If you’re planning Christmas at Walt Disney World, there are a few things you should know about the most wonderful time of year at the most magical place on Earth. Never mind about the Disney crowds, the high expectations, and the Florida cold. What about all the other stuff that you can only do at Disney World during Christmas time? If you’re like us and need to experience Disney during the holidays at least once, we get it. So what can you expect if you’re visiting Walt Disney World during Christmas?
- 1 Disney at Christmas
- 2 When Does Christmas at Disney World Start?
- 3 When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World during Christmas?
- 4 Disney World Christmas Checklist
- 5 Christmas Decorations at Disney World
- 6 Disney World Christmas Events with a Special Ticket
- 7 Christmas at Magic Kingdom Park
- 8 Christmas at Hollywood Studios Park
- 9 Christmas at EPCOT Park
- 10 Christmas at Animal Kingdom Park
- 11 Christmas at Disney Springs
- 12 Disney World Christmas Dining & Restaurants
- 13 Disney World at Christmas Planning
- 14 Ride Tips for Disney World at Christmas
- 15 Choosing a Resort at Disney World for Christmas
- 16 Cost to Visit Disney World During Christmas
- 17 Tips for Disney World Christmas Crowds
- 18 Disney World Christmas Transportation Options
Disney at Christmas
There’s nothing like Disney at Christmas time. Whether you’re visiting Disney World at Christmas for a few days or a full blown Christmas vacation, there are things to do both in and outside the parks to make things extra merry. We’ve rounded up the best Disney Resorts to Stay at for the Christmas, all the Disney Christmas Events, and our favorite fun, festive and FREE Things to Do for Disney at Christmas in this post. Here we’ll share what Christmas in Disney World is all about. From Walt Disney World Christmas events to the best tips to navigate crowds and costs for Disney World at Christmas time. Let’s get started!
When Does Christmas at Disney World Start?
If you’re ready for the holidays, and wondering when does Disney start Christmas. Then know that Disney World starts Christmas early! The day after Halloween in fact. So on top of their game, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World on October 31st for Halloween, you’ll be amazed to see the parks dressed up for Christmas the following morning. So when does Christmas start at Disney?
Disney Christmas Dates 2023
This year Christmas at Walt Disney World begins November 11, 2023 and runs through December 31, 2023. With a new Disney Christmas time events, like the NEW Disney Jollywood Nights Party, and returning favorites like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there is plenty of holiday fun. Be sure to check out everything happening this year for the holidays at Disney World.
Is Disney World Open on Christmas Day?
Yes. Walt Disney World is open 365 days a year. And on Christmas Day, you can see the holiday entertainment typically reserved for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade happens at Magic Kingdom along with special shows and fireworks. And there are also plenty of places to grab Christmas Dinner at Walt Disney World too.
When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World during Christmas?
Disney World during Christmas is one of the best times to visit Walt Disney World. It can also sometimes be the busiest and most expensive. Luckily, you have options if you are looking for the best time to visit Disney for the Holidays.
- November 1- 21: Weekdays. Minus Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Week
- December 1- 17: Weekdays. Minus Christmas Week and New Year’s Eve
The best dates to visit Walt Disney World for Christmas fall in the early part of November and the early part of December. If you are choosing the Early November dates, know that Christmas Decorations at Walt Disney World typically go up the third week in November. In 2023, you can expect Christmas Decorations at Walt Disney World to be up across the parks and resorts the week of November 11th. Both Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, on select nights November 9, 2023, and Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios on select nights starting November 11, 2023, give you ample things to do during this time of year. If you’re choosing the Early December dates, you can take advantage of the EPCOT Festival of Holidays and the Candlelight Processional, both included with your EPCOT Park Ticket.
What are the Busiest days during Christmas at Disney World?
The Week of Christmas is by far the busiest week to visit Walt Disney World during the holiday season.
What are the Least Crowded Disney Christmas Dates in 2023?
Our favorite trick to find the Least Crowded Days at Disney World is easier than you think. Simply look for the Cheapest Disney Tickets on the Theme Park Ticket Rate Calendar.
Not only a great way to find the cheapest times to visit Disney World at Christmas but also a great way to Save Money on your Disney Vacation! These are the days with the cheapest Disney Christmas Ticket prices as well as fewer crowds.
- November 1- 14, 2023
- November 25- December 14, 2023
Disney World Christmas Checklist
To get started we like lists. Do you need to know what rides, restaurants, and shows are best at Disney during Christmas? Check out our Disney Christmas Events Holiday Checklist for a surefire list that is already made up for you! And if you’re ready to tackle everything to do, see, and eat at Walt Disney World for Christmas, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you’ll find across all the Parks, Resorts, and Disney Springs this Holiday Season.
