*Updated October 2016
Disney goes all out during the holiday season. From thousands of holiday decorations, special holiday menus and treats, and themed parades and daily events for visitors to enjoy. Celebrating the holidays at Walt Disney World is very magical.
With the beginning November just a few days away, here’s a list of the not to be missed events and activities for families visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season.
Holiday Celebrations at the Walt Disney World Parks
The Jingle Jungle Cruise in Adventureland
The Jungle Cruise boats have been decorated for the holidays and the Skippers have added holiday themed jokes to get Magic Kingdom visitors into the holiday spirit.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
This nighttime holiday parade running from November 7 to December 22, 2016 is a ticketed event which takes place on select dates throughout December. It features Santa Goofy, complimentary cookies and hot chocolate, special holiday floats and snow falling on Main Street USA. For more information about this special event, head on over to Disney’s website.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
This special holiday parade features toy soldiers, dancing reindeer, Disney characters in their best holiday attire and of course an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus. This parade is shown only at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party from November 7 to December 22, 2016.
Daily Tree Lighting Ceremony
Every evening around dusk, there’s a tree lighting ceremony at Town Square. If you are at Magic Kingdom at this time, we recommend spending a few minutes to watch the 65 foot Christmas tree light up with thousands of bulbs.
Cinderella Castle Dream Lights – A Frozen Holiday Wish Show
Elsa from Frozen lights up Cinderella’s Castle every night in a curtain of sparkling ice-like LED bulbs. There are over 200,000 lights that turn the castle ito a shimmering and jaw-dropping ice palace. This short show runs twice every day, 6:15PM and 7:30PM, and includes appearances by Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Kristoff.
Holiday Storytellers at World Showcase
Learn how each country around EPCOT’s World Showcase celebrates the holidays. Storytellers such as Père Noël in France, Father Christmas in the United Kingdom, and the Holiday Voyageurs in Canada share their unique holiday traditions in these short 15 minute shows.
EPCOT visitors can learn about Hanukkah, experience Kwanzaa and catch an amazing acappella performance by the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure pavilion.
The World Showcase Passport is available in holiday edition for EPCOT guests during the month of December. The Holiday Passport features a listing of holiday treat and beverage locations, holiday photo ops, entertainment listings around the World Showcase and where to find holiday merchandise. These booklets are free and are available at holiday snack and beverage kiosks around World Showcase.
Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season
Starting November 25, 2016 until the end of December, listen to D’Vine Voices as they put on a half hour show at the Fountain of Nations Stage at 1:15PM, 2:25PM, 3:25PM and 4:25PM as they sing some popular holiday tunes.
This nightly show runs from November 25 to December 30, 2016 at 5PM, 6:45PM and 8:15PM in the outdoor American Gardents Theater near the American pavilion of the World Showcase. Celebrity guests retell the Christmas story with help of a 50 piece orchestra and choir. There is no cost to attend this event but be aware that it is very popular so getting a seat can be difficult if you aren’t in the area in advance. You can find out more over on Disney’s site.
Holiday Treats from Around the World
What would the holidays for foodies be without a few special treats from around the world. Seasonal dishes and snacks can be found around World Showcase – hot applejack cider with whiskey from the United Kingdom, teriyaki chicken karaage from Kabuki Cafe in Japan, panettone and moscato wine in Italy, stollen fruit cake from Germany and gingerbread and sugar cookies and peppermint park from America are a few of the tantalizing treats you can find during the holiday season.
Holiday Character Topiaries
Scattered throughout EPCOT are festive topiaries that feature popular Disney characters – many of them can be found in the Future World section of the park.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
New this year at Hollywood Studios is Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! – a Christmas nighttime show running from November 14 to December 31, 2016. This daily show will take place around Grauman’s Chinese Theater and will feature state-of-the-art light and laser projections, special effects, fireworks and of course Christmas music. Expect it to see snow as well during this show.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine
Looking for a holiday themed character meal in Hollywood Studios? Join Minnie Mouse as she hosts a holiday dinner with her friends Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Santa Goofy. Hollywood & Vine dinner guests will be treated to holiday themed food, music, activities and decor for $46.99 per adult (ages 10+) and $27.99 for children (ages 3 to 9).
Holiday Character Meet and Greets
Visit Adventurer Outpost to see Mickey and Minnie in their holiday sweaters. Packing your own holiday sweaters (ugly or not) will make for a fun and memorable photo.
Santa Goofy can be found from 11AM and onward over at Dinoland. Donald Duck will can also be found in the same area. Chip and Dale will be dressed in their seasonal best at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Baloo and King Louie will be available for meet and greets in Asia.
Holiday Celebrations at the Resorts
If you want to avoid the craziness of the crowds, there’s lots to see and do at the Walt Disney World resorts. Every year, the Disney chefs and decorators spend hours creating jaw-dropping edible displays and trees at the resorts.
See holiday village made from gingerbread and chocolate at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, an edible version of Atlantic City with carousel and ferris wheel at BoardWalk Inn and the giant trees at Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom and other Deluxe resorts – each which are themed to match the corresponding resort hotel.
Catch a glimpse of the edible carousel at Disney’s Beach Club resort made from chocolate and fondant.
Visit Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to see the 16-foot Victorian gingerbread house made from over 1000 pounds of honey, 800 pounds of flour, 700 pounds of chocolate and 600 pounds of sugar. Smoke even comes out from the chimney!
Holiday Celebrations at Disney Springs
The Disney Springs area will be decorated with seasonal decor, holiday trees, and visitors can take in a holiday performance from Toy Soldier stilt walkers and various musical acts. This year, pop-up holiday backdrops will be appearing in the Marketplace and West Side where families can pose for family photos.
Special Holiday Tours
There are two tours offered during the holidays which take visitors on a behind-the-scenes look of the holiday decor and events around Disney World. Guests must be at least 16 years old to participate in these tours.
Holiday D-Lights Tour
For $259/person, Holiday D-Lights Tour guests can meet the Event & Decorating support team and see how major holiday events are put together. Running for a few days a week, this tour also includes a family-style barbecue dinner and a limited-edition keepsake pin.
Yuletide Fantasy Tour
This 3 hour tour is $99/person and takes guests behind the scenes to see how Walt Disney World parks and resort hotels are transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. Yuletide Fantasy Tour guests can expect to visit Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and a Disney resort hotel.
Santa Meet and Greets
Families can meet Santa at the following spots:
- Magic Kingdom at Candy Cane Garden next to City Hall between 10AM and 5PM
- EPCOT World Showcase American Adventures pavilion at Santa’s Village at 1:30PM, 3:30PM, 5:40PM and 7:30PM
- Hollywood Studios on the Streets of America after 6PM – Santa Goofy (not Santa Claus) is available for photos
- Animal Kingdom at Dinoland – Santa Goofy will be appearing starting from 11AM
- Disney Springs at Santa’s Chalet located near Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts – visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at their Florida tiki hut
Have you visited Walt Disney World during the holidays? What are some not to be missed holiday activities/events you’d recommend for families at WDW?
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