In the past, the holidays at Disney World included a bunch of different things – special events in the parks, beautiful decorations in the resorts, and a couple of special tours.
Unfortunately in light of everything that is going on right now, the holiday celebrations across the entire Walt Disney World Resort have been scaled way back.
The holidays will still be around, just not in the ways that we are used to.
Here’s what you can expect to find for 2020.
Expect holiday magic to be available at Magic Kingdom from November 6 – December 30.
Much like we saw for Halloween, the cavalcades at Magic Kingdom will utilize a few favorite floats and characters from the sidelined “Once Upon a Christmas Time” parade that is typically shown this time of year during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
All of the cavalcades except for Goofy’s Scrumptious Cavalcade will run 7 days a week.
Here’s what you can expect to see:
- Main Street Philharmonic: Toy Soldiers march down the parade route with the Main Street Philharmonic as they play holiday music.
- Santa’s Christmas Cavalcade: Reindeer lead the way as Santa Claus glides down the parade route in his sleigh.
- Mickey’s Holiday Cavalcade: Mickey and Minnie (and friends) greet guests from their Christmas tree float.
- Goofy’s Scrumptious Cavalcade: Goofy and his friends cook up holiday fun from festive floats. Note: Goofy’s cavalcade is not available Tuesdays & Wednesdays.
- Holiday Trolley: The Dapper Dans in their holiday attire sing to guests as they ride the horse-drawn trolley up and down Main Street, U.S.A.
The big man himself will be around – just not in the traditional way.
You won’t be able to sit with him to pass along your wish list, but you will be able to wave at him from afar as he headlines his very own cavalcade.
Cinderella Castle projections
No, there will not be any Dream Lights or a Frozen Holiday Wish this year, but there will be projections on the castle.
Similar to the projections used during the nighttime shows, guests can expect to see Cinderella Castle transformed into seasonal favorites.
We originally thought that we wouldn’t see this returning for 2020, but we are excited to announce that once again the fun-filled Jungle Cruise will be transformed into the festive Jingle Cruise for the holiday season.
Update: since we originally wrote this article, we’ve seen more and more indications that it appears that most of the holiday decorations have returned for 2020 (which is a break from the more scaled-back version we saw at Halloween).
Outside of Main Street U.S.A. and the hub, Magic Kingdom typically barely decorates for holidays.
That being said, even though the decorations don’t usually extend too far into the rest of the park, what is typically found is fairly elaborate.
NOT available for 2020 at Magic Kingdom
Now for the difficult part, these are things that will not be available for 2020:
- Tree Lighting Ceremony – Typically held once the tree is up at Magic Kingdom, during normal years there’s a tree lighting ceremony that would take place every evening at dusk (around 5:15-5:30). No word yet on whether or not this will happen, however, it might be difficult to do it with current social distancing guidelines.
- Holly Jolly Trolley Show – While we don’t expect to see the typical Holly Jolly Trolley Show, the trolley is part of its own cavalcade which includes the Dapper Dans.
- Castle Dream Lights and A Frozen Holiday Wish – On the positive, no Castle Dream Lights also means no crane, but we will all miss seeing them.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – Much like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party, this fan favorite has also been cancelled for 2020. On the positive, some of the favorite pieces from the parade (including the tin soldiers and gingerbread men) will be used in the cavalcades.
Starting on November 27 and running through December 30, Epcot includes all of its holiday offerings under the umbrella of the popular International Festival of the Holidays.
And, even with everything going on this year, we will still see a scaled back version called “Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays“.
Here’s what you’ll find there:
“Olaf’s Holiday Tradition” Scavenger Hunt
Guests wanting to join in can simply purchase a map from select locations (Mouse Gear, Disney Traders, or World Traveler at International Gateway) and then they will be able to hunt the World Showcase for holiday traditions that Olaf has misplaced. Once you complete it, you’ll be able to snag a gift!
Holiday Cookie Stroll
Perfect for those of us with a sweet tooth, all you have to do is collect five stamps after trying five different cookies on the list.
You must purchase the cookies but after five stamps you’re able to receive a complimentary Peppermint Minnie Cookie as a reward.
Live performances (including Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre, JAMMitors, and JOYFUL!)
There aren’t many opportunities for live performances left at Walt Disney World, so seeing some familiar faces grace the stage is quite special indeed.
Both Voices of Liberty and Mariachi Cobre can be seen at the American Gardens Theater.
The JAMMitors can be found on the Mill Stage in Canada and JOYFUL! will perform in the World Showplace.
