How to Have the Best New Year's Eve at Disney
New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days of the year at Disney World and Disneyland, and with good reason.
Although the parks light up the sky year-round, the holiday fireworks shows go above and beyond. Add to that the parties, special dinners, and celebrations, and braving crowds to ring in the new year in the Happiest Places on Earth doesn't seem like such a daunting task.
Traveling to Disney on New Year’s will require some advanced planning, however, so be sure to book your reservations as soon as possible.
From kid-friendly options to swanky high-end events, here’s how to embrace 2018 in a multitude of Mickey Mouse-approved ways.
New Year's at Disney Parks
If you’re planning to visit Magic Kingdom or Disneyland on December 31, be sure to get there early — extremely early. Both parks have been known to reach capacity, so if you’re set on celebrating on Main Street, U.S.A., prepare for peak crowds or visit a day early. Magic Kingdom runs its New Year’s fireworks on December 30 as well, which will be more manageable.
At Epcot, the New Year’s Countdown Fireworks are also a spectacle worth witnessing. There are a multitude of restaurants within the park but two are offering special meals: a ticketed New Year’s Eve gourmet buffet at the World Show Place Pavilion ($73 per adult and $44 per child; Disney Dining plan is accepted) as well as Monsieur Paul’s festive prix-fixe lunch ($89 per adult or child) and dinner ($245 per adult or $310 with wine pairing) throughout the night in the France pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. (Note: Park admission and reserved fireworks viewing are not offered with either.)
Sound too hectic? Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be calmer than the other two parks and is hosting a lively dance party as well as both of its evening shows — Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular — before the countdown begins. Disney California Adventure on the West Coast is similarly an easier option, and will also feature festive entertainment.
Disneyland guests can opt for priority fireworks viewing at Tomorrowland’s Skyline Lounge, where a $90 ticket includes snacks, non-alcoholic drinks and a $15 meal voucher. (Admission to Disneyland Park is sold separately and entrance is not guaranteed.) And, at Disney California Adventure, outposts including Sonoma Terrace, Mendocino Terrace and Alfresco Lounge will sell champagne as well as kid-friendly sparkling apple cider throughout the day.
New Year's Parties Beyond Disney Parks
A good way to take in the renowned fireworks with smaller crowds is with one of Disney’s many ticketed parties at nearby resorts and restaurants. This year, Disney’s Contemporary Resort is hosting multiple events featuring visits from characters, culinary surprises and fireworks views from outside the Magic Kingdom-adjacent hotel.
Disney Countdown to Midnight, which includes drinks, a live DJ, food and wine pairings from top Disney restaurants, special photo opportunities and a midnight champagne toast while watching fireworks, costs $250 per person (adults only, guests must be over 18 to attend.) The Down In New Orleans New Year’s Eve dining experience will turn a hotel ballroom into a sprawling French Quarter experience with a cocktail hour, live jazz band, twists on N’awlins classics like oyster beignets as well as a seated dinner with delectable southern food and nighttime fireworks views. This “Princess and the Frog”-inspired experience is staggeringly expensive, though, costing $450 per person. (Guests must also be over 21.)
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For a more reasonably-priced event, visitors can head to Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk for small bites of favorite park snacks, outside-the-park view of Epcot’s fireworks, champagne toast and live DJ video dance party ‘til 2 a.m. for $50 per person. (Guests must be over 21.) Diners at Flying Fish Cafe’s seafood-centric New Year’s Eve dinner, which includes a cocktail hour and seafood dinner set to the sounds of a jazz trio, can also sip champagne and take in the illuminated sky from Atlantic Dance Hall when the clock strikes midnight.
There are plenty of ways to end the year on a great note with a scrumptious meal, whether or not you’re interested in seeing the sky-high shows.
At Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, Spanish steakhouse Capa will offer a prix-fixe menu with two seatings ($155 per adult from 5-7 p.m., $295 per adult from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.) with a la carte menus for children ages 5 to 12. Additionally, Ravello restaurant will host a New Year’s buffet between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. for $125 per adult and $45 per child. The holiday dinners also include admission for non-hotel guests to the New Year’s Eve Party at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. The DJ-led celebration, which starts at 10 p.m. and includes a champagne toast, is free for Four Seasons Resort Orlando hotel guests 16 and over.
Shula’s Steak House at Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel will host a prix fixe meal beginning at 7 p.m. ($145 for adults, $60 for children) while Il Mulino at Walt Disney World Swan hotel will host a four-course dinner from 7:15 p.m. to 11 p.m.; seatings after 9 p.m. include party favors and a midnight champagne toast for $105 per adult and $39 per child. Victoria & Albert’s, Walt Disney World’s only AAA Five Diamond Award recipient, will also have dinner service on New Year’s Eve.
And, in California, Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa will have two dinners — an early seating from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for $130 per person and a late-night adults-only gala with champagne, live music, a five-course tasting menu, dance party and celebratory favors for $250 per person, with an optional $65 wine flight added on. (Gala guests must be 21 or older.)
Family-friendly Parties and Character Dining
A Pixar-themed party at Disney’s Contemporary Resort has already sold out, but other options are just as great. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will be throwing a Mickey’s New Year’s Eve BBQ with burgers, ribs, macaroni & cheese and s’mores served in mason jars. Families can enjoy line dancing courtesy of a bluegrass band, visits from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and a reserved viewing area of Magic Kingdom fireworks from the hotel for $95 per adult and $75 per child.
Guests at Four Seasons Orlando Resort are able to attend the hotel’s exclusive family-friendly party, which includes a dinner buffet and activities from until 1am for $95 per child (arriving from 7pm to 9:30pm) and $60 (from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Parents can attend for free, but supervision from the resort’s Kids For All Seasons program will be provided.
At Walt Disney World Swan, Garden Grove restaurant will host a special buffet from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with visits from Disney characters such as Goofy and Pluto. Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will also host a New Year’s Eve character buffet, as well as visits from the famed mouse himself. And, at Disneyland Resort, PCH Grill in the Paradise Pier Hotel is throwing a family-friendly party with a celebratory buffet, dancing and photo opportunities with Disney characters for $75 per adult and $25 per child.