On our recent trip to Disneyland, we noted in our Instagram Stories that Walt Disney World should offer some of the free fun for the holidays that Disneyland does. To my surprise, all but one of you who responded agreed with us! Apparently this is a hot button issue among Walt Disney World fans, who knew?!
While Disneyland offers both a Christmas Parade, Main Street Snow and a Holiday Fireworks show at no extra charge, Walt Disney World reserves these shows specifically for those who are attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The fact that the tickets start at $99 per person can make it quite the investment if you’re traveling as a family, if you’re a broke college student or even if you’re just a regular person trying to get through the holidays without taking out a second mortgage.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party actually didn’t make our Walt Disney World holiday must do’s this year for the simple fact that we don’t want to mislead you guys and think you must attend the Christmas Party at its current cost in order to enjoy the holiday season at Walt Disney World.
Note that if you can handle the most crowded week of the year, (p.s.-we can’t), Walt Disney World actually makes the Once Upon a ChristmasTime Parade and the Holiday Wishes fireworks show available to the general public during the week of Christmas.
But if you’re headed to Walt Disney World during the merriest(and busiest!) time of the year, here are some of our favorite things you can count on to spread some holiday cheer without having to fork over the money you had originally saved for your mothers Christmas present…. ahem…
Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios
While you won’t find any holiday parades here, you will find snow on Sunset Blvd, the Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam fireworks show, Sunset Greetings with projections on Tower of Terror, loads of fun treats and some of the cutest vintage décor around.
And if you’re already heading to Hollywood Studios, which you should be, be sure to stop by Toy Story Land to see the cute holiday overlay they’ve created there this year.
International Festival of the Holidays at Epcot
We love Epcot and all of its festivals and the International Festival of Holidays is no different. Enjoy lots of festive foods, fun traditions from around the world and get into the true spirit of the holiday with the Candlelight Processional. While you do have the option of booking a dining package for the Processional, the show itself is free, so as long as you show up early you should be able to get a seat for one of the shows.
Tour the Decorated Resorts at Walt Disney World
From elaborate Gingerbread houses to Gingerbread Carousels to beautifully decorated lobbies, there is no shortage of Christmas magic to be seen at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Find our tour here and use it as a guide, but know that every WDW resort is decorated beautifully for the holiday and they are all free to visit.
Visit Disney Springs for the Holidays
Not only does Disney Springs feature the Christmas Tree Trail, which we highly recommend, but they also have several large, beautifully decorated trees, a fun scavenger hunt for the holidays, the chance to visit with Santa, holiday entertainment and lots of fun, festive treats. And other than anything you want to purchase, visiting there won’t cost you a thing! You can see Disney Springs calendar of events here.
Holiday Magic at Magic Kingdom
So maybe Magic Kingdom won’t give you a Christmas Parade and Christmas Fireworks for free, but there is still plenty of holiday magic to be had there! Check out the classic and beautiful décor of Main Street, take a ride on the punniest holiday overlay around on the Jingle Cruise, try festive treats from the Confectionary or Main Street Bakery, catch the lighting of Cinderella Castle during a Frozen Holiday Wish or watch the holiday trolley show on Main Street.
Meet Characters in their Festive Attire
Sure you won’t be able to meet all of the Christmas Party specific characters outside of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but you can still find some festive character meets around the Parks!
One of our favorites is actually located at Animal Kingdom and its a meet and greet we love so much that we actually made a DIY to match them last year. Mickey and Minnie can be found in Adventurers Outpost in Animal Kingdom, complete in matching festive sweaters!
You can also find Chip and Dale in festive scarves, occasionally Santa Goofy and several other festively dressed characters in Animal Kingdom as well.
At Epcot, you can find Donald in the Mexico pavilion at Ecpot in his sombrero with some holiday accents, and although sources of information seem to conflict all over the internet, we have even seen Belle in her Christmas dress at Epcot during November! Some sources will tell you she is only in her dress Christmas day, others will say its random throughout the Festival of Holidays…..
I’m going to be honest here, its not actually officially published anywhere but we have definitely seen her in the France Pavilion and we’ve never been there on Christmas day. My point?! Keep your eyes peeled! You never know who you might see dressed up for the holidays!
If you happen to have reservations at Hollywood and Vine(yes this will obviously cost you some money), which is themed as Minnie’s Holiday Dine, those characters will be dressed in holiday attire as well.
Santa can be found throughout Walt Disney World, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and at the Once Upon a Time Shop in Hollywood Studios, where Santa Goofy takes his place after Dec 24th.
In addition to all of that, you can find many festive characters throughout the resorts during the season and although it isn’t necessarily published or well known, if you’re visiting the resorts like we suggested, you’re definitely likely to see a few!
So there you have it, so many places to see free holiday additions at Walt Disney World without having to give up your grocery budget for the week! What are some of your favorite free things to do at Walt Disney World during the holiday season? Let us know, we’d love to check them out!