You may be wondering if Disney World is open during Thanksgiving Day?
Short answer, absolutely!
If you’ve never experience Thanksgiving at Disney World, then you’re definitely missing out on one the best ways to jump start the holidays.
From delicious Thanksgiving dinners to festive décor and treats, you’ll want to try a day at Disney during this holiday weekend.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO. Which means if you click on certain links, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.
Celebrating Thanksgiving at Disney World In a Glance:
- Thanksgiving Day takes place on Thursday, November 23, 2023
- Visit all of the Gingerbread houses! No admission is required to visit the Gingerbread displays at Disney World; however, you may need a dining reservation to be able to park at a hotel. You can avoid this by parking at Disney Springs and taking the bus over to the resort.
- Enjoy all of the holiday fun in Disney Springs such as the Christmas Tree Hunt (and it’s FREE)!
- I recommend staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend
- Be sure to wear some festive and holiday-themed clothing to get the best Disney festive pictures while you’re here
- Don’t forget to check out the incredible food and entertainment on property
Keep reading to get a full guide on the best way to explore this Disney holiday experience like a pro!
What to Expect for Thanksgiving at Disney
While planning out your day, it’s best to come with a whole lot of patience and a solid itinerary for your day.
You’ll also want to make sure that your expectations aren’t too high, as this is one of the busiest holidays of the year at Walt Disney World.
Choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day at Walt Disney World is a unique way to enjoy this festive holiday; however, I do not recommend visiting this park if this is your first visit.
If you still plan on doing Disney during the holiday weekend, you may have a few questions.
ORDER NOW to secure your Orlando theme park ticket reservation in the parks! GET MY TICKETS.
Is Thanksgiving Weekend Busy at Disney World?
One of the main questions I get is just how busy is Disney during Thanksgiving? If you’ve never visited any of the parks during a major (and sometimes minor) holiday, then you’ll be taken aback by the high crowd levels.
For parents, this can be a bit tricky. Taking your kids to Disney World sounds like the best way to do Thanksgiving!
The only issue is every other mom and dad has the same exact idea.
So, be prepared to experience high wait times and lines everywhere throughout the parks. Lines even for something simple as having a bathroom break.
What Should I Wear to Disney World in November?
Disney Thanksgiving Shirts
November weather is incredible for Florida and although the crowd may be higher than normal, the weather will truly make up for it!
Hipster Power Tip: Always check the weather before your visit to Walt Disney World Resort.
Should I stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel?
If you can make it work, then I recommend staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Not only can you enter the parks early, but you’ll be able to have a great game plan for the holiday that will allow you to do more things than the average Disney guest that day/weekend.
You can also stay at a vacation home resort near Disney World where you can prepare your own holiday meal in a top-notch kitchen.
Be sure to play with your budget to see if this tip can work in your favor.
Is Disney decorated for Christmas at Thanksgiving?
It sure is! This is why I think November is the perfect month to visit Walt Disney World.
You can celebrate Thanksgiving while eating your heart out and enjoy the holiday decor, entertainment and treats at the same time!
Walt Disney World Resort starts putting up their Christmas Decorations the night that their Halloween celebration officially ends.
You may think that’s too early, but it’s perfect for me!
Ready to make your trip out to Walt Disney World Resort, then get your no obligation, FREE Quote by filling out the form with The Park Prodigy by Clicking HERE!
14 Places to Have Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney World for 2023
You will have plenty of options for enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at Disney World.
It all depends on whether or not you want to have a traditional holiday meal or if you’d like to venture out into one of the non-traditional dining options at Epcot.
1. Steakhouse 71 Lounge (Contemporary Resort)
One of Disney’s newest restaurant, Steakhouse 71 Lounge, offers a modern take on the American cuisine with a vibe that’s reminiscent to the 1970s.
