With the COVID-19 pandemic still forcing changes in all of our lives, a lot of things have also changed at Walt Disney World since the start of this year. But Disney is still putting a lot of effort into making the holidays into magical experiences at the parks.
For guests wishing to experience Christmastime at Disney World this year, we have assembled a comprehensive guide to the entire winter 2020 holiday extravaganza.
There are all sorts of things to do over the winter holidays, so let’s dive in and see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same, park-by-park.
Magic Kingdom is usually the heart of Disney World’s Christmas celebrations, with the nighttime Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party being a notable highlight. However, this year Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has been canceled. This means that you won’t have as much of an opportunity to explore the park at night.
However, Magic Kingdom is still going to get into the holiday spirit. Between November 6 and December 30, the park will be filled with holiday decorations, creating a merry atmosphere for everybody. Plus, the Main Street Philharmonic marching band, which regularly performs at Main Street U.S.A. and Storybook Circus, will once again play Christmas music and march alongside classic toy soldiers during the holiday season. That said, the Christmastime cavalcades and parades will be shorter than normal, with a few specific groups like elves and gingerbread men marching through one group at a time.
In addition, each night at Magic Kingdom, Disney will project a special display onto Cinderella Castle. The projected designs will rotate; one projection will paint the castle a combination of red, green, and gold holiday colors while others will feature checkered or polka-dotted patterns, reminiscent of wrapping paper or holiday sweaters. This projection display will be a new experience, replacing the previous Castle Dream Lights experience – we can’t wait to see what it’s like!
Many different countries and cultures have their own holidays and traditions they celebrate during the winter season. At EPCOT, the World Showcase area acts as a hub for many different, wonderful events during the holidays. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 27 to December 30 this year. It usually features special activities themed after local traditions from around the world, including holiday storytellers. The festival is free with EPCOT admission – though you’ll need to pay extra for some of the related events like Holiday Kitchens.
World Showcase is famous for its diverse cuisine, and as part of the International Festival of the Holidays, the Holiday Kitchens found at the different pavilions will feature classic holiday foods from around the world. For example, you could dine on rich cheese fondue from Bavaria (Germany), or slow-roasted, stuffed turkey in the American Adventure pavilion. In addition, though Disney has yet to confirm or deny it happening this year, the festival usually hosts the Holiday Cookie Stroll as well, letting you sample unique, sweet cookies from the different countries.
Another fun element of the Festival of the Holidays is the wonderful music. Unfortunately, EPCOT will not include the annual Candlelight Processional choir spectacle in this year’s celebration. This also means that the related Candlelight Processional dining package is unavailable. Instead, you can listen to Joyful: A Celebration of the Season. Taking place throughout the day at the World ShowPlace stage, the Joyful concert will combine gospel music with rock & roll, jazz, and other music styles for groovy Christmas tunes. In addition, the American Gardens Theatre will host carols sung by the Voice of Liberty a cappella group in eight-part harmony. All these events and more will make EPCOT wonderful to experience in the 2020 holiday season.
Disney World’s Hollywood Studios often has numerous Christmas events, but this year many of the park’s classic seasonal hallmarks have been canceled for safety reasons. For example, Disney’s official website lists the annual Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! lightshow and fireworks spectacular as unavailable in 2020. Similarly, other holiday attractions like the Sunset Seasons Greetings projection show have yet to be scheduled and may not appear at all this Christmas. On the other hand, plans are still in place for holiday motorcades at Hollywood Studios. Also, like the other parks, Hollywood Studios will be splendidly garnished with Christmas decorations.
Even with the many changes to the park, you can still enjoy the annual Minnie’s Holiday Dine. Taking place at Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood and Vine restaurant, the character dining event will start up on November 6 and run through the holiday season. At the special event, you’ll savor a delicious meal hosted by Minnie Mouse herself – with other characters like Goofy (in a Santa outfit) also making appearances. While the dining experience will follow Disney’s new social distancing safety protocols, you can still expect a magical experience, so make sure you reserve a table ahead of time.
As with other parks, Disney intends to decorate Animal Kingdom with many colorful Christmas decorations. Not only that, Animal Kingdom has some of the most unique holiday decorations yet! Animal Kingdom’s decorations will capture the festive spirit of the holidays and the wild feel of the nature-themed park.
However, aside from the Christmas decorations, there are no special events currently scheduled for Animal Kingdom. However, Animal Kingdom will showcase special flotillas carrying Christmas-dressed Disney characters, though the floats and characters will stay a safe distance away from guests.
In the past, Disney Springs’ winter experience for guests has included the wonderful Christmas Tree Trail – a picturesque pathway lined by Christmas trees decorated and lit up with Disney-themed ornaments. However, there will be no trail through Christmas trees this year.
But don’t worry, you can still see the trees! Instead of a trail, the Disney-decorated Christmas trees will be scattered about Disney Springs, so keep your eyes open for them as you go shopping and dining there.
Disney Springs will also add more holiday touches to the shopping area, such as “magic” snow falling down on the Landing, Town Center, and West Side. In addition, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will once again transform into the cheery Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar, complete with limited-time treats to order off the menu.
Disney World Resorts
Traditionally, the Walt Disney World resorts get into the holiday spirit with their own unique events like one-of-a-kind, Disney and Christmas-themed gingerbread houses. Sadly, the gingerbread house exhibitions at the resorts will not happen this year.
Even so, the open resorts will still feature holiday decorations – including Christmas trees – so don’t forget to stop by and explore them if you have the time.
In addition to other events occurring at the park, Santa Claus is expected to make appearances at all four parks, as well as at Disney Springs. Stay tuned for more information on where to find him as we approach the winter holidays.
Many events at Disney World are still up in the air at this moment, neither confirmed nor denied to happen this year. For instance, there is no official word yet on whether or not the “Jingle Cruise” version of the Jungle Cruise will happen. Even what we know now could change at the last minute. So make sure you stay alert for news updates about the upcoming holidays on AllEars.
What holiday activities at Disney will you miss most this winter? Which ones will you enjoy? Feel free to share your holiday nostalgia in the comments section.