Our tips for New Year's Eve survival is similar to 4th of July tips: If you want to celebrate in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot get there early and find a comfortable bench because you're staying til the end. If you leave the park in the afternoon/dinner time there is a very good chance the park will reach capacity and you won't be allowed back in. Don't think that just because you have a dining reservation that you'll be allowed in either. Prepare for a full, long day at your park of choice for the night.
New Year's Eve December 31, 2012 Park Hours:
Magic Kingdom - 9am-12am (EMH 8am-9am)
Epcot - 9am-1am
Hollywood Studios - 9am-12am (EMH til 3am)
Animal Kingdom - 9am-8pm (EMH 8am-9am)
Special New Year's Parties:
Animal Kingdom - Ok, we can pretty much throw Animal Kingdom out as an option. We love the park, but it closes at 8. Pity. Such a pretty park at night.
Magic Kingdom - This is where EVERYONE and their mother wants to be, so prepare yourself for the ungodly masses that will squeeze into this park today. And remember - No beer. No adult drinks. No champagne toast at midnight. That doesn't sound like a good New Year's party to us. Moving on. If you do decide to stay here, they usually do a special version of Wishes, although this is the only park where nothing official has been released yet. More information coming soon.
Epcot - Given this park has the most amount of space you'd assume it would be more manageable with the crowds. It is - ever so slightly. More space just means to Disney more room to cram in more people. They even bring those trailer port-a-potties out in World Showcase. Now, they do have the best entertainment and party scene of the parks, in our opinion. Several of the countries do their own mini-parties (don't miss China), and there usually is one DJ booth set up near the fountains for one big dance party. Plus, there are 2 showings of Illuminations scheduled at 7pm and 11:40pm.
New this year is a buffet dining experience inspired by Disney’s classic animated films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 which will take place at the World ShowPlace facility, with reservations available from 4:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Priced at $68.67 for adults and $44.37 for children. (Park admission required)
Expect crazy long lines for drinks out in the park - worse than the worst lines for Food & Wine. I've included a video from YouTube that shows the range of entertainment. This is our pick for most exciting, party-atmosphere Disney park to ring in the New Year. Do arrive early and plan to stay all day, they may hit capacity later in the afternoon/evening. Hey, if I'm going to be crammed in like sardines there at least better be poundin' beats, dancin' and drinks available! We partied here once and it was a blast. A messy, crowded, dancing blast.
(Video from YouTube user: "Milkdidmybodygood")
Hollywood Studios - This is the overlooked park when considering where to celebrate on New Year's. Because of that, the crowds are slightly more manageable than the other big 2 parks.
"Rock in the New Year with resident family of landscapers/rock and roll musicians, Mulch, Sweat, and Shears! “The Mulch, Sweat, and Shears New Years Eve Spectacular” blasts off on a specially built stage in front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios signature Sorcerer Hat icon and includes contemporary rock, funk, and classic rock and roll favorites. The four concert sets will feature pyrotechnics and special effects and lead up to ringing in the New Year with Mulch, Sweat, and Shears playing live accompaniment to a full scale fireworks spectacular in order to welcome the start of 2013 properly!"
There will also be two showings of Fantasmic! tonight, at 6:30pm and again at 8pm.
Extra magic hours til 3am make this the park to be if you want to party late, and even if you are not staying at the resort, they will not kick you out of the park. However you CANNOT go on any attractions - they require your Key to the World Card to get on rides during EMH. But you can still hang out in the park and party!
We've never partied here for the holiday, so check out what Matt has to say about this choice of park for New Year's over at StudiosCentral.com
Atlantic Dance Hall - Over at the Boardwalk, the usually empty Dance Hall will be throwing a party. I have heard that some people have partied here and actually had a great time. They will be open 8pm-2am. For a cover charge (with limited tickets available), you get access to the main floor where you'll find a DJ spinning, people dancing, and a giant screen showing a video of the song playing. More details to come. Last year they also had a VIP area as well. Dress is business casual or formal. Think club-trendy. Hey, it's a holiday, have fun with it! For photos and a review of previous year's event check out Save Pleasure Island. For advanced tickets, call 407-934-7639. General Admission is $39, VIP which allows you upstairs with desserts and a limited view of Epcot's fireworks is $85.
DisneyQuest - There is a family-friendly cyber celebration from 8 p.m. -1 a.m. Guests are entertained with a DJ Dance Party, character meet and greets, plus unlimited access to games and DisneyQuest attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean, Virtual Jungle Cruise and CyberSpace Mountain. There’s a confetti drop and festive party favors as the clock strikes midnight. Partygoers also get a coupon for a quick service entrée, side and drink. Tickets go on sale soon at 407-934-7639.
Splitsville Bowling Alley - The brand-new bowling alley, bar & restaurant at Downtown Disney is having a New Year's party. This ages 21 & up party features food, beverages, a DJ, dancing, pool tables and more. The Special Bowling packages cost $175 per person (minimum 4 people) and includes 3.5 hours of bowling, shoe rental, choice of one appetizer and one entree per person, two drink tickets, one bottle of champagne or wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. For more information, visit the website or call 407-938-PINS.
Disney Cruise Line - Is offering a New Year’s Party complete with music, sparkling wine in commemorative flutes and a midnight countdown to guests sailing on select cruises departing in late December. For booking, call 888-325-2500
Rix Lounge - No word yet on a special New Year's party, though they will be open regular hours.
Jellyrolls -No word yet on a special New Year's party, though they will be open regular hours.
Party a little too much? No worries - taxis are available at the main entrance of each park.