Walt Disney World is extra magical at Christmastime every year. And we are always super excited for all the tried and true Christmas favorites returning to the park, but it’s the new stuff that gets us. From new snacks and the new Festival of Holidays Menus to new experiences, you’ll want to take note of all that is happening this year. Check out the list of what’s new at Walt Disney World for Christmas this year!
- 1 When Does Christmas Start at Walt Disney World?
- 2 What are the Christmas Hours at Walt Disney World 2023?
- 3 Disney World at Christmas Time 2023
- 4 New Christmas Snacks at Walt Disney World
- 5 New at Disney World Christmas Decorations
- 6 New at Animal Kingdom for Christmas
- 7 New at Hollywood Studios for Christmas
- 8 New at Magic Kingdom for Christmas
- 9 New at EPCOT for Christmas
- 10 Disney Springs at Christmas
- 11 New at Disney Resorts for Christmas
- 12 Christmas at Blizzard Beach
- 13 Seasonal Merchandise at Disney Parks
When Does Christmas Start at Walt Disney World?
This year Christmas at Walt Disney World begins on November 9, 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. This means resort decorations, specialty seasonal snacks, and more! We’ve done a round-up of all the plans in each Disney Park, Disney Springs, and Disney Resorts below!
What are the Christmas Hours at Walt Disney World 2023?
Hours at Walt Disney World in December for the Christmas season vary depending on park hours and evening events. So it’s important to check the Walt Disney World Christmas hours before you go. For updated times, special events, and changes see the Walt Disney World 5-Day Calendar. Here’s the breakdown of Christmas Hours at Disney World Parks for the holiday season 2023.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Hours
Magic Kingdom hours in December are 9:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. These are evenings without Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. For evenings when Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is offered, Magic Kingdom Hours on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
- Early Entry at Magic Kingdom is offered 8:30-9:00 am for Disney Resort Guests, on select mornings
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Hours are 7:pm- 12:00 am. Party guests are allowed to arrive as early as 4:00 p.m.
Animal Kingdom Christmas Hours
Animal Kingdom hours in December are 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. The Tree of Life Awakenings Holiday show is offered once it gets dark.
- Early Entry at Animal Kingdom is offered 8:30-9:00 am for Disney Resort Guests
- Extended Evening Hours at Animal Kingdom are offered 7:00 p.m.- 9 p.m. for Disney Resort Guests, on select evenings.
EPCOT Christmas Hours
EPCOT hours in December are 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Featuring the nighttime spectacular show on the lake. And Festival of Holidays events running from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm throughout December.
- Early Entry at EPCOT is offered 8:30-9:00 am for Disney Resort Guests
- Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT are offered from 9:30 p.m.- to 11:00 pm. for Disney Resort Guests, on select evenings.
Hollywood Studios Christmas Hours
Hollywood Studios hours in December are 9:00 am- 9:00 pm. On nights offering the Jollywood Nights Christmas Party, Hollywood Studios’ hours are 9:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.
- Early Entry at Hollywood Studios is offered 8:30-9:00 am for Disney Resort Guests
- Jollywood Nights Christmas Party Hours are 8:30 pm to 12:30 am. Party Guests are allowed to arrive as early as 7:00 p.m.
Is Walt Disney World Open on Christmas Day?
Yes, Walt Disney World is Open on Christmas Day and offers a variety of special entertainment to celebrate, including Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration show on the Cinderella Castle Stage, the Frozen Holiday Surprise Castle Lighting, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show and the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, featuring Santa Claus himself.
Disney World at Christmas Time 2023
As the holiday season fast approaches, there is so much to look forward to! To get you ready for your Disney Christmas Vacation here are ways to beat the Disney Holiday Crowds so that your vacation can stay magical. Christmas activities begin the second week of November in almost all the parks and resorts. Check out our post on the Best Time to Visit Disney World during the holidays to make sure you get to do, see, and eat everything you’re hoping to, during this trip.
