Christmas at Disney World Planning Guide 2023

Christmas at Disney World Planning Guide 2023

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?

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! 

Disney Christmas Castle Projection Show 2020

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 treats at christmas time

Mickey Mouse-shaped Red Glitter Jingle Bell Glow Cube

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.

Seasonal Merchandise

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. 

Seasonal Entertainment

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

If you await the annual arrival of the new Christmas Popcorn Bucket, know that you can usually find it at Hollywood Studios first! Check the popcorn stands for the latest buckets, and holiday popcorn flavors. 

hollywood studios christmas

Epcot International Festival of Holidays, Disney christmas, free disney fun, free disney christmas things, disney holiday decorations, walt disney world holiday

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. 

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. 

Christmas at Animal Kingdom Lodge

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. 

Disney during the holidays

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 Christmas Castle Lighting at Disney World

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. 

Mickey's Christmas Party

Cinderella Castle Holiday Projection Show

Beautiful digital projections cover Cinderella’s Castle with holiday designs throughout the evenings at Magic Kingdom. You can see gorgeous blues and golds, reds and greens, and even a fair isle sweater print pattern that shows up on the castle during this evening’s projection show. It loops every 15 minutes, so you’re sure to see gorgeous colors all evening long. Since it is dependent on nighttime lighting, this show is not offered on nights that Mickey’s Christmas Party is offered. Be sure to double-check park times before planning your Magic Kingdom Day so that you can choose a day without the party. 

Main Street Philharmonic and the Toy Soldier March

Adding a little holiday cheer throughout Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Philharmonic marching band and Toy Soldiers take to the streets throughout the day playing holiday music. The best view of this show is centered on Main Street, with Cinderella’s Castle in the background. 

Christmas Cavalcades

Walt Disney World Resort parks have a slew of Christmas Cavalcades that happen in each park throughout the holiday season. At Magic Kingdom, you can see Santa Christmas Cavalcade, A Royal Christmas Processional, Mickey’s Holiday Cavalcade, and Goofy’s Scrumptious Cavalcade. All offer unique takes with our favorite Disney characters decked out in holiday decorations and outfits. 

Holiday Trolley featuring the Dapper Dans

A staple in Magic Kingdom, the Dapper Dans, take to Main Street in their Christmas best. Courtesy of the Main Street Trolley singing songs with tidings of comfort and joy. Be sure to stop and listen for your favorite Christmas songs by this talented group!
Disney Jingle Cruise

Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise

A fan favorite, Jingle Cruise returns every holiday season to Walt Disney World to add a little holiday cheer to the Jungle Cruise. With Holiday decorations, stories, and jokes, this boat ride should be on your holiday must-do list. 

The Christmas Shoppe

Available all year round The Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom debuts all the new Christmas ornaments and decor items as soon as the holiday season arrives. Be sure to stop by the shop to see the new seasonal merchandise. 
very merry christmas parade wdw

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.

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 

This magical digital projection show lights up The Hollywood Tower Hotel with holiday scenes from our favorite stories that loop throughout the evening. Usually looped in 15-minute segments, this show starts at dusk, around 6:30 pm or so. Be sure to catch all the storylines through the night. You can see a  Snowy Arendelle, building blocks from Toy Story, and classic Victorian Christmas scenes from Mickey’s Christmas Carol. 

Flurry of Fun

Christmas at Hollywood Studios just wouldn’t be complete without snowflakes on Sunset Boulevard and Christmas Shorts on the Billboards. As part of this flurry of a fun experience, which is free and included in your park ticket, you can stroll the streets with your favorite Christmas snack and take in the season. 

Merry Motorcade with Santa Clause

Hollywood Studios is known for its cute cars cruising the streets. And during the holidays, you can see Santa Claus himself going for a drive throughout the day. 

For the First time in Forever Olaf’s Holiday Finale

This Sing-Along performance gets a holiday overlay in the form of Olaf’s Holiday Finale! A great way to take a break from the Florida weather, settle in to listen to the story of Frozen, and Let it Go!

Toy Story Land Christmas Overlay

If you’re looking for evidence of the holidays in Andy’s Backyard you won’t be disappointed! Large Christmas Cookies, ornaments, gifts, and more can be found throughout Toy Story Land, and is worth a stroll. 

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.

international festival of holidays at epcot christmas at walt disney world

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.  

Festival of Holidays Menus 2023

Epcot’s International Festival of Holidays November 24- December 30, 2023

Epcot’s International Festival of Holidays offers more than just amazing cultural holiday cuisine across the World Showcase. With games, performances, merchandise, and festive foods, here is everything you can do for your EPCOT day at Walt Disney World.
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. 
Festival Kitchens

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. 

Holidays Animal Kingdom

Holidays Animal Kingdom

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. 

Festive Flotillas

You can find the Disney characters at Animal Kingdom sailing down Discovery River in festive floats. Santa Claus, Donald’s Dino-Bash, Chip and Dale, Mickey and Friends, and the Discovery Island Drummers all make appearances throughout the season. 

Holidays in Pandora

Pandora World of Avatar gets dressed up just like the rest of the park through the holidays! With draped greens, ornaments, and random things that look like ornaments, this is a fun part of the park to explore during the festive season. 
Disney Springs Holidays at Jock Lindsays Bar

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

On select evenings at Disney Springs, you can experience snowfall for the season while you shop. Typically Fridays- Sundays throughout the season. 

Jock Lindsays Hangar Bar Holiday Takeover

Jock Lindsays Hangar Bar transforms into a festive playground of fun during the holiday season. Holiday menu items typically include a holiday capers wreath, Egg nog drinks, and Christmas cake pops. This is a perfect holiday stop for Disney Adults.

Disney’s Days of Christmas Shop

Open all year long, this Christmas store features the largest selection of Christmas items on Disney property! Including ornaments, decor, and more. Be sure to stop in and get your fill of all the new seasonal merchandise. 

Santas Winter Watercade

Disney Springs lets Santa go for a boat ride to relax! See if you can spot him sailboating around Disney Springs during your Christmas shopping day. 

Waterside Stage Holiday Music

As part of the Christmas festivities all season long you can hear Christmas music both recorded and live throughout the day at Disney Springs. Evenings and Weekends typically have local bands on the Waterside Stage, if you’re looking for live entertainment. 

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 christmas whoopie pie at hollywood studios

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

Another Disney character meal option for the holidays, Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House adds holiday treats to the food options through the holidays. With the restaurant decorated and Mickey and Friends in seasonal gear, this restaurant is a fun one to book for the Christmas season. At Tusker House you can see Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. 

Liberty Tree Tavern

By far our favorite place for a holiday meal at Disney World, Liberty Tree Tavern serves up a budget-friendly family-style meal like no other. Complete with Turkey, mac and cheese, potatoes, and Oooey gooey cake among other things. A great selection of foods for families, this restaurant is ideal for groups and chilly days during the season. 

jingle cruise jungle cruise

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. 

Christmas at the Polynesian Resort Disney World

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

Deluxe Resorts at Christmas

Yacht Club at chrismtastime

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. 

Belle's Enchanted Christmas Tree Macaron

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.

Dining Cost

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%. 

Parking Fees

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. 


very merry christmas parade disney world

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. 

very merry christmas party disney xmas

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,, 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.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

santa clause at the very merry christmas parade walt disney world

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.  


Beginners guide to Walt Disney World at Christmas #disneyatchristmas #disneyholidays #disneyfamily

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

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.

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