Complete Guide to Disney World Christmas Decorations

Entrance to Magic Kingdom at Christmastime. You can't miss the 65 foot tall tree, the biggest on Disney World property.
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Entrance to Magic Kingdom at Christmastime. You can’t miss the 65 foot tall tree, the biggest on Disney World property.

There is nothing more magical than Walt Disney World Resort at Christmas Time. If you are planning a trip toward the end of the year, you will want to make sure you do not miss the Disney World Christmas Decorations.

Though I love the transition from Halloween and Mickey’s Not So-Scary Halloween Party to Christmas Celebrations, you won’t get the full Christmas Magic effect until November 12th. We have been to Disney World almost every year at Christmas Time for the last 10 years. There is nothing like Disney holiday magic so don’t miss a minute of the festivities.

Let’s dig into the complete guide of when the full Christmas Magic makes it’s debut at Disney World.

When Does Disney World Decorate for Christmas?

You will start to see Christmas decorations as early as November 1st with the best time to see them all being mid November. The Disney Christmas decorations will start to be removed on January 1st but guests can still catch glimpses of Christmas through the first week of January.

What Disney Park Is Decorated First?

As a general rule, the Magic Kingdom park is usually the first one to receive the majority of its decorations ahead of the Christmas parties, which start early in November.

Disney starts putting up their decorations well in advance of the Christmas season. After the first week of November, when the Halloween decorations have all been removed, you can expect the parks and resorts to slowly transition over to their Christmas decorations. 

Each park has a slightly different schedule as far as decorating, and they usually put up a few of the decorations at a time. EPCOT is usually the last one, as it doesn’t start its Christmas programming until the very end of November.

The night after the final Halloween party, you can expect the Magic Kingdom to transform almost overnight. Their team works hard overnight to put the holiday decorations up, so this is an amazing time to visit if you enjoy both of these seasons. The first week or two of November is a really great time to visit. The official date the company often gives for the holiday offerings is around November 12th. 

Watch Disney Decorate the parks for Christmas! This is truly a magical sight!

Jungle Cruise in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom is completely transformed into Jingle Cruise early November. Last year in 2023 Jingle Cruise opened on November 3rd.

We hope this year that many of the previous favorite decorations and events which have been missing over the last years will return.

What Disney Resorts Decorate for Christmas?

Each of the resorts has some form of holiday decorations, but the number of decorations and what is on offer will depend on the resort you are staying at. As a rule, the Value and Moderate resorts have fewer decorations than the Deluxe resorts, which usually have the most impressive Christmas trees for the season. These are a few of the highlights of the decorations and the top resorts we recommend visiting when you are here during November or December.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House at Christmastime.
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Grand Floridian Gingerbread House at Christmastime.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort – No trip to Walt Disney World is complete without seeing this resort’s Christmas decorations, which include a full-size gingerbread house. You’ll love sitting in the lobby with a drink or snack and appreciating the effort that went into transforming this resort for the season.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – This resort has one of the most impressive Christmas trees, which makes for a beautiful backdrop for family photos in the huge lobby. Look out for the subtle themed touches to the tree, which really make it stand out from some of the more traditional displays.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: This resort puts on another impressive display and is well worth stopping by during or after your day in the Magic Kingdom. Expect to see another gingerbread display here, where you can purchase some lovely gifts for you and your family.
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – This is one of the homeliest resorts for the winter months, and we love the huge Christmas tree in the lobby. It would be the perfect spot to warm up on a cooler day before dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants.
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Don’t miss the gingerbread carousel in the resort’s lobby, which is one of the more unique additions for the Christmas season.
  • Disney’s Yacht Club & Disney’s Beach Club – The Yacht Clubs decorations are some of my favorite though this is my favorite Walt Disney World Resort so I may be biased. Nautical themed wreaths, trees, and decorations are spread throughout the lobby and resort.

When Does Disney Take Down the Christmas Decorations?

Usually, you’ll find they start to be pulled down around January 5th, and by the Marathon Weekend, they’ll be completely gone. Keep in mind that a lot of the popular events, especially those in Epcot, finish ahead of this month. For that reason, if you are desperate to see the holiday festivities in full swing, we recommend traveling in November or December.