New Christmas Snacks at Walt Disney World
While we definitely pull back on too many treats for the holidays, we can’t help trying all the treats that show up in the parks for the holidays. From simple treats like cookies to elaborate concoctions like funnel cake topped with whipped cream and fruit toppings. Check out all the New Holiday Snacks at Walt Disney World for the season so you can make a plan for the treats you most want to try.
New at Disney World Christmas Decorations
One of our favorite parts of visiting Disney World for Christmas is seeing the Christmas Decorations. And every year they get more and more beautiful. With more than 600 Christmas Trees at Disney World, and over 1700 Wreaths hung across the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs there is plenty to be seen. While creating these amazing decorations takes almost a full year for Disney Cast Members, their overnight arrival in the parks just after Halloween makes things extra magical.
You can find New Disney World Christmas Decorations across the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. We most like Hollywood Studios Christmas Decorations for the kitschy and unique spin on holiday decor. At the same, each Disney Resort for Christmas is decorated with new ornaments on the trees, themed to the resort’s story, and the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll features 20+ new trees to find and admire.
New at Animal Kingdom for Christmas
During the holidays at Animal Kingdom, you can see life-sized puppets, rooftop luminaries, bird lanterns, and more to give you that wintry feeling of Christmas. While the Tree of Life Wintry Edition is by far the showstopper we also love the decorations, marionettes, and treats at Animal Kingdom for the holidays. Here are all the things that are returning this year at Animal Kingdom for the holidays.
Animal Puppet Merry Menagerie Marionettes
By far one of the coolest things to see is the gorgeous animal puppets that take to the streets courtesy of their handlers. These engaging creatures add a little more fun to the holiday. Meticulously crafted life-size artisan-sculpted animal puppets come out to play throughout the day. Beautifully crafted in blue, white gold, and silver accents. So be sure to stop and take a look!
Mickey and Minnie in the Holiday Outfits
Found at Adventurer’s Outpost you can see both Mickey and Minnie at Animal Kingdom for Christmas. Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app, for details on meeting times.
Festive Flotillas at Animal Kingdom for Christmas
Featuring Disney Characters in their holiday best keep an eye out for Festive Flotillas. These floats will appear throughout the day for festive fun to look forward to. With several spots across the park to see these floats on Discovery River, finding a spot isn’t difficult. However, a spot on any bridge will often give you the best vantage point.
- Santa Claus Festive Flotilla
- The big man himself will be floating on a Festival Flotilla down Discovery River as part of the Animal Kingdom Celebrations.
- Donald’s Dino-Bash Festive Flotilla
- See Donald Duck, Daisy, and Launchpad from Ducktales happy with holiday cheer while sailing Discovery River.
- Chip & Dale’s Festive Flotilla
- Don’t miss Chip ‘n’ Dale grooving to the holiday music as they float down Discovery River for the festive season.
- Mickey and Friends Festive Flotilla
- Mickey and Friends, in their best safari holiday gear, can be seen from bridges, and alongside Discovery River throughout the day!
- Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla
- Listen for the Island drummers cruising along the river playing fun and festive tunes.
Wintry Tales on the Tree of Life Holiday Edition
This digital show on the Tree of Life showcases woodland animals, a holiday music score, and shimmering magical scenes that honor nature and the spirit of the holidays. This show runs on a loop in the evenings when the park is open a little later. Grab a spot to watch on Discovery Island.
New at Hollywood Studios for Christmas
Hollywood Studios at Christmas is one of our favorite parks to visit. In addition to everything new, you also get that feeling of an old-time holiday! Read more about why we think you must visit Hollywood Studios for the Holidays.
Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios *NEW 2023*
Offered for 10 select nights between November 11- December 20, 2023, this NEW Disney World Christmas Party at Hollywood Studios has loads of holiday fun at the ready. This event has limited capacity and requires a special ticket. But it’s also the only event where you can see Holidays in Hollywood Show at Theater of the Stars with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and some of their Disney friends. Take part in the What’s This Nightmare Before Christmas Sing-Along. And even see limited-capacity entertainment experiences including a jazz lounge at The Hollywood Brown Derby and a soiree at The Tip Top Club in the Hollywood Tower Hotel Courtyard. Plus you get to see Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Nighttime spectacular at Chinese Theater. Check out everything you need to know about Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine Is all about Yuletide Dining and all our favorite Disney characters dressed up for the holidays. You can hang out with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy in their Christmas attire. And this experience includes Santa Goofy! Read more about Minnie’s Holiday Dine.
You can catch Disney characters driving through the parks for the season with holiday music and fun decorations in tow. The main event is the Santa Claus Motorcade. So, if you’re looking for Santa Claus you’ll find him driving in his little red convertible loaded with presents. And of course, an entourage of Elves will be on hand to help!
Sunset Season Greetings at Hollywood Studios
This Flurry of Fun at Hollywood Studios includes three elements of the holidays right on Sunset Boulevard. Sunset Seasons Greetings is a digital show on the Tower of Terror featuring festive holiday projections like the building of a gingerbread house, or tumbling Christmas gifts. Featuring snowy Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”
You can also grab some cocoa and watch the streetside billboards showcase new holiday stories. From classic holiday Mickey cartoons to the Muppets these gigantic billboard televisions will transport you to the good old days. And we couldn’t call it a flurry without a little bit of snow. Snow falls nightly on Sunset Boulevard to set the holiday mood. This is one of our favorite FREE experiences at Walt Disney World for the holidays. Shows on the Tower of Terror usually begin around 6:30 p.m. and loop throughout the evening.
The Toy Story Land Christmas Overlay
The overlay at Toy Story Land features holiday tunes streaming on Alien Swirling Saucers, jingle bell sounds on Slinky Dog Dash, and Woody, Buzz, and Jesse in some spruced-up holiday wear. Plus a 10-foot-tall Hamm sugar cookie. Be on the lookout! Toy Story Land will also get decorated with popcorn strung around the place in classic Christmas fashion.
Olaf’s Special Holiday Finale at Hollywood Studios
Olaf’s Special Holiday Finale at First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along is a festive treat featuring everyone’s favorite snowman. This telling of the Frozen story gets a little holiday magic and is a great way to see the set all decked out for the holidays.
New at Magic Kingdom for Christmas
By far the best Disney Park for Christmas, Magic Kingdom at Christmas includes beautiful decorations, and special entertainment through the holidays. From Mickey’s Christmas Party to beautiful holiday projections on Cinderella Castle, this is what you can find for Christmas.
Frozen Holiday Surprise *NEW 2023*
New in 2023, and appearing live on stage, Elsa, Anna, and friends from Frozen get Cinderella’s Castle all dressed up for the holidays with a beautiful lighting show that happens both during regular park hours and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This daily show includes more than 100 Snowgie siblings helping decorate the castle. Brand new beautiful projections and music, the Frozen Holiday Surprise occurs nightly throughout the holidays at Magic Kingdom, beginning November 7, 2023.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2023
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party brings all the holiday fun to Magic Kingdom Park. With Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, specialty snacks, merchandise, and holiday fun across the park. Check out Mickey’s Very Mery Christmas Party Guide for everything you can do, see and eat! Complete with EXCLUSIVE Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Snacks, make a plan before you go, to get your cutest Disney Snack pics in the daylight hours.
Cinderella Castle Christmas Projection Show
As part of the evening entertainment, Cinderella’s Castle lights up with a kaleidoscope of colors that will make the perfect backdrop for your holiday photos at Magic Kingdom. These start at nightfall and have several scenes to watch. From a bright fair isle to blue to classic red and green with polka dots, the scenes may change, so be sure to watch!