Disney Christmas Snacks, Treats, and Drinks
Disney during Christmas is filled with holiday foods at Walt Disney World. And these specialty treats start to show up as soon as Halloween is over. From cultural treats at Epcot’s Festival of Holidays to classic treats like Peppermint ice cream in Magic Kingdom, you can be sure to find your favorite holiday flavors across the parks, and resorts. Check out our New Holiday Snacks at Walt Disney World post for a full list of all the new gingerbread, peppermint, caramel, chocolate, and more seasonal flavors you can find this year. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World for Christmas be sure to grab some of these special treats.
One of the most fun parts of a Disney Christmas Vacation is getting to see all the new holiday merchandise. As expected you can usually count on a whole new Christmas merchandise collection featuring t-shirts, Christmas jerseys, Mickey ears, a new Magic Band, new mugs and kitchen wear, and a new Disney Dooney and Bourke Christmas Bag design. We also love the annual tradition of a new Holiday Popcorn bucket! You can usually find these first at Hollywood Studios, though we’ll be sure to post all the new Disney holiday popcorn buckets and where you can find them in our New Snacks at Walt Disney World post.
Another staple in the Disney Christmas time Holiday lineup is seasonal entertainment. Much of the entertainment we have come to know and love at Disney World returns every year. And luckily, most of it is included in your park ticket. Festival of Holidays, Sunset Seasons Greetings, the NEW Frozen Holiday Surprise Castle Lighting, and Tree of Life Holiday Awakenings are all reasons to make sure you visit all four Disney World Parks for Christmas.
Holiday Popcorn Bucket
Christmas Decorations at Disney World
One of our favorite things about Disney during Christmas at the decoration. Christmas Decorations at Walt Disney World usually go up the 2nd or 3rd week of November and typically stay up all the way through the first week in January. They include decorations across the parks, like Mickey Wreaths, the Christmas projection show on Cinderella’s Castle, kitschy Holiday Decorations at Hollywood Studios, and earthy Animal-themed ornaments at Animal Kingdom. Decorations also include Christmas Trees at all the Disney Resorts, and Gingerbread Houses at some Disney World Deluxe Hotels.
When does Disney World decorate for Christmas?
Christmas Decorations at Disney World go up right after Halloween. Most notable is the Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree, which arrives in Town Square on November 2, 2023.
- Christmas Decorations in the Disney Parks show up on November 2nd, 2023
- Christmas Decorations at Disney Resorts show up by November 11, 2023.
With Mickey Wreaths, Christmas windows on Main Street, and even natural ornaments on display in Animal Kingdom there is so much to see in each park! One of our favorite parks last year for Christmas decorations was Hollywood Studios. In classic Hollywood fashion, the park is dressed to the nines in a very kitschy 1950s style. We absolutely loved it! Check out our whole post on Hollywood Studios at Christmas. And take time to visit the Disney Resorts throughout the holidays as well! While all the resorts sport Christmas Trees, you can also find special snacks and life-size Disney Gingerbread Houses at several of the Disney Deluxe Resorts.
Disney World Christmas Events with a Special Ticket
If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World this Christmas you have the option to add even more holiday cheer to your itinerary. While these events are not included in your park tickets, perks like fewer crowds in the parks and exclusive entertainment may make them excellent choices for your Christmas at Disney World vacation.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom | November 9- December 22, 2023
The Christmas party at Magic Kingdom is known as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or MVMCP, and offers exclusive snacks, merchandise, and complimentary cookies and cocoa throughout the evening. This nighttime event also includes the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which can only be seen at the party, unless you’re visiting Disney World for Christmas Week. Check out our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide for details, dates, activities, and ticket prices.
Disney Jollywood Nights Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios | November 11- December 20, 2023
New in 2023, for Christmas at Hollywood Studios, is Disney’s Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios Chrismas Party adding a bit of glitz and glamour to the evening. This limited-capacity event promises fewer crowds at this evening party. There is exclusive entertainment, such as the Latin Festival on Commissary Lane, and Kermit and Miss Piggy’s Variety Show featuring loads of Disney characters on stage. Check out the Disney Jollywood Nights Christmas Party page for details, dates, and ticket prices.
