In this ULTIMATE Disney World Thanksgiving guide we cover everything you need to know about celebrating Thanksgiving at Disney World and answer all your burning questions such as is Disney World open on Thanksgiving, is Disney World busy on thanksgiving day, which park is best to celebrate Thanksgiving in and of course where to have Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney World.
Is Disney World open on Thanksgiving Day?
The good news is that Disney World is open on Thanksgiving. In fact Disney World is open 365 days a year which includes the big holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The opening times, as with any day of the year will differ depending on which park you are going to and whether or not you are staying on property or off site which will affect whether you have Extended Magic Hours.
The Disney World opening times for Thanksgiving Day 2022 have now been released and are
- 8am – 8pm
- Extended Magic Hours opening the park half an hour for those on-property guests. (7:30am -8am).
- 9am – 9pm
- Extended Magic Hours opening the park half an hour for those on-property guests. (8:30am -9am).
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving at Epcot be sure to check out this dedicated post.
- 8:30am – 9pm
- Extended Magic Hours opening the park half an hour for those on-property guests. (8:00am -8:30am).
- 9am – 11pm
- Extended Magic Hours 8:30am – 9am.
For a guide on spending Thanksgiving In Magic Kingdom check out this post.
So now you know that it is open you may be wondering whether or not it is crowded on Thanksgiving.
Is Disney World busy on Thanksgiving Day?
The bad news for those who want to visit any of the Disney World parks on Thanksgiving is that this is historically one of the busiest times of year in the park.
It is therefore essential that if whatever Disney World park you want to visit on Thanksgiving Day, or in fact any day of the week of Thanksgiving that you have both
On top of this, if there are some of the more popular attractions that you will want to ride that have separate Lightening Lane passes such as Guardian’s of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind at Epcot and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train at Magic Kingdom you may want to have room in your budget to buy this separate Lightening Lane ticket.
What is Walt Disney World like the week of Thanksgiving?
I would expect the busiest days at Disney World at this time to be
- actual Thanksgiving Day
- Friday through Sunday after Thanksgiving
My personal preference would be to head to the parks on the Tuesday or Wednesday of that week. Traditionally Mondays are the busiest day of the week to visit Magic Kingdom and the crowds of the Thanksgiving week will be at their highest.
Therefore I would choose Tuesday or Wednesday to visit however having said that I would still expect very high crowds.
Which is the best park to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in
When thinking about which park is best to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in I think there a few factors to consider:
- age of group
- importance of rides vs characters
- getting a traditional Thanksgiving meal
Least Busy Disney World park on Thanksgiving
The truth is that all of the Disney World parks will be busy on Thanksgiving – extremely busy. However I would expect the busiest to be Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
I personally would choose Animal Kingdom if I was looking for a quieter park to visit on Thanksgiving day however I expect all parks to be at capacity in 2022.
Best Park for All Ages
We have written our guides to the best age to go to different Disney World Parks. You can read them below:
- Best Age for Magic Kingdom
- Best Age for Animal Kingdom
- Best Age for Epcot
- Best Age for Hollywood Studios
Generally speaking if you are traveling with children under 11 I would recommend Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. While for adults, they may enjoy the food and drink scene in Epcot.
If you want more rides then you will want Hollywood Studios over Animal Kingdom. For more information on the best parks for certain groups check out the above posts.
Best Park for Thanksgiving Dinner
If a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is important to you then the best parks for you on Thanksgiving day may be Magic Kingdom or Epcot as there are more options for Thanksgiving meals – keep reading for more information.
Where to have Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney World
When you are at Disney World, no matter what park you are in there are usually three types of restaurants that you can choose to dine in. These are:
- Quick Service Restaurants
- Table Service Restaurants
- Character dining.
And on top of that there will be plenty of food carts and snack carts around the park but especially at Epcot.
If you want to have something that resembles a traditional Thanksgiving Meal then you will be looking at booking a character dining experience or a table service meal.
If you wish to do this it is really important to remember that you will need to make reservations 60 days out from either
- the first day of your vacation if you are staying on property
- 60 days before entry if you are staying off site and visiting.
These reservations will snap up quickly, especially for Actual Thanksgiving Day at restaurants that serve something that resembles a traditional thanksgiving dinner. Although there are plentiful dining options at Disney World, it is surprising at how limited the options are for something that resembles a Thanksgiving Feast.
