Walt Disney World Christmas Celebrations at The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is home to a stunning display of holiday decorations, a tree-lighting ceremony on Main Street, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade on select days, concerts, Yuletide street performances, and much more.
Walt Disney World Christmas Celebrations are a wonderful experience for adults but especially exciting for children. There is so much to see, and the festive atmosphere will put everybody in the spirit of the season.
The Magic Kingdom is also the scene of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, staged 7 p.m.–midnight (after regular hours) on select evenings in November and December. Included in the cost of this special ticketed event is the use of all attractions during party hours, holiday-themed stage shows featuring Disney characters, cookies and hot chocolate, performances of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, carolers, “a magical snowfall on Main Street,” and fireworks.
While not advertised cast members will let ticket holders enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 p.m. so take advantage of this, get a few rides done, and dinner squared away before the festivities begin.
The least crowded dates are usually the weeks before Thanksgiving week, and the week after. We don’t recommend the party for first-time visitors but if you have been to the Magic Kingdom before go for it!
Overall the most important thing to remember is that the park will be crowded over the holiday season and that it will be impossible to go on every ride, see every performance, show, and attraction, without missing the most important thing: the magic of a Walt Disney World Christmas. If you keep that in mind your visit will be memorable. Make sure to check the Times Guide for days and hours of all special events.
With about twice the land of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot is a good option on Christmas Day, but this doesn’t mean it’s a ghost town, it is just somewhat less crowded than the Magic Kingdom. If your heart is set on touring a park on Christmas Day, you’ll have to get up early as Disney will stop admission when any of the parks is at capacity. The Magic Kingdom very often reaches capacity by 10:00 a.m. on Christmas Day.
Walt Disney World Christmas Celebrations at Epcot
At Epcot don’t miss the Candlelight Processional, featuring a celebrity narrator accompanied by a huge live choir, and a full orchestra. The show takes place daily at the America Gardens Theatre, and is included with regular Epcot admission. Special lunch and dinner packages are available for an additional charge, and include preferred seating for the processional (call 407-wdw-dine for reservations).
If you don’t want to spring for one of the packages, we recommend lining up at least 60 minutes prior to the show of your choice. Guests with preferred seating are well advised not to come last minute either. We suggest you arrive at the reserved-seating entrance 30 minutes before the show. Seats within this section are available on first-come first-served basis, and are opened to general admission 15 minutes before the beginning of the show. Check the Times Guide for performance hours and information on the day’s narrator.
The nightly fireworks, water, and laser show IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is always worth watching, and has an special holiday finale.
Our favorite Epcot holiday event however is Holidays from Around the World. While strolling from land to land, visitors can enjoy storytellers in each country. Make sure to check the Times Guide for hours of all special events around World Showcase.
Walt Disney World Christmas Celebrations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also dressed for the season but the big attraction here is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Millions – yes, millions – of lights decorate the buildings on the Streets of America, and snow machines provide the perfect atmosphere. There is no additional fee to see the display, but be prepared for huge crowds.
A little background: Jennings Osborne of Little Rock, Arkansas, began putting up Christmas lights on his house in 1986, and expanded his display by buying the two houses next to his. As his collection grew, so did the displeasure of his neighbors. Eventually the matter was brought to court, and in 1994 the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that his houses, with their 3 million lights, were a public nuisance.
The Walt Disney Company brought Osborne’s Christmas lights to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1995 and has a special agreement with the Osborne family to keep the display. As the park prepares for major construction projects, 2015 will be the last season for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Walt Disney World Christmas Celebrations at the Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has festive holiday decorations, and a gigantic Christmas tree with carolers performing throughout the day.
Unfortunately the Animal Kingdom no longer has a parade, and so the fun Jingle Jangle Christmas Parade is gone too. Kids can meet favorite Disney characters all dressed in their holiday finest. If you don’t mind the lines, this is the perfect place for taking holiday photographs.
Disney Springs features holiday decor and offers photo ops with Santa but is mainly about shopping. The atmosphere is festive, and shops and restaurants have special window dressings. There is live entertainment such as holiday carolers, and stilt walkers. Ask at Guest Relations for the daily schedule of events.
If you are looking to take the perfect picture for your Christmas card without visiting a park, Disney Springs is the place to go. Santa appears, this year in a new location, across from the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. You can take pictures with your own camera or use Disney’s Memory Maker service. The best part? Guests are able to pick up a pager upon arrival to secure their place in a virtual queue line.
If you plan visiting Walt Disney World with Kids check out our
2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2016 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.