2022 is just around the corner, and you know what that means. Let the year-end festivities begin! And there’s no place more magical to greet the new year than with a Disney New Year’s Eve.
From awe-inspiring fireworks to a $700-per-person, wine-soaked soiree, you and your crew will find a host of celebratory entertainment, events and dining. So, bust out your noisemakers, grab your party hats and put on as many sequins as you can muster as we break down how to brave the crowds and ring in 2022 during New Year’s Eve at Disney World.
Things to Know for New Year’s Eve at Disney World
All set to sing “Auld Lang Syne” in front of Cinderella Castle? First, here are some things to keep in mind about New Year’s at Disney World.
Does Disney World do anything for New Year’s Eve?
Yes! While the end-of-the-year celebrations were put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, Disney World New Year’s Eve hours, events and entertainment are back for 2021, albeit at a scaled-backed capacity.
Normally, when Covid-19 isn’t an issue, New Year’s Eve at Disney World is a kaleidoscope of pulsing dance parties with live DJs, swanky private events, special menus and, of course, fireworks. Party hats, noisemakers and streamers get passed out and sometimes, even complimentary glasses of champagne. Add in some rides and Disney characters, and it’s nothing short of magical. You know, minus the massive crowds (more on that later).
This year, however, Disney World’s New Year’s Eve festivities are more subdued. We are still in the middle of a pandemic after all. So even though the parks aren’t back at 100% capacity, encouraging people to spend even more time shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers would be a recipe for social-distancing disaster, especially with the new Omicron variant running amok.
That being said, you will still find a few ways to ring in New Year’s at Disney World, like late-night park hours and a few places to party. Finally, for those wondering, “Will Disney have fireworks for New Year’s Eve 2021?”, we are thrilled to report that Disney’s Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show at Magic Kingdom Park will be making its glorious return this year.
Which Disney World park is best for New Year’s Eve?
With its festive parties and tasty eats sprinkled all throughout World Showcase, we’d typically say that Epcot is the best Disney World theme park to visit for New Year’s Eve. However, since no official events have yet been announced for New Year’s at Epcot, our top pick for 2021 is probably Magic Kingdom, thanks to the return of the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks.
Is Disney crowded on New Year’s Eve?
Emphatically, categorically yes. Disney World isn’t just busy on New Year’s Eve. It’s the craziest day, and night, of the year. So, if you do decide to visit, get ready to make a few (hundred) new friends as you count down to 2022.
With so many people swarming around, planning is key to having a Disney New Year’s Eve that doesn’t drive you crazy. A Disney World Park Pass Reservation is required, and believe it or not, there are actually still some available at the time of writing for Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom – for Incredi-Pass and legacy Platinum-level annual passholders, anyway.
For everyone else left reservation-less, all you can do is wait it out and keep checking back. You might get lucky with someone canceling their reservation or Disney dropping more spots. And as for anyone trying to get to Magic Kingdom, there’s always trying to park hop.
How to Ring in the New Year at Walt Disney World
New Year’s at Walt Disney World is a celebratory time filled with not only all things “Auld Lang Syne,” but all of the bonus Christmas decorations still decking the halls throughout the Central Florida resort. But unfortunately, Disney has been pretty light on the details this year, with it looking increasingly likely that the dance parties in the parks, elaborate soirees and many special New Year’s Eve menus may be getting nixed this year.
Needless to say, things can still change, so stay tuned if Disney makes any down-to-the-wire announcements. Otherwise, if you’re doing New Year’s Eve Disney World-style in 2021, here’s everything you can enjoy so far for your 2022 countdown across all four theme parks, Disney Springs and the hotels.
Magic Kingdom New Year’s Eve 2021 Events
When it comes to the best place to go for your Disney New Year’s Eve, Magic Kingdom Park is a perennially popular choice. This year, Magic Kingdom will be open from 9 AM to 1 AM on December 30 and 31. Best of all, with the park open late both days, those who’d rather skip out on the insanity that is a Disney NYE or can’t secure a park reservation on the 31st can simply celebrate the occasion one day early.
And with Fantasy in the Sky, Magic Kingdom’s New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular, returning this year for an 11:50 PM showing along with Disney Enchantment at 6:30 PM, guests will truly be able to kick off 2022 with a bang. For an especially sweet view, consider booking a table at one of the fireworks dessert parties so you don’t miss a minute of these special perimeter pyrotechnics.
To add to the festive atmosphere, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is also currently on the schedule for the day, with viewings at noon and 3:30 PM. For a shot at the best seats for both, we recommend you stake your claim at least an hour before showtime.
As for what hasn’t been confirmed for 2021, it wouldn’t be New Year’s without a party. Unfortunately, the two Magic Kingdom NYE dance parties in Frontierland and Tomorrowland haven’t been confirmed yet for this year. In past years, these family-friendly festivities were a fun spot to see characters from the Country Bear Jamboree or Song of the South’s Splash Mountain, as well as to groove your way into the new year.
