I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!! I am back at work today but wanted to keep the Christmas spirit going and give you details on what its like to experience a Disney Christmas.
I have been fortunate enough to have been to Disney World on Christmas Day as well as other times during the holiday celebration. While I would not recommend going on Christmas Day unless you enjoy crowds, Christmas time at Disney is one of the more magical times to visit. Lets break it down shall we:
Each resort and park is decorated with themed christmas trees and decorations. For example, Animal Kingdom’s tree will be “wild”, whereas Hollywood Studios is cinema themed. Each resort has their own decorations as well fitting into the style of the resort. Some of the Deluxe resorts also have gingerbread displays with the most impressive of these at the Grand Floridian Resort (photo on the left). While the resort decorations are pretty much all complete right after Halloween the gingerbread displays arent complete until mid November at the earliest.
If you have time to visit the deluxe resorts and see their Christmas and gingerbread displays (gingerbread at Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian) you will not be disappointed. You can also meet characters at different times during the day at some of the resorts. At the Contemporary one year we met Scrooge McDuck and Daisy (yeah that says 2010…long time ago)!
Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs do decorate for the holidays but there arent many if any holiday special activities.
Hollywood Studios is also decorated and has the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights! Well, they did. This is the last year for this amazing light show and will be sadly missed. Hopefully Hollywood Studios will have some new holiday entertainment because without the lights there isnt anything holiday specific here either.
Magic Kingdom is decorated to the 9’s for Christmas with the most spectacular display being the ice lights on the castle. Its my favorite way to see the castle actually. At Disney World Haunted Mansion and Its A Small World stay the same year round (which is a shame) but they do have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This is an after park hours party that features rarely seen characters, hot chocolate, sugar cookies, a special parade and fireworks show. When I say rare characters I got to meet all the major Princes, which has NEVER happened before (unless you are at the Princess Half Marathon). I really did enjoy this party the first time we did it, but the second time felt rather boring. While the parade is cute, I didnt feel like it was worth the extra $70+ to go more than the one time. If you have never done the party before definitely check it out, Im not sure I would go again though. Other than the party (which typically starts after Halloween) and decorations there are no other holiday offerings at Magic Kingdom.
Epcot is where the real magic happens. Where to even start, there is the Candlelight Processional, Holidays Around the World, Holiday Food Booths, and of course the decorations. Lets start with the Candlelight Processional. Simply put this is the Christmas Story narrated by a celebrity accompanied by an orchestra. Expanded version is this is a magical production with a volunteer choir singing classic Christmas songs perfectly complimenting the story as told by the celebrity narrator of the day. You can buy a dinner package or just stand around outside the theater to hear the music and story. Its slightly better to have a seat but its not necessary. We have seen a few narrators but the below is Brad Garrett. This event runs from the end of November (typically after Thanksgiving) to the end of December and the narrators change almost daily.
Now that you have been blow away by the beauty that is candlelight processional, experience Holidays Around the World. Personally this is a favorite of mine simply because I love hearing about different traditions from other countries. With Holidays around the world each country tells the story of their Christmas tradition. If you time it right (by starting in Canada) you can walk to each country and see each story in a row. Its a very cool addition to Epcot and gives you a little extra bit of culture. This also runs from after Thanksgiving to the end of December.
While you are walking around the world make sure and stop and enjoy some of the holiday food from a few of the countries. New to me this year was a passport similar to one you get during food and wine that has all the holiday treats and merchandise available in each country listed. I made sure to try something from each country (except Morocco, yuck) to get a fully stamped book 🙂 It was a tough call but I think the mulled wine from Germany wins out. A close second is the hot applejack cider from England and the Liquid Black Forest Cake from Germany.
Each resort and park does have holiday food offerings but can change year to year. Before you go check out DisneyFoodBlog they are my go to source for special food items and news updates from Disney. Its also how I found this amazing pumpkin spice pretzel!
There is also special holiday merchandise that starts making its way to the parks and resorts right after halloween. If you plan on buying special limited edition pieces plan your visit for early november (although not all experiences listed here will be available). If you dont mind missing out on limited edition items plan your visit for early December. The crowds are slightly lower, the room rates are some of the cheapest you will find and the weather is pretty mild. To get an idea on the crazy merchandise frenzy; our last trip, the ears Im wearing I bought early November 2 years ago (so right when they came out). For this trip they were sold out and I was constantly being stopped and asked where I got my ears. In that same vane I was not able to get the Osborne Spectacle pin or ornament because they were all sold out. Weather wise we were warm in the afternoon but cold at night, but in years past we were cold all day. Check the forecast before you go but dont be surprised if you end up wearing shorts 🙂
Needless to say there is so much to do at Walt Disney World during the holidays you really need more than 2 days to see it…trust me we tried this last trip and werent able to get it all in. Between doing the normal Disney rides to experiencing all the holiday magic give yourself at least 4 days. Its always worth it, trust me Im pretty much an expert 😉 I love this time of year at Disney and cant wait until the next holiday season to spend more time at the happiest and most magical place on earth. Side note—the holidays at Disneyland are slightly different and I havent been so I cant really comment on how exactly they differ but since Disney World is bigger, so is the holiday celebration.
CHIME IN!!! Have you ever been to Disney at Christmas time? Did I miss anything? Whats your favorite thing to do around the holidays? Would you ever go to Disney on Christmas day?