Special celebrations and cooler weather are a couple of great reasons why people love visiting Orlando in December. There’s a lot going on here during this month. With the holidays just around the corner, theme park and city events are in full swing.
If you are planning a trip to Orlando during December, make sure to check out our essential tips in this article to get the most out of your time in this busy city. We have been living here for years and provide you with everything you should know about:
- The weather in December
- What to wear and pack
- How busy Disney and Universal are
- How to avoid the theme park crowds
Ticket Tips and More
If you only have two or three days for Disney in December, we highly recommend the ‘Hopper Ticket’ (see above). For Universal and the Space Center, you are free to choose. Click on the ticket banner (by GetYourGuide) to see more options.
Essential Links | Last Minute Deals:
All of the links above open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your Orlando trip.
💡 For the Kennedy Space Center in December, booking in advance is highly recommended. Also, book the ticket with the bus tour included! Check availability here:
Is December a Good Time to Visit Orlando?
December is a great time to visit Orlando! The weather is much more favorable than it is most of the year, with cooler temperatures and less rain. There are tons of events going on for the holidays, so you won’t be at a loss when it comes to finding fun things to do!
Enjoy lovely seasonal decor, food dishes, and fun activities during your December visit to Orlando.
The temperatures continue to drop in December as we enjoy the tail-end of fall weather.
The weather is relatively dry, and rain is infrequent during December in Orlando. The average high temperature hovers around 73°F (22°C). There is little rainfall throughout the month, with an average of 0.6 to 2.4 inches (15 to 61 mm).
Hurricane season ended at the end of November, so this month is a safe time to visit Orlando if you are looking to avoid the possibility of encountering a hurricane.
Average high temperatures in December:
- Early December: 75°F (24°C)
- Mid-December: 73°F (23°C)
- Late December: 71°F (22°C)
💡 Weather tip: Orlando is more likely to experience cold fronts of cooler weather in December that drop temperatures into the 60s and often even the 50s. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and don’t forget to pack layers and a jacket!
Temperature progression for a typical day:
- Early Morning (8 AM): 62°F (17°C)
- Afternoon (2 PM): 74°F (23°C)
- Evening (11 PM): 62°F (17°C)
The weather here is rather favorable in December, with highs rarely entering the 80s. Instead, temperatures often range from the low-70s to the mid-70s on an average day. More often than not, we have nice weather throughout December, with fewer storms and more sunny days.
In Orlando, the rainy season ends in early fall, meaning December is moderately dry. Thunderstorms are a rare occurrence this month, and the chances of rainfall are relatively low compared to most of the year.
There are only eight days of rainfall on average in December. The average rainfall in is 1.8 inches at the start of the month and 2.0 inches by the end of the month.
Local experience: December is one of the driest months in Orlando. Though thunderstorms are possible, they are unlikely. Rainfall is light and infrequent. You likely won’t have to worry about the rain disrupting your travel plans.
Can it rain the whole day? Chances of rainfall won’t spoil your Orlando trip in December because spurts of rain are brief and not very extreme. Of the small number of days where rainfall occurs, these instances are usually very short rain showers that last under an hour. Make sure to look at the forecast and plan accordingly to keep these small instances from interrupting your day.
Orlando is known for its humidity due to its closeness to the equator. Despite that, the month of December is less humid thanks to the fall weather that we begin to receive in October and November. There is a reduction in humidity levels this month, with less recurring rainfall and overall more arid weather, which continues throughout December.
The morning hours usually have humidity levels of 87% and drop to 56% during the early afternoon. On a daily basis, Orlando humidity averages 75% in December.
What to Wear / What to Pack
This month, though the temperatures are milder, they still range wildly throughout the day, with 15-20°F differences being typical.
During December in Orlando, the weather can vary greatly, so you will want to pack and wear layers. Pants/jeans and short-sleeve shirts are great to wear during most afternoon outings. A jacket or a hoodie is a must-pack item for mornings and evenings when the temperatures are in the 60s.
💡 Packing tip: If you are planning on staying in a hotel during your December trip to Orlando, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit! Most pools are heated so that guests can enjoy them year-round.
Clothes to pack:
- Thick, breathable socks
- Athletic pants
- Light sweater
- Light jacket
- Warmer jacket
- Bathing suit/swim trunks
- Bathing suit cover-up
Additional items to pack:
- Sun hat or baseball cap
- Bug spray (essential for outdoor activities, especially in the evenings)
- Water bottle
- Portable phone charger (theme park apps will drain your phone battery)
- Small backpack or fanny pack
Walking Tip / Bag: When sightseeing in Orlando, we always make sure to bring a bag large enough to store our additional layers of clothing when the temperature picks up in the afternoon. If we are out and about all day, those layers will make a reappearance in the evening when the temperature goes down.
Crowds and Rates
December is a great time to visit Orlando because of all the different events that are being held for the winter holidays. Crowds and rates vary greatly throughout the month due to these events.
Orlando is busy during the second half of December when children and students begin their holiday breaks that run through the end of the year. The first half of the month is notably less crowded while school is still in session.
Because of the smaller crowds at the beginning of the month, December tends to offer better rates to visitors that book their vacation during this time. If you are planning on visiting the theme parks, check out different vacation packages that combine theme park tickets, and hotel stays for considerable discounts on both!
Theme Parks | Things to Do
As previously mentioned, the Orlando theme parks experience smaller crowds at the beginning of the month of December. The parks have begun hosting their holiday events around mid-to-late November. There are tons of different things to do and experience in the Orlando theme parks this season. This section has a lot of useful information for your trip to the Orlando theme parks in December.
