacon lardons
  • fragrant poached lobster salad
  • vanilla-honeysuckle-scented goat cheese
  • assorted charcuterie
  • duck confit flatbread
  • braised beef or pork belly bao buns with house-made pickled vegetables
  • spit-roasted suckling pig tacos
  • Japanese pumpkin bisque
  • smoked marble chips
  • Sushi
  • grilled Skull Island prawns
  • butter-poached Maine lobster tail
  • prime beef ribeye
  • house-made Japanese pumpkin-mascarpone agnolotti
  • American Kobe short ribs
  • wild mushroom risotto
  • artisanal cheeses
  • sinfully delicious desserts

The evening will include a live DJ spinning nostalgic hits. Guests will also see Mickey, Minnie, Baby New Year Donald and Father Time Goofy too. They can head over to the photo booth to snap some commemorative pics with fun party props. Finally, at midnight, ring in the new year with a champagne toast and spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show.

The cost is $675 per Guest, which includes tax and gratuity

  At Chef Mickey’s, on January 1, celebrate with a traditional New Year’s Day meal—one featuring seasonal and holiday favorites, and all of our regular buffet items too! Characters who may appear include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto. The New Year’s Day holiday dinner at Chef Mickey’s takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is available for $53 for adults and $32 for children 9 and under (tax and gratuity not included).

 

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

 Ring in 2018 with a festive BBQ feast, live entertainment and exciting activities. with bluegrass music, a DJ, a video feed of Times Square and fantastic fun for all ages. Guests should also be on the lookout for Mickey and Minnie, as well as Chip ‘n Dale. At the end of the evening, sip champagne as you enjoy a breathtaking fireworks display. The party begins at 8:30 p.m. and costs $95 per adult and $75 per child. Guests will be able to enjoy a buffet featuring mouthwatering favorites including:

  • A variety of meats, including smoked chicken, baked salmon, beef brisket and Italian sausage
  • Lobster macaroni and cheese
  • Baked potatoes and assorted toppings
  • Hot vegetarian meal
  • Assorted cold salads, including kale salad, jicama carrot salad and roasted beet salad
  • Appetizers, including a cheese board, vegetable crudités, crackers, breads and fresh fruit
  • Kids’ options, like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh green beans and salad
  • Assorted desserts, like mini s’mores mason jars, cherry cheesecake and chocolate truffles

 

Celebrate 2018 with the Fort Wilderness Beach Dessert Party. During this special party, Guests will be able to enjoy delicious sweets and specialty beverages all while viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks from Clementine’s Beach at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Menu items will include seasonal fruits, cheeses, and an assortment of desserts. There will also be refreshments, including beer and wine. The cost is $99 plus tax per adult and $59 per child (ages 3-9). The evening’s activities will take place from 10:00 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.

Guests looking to arrive to the event will need to take the internal shuttle to get to the beach location. Those who are traveling from the Magic Kingdom will be able to simply take the ferry to the event. The check-in location is at Clementine’s Beach behind the Settlement Trading Post. Also, keep in mind that this event is outdoors and is located on beach in sand. Reservations can be made now by calling 407-939-3463.

Additional Dining Options

 

For those who don’t have reservations, you can always try dining at one of the many lounges across the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels including the lounge at Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & SpaCrew’s Cup Lounge at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and Victoria Falls Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 

Swan and Dolphin Resort

Guests can enjoy a variety of New Year’s Eve options at resort restaurants. For more Swan and Dolphin holiday dining information, visit the Swan and Dolphin web site.

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