Christmas at Magic Kingdom Park
If you’re looking forward to a Magic Kingdom Christmas, look no further! considered to be one of the best Disney Parks for Christmas, you can find decorations around every corner, cheerful and festive Disney Christmas snacks, special entertainment, and holiday merchandise. Here is a snapshot of what’s happening at Magic Kingdom for the Holidays.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Decorations
One of the best parts of Christmas at Walt Disney World is the decorations. And at Magic Kingdom, you can find Mickey wreaths, garlands, and Christmas trees. Main Street USA in particular is known for its Toy Soldier display and the Town Square Christmas Tree.
Frozen Holiday Surprise * NEW 2023*
A Brand New Christmas Show at Magic Kingdom has arrived! Frozen Holiday Surprise is a “Frozen”-inspired show that will illuminate the castle in a whole new way. Guests will be able to see Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and the Snowgies in front of Cinderella Castle. Available during regular park hours and during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. New for 2023, we’re excited to see this new Christmas Castle lighting ceremony for the holidays.
Cinderella Castle Holiday Projection Show
Main Street Philharmonic and the Toy Soldier March
Holiday Trolley featuring the Dapper Dans
Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise
The Christmas Shoppe
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party November 9- December 22, 2023
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party happens only in Magic Kingdom and features the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Mickey’s Mot Merriest Celebration, and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show. This is an annual event. This party requires a special ticket and allows you access to the parks at 4 pm, ahead of the 7 pm party start time. A traditional event for families, this party features music, snacks, special entertainment, merchandise, and more.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Treats
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: A Beginner’s Guide
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Pros & Cons
Christmas Week at Magic Kingdom
Beginning after the last day of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you can see previously exclusive entertainment at Magic Kingdom for Christmas. This starts on December 23, 2023, this year. And includes some amazing holiday fun if you’re up for battling the Christmas crowds at Disney World.
Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration: This holiday stage show featuring Mickey and Friends on the Cinderella Castle Stage is offered starting December 22, 2023, through Christmas Week. Before that date, it’s only available at the Christmas Party.
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show: The Christmas Fireworks at Magic Kingdom are typically only available at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. But, starting December 22nd, for Christmas Week, you can see these fireworks in the evening. Truly magical at Christmastime.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade: While this parade is only available at MVMCP through the season, on Christmas Week you can see this parade daily at Magic Kingdom. Complete with Santa Claus and “Snow” on Main Street.
Christmas at Hollywood Studios Park
By far one of our favorite places to find Disney Christmas Decorations, Hollywood Studios brings in the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood, and the kitschy fun of the 50’s all at once. Christmas lights in Toy Story Land, and the most amazing holiday projection shows, here is everything you can do for your Hollywood Studios Day at Disney World.
Sunset Season’s Greetings on Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel
Flurry of Fun
Merry Motorcade with Santa Clause
For the First time in Forever Olaf’s Holiday Finale
Toy Story Land Christmas Overlay
Disney Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios November 11- December 20, 2023 *NEW*
Offered for 10 select nights between November 11- and December 20, 2023, this NEW Disney World Christmas Party, Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios has loads of holiday fun at the ready. Much like an After Hours Party, this party has limited capacity. Offered from 8:30 pm- 12:20 pm this event features Jingle Bell Jingle BAM!, specialty snacks, entertainment, and more. November: 11,18, 20, 27, 29, December: 4, 6,16,18, 20. Buy Tickets for Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios.
Christmas at EPCOT Park
Traveling to EPCOT for Christmas is always a good idea. Filled with cultural cuisine, decorations, new Christmas Snacks, and holiday entertainment. You truly won’t find these Disney World Christmas Events anywhere else. And since the EPCOT Festival of Holidays is included with your park ticket, no additional ticket is required.
Epcot’s International Festival of Holidays November 24- December 30, 2023
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition: You can also play the Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition game, finding Olaf in each country via stickers on a map, and then collecting a special prize.Holiday Cookie Stroll: Take on the Holiday Cookie Stroll Challenge finding the 5 select dishes to try on your way to grabbing a foodie treat prize.Holiday Storytellers: Visiting with the Holiday Storytellers in each country is a wonderful way to learn the history of Santa, Christmas, and all the holiday stories from across the globe. Check out What’s New for the Festival of Holidays at Disney World? for the details.
One of our favorite reasons to visit EPCOT for Christmas is the food. With sweet and savory treats, mini meals, and festival drinks, not only can you enjoy, but also be inspired to make holiday food creations at home. Check out the Epcot Festival of Holidays Menus for a sneak peek of what to eat this season.
Holiday Music Performances
As part of the daily celebration for the holidays at EPCOT, music groups perform throughout the season. Featuring the Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre, and Joyful! A Celebration of the Season and The Epcot Pianist, there is plenty to hear throughout the day to help get you in the holiday spirit. Check out the Things to Do at the Festival of Holidays at Disney World for details.