When to visit: The best days to visit the theme parks in December are during the first two weeks before schools wrap up and begin their holidays. The latter half of the month is significantly busier, with people taking winter vacations to join in on the Orlando theme park festivities.
December crowds overview for the theme parks:
- First two weeks of December: Busy but not as crowded as around Christmas until New Year’s Day
- Third week of December: Crowds start to pick up but are not as jam-packed as around Christmas until New Year’s Day.
- Christmas week until New Year’s Day: Jam-packed.
Depending on which day of the week Christmas falls, things can shift a bit.
Arrive early: If riding a popular, higher-wait-time ride is on your to-do list, it is beneficial to arrive before the park gates open to avoid longer wait times. If you aren’t planning on doing that, arriving 30-60 minutes after the parks open will allow you to avoid those initial opening crowds while still having an entire day at the parks!
In December, Disney tends to receive fewer visitors in the first two weeks leading up to the winter holidays. These weeks are quieter than the last two weeks of the year, with quicker wait times for rides and shows, as well as more options for Disney Dining reservations. All Disney Parks will have holiday decorations on display from mid-November to mid-January.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom will be hosting Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights in December that will include special firework shows and parades.
Disney’s EPCOT park will have its International Festival of the Holidays in full swing all December. The festival has a lot of food and drink popups in its World Showcase, as well as a candlelight processional and other special offerings.
Crowds: The days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the busiest of the year. One year, we went the day after Christmas and were shocked by the high volumes of crowds we encountered.
Expert Tip: While the crowds are unavoidable, your park-going experience will be more pleasant if you take a park break in the afternoon when the parks are busiest. Enjoy amenities at your resort or hotel, or enjoy shopping and dining in different parts of Disney property.
While Disney World features multiple attractions, including water parks and golf courses, its main attractions are the four theme parks:
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
Tickets: For a hassle-free experience, get the base tickets in advance: Walt Disney World Orlando – Admission Base Tickets 2-7 days (mobile voucher or printed voucher)
How many days? If you only have two or three days, we recommend booking your tickets with the added Park Hopper option. This will enable you to spend half of your day in one park before hopping to another. That way, you can still have the opportunity to see all four Disney theme parks during your Orlando vacation.
The holidays at Universal Orlando start in mid-November and run through December, with a variety of different celebrations throughout their parks. From live performances by Mannheim Steamroller, Grinchmas, and a holiday parade featuring Macy’s, there are many festivities to enjoy this month. Both Universal parks will have holiday decorations on display from mid-November to the end of December.
Crowds: Like with Disney, the festivities bring an uptick in crowds, especially during the days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day. If you want to prioritize fewer crowds, consider visiting at the beginning of the month.
Tip: If you visit around Christmas or later, we recommend skipping the high wait-time rides and enjoying the seasonal shows and dining options.
Tip: Hotels in Universal Studio Resort (staying in one of these saves you a lot of time… and money)
Is the park-to-park ticket worth it? The park-to-park ticket allows you to roam between the three parks (see below) on the same day. You definitely should get it if you are a Harry Potter fan, as you need it to ride the Hogwarts Express.
Check out here if the ticket is worth it for you: Universal Orlando – Park-to-Park-Ticket
Additionally, some visitors always get the park-to-park ticket as they love to move around, especially if it’s too busy in one park (for example, if you visit around Christmas). It simply gives you more flexibility.
Skip-the-line-ticket: The crowds in early December are low enough to do Universal Studios without the express/skip-the-line ticket mid-week. During the last two weeks of the month, especially around Christmas, we recommend them due to higher crowds.
Three parks: Universal Studios is not just one park. There are a total of three Universal parks, each with its own theme and unique attractions:
- Universal Studios Florida
- Islands of Adventure
- Volcano Bay Water Park
SeaWorld is another great park to visit in December. Often less busy than Disney and Universal Orlando, the Seaworld Christmas Celebration kicks off in mid-November, which has different dining and shopping experiences, as well as Christmas-themed shows and performances.
SeaWorld will have holiday decorations on display from mid-November to the beginning of January. We especially love the Sea of Trees, large Christmas trees lit up on the water within the park.
Crowds: It isn’t as difficult to avoid crowds at SeaWorld compared to the other parks in December, but as we suggest for Universal, there will be fewest crowds near the beginning of the month.
SeaWorld’s Christmas week crowds aren’t as bad as the other Orlando theme parks, but you will still encounter larger crowds and wait times during that holiday week. The great thing about SeaWorld is that there are always shows that you can enjoy while avoiding the crowds.
Theme park tip: Check out the theme park websites for your visit so that you know which festivities you want to see while you are there. Save time and hit the ground running with a well-planned park itinerary!
Things to Do | Manatees
One of the most amazing things you can do near Orlando in December is to ‘meet’ those intriguing manatees. Our tip is to book a tour with an operator that picks you up at your hotel. This will be an unforgettable day tour to see them and even swim with Florida’s manatees.
We highly recommend the tour above. The guides are awesome and they take care of everything, including picking you up from your hotel!
Special Events and Activities in December
In addition to the theme park holiday events, Orlando hosts some other fun events and activities in December.
Holiday Blooms is an annual holiday event at Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre garden near downtown Orlando. The event runs from November 28 through January 2. The event includes thousands of poinsettias and seasonal flowers in holiday-themed gardens.
Christmas at Gaylord Palms
Christmas at Gaylord Palms is a celebration that runs from November 22 to January 1 at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. The event includes icy hills to ride tubes down, snowmaking machines, and beautiful Christmas tree displays.