Family Fun on Super Crowded Park Days


Welcome to those of you joining me from I Am A Disney Nerd and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail. This month’s topic was pretty easy for me as my family and I have been spending Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World for quite a number of years, so I definitely have some experience with what to do during SUPER crowded days at the parks. For us, there are three main activities we normally plan in place of visiting the parks on the most crowded days: Resort Hopping, sharing Our Monorail Mania Meal or shopping at Downtown Disney. We switch it up as we wish each year and we really enjoy all of these alternatives for avoiding the parks.

Resort Hopping Holidays2Resort Hopping, especially during the holidays, is such a fun thing to do. Disney goes all out all the time, but during the holidays they really do it right. Each detail is top-notch and in a class of its own. There are some not-to-be-missed sights all throughout Walt Disney World resorts. Above (clockwise starting at top right): the Christmas tree at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian, the Chocolate Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the Christmas tree at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, and finally the Gingerbread Christmas tree at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. These are just a few of the numerous decorations to be seen throughout all the Disney resorts.

monorail going in

Another favorite for my family anytime, but especially during extra crowded park days, is sharing our Monorail Mania Meal. We start with drinks at the Grand Floridian then monorail over to the Polynesian Resort for dinner and then to the Contemporary Resort for dessert. If you would like exact details of the Monorail Mania Meal, you can find them here.

Eating a quick-service dinner allows us to choose when we would like to dine with some flexibility in our schedule rather than having to be at a table service reservation at a designated time. We normally walk around each resort for a bit which reminds us just how blessed we are to be able to do this year after year.


Downtown Disney collageAnother family tradition we all look forward to, and a great way to spend a day when the parks are busy, is Shopping at Downtown Disney. There are many great stores to visit (which I have listed below), but this particular family activity actually serves a very valuable purpose. You see, every year we each get the thrill of choosing a special, new Christmas ornament from the Days of Christmas store.

We have been collecting ornaments for our tree for many years. It is one of the things we look forward to most during our annual November trips – choosing what each year’s ornaments will be. My kids spend a while in the store making sure they choose just the right one, and they are always great ones! As you can see, our tree is full of them.

Xmas tree

Xmas tree2

As I said earlier, there are many other great places to shop at Disney’s Downtown Marketplace. There is even an awesome Legos store that every child must see. For my family, in particular, there are 6 stores that we always visit: Mickey’s Pantry, Days of Christmas, World of Disney, Goofy’s Candy Co, Team Mickey and Ghirardelli. Here is a rundown of each:

Mickey’s Pantry –  Mickey’s Pantry is my favorite. It is for the person who loves to be in the kitchen, whether cooking or baking. It is loaded with Disney-themed kitchen merchandise, such as plates, coffee mugs, Pyrex dishes, silverware, kitchen towels, Mickey toaster, and the list goes on and on. I never miss an opportunity to shop here. I love it.

Days of Christmas –  Disney’s Days of Christmas is for all of us, as I mentioned above. Aside from ornaments, they also have many other holiday items, such as: stockings, figurines, plush, and wonderful ideas for personalized gifts that can be shipped rather than worrying about them being damaged on the flight back home.

World of Disney –  The World of Disney store is our go-to store for many annual purchases, such as souvenirs, photo albums, coffee mugs, and gifts. It is the world’s largest Disney store. Aside from shopping, you can participate in pin trading, or get a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Also, if you have a Disney Rewards Visa Card, any purchase of $50 or more receives a 10% discount (and you don’t have to charge your purchase, you just have to have the card with you).

Goofy’s Candy Co. –  This is a mecca of sweetness. This is a fun store to visit…it takes you right back to childhood. This bright and colorful store is filled with pre-packaged candies and novelties, as well as glass displays filled with yummy specialty desserts. Whether you have a sweet tooth (like us) or not, it is a really fun store to visit and you can buy sweet gifts for the sweeties in your life.

Team Mickey –  I swear this store was created for my husband and my boys. This is where they will spend hours trying to decide on what to buy for their souvenirs since they love all things sports, especially baseball, football, basketball, and racing. They really enjoy shopping here and the team items and sports products offered provide them the opportunity to find that perfect something to take home.

Ghirardelli – If you didn’t know it, you can get a free sample of delicious chocolate just by stepping into the Ghirardelli store. We go in and out a couple of times because we love chocolate so much, but we always buy big bags to bring home to friends and co-workers as well so I don’t feel so bad.

Note:  At Downtown Disney you can also enjoy the Festival of the Seasons. Window displays here celebrate traditions from different cultures, and don’t forget that Santa Claus is Coming to Town. You can find Santa Claus waiting to greet you at his chalet in front of the World of Disney store. You can take your own pictures or use PhotoPass. There are many other activities going on all over the Downtown Disney area as well. All throughout the year, and certainly during the holiday season, there are a number of school choirs, performing arts groups, and local bands performing at the Dock Stage. You can even find DJ Dance Parties going on while you are shopping.

As you can see, there are many options for having a Disney day without being in the parks. Sometimes more fun can be had just spending time with family , which is the whole reason we go in the first place, right? I hope you can use one or more of these ideas for your own family very soon.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Cooking with Mickey. Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog

2nd Stop ~ I Am a Disney Nerd

3rd Stop ~ Ideally Disney

Final Stop ~ Cooking with Mickey

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17 Comments on "Family Fun on Super Crowded Park Days"

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Mary at Capturing Magical Memories

Good points! Being outside the parks can be just as much fun a whole lot less stressful!

Disney on Wheels
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve never been at the parks during a major holiday but your post makes me want to give it a try!

Heidi Strawser
5 years 3 months ago

What excellent tips! We always build a resort-hopping day into our vacation anyway, because I find it a day that’s more low-key and relaxing and allows us a chance to regroup and catch our breath!

I love the idea of the Monorail Mania Meal! How fun is that?! I am totally adding this to a future “must-do” list.

And, we would get along quite well at Downtown Disney. Seems like we have similar shopping taste!

Sean @DisneyDayByDay
5 years 3 months ago

Great ideas – love hanging at the resorts, there are a lot of places to get away from the big crowds. We love hopping and grabbing a snack at each of the monorail resorts.

Deb @Focused on the Magic
5 years 3 months ago

Love your ideas for getting away from the crowds. My favorite is resort hopping. I love seeing all the resort decorated for Christmas!

Dawn Cullo
5 years 3 months ago

I love the idea of Resort Hopping, what a great idea.

Beth Green
5 years 3 months ago

I love the Monorail Mania Meal!! That’s awesome! I’ll definitely remember that! 🙂

Disney Babies Jenn
5 years 3 months ago

I love your Monorail Mania Meal – where did you take that picture of the monorail from?? Very cool! Great Christmas Tree, too! Very Mickey-Festive!

5 years 3 months ago

I love your Monorail Mania Meal – how fun is that!!


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