If you can’t squeeze in a visit in November or December, you might be questioning whether you’ll have the chance to see the decorations if you are traveling to Orlando in January. Just as the parks put the decorations up ahead of the holiday festivities, they also leave them up a few days after. 

Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom at Christmastime.
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Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom at Christmastime.

Disney World Christmas Events at the Parks

Now that you’ve learned a little about when the decorations are put up, let’s take a trip to the theme parks. Even if you’ve visited the parks hundreds of times before, they are so different at this time of the year. You’ll find a lot more entertainment and events going on, all of which make for an even more memorable trip here.

Magic Kingdom at Christmas time

The Magic Kingdom is the most spectacular of the parks when it comes to the Christmas decorations. Between the Christmas tree, the castle lights, and Main Street USA decorations, you’ll find no shortage of great photo opportunities. It’s also home to the after-hours party for the Christmas season, which is a great way to celebrate with your friends and family members.

A delight for the holiday season is Frozen Holiday Surprise located in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom. Watch all your favorite Frozen characters including Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf decorate Cinderella’s Castle for Christmas.

What Can You Do At The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Sign and the 65 foot tall tree in Magic Kingdom.
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Sign and the 65 foot tall tree in Magic Kingdom.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an evening event in the Magic Kingdom. Ticket holders are able to enter from 4 pm, and then the party usually ends around midnight. During this time, the park is operating as usual, with all of the most popular rides and attractions open. Of course, there are plenty of other offerings as well, such as the Christmas parade, fireworks, cookies, and non-alcoholic drinks for you to enjoy. Highlights of the event include Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. They usually put on a show in front of the castle as well, which is something that kids and adults alike will love watching together.

Is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Worth It?

When it comes to discussing whether the Christmas party in the Magic Kingdom is worth paying for, it’s all about what you and your family are looking for from your vacation. In general, we would say that yes, this party is well worth attending.

This is particularly true if you are visiting the parks earlier in the holiday season. Later in December, they usually show the parade for everyone, so there’s a little less value from attending the party. However, if you can’t be in the parks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s a fun way to get in the holiday spirit before returning home.

We generally recommend that you skip a park day on the night of the party so that you are ready to go and enjoy yourself when the party starts. You will also want to stay until the very end. Your ticket will allow you into the park from 4 pm so that there’s plenty of time to do a few rides before the main party events start. 

Make sure you pace yourself so that you can see everything without getting too exhausted by the end of the party. We don’t usually recommend this party to families with very young children, as it can be a bit too late for them. However, teenagers and older kids will love being in the park late at night, skipping to the front of the line for many of their favorite attractions.

Read Also: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tips

EPCOT At Christmas Time

Heading over to EPCOT, this park offers you the chance to learn more about the holiday season in various countries around the world. If you’ve always wanted to spend time abroad during Christmas, this is your chance to taste some holiday treats. You can also learn more about what life is like overseas at this time of the year at the World Showcase.

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

After the food and wine festival, EPCOT comes to life in a whole new way during the holiday season. From the end of November until the end of December, you’ll find that there are Holiday Kitchens around each of the countries. You’ll be tempted by holiday food and drink from around the world, as well as entertainment that takes you to far-flung destinations to learn about their holiday traditions. 

The Cookie Stroll is a fun way to taste a few different treats during your trip, and the Holiday Kitchens are a good way to enjoy lunch or dinner during the peak holiday season without requiring a reservation. You can have an inexpensive meal here while enjoying a variety of dishes that you may never have the opportunity to try otherwise. It will help to maximize your ride time as well, which is something that’s particularly needed during this busy time of year in the theme parks.

EPCOT Candlelight Processional

Apart from the party in the Magic Kingdom, if you were going to do one thing during a holiday trip to Walt Disney World, we would recommend seeing the EPCOT Candlelight Processional. This event takes place throughout the month of December and is extremely popular with locals and visitors. Every few days, the narrator changes, and there are some amazing celebrity narrators who guide you through the story each night.

