The holidays at Disney World

(Article last updated: December 9, 2018)

The holidays at Disney World include a whole lot of different things - special events in the parks, beautiful decorations in the resorts and a couple of special tours.

Here is a guide to everything that takes place at Disney World during the holiday season, including tips and videos.

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Magic Kingdom

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Once the tree is up at Magic Kingdom, there's a tree lighting ceremony that takes place every evening at dusk (around 5:15-5:30).

Castle Dream Lights and A Frozen Holiday Wish

Dream lights on Cinderella Castle

Not only does the castle look different during the holidays, but there's a little ceremony that precedes the lighting of the castle.

From early November to early January, Queen Elsa from Frozen appears twice each evening to get the Castle Dream Lights lit up for the night in a 7 minute show called "A Frozen Holiday Wish."

Tip: The best place to watch the stage show is close to the stage. If you want to be able to view the whole castle better, it's best to stand back a little bit further. Show up about 30 minutes beforehand to make sure you get a good spot to watch.

castledreamlightsshow

Jingle Cruise

The only attraction at Disney World to get a holiday-themed overlay is the Jungle Cruise which transforms into the "Jingle Cruise" where you join " homesick Jungle Cruise skippers as they set out on a holly jolly journey packed with shenanigans."

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

The biggest event held during the holidays at Disney World is the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) which takes place on select evenings at Magic Kingdom. It features exclusive holiday entertainment, snow falling on Main St., and complimentary cookies and cocoa.

Get all of the details about this party in our complete guide to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Toy Soldiers Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Epcot

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

Epcot is almost always in festival mode, and during the holidays that mean Festival of the Holidays is taking place. It includes lots of food and entertainment offerings you won't find any other time of year.

Get the overview of Festival of the Holidays for more info.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios ushers in their "Flurry of Fun" with lots of seasonal offerings including 2 nighttime shows (Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! & Sunset Seasons Greetings), lots of decorations, special holiday-themed dining, and fun character meets.

Check out the guide to Flurry of Fun - Christmas at Hollywood Studios for lots more information.

 

Animal Kingdom

Decor during the holidays at Disney World

Staying true to its conservation roots, nearly all of the lights you'll find here are LED, including over 40,000 mini-LED bulbs!

In addition to all the lights (and of course the large beautifully decorated tree at the front of the park) guests will also find over 330 pieces of garland.

Up! A Great Bird Adventure

New for 2018, "Up! A Great Bird Adventure" will incorporate Diwali (the holiday Festival of Lights in India) into their shows.

Disney Springs

Christmas Tree Trail

From mid-November through the beginning of January, Disney Springs hosts a seasonal walk-through trail that includes lots of trees (27!) themed after a Disney character or story.

Christmas Tree Trail

New additions to this fun & festive area include trees themed after Toy Story, The Haunted Mansion, Star Wars, and "vintage" Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs

Love this Princess and the Frog tree!

Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs

The Haunted Mansion one is amazing in person.

Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs

Polka dots!

Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs

 

Santa's chalet

From November 8 - December 24, 2018 Santa Claus is accepting Christmas wish lists and welcoming guests to his chalet (newly located by the Christmas Tree Trail).

Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs

 

Santa's Chalet Disney Springs

 

Santa's Chalet Disney Springs

From December 25-December 31, Santa Goofy will take over after Old Saint Nick heads back to the North Pole for a little rest and relaxation.

Santa's Chalet Disney Springs

Stitch's Holiday Gift Hunt

The mischievous experiment 626 is at it again with an expanded scavenger hunt featuring four new stops, including a special stop at the more-magical-than-ever Disney Springs’ Christmas Tree Trail. A great activity for families older kids, it’s your chance to work together, decipher clues, and discover all the spots where Stitch is hiding. Complete the mission and receive a limited-edition button.

Resorts

The Disney resorts are all decorated for the holidays and many of the Deluxe resorts are worth a stop to check it out.

Some things you will find in some of the resorts:

  • Grand Floridian - a 16 foot tall gingerbread house sit in the lobby and smaller versions are available to purchase. If you visit just 1 resort, this should be the one.
  • Wilderness Lodge - a 60 feet tall tree fills the lobby (it takes 18 hours to put up!)
  • Beach Club - lots of decorations, including a large, edible carousel
  • Yacht Club - decor includes an edible train
  • Boardwalk Inn - an edible, miniature version of Atlantic City, complete with Ferris wheel, carousel, and beach sits in the lobby alongside other seasonal decorations
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge - gorgeous resort is made even more beautiful with a big tree with themed ornaments decorating it
  • The Contemporary Resort - a holiday village made of gingerbread and chocolate sits near the monorail platform & the largest tree on property (70 feet tall!).

Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian

Christmas Day Religious Services

Disney's Contemporary Resort will be hosting Christmas Day religious services in the Fantasia Ballroom. The services schedule is below:

  • Catholic Mass at 8:00 am and 10:30 am
  • Protestant Service at 9:15 am

Special holiday tours

Yuletide Fantasy Tour

The Yuletide Fantasy Tour gives you a look at how the decor is done in some of the parks and resorts. The tour is $139/person, available late November through late December, takes place 9 a.m. daily except Sunday and begins at Epcot. You must be at least 16 to attend.

Holiday D-Lights Tour

Disney's Holiday D-Lights includes a performance of the Candlelight Processional, an opportunity to meet some of the staff that transform the Disney World Resort, and a family-style barbecue dinner. The Holiday D-Lights tour costs $279 and is offered on select nights in November and December. You must be at least 12 to attend.

You can book both of these tours by calling 407-WDW-TOUR.

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