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Christmas is a magical time of year. And being at Disney World makes the season even more special. But, the holiday season is, by far, the busiest time of the year at Disney World. So, to help you make the most of your holiday trip, here are our best tips for celebrating Christmas at Disney World! (Updated September 6, 2021.)
Disney World goes all out for Christmas. Throughout the parks and resorts, you will find Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, and other decorations. And, of course, you will hear Christmas music playing everywhere!
- When to Go
- Christmas at Magic Kingdom
- Christmas at Epcot
- Christmas at Hollywood Studios
- Christmas at Animal Kingdom
- Disney Springs
- Christmas Trees
- Christmas Card Photos
- See Santa
- Christmas Ornaments
- Holiday Treats
- Christmas Shopping
When to Go
Luckily, the holiday season at Disney World lasts from early November until early January. So, you have a big window to schedule your trip.
The Christmas decorations at Disney World usually start going up the first week of November. The Christmas parties also start in early November. Christmas activities at Epcot usually start on Black Friday.
By Thanksgiving, all of the decorations are up and the celebrating is in full swing. The holiday festivities generally last into the first week of January.
Christmas week and the week between Christmas and New Year’s are, by far, the two busiest weeks of the year. Many times, the parks will reach their capacity during these two weeks. This means it will be wall to wall people. I recommend, especially for first timers, to avoid these two weeks, if at all possible.
The week of Thanksgiving is a much better time to go. You will get the same experience without the hoards of people. The crowds tend to be light during the first part of that week, and are busier but manageable towards the end.
Additionally, the ticket prices for the holiday parties in November are generally cheaper than they are in December.
PRO TIP: Go during Thanksgiving week instead of Christmas week. You will get the same experience with much lower crowds!
Christmas at Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is where you will feel the Christmas spirit the most because it is the most decorated park in Disney World. Cinderella Castle gets decked out in “dream lights” and Main Street USA is heavily decorated.
A few other areas of the park are decorated, but not as much as Main Street.
The biggest Christmas celebration at the Magic Kingdom is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, there are a few changes to the holiday offerings in 2021. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is being replaced with Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours Party. Additionally, the dream lights will be replaced with alternating “beacons of light” and holiday projections.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
If you love Christmas, you can’t miss Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! It is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays. The parties are offered on select nights throughout November and December in the Magic Kingdom.
The party is a hard-ticketed event, meaning that you must buy a separate ticket to attend.
During the party, you can meet some of the rare characters, such as the Seven Dwarfs and Scrooge McDuck, as well as some of your favorite characters in their Christmas outfits.
The party also features several dance parties, a special Christmas parade, holiday fireworks, and free cookies and hot cocoa. It snows on Main Street! And several rides get special Christmas overlays during the party.
My son and I love the Christmas party! We have fun meeting the characters who normally aren’t out. We also enjoy the holiday fireworks show.
But our favorite part is the Christmas parade. It features toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread men, and some beloved Disney characters. I highly recommend attending the Christmas party if you will be at Disney World during Christmas.
Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours Party
Like the traditional Christmas party, the Very Merriest After Hours Party will take place on select nights during November and December from 9:00 pm until 1:00 am. The party does require a separate ticket to attend. You can enter the Magic Kingdom with your party ticket beginning at 7:00 pm.
During this party, you can enjoy seeing the characters in their holiday outfits, special Christmas fireworks, holiday overlays of some of the rides, snow on Main Street, holiday themed Photopass spots, and special holiday treats for purchase. Additionally, you can fill your belly with complimentary cookies, hot cocoa, sodas, popcorn, and ice cream.
Tickets are $169-249 per person, depending on the night you attend. You can find the specific dates and purchase tickets on Disney’s website.
PRO TIP: Enter the Magic Kingdom as early as possible with your party ticket to maximize your time.
I mentioned above that some of the rides get a Christmas twist. The biggest one is the Christmas overlay of the Jungle Cruise. It becomes the Jingle Cruise during the entire season, not just for the parties.
Basically, the boats get holiday themed names and there are Christmas decorations in the queue. Also, the skippers bring out their Christmas jokes. This is a cute overlay you should check out.
Christmas at Epcot
Epcot has a few unique Christmas celebrations that are popular too. Please note that Epcot does not start celebrating Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving usually. So, plan your trip for the end of November or December to celebrate at Epcot.
International Festival of the Holidays
My tips for Christmas at Disney includes enjoying the International Festival of the Holidays in Epcot’s World Showcase. In each country, storytellers in traditional garb share stories about holiday traditions in their home countries.
This is a great way for kids to learn about different holidays that are celebrated around the world.
Santa and Mrs. Clause are in the American Adventure.
You will also find holiday snacks in the various countries as well.
During this annual event, a celebrity narrator tells the Christmas story while a 50-piece orchestra and a huge choir perform traditional Christmas songs.
It is performed three times a night from Thanksgiving through the end of December.
