With the month of February almost upon us, is it too late to do a post related to New Years Eve? I'm sure it probably is, especially considering I stop saying "Happy New Year" at about 9:30am on January 1st, but I'm going to run with this anyway. So let's just pretend we all celebrate Chinese New Year, shall we?
|The One Night a Year Paper Hats Are Fashionable|
New Year's Eve is a strange and stressful holiday. If you think about it, all that it really brings is the annoying process of changing what date we write on checks. Yet every year it serves as an opportunity for millions to suddenly start living like this night might be their last. Hotels and restaurants are booked to capacity, often at prices that would border on gouging, and manufacturers of party horns are finally able to turn a profit on the last day of the year. While the mention of New Year's Eve conjures images of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and Times Square, there is another iconic landmark that draws an enormous flock of revelers each and every year...Cinderella Castle.
There are three times of year that I try and avoid the Orlando area at all costs...Spring Break, July 4th, and New Year's Eve. I don't mix well with high concentrations of tourists, so I made a rule long ago that it was better to steer clear of The City Beautiful during these peak times of year. I broke that rule a few weeks ago, however, and what follows are a few helpful tips to ensure your survival of New Year's Eve in Orlando.
Stay Away From the Theme Parks
Seriously. Don't even try it. A few years ago we had the brilliantly genius idea to celebrate New Year's at Disneyland in California. It was a miserable experience, and one that I would not even wish on Billy Johnson, the kid who punched me in computer class in 9th grade.
This year many of the Universal and Disney theme parks reached capacity on New Year's Eve, some as early as noon. This usually means wait times of over two hours on popular attractions, and shoulder to shoulder crowds elsewhere in the parks. Sound like fun? I didn't think so...
|If You Skip The Parks on New Year's, Come Back Tomorrow For This|
I understand that despite this warning, you may still want to ring in the new year at an Orlando theme park. If this is your plan, then get there early, and be prepared to stay for the long haul. I suggest you do what I did and find a bench to sleep the day away...you'll be better off...
Find a Home Base and Stay There
If you decide to heed my advice and avoid the theme parks, then not to worry, there is still plenty for you to do. I learned long ago that the best way to approach New Year's Eve in Orlando is to book a room at one of the countless resorts around town, and enjoy the festivities they offer for their guests.
|Trust Me, It Sure Beats A 2 Hour Line For Test Track|
We celebrated this year at the Wyndham Grand Orlando at Bonnet Creek, a brand new resort located practically within Walt Disney World. We arrived early, relaxed by the pool for most of the day, and had a celebratory dinner at their restaurant, Deep Blu. There was a poolside party for the countdown to midnight, and we had a great view of the amazing fireworks displays around Disney. All of this with no crowds, no lines, and no bus ride back to the resort after a horrendous day at the parks.
Start Planning Before December 28th
If your calendar says "December" and you haven't booked a room for New Year's Eve, then you've waited too long. If Christmas has come and gone, and you still don't have a dinner reservation, then the same thing goes. It's also important to ask the restaurant if they will have a special menu on New Year's Eve, and find out the details in advance. For example, my brother originally booked a table at a renowned Orlando steakhouse well in advance, only to be told a few days prior about their $150 per person pre-fixe menu. Thankfully, he was able to find an alternative, but at that point the pickings were certainly slim.
|The NYE Fireworks Seen From Wyndham Grand|
I have no doubt that I have seen far from my last New Year's Eve in Orlando. The truth is, Orlando really is a great place to celebrate the holiday, even with it's full capacity theme parks and resorts. I've just learned that there are ways to go about it which suit my personality more than others. My hope is that this will help guide you through your own New Year's Eve journey, and if you plan on going to the parks...May The Force Be With You.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~