Best Time To Visit Walt Disney World Resort During The Holidays
Before we dive into the merriment, let’s start with perhaps the most important topic: The best time to visit during Christmas at Disney World. Many people plan their visits to Disney World at Christmas years in advance. The 2020 season was, ahem, special, to put it mildly, and while many people who had already planned trips had decided “not this year,” many are now thinking “let’s go to Disney World!” We highly recommend you start thinking about purchasing tickets and reserving Disney Park Pass reservations as soon as you’re able when it comes to the holiday season! While capacity is increasing, park pass reservations are here to stay, so you will need to pick which park you’ll visit each day of your trip ahead of time.
In general, we think any time you can visit Disney World is a good time to visit Disney World. We’re always excited when we’ve got our bags packed and are headed to the Most Magical Place on Earth. However, there are better times to visit than others during the holiday season. The busiest days of the year hoppen around Disney World holidays. In terms of crowds, here are the busiest days of the season:
- The week of Thanksgiving, including Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving
- The week of Christmas, including Christmas Day
- The week of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Here is a short list of more required reading if you’re headed to the parks during these times:
Check Out More Info On Epcots Festival Of The Holidays Here
The Christmas decor remains up throughout the season and several elements even stick around for a few days after New Years Day. But by the time the runDisney marathon weekend takes place in early January, most of the holiday decor has made its way back into safekeeping.
We already think Disney is incredibly magical on its own but seeing that castle lit up in Christmas lights is truly mesmerizing. And if you want a closer look at how Disney transforms the Magic Kingdom into a winter wonderland overnight, check out this video:
Where Can I Find Santa At Disney World Christmas Events
During the holiday events at Disney World, you can find Santa or Santa Goofy, his stand-in in the parks typically in the last week of November throughout the last week of December. Usually, you can catch Santa at the Hollywood Studios of Disney, at Epcot and Disney Springs. Last year, Santa and Santa Goofy were still greeting guests at Disney Springs and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Santa and Mrs. Claus at Epcot greet children typically during the International Festival of the Holidays at Epcot until the last day of December at the American Adventure Pavilion. You will also find Santa appearing often at the Very Merry Christmas Party of Mickey although he may make more frequent appearances than that.
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The Disney World Gingerbread House Displays
In case you are wondering, the deluxe resorts get full Christmas decor treatment. For example, the Yacht Clubs, Disneys Beach, Disneys Boardwalk Inn Hotel, Disneys Contemporary Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort of Disney all have over-sized, spectacular gingerbread displays. Each of the trees is also decorated according to the resort themes.
In case you are curious, to make the Grand Floridian gingerbread house last year, the ingredients used were:
- 180 pounds of apricot glaze
- 140 pints of egg whites
- 800 pounds of flour
How Long Will Disney Leave The Christmas Decorations Up
Christmas is hands-down one of the most magical times to visit Disney. Christmas 2020 has just come and gone and many guests wonder when the holiday decorations will come down. Main Street has been gracing us with beautiful holiday decorations since the beginning of November, and sadly they wont be up too much longer. This year looked a little bit different, as there were no Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle, but it was still so magical. The resorts also decorated for Christmas and donned their big, beautiful trees.
So when does Disney typically take down the holiday decorations? We have found that generally, the magic pixie dust transformation takes place around the first week of January. Guests visiting in late December or early January very well may still catch the parks in holiday mode. We have found that each area of Disney World is different and timelines may slightly vary. Just as quickly as all of the decorations appeared, they will also disappear- that is, until next year! Disney does such a wonderful job of seamlessly changing decor. The parks actually go from Halloween to Christmas overnight!
So what comes next? As weve been reporting, 2021 has some really exciting things coming! Disney is gearing up for the huge 50th-anniversary celebration and we can expect lots of surprises! Will you be visiting in 2021?
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Minnies Holiday Dine At Hollywood And Vine
Although character dining looks different in 2021, find Minnie and friends still dressed in their finest Christmas outfits for Minnies Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine.
Santa Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy all circulate through the restaurant spreading distanced holiday cheer during Minnies Holiday Dine. Have your camera ready for distanced pictures with these adorably dressed characters.
Disney World Christmas 2021 Ultimate Guide
Our Christmas 2021 Guide to Walt Disney World offers tips for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and hotels. It covers entertainment, crowds, food, free tours, things to do, and everything WDW does for the holiday season.
