Are you headed to the Happiest Place on Earth at the Merriest time of year?! There’s so much to see and do during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World, it can be hard to figure out how to plan your time. Thankfully, we’re going to break it down so you can count on doing what is most fun! Here are our 10 Disney must-do’s for your Disney Christmas Vacation to Walt Disney World this year.
- 1 Christmas at Walt Disney World
- 2 Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios
- 3 Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios
- 4 Visit The Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs
- 5 Visit the Disney Resorts for Christmas Decorations
- 6 Merry Menagerie Marionettes at Animal Kingdom
- 7 Magic Kingdom Christmas Decorations
- 8 Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise
- 9 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- 10 International Festival Of Holidays at Epcot
- 11 Gingerbread Displays at Disney Resorts
Christmas at Walt Disney World
Christmas at Walt Disney World has changed over recent years, but there’s still so much to see and do. Best of all, some of Walt Disney World’s holiday fun is even free! We’ve gathered up our favorite holiday activities in this post, but there is no shortage of snacks, entertainment, decorations, and more. So be sure to check out our guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World if you don’t find what you’re looking for here.
Check out Everything New for Christmas at Disney World to help get an idea of the things returning this year. For Christmas at Walt Disney World you can plan on new Disney holiday snacks, seasonal merchandise, and decorations in the parks and resorts.
When Does Christmas Start at Walt Disney World?
This year Christmas at Walt Disney World begins the second week in November. With a new Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and more holiday fun, be sure to check out everything happening this year for the holidays at Disney World.
Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios
We LOVE Hollywood Studios for the Holidays. And most of what we love is just the decorations and snacks! So you can still have fun even if there are minimal events offered! Be sure to take time and look at all the Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios. From kitschy 50’s decor to glitzy Hollywood Glamour there are so many unique Holiday things to see in this park. If you need a special way to ring in the season head to Hollywood Studios for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine. This Yuletide Dining experience features all our favorite Disney characters dressed up for the holidays. You can hang out with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy in their Christmas attire. Plus, this experience includes Santa Goofy!
Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios
This Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios includes three elements of the holidays right on Sunset Boulevard. Sunset Seasons Greetings is a digital show on the Tower of Terror featuring festive holiday projections like the building of a gingerbread house, or tumbling Christmas gifts. Featuring snowy Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” You can also grab some cocoa and watch the streetside billboards showcase new holiday stories. From classic holiday Mickey cartoons to the Muppets these gigantic billboard televisions will transport you to the good old days. And we couldn’t call it a flurry without a little bit of snow. Snow falls nightly on Sunset Boulevard to set the holiday mood.
Visit The Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs
Check out our photo tour of the Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs. We love this because it’s FREE, fun, festive and can be as quick-paced or as leisurely as you like. Grab a mocha from Starbucks(or bring your own of course!) and enjoy the splendor of these beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Be sure to bring your camera because there are so many fun-themed trees, you won’t want to miss these festive photo-taking opportunities! You can even grab a scavenger hunt map this year, with stickers, as you go around to find all the trees!
Visit the Disney Resorts for Christmas Decorations
We can’t get enough of the deluxe resorts when it comes to Disney decorations, because they usually bring in legacy trees, which are sky-high! our favorites so far are Coronado Springs Gran Destino Tower, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Beach Club. Check out all the best resorts in our Disney Resort Christmas Decorations Crawl. We also love the Gingerbread House at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The life-size Gingerbread House at The Grand Floridian resort should not be missed. Not only is this Gingerbread House a massive work of art, you can also purchase Gingerbread Goodies right from the house itself. It takes over 400 hours to bake all of these gingerbread pieces and 160 hours to assemble! And the lobby of the Grand Floridian smells just like Christmas, sure to get you into the holiday spirit! If you’re really feeling festive, you can stop by other resorts such as the Beach Club, with over 20 years of gingerbread traditions it is worth the look! And if you’re looking for a larger-than-life Cinderella castle made of gingerbread, visit The Contemporary. Check out all the places you can find Gingerbread displays at Walt Disney World.
Merry Menagerie Marionettes at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has recently stepped up its game when it comes to celebrating the holidays at Walt Disney World. Their newest addition to the holiday fun, the Merry Menagerie, is by far one of the cutest. As part of the fun, Animal Kingdom Puppeteers take to the streets throughout Animal Kingdom to share beautiful larger animal marionettes to help ring in the holiday season. Featuring fun winter animal puppets, not only is this display interactive, but they’re a lot of fun to watch! We particularly love the penguins. But you can’t go wrong with any of them! Along with the Merry Menagerie, you can see winter animal luminaries light up each evening, which makes for a beautiful and calming environment. You can also catch Holiday Flotillas sailing Discovery River with Disney characters dressed for the season. And it’s all part of the holiday season at Animal Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Decorations
Trust us, even if you haven’t purchased the over $100 party ticket for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party, there is still a TON to do for the holidays at Magic Kingdom. From new holiday snacks to the lighting of the castle, to the holiday projection show that runs on a loop every evening. We most love the decorations, music, sights, sounds and smells, and season. Check out what there is to do at Magic Kingdom for Christmas.
Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise
One of our favorite rides, Jungle Cruise, gets a holiday overlay at Walt Disney World every year. With decorations scattered throughout this exotic cruise, you’ll also get a slew of new holiday stories. Jingle Cruise Skippers journeying home for the holidays share tales of holiday mayhem and family drama. Complete with a holiday lineup of pun-filled jokes. This ride has a following and sometimes has a long wait but never fear! Simply check the My Disney Experience App for wait times, or add it to your Genie+ ride selections.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Christmas at Walt Disney World gets a whole lot merrier with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It features the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Santa Claus, and exclusive merchandise and snacks! Check out our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide for dates, ticket prices, and a list of everything you can do! And if you’re not keen on cashing in your retirement plan for this expensive party, just plan to skip the Disney Park ticket the day of the party. That way you’ll still get to be in the parks to experience the extra magic, without paying twice. You can enter the parks as early as 4 p.m. with a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket.
International Festival Of Holidays at Epcot
Ok, so the Festival of Holidays is actually a pretty big festival that involves a lot of things. From food booths to entertainment throughout the World Showcase and more, this festival is really growing into something more amazing each year. We think it deserves at least one day and if you don’t have that much time, at least one night. The most popular part of the Festival of Holidays at Epcot is the Candlelight Processional. Many people choose which show they want to see based on who is narrating the show; but truthfully, I just don’t think you can go wrong with any of them! Between the beautiful narration to the glorious choir, seldom does the show end without tears being shed. It’s by far one of the most magical things you can experience during Christmas at Walt Disney World.
In addition to the Candlelight Processional, there are often fun, festive performances in each country as well as holiday merchandise, food booths and lots of decorations. It’s a festival that’s sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Gingerbread Displays at Disney Resorts
An absolute favorite, visiting the Disney Resorts for Christmas means seeing larger-than-life Christmas Trees and Gingerbread Displays. Be sure to add some Disney Resort time to your holiday vacation at Walt Disney World. Our favorites include the Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and the Gingerbread Giraffe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Disney Christmas Vacation Things to Do
There you have it, our top 10 must-dos at Walt Disney World during the holidays! The holidays may be hectic, but hopefully, this list helps you find a few favorites and really enjoy the beauty of the season at the happiest place on Earth.
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .