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The Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disney World

Christmas is nearly upon us, and it’s time to put the final touches to your Disney vacation plans. As it’s one of the most popular times of the year to visit the parks, you’ll need to ensure you plan ahead to avoid missing out on some of the highlights of the holiday season. Today we’re going to share our ultimate guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World and some of our top tips to make the most of your upcoming holiday vacation.

When Does the Christmas Season Begin at Walt Disney World?

The Christmas season is already underway at Walt Disney World for this year and usually runs until about the first week in January. While Epcot’s celebrations officially end on December 30th, 2021, you’ll find that the decorations still stay up for another week or so after this date. Of course, with the challenges of the past year and the 50th Anniversary celebrations, we can expect Christmas to be a little different this year. However, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the parks.

Magic Kingdom Christmas Celebrations

The main draw in the Magic Kingdom this holiday season is the Disney Very Merriest After Hours party. This after-hours event features attractions, themed fireworks, character sightings, and delicious treats. You’ll find that the crowds are much lower during this party, which is another great reason for paying for the event. You’ll find that the majority of attractions are open during this time as well, so it’s a great way to extend your day in the Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella Castle will be transformed throughout the season with beautiful castle projections. Make sure you stick around into the evening to see the castle come to life in a way you’ve never seen before. Main Street, U.S.A. is another great spot to spend time this holiday season, as you’ll find most of the holiday decorations are found here in the park. There are also plenty of delicious limited-time treats and drinks throughout the holiday season, which will make mealtimes even more special. Finally, in the Magic Kingdom, make sure you take a ride on the Jingle Cruise, which is updated for the holiday season with a festive overlay.

Festival of the Holidays at Epcot

Epcot is home to the Festival of the Holidays from late November until the end of December. You can enjoy strolling through the countries and seeing the sights and sounds of the season. There will be delicious food booths with snacks from around the world for you to try, as well as entertainment in various pavilions in the park. The Holiday Kitchens and Holiday Cookie Stroll start on November 26th, 2021, and are a great way to enjoy lunch and dinner in the parks at this time. The main attraction though during this time of the year in Epcot is the Candlelight Processional. This event takes place throughout the season and welcomes a celebrity narrator each day to tell the Christmas story. Make sure you arrive early or book a dining package to avoid missing out on this special event.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Hollywood Tower Hotel is the backdrop to the Sunset Seasons Greetings. This projection show is beautiful, and you’ll love finishing off your night each day with this show. If you fancy a holiday dining opportunity in the park, visit Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. The characters are all in their holiday costumes, which makes for a great photo opportunity for the whole family.

Santa Claus appears each day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade. It travels up Hollywood Blvd. and is a fun way to guarantee you see Santa on your trip. Finally, no trip to this park is complete without seeing For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. While this show is on throughout the year, it’s a great way to celebrate the winter season with your favorite characters.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There is so much to see and do in Disney’s Animal Kingdom this holiday season. One of the highlights of a visit here is seeing the Merry Menagerie as you enter the park. These life-size puppets feature some of your favorite winter animals, and they are one of the most unique entertainment offerings for the season. Down on the Discovery River, you’ll find there are festive flotillas throughout the holiday season. Look out for Santa Claus, Donald Duck, the Discovery Island Drummers, and Chip ‘n’ Dale each day on the water. Of course, the park is also fully decorated for the holiday season and looks incredible to take family photos in front of.

Disney Springs

While the parks have plenty to keep you entertained in the winter months, you won’t want to miss out on an evening in Disney Springs on your Christmas trip. One of our all-time favorite activities is the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll. You’ll find dozens of beautiful Christmas trees which are decorated in the style of your favorite movies and characters. They are spread throughout Disney Springs, and you’ll find there are fun snacks and drinks on offer here too.

In the West Side, you can enjoy a flurry of snow each night when you are shopping here. Kids and teens will love seeing snow in Florida, which is a rare sighting for anyone who lives in this part of the world. For the adults in your party, head to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. This lounge has a festive makeover, and there are some fun seasonal additions to the menu too.

Disney Resorts

No matter where you are staying on your Christmas trip, you’ll find that Disney makes plenty of effort to decorate each resort for the holiday season. If you find you have a spare day on your next trip, plan to resort hop and see some of the incredible Christmas trees and decorations they’ve put up. The Grand Floridian is home to a gingerbread house, where you can enjoy purchasing gifts for your family and friends back home. We also love the holiday displays in the Contemporary, which are a fun way to celebrate the season.

If you head over to Fort Wilderness, you’ll be impressed by the effort that many of the residents here put into their campsites. Many people stay for the holidays and completely redecorate their trailer or campsite. Rent a golf cart here and drive around for a unique night out. The Boardwalk is also another fun area to visit at this time of the year, and they have a gingerbread carousel on display in the lobby.

As with any Christmas vacation, make sure you book up well in advance for both Christmas and New Year. These are two of the most popular times of the year, and resorts and dining reservations go well in advance of the season. You might need to be more flexible with your plans during this time, and you may also want to consider using Genie+ to skip the queues. The more you can plan ahead for a Christmas trip, the more you’ll enjoy your stay at Disney.

There’s so much to see and do during a holiday trip to Walt Disney World. The sooner you start planning and booking your dining reservations, the more you’ll be able to enjoy this special time of year at Walt Disney World. We can’t wait to see everyone’s photos from this year’s holiday celebrations, as it’s sure to be an incredible time for anyone visiting in the next couple of months.

Photo of author

Bayley Clark

An elementary teacher taking every opportunity to go to Florida and explore Disney, Universal, and Orlando. Happy to share the secrets and guides to help make your next trip magical.

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