What would the holidays be without food?
Much like what you find at other festivals, the kitchen kiosks will offer both sweet and savory choices plus a selection of themed holiday beverages.
Just like the other parks, Epcot will also see their cavalcades receiving a holiday makeover.
While we don’t have all the details yet, we do know we will see both a Frozen Holiday Promenade and “Mickey and Friends Holiday World Tour”.
You won’t be able to meet him, but you will be able to see Santa as he tours the World Showcase from a horse-drawn carriage.
Living With The Land: Merry And Bright Nights
Last year Living with the Land got a glow-up with some festive decorations.
We are excited to see these decorations have returned for this year.
NOT available for 2020 at Epcot
Now for the not-so-fun part. These are the things that will not be available this year:
- Candlelight Processional – Probably the most noticeable piece that is missing is the Candlelight Processional. This fan-favorite that includes both a large choir and celebrity narrators has been cancelled for 2020.
- World Showcase Storytellers – One of the most unique parts of the Festival of the Holidays were the storytellers that could be found in the World Showcase. Understandably, those too have been cancelled this year.
It is no secret that our favorite park for the holidays is Hollywood Studios.
But, alas, things will look a lot different here, too.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine
Available from November 6 – January 4, you can dine with Minnie Mouse and friends at a “dazzling dinner party filled with holiday cheer”.
This will be a modified character dining experience, so the characters won’t be visiting your table but you will be able to see them dressed up in their holiday best from afar.
Holiday-themed motorcade with Santa
In addition to the Mickey and Friends and Pixar motorcades, Santa will join in on the fun with a candy-apple red convertible and a crew of festive elves.
Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel
When the sun goes down, guests will be able to see a modified version of the traditional Sunset Season’s Greetings show. While there isn’t any music or fake snow, the familiar projections will be there.
Frozen Sing-Along with holiday finale
Now that the popular Frozen Sing-Along has returned, it is exciting to see that the popular holiday finale has also made its return for 2020.
Update: since this article was originally written we are happy to see more and more of the regular decorations making their way into the park. We now have every hope that things will be decked out more than we originally anticipated.
It now appears that nearly all of the regular decorations have made their return, minus the decorations typically found in Toy Story Land.
NOT available for 2020 at Hollywood Studios
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! – No nighttime shows are being held in any park, and that includes the holiday projection show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
- Full version of Sunset Season’s Greetings – Probably one of our favorite holiday additions, this projection show typically takes place on the front of the Tower of Terror and includes “snow” (aka snoap), music, and projections. There is a modified version for 2020.
Animal Kingdom during the holidays has always had the least amount of seasonal offerings, and in 2020 it appears that the trend will continue.
The popular flotillas will see a makeover including favorite characters decked out in festive holiday attire.
Like the other parks, expect to see Santa popping up to wave “hello!” from a safe distance.
Last year saw the addition of some much needed holiday decorations for this park. And thankfully, it looks like most of those great decorations have returned for 2020.
Tree of Life Awakenings
Returning this year is the popular holiday themed Tree of Life Awakenings projections on the Tree of Life. This projection show plays intermittently starting at sundown.
Instead of the popular Christmas Tree Trail, guests will instead find the trees spread out through the entire Disney Springs shopping area.
What sounds like the only place to see snow at Disney World this year, in the evenings guests visiting the Town Center, West Side and The Landing areas will encounter snowfall.
Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar
And, don’t forget Jock Lindsey’s! Once again, this year they will get a special holiday-themed menu plus lots of fun decorations.
Santa may not be able to meet with you face-to-face, but you’ll still find him popping up at Disney Springs.
NOT available for 2020 at Disney Springs
- Christmas Tree Trail – While there won’t be a trail, you will still be able to see the Christmas trees – they’ll just be scattered throughout all of Disney Springs instead of concentrated in one area.
- Santa’s chalet – Santa typically meets guests in his own private chalet, but this year things are a bit different.
- Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt – Last year guests were invited to participate in a fun scavenger hunt (much like the ones offered at Epcot), however, it doesn’t look like those will be back this year.
Holiday decorations at the resorts
Guests traveling to Walt Disney World in 2020 will find that the resorts will still be decorated, including the beautiful trees that grace their lobby’s.
However, there are some things that will be missing, including gingerbread houses and villages that are typically found at resorts like the Grand Floridian and Beach Club.
Special holiday tours
Unfortunately, the 2 holiday tours typically found this time of the year – the Yuletide Fantasy Tour and the Holiday D-Lights Tour, won’t be held in 2020.
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