Candlelight Processional at EPCOT
The Candlelight Processional is a reading of the Nativity Story, accompanied by an orchestra, and choir, and is considered a must-do event for the holidays. Absolutely one of our favorite Christmas events at Disney World, be sure to add it to your holiday lineup. You can also grab a Candlelight Processional Dining Package for dinner and a guaranteed seat for the reading if you don’t want to wait in line.
Merry and Bright Nights on Living with the Land
Having a Walt Disney World Christmas means finding magical festive surprises around every corner. Luckily, you can add a little Christmas to your next boat ride through the Living with the Land ride at EPCOT. This holiday overlay adds Christmas lights and decorations throughout the ride, showcasing foods for the Festival of Holidays. Called Merry and Bright Nights, this ride is a Disney Christmas Must Do for the season.
Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Holiday
Set to a Christmas soundtrack during the holiday season Guardians of the Galaxy gets a whole new festive vibe. You can take this thrill ride rollercoaster all around the world at EPCOT to the tune of the holidays. Virtual Queue Boarding Pass is currently required.
Christmas at Animal Kingdom Park
Christmas at Animal Kingdom is wonderful. It’s lower key than the other parks, offering cute marionette animals, and the Holiday edition of Tree of Life. Check out everything you can do at Animal Kingdom for the holidays.
Tree of Life Awakenings Holiday Edition
On select evenings throughout the season, Animal Kingdom stays open later, for nighttime entertainment. As a result, The Tree of Life at Walt Disney World gets dressed up for the holidays with a new lighting show in the evenings. This holiday edition features adorable winter animals crawling all over the tree in a winter-themed digital projection show that shares stories of the seasons.
Merry Menagerie Animal Marionettes
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. Reindeer, Penguins, Bears, and more show up throughout the season.
Holidays in Pandora
Christmas at Disney Springs
Disney Springs brings back the Christmas Tree eye candy this year with trees covering all four corners of the shopping center. Trees will be scattered throughout Disney Springs as part of the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll Scavenger Hunt Game. Grab this game and coupon book at the Welcome Center and make a day of it!
One of the nice things about Disney during the holidays is the shopping at Disney Springs. Not only for exclusive Disney Parks merchandise but also for all the specialty shops throughout the complex. It’s definitely worth the time! The whole place is decorated to the nines. They have festive treats and trees that showcase some of our favorite Disney films! So what happens at Disney Springs for Christmas?
Let it Snow Flurries
Jock Lindsays Hangar Bar Holiday Takeover
Disney’s Days of Christmas Shop
Santas Winter Watercade
Waterside Stage Holiday Music
Breakfast with Santa at Disney Springs 2023
You can also find Santa Claus at Maria and Enzo’s Restaurant for a breakfast filled with classic Italian menu items. This visit with Santa Claus is a family-friendly holiday activity that includes take-home treats and a keepsake photo souvenir. Plus Disney Adults ( 21+) attending get a free mimosa to have with breakfast. Kids can share Christmas Wishes with Santa, and get a special photo taken. Seating times are 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10 a.m. Prices range from $49- $79 per person ( plus tax and gratuity ). And children under 2 are free. Reservations are required. Grab your Breakfast with Santa at Disney Springs Tickets.
Disney World Christmas Dining & Restaurants
Celebrating Christmas in Disney World includes not only great Disney Christmas events, but also seasonal meals to try at the restaurants too! If you’re looking for somewhere to eat at Disney World for Christmas, then you have a few wonderful restaurants to choose from. While Christmas Dinner at Disney World is only offered at a few select restaurants, festive meals can be found across the parks and resorts.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine
The Hollywood and Vine restaurant is the resident Disney Character Restaurant at Hollywood Studios offering a buffet meal and characters in festive attire. And, it’s also the only place you get the Fab Five in costume for the holidays. Much like Akershus in Norway, Epcot the sub-par menu can sometimes be worth it just to get all the characters in one place! The food was pretty good here, but the character interactions were the best! You won’t get the budget-friendly meal like at Crystal Palace but it’s still a great experience. Definitely worth a look if you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant in Hollywood Studios during the holidays.
Tusker House Holiday Dining
Liberty Tree Tavern
Disney World at Christmas Planning
We’ll dive in here with some First-Step Disney World Christmas Vacation Planning. If you’ve chosen to visit Walt Disney World during the most wonderful time of year, know that it’s also the BUSIEST time of year. So, what does this mean, and how does it affect your Disney World Christmas Vacation? This Disney World Christmas Guide will give you all the tips from the best time to visit to what to do when you’re there, we cover it all in this post.
