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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, you definitely need a plan! These tips for Christmas at Disney will help you get the most out of your holiday trip. (Updated September 20, 2020.)
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 hear Christmas music playing everywhere!
- When to Go
- Christmas at Magic Kingdom
- Christmas at Epcot
- Christmas at Hollywood Studios
- Christmas at Animal Kingdom
- 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 to 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. (Unfortunately, the Christmas parties in 2020 have been canceled due to the pandemic.)
By Thanksgiving, all of the decorations are up. Christmas activities at Epcot usually start on Black Friday. 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. It is not uncommon for the parks to close due to capacity during these two weeks. I recommend, especially for first timers, to avoid those 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.
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. Again, the Christmas party, along with the dream lights, have been canceled for 2020. There will, instead, be special Christmas character cavalcades, treats, and projections on the castle.
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.
I mentioned above that some of the rides get a Christmas tweak. 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 of the countries, 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.
Our tips for Christmas at Disney include booking 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. The Candlelight Processional has also been canceled for 2020. Instead there will be a couple special Christmas concerts.
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. This has also been canceled for 2020.
Sunset Season’s Greetings
Sunset Season’s Greetings is a projection show on Tower of Terror 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.
My tips for Christmas at Disney includes taking time to appreciate each of the iconic park trees.
Each park has a huge Christmas tree at the entrance. Each tree has a theme consistent with the park. They are all beautiful and impressive.
However, my favorite one at Animal Kingdom. It is decorated with African masks, wooden animal sculptures, and natural materials. It is perfect for the park.
Another one of my tips for Christmas at Disney is to take time during your trip to visit some of the resorts. You will be glad you did! These displays are incredible!
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.
While the resorts will still have Christmas decorations up, there will be no gingerbread displays this year.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to meet Santa at Disney World this year, but he will make pop-up appearances at various places in the parks and at Disney Springs.
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 any 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 enjoying Christmas at Disney World.
Of course, it is impossible to go to Disney World without spending money. You can do 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.
I hope these tips for Christmas at Disney World help you to make the most of your holiday time in Disney! For more ways to celebrate special occasions at Disney World, see our posts on celebrating at Disney and Halloween at Disney. Happy travels!