November is a transitional month for Walt Disney World and the other Orlando theme parks as they end Halloween festivities and begin celebrating the Christmas holidays. In the case of Magic Kingdom® Park, this happens very quickly, since there is only a week between the last Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. For those who love Christmas, a trip to Walt Disney World in November will get you right into the holiday spirit!
Decorating in the other Disney World parks traditionally begins the first week of November and may take several weeks to be completed. And don’t forget the resorts, because they will be decking the halls as well! One of Mommy Frog’s very favorite things to do this time of year is to visit the resorts for dinner and then walk off everything she ate while looking at the displays! The Grand Floridian, with its Victorian theme and life-size gingerbread house, is her absolute favorite (the rest of us prefer the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge because it feels more like a traditional Christmas). By the way, the Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the Frog Family’s very favorite deluxe resort to stay in!
SeaWorld gets into the spirit on November 17 when the park begins its annual Christmas Celebration. While Universal Orlando will start decorating in November, its special events won’t officially begin until December 1.
By the way, there are no major Thanksgiving Day celebrations or festivities at Walt Disney World, although you can find places to eat a traditional feast … or at least a turkey leg at the resort. If you’re visiting the week of Thanksgiving, here is our survival guide (including where to eat). There are a ton of other events going on this month, and we list a number of them below.
New Fantasyland™ and crowd levels
Magic Kingdom® Park will be extra merry this November because of the opening of the New Fantasyland™. The official previews for Disney Vacation Club members are Nov. 4-5 and then previews for annual passholders are Nov. 6-18. Previews for the general public begin Nov. 19, and this will be the first day that Be Our Guest Restaurant is open for dinner reservations. As many of you know, a “dress rehearsal,” or soft opening, is happening now in the Enchanted Forest section of Fantasyland® Area (minus Be Our Guest Restaurant), but the attractions are not guaranteed to be open all the time during this period.
As a result of the previews, Disney World has extended opening hours for the Magic Kingdom® Park, on some days 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. While Magic Kingdom® Park is expected to see slightly higher crowd levels during this time, they should not be unreasonably so. The extra hours means that guests actually have more time to take advantage of lower crowd levels during early and late hours.
Overall crowd levels
This month is slightly less crowded than October and less crowded than December, which means a less hectic experience in the parks. The exception to this is the week of Thanksgiving, where the parks will see very high traffic (but still not as high as the week of Christmas). If you are planning to visit during this week, make sure to look at the crowd calendar and try to visit the individual parks on the suggested days when the daily crowd level is lowest (Magic Kingdom® Park on November 21 or November 25, for example). Make sure to download our wait-time apps and follow our advice on Extra Magic Hours. Finally, the single biggest piece of advice we can give is to get to the park early. By that we mean get to the park before it opens!
Rainfall chances this month are low, with average highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and LEGOLAND’s Water Park have closed for the season. While the other water parks are open and the water is heated, they are subject to closure when the weather gets especially cold or nasty. The Disney resort pools and most Orlando hotel pools are heated!
- One of Mommy Frog’s favorite events, the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, continues daily through November 12, with special events and seminars (some requiring reservations and an extra cost) scattered throughout. Read Mommy Frog’s recap from our visit to the festival in September.
- For those of you who just cannot get enough of Halloween (that would be Tad and Lily), Magic Kingdom® Park hosts one last Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Nov. 2. Throw on your costume and trick-or-treat one last time! The party includes Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show and the Villains Mix and Mingle.
- Disney’s Magnolia And Palm golf courses play host to world-class PGA event the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on Nov. 8-11. Believe it or not, back when she was younger, Mommy Frog used to play a little golf. Nowadays, the only time she tees up is with Tad on the Wii, but she still likes to watch the pros every now and again.
- A great FREE event for the entire family happens at Downtown Disney Nov. 9-11. The Festival of the Masters is an open-air fine arts festival featuring one-of-a-kind and limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more. There will be activities for all ages and live music!
- Make sure to pack your running shoes because the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is on tap that same weekend. While the half marathon is sold out, there are spots available for Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K and the kids’ races.
- On Nov. 9, Mickey hosts his first Very Merry Christmas Party of the season, with special guest Santa. Guests can sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies during Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade. Special character greetings abound along with a magical snowfall along Main Street, U.S.A.® during this separately ticketed event.
- Starting that same day is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. This crazy-big light display originally started at the Osborne Family’s home back in Arkansas, and every year it grew and grew and GREW! In 1995, the Osbornes decided to share it with the world here at Disney.
- Starting Nov. 16, the Festival of the Seasons begins at Downtown Disney. It runs through December 27 and features live entertainment, holiday carolers, street performers and a holiday dance party. Santa Claus visits on November 16-December 24 and Santa Goofy on December 25-27.
- Starting Nov. 17, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration begins. This annual event features specially themed shows like the Winter Wonderland on Ice, THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience and Shamu Christmas – Miracles. Let the kids dine with Santa, and stroll among the beautifully lit, dancing Sea of Trees.
- ESPN’s World Wide of Sports welcomes the annual Old Spice Classic on Nov. 22, 23 and 25. You hoops fans can catch the tourney in between your visits to the parks.
- Starting Nov. 23, Epcot® guests can celebrate yuletide traditions around the globe at Holidays Around the World and then share the magic of the season at the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the story of Christmas narrated by a number of celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris.
- On Nov. 30, Busch Gardens Tampa decks its halls for the first time in park history at Christmas Town, a wintery wonderland with special events and activities. This separately ticketed event ends each evening with a performance by Grammy-winning Christian act Jars of Clay.