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Remember how I said I was thrilled to make a visit to Orlando to experience all four Disney parks last week? Well, it may have been a super-rushed trip, but I was determined to fit in as much as I could – and today I’m sharing all the fun, festive happenings (and treat-enings – get it?) that occur during the Christmas Holidays at Walt Disney World!
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I’ll divide it up by park, so you can see what each one has to offer in terms of the special ‘extras’ for this time of year. Let’s start with the one most people think of first…
When people look to visit Disney World during Christmastime, they often only think about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (you can read my recap of that HERE). It’s very similar in idea as the Not-So-Scary Halloween party, with complimentary treats (cookies, chocolates, pretzels) and drinks (eggnog, cider, cocoa, sno-cones) instead of trick-or-treating, and of course more holiday themed. While I admit this is a HUGE draw for guests, and definitely worth going to if you can swing the price tag, it’s not the only reason you should experience the Christmas holidays at Walt Disney World.
Outside of the party, there’s tons of decorations everywhere – from the garlands, bows and lights that adorn most entries and poles, to the red and white poinsettias adorning gardens and baskets. There’s even lights, wreaths and bells adding to the atmosphere, and even many of the snack carts are feeling that holiday cheer.
Once you get through the ticket entrance, the area right before the train station is a giant red poinsettia Mickey ornament – perfect for a holiday family photo! Go to the right or left and through the entry archways, and you’ll emerge to see a GINORMOUS Christmas tree, surrounded by large gifts and toy soldiers!
At night, Cinderella’s Castle is light up with sparkly, twinkling lights that take it to a whole new level of magical. It was my favorite thing, and I admit I took ‘more than a few’ photos of this delightful sight 😉
Many of the cast members wear holiday-themed outfits and/or Santa hats, and you can even see some of your favorite characters dressed up with a little more Christmas/winter to their outfits, which makes for some extra special meet-and-greet photos.
There’s also an area for Santa – check out the schedule for times when you’re there!
Don’t forget to make a stop by the ‘Jingle Cruise’ as well – even the boats are fun holiday-themed names, the skippers wear Santa hats, and the whole que & ride are dressed up for the occasion!
Some snack locations have seasonal treats that are definitely worth a try, so either check your program or – even better – ask a cast member and they can lead you the right direction! Be sure to contact Michael’s VIPs for their wonderful tour guide services, especially as the holidays can be extra crowded & you want the best trip possible!
With the exception of a few spots (near Star Tours), Hollywood Studios was decorated as much as – or perhaps a little more – than Magic Kingdom. Bright stars from Christmas lights that changed color, wreaths, bells and classic-looking signs featuring Santa, reindeer and more, plus Echo Lake had HUGE ornaments floating in it! The dinosaur even had on a fun Santa hat, and some displays of statue deer and such helped add to the whole feel.
In the evening, there’s the Seasons Greetings show (that may repeat a couple of times, I wasn’t quite sure exactly) over by the Tower of Terror. Along the street leading up to that area are two screens that show a mini video clip, then a great display is projected onto the Tower of Terror with music to match the little clip you just saw. They had the Muppet Chef Guy (I know, I should remember his name, but I can’t) that built a Gingerbread house on the movie clip, then the Tower showed a huge creation out of gingerbread to playful music.
Olaf’s clip was finding a holiday tradition, then the song played along with images of traditions and such.
Even Toy Story got in on the fun, making it the Hollywood Toyland Hotel! I thought this show was INCREDIBLE, and would’ve loved to show my kids! The lights along that street switch around depending on which clip is playing, and ‘snow’ is pumped out, so it’s like a magical snowfall all down the street. That snow continued almost the entire evening it seemed!
On the Chinese Theater was the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show that I’ve heard several people rave about – but personally, I was a little disappointed by it. Yes, it’s fun with the Elves and rescuing Santa, and it does have fun montages and music. But overall, there was too much to look at with all the different screens it was playing on, plus fireworks, plus laser light show. I even saw several people watch a bit, then decide to leave before it was done. It wasn’t bad by any means, and there were plenty of folks who loved it – it just wasn’t my cup of tea, I suppose. If you’ve seen it – let us know what you thought in the comments!
One thing I really loved was this fun window display, full of dancing ornaments!
I believe that at the Hollywood & Vine, they have a special Minnie Mouse Holiday buffet meal, but I didn’t personally go check this out. That’s one drawback to a solo trip – less excuse to take time for real dining!
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I was most excited to see Epcot during the holidays (other than Magic Kingdom, of course) because I’d heard of the amazing ‘holidays around the world’ displays and such. Perhaps it was just that I was there earlier in the day, but it seemed a big let-down. There was a lot of decor – ginormous tree, plenty of garlands and lights and fun garden characters for the holidays. There was a stage where one of the shows would be (again, I was there earlier in the day – since this was a quick trip I couldn’t fit in everything unfortunately – so I missed the shows).
I did see several kiosks that were ‘holiday kitchen’ – featuring some seasonal snacks and drinks. Most of them weren’t open when I was there, though, despite being there until about 2pm. I did enjoy the displays in the various areas, telling a bit about that country’s traditions.
Keep in mind that I was there EARLIER in the day, only until early afternoon, so perhaps all the main holiday happenings occur after that – so don’t write off Epcot just yet. And if YOU have experienced some of the festivities at Epcot, please share in the comments!
Guys, this is my favorite park (because it has TWO of my FOUR favorite rides – Flights of Passage & Everest)! That being said, it was very limited in the holiday-theming department. And maybe that was intentional, so they could keep the different lands more accurate and true to themselves. There was some decor around, but not much at all compared to the other parks, and just normal (yet still good) music playing. Again, this could be in keeping with the different ‘continents’ and areas, so this isn’t a complaint at all – just giving you a heads up that there’s not a lot of holiday-ness at Animal Kingdom. The main exception seemed to be the entrance, where they had the wreaths, garlands, and large Christmas tree up for plenty of photo opps. It was still great and lots of fun!
In ALL FOUR of the parks, you can find special holiday-themed merchandise in the stores – from ornaments and decor, to seasonal snacks and clothing, and much more. They even had a stuffed Stitch with a Santa hat that I wanted so badly to get for hubby, but stuck to my budget. I *did* get two candy apples though to bring home for the family to share – one decorated as a Mickey Mouse Santa. They also had a holiday Jack Skellington (Sandy Claws), Blue Snowflake and others to choose from. The lady at the counter asked if I was planning to take them on a plane, and when I said yes she popped out a sturdy box and packed them extra carefully – so grateful, and they made it home perfectly!
Most of the parks were also playing fun Christmas/Holiday music, which really helped put everyone in the spirit of the season! Overall, I absolutely LOVED experiencing the holidays at Walt Disney World, and can’t wait to take my kids there during this season sometime in the future! We’ll, of course, be using Michael’s VIPs for our guides since they’re absolutely AMAZING!