Epcot New Year’s Eve 2021 Events
With its delicious, global-inspired dining, exciting attractions, cultural spotlights and drinking around the world, Epcot is a favorite park to visit any time of year, but especially during New Year’s Eve. Free party hats and horns are passed out, alcohol is flowing. Overall, it’s a merry time for all, even if it is incredibly crowded.
Epcot is especially popular thanks to all of the tempting eats and boozy sips. And really, what’s New Year’s Eve without a little bubbly anyway? So, if you’re planning an adult Disney trip this New Year’s Eve, set your sights here.
This year, Epcot will be open from 10 AM to 12 AM on December 31. Typically, New Year’s Eve at Epcot features lots of celebratory activities like dance parties hosted by live DJs in Future World (now World Nature, World Celebration and World Discovery) and at the American Gardens Stage, with a few smaller parties sprinkled throughout some of the World Showcase pavilions.
Ablaze with lasers, flashing lights and maybe even some flames, these make for a fun way to spice your trip around World Showcase alongside Soarin’ and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – especially at midnight, when the countdown ends with an explosion of fireworks and cheers.
Disney hasn’t yet confirmed these events for 2021, nor have they announced the return of Epcot’s countdown fireworks. Their current daily schedule also doesn’t indicate that Harmonious, Epcot’s fireworks spectacular, will get a second showing before the clock strikes midnight.
Having said that, Epcot is open until midnight for a reason. We don’t think that Disney would leave us hanging at the doorway to 2022 without a way to toast the occasion. So, should things play out like they have in past years, expect Harmonious to receive two showings: the first at 6:30 PM and the second at around 11:40 PM, followed by a special Countdown Fireworks display.
Just like the global celebrations that both New Year’s Eve and Epcot are, Epcot’s midnight fireworks pay tribute to the World Showcase nations. With fireworks shot off above each pavilion to a soundtrack of traditional music and the countdown projected onto Spaceship Earth, it’s an inspiring start to the year.
To make the show extra special, consider booking the fireworks dining package at Morocco’s Spice Road Table or the Rose & Crown Dining Room at the UK Pavilion. Or, for a real VIP Disney experience and the best seat in the park, book a private fireworks dining cruise for your group.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios New Year’s Eve 2021 Events
Unlike Magic Kingdom and Epcot, New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been more low-key, making it a great pick if you want the fireworks without the crowds. In past years, this star-studded theme park has offered a fireworks show or two, followed by the countdown to the new year.
Unfortunately, as with the other parks, none of this is confirmed to be returning for 2021, and that includes the fireworks displays. Having said that, however, with Hollywood Studios’ park hours scheduled for 9 AM to 12 AM on New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to assume that some sort of countdown will likely be taking place.
Animal Kingdom New Year’s Eve 2021 Events
Of Disney World’s four theme parks, Animal Kingdom is the only one that isn’t staying open late to ring in the new year. Although fireworks have never been offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that hasn’t stopped Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park from bringing the party for previous New Year’s Eves.
Live DJs posted up in Discovery Island, DinoLand U.S.A. and Asia help keep the music, and fun, flowing all night long, while special NYE food and drink items keep you fueled all night long. The park has even projected its own New Year’s Eve countdown before onto the Tree of Life.
However, as the New Year’s Eve at Animal Kingdom is cut short this year, with the park only open from 9 AM to 7 PM, it’s a good bet that there won’t be any festivities in 2021.
Disney Springs New Year’s Eve 2021 Events
As long as you don’t mind missing out on the fireworks finale, Disney Springs is a great pick for your New Year’s Eve, especially if you’re looking for a party with lots of tasty food. There’s always a handful of restaurants serving up a special New Year’s Eve meal or, at the very least, a free champagne toast. This New Year’s Eve, Disney Springs closes at 11:30 PM.
For a night unlike any other at Disney World, The Edison’s New Year’s Eve Gala is a dazzling choice to ring in 2022 with its live entertainment, food stations and open dance floor. Snack on passed hors d’oeuvres or something more substantial from the carving station as you take in everything from The Sound Society Radio Show and stilt walkers to an aerialist and The Pearls, a burlesque trio. You can also grab a drink from one of the cash bars.
Tickets are $25 for general admission or guaranteed seating for between 2 to 10 guests or at the bar for individuals is $150 per person. For guaranteed seating, guests are able to enter at 8 PM and receive access to the passed appetizers, food stations and midnight bubbly. While for general admission, tickets are standing-room-only, with entry at 10:30 PM, just in time for the champagne toast, and access to a buffet of desserts.
City Works Eatery & Pour House, meanwhile, is hosting Brew Year’s Eve, a selection of chef’s specials complete with beer pairings and champagne at midnight. Party favors will also be passed out to get the soiree started, and you’ll even be entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card.
