• Olivia Ujlaki

Is Thanksgiving at Disney World Worth It?

We give thanks for the Disney Parks every day, but should you visit them on Turkey Day?


Thanksgiving usually involves a few days off from work and/or school, so you may have considered planning a trip to Disney World or Disneyland the week of Thanksgiving, or on Turkey Day itself.


Holidays are ideal times to plan trips, but they definitely involve more planning than just an average day.


So is it that crowded? Can you get a turkey dinner? Is there a special parade? We did the research so you can decide if Thanksgiving should also be a day to visit the Mouse.

Mickey Mouse dressed as a pilgrim with turkeys.
Credit: Tripster

Crowds

One may think that Disney on major holidays is less crowded. Everyone is at home with their families, or likely has other plans that keep them from traveling. However, it’s a fun tradition of mine to watch the alerts for crowd capacity go up throughout the day.


Any crowd calendar will show a red, 10/10, or “extremely crowded” on the day of Thanksgiving with a slight decrease in the days before or after. However, with pandemic overages, it can feel like that is how Disney is on any day now.


Tips

  • Try to plan your trip so you’re NOT doing a park day on the holiday. Maybe that is your arrival or departure day, or you decide to take a mid-trip pool day instead.

  • If it happens to fall where you are in the parks on Thanksgiving, be strategic about the park you choose to go to and where you choose to eat (see below).

Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney Food Blog

Parks

Sadly, if you’re an appreciator of Thanksgiving, there aren’t any scheduled parades, cavalcades, meet-and-greets, decorations, or fireworks specific to Thanksgiving anymore. Like a lot of us, on November 1, at 12:01 a.m., Disney goes from Halloween straight to the December holidays.


However, you can use this to your advantage. For example, Animal Kingdom has a lot of food offerings that are more typical of Thanksgiving, and it will be less crowded than the other parks.


Tips

  • Remember that you need to buy tickets AND make park reservations to visit a Disney park. Look at the reservation tool first to see if the dates you want are still available. As of this publish date, Magic Kingdom is the only park unavailable for Thanksgiving 2022 (Thursday, November 24).

  • Epcot starts its Candlelight Processional and dinner packages on Friday, November 25 with narrator Simu Liu (Shang-Chi). There is an additional show on Saturday, November 26.

  • For Magic Kingdom, there are several Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties around a Thanksgiving trip: on Thursday, November 17, Friday, November 18, Sunday, November 20, Tuesday, November 22, Sunday, November 27, and Tuesday, November 29.

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas parties are ticketed events outside of regular day reservations and admissions. While they are a separate cost, you do NOT need a park reservation for these. For example, you can get a ticket and park reservation for Hollywood Studios on the day of your party, and then just hop over to Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. No park reservation/park hopping stress at 1 p.m. needed

Mickey and Minnie at A Disney Family Thanksgiving
Credit: Happiest Blog on Earth

Food

Disney food is on another level, so you have quite a few options for dining. If you plan to just go about the day enjoying Dole Whips and other non-traditional Thanksgiving foods, you shouldn’t have any problems. But more traditional feasts require advanced reservations.


Those sit-down dining experiences from Thanksgiving 2021 included:

Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom)

  • Patriot’s Platter – Roast Turkey Breast, Pennsylvania Pot Roast, and Oven-roasted Pork with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Stuffing, and House-made Macaroni & Cheese; served with Declaration Salad, and Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake

  • Plant-based Tavern Keeper’s Feast – Plant-based Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy and Seasonal Vegetables; served with Declaration Salad, and Johnny Appleseed’s Warm Apple Cake

Garden Grill (Epcot)

American Holiday Table (Epcot)

Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

Tiffins (Animal Kingdom)

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)

Raglan Road (Disney Springs)

STK Orlando (Disney Springs)

Some quick-service restaurants offering turkey from Thanksgiving 2021 included:

Satuli Canteen (Animal Kingdom)

  • Thanksgiving Bowl – Cornbread Stuffing, Sliced Roasted Turkey, Cranberry Boba Pearls, Gravy, and Slaw

Restaurantosaurus (Animal Kingdom)

City Works Eatery and Pour House (Disney Springs)

Earl of Sandwich (Disney Springs)

D-Luxe Burger (Disney Springs)

The Daily Poutine (Disney Springs)

Tips

  • Remember that you need to buy tickets, make park reservations, AND dining reservations for the sit-down experiences mentioned above.

  • And if all these traditional feasts are booked, try the Diamond Horseshoe. It usually offers similar food to Liberty Tree Tavern but is less crowded.

  • Additionally, try Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge Resort or, 50s Prime Time Café at Hollywood Studios for comfort, Thanksgiving-adjacent food.

  • The quick-service experiences do NOT require reservations and offer a plethora of the same kinds of foods. So no worries if you can’t snag a reservation at a sit-down dinner. Check to see if either the quick-service or sit-down restaurant at your resort is offering a Thanksgiving special if you don’t want to head off-property or into the parks. Most of the value resorts offer something in their cafeterias and moderate and deluxe resorts sometimes have special offerings for the holidays.

If all else fails, you can always grab a Turkey leg.

Thanksgiving meal at Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

So that’s it! While Thanksgiving Day at Disney World can be chaotic, if you plan ahead it’s not much more chaotic than a usual day.


Have you ever been to Disney on Thanksgiving? Let us know what you thought!


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