Are you daring enough to want to brave the New Year’s Eve crowds at Disney World? This past New Year’s eve, we decided we wanted to do just that. Magic Kingdom shows their NYE fireworks show on both December 30th and December 31st, we opted to go to Epcot for December 31st. This turned out to be an excellent decision. I’ll tell you all about our day and what we did to make it more enjoyable despite heavy crowds.
You can avoid the traffic altogether
We booked two nights at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort so that we could walk to the park and avoid the traffic altogether. Prior to going, I had read several articles online that stated that the traffic on New Year’s eve was horrendous.
I read reports of people waiting in their cars for up to three hours to get out of the park after closing or waiting in extremely long bus lines. We decided we did not want to have that be the ending to our night. Especially when we knew we would already be tired from being at the park all day and staying up until midnight to ring in the new year.
We opted to walk to Epcot from the Dolphin Resort which took us about 20 minutes and to walk back after midnight. This ended up being a great decision. Although the cost of the room was not exactly cheap, since it was a peak time to stay, I thought this was money well spent. You can even cut off part of the walk by taking a boat part of the way.
We got to the park early
Yes, as stated in the 5 Disney planning tips you must know, we followed our usual rule and got to the park about 30 minutes before the park was set to open. When walking from the Dolphin Resort to Epcot, you end up at a different entrance than the main entrance where we usually would enter. This entrance still had a line, but not too bad.
Riding Soarin and Test Track first thing
Once they opened the park, we moved quickly to get to Soarin. We got there and just about walked on. The lines were just starting to form so our plan of getting to the park before opening was a success.
Since it was New Year’s Eve and was supposed to be one of the busiest days of the year, I ended up getting a fast pass for Test Track at 8:20 in the morning, this meant that we had to ride Soarin and be at Test Track by 9:20. This was not a problem whatsoever. We were able to get in two major attractions right after park opening. Usually, I would not get fast passes for the morning, because you can ride with little to no wait anyway, but this was the only fast pass I could get for either Soarin or Test Track, so I went ahead and took it. Since it was such a busy day, this ended up being a good idea.
The later it got the more crowded it got
As the day progressed, the crowds got larger and larger. The regular lines got too long for anyone in our party to want to wait in. At this point, we stopped trying to get on any rides and decided to just enjoy the atmosphere. My suggestion for New Year’s Eve at Epcot is to ride what you can first thing in the morning and utilizing your fast passes and then just enjoy the rest of the day without worrying about the rides. Unless you don’t mind standing in line for hours that is.
Dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh
We had an early dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh. The food was delicious as usual. It was nice to take a break, sit down for a while and have a nice dinner. Epcot itself was getting very crowded, so I’m glad we had reservations as even the counter service venues seemed to have long lines and limited seating available.
Grab some hats and noisemakers
There were tables stationed throughout the park where they were giving out hats and noisemakers to help ring in the new year. We grabbed some and walked around the world showcase looking at all the different dance parties taking place. We stopped in some places to enjoy the music.
Take a break
We then found a spot sitting on a concrete wall and parked ourselves waiting for the fireworks to begin. We just basically people watched for the next hour or so. Since we had been there since opening so we were tired and welcomed the chance to take a break and sit down for a while.
When I was researching our New Year’s eve trip to Epcot, I had read about very long lines for the restrooms. I suppose this was the case for some, but we did not experience this. In fact, when I went to the restroom, I experienced no wait at all. There was one right near where we were sitting on the concrete wall and there was no wait. I am sure this may be just luck, and that I happened to just be at the right restroom at the right time, but this was my experience.
The fireworks did not disappoint
They were spectacular actually and well worth the wait. There was a countdown around the different countries and then a spectacular show at midnight while Auld Lang Syne played at the same time.
An easy and quick walk back to the hotel
Finally, when the fireworks were over, we simply got up and walked back to our hotel. I’m sure many had to wait in traffic for hours or wait in long lines for Disney buses. However, we just walked about 20 minutes and back we were.
If we decide to ever go to Epcot on New Year’s eve again, I think I would do the same thing. The only thing I may do differently is during the afternoon once the lines start to get really long, I would walk back to the hotel and take a couple of hours break. I think if we had done this, we could have enjoyed the dance parties more rather than just wanting to sit and wait for the fireworks to begin because we were so tired at that point.
All in all, though, I would say it was a very enjoyable day and a fantastic and memorable way to ring in the New Year!