Disney is magical any time of year but the holidays take it to an all new level. The decorations, the celebrations, it all makes for a time you need to visit the happiest place on earth. However, the busiest week of the year is between Christmas and New Year’s so I suggest avoiding it at all costs. Holidays begin in November in Walt Disney World ® so there is plenty of time to take it in if you must visit when the kids are out of school, I suggest the week before Christmas. Typically the crowds are significantly less than the week after.
The Parks are decorated to the full extreme
Trees in the parks are up to 70 feet tall and it is a year-round job to maintain the decorations and design of these trees. You will find trees in every resort, every park and all with different themes. One of my favorite activities when vising during the holidays is going to the resorts and seeing these magnificent works of art. My favorites are the Grand Floridian and all its glory and the Wilderness Lodge’s tree with the back drop of a roaring fireplace and the rustic beams and decorations in this massive lobby.
Magic Kingdom and the Very Merry Christmas party
Not only is this special ticketed event a great time to go to the parks and experience the attractions as there are less crowds but there are unique character interactions and specially designed parades and fireworks for this event. The party typically features Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, “Holiday Wishes,” and a “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” In the past, the parade and fireworks are shown nightly after the last party which is December 22ndthis year.
A Frozen Holiday Wish Occurs nightly at 6:30pm at the Castle stage. Watch all your favorite Frozen characters put on an awe-inspiring display. Watch as Elsa uses her powers to create a sparkling, icy centerpiece for the celebration.
No word yet if they will bring back Jingle Cruise, a holiday makeover of the Jungle cruise attraction but we hope so.
Epcot is a magical place during the holidays and my favorite spot. Every country also has a special presentation for the holidays as well, in addition to offering treasured seasonal recipes from around the globe at special kiosks around the World Showcase!
American Adventure – Share your Christmas wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy Hanukkah traditions and experience the spirit of Kwanzaa. Plus, treat your ears to the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers—an outstanding a cappella group that sings a special repertoire of classic songs.
Canada – Follow the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs on a musical tour through the customs of the Great White North.
China – Feast your eyes on the colorful Chinese Lion Dance, which brings good fortune and happiness to all during major celebrations like the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival.
France – Discover the magic of Père Noël and the joy of the season through a Christmas letter from a child.
Germany – Listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of her first Nutcracker.
Italy – Meet the kind-hearted witch La Befana who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children.
Japan – Hear the fascinating story of the Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year.
Mexico – ¡Feliz Navidad! Join mariachis and dancers as they bring color and excitement to the music, dances and traditions of a holiday fiesta.
Morocco – Come! Take a journey through the seasons of holidays in Morocco, where celebrations are “the spice of life.”
Norway – Spend time with Sigrid and learn about Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome.
United Kingdom – Delve into the vivid stories of Father Christmas, dating back to 15th-century England.
The Candlelight Processional is one of the most anticipated holiday offerings that many Walt Disney World Resort guests look forward to and return for again and again each year. The show takes place at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot and features a celebrity narrator retelling the traditional Christmas story, as well as live music from a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Candlelight Processional performances are nightly starting at 5 and the tree lighting is at 6. As the night goes on the Processional will get busier. Try to do it on a weekday if possible or a Sunday. The locals come out on the weekends for it. Times: 5:00 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15 pm. Narrators for the Christmas story are celebrities and last year ranged from Stephen Curtis Chapman, Neil Patrick Harris, and Whoopi Goldberg. They do announce this typically late summer, early fall so you can try and plan our performance with your favorite celebrity. The choirs that perform nightly rotate typically with local youth choirs from around the Orlando area.
Illuminations will have a special seasonal conclusion typically from just after Thanksgiving through December 30th. Featuring holiday greetings in native languages from the countries of World Showcase, along with the beloved sounds of the classic song “Let There be Peace on Earth,” this festive finish is sure to fill your heart with comfort and joy—and leave you with a message of “peace on earth and goodwill to men.”
American music machine – enjoy favorite songs of the season in the distinctive styling of this world renowned a capella ensemble. See times guide for show times.
Joyful! A gospel celebration of the season – A holiday treat for one and all—this triumphant musical performance is sure to stir your soul and lift your spirits!
Rejoice in seasonal sounds that blend gospel with R&B, jazz and urban melodies to celebrate this glorious season with a contemporary flair. Located at the Future World Fountain Stage. See times guide for show times.
At the Disney Resorts:
Fort Wilderness, Sleigh Rides For up to 4 adults (Or 2 adults and 3 small children) take a horse drawn carriage ride ($79) We have had mixed reviews on it. It is really neat for the kids but not sure it is worth the extra time and money to trek over for it. However, the way the campers decorate their sites is pretty neat.
Yacht/Beach Club Lobby
• Life-Size Edible Holiday Carousel. 96 Lbs of bread, 100 pints of eggs, 50 Lbs of chocolate, 100 Lbs of icing
• Holiday Village with Train. Same time as Holiday carousel
• Beach Club Lobby
Chip and Dale along with Mickey
Live gingerbread decorating
Kids can paint gingerbread men from 6-8pm
Grand Floridian Resort
• Giant Gingerbread House
Complete with a working store inside.
Mini gingerbread houses for sale
Made of 1000 lbs of honey, 800 lbs of flour, and 35 lbs of spices
• Holiday Display
Christmas tree, 6 feet wide and 17 feet tall, not counting the topper
Gingerbread Shingles for sale
Chef Mickey will be passing out gingerbread cookies throughout the day
• Holiday Gazebo in the lobby. Made of gingerbread and chocolate with lots of hidden Mickeys
• Boardwalk Bakery
Mini gingerbread houses and shingles for sale
Stitch and gingerbread display
Limited edition commemorative pin available
Holidays at Disney Springs
Many new additions have popped up in Disney Springs in 2017 so we are unsure what will be added but here is what we have found in past years.
• Santa and his helpers can be found at their charming cottage across from Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. Just like last season, guests will be able to pick up a pager upon check-in to secure their place in a virtual queue line. You can usually meet Santa from around November 11th through December 24th. Santa will be available from noon until 10 pm each day.
• Santa Goofy will be available for you to meet December 25th through December 30th.
• Nightly tree lighting ceremony at the Once Upon a Toy fountain play area.
• Toy Solider stilt walkers, Snowflake performers, a Kwanza Celebration, Hanukkah medleys, enhanced holiday entertainment, specialty foods and festive décor will return.
• Songs & stories in honor of Hanukkah at Waterview Park in the Landing, with evening performances from December 24th through January 1st, 2017.
• New last year! Christmas Tree Trail – wander through an enchanted wonderland and marvel at a stunning collection of custom-decorated trees. Each one has been designed to capture a popular Disney theme. Begin your walk near the play fountain outside Once Upon a Toy in the Marketplace and look for the pathway!
• Holiday backdrops made to look like pop-up greeting cards, they’ll be the perfect place to pose for family photos will be at the Marketplace and West Side.
Please note this summary of Magical Holiday happenings is based off years past. We may see additions and some that may not appear this year but what does remain is the fact it is such a fantastic time to go the parks and get in the holiday spirit. If you have visited during this time, what are your favorite holiday traditions at Walt Disney World® Resort?