Do you like visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays? I absolutely love it!! Between the lights, decorations, music, special events, and let’s be honest, great weather, it’s the best time to visit in my opinion. During this time of year, Walt Disney World transforms into a wonderland of holiday sights, sounds and tastes. Whether meeting a favorite character or gazing at the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree, indulging in delicious treats or discovering the perfect gift for family and friends, this is the place where holiday dreams come true. Here are 12 things you absolutely must do during the holidays:
1. See the all-new Toy Story Land Holiday Décor
This new immersive land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be decked out with festive spirit during the holidays. New decor will include an oversized cranberry-and-popcorn garland and a 10-foot-tall Hamm sugar cookie at Woody’s Lunch Box, as well as green alien ornaments near the entrance to Alien Swirling Saucers, just to name a few. Plus, guests will hear sleigh bells ringing on Slinky Dog Dash, while Alien Swirling Saucers will offer two holiday tracks with themed lighting. The characters will also show off new holiday looks for the season – Woody and Jessie will wear special holiday vests and sprigs of holly on their hats, while Buzz Lightyear will don a snazzy Santa hat.
2. Catch showings of Sunset Seasons Greetings and “Jingle Ball, Jingle BAM!”
Guests should definitely make plans to see both of the nighttime shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that are special to the season. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” follows the animated elves from “Disney Prep & Landing” as they search for Santa Claus, who has gone missing. Iconic music, fireworks, special effects and state-of-the-art projections help bring this spectacular to life. And over on Sunset Boulevard, new laser effects add even more sparkle to Sunset Seasons Greetings, the towering holiday projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Throughout the night, the show features Mickey Mouse, Olaf and other beloved Disney characters sharing their favorite seasonal stories.
3. Enjoy Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Get into the festive spirit at this specially ticketed, after-hours party at Magic Kingdom Park. Indulge in complimentary sweet holiday treats, enjoy specialty entertainment such as the awe-inspiring Holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and celebrate the spirit of the season with unforgettable experiences, including snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A.
4. Don’t miss A Frozen Holiday Wish
Guests can get swept up in the holiday spirit when Queen Elsa transforms Cinderella Castle into the gorgeous, glistening, icy holiday centerpiece of Magic Kingdom. Featuring appearances by Anna and Elsa, along with rugged mountain man Kristoff and the lovable snowman Olaf, this merry-and-bright seasonal show culminates in Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom.
5. Savor new items from Epcot Holiday Kitchens
Holiday Kitchens offer delectable bites inspired by holiday traditions around the world. Every holiday season brings new tastes and treats. New this year is the L’Chaim! Kitchen featuring traditional Hebrew dishes such as pastrami on rye, chicken and matzo ball soup, egg cream and more. Feast of the Three Kings Kitchen will feature a new menu, including sofrito-marinated beef with sweet plantains and olives, as well as queso fresco-stuffed arepas topped with shrimp. Other new samplings include black forest roulade with cherry whipped cream at the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen in the Germany pavilion and hand-carved smoked ham with green beans and sweet potato casserole at the American Holiday Table in The American Adventure.
6. Be moved by a performance of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot
Delight in the story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a full choir and a 50-piece orchestra during a performance that inspires joy and holiday spirit. New narrators this year include Alfonso Ribeiro (Nov. 26-27) and “Moana” voice actress Auli’i Cravalho (Dec. 21-23). A great way to experience the show is with a Candlelight Processional Dining Package; guests can learn more and make reservations for the package here.
7. Take in IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and other international holiday entertainment
The nighttime spectacular IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth includes a special holiday finale from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30. This will be the final holiday season for this show that takes place on and around World Showcase Lagoon. The show will conclude a 20-year run at the end of summer 2019, before new thrills debut on the lagoon immediately afterward. World Showcase is also the place to discover the sights, sounds and tastes that are part of holiday celebrations from around the world.
8. Shop till you drop at Disney Springs
There is a gift idea for everyone at Disney Springs, the shopping, dining and entertainment district at Walt Disney World. Disney fans will love the Disney-themed exclusive items at stores such as the newly reimagined World of Disney and DisneyStyle, while trendsetters will appreciate the apparel and accessories at stores such as Coach, Anthropologie, Pandora, Sephora and others. And kids will love gifts from stores like Once Upon a Toy and The LEGO Store.
9. Stroll the Christmas Tree Trail
Also at Disney Springs, guests will enjoy a walk-through wonderland filled with Christmas trees decorated with Disney imagery and characters. This year’s trail features 27 unique holiday trees with new additions inspired by Toy Story, The Haunted Mansion and Star Wars. Guests can even meet Santa at his chalet inside the trail.
10. Discover Diwali during UP! A Great Bird Adventure
This all-new show takes guests on a journey to discover some of the world’s exotic birds along with fun-loving Russell and his furry friend Dug from Disney•Pixar’s hit film “Up.” During the holiday season, a special version of the show will introduce guests to discover the story of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India.
11. Find gingerbread houses, Christmas trees and additional offerings at Disney resort hotels
The holiday fun continues when guests leave the parks. All Walt Disney World resort hotels are elaborately decorated, and many offer special entertainment and dining during the season. Guests can marvel at intricate, life-size gingerbread houses at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and be awed by the massive Christmas trees in the lobbies of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
12. Capture picture-perfect memories with Disney PhotoPass
The holiday season is the perfect time to pose for photos around Walt Disney World. Disney PhotoPass locations will be available in front of the iconic trees in all four theme parks and at festively decorated areas – the perfect shot for a greeting card or to help guests remember an incredible trip.
To learn about everything going on at Disney Parks, visit the Disney Parks Blog.
To plan your next Walt Disney World vacations, visit disneyworld.com.
*Information and images provided by Disney.