New Year’s Eve Wasn’t So Magical for Some Guests at the Magic Kingdom

The holidays are always a busy time at the Walt Disney World Resort, and New Year's Eve 2013 was no exception.

The Magic Kingdom reached capacity early Tuesday morning and was at a Phase 3 closing by about 11 a.m.

A Phase 3 park closing means admission to the park is limited to Disney Resort guests, Annual, Premier, and Premium Passholders, guests with dining reservations, and guests who have Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirates League reservations.

One Orlando television station reported that guests were turned away at the gates due to the park reaching capacity.

The Magic Kingdom wasn't the only park with large New Year's Eve crowds. Epoct had reported average wait times of several hours, with the longest wait time reported for Soarin' at four hours. The park did not reach capacity at any time during park hours on Tuesday.

After being closed under the Phase 3 closing for nearly 11 hours, the Magic Kingdom did reopen at 8 p.m. Tuesday night in limited capacity.


Tini wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:15:

Tini's picture

NONE of that sounds magical. The parks are no fun when there isn't even room to breathe.

Christina wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:30:

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Is this common at Disney? :/ I am planning a visit NYE 2014 and now I am worried

Bre wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:32:

Bre's picture

Note to all vacationers. If you dislike heavy crowds do not go to Disney Parks during peak season. That includes most school holidays, primarily summer and Christmas vacations. I highly recommend you Google Disney park fan and travel planing sites. It will save you money and disappointment.

Rich129x2 wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:42:

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Is Epoct a new park!!

Meredith wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 15:34:

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This happened to my parents many years ago. My mom was telling my daughter, who is 7, that one New Years Eve, they had gone to Epcot, but were redirected to the new "Sports Complex" for fun activities and a concert (the Monkees). Disney had not even officially opened ESPN Wide World of Sports yet!

Cindy wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 15:37:

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We were there for our son's make a wish. We had no idea it would be this crowded. We are very disappointed Disney is more concerned about money then the experience of their guests. Extremely disappointing!! The lines to get on the monorail were not safe. People pushing and shoving cutting in front of wheelchairs and no Disney staff to oversee the chaos! When you have to open up your back lots for guests to move through the park I think that's a good indicator there are too many people in the park. A 4 hour wait means after paying $90 you get on 2 rides and can't even get in to eat anywhere. Very sad Disney chooses to run their business this way.

Luis wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 18:59:

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I know that in the past Disney has given priority to resort guests for Epcot admission on New Years eve, especially those staying in the Epcot resort area. From the Beach Club we were instructed to walk to the international gate early that morning where our hands would be stamped for guaranteed admission any time later that day. We did and took a leisurely stroll around the showcase, the headed back to the resort where we spend the rest of the morning and afternoon poolside. getting back into the park at around 5pm was not a problem. I would say word to the wise: if you know you're doing one of the parks that day make sure you arrive early and try to stay at one of the resorts nearby. At least this way you won't miss out on the evening festivities.

Mims wrote on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:59:

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It was terrible! The crowd was rude & many were upset because Disney management should have taken into consideration the capacity & not allowed anyone in at all. The bridges were closed & lack of communication was evident because each cast member we encountered had a different reason why we could not cross the bridge to get to our 7 pm reservation. Then the restaurant was running 1 1/2 hour late seating guests.

Pamela wrote on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 02:54:

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This happens every year. I was ther for the 2010 New Year and luckily, was an Annika pass holder. I was told Disney even obtains special permits to allow 10,000 more people in. It was miserable!!! I would never do it again, not even if it were free!! Eventhough Christmas is my favorite time down there, I'll stick to after Thanksgiving. Everything it decorated.

Davide Bell wrote on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 03:08:

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I love the Kingdom of Disney!

Nadyne wrote on Sun, 01/05/2014 - 01:11:

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I was there.... People were being rerouted from Main Steeet for the 9:00 Fireworks!!!! We still enjoyed ourselves despite the enormous crowds... We planned early.... Bibbity Bobbity and Dinner reservations made super early and we topped it off with the Tomorrowland dessert reception at midnight for the best seat in the house for the New Year's fireworks!!!! It was crowded but Magical!!!

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 13:14:

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Christina - This is indeed common for New Year's Eve at Disney. There are a couple of days a year that you can always count on the Park reaching capacity (4th of July, Christmas, and New Year's Eve).

As Bre mentioned above traveling during peak times when kids are out of school means that the crowds are going to be really high and Magic Kingdom is always the most crowded park. Luis gives some great advice above as well in regards to staying at a WDW Resort and going to a less crowded Park to have a better experience.