You’ll be happy to know that this new dining spot will be open on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and will offer classic American holiday treats with items such as a:
- Steakhouse 71 Seasonal Pancakes (Breakfast)
- Western Omelet (Breakfast)
- Turkey Club (Lunch)
- French Onion Soup (Lunch and Dinner)
- Shrimp Cocktail (Lunch and Dinner)
- Prime Rib Sandwich (Lunch)
- Steak and Potatoes with Macaroni and Cheese and Broccolini (Dinner)
- The Steakhouse 71 Chocolate Cake (a must-try!)
The breakfast menu will be available from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., with lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. and dinner will be available from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
You can get more information here.
2. Ale & Compass Restaurant (Disney’s Yacht Club Resort)
Take a trip through the cuisine inspired by New England history.
Here you’ll enjoy a journey through the dishes of this area such as seafood pot pie, coastal clambake, cabernet-braised short ribs, buttery lobster dishes, and more.
Book your Ale & Compass reservation here.
3. The Diamond Horseshoe (Magic Kingdom)
If you want to get the same Thanksgiving Day menu as you would in the Liberty Tree Tavern, but in a different scenery, then you have to check out The Diamond Horseshoe restaurant.
You’ll also get to enjoy a holiday meal that includes all-you-care-to-eat Disney food with options such as:
- A zesty salad
- The Plentiful Platter: features roasted turkey breast, pot roast and oven-roasted pork with traditional sides.
- Ooey Gooey toffee cake with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.
You can get more information for this Disney Thanksgiving Day meal here.
4. Cape May Café (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)
This New England-inspired restaurant offers a buffet-style dining option at Walt Disney World.
Here you’ll get to enjoy an array of seafood that New England is known for plus classic American dishes such as:
- Traditional New England seafood boil
- Carving Station featuring Chef’s Selection
- Roasted Chicken
- Mashed potatoes
- Snow Crab Legs
Book your Cape May Café reservation here.
5. Shula’s Steakhouse (Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel)
Who wouldn’t want a traditional American meal complete with one of the best steaks in all of Orlando?
Shula’s Steakhouse is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Orlando.
Nested in the heart of the Dolphin Resort, you’ll get to enjoy some of the freshest meals prepared in a cozy setting that makes you feel like you’re having your own Disney adult getaway!
For Thanksgiving, you’ll be able enjoy not only delicious appetizers, but you’ll have your choice of traditional holiday dishes such as caramelized Brussel sprouts, apple crisp, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
You can view the Disney Thanksgiving dinner menu for this restaurant here.
6. The Garden Grill Restaurant (Epcot)
In the serenity of sounds from a rainforest to a farmhouse, you’ll be delighted to know that the Garden Grill offers classic hearty meals of yesterday.
Dishes such as turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.
7. Boatwright’s Dining Hall (Port Orleans Riverside Resort)
What better way to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal at Disney than to have one with a New Orleans twist…
At Boatwright’s Dining Hall, you’ll enjoy a selection of traditional Thanksgiving food like mashed potatoes, collard greens, mac and cheese and so much more!
Be sure to add some jambalaya to your holiday meal.
You can view the Disney Thanksgiving dinner menu for this restaurant here.
8. Todd English Blue Zoo (Dolphin Hotel)
Ready to delight in an international coastal feast? If so, you’ll want to visit Todd English’s Bluezoo in the Dolphin Resort Hotel.
This award-winning restaurant will offer a non-traditional take on the Thanksgiving meal with a seafood twist.
While you’re there, be sure to try some of my favorite dishes like the:
- Za’atar Roasted Squash: charred squash, lions’ mane mushroom, onion labneh, pomegranate, toasted walnuts, spiced serrano salsa, sesame tuile, mint
- Marinated Brick Chicken: .honey mustard brined belle and evans chicken breast, dark meat croquettes, ` lemon butter almond couscous, marinated tomato, crispy skin, white bean purée, roasted chicken jus
- Risotto ‘tots’: risotto, white truffle, sassy romesco
- Serenity: Cucumber vodka, st. germain elderflower liqueur, muddled strawberries, rosemary, lime, pineapple juice
You can get more information on the holiday offerings at the Swan and Dolphin resorts here.
9. 50’s Prime Time Café (Hollywood Studios)
Are you ready to travel back in time? A time where coming home to a stiff cocktail on the rocks and a hearty meal each night was the norm and a way to decompress from the rat race of the world.
