If you have never experienced Walt Disney World at Christmas add it to your bucket list. The holidays are my absolute favorite time to visit the parks.
Walt Disney World puts up their Christmas decorations in mid November, so you can visit before the Thanksgiving crowds.
My favorite time to visit is the first two weeks in December, before the holiday travelers hit the parks and the crowds are insane and the Florida weather is mild.
The Disney resorts offer discounts for Florida residents during this time, so if you want to stay on property take advantage of these deals of up to 30% off.
Here’s a summary of all the magic happening at the Walt Disney World theme parks during the Christmas season.
Magic Kingdom at Christmas
Magic Kingdom will always have a special place in my heart. I grew up in central Florida, and I have memories of visiting MK since I was a young child.
The Magic Kingdom is also my personal favorite for holiday decorations. From the moment you enter the park you are greeted by the giant Christmas tree in Town Square and Main Street is decorated beautifully.
Cinderella’s Castle has a Frozen theme this year and it sparkles and shines beautifully once the sun goes down.
This year the girls and I experienced Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the first time. This is a separate ticketed event on select nights at Magic Kingdom.
What’s nice about Mickey’s Christmas Party is that the park closes for the party. Only people who have purchased the Christmas party ticket are in the park.
This means shorter lines on all of your favorite rides like Mine Train and Space Mountain. You can easily ride almost every ride in the park during the party if you choose.
You begin your evening being whisked down a special walkway and handed a gigantic sugar cookie to begin your evening. My girls would have spent the entire night eating these cookies if I would have let them. They were so delicious!
Throughout the night you are treated to a variety of holiday treats, special experiences, and a holiday parade.
Here’s just some of what’s available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
- “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration” – Christmas fun awaits as Mickey invites his pals over for an unforgettable party.
- “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” – Wave to Disney friends during a holiday parade brimming with joy and magic.
- Holiday Treats and Specialty Eats – Savor delicious Yuletide treats as you sip on seasonal beverages – included with your admission. There are food and beverage stations set up all over the park. All you do is walk up to receive your free cookies and drinks. No limit!
New for 2019 at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks” – This new nighttime spectacular is hosted by the one-and-only Minnie Mouse. The show will celebrate the magic of Christmas with medleys of beloved holiday songs. We watched this from Tomorrowland and it was wonderful in spite of being on the wrong side of the castle.
- Enhanced Attraction Experiences – Joining the popular “Jingle Cruise” this year are special new holiday moments on Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
I want to spend a minute on the enhanced attraction experiences. I wasn’t sure what to expect with these, but they were my girls favorite part of the night.
Tomorrowland Speedway was completed decorated for Christmas. All of the green areas on the track had lights, decorations, and holiday music.
Space Mountain was our favorite. Instead of being completely dark, red and green lights flashed the entire ride. Christmas music blasted through the speakers. You could actually see the track for most of the ride which my girls loved.
There’s also a DJ in Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe and shows throughout the evening at the stage in Tomorrowland.
One important thing to note if you are going to any of the parks during the holidays. People dress up in Christmas clothes and I’m not talking about a Santa hat or reindeer ears.
We’re talking Christmas pajama’s, matching t-shirts, even Christmas suits. The more holiday cheer the better, so if you are headed to the parks I recommended getting the whole family dressed in holiday apparel.
If you attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, all the free cookies and drinks have huge lines when the party begins. If you wait about an hour, you’ll be able to grab your free snacks without a wait.
Christmastime at Animal Kingdom
Once again you are greeted by the giant Christmas tree as you enter Animal Kingdom. The decorations at Animal Kingdom are gorgeous and there are plenty of places for photos with holiday decorations in the background.
Here’s some of what Animal Kingdom has to offer over the holidays.
- Discovery Island – Crossing the bridge to Discovery Island, guests find themselves in the midst of a celebration of winter, hand-crafted by the eclectic community of artists who make the island their home. Life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets (including reindeer, foxes and polar bears) roam around by day while colorful rooftop luminaries light up the night.
- Holiday Décor by Night – As day becomes night, the rooftop luminaries all around Discovery Island bring a warm and festive glow to the entire village.
- Tree of Life Awakenings – At the center of everything, the Tree of Life awakens each evening as a series of wintry tales emerge from within, complemented by a familiar and heartwarming holiday-inspired musical score.
- DinoLand U.S.A. – Throughout DinoLand U.S.A., all of Donald Duck’s friends gather for Donald’s Dino-Bash! get into the spirit with colorful holiday decorations they have each chosen according to their own styles.
- Asia – The residents of Anandapur have decorated the theater district in celebration of Diwali, India’s holiday festival of lights. Glowing flowers, lanterns and more illuminate the square between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage, home to authentic and colorful cultural performances.
- Africa – The village of Harambe welcomes visitors with a unique holiday presentation, blending the inspiration and style of Western traditions with the colors and textiles of authentic African celebrations.