One of our smartest tips for Christmas at Disney is to book a dinner package for the Candlelight Processional to ensure you get a seat. This is really helpful when there is a popular narrator.
For more on the Candlelight Processional narrators and dinner packages, visit Disney’s website.
PRO TIP: Book a Candlelight Processional dinner package to guarantee you get a seat for the show, especially on a night when there is a popular narrator.
Christmas at Hollywood Studios
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Hollywood Studios celebrates Christmas with Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! This show combines fireworks, lasers, projections, and music in a fun and innovative way.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a high energy show, which will appeal to a lot of people.
PRO TIP: Stand near Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway for the best views of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Sunset Season’s Greetings
Sunset Season’s Greetings is a projection show on Tower of Terror and surrounding billboards, with synchronized lights on surrounding palm trees. Enjoy this little show if you happen to be in the area when it starts, but don’t go out of your way for it.
Toy Story Land Christmas
Toy Story Land gets decked out for Christmas as well. There are special Christmas decorations and the characters get some holiday flair to their outfits. Aliens Swirling Saucers also gets some holiday love.
Christmas at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is just beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. Expect to see animal-inspired luminaries on tops of buildings, bird-shaped lanterns, and themed garland throughout Discovery Island.
Musicians and animal puppets perform during the day. And, at night, the Tree of Life Awakenings have holiday twists.
You will also find unique Christmas decorations and additions in Asia, Africa, and Pandora. Each land has its own take on the holiday theme.
Disney Springs also gets into the Christmas spirit with decorations, holiday carolers, Santa Clause, photo ops, and a street party. And, of course, this is a great place to do some of your Christmas shopping! The main draw at Disney Springs is the Christmas Tree Stroll.
Christmas Tree Stroll
This is a collection of Christmas trees, each uniquely decorated in honor of different characters. You can find these trees scattered throughout Disney Springs.
Another one of our best tips for Christmas at Disney is to take time to appreciate each of the iconic park trees.
Each park has a huge Christmas tree at the entrance. Each tree has a theme that matches the park. They are all beautiful and impressive. My favorite one at Animal Kingdom. It is decorated with African masks, wooden animal sculptures, and natural materials. It is perfect for the park.
PRO TIP: Take time to admire the large iconic trees in each of the parks.
Another one of our best tips for Christmas at Disney is to visit some of the resorts during your trip. You will be glad you did!
All of the resorts at Disney World decorate for Christmas with beautiful trees and other decorations. Each hotel’s Christmas decor complements the theme of the resort.
At Yacht Club, the Christmas trees are decorated with boats, while at Animal Kingdom Lodge, the ornaments are all animal-inspired.
Additionally, many of the deluxe resorts showcase large holiday displays that you must see. For instance, the Grand Floridian has a life-size gingerbread house in the lobby. And Beach Club has a full-size chocolate and gingerbread carousel.
PRO TIP: Tour the deluxe resorts during your trip to enjoy some jaw-dropping life-size gingerbread displays.
Christmas Card Photos
Include a family photo on your annual Christmas cards? Then you will want to take advantage of the many photo ops throughout Disney World. You can easily find a place for a great family photo worthy of using on your Christmas cards.
In addition to all of the typical locations, such as in front of Cinderella Castle, you will find some spots set up just for the Christmas season.
And, of course, any of the hundreds of Christmas trees across property will make for a wonderful backdrop for your holiday photos.
PRO TIP: Take advantage of all of the cute photo ops to grab a great family photo for your Christmas cards.
Where better to visit Santa Claus than at Disney World?!?! You will find him several places around Disney World starting the week of Thanksgiving.
He is at Epcot’s American Adventure and Disney Springs, just to name a few. You can also see him in the parade during the Christmas parties at Magic Kingdom.
There are four Christmas themed gift shops at Disney World open year round. They are in Disney Springs, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.
You can find Disney themed Christmas ornaments at all of them. During the Christmas season, you will find Christmas ornaments in most of the gift shops around the parks and resorts.
If you collect special ornaments, this is a great time to pick one up to remember your trip.
Also, you can have your ornament personalized at any of the permanent Christmas stores.
In addition to all of the regular tasty snacks you will find daily at Disney World, you can find special holiday favorites during November and December throughout the parks and resorts.
Available holiday treats range from Christmas themed cupcakes to specialty holiday drinks. This is one of the simple ways to enjoy Christmas at Disney World.
Of course, it is impossible to go to Disney World without spending money. You can kill two birds with one stone by doing a big chunk of your Christmas shopping at Disney Springs.
There are several unique non-Disney stores there that you can’t find in other places. You will have lots of options for all of the Disney fans on your list as well!
The only way to make a trip to Disney World better is to combine it with the joys of the Christmas season. Take advantage of the fabulous holiday decorations, fun photo ops, special treats, and beautiful displays that are only available during this time of year.
These best tips for Christmas at Disney World will help you to make the most of your holiday time in Disney!