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Why Hollywood Studios for New Years is the best option

It's inevitable.  Any self respecting Disney World fan knows that the week between Christmas and New Years is the busiest and most crowded time of the year in Walt Disney World.  And yet every Disney World fan considers how much fun it would be, regardless of crowds, to ring in the new year in a Disney park.  Sure it's crazy crowded but to be able to do it at least once is something that everyone dreams of and many try.  Yet the best option for New Years is the park that does the most for the holiday and never seems to fill up.

I'm of course referring to Disney's Hollywood Studios and I wouldn't tell you this if I didn't believe it to be true.  After ringing in 2010 at Hollywood Studios last year, I'm sold on the park being the best option and if you're considering which park to go to for New Years, you'd be best served spending New Years Eve in the Studios.

Let me first tell you why the Studios is best by telling you why the other parks are not good options.  We will begin with Animal Kingdom, which doesn't even stay open until midnight so that's a waste of time.  

Next is the Magic Kingdom and for whatever reason, everyone seems to think Magic Kingdom is perfect for every occasion: New Years, Christmas, Arbor Day, Your second cousin's 8th birthday. I'm not sure why everyone thinks that, although I believe it may be related to years of marketing commercials that lead you to believe the Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World, but the fact of the matter is the Magic Kingdom will be crowded and fill to capacity and likely close by afternoon.  That means you have to be in the Magic Kingdom early in the morning and then stay in the park for the rest of the day.  On top of that, it's going to be ungodly crowded while in the park.  So crowded that you will feel like the proverbial sardine in a can.

That leaves Epcot, which everyone claims is the best option because it's the largest park and therefore has the most space and can be the most accommodating. If I may quote a favorite movie, "you're like a penguin on the North Pole who hears the South Pole is really nice this time of the year."  Everyone who can't make it into the Magic Kingdom ends up in Epcot and guess what? It's crowded there too.  While yes, the park is rather large, it will still get crazy crowded.

The reason why Hollywood Studios is the best option is because so many don't consider it an option. They buy into the hype that the Magic Kingdom and Epcot carry and overlook it.  The truth is it's great.  First, it's open to midnight and then has Extra Magic Hour evening, which means the park is open until 3am (take that Animal Kingdom!).  With an 8am park opening, that's 19 hours of time in the park potentially.

Second, it has three showings of Fantasmic, which is an awesome show in its own right but with three showings, it gives you a better chance of catching the show while in the park. 

Most importantly, it has an amazing fireworks display at midnight to help celebrate New years. Last year the fireworks were shot off behind the Sorcerer's Hat AND down Hollywood Boulevard.  It was an amazing display and I was totally blow away by it.  So that's two different firework displays to enjoy in just one night.

But wait, I haven't even gotten to the best yet.  The best part is the crowds; Or rather, the lack thereof.  I was shocked last year by the lack of crowds I encountered.  Sure the rides were busy, but the park never felt like a sardine can and crowds didn't really build for the fireworks until about 9pm that evening.  The park never closed to capacity and I really felt like I could have rolled into Hollywood Studios at 8pm or so and easily made it in to enjoy the fireworks.

So let's summarize really quickly: smaller crowds than the other parks, two fireworks shows and longest park hours.  If you're considering going to Walt Disney World for New Years Eve, there should be no question which park you're going to welcome 2011 in from.  Get over the fact you wont see Cinderella's overrated castle and enjoy a Hollywood style celebration.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by