- Pandora – The World of Avatar – The ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora bring a little holiday fun to their interstellar home, with a display at Pongu Pongu of holiday décor, combining vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.
There are usually two shows each evening at the Tree of Life. Make sure you see one of them! The Tree of Life is transformed into a holiday wonderland for the animals while Christmas music plays all around.
The show doesn’t last very long, but get there early to make sure your little ones can see the tree.
Holidays at Animal Kingdom also means extended hours. I highly recommend getting a fast pass for the Safari right around sundown. The animals are all being fed and are super active.
We had a rhino and giraffe just a few feet from our tour. I’ve been on the Safari dozens of times and have never seen the animals as active and as close as we did during the sunset ride.
Christmas Activities at Epcot
Epcot is decorated beautifully for the holidays this year. However, there is a ton of refurbishment going on in Future World. Future World West is undergoing a major renovation right now and much of the area is blocked off.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t tons of enjoyment to be had at Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays.
First, every single country in World Showcase has special holiday entertainment and food and beverage options. I was able to sample of the food and beverage and it is delicious!
I also saw the band from Mexico and the dragon dancers from China. No matter what country you visit, make sure you check out the performance schedule for holiday showtimes.
Another “must see” holiday event at Epcot is Elsa and Anna in their new Frozen 2 dresses at the Royal Sommerhus located in the Norway Pavilion. They are stunning!
Many other characters will be in their Christmas outfits for photo opportunities, including Belle in her red holiday dress.
If you love Living with the Land in Epcot, you’ll want to take the boat tour this Christmas. The entire greenhouse is filled with lights and holiday decorations.
I’ve always loved this ride and the lights make it super fun and festive.
If you can only do one thing at Epcot this Christmas season, make sure you go to the Candlelight Processional.
Every night from November 29th to December 30th, a celebrity narrator tells the Nativity Story. There is a full chorus and orchestra accompanying the story-teller.
This event is just magical! However seating can be limited. One way to guarantee seating is by reserving a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. They are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner—each meal includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert or one full buffet (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage.
Simply select a restaurant, eat your meal, then receive a sticker that guarantees you seating at a certain performance time. These reservations fill up very quickly so make sure you reserve a seating soon if you want to attend in 2019.
Even though you have guaranteed seating, line up early if you want a great seat.
Holidays at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is the only park I haven’t been able to visit this holiday season (but I hope to take a trip in the next few weeks).
Here’s what’s going on this Christmas at Hollywood Studios.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
From November 8, 2019 to January 5, 2020 enjoy this spectacular nighttime show.
Enjoy scenes from some of your favorite Christmas classics, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and more during this evening show.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! features traditional holiday tunes and stories brought to you by Mickey, Minnie, Olaf and friends. It also includes state-of-the-art projections, laser effects, fireworks, and even a little “snow.”
Lights, Music and Holiday Cheer
Watch as Tower of Terror comes to life with fun holiday projections featuring Mickey and Minnie, Toy Story, and Olaf!
Toy Story Land Oversized Holiday Fun
Not only can you experienced oversized toys in Toy Story Land, this Christmas season you’ll also enjoy oversized Christmas decorations.
Make sure you get FastPasses for these rides in Toy Story Land because the lines can be super long during the crowded holiday season.
Walt Disney World Resorts Christmas Decorations
If you are unable to visit the parks this year, you can tour the hotels for FREE. Some the resorts have phenomenal decorations every year, that rival the parks!
Beach Club has a gingerbread carousel that actually work! This year’s theme is Peter Pan (one of my favorites!)
Grand Floridian has a life sized gingerbread house you don’t want to miss!
The Contemporary Hotel also has a Small World inspired gingerbread house that takes 10 days to assemble!
I’m a sucker for trains, and Yacht Club as an amazing train set up in their lobby. I could spend hours just watching the trains circle the snowy Christmas villages.
Personally, I recommend visiting Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Boardwalk hotels for an afternoon. You can dine at many of the great restaurants either in the hotels or on the Boardwalk and enjoy all the wonderful Christmas decorations at the resorts.
Also if you are staying at ANY Disney resort you can have Disney Floral and Gifts deliver a basket, stocking, or floral arrangement to your room.
If you are going to be at the resorts on Christmas day this makes for a nice surprise for the kids! Even if you aren’t staying on property, they will deliver to any restaurant in the park!
It’s worth a trip to Walt Disney World this Christmas!
As I mentioned before, the holidays are my favorite time to visit the parks. From the decorations, to the special entertainment, to the holiday food, there’s truly something for everyone in your family.
The week of Thanksgiving and the two weeks over Christmas break are the busiest. However if you plan your trip and snag some fast passes you can have a wonderful time at the resorts and parks this year and every Christmas season.
Once you finish checking out all the amazing holiday activities Walt Disney World has to offer, read about my night in Cinderella’s Castle.