Christmas at Walt Disney World is a magical time. The Magic Kingdom has 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 a spectacular fireworks show. At night, Cinderella’s castle is illuminated by a myriad of icicle lights.
The Magic Kingdom is also home to 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.
At Epcot Holidays Around the World is our favorite Yuletide event. Stroll around World Showcase and listen to storytellers explain the holiday traditions of each respective country. It is the perfect time to introduce young children to the park. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on hand for a meet-and-greet at the American Adventure pavilion. It is also a perfect setting for your official Christmas card.
In Italy, meet La Befana, the good witch who brings gifts to children on Epiphany. Her performance is simply amazing and one of our favorites.
At the German pavilion, Helga welcomes visitors throughout the afternoon, telling the origins of the first Christmas tree, the Advent calendar, and how the nutcracker became a staple in homes worldwide. She is funny and witty. There’s a picture opportunity with her and a giant nutcracker at the end of her tale.
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).
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also dressed for the season; however, without the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the park has lost it’s appeal during the holiday season.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has festive holiday decorations, a gigantic Christmas tree, and carolers performing throughout the day. Kids can meet favorite Disney characters dressed in their holiday finest. If you don’t mind the lines, this is a great 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 choir concerts. At Guest Relations, ask for the daily schedule of events. If you are looking to take your Christmas card photo without visiting a park, Disney Springs is the place to go.
Disney Resort Christmas Decorations: An Attraction not to be Missed
The Disney Resort holiday decorations are attractions in their own right. Generally speaking, each resort incorporates its theme into its holiday finery. With more than 1,300 decorated trees and 8.5 million lights strung throughout the property, one can spend an entire day resort hopping. If you’re staying at a Walt Disney resort over Christmas, check with the concierge to see what holiday events might be going on. Happenings can range from carolers, brass bands, and country singers to Christmas-cookie decorating, visits with Santa, and readings of The Night Before Christmas.
Be sure to visit Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, where the mother of all Christmas trees—five stories tall—dominates the lobby, flanked by a gingerbread dollhouse and a miniature railroad.
At Disney’s Beach Club, a gingerbread carousel is the big draw.
At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the only thing missing is the snow. The tranquil and warm atmosphere of the lodge is as American a Christmas as you can get. The resort is gorgeously decorated, and the four-story-high main tree in the lobby has Native American-inspired decorations.
Awash in poinsettias best describes the decoration at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The Mexican-themed resort honors the Christmas flower everywhere.
Even the guests at Ft. Wilderness Campground get into the holiday spirit as they decorate their campsites for the holidays.
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. For tips on how to prepare for a visit to Walt Disney World with little ones, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids by Bob Sehlinger and Liliane Opsomer, with Len Testa.
Last but not least, there is plenty of merchandise available at the parks. Our favorites are the amazing Christmas ornaments. Which one would you like to see on your tree?