One of the best times of the year to visit Walt Disney World is during the holiday season. The theme parks and resorts go all out for Disney World Christmas.
Disney World Christmas runs from early November through the first week of January. Some fan-favorite holiday events include a special ticketed event at Magic Kingdom and a holiday festival at EPCOT.
Here are our top tips for enjoying the holiday season at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Tips for Planning a Magical Walt Disney World Holiday Vacation
1. Get Tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special ticketed event held at Magic Kingdom from 7 PM to midnight during the holiday season. Guests with party tickets can enter the park as early as 4 PM, while it will close to regular daytime guests at 8 PM. If you do not have a ticket for a party date, you must leave the park at 8 PM.
This ticketed event includes access to the best holiday entertainment and themed attractions at Magic Kingdom. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade features seasonal characters like gingerbread men, reindeer, and Santa Clause. You will also see Disney characters dressed in their holiday finest and snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A. The fireworks show, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, includes popular Christmas songs like “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls.”
The ticketed party also features rare character meet and greets like Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws and Scrooge McDuck. The seasonal overlays of popular attractions are another popular event hit, especially the holiday lighting and music on Space Mountain. Attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is perfect for celebrating Disney World Christmas.
However, guests can still enjoy the decorations in Magic Kingdom without attending the holiday party. Some entertainment options are party-exclusive, but everyone can enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations.
And there is one attraction holiday overlay available to all guests! The iconic Jungle Cruise is transformed into the Jingle Cruise. The attraction is decked out in holiday decorations while the Skippers give their jokes a holiday twist. This is a fun overlay for a beloved attraction, so do not miss it.
2. Enjoy Food at The EPCOT International Festival of The Holidays
EPCOT International Festival of Holidays usually begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through December. This Disney World Christmas festival celebrates international holiday traditions around the World Showcase with cultural entertainment and food.
The holiday marketplace booths are always a draw for any EPCOT festival. The marketplace booths at the International Festival of Holidays feature a variety of holiday traditions from around the world. A fan favorite is the holiday cookie stroll that includes holiday cookies in the different World Showcase countries.
Do not forget to enjoy the holiday storytellers around the World Showcase as you eat! They share legends and lore of the holiday season. Shows take place multiple times throughout the day. Some fan-favorite storytellers include Pere Noel and the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs.
3. Snag a Dining Package for EPCOT Candlelight Processional
The EPCOT Candlelight Processional is a longtime Disney tradition featuring a celebrity narrator, a 50-piece orchestra, and a massed choir. It is a beautiful performance, and the talent of the orchestra and choir is breathtaking.
The Candlelight Processional is one of the most popular experiences for Disney World Christmas. Due to its popularity, seats for the performances fill up quickly.
Though it can add to the price of your Disney World vacation, a dining package for the Candlelight Processional is a good choice if there is a famous celebrity narrator; celebrity narrators can draw a crowd, and seating is not guaranteed without a dining package, and you can get a great view of the stage with a dining package. EPCOT offers dining packages with reserved seating, which guarantees your spot for the show and saves time standing in line.
4. Spend an Evening at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios puts on a projection show, Sunset Seasons Greetings, on the Tower of Terror attraction building. This projection displays holiday scenes with Mickey and Minnie, Toy Story characters, the Muppets, and Olaf from Frozen. Take a stroll down Sunset Blvd. to see Sunset Seasons Greetings in the distance.
Hollywood Studios is decorated for Disney World Christmas with holiday decorations present around most of the park. Sunset Blvd. offers some of the most impressive decorations.
Another holiday favorite in Hollywood Studios is the Christmas-themed character dining. Character dining is also a way to meet characters in holiday outfits without waiting in line. This will save you valuable park time.
Hollywood & Vine, a restaurant in the park, is decorated to get into the holiday spirit for Christmas and offers character dining. Minnie’s Seasonal Character Dining there includes Santa Goofy, Minnie, and other characters dressed in holiday costumes.
5. Find All The Christmas Trees in Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a great place to enjoy a dinner with plenty of dining options and ample opportunities for holiday shopping. Each year there is a walkthrough Christmas Tree Trail of Disney-themed Christmas trees, snowfall, and holiday music. Kids can also meet Santa and participate in a Stitch-themed scavenger hunt. You might even find larger-than-life nutcrackers wandering around Disney Springs to take pictures with!
Examples of Disney-themed Christmas trees include Moana, Mary Poppins, and Frozen. Our favorite last year was the Marry Poppins Christmas tree! Disney Springs can get crowded during Disney World Christmas, so make a dining reservation.
Weekends will be busy at Disney Springs as many locals do their holiday shopping. Plan on spending a weekday at Disney Springs to avoid some of the local crowds.
6. See The Gingerbread Displays
A great way to spend a Disney World Christmas evening is by touring the different resorts to see gingerbread displays. The most breathtaking gingerbread house is in the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa lobby. Their gingerbread house also houses the snack stop for guests to purchase gingerbread-themed treats and souvenirs.
At Beach Club Resort, guests can see the famous life-sized gingerbread carousel. This spinning gingerbread carousel has been a Disney tradition since 1999.
The next impressive gingerbread display is at the BoardWalk Inn, with a miniature gingerbread version of the BoardWalk Deli.
Over at Animal Kingdom Lodge, guests can find a life-sized gingerbread baby giraffe and baby zebra.
The newest addition to the gingerbread lineup was the Mary-Blair-inspired Cinderella Castle at the Contemporary Resort. We hope this gingerbread display continues to return each year!
Spend an evening hopping between these different Disney resorts to admire all the gingerbread displays.
7. Visit Early To Avoid Crowds
If you are worried about Disney World Christmas crowds, plan your trip before the third Thursday of November or during the first two weeks of December. These dates help guests avoid the most crowded weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas week.
The downside to visiting at the beginning of November is you may miss the International Festival of Holidays, as this EPCOT festival begins at the end of November. The perfect time to visit is the first two weeks of December so you can avoid larger crowds while enjoying all the holiday entertainment offered.
One of the best strategies to deal with crowds at Disney World is by using Genie+. Genie+ is the program that replaced FastPass. Genie+ gives guests access to a shorter line for popular attractions. This is a great way to save time during your Disney World Christmas trip.
8. Why You Should Visit During Christmas Week
For guests that do not mind big Disney World crowds, visiting during Christmas week can be a great way to take advantage of all the holiday entertainment without an added cost. Christmas week is the only time in the season that the holiday parade and fireworks at Magic Kingdom run daily outside the Christmas party hours.
While there is still an advantage to attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, this is a great way to save money on a ticket purchase if you are solely interested in the parade and fireworks. Considering ticket prices for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party can cost up to $199 per ticket, this is a great way to see the same entertainment without the cost.
Even if it is crowded, Christmas at Walt Disney World is a magical experience. You will be creating memories your family will never forget.
9. Pack Warm Clothes
If you visit Disney World in winter, especially in December, you should pack warm clothes. The temperature in Orlando can drop during the holiday season. Wearing layers is the best way to approach the weather during Disney World Christmas.
In fact, Christmas at Disney World in 2022 featured lower-than-average temperatures. Guests were wearing winter coats to stay warm during the day. But there have also been winters at Disney World with guests wearing shorts! Watch the weather leading up to your trip but plan on packing warm clothes regardless, just in case.
Disney World Christmas is the most magical time of the year to visit the theme parks. The holiday entertainment, the beautiful decorations, and all the seasonal food make a Disney trip even more magical.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.