With the most wonderful time of the year quickly approaching (heck, it’s already shown up at Walt Disney World), there’s a lot to look forward to during Disney World’s 2021 holiday season.
Between the Halloween season, the ongoing 50th anniversary celebration (that runs through April 1, 2023), and the launch of Disney Genie and Genie+, there’s been a lot going on at the most magical place on earth.
Next on the agenda? The holidays, with a few other exciting non-festive events sprinkled in there! Holiday celebrations officially begin Nov. 12 at Disney World.
From a Christmas-themed After Hours party, to the return of several holiday favorites, to an event that is expected to drop some major news about the future of Disney Parks, to the chance to meet characters again (in a modified way), we’re slowly getting back to some “normalcy”.
Now, let’s take a peek at what you can can expect during the holiday’s this year across Disney World.
Holiday Favorites Return With Some New Additions
Understandably so, the holidays were somewhat limited last year at the parks, but that’s not the case in 2021.
Here are just a few of the festivities you can expect. Most are returning, whereas some are new.
- Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom and Santa Gertie at Hollywood Studios have 50th anniversary-inspired decor and gold accents.
- The Candlelight Processional and World Showcase storytellers are back for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which begins Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 30.
- In place of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Magic Kingdom is hosting Disney Very Merriest After Hours. This event will include MVMCP’s Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, and a new stage show called Mickey & Minnie’s Very Merry Memories.
- The adorable Merry Menagerie is returning to Animal Kingdom.
- There are 2 new holiday foodie guides: one for the parks and Disney Springs and another for the resorts.
- Disney World even has some holiday resort hotel offers.
Check out our complete guide to the 2021 holiday season at Disney World.
Get Your Fill Of More Entertainment & Characters
First, select characters are back! Keep in mind that you still can’t hug the characters or get autographs, but you are able to say hello to them and take a distanced photo.
Disney PhotoPass photographers aren’t stationed with the characters yet, so you’ll have to either take a selfie or have someone take a photo with your camera and/or mobile device.
So far, you can meet the following characters:
- Mickey in his 50th EARisdescent outfit at Town Square Theatre in Magic Kingdom
- Tiana, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Elena at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom
- Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams at Hollywood Studios
- Disney Junior Pals in the Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios
As for entertainment, Disney Movie Magic (the projection show on Grauman’s Chinese Theater) returns to Hollywood Studios starting on Nov. 7 and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular reopens on Dec. 19!
Learn more about characters at Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.
Prepare For Disney+ Day
While not happening directly at the parks, Disney’s streaming service is hosting “Disney+ Day” on Nov. 12, 2021 (on its 2-year anniversary).
Several new titles are dropping on this day and throughout November for subscribers to enjoy, including:
- Home Sweet Home Alone (a new Home Alone-inspired movie starring the OG Buzz McCallister, aka Devin Ratray, himself — as a police officer!)
- Olaf Presents (the beloved Frozen character will retell five Disney animated tales, including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King, similar to how he told the tale of Anna and Elsa in Frozen 2)
- The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Season 2)
- The Beatles: Get Back (a 3-part docuseries from director Peter Jackson will roll out over three days starting Nov. 25 showing nearly 60 hours of unseen footage of The Beatles’ January 1969 recording sessions that was shot over the course of 21 days)
You can also expect the streaming premiere of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the live-action Jungle Cruise to become available to all subscribers on Nov. 12, among more.
And don’t forget that the first 2 episodes of Hawkeye drop on Nov. 24 on Disney+!
There are also several perks available to Disney+ subscribers at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, including 30-minute early theme park entry. You can read all about these extras here.
Here’s what you should watch on Disney+ before heading to Disney World.
Cirque Du Soleil & Disney Finally Debut Their New Show
As we previously mentioned in a previous “Things to Look Forward to at Disney World” post, Drawn to Life finally debuts at Disney Springs on Nov. 18, 2021.
The Cirque du Soleil show revolves around the story of a father and a daughter, while drawing inspiration from Disney’s 100-year heritage of animation.
Watch a behind-the-scenes peek here. You can also purchase tickets online.
For more about Disney Springs, read our complete guide.
Destination D23 Is Being Held At The Contemporary
The 2021 Destination D23 event kicks off on Nov. 19 and runs through Nov. 21 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
In addition to 50 years of Disney World being celebrated, we anticipate some major parks news to drop, like it usually does during D23 expo-type events.
You’ll even be able to stream select segments of Destination D23 on Saturday, Nov. 20 and Sunday, Nov. 21 on D23.com, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.
There will be a welcome presentation with Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek and a panel titled, “Connections: A Look at the Future of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” with Chairman Josh D’Amaro, where, “You’ll get a first look at some of the newest projects around the world, and of course a little Disney magic along the way.”
You’ll be able to tune into these between at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 20. You can check out the full live stream schedule on D23.com.
Disney Parks Blog will also most likely publish the anticipated announcements as soon as they are made.
Learn about the latest Disney Parks news, by keeping an eye on our News section.
Other Things To Look Forward To At Disney World
There’s so much more exciting stuff to experience at the most magical place on earth.
As always, we’ll keep you apprised of any and all new Disney World information!
- Fantasmic Returns to Hollywood Studios in November 2022
- Disneyland Announces 2022 Holiday Events, Including World of Color – Season of Light
- Disney After Hours Returning to Disney World in 2023
- After Hours Coming to Epcot, H20 Glow Returning to Typhoon Lagoon
- Walt Disney World Annual Passholder 2022 Holiday Room Discount Now Available