There's a lot of work that goes into planning a Disney vacation and deciding what crowd level that you can handle needs to be taken into account when choosing when to take a trip. If you going on one of the busiest days of the year - yes, you will encounter some problems.

Don wrote on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 16:22:

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Folks, understand that Disney doesn't "get special permits" to let more people into the park; the holidays are simply the only times when the park nears its capacity. They try to let as many folks in as they safely can, because turning people away isn't very "magical," either.

Rude, boorish, pushy guests aren't Disney's fault. Yes, they certainly become more irritating when things are packed, but Disney isn't anyone's mommy to make sure everyone plays along nicely. It's simply unfortunate that some people behave like that. Try getting on a subway in a major city at rush time and you'll often see similar poor behavior.

If you're going to go to the parks at that time of year, you should know what you're in for, which is one reason sites like this exist. Disney aside, I'd never go anyplace on vacation, at any time, without first checking to see what things would be like. We avoid Aruba during Carnival, for example, because of the massive crowding and traffic throughout the main city.

NO place does well when they're at max capacity. I live in Las Vegas, and during major events like NYE or the CES convention, everything is crowded, runs late, and isn't as much fun.

The Magic Kingdom in particular has ALWAYS been maximally crowded during the holiday season, at least for the decade+ we've been going regularly. There's little excuse to act surprised about it - the information is readily available from hundreds of sources. You do need to take a little responsibility for your own vacation and see what you might be in for.

Mike wrote on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 18:55:

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we went to Disneyland for NYE,and it was just as insane..

coreyp wrote on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 23:02:

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Well said! I could not agree more! This went into our decision making when planning our Honeymoon to WDW. We got married in July but decided that going in Peak season wouldn't be very magical, and wouldn't be the best way to enjoy our honeymoon, so we waited until a few months after the wedding and went in September when we knew that it would be slower, and we were right!

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 14:21:

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Wonderful comment Don! Thank you so much for adding your thoughts.

Lauren wrote on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 23:13:

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We were there from 12-24-2013 to 1-1-2014. I felt sorry for people who were first time visitors. This was actually our first time to attend during Christmas week and we were expecting a heavy crowd all week. All I can say is wow and words can not describe the crowd conditions at Magic Kingdom on the 30th and at Epcot on the 31st. We were fortunate to be able to watch the first firework show on New Years Eve at Epcot and then return to our room to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our room. If you are planning any trip to Disney World do your research and have your trip planned 7-8 months ahead of time. You should always expect a crowd at Disney.

Ron wrote on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 02:38:

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We were also there from 12/26/13 thru 01/04/14. We visited Epcot on 12/31 and there was approximately an hour wait at 11:00 AM to gain entry into the park due to the crowds. We stayed long enough to use our FastPass+ on Test Track and then headed to Hollywood Studios via a Boardwalk Resort boat. The crowds were considerably less at the old MGM park and the NYE fireworks were awesome with accompaniment from Mulch, Sweat, and Shears (the park's house band).

I believe the congestion was also due to implementation of the new 'near-field' RFID badge and wristband access system which has replaced the old bar code ticket readers. The new readers take at least 7 to 10 seconds to read a person's RFID badge (or band) and fingerprint. The older bar code system accomplished this in 1 to 3 seconds. I believe the new system could operate as quickly, but they have built an LED light show into the reader to spin white prior to turning green (valid ID) or blue (invalid ID). They could and should reprogram the system to nix the light show and reduce the processing time. This would speed entry into the parks when there are crowds.

Ron C wrote on Sun, 01/12/2014 - 20:17:

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My family and I are fortunate enough to live nearby and are annual passholders. My wife and I made the short journey from Tampa for NYE dinner at Shutters then jumped in the car to head over to Downtown Disney. Oops, should have taken a shuttle, as it took an hour plus to find a parking place, witnessing a fight in the parking lot in the process. Despite all this, we enjoyed our NYE at Disney. WDW facilitates the magic, it's up to each guest to participate.

PhillNYC wrote on Sun, 01/19/2014 - 07:15:

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It blows my mind that people are surprised by huge crowds at the world's most popular vacation destination, during work and school holidays, on the day of a national celebration. Of COURSE it's incredibly crowded. So are malls on Black Friday. This is exactly why I don't go to these places at those times.

I can't even imagine. Honestly. I'm not crazy about the parks when they're at a crowd level five. Never mind 10+. I only go in those few weeks a year when it's a ghost town.

KenJ wrote on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 09:57:

Everyone knows its one of, if not THE busiest day of the year. So don't go to Disney World on New Year's Eve. It's really that simple.

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