There are three performances each evening. We highly recommend getting here as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

The show involves a cast member choir and a 50-piece orchestra, and it’s like nothing else that Disney puts on throughout the year. You’ll enjoy a vibrant retelling of the Christmas story in a show that runs for about 45 minutes. We recommend looking into the Candlelight Processional Dining Package if you want a guaranteed seat at the show. This includes either lunch or dinner at one of a few different restaurants. Make sure you book in advance as this also sells out well ahead of the month of December.

Read Also: What is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot?

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios At Christmas Time

Without the Osborne Lights Hollywood Studios has never felt as magical. You’ll find that this park offers some great drinks and snacks for the season, which can be enjoyed throughout the time leading up to Christmas.

Make sure you take the time to stroll around the whole of the park, as there are many subtle touches that help to get this park ready for the holidays.

Don’t miss Sunset Seasons Greetings, the light show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel. This show happens after dark each night and is one of our favorite holiday additions to this park.

The new addition to Hollywood Studios this year is Disney Jollywood Nights. This is an after hours party that is a special ticketed event. Reviews for Jollywood Nights have been mixed. Many guests have reported high crowd levels at this event making it not worth attending.

Minnie’s Seasonal Dining at Hollywood & Vine

For families looking for something special to do to celebrate the holidays, check out Minnie’s Seasonal Dining at Hollywood & Vine. This family-friendly restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a great spot for younger children. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the characters in their holiday outfits?

Minnie’s holiday dine offering lasts from early November until early January. Reservations are required to avoid missing out on this great opportunity. Especially with the return to normality with character meet and greets, there’s no better time than this holiday season to book your family in for this dining opportunity.

Echo Lake Holiday Decor

One of the prettiest areas to take holiday photos of you and your family is around Echo Lake. This is where they usually place one of the park’s Christmas trees, and you’ll find that Dinosaur Gertie is dressed up for the season as well. Grab a drink from one of the nearby stands and relax in this area to get in the holiday mood. It’s the perfect spot to sit and reminisce on another great day in Walt Disney World without having to battle too many crowds.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom At Christmas Time

While you might not think of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the most festive of parks, it’s a great spot to enjoy some of the holiday festivities. Animal Kingdom has less of the crowds that the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT attract during this time of the year.

The Merry Menagerie puppets are one of the best additions to this park. You’ll find winter-themed puppets with characters such as penguins, polar bears, and reindeer.

The Christmas tree at the entrance to the park is stunning here. You’ll see that each of the lands is decorated in a unique manner that’s reminiscent of the part of the world it represents.

Disney Springs At Christmas Time

For anyone who doesn’t have park tickets for every day of their vacation, there’s still plenty to see and do at Disney Springs.

It’s also the perfect place to do your holiday shopping and bring home some unique gifts for your family members and friends for Christmas. If you don’t want to break the bank on your trip, consider taking a day off the parks and spending it here and touring the resorts instead. You’ll still enjoy all of the holiday festivities without having to have a park ticket for every day of your trip.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll

A free attraction that’s added to Disney Springs at this time of the year is the Christmas Tree Trail. This trail offers you a series of Disney-themed trees to explore, which make the ideal backdrop for your vacation photos.

At certain times of the day, there is snow and other entertainment. You can also meet Santa Claus in Disney Springs throughout the holiday season.

You’ll find special snacks and drinks on offer as well, so it’s the perfect inexpensive day out for your whole family.

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Disney transforms the theme parks into a magical wonderland every single year. Garland and Jingle Bells add so much to the magic of Disney.

Disney offers so much for visitors during the holiday season, which is why it’s one of our favorite times of the year to travel to Orlando. If you are thinking about coming here during December, make sure you book as far in advance as you can. This is one of the busiest times of the year in the parks, especially as we head towards Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

The sooner you get booked in at the resorts and dining reservations set up, the more enjoyable your trip will be. Whatever you choose to do, we know you’ll have an amazing time during your holiday trip. Thanks to all of the events and decorations that Disney puts up for this time of the year.

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