Christmas time at Disney World doesn’t have to be stressful. So, if you’re looking to add a little Disney to your holiday season, never fear. We’re sharing the plans for the holiday season at Disney World Park. From the Magic Kingdom Christmas Parade and the EPCOT Christmas Festival, to Animal Kingdom Holiday activities, and Christmas at Hollywood Studios. Read on for all the details.
Ride Tips for Disney World at Christmas
Disney World at Christmas brings with it extra long lines just about everywhere. As such, if you’re visiting during the busiest time of year, then you should have a plan for riding rides. Every park has an extremely popular ride that will always require a longer wait or Lightning Lane pass. So if any of these rides are on your Disney Christmas List get ready to either pay, wake up early, or stay up late. Here are some of the best Strategies for Rides at Walt Disney World during the most crowded times of the year, and the rides for which you may need them. If you’re using Genie+ or Lightning Lane, choose these popular rides FIRST, and choose the earliest time available to you in the app, so that as you complete them, you can choose more ride selections.
Animal Kingdom’s Busiest Rides
Flight of Passage. Typical 2-3 hour wait during the holidays. On a rope drop morning, this goes down to about 45 minutes, unless you’re really fast, of course.
Epcot’s Busiest Rides
Guardians of the Galaxy located in Epcot World Discovery is available via Disney Boarding Pass Virtual Queue. You must enter the Virtual Queue with drop times at 7am, 1pm and a special drop at 6pm for Disney Deluxe Resort Guests.
For Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure we recommend you add these to your Disney Genie+ list, or plan to wait during meal times, when lines are lower. Waits are typically over an hour for Frozen Ever After and Remy during the holidays.
Hollywood Studios Busiest Rides
Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge, Slinky Dog Dash and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway are the most popular rides in Hollywood Studio. We recommend adding these to your Genie+ selections or running to these rides once the gates open, as it gets pretty filled up throughout the day.
Magic Kingdom’s Busiest Rides
TRON, Snow White’s Mine Train Ride and Peter Pan’s Flight are by far the most popular rides in Magic Kingdom. TRON currently has a Virtual Boarding Queue in place which is required in order to enter the ride. So be sure to check your My Disney Experience App at 7am and 1 pm to get into the Virtual Boarding Queue. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jingle Cruise, and Haunted Mansion are also somewhat busy rides and all have devoted followings and higher waits this time of year.
Disney Ride Tips for Busy Times
- Know which rides you’re hoping to ride BEFORE you enter the park.
- Plan your ride order based on which rides are close to each other, so you’re not running across the park.
- You’ll find the lowest waits for rides during meal times (12-2 pm and 5-7 pm) and fireworks, parades, or showtimes.
- Try for rides later in the evening. The park typically empties right after fireworks, and all lines get lower.
- Grabbing an early breakfast reservation inside any park will get you closer to the action for easy line access.
Choosing a Resort at Disney World for Christmas
Disney at Christmas time includes decorations in the parks, resorts, and seasonal meals. With Christmas cheer around every corner, you may be wondering if it really matters where you stay. While we have our favorite Disney Resorts for Christmas at Walt Disney World, it’s good to know where you can find whatever kinds of Christmas Decorations are your favorite. Luckily, each resort’s holiday decorations match the resort theme. As such, if you’re hoping to find African Christmas Ornaments that lend to the Lion King, Christmas at Animal Kingdom Lodge may be a resort to visit. Or perhaps you’re interested in the Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club, celebrating decades of Gingerbread themes. No matter what you fancy, you’re sure to find it at the Disney resorts.
Do All Disney Resorts Have Christmas Trees?
Yes. All Disney Resorts have a Christmas Tree in their resort lobby, with decorations to match the theme of the resort. Christmastime at Disney World covers all the parks, Disney Springs, and resorts. As such, you can expect to see Christmas Trees everywhere. While the Disney Deluxe Resorts have the most elaborate Signature Trees, that rise multiple stories, all other Disney Resorts have trees too. If visiting the Art of Animation Resort you can count on your favorite Disney character ornaments covering a Christmas Tree in the lobby. The Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Christmas Tree is covered in fun island decor and bright Caribbean ornaments.
Value Resorts at Christmas
- Disney Value Resorts sell out faster and are more crowded than any other resorts on the property this time of year.
- These resorts also have the most buses allotted to them during this time of year and lower bus wait times.
- Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation are the preferred choices in this category due to access to the Disney Skyliner and are easier if you’re visiting EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
- Read our Disney Value Resort Reviews
Moderate Resorts at Christmas
- Disney Moderate Resorts offer easier transportation options like boats, skyliner and buses.
- Caribbean Beach Resort is our preferred choice in this category due to access to the Disney Skyliner both at the Caribbean Beach station and the Disney Riviera Resort station.
- The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground offer a unique way to experience the holidays at Walt Disney World and are perfect for larger groups.
- Read our Disney Moderate Resort Reviews
Deluxe Resorts at Christmas
- Disney Deluxe Resorts have the best decorations, like life-size Gingerbread displays.
- Are be more expensive but less crowded
- Have the best Transportation options.
- Boardwalk Resorts- Boardwalk Inn, The Beach Club, The Yacht Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Resorts are all within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios and have access to the Skyliner Gondola at International Gateway and Hollywood Studios. As well as the Monorail at the front of Epcot Park.
- Monorail Resorts– The Contemporary, Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian Resort all offer monorail access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
- Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds has boat access to Magic Kingdom and therefore both the monorail to Epcot and to the Monorail Resorts.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Christmas is wonderful for the holidays. But, you will have to take the bus. It is, however, absolutely worth the trip.
- Read our Disney Deluxe Resort Reviews
When Do Disney Resorts Get Christmas Decorations?
Christmas Decorations at Disney Resorts typically show up around the second or third week of November. This year Disney Resort Christmas Decorations will be set up by November 11, 2023, the start of Christmas time at Disney World.
The Resorts at Walt Disney World all get dressed up for the festive season every year and offer some of the best Christmas decorations across the property. If you’re hoping to be in the middle of the action, check out our post on the Best Disney Resorts to Stay at for Christmas. Decorations begin showing up at Disney Resorts during the third week of November. Nothing beats browsing the many Disney resorts with trees and decorations. You will not see anything like this anywhere else. With themed trees, larger-than-life decorations, and experiences that add to the magic, here’s the lineup. Check out our favorite strategy for seeing the Disney Resort Decorations at Walt Disney World. And since your time may be limited, here are our Best Disney Resorts to Visit for Christmas.
What are the Best Disney Resorts for Christmas?
Every Disney Resort gets dressed up for the holidays, so in our opinion, any Disney Resort could be a good choice for you and your family. However, there are certain things that we always look for when choosing the Best Disney Resorts for Christmas. Here are some tips for choosing a Disney Resort for Christmas.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Home to more than 20 years of Gingerbread Carousel Tradition, Disney’s Beach Club, welcomes a new Gingerbread Carousel each year. Every carousel is themed to a Disney character, movie, or place. Did we mention it’s life-size and moves too? An absolute must-see at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
This Victorian Gingerbread House in the lobby of the Grand Floridan Resort is made from real gingerbread, decorated in detail, and serves up gingerbread treats at the nearby cottage counter. A true excursion this holiday season, we recommend grabbing the monorail or hopping on a Disney Bus to the Grand Floridian so that you can see this in person!
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
One of our favorite places to visit for the holidays is the Disney Campgrounds. If you’re staying there, you can rent a golf cart to drive around and see the camper’s Christmas Decorations. With each site decked to the nines, and RV’s at Fort Wilderness wearing their festive best, there is plenty to see here. Christmas lights galore can be found across Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, and you can grab hot cocoa at the commissary.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
If you’re longing for the cozy Christmas Cabin vibe, then head to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort for all the festive decor, a multi-story Christmas Tree, and festive Christmas Snacks at Roaring Fork. Smells of pine waft through the air here, and if you’re lucky you may even see a small Gingerbread Cabin during your visit. Grab a S’mores Latte and settle in by the fire.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Draped in elegance for the holidays, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort features a two-story Christmas Tree in the Barcelona Lounge area of the resort. Towering in front of large glass windows and among white marble columns, it’s a beautiful scene. Be sure to take some time here to grab hot chocolate or a drink, and settle into the sights of the season.
Cost to Visit Disney World During Christmas
Planning a Disney Vacation Budget to accommodate Disney for Christmas can be a little overwhelming. Not only do you have the expensive holiday travel, presents, winter packing, and special Disney Christmas events to consider. And never mind that you’re traveling during the Most Expensive Time of the Year at Disney. The Christmas season is generally tougher on your wallet than any other time of year. That said, it’s important to go in with a plan. Here’s what you’ll need to portion out in your budget.