If so, then you’ll want to visit the 50’s Prime Time Café this Thanksgiving Day for a down-home, delicious adventure as you eat your way through Mom’s old-fashioned pot roast, Aunt Liz’s golden fried chicken Served with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Chicken Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables and so much more!
You can take a look at the menu here.
10. Liberty Tree Tavern at The Magic Kingdom
This New England-inspired restaurant is dedicated to the prominent figures of American history.
Here you’ll get to enjoy a traditional family-style Thanksgiving dinner in the heart of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
For dinner you get to have an all-you-care-to-eat Thanksgiving feast that includes roasted turkey breast, pot roast, carved pork roast, Ooey Gooey toffee cake, and so much more.
Book your Liberty Tree Tavern reservations here.
11. Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Because most Disney experiences have a backstory, this restaurant brings you into to Olivia’s Cafe and eatery that offers seaside fare of Key West such as conch fritters and conch chowder.
Plus, you’ll even enjoy southern comfort dishes such as the Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken.
Book your Olivia Café dinner here.
12. Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness Campground
This Fort Wilderness restaurant is quintessential Americana cuisine with simple, down-home dishes that make you feel like a kid having dinner at your grandmother’s house.
With a large family meals that features smoked pork ribs, hand-carved roasted meats, peel-and-eat shrimp, and strawberry short cake, you can’t help but to leave satisfied and with a smile on your face.
Plus, you’ll be able to get an amazing Thanksgiving Day dinner there while you’re on vacation!
Check out my latest theme park adventures on Instagram TODAY!
13. Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Enjoy frontier-inspired dishes that would make any Cowboy happy. Here you’ll get to partake in bottomless platters of spectacular American food for dinner!
This year’s Thanksgiving Feast will take place on November 23, 2023 with the holiday meal being served from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. You can learn more about this Disney feast here.
Pricing for this Disney Thanksgiving Meal:
- Adults: $47 per person, plus tax and gratuity
- Children: $28 per person, plus tax and gratuity
You will enjoy a delicious 3-course meal that includes:
- Crisp house salad
- Thanksgiving Skillet: Features all-you-care-to-eat oak-smoked turkey and barbecue
- Seasonal Dessert Sampler
The best thing about dining at Whispering Canyon Café is that you’ll get to be a part of the best decorated resort on property, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!
I love it here! It’s the best resort at Disney that makes me truly feel as if the holiday season has started.
Book your Whispering Canyon Café reservation here.
14. Disney Springs Thanksgiving Day Dinner
You may be wondering, Is Disney Springs open on Thanksgiving? Absolutely!
And many of the restaurants offer something for you to enjoy on the holiday while visiting Walt Disney World.
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’: Because it’s pure American southern cooking that’s perfect for Thanksgiving Day! Check out our full review here.
- City Works: You can partake in your own Thanksgiving feast at City Works in Disney Springs with all of your holiday favorites such as the Herb-Roasted Turkey with classic Thanksgiving Day sides along with top-notch dessert offerings. Save your seat here.
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar: You’ll also want to stop by one of my favorite bars in Disney Springs for indulge yourself in the “Naughty or Nice” Deviled Eggs: crispy ham and spicy honey glaze or the “Here We Come A-Croquetting”: Holiday croquettes with turkey and stuffing topped with bacon and cranberry jam and turkey gravy on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes. Check out the menu here.
- The Polite Pig: Here you can get the Open-face Turkey Smash with Texas toast, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, turkey gravy, and cranberry chutney
- Vivoli il Gelato: Spice up your Thanksgiving dessert with the Candied Yam Cannoli made with Sweet cream of yams and ricotta topped with pecans
Even More Places to Eat at Disney World for Thanksgiving Day 2023
Above are my favorite places that I know you can’t go wrong with.
