The Ultimate Guide to Having a Happy Holiday at Disney World

Are you planning to spend your holidays at Walt Disney World this year? There are so many ways to celebrate that you might be a bit overwhelmed, trying to figure out what’s what. Don’t worry! We’ve summed up for you right here all the most popular attractions, eats, entertainment, and experiences you can enjoy during the Christmas season in Disney World.

Cinderella Castle covered in “ice” for the holiday season

Disney Springs

You may want to start your holiday experience with a little bit of shopping or dining. The best place for that is at Disney Springs, where you can enjoy some festive magic Disney-style. You’ll find seasonal shopping at almost all the stores, but check out the Disney Days of Christmas store to take home décor in your favorite movie theme or a classic Mickey head ornament. You’ll also find sweet snacks and seasonal entrees at many restaurants. Live entertainment can be experienced every day.

Each tree on the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail has its own theme.

The Christmas Tree Trail has 27 themed trees, from Mickey and Minnie to Star Wars and Haunted Mansion! Skip through falling “snow” while merry music plays. From November 8 through December 24, check in with Santa at his Chalet to see if he thinks you’ve been naughty or nice. (December 25-31, Santa Goofy will take over.)

Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt takes you on a tour of Disney Springs in search of the little mischief-maker. Use stickers to mark your Gift Hunt booklet, so you can turn it in for a festive surprise.

Tours

Yuletide Fantasy Tour 2015 Pin

Speaking of tours, there are two backstage tours you can take that are only available during the holiday season. Take the Disney’s Holiday D-Lights tour to see how Epcot and Magic Kingdom get into the holiday spirit. This experience includes dinner and an exclusive pin keepsake. In Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy, you get a 3.5-hour tour around a few festive places, like the Floral Department and a bakery in Disney Springs. You must be at least 12 to experience these behind-the-scenes tours.

Epcot

There are more than a few ways to experience Christmas during Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. All around World Showcase’s 11 country pavilions, you can see how a different cultures observe the holidays. There are eats to try with the Holiday Kitchens, decorations to admire, live festive music, and costumed performers explaining traditions from around the world.

The choir from the Candlelight Processional includes many Disney cast members.

The Candlelight Processional has become a holiday tradition for many. Narrated by celebrities, the retelling of Jesus’s birth is the focal point, accompanied by a chorus and live orchestra performing seasonal music from around the world.

Help Chip & Dale in their scavenger hunt to collect ornaments for their tree. Pick up your map and corresponding stickers to mark your progress along your quest. Trade your completed map in for a special gift from these quirky chipmunks.

This year, Joyful! will be performing daily at the Future World Fountain Stage. This vocal group will spread Christmas and Kwanzaa joy in gospel and R&B musical style.

Before you leave the park, don’t forget to experience IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth with a special finale of holiday flair. It’s the last holiday season for this beloved nighttime spectacular, so you don’t want to miss it, along with its special holiday tag at the end!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios knows how to bring Tinseltown glamour to your family festivities. There is nothing quite like walking down Hollywood Boulevard as you enter the park at night to twinkling Christmas lights and wreaths all aglow. You can grab some red and green apparel perfect for the occasion in pretty much any store here or along Sunset Boulevard. Head down to Echo Lake to check out the area’s “merry makeover.” At the Hollywood & Vine restaurant, you can eat alongside Minnie Mouse and her friends dressed in their holiday finery. This year’s Christmastime in Hollywood Studios is sure to be a “Flurry of Fun” from November 8  through January 6.

Tower of Terror is transformed during Sunset Seasons Greetings

Sunset Seasons Greetings transforms the Tower of Terror™ into a spectacle of projected images and laser effects. Included in the various scenes accented with holiday music are Mickey and Minnie, Toy Story characters, the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, and everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf!

From November 9 until Christmas Eve, you can get a chance to tell Santa what you want in person. Don’t miss out on these amazing photo opportunities, but it’s OK if you do. After Santa leaves to deliver his gifts and heads back to his toyshop, you can meet with Santa Goofy (December 25-31).

As he did in 2017, Olaf will join the cast of For the First Time in Forever sing-along with a seasonal finale that includes three songs from his animated featurette, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”

Sure to a be a hit this year are the holiday additions to the new Toy Story Land. New decor will include an oversized cranberry-and-popcorn garland and a 10-foot-tall Hamm sugar cookie at Woody’s Lunch Box, as well as green alien ornaments near the entrance to Alien Swirling Saucers. Holiday music will fill the air and Toy Story characters will don new holiday apparel, too!

Jingle Bell Jingle BAM! projection show at the Studios

Finish out your night with Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! This combination of fireworks, lasers, and projections is bound to light up little ones faces. Stand close to Hollywood Boulevard to get snowed on! (Yes, in Florida even if it’s 90 degrees.)

Magic Kingdom

Finally, there’s the quintessential place to celebrate the holidays at Disney World: the Magic Kingdom! Just like everywhere else around Disney World during this time of year, the park is decked out in lights, trees, candy canes, and more. You can find some seasonal treats that will quickly become your favorite festive eats. Don’t forget to pick up some holiday merchandise at practically any gift shop around the park to remember your tinsel-filled trip.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

For the ultimate Christmas experience, we recommend that you attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. During this event, held on select nights starting November 8, you’ll get the full holiday treatment. You’ll meet characters dressed to impress for the holiday, taste some sweet seasonal treats, dance at parties at Space Mountain and Club Tinsel, watch Queen Elsa light the castle in twinkling icicles, get snowed on while walking along Main Street U.S.A., and view the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featuring the big man himself, Santa Claus. You’ll finish your night with the amazing Holiday Wishes fireworks display. Oh, and by the way, you can even ride some of your favorite attractions with shorter lines during the party, but there is so much going on that we won’t blame you for skipping that benefit. There is an extra cost for this party.

How do you find your holiday happiness in Disney World? Do you have a favorite experience? Check our Calendar of Events for specific dates and times for Christmas festivities and other upcoming events around the parks.

Want to really get into the holiday spirit? Don’t miss our complete holiday video playlist, starting with this video of the beautiful Holiday Wishes fireworks.

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One Reply to “The Ultimate Guide to Having a Happy Holiday at Disney World”

  1. There is no better place to put you in the Christmas spirit than Main Street. If that doesn’t do it, then you are a certified Grinch and a card charging Scrooge with a little Heat Miser and Burgermeister Meisterburger thrown in.

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