Disney Dining Plans are available at Disney World for Christmas and offer a great way to pre-pay for your meals. Alternatively, you can also review our post on how to create a Disney Dining Budget to get a handle on your Disney Food costs on your own. We typically recommend planning between 70-100 dollars per person, per day on food. This typically includes a breakfast ($15 dollars), a Quick Service meal ( $15-25), a Disney Snack ( $5-10), and a table service meal ($35-80). As you can see the table service meal here is completely dependent on the restaurant you’ve chosen and what mealtime you are planning for. And while we’ve included the typical soda or coffee in these ranges, alcohol will blow your budget faster than anything else. So you may want to portion out alcohol purchases separately. As a reminder, contactless payments are preferred, so prepare to have a credit card attached to your My Disney Experience account so you can use your MagicBand to pay, or Mobile Order. Disney Gift Cards also work well here to help you stay on budget.
You may only need to pay for transportation at Walt Disney World during certain times throughout your vacation. For instance, to and from the airport an Uber ride typically costs $30-50 dollars each way. But to and from your resort to a park for an important dining reservation when you’re running late is closer to $10 dollars. Plan, plan, plan to get the best handle on how much you should budget here.
Tips and Gratuities
Generally, an 18% gratuity is added to your dining bill at any table-service restaurant for parties of 6 or more people. If you have less than that, a gratuity is still expected but at your discretion. You can check your receipt for the suggested tip amount- usually at least 15%.
If you’re not staying at a Disney Resort ( which gets you FREE resort parking and FREE theme park parking) then you’ll have to pay to park at the theme parks. Check out the Disney Parking Fees post for all the details on ways to AVOID them!
Disney Christmas Snacks
Don’t underestimate the power of Disney snacks during the holidays. From adorable cupcakes covered in Mickey Santas to all things pumpkin, gingerbread, and peppermint, you’ll be enamored by the selection of Disney Christmas Snacks throughout the holidays. Snacks range from $5-10 dollars.
International Festival of Holidays at Epcot
Disney’s International Festival of Holidays happens every holiday season at Epcot, and while it is included in your Epcot park ticket, any of the festival foods will cost extra. To budget for this event, we recommend looking at the Festival of Holidays Menus ahead of time. This will help you nail down your favorite foods to try. Plan on between 5-8 dollars for a small plate, and between 9-15 dollars for alcoholic beverages. We recommend adding whatever amount you choose for this event to a Disney Gift Card. They do offer festival-specific gift cards that are wristlets. Which makes adding money and paying for your food at each outdoor kitchen a breeze. This helps you from going over your amount or at least realizing that at some point your gift card will have no more money on it. And if you’re planning on seeing the Candlelight Processional, consider a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. This is one of our favorite events at Disney for Christmas, so be sure not to miss it.
Yes, it’s Christmas time and chances are gifts are piled under a tree ( or hidden in a closet) at home but chances are you will still want some souvenirs. Decide what souvenirs you may be hoping for ahead of time. This is a fun conversation that can happen on a road trip to Florida or on an airplane. Typical souvenirs include Stuffed Animals ( $25 dollars), Mugs ( $20) Disney Jersey ($50-70 dollars), Mickey Ears ( $25-30 dollars), and Disney Popcorn Buckets ($10-25 dollars). Check out our favorite FREE Disney Souvenirs if you’re hoping to save some money.
Christmas Shopping Disney Springs
Whether you’re buying a hoodie at Uniqlo because it suddenly becomes cold in Florida or stocking up on last-minute Christmas gifts so you don’t have to trudge through the snow at home, be sure to set aside Disney Springs money. From the 7-dollar Starbucks coffee at Disney to the gift for grandma, there will undoubtedly be things at Disney Springs you can’t find at home and will need to buy. Again, having a plan here is best. Making a half-day or a day at Disney Springs will include meals, snacks, and potentially gifts, so put aside some funds for this day. Check out everything you can do for Disney Springs at Christmas.
Tips for Disney World Christmas Crowds
If you’re thinking Christmas at Walt Disney World is going to be all magic and miracles over the holidays at Walt Disney World, let’s set a few things straight. It will, but there are crowds and they can totally kill your happy holiday vibe if you’re not ready for it! Read about our strategies for dealing with Disney Holiday crowds, because you’ll need them for that 60-minute wait for the bus. Being prepared can help you stay realistic with your expectations.
We’ll be honest, we were caught off guard with just how much “crowd” would be showing up during the holidays. If you’re looking for all the Disney Christmas tips you’ll need to get through the holidays, check out our Christmas at Walt Disney World Tips post. Things like sketchy wi-fi, stroller parking, family drama, and how to manage transportation while your credit card is skyrocketing are all in the post and it’s a Must-Read if you are traveling during the season.