Christmas-time is now underway at Walt Disney World, and will run until early January 2022, with a couple of exceptions. First, not every resort and restaurant is decorated for Christmas, but that is changing quickly and might not still be true by the time you read this. Second, Epcot will celebrate Festival of the Holidays from November 26 through December 30, 2021. Other than that, the festivities will wind down the first week of January 2022, leading up to the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
As with last year, Christmas 2021 will be different at Walt Disney World. This year, its mostly due to Walt Disney Worlds 50th Anniversary. The Worlds Most Magical Celebration takes center stage, overshadowing the holiday season a bit, and necessitates operational and decorational concessions. Throughout this guide, well note what has been cancelled, whats happening, and whatll likely be back in 2022. Basically, well cover everything you need to know if youre planning a trip for Christmas 2021
Heres everything you need to know about Christmas 2021 at Walt Disney World, starting with two frequently asked questions that dont really fit anywhere else
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A Completely Festive Guide To Walt Disney World Christmas Decorations
Christmas is coming and the turkey legs are fat. Disney World is magical enough as it is, but add in some themed Christmas trees, decked-out gingerbread, and other jolly baubles and its downright enchanting.
Theres no denying that Disney World Christmas decorations bring the Central Florida resort to life during the holiday season. But, just when does Disney decorate for Christmas? What does the festive display look like? How long is it up? Grab your tinsel and some hot cocoa as we unwrap all the details about Christmas decorations in Disney World.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display Contains Thousands Of Cookie Shingles
This year, the Cinderella Castle gingerbread display is celebrating 10 years at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Interestingly, it is crafted in the same style as the Mary Blair mosaic that can be found in the resort’s atrium.
The impressive house has over 5,000 decorative gingerbread shingles and a number of hidden Mickeys.
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Christmas At Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom is home to Walt Disney World featured Christmas eventDisney Very Merriest After Hours . This ticketed event is held on select evenings throughout November and December. It features unique entertainment , snacks , and character sightings. The first after hours event of 2021 is on November 8 and the last party is December 21.
Magic Kingdom is also decorated heavily for Christmas beginning in early November. In 2019, most decorations went up between November 2 and November 7 . Through that same link, youll find information on Magic Kingdoms holiday merchandise, snack, and show offerings.
Magic Kingdom historically offers some unique holiday experiences. First, Jungle Cruise is usually transformed to the holiday-themed Jingle Cruise, and we dont expect the recent updates to the ride to impact that.
Past years included the nightly show A Frozen Holiday Wish, which is also when the castle is lit up with icicles for the evening. Unfortunately, with the castle being reimagined for the 50th Anniversary celebrations its expected those lights and the Frozen show will not be a part of the 2021 celebration.
In the past, the Trolley Show and Mickeys Royal Friendship Faire got holiday touches beginning in early November. Since 2021 has yet to see the return of those pieces of entertainment return, I dont expect them to be a part of the holiday celebrations.
Does Disney Do Anything Special On Christmas Day
Its the holiday season in Disney World, and there is SO much to do! Its the holiday season! You can see giant gingerbread houses, awesome decorations, and even Santa Claus! There are fun ride overlays to enjoy, an After Hours event to party at, and a ton of delicious foods to try.
When can Christmas decorations go up?
Traditionally, Christmas trees should be put up and decorated at the start of Advent, which is the season in which Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, known as Advent Sunday, and always ends on Christmas Eve .
How long does Disney Christmas last? The holiday season at Walt Disney World Resort officially began Nov. 12, 2021, as it coincides with Disney Worlds 50th anniversary celebration, and usually ends after the first week in January. For extra early fun, the new Disney Very Merriest After Hours event debuted Nov. 8!
Is Disney World crowded on Christmas Day? All of the Disney World parks get very crowded on Christmas day lots of people just want to celebrate a magical day in a magical place. But youll want to grab those passes soon if youre hoping to visit the parks for Christmas, because its possible that those will run out as well.
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Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
Many attendees say that Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is the most magical parade the park offers. Special lighting and music will have you feeling the holiday spirit in no time. You’ll see many seasonal characters dance down Main Street, U.S.A., including gingerbread men, reindeer, and rumor has it that Santa Claus himself may make an appearance! But nothing really compares to the hallmark of the parade: a dazzling snowfall! The parade kicks off in Frontierland and has two performance times: 8:30 PM and 11:00 PM.
Minnies Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks
This fireworks show is hosted by Minnie Mouse herself and celebrates the magic of Christmas featuring well-known Christmas favorites such as Joy to the World and Deck the Halls to Up on the House Top and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Fireworks begin over Cinderella Castle at 10:00 PM. Line up early for a good spot!
During the event you can also see classic and popular Disney characters dressed in seasonal fashion along with rare appearances from Santa, Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws and Scrooge McDuck.
And don’t forget the food options! Complimentary seasonal sweets and beverages will be available all throughout the park.
Transitioning To A Walt Disney World Christmas
Despite the rumors, Magic Kingdom is the only Walt Disney World park that transforms overnight. Magic Kingdom is the most heavily decorated for Halloween, and those decorations do not age well. So, once October 31st is over, they have to go.
Magic Kingdom Christmas décor then begins showing up November First. Other parks are a little slower to get the party started, with Christmas décor appearing later in the month. EPCOT receives its holiday décor the latest, usually at the end of November, once the Food and Wine festival has concluded. All the resorts on the property are decorated between late October and Thanksgiving depending on the resort and the level. For example, the deluxe resorts usually receive décor first.
