Christmas at Walt Disney World is always magical. Still, you may be wondering WHAT is happening at Walt Disney World for the holidays. With fun and free things to do, the Festival of Holidays, new seasonal snacks, and merchandise, there will be plenty of fun to be had. Here are our Top 10 Disney World Christmas Must-Dos for the holiday season.
What to do for Christmas at Walt Disney World
Check out Everything New for Christmas at Disney World to help get an idea of the things returning this year and the things that we’ll have to wait for. Thankfully, there is still a slew of fun activities and events that will make the holidays at Walt Disney World worthwhile. For Christmas at Walt Disney World you can plan on new Disney holiday snacks, seasonal merchandise, and decorations in the parks and resorts. Christmas typically starts the second week in November.
When does Christmas Start at Walt Disney World?
This year Christmas at Walt Disney World begins on November 11, 2023. With a new Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and more holiday fun, be sure to check out everything happening this year for the holidays at Disney World.
- 1 Christmas at Magic Kingdom
- 2 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- 3 Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise
- 4 International Festival of Holidays at Epcot
- 5 Candlelight Processional at EPCOT Park
- 6 Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios
- 7 Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios
- 8 Merry Menagerie Marionettes at Animal Kingdom
- 9 Gingerbread Displays at Disney Resorts
- 10 Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs
Christmas at Magic Kingdom
Our favorite things for Christmas at Magic Kingdom usually include oogling the decorations, and shop windows, trying all the Disney snacks, and heading to the gift shops to see the new seasonal merchandise. Featuring a new castle lighting ceremony called the Frozen Holiday Surprise and evening Christmas projections on the castle, there is much to be seen! The Cinderella Christmas Castle Projection Show loops every 15 minutes, so be sure to see all the scenes. We recommend heading to Magic Kingdom for Christmas on a day when there isn’t a party. Be sure to check park hours ahead of time so you can make the most of your day. And don’t forget the Main Street Philharmonic and Toy Soldier March, marching from the Storybook Circus Area of Fantasyland down Main Street USA. This march happens a few times throughout the day and really adds to the Christmas Spirit.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Christmas at Walt Disney World gets a whole lot merrier with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It features the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, Santa Claus, and exclusive merchandise and snacks! Check out our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Guide for dates, ticket prices, and a list of everything you can do! And if you’re not keen on cashing in your retirement plan for this expensive party, just plan to skip the Disney Park ticket the day of the party. That way you’ll still get to be in the parks to experience the extra magic, without paying twice. You can enter the parks as early as 4 p.m. with a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party ticket.
Jingle Cruise on the Jungle Cruise
One of our favorite rides, Jungle Cruise, gets a holiday overlay at Walt Disney World every year. With decorations scattered throughout this exotic cruise, you’ll also get a slew of new holiday stories. Jingle Cruise Skippers journeying home for the holidays share tales of holiday mayhem and family drama. Complete with a holiday lineup of pun-filled jokes. This ride has a following and sometimes has a long wait but never fear! Simply check the My Disney Experience App for wait times, or add it to your Genie+ ride selections.
International Festival of Holidays at Epcot
The International Festival of Holidays at Epcot is included in the price of a park ticket and gets you close to the holiday action. Find Holiday Kitchens across Epcot to help get your fill of favorite holiday foods from different countries. Check out the Festival of Holidays Menus to get an idea of the holiday feast in store! You can look forward to all our favorite festival dishes, like Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing at the American Holiday Table. In addition to food, you can play the Olaf’s Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt Game, see musical performances, visit the Holiday Storytellers in each world Showcase Country, and listen to the sound of the season. As part of the festivities, many of the kitchens feature a cookie that can count towards your Cookie Stroll. Collect 5 cookie stamps, one for each cookie, and you’ll get a complimentary cookie and a free glass of milk when you turn it in.
Candlelight Processional at EPCOT Park
One of the most important Disney World Christmas Must-Dos is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot Park. This show is a reading of The Nativity Story and takes place each evening throughout the Festival of Holidays. Featuring a Celebrity Reader, Full Orchestra, and Choir, this show fills the air with music and magic. And truthfully, it just makes everything feel so much like Christmas. If you’re looking for a top-notch spot, you can book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package for dinner and a great seat. But don’t worry if you don’t, as it’s sometimes easy to just catch the later show and walk right in for a seat.
Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios
We LOVE Hollywood Studios for the Holidays. And most of what we love is just the decorations and snacks! So you can still have fun even if there are minimal events offered! Be sure to take time and look at all the Christmas Decorations at Hollywood Studios. From kitschy 50’s decor to glitzy Hollywood Glamour there are so many unique Holiday things to see in this park. If you need a special way to ring in the season head to Hollywood Studios for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine. This Yuletide Dining experience features all our favorite Disney characters dressed up for the holidays. You can hang out with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy in their Christmas attire. Plus, this experience includes Santa Goofy!
Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios
This Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios includes three elements of the holidays right on Sunset Boulevard. Sunset Seasons Greetings is a digital show on the Tower of Terror featuring festive holiday projections like the building of a gingerbread house, or tumbling Christmas gifts. Featuring snowy Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” You can also grab some cocoa and watch the street side billboards showcase new holiday stories. From classic holiday Mickey cartoons to the Muppets, just watch the billboards that line Sunset Boulevard for stories of the season. And we couldn’t call it a flurry without a little bit of snow. Snow falls nightly on Sunset Boulevard to set the holiday mood. And if you’re looking for an extra special way to enjoy this park for the season, check out Jollywood Night Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios for even more special events to ring in the season.
Merry Menagerie Marionettes at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has finally stepped up its holiday game! Animal Kingdom for the Holidays is all about beautiful natural elements, like marionettes, animal sculptures, and holiday characters from afar! 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. You can also catch Holiday Flotillas sailing Discovery River with Disney characters dressed for the season.
Gingerbread Displays at Disney Resorts
An absolute favorite, visiting the Disney Resorts for Christmas means seeing larger-than-life Christmas Trees and Gingerbread Displays. Be sure to add some Disney Resort time to your holiday vacation at Walt Disney World. Our favorites include the Gingerbread Carousel at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and the Gingerbread Giraffe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs
Disney Springs welcomes back loads of trees and the Christmas Tree Stroll scavenger hunt game. These trees are specially designed for your favorite Disney movies and characters. This is another free activity perfect for the holidays and you can grab your free gameboard at the Disney Springs visitors center. Come prepared to be inspired. We love this experience early in the season to help us get ideas for our own trees. Check out even more things you can do for Christmas at Walt Disney World without a park ticket.
Hopefully, this list of fun activities for the holidays at Walt Disney World gets you started planning your best holiday season ever!
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.