Main Street Philharmonic and Toy Soldier March
To help get you in the mood for the holiday season check out the Magic Kingdom Toy Soldiers as they join the Main Street Philharmonic marching through the park! The march route is typically from Storybook Circus all the way down Main Street USA. While people don’t typically hold a viewing spot for this show, people do gather, so have your camera ready and a great spot to watch and listen.
Check out the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet cruising down Main Street, U.S.A. on a horse-drawn trolley, singing all your favorite holiday tunes. This quartet arrives on the trolley a few times throughout the day, so grab a times guide when you get into the park to make sure you see them!
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.
New at EPCOT for Christmas
Epcot at Christmas offers some of the best free things for the holidays at Walt Disney World. Even World Showcase gets dressed up for the holidays with the Festival of Holidays! The Candlelight Processional, holiday storytellers, and more await to ring in the season. From amazing new foods to try to fun merchandise and holiday performances galore, here’s everything happening at Epcot for the holidays.
Festival of Holidays Begins November 24, 2023
Holiday kitchens return to the World Showcase promenade. So you can look forward to all our favorite festival dishes, like Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing at the American Holiday Table.
Candlelight Processional *NEW 2023*
Christmas at EPCOT never feels complete without the Candlelight Processional. And in 2023, there are so many NEW Celebrity speakers that if you’re visiting this year you won’t be disappointed! This retelling of the Nativity Story is told by a celebrity speaker and accompanied by choral singers and an orchestra. As one of the best ways to ring in the holiday season at EPCOT, this performance happens a couple of times each evening. Because of the crowds, it’s important to note the latest timeslot is always the least crowded. Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are also available if you’re looking for a great meal and a guaranteed seat at the performance.
Festival of Holidays Cookie Stroll
Visit all 5 official Cookie Stroll locations, collect a stamp in your passport at each, and head to the Sweets & Treats Holiday Kitchen to receive a FREE Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie. Check out all the details about the Festival of Holidays Cookie Stroll.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season
A celebration of music to bring the songs of Christmas and Kwanzaa to Disney includes Gospel, R&B, and holiday songs performed by the ‘Joyful!’ vocal ensemble.
Voices of Liberty – Voices of the Season | American Gardens Theatre
A cappella holiday music sets the tone for the season at the America pavilion. Dressed as Dicken’s Carolers this is a great way to get into the classic feeling of Christmas.
Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre | American Gardens Theatre
Grab a seat at American Gardens Theater to watch the colorful dancers and the band, Las Posadas, celebrating Mexican Christmas traditions to kick off the season.
JAMMitors | Canada Pavilion
Hang out to see the percussion players with a whole new set of holiday tunes perfect for the Mill Stage in Canada!
Dreamers Point Walt Disney Statue | December 5, 2023
An iconic statue of Walt Disney Himself, the original dreamer is set to be placed in World Celebration. Welcoming guests to EPCOT, this statue is sure to be a great Disney World Photo Op.
Luminous the Symphony of Us *NEW 2023*
Disney Springs at Christmas
Christmas at Disney Springs runs the second week in November through the first week in January. And has loads of holiday happenings you don’t need to step foot in the parks to experience.
Santa’s Winter Watercade
At Disney Springs, you may just see Santa and Mrs. Claus sailing around Disney Springs. Take a break from the busy holiday season and stop to watch!
Falling on Town Center, West Side, and The Landing throughout the season, you have the best chance to catch some “snowfall” on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Jock Lindsay’s Holiday Bar
One of our favorite places to stop during the holiday season is Jock Lindsay’s Holiday Bar. Featuring limited edition and seasonal drinks, the restaurant transforms with a new holiday-themed overlay and a limited-time menu with seasonal favorites.
Christmas Tree Stroll Holiday Scavenger Hunt
If you’re looking for ideas for Disney Christmas Tree decorations you can find them at Disney Springs. Head to the Christmas Tree Stroll to see all the beautifully decorated trees. Just grab a map to start your scavenger hunt as you search for each tree! This is a fun activity to help you add more merry to the season.