Below we will list the best character dining and table service meals to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at but if you opt for a quick service restaurant we recommend:
- Mobile Ordering. This can be done through the the My Disney App. Mobile Ordering allows you to order and arrange a pick up time for your food in advance without waiting in long queues. If you don’t opt for Mobile Ordering you will be spending a long time at the quick service restaurants ordering and waiting for food.
So now you have everything you need to know about food on Thanksgiving in Disney World here are our favorite places to eat something that looks like a Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney World.
Please note: we have done our best to confirm menus where possible but please reach out to your desired restaurant closer to the time to confirm Thanksgiving offerings.
Cinderella’s Royal Table in Fantasy Land in Magic Kingdom
In the past Cinderella’s Royal Table has served a traditional Thanksgiving style meal that has included Turkey and sweet potato mash. And as an added bonus to the Thanksgiving meal you will meet Cinderella and she will also be joined by around 4 princess friends.
As the queues to meet princesses in the Princess Hall can be expected to be around 90-120 minutes on Thanksgiving Day (and you only meet two at a time) this is a great way to get lots of meet and greets done and save some time.
Also is there really any better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than in the Disney Castle itself?
Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom
Liberty Tree Tavern is one of the best places to have Thanksgiving Dinner in Magic Kingdom. The reason for this is that Liberty Tree Tavern basically serves Thanksgiving dinner every day of the year so you know they do it well.
The Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom
Offers the same menu as Liberty Tree Tavern usually.
Garden Grill in Epcot
This eatery offers a type of Thanksgiving Meal everyday of the year serving turkey and mash. This has to be top pick if you want something resembling a traditional thanksgiving meal at Epcot.
It is also expected that Coral Reef Restaurant, Le Cellier and Rose and Crown may have something on offer but this is not guaranteed. When we have more information we will update accordingly
Tusker’s House Animal Kingdom
I haven’t been Abel to confirm for 2022 but usually there is some Thanksgiving addition to their menu. Even without this however you get to meet amazing characters in safari get up.
Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios
While not overtly Thanksgiving, they usually have large roast meets, mash and. vegetables which at least resembles something of a Thanksgiving Meal.
and as an added bonus you can meet here
- Minnie Mouse
- Mickey Mouse
- Goofy and
which given the run times to meet Mickey and Minnie on a regular day in this park usually stretches to 1 hour plus this is a great way of combining two things.
And if the crowds get too much in the parks and you would like to consider eating your meal outside of the park between park hopping for instance then you could also consider:
- Trattoria Al Forna – on Disney’s Boardwalk that usually offer Turkey and trimmings or
some resorts will offer Thanksgiving offerings in their restaurants.
Are there any special Thanksgiving Decorations or events at Disney World
Unfortunately there are no special thanksgiving events at Disney World. Disney tends to go all in for Halloween and Christmas as opposed to Thanksgiving.
If you go to Disney during Thanksgiving you will see Christmas decorations rather than Thanksgiving specific ones.
Disney World Thanksgiving Day tips
Now we have talked about crowds, reservations, and best thanksgiving dinners in Epcot we will finish off with some of our tips to help you enjoy Epcot when crowded
To make sure you get a good parking spot on Thanksgiving we recommend getting to the parks early as you will be able to park your car closer to the transfer hub. This is also good as the parks are quieter early in the morning and later in the evening.
Check out this post for our magic kingdom parking tips too. This is the biggest lot out of all the parks so you will need these handy tips
Make Reservations Early for your desired park
Reservations are now required to guarantee entry into the park on top of your tickets. BE sure to select your pack reservation early as they will sell out.
Consider park hopper tickets
If you are worried about your desired park selling out or you haven’t managed to get the correct park reservation for Thanksgiving Day you could consider park hopper tickets.
This means you will start the day in another park but can hop to another park after 2pm.
60 days is the Magic number for your Disney vacation. It is either 60 days before
- the first day of your vacation if you are staying on property or
- before entry if you are staying off site and visiting.
and is the day that all reservations will open. Although cancellations do happen it would be much less stressful to have the reservations from the start.
If you don’t get the reservation you want you could download one of the reservation apps such as Mouse Watcher (there is an additional fee for this service)which will notify you when cancellations occur.
Use Genie +
Genie Plus is the system that replaced the old Fast Track Passes at all the Disney parks. We would advise getting this given the expected crowds on Thanksgiving in the parks if you want to beat the crowds on some of the most popular rides.
For more information on how to use Genie Plus at each park check out these posts.
Use a Stroller