While Magic Kingdom does transform overnight, not the entire park does. During the first few days after Halloween, the exterior of all buildings will be covered in garland and wreaths, but not necessarily the interior. Inside many of the shops, Halloween merchandise is still sold for days before being removed. It creates an odd balance of spooky and festive.
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Toy Story Land Christmas Decorations
Sadly, these adorable Toy Story Land decorations were not up in mid-November 2021. When I asked cast members if they expect the area to be decorated, they couldnt confirm if decorations will happen this year. Im including this section hoping Toy Story holiday decorations appear, but want to warn they may be missing for the 2021 season.
Toy Story Land has several adorable Christmas decorations. Christmas ornaments hang from the large sign, and Woody has a cute scarf. Each of the characters in Toy Story Land has a seasonal flair to their costumes, too. I think the funniest character change is Buzz wearing a Santa hat.
There is a large Hamm sugar cookie and if you look around the back a green army man is supporting it. Speaking of green army men, they all have red, white, and green camo scarves for the Christmas season. Popcorn and cranberry garland hang above Woodys lunchbox, and even Rex puts on reindeer ears above Slinky Dog Dash.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Decorations
Please note that the Christmas lights on Cinderellas Castle are canceled for 2021 due to decorations that are already in place for Disney Worlds 50th-anniversary celebration.
During the holiday season, much of Magic Kingdom dresses up for the occasion. Main Street U.S.A. is bedecked with ornament-filled wreaths and ribbons galore and crowned by the Magic Kingdom Christmas tree on one end and the Cinderella Castle Dream Lights on the other. With a little help from Elsa, these frozen Christmas decorations on Cinderellas Castle envelope its towers in sheets of icicle-like lights for a thoroughly snow-kissed effect thats made for social media.
Pine garlands studded with twinkle lights or baubles are draped throughout Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Liberty Square, while futuristically festive Tomorrowland is a veritable ode to tinsel and aluminum Christmas trees. And of course, dont forget the holly, jolly takeover over at Adventureland starring the Jungle Jingle Cruise in all its DIY, use-what-youve-got glory. Those skippers are just so crafty!
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Walt Disney World Christmas : Very Merriest After Hours Party Holiday Food Entertainment
The holiday season begins at Walt Disney World in November which allows for plenty of time for guests to plan a seasonal vacation to one of the Happiest Places on Earth! Typically you can expect the holiday décor to remain up until early January. This year’s holiday season will begin on and run through the end of December
Read on to find out everything you need to know for enjoying the holiday season at Walt Disney World.
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Christmas Celebrations At Walt Disney World
Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and each has special Christmas events, which will begin in early November at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and the Studios, and the Friday after Thanksgiving at Epcot.
- At the Magic Kingdom, Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Partya special event that requires its own ticketruns on many nights from November 8 through December 22nd. Later in December, its signature eventsa special Christmas parade, and special Christmas fireworksare available to all guests. Christmas decor is in place by the night of the first partyin 2019, November 8.
- At the Studios, in 2019 the Christmas projection and fireworks show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! returns on November 8 and a projection show on Tower of Terror, Sunset Seasons Greetings, begins that same day. These two shows, other business, and the Christmas Tree at Echo Lake make Hollywood Studios the second best Christmas park at Disney World, after Magic Kingdom.
- At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Epcot Forever has special Christmas additions. In addition, beginning November 29 Christmas carols are sung by massed choirs in the Candlelight Processional. Many of the countries in Epcots World Showcase have special Christmas events as part of Epcots Epcot International Festival of the Holidays which begins in 2019 on November 29
- Disneys Animal Kingdom has a broader set of Christmas activities and events in 2019 than it has for a while. See this for more.
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Rides At Disneyland Halloween Time
There are special changes to certain rides during Disney Halloween Time. We already mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy Monsters After Dark at Disney California Adventure. One of the most popular rides is Haunted Mansion, which is converted to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The Mansion lights up at night try to be there for the lighting. There is no specific time but if you are in the area between 7 and 7:30 p.m. the Ghost Host will give you a treat by lighting the mansion.
Wait times for Haunted Mansion Holiday are significantly longer than at other times of the year, so we recommend you make this one of your priorities before 10 a.m. The ballroom always has a large gingerbread house on the table . In fact, 2021 marks the 20th year of Haunted Mansion Holiday! To celebrate, the gingerbread house pays homage to past gingerbread houses by featuring an element from each year’s house from 2001 through 2019. The result will be a visually chaotic mashup!
In “Radiator Screams,” Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters are parading as Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree has been transformed into Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree. Both rides have several Halloween-themed songs and decorations throughout the Halloween season. Radiator Screams lights up each night around sunset, with a special lighting song at Halloween Time.