Disney World Christmas Transportation Options
For one thing, it will come as no surprise that the holiday season is the most expensive and most stressful time to travel. That said, here are some strategies that will help with your holiday vacation plans.
Flying to Walt Disney World During the Holidays
If you’re booking a flight, we recommend booking as soon as you know you are traveling. In the olden days, there was a pretty strict belief that the best time and cheapest time to snag flights was 45 days before your vacation. That doesn’t hold true during the holidays like it may other times of the year. Holiday travel sells out quickly, and the prices only go up the closer you get to the season. That said we recommend a few things if you’re flying during the holidays.
- Sign up for Airline Loyalty Programs so you can get a first look at deals, offers, and alerts.
- Upgrade your Credit Card to one with Travel Points
- Check out Google Flights or the Hopper app for a comprehensive view of all flights available during your travel dates
- Airline-wise, we are tried and true Southwest fans. The fact that they don’t charge for luggage is a godsend when we know we’ll be shopping for Christmas gifts you can only get at Walt Disney World parks and will have to transport that home.
- Buy the Travel Insurance. With the weather, overbooked flights, and a higher chance you’ll lose your luggage, travel insurance is a good purchase during the busy Christmas travel season and you’ll get some peace of mind knowing that you have a safety net.
- Buy the Early Bird Check-in for at least one person in your travel party
Driving to Walt Disney World for the Holidays
If you’re driving to Walt Disney World during the holiday season be aware of weather conditions that may show up during your journey to Orlando Florida. It’s also important to remember that just as we see higher crowds at the airport, you will also see higher congestion and traffic on Orlando roads. Be aware of your drive route ahead of entering the city and plan ample time to get to your resort, and settled. Here are a few recommendations if you’re bringing a car to Walt Disney World for the holidays.
- Rent a Car, especially if you’re driving any distance. Unless your car is very new and you don’t mind putting the miles on it. Traveling in Rental Car is a good option to make sure you don’t break down during your vacation, in a car not used to long distances.
- Sign up for the loyalty programs. Hertz, Enterprise, carrentals.com, and more all have loyalty programs that can help you get discounts and be notified of deals and extra perks.
- Put your rental car charges on a separate credit card from your other expenses. Rental Car fees can add up and require a significant monetary hold on your credit card until the car is returned. Keeping this charge on a separate card can help you keep track of what you’re actually charged at the end of your trip. And can free up other credit cards for other charges.
- Check your Car Insurance to make sure Rental Cars are covered on your policy.
- Bring Snacks, Music, Blankets, and Activities for the Ride
Getting to Walt Disney World from Orlando International Airport
Guests traveling from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort have access to shuttles, Uber and Lyft. Check out all the options for Transportation from Orlando Airport to Walt Disney World.
Getting Around Walt Disney World During the Holidays
Walt Disney World has many complimentary transportation options across the property. Buses, Boats, Monorails, Skyliner, as well as the typical Uber and Lyft services available. As a result, it’s fairly easy to get to and from anywhere across Walt Disney World property without a car.
But, keep in mind that as complimentary services go, they are not set to YOUR schedule. And during the holidays they are the busiest.
You may wait longer than 1 hour at bus stops, and be unable to get a spot to the Monorail, and it’s not uncommon for the Disney Skyliner to break down under the constant strain of operations through the busiest time of year. Here are a few things to remember about transportation at Disney World during the Holidays.
- Be prepared to pay for Uber, Lyft or a taxi if you need to be somewhere for a reservation.
- Consider Walking! Choosing to Stay at a Disney Resort in Walking Distance of the Disney Parks is ideal, but if you can’t swing it, there are shortcuts all over Walt Disney World that can help you avoid transportation issues.
- Monorail Resorts ( Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian Resort) connect to MagicKingdom via a walking path.
- Boardwalk Resorts ( Boardwalk Inn, Beach and Yacht Club Resorts, Swan and Dolphin) connect to Epcot and Hollywood Studios via a walking path
- Ferry Resorts ( Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, Saratoga Springs, and Old Key West Resort) connect to Disney Springs via a walking path.
Christmas at Walt Disney World
There you have it! Everything you can do, expect, and plan for Disney at Christmas. From Christmas Crowds at Disney World to Christmas Decorations and Events for the Holidays at Disney Parks, hopefully, we’ve covered it all. We hope you find Disney World at Christmas time to be as magical and festive as ours have been.
Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.