Ring in 2022 not once, but twice at Raglan Road, Disney Springs’ resident Irish pub. There’s no dedicated menu to be had here, but the lively Irish step dancers and house band more than make up for the lack of a fancy New Year’s Eve dessert. And while you may be more inclined to reach for a pint of Guinness, if you stay long enough, you’ll also get to toast the new year with two free glasses of bubbly: first, along with the rest of the lads in Ireland at 7 PM EST and again at midnight once 2022 finally rolls around to the east coast.
Finally, have a truly epic New Year’s Eve with a free concert by EPIC, a fun-loving party band. They’ll be rocking out at the Waterside Stage from 8:30 PM-12:30 AM.
New Year’s Eve at Disney World Hotels
Last but not least, if you’re hoping to celebrate New Year’s Eve at The Most Magical Place on Earth but can’t stand crowds, sometimes there’s no better place to party than your hotel room. This is especially true if you’re staying at Disney World hotels like Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the BoardWalk Inn or the Yacht & Beach Club.
During pre-pandemic times, many hotels at Disney World hosted their own New Year’s Eve events, including:
- A Spanish-infused fiesta with an electric flamenco guitarist at Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, a rooftop restaurant at Coronado Springs
- An Italian masquerade at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, the Riviera Resort’s rooftop restaurant
- A classy evening with a live harpist at Victoria & Albert’s, Disney World’s ultimate signature dining experience, at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- And more
The Contemporary Resort is another Disney World NYE mainstay. This deluxe resort overlooking Magic Kingdom usually offers an array of New Year’s Eve parties to suit a variety of ages, vibes and budgets. This year, however, you’ll only find one special event to ring in 2022: A Golden New Year’s Eve in Wine Country at California Grill. With its bird’s-eye views of Magic Kingdom, there’s no better place to take in the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks.
Priced at a cool $700 per person (tax and gratuity included), this elegant party will see the restaurant’s Napa Room transformed into a wine-drenched speakeasy. Fusing the New Year’s celebrations with the 50th anniversary festivities, guests will dine on a smorgasbord of dishes offered at the restaurant over the past 50 years from a selection of food stations as they are serenaded by a roaming violinist or entranced by a sleight-of-hand magician.
Next door in the Sonoma Room is where the party really starts. Here you’ll find Mickey and Minnie all dressed up in their sparkly best along with Baby New Year Donald, perfect for sneaking a selfie to commemorate the occasion. Or you can also dance the night away to the live DJ on the dance floor.
For fireworks views without the steep price tag or required park tickets, head to Disney’s BoardWalk and the Epcot Resort Area. With its unbeatable location between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, it’s the perfect place to take in the show and one of our favorite spots to catch the Disney fireworks outside the theme parks.
It’s also home to a charming array of entertainment options and some delectable dining. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the magicians and jugglers as you stroll along the promenade. Or, rent a surrey bike for an especially nostalgic New Year’s Eve. Then, grab some of the free party hats and noisemakers to ring in the new year as you catch the tops of the Epcot and Hollywood Studios fireworks.
Tips & Tricks for Making Your Disney World New Year’s Eve Magical
All set to ring in 2022 from Walt Disney World? Here are some suggestions for making your New Year’s Eve at Disney as memorable and stress-free as possible.
- Book your reservations early. With a holiday as popular as New Year’s Eve, at Walt Disney World, availability at restaurants and hotels goes fast. Make your reservation as soon as the booking window opens if you have somewhere specific in mind. If nothing is available, keep checking back as cancelations do happen.
- Start early and stay late. If you’re planning on getting in some rides along with enjoying NYE at Disney World, your best bet is showing up early and closing down the park so you can capitalize on thin crowds and shorter lines.
- Go to the park you want to be at and stay there. Since the theme parks do tend to reach capacity early on in the day, we recommend that you make your reservation for the park you want to greet 2022 in, then spend the rest of the day and night there. Otherwise, if you’re relying on park hopping alone, you could be left out if parks are full.
- Eat during off-hours. To save time, rather than languishing in line during the lunch hour, plan your meals for shoulder times to avoid the crowds.
- Take advantage of Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Selections. As frustrating as it can be to have to pay for line-skipping privileges, during busy times like New Year’s Eve at Disney World, we’re willing to make an exception. If rides are one of your priorities and you have space in your budget, Genie+ and the Lightning Lanes will help you tackle your to-do list without sucking up all of your time.
- Go on less-popular rides. If you’d rather not pay $15 per person but you still want to experience some attractions, just take advantage of rides and shows that may not typically be the first thing on your list. Overlooked gems like the Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom and Living with the Land at Epcot are great ways to have some fun while steering clear of the hordes of people.
Well, that’s a wrap on our guide to celebrating New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World, and on 2021. It’s been quite the year and we can’t wait to start a new chapter of (hopefully) post-pandemic Disney magic.
Trying to see and do everything? Make the most of your time in spite of the crowds with our 1-day plans for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Wanting to save for that $700 dinner at California Grill? Put a dent in the price with our discount Disney World tickets.
Have you celebrated New Year’s Eve at Disney World? Which park is your favorite when ringing in the new year? What special events are you missing this New Year’s? Let us know in the comments!
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.