Below are a few more places to dine at for Thanksgiving Day this year that will be serving their own holiday meals such as:
- Intermission Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
- World Premiere Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
- End Zone Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
- Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Centertown Market at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Capt. Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Riverside Mill and Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside and French Quarter
- The Artist’s Palette at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Roaring Fork at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
4 Fun Things to Do for Thanksgiving at Disney World
Now that we know what to eat and what to expect at Disney on Thanksgiving, let’s go over a few suggestions of things you can do to make your holiday weekend fun at the parks and resorts.
1. Have Thanksgiving Day at the Magic Kingdom
This is one of my favorite things to do at Disney World on Thanksgiving Day!
Spend Time Exploring Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom
Frontierland is quintessential, yesterland of Disney.
In Frontierland you travel back in time where the great outdoors not only provided the foundation for the American future to come, it gave us some of the best resources to help grow the country.
While in Frontierland, catch a short boat ride over to Tom Sawyer’s Island and explore classic Old West charm on your Thanksgiving Day at Disney World.
Hipster Power Tip: Don’t forget to enjoy the Christmas Party at “Disney Very Merry Christmas Party” event!
Visit Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom
Be sure to walk through and truly explore this area of the Magic Kingdom that tells the story of the New World.
There are four American eras that are represented here:
- New England (near Columbia Harbour House)
- Colonial Williamsburg (near Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe)
- Dutch New Amsterdam (near footbridge to the Hub)
- New York’s Hudson River Valley (near the Haunted Mansion)
Hipster Power Tip: Don’t forget to enjoy your Thanksgiving Day Feast at Liberty Tree Tavern!
Board the Liberty Square Riverboat
Enjoy the majestic views of both Liberty Square and Frontierland through your tour of Rivers of America on the Liberty Square Riverboat.
Doing all these things on your holiday trip to the Magic Kingdom is a creative way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
2. Enjoy Thanksgiving at Epcot
Epcot is a fun way to enjoy this festive holiday. Not only can you eat and drink around the world, you can enjoy how the many cultures do their own holidays.
Visit the American Pavilion at Epcot
While visiting Epcot on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to stop by the American Pavilion and watch the American Adventure show. It’s one of the fun ways to celebrate this American holiday at Walt Disney World.
Here you’ll be taken though America’s history with 35 Audio-Animatronics figures, many digital rear-projection images on a 72-foot screen and you’ll hear sentimental patriotic songs.
Explore the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays for the Weekend
At the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays you can expect to enjoy sweet and savory treats from the Holiday Kitchens and the opportunities to hear festive stories from Cast Members represented in each country.
Just know that this festival doesn’t start until November 24, 2023.
Enjoy the Epcot Candlelight Processional during Thanksgiving Weekend
The Candlelight Processional at Epcot takes you through the incredible Nativity story complete with a celebrity narrator, a mass choir and a 50-piece orchestra.
Each evening the choir, that’s shaped like a Christmas tree, transports you magically into that wonderful night in which the Savior was born.
3. Go Resort Hopping at Walt Disney World
Doing a holiday decor resort hopping tour at Walt Disney World is my new yuletide tradition.
It’s a fun way to enjoy the Disney life on a budget, since you’ll be able to save one of your precious park hopper days on your trip.
It’s a great thing to do before or after your Thanksgiving dinner at Disney instead of going into the parks.
Plus, it’s free!
The holiday decorations at Walt Disney World are absolutely amazing! Believe it or not, Christmas starts at Disney around the first week of November.
If you do plan on visiting Disney during Thanksgiving weekend, then you’ll want to add the Disney hotels to your list of must-do’s.
Get your perfect Disney Resort tour itinerary here!
4. Start Shopping on Black Friday for Disney Christmas Merchandise
Since you’ll be in the yuletide spirit during Thanksgiving weekend at Disney, why not start shopping for Christmas gifts during this time.
You’ll be there during the Black Friday extravaganza which means that you can hit up Disney Springs, some of the Disney parks holiday shops, the Disney Character Warehouse at the Orlando outlets, and even find some deals online via shopDisney website.
7 Beginner Tips to Conquer Thanksgiving at Disney World
Now that you know what to expect at Disney for Thanksgiving Day, let’s go through a few tips to make the most of your visit!
1. Map Out Your Day Before You Get to Disney
Mapping out your day is a good way to make sure you’re able to enjoy each must do item. Route your path around the park in advance by viewing map for each park online via the myDisney Experience app.
Also, plan a route of attack and know what rides and attractions you want to experience. You can get your Disney World Itinerary for adults here!
2. Choose One Disney Park and Start Early
So, sticking to one park and getting there right before the gates open is a must. It is also very common to see the Disney parks reaching full capacity on major holidays.
I recommend to stay in your park of choosing all day, because even if you leave for a break there’s a chance you may not be able to get back in.
3. Understand How to Use Genie Plus Before You Get Here
The famous FastPass+ system is no longer available at Walt Disney World. Instead, we have a new feature called Disney Genie which allows you to plan out your day through the myDisney Experience App.
Its job is to give you forecasted wait times throughout the day to itinerary suggestions, this is a revolutionary move in technology for the Disney Parks. The new system will also allow you to have more control and help you better plan your days.
You can also upgrade this free feature to the Disney Genie+ which allows you to skip the lines at Disney World for a fee.
4. Stay Hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated at Walt Disney World especially if it’s a warmer day.
You can avoid heat related illnesses such as, a heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash by having proper hydration.
5. Have Thanksgiving Dinner Outside of Peak Times
Consider having your holiday meal before lunchtime or right before the dinner rush. This will allow you to take your time while dining and enjoy the celebrations with your loved ones over a delicious feast.
Learn how to find your perfect vacation home rental near Disney World by Clicking HERE!
6. Celebrate Thanksgiving at Disney the Day Before or the Following Sunday
If you can come a day before or a few days after Thanksgiving Day, you’ll be able to do many of the things listed in this guide.
All that matters is you’ll be with the ones you love at one of the most magical places on Earth.
It doesn’t matter what day you celebrate as long as you understand why you’re celebrating.
7. Go with Good Spirits on Thanksgiving Day at Disney World
This is going to be a busy holiday weekend at Walt Disney World Resort so be patient and just enjoy the festivities happening around you.
Not many people are able to have a trip during the holidays at Disney so count yourself lucky and have fun.
Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!
7 BEST Thanksgiving Disney Movies to Watch
Just in case you’re not able to make to Disney World for Thanksgiving, here are a few movies to keep your spirits lifted for this holiday.
- The Thanksgiving Promise
- Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale
- Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving
- Donald Duck: Soup’s On
- Thanksgiving Day Mirthquakes (a Disney short film)
- The Santa Clause (the movie starts its plot around Thanksgiving time)
Honorable Mention: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Although it’s not a Disney Thanksgiving movie, it is a must watch for the holiday.
My Final Thoughts on Celebrating Thanksgiving Day at Walt Disney World
No matter what you do, you’re going to have a happy Thanksgiving at Disney World.
To stay stress free, have a game plan, but be okay if things have to change last minute due to the crowd levels.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have book your Thanksgiving dining reservation in advance by booking here.
If you’re out in the parks, then have a fun time for me.
Because it’s close to my birthday, I will be at celebrating another year of life and another opportunity to fellowship with family and friends.
I plan on stuffing my face with dressing, mash potatoes, macaroni and cheese, fried turkey, and birthday cake 🙂
After I am pleasantly plump, I will lay out on the couch and enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my husband, my daughters, my nieces and my nephews surrounding me.
What are your Thanksgiving Day plans? Let us know in the comments section below.
If you enjoy this article, then you’ll love these holiday-inspired tips:
- Disney Christmas Decorations
- Epcot Festival of the Holidays
- Best Disney Resorts to Visit at Christmastime
- Tips for Doing Christmas at Disney World
- Christmas at Busch Gardens
- What to Do at SeaWorld for Christmas
- Christmas at Universal Orlando
- Best Gift Ideas for Disney Lovers
Read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving Day Hipsters!
About the Author
Traveling alone to the parks has changed my life and I want to show how you can create your own solo theme park memories.
Connect with me on Instagram!
(Original Article Date: November 28, 2013/Updated November 13, 2023)