Breakfast with Santa at Disney Springs *NEW 2023*
You can also find Santa Claus at Maria and Enzo’s Restaurant for a breakfast filled with classic Italian menu items. Pricing begins at $45 for children and $69 for adults. More details at the event’s ticket page.
- November: 24-26
- December: 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22–24
- Seatings: 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10 a.m.
New at Disney Resorts for Christmas
While the holiday crowds at Disney are lowest in early November if you’re hoping to see Disney Resort Decorations, you’ll have to wait until around the 15th of November when everything is decorated. In addition to decorations, Disney Resorts also offer unique Disney Christmas Treats, and a chance to see larger-than-life Christmas Trees! To see them all, be sure to check out our Disney Resorts for Christmas Tour!
Christmas Trees at Disney Resorts
One of our favorite things about Disney Resorts at Christmas is the Christmas decorations. While many of the Disney Deluxe Resorts have multi-story Christmas Trees, you can find trees at every Disney Resort. Beautifully decorated trees themed to each resort can be seen all season long. Be sure to check out the gift shops, and grab a treat during your tour. Wondering what are the Best Disney Resorts to Visit for Christmas? Animal Kingdom Lodge at Christmas is one of our favorites.
Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path then Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds is for you! Head to this resort for a drive to check out Christmas lights at the campsites, cabins, and RV sites. Just rent a golf cart, get cocoa, and enjoy the lights! This is by far one of our favorite ways to get in some Christmas decoration time while at Disney.
Gingerbread Houses at Disney Resorts
The Gingerbread House Tradition at Walt Disney World is an important, and festive one! Check out which resorts around Walt Disney World host a special Gingerbread Display and be sure to add them to your Disney Christmas Resort Crawl! Check out Where to Find Gingerbread Displays at Walt Disney World. Many resorts now have displays. You can find the Christmas Castle at Disney’s Contemporary, a Log Cabin at Wilderness Lodge, a Gingerbread Giraffe at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and more. Plus, be sure to stop by the Beach Club for their Carousel display, Celebrating 20 years of Gingerbread at Beach Club. This year you can find Gingerbread Displays at these Disney Resorts.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort
- Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Christmas at Blizzard Beach
The Blizzard Beach Water Park Holiday Celebration includes loads of holiday fun at the park throughout the season. Check out everything happening at Blizzard Beach this year.
Meet Santa at Blizzard Beach
Santa Claus gets dressed in his tropical Christmas best at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. You can visit with Santa at Sonny’s Sleds (near the park’s main entrance) from park open – 12:30pm each day through Dec. 24, 2023.
Festive Innertube Floating on Castaway Creek
Head down the river through mysterious caves and illuminated grottos on a festive innertube, dressed up for the season.
Gingerbread Cookie Decorating
Grab a Gingerbread Cookie Decorating kit, available at Lottawatta Lodge for $10.99. This little kit includes two cookies, icing sprinkles and decorations, perfect for some cookie decorating while you lounge by the pool!
Holiday Scavenger Hunt
This festive scavenger hunt at the park comes with two maps available. One through Tike’s Peak and one through the Ski Patrol Training Camp. Just stop by the Lost Children Hut to pick-up a Scavenger hunt map to start your fun. Available Friday-Sundays now through Dec. 21 and everyday Dec. 22-31, 2023.
Seasonal Merchandise at Disney Parks
Just like every year before we can count on NEW Disney seasonal merchandise in the parks, so be sure to stop by a gift shop to see everything new! And check out shopDisney.com if you’re looking for even more.
What’s New at Walt Disney World for Christmas?
So there you have it! Everything happening at Walt Disney World for Christmas this year. So far! Let us know your favorites for the holidays at Disney! If you’re looking for the best of the best, then be sure to take a look at our Top 10 Things to do at Walt Disney World for Christmas. And be sure to check out all the Free Things at Disney During the Holidays!
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.