A big part of the holiday season at Walt Disney World is meeting Santa Claus! Who doesn’t want to say hello to the big guy himself during the most wonderful time of the year?
But, where exactly can you find Santa Claus at Disney World? That is a very good question! And one that we’re here to answer.
The holidays kicked off on Nov. 12 and will run through the end of December, with some of the decorations most likely sticking around into early January.
But when it comes to Santa, you have to act fast because not only is he a fan-favorite to meet, but as soon as Dec. 25 hits, he heads back to the North Pole to prepare for next year’s festivities.
Not only is it even more magical to meet Santa at the most magical place on earth, but 2021 also marks the first year that there is a black Santa Claus at Disney World (and also Disneyland) for guests to take photos with and to wave to.
Now, where can you see Santa Claus at Disney World in 2021? Here’s a complete list!
There are several places to see Santa at Magic Kingdom during official park hours and in the evenings when Disney Very Merriest After Hours is held.
Disney Very Merriest After Hours
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is part of Disney Very Merriest After Hours, which has replaced Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2021.
Of course, you can spot Santa Claus as he waves hello from his sleigh during the parade.
The parade begins in Frontierland near Splash Mountain and works its way towards the end of Main Street, U.S.A.
There’s also a modified Santa meet and greet during the After Hours event at the Liberty Square Gazebo near the Ye Old Christmas Shoppe.
By “modified” we mean little ones can’t sit on his lap, nor can you hug him or stand near him for photos.
Keep in mind that a Disney PhotoPass Photographer takes pictures here, which can make for a nice holiday photo!
This line can get very long due to Santa’s popularity, so plan accordingly.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
At the end of December, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will show during regular park hours outside of Disney Very Merriest After Hours.
Here are the daytime parade times:
- Dec. 22-29: 12 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
- Dec. 30-31: 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app for the latest schedule. The parade takes the usual route: starts in Frontierland by Splash Mountain and ends on Main Street, U.S.A. next to the Fire Station.
Liberty Square Gazebo
During the day at Magic Kingdom, you can also meet Santa at the Liberty Square Gazebo.
You can check the My Disney Experience app for times, but he typically arrives between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. intermittently.
Here is the exact location for the modified Santa meet and greet (no hugging or sitting on his lap, along with distanced photos).
Alongside the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (runs from Nov. 26 through Dec. 30), there are plenty of opportunities to see Santa around the World Showcase, including a chance to have a Disney PhotoPass Photographer take your photo with him.
American Adventure Pavilion
There is a modified Santa meet and greet in the American Adventure Pavilion! He usually appears at specific times that you can look up in the My Disney Experience app.
Typically, Santa makes appearances at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 pm., 3:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m.
You can find Santa’s meet and greet to the right of the American Adventure, near the restrooms.
World Showcase Storytellers
What makes Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays so special is the chance to learn about how different cultures celebrate the holidays, including how they view Santa Claus and what he means to them.
Stationed in the World Showcase pavilions are “Storytellers,” who share holiday traditions from across the globe.
Some of these Storytellers are Santa Claus’ from different countries, including the following. You can find showtimes for each of these Storytellers in the My Disney Experience app.
You can visit with Père Noël in the France pavilion and rediscover the magic of Christmas through the letter of a delightful child.
In the Norway pavilion, a mischievous Barn Santa visits Sigrid, an unsuspecting Christmas storyteller.
United Kingdom Pavilion
Father Christmas makes an appearance in the United Kingdom pavilion and shares the traditions of the U.K. and good cheer.
While there is only one chance to spot Santa Claus at Animal Kingdom, it’s better than nothing!
Santa Claus Festive Flotilla
Santa Claus floats around in his festive flotilla and waves to guests along the Discovery River. You can’t miss him in his bright red suit!
Be sure to check the My Disney Experience app to see exactly when the festive flotilla (alongside the many other seasonal boats) is running.
Hollywood Studios is yet another park where you can meet the actual Santa Claus and a fan-favorite character who dresses up as Santa.
Santa Claus Merry Motorcade
You can’t miss Santa Claus riding in his bright red motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard, along with his elves and reindeer.
This is a very cute cavalcade that you want to make time for. As you can see below, motorcade times are posted in the My Disney Experience app.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine
If you’re wondering about Santa Goofy, yes, he’s still around at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.
During Minnie’s Seasonal Dine, aka Minnie’s Holiday Dine, Santa Goofy shows up alongside Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto, who are also all donning festive attire.
If you happen to be shopping around Disney Springs, you’ll definitely want to take photos with Santa Claus. But, compared to past meet and greets at Disney Springs, the location and experience has changed a bit.
Once Upon a Toy
In order to meet Santa Claus this year at Disney Springs, you have to join a virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app at either 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. and you must be at Disney Springs to do so.
Santa will meet at Once Upon a Toy (in the Disney Springs Marketplace near Earl of Sandwich) for physically distanced photos on the following dates and times:
- Nov. 12-Dec. 14 from 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.
- Dec. 15-Dec. 24 from 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Masks are required for guests 2 and older, since the modified meet and greet is indoors. Little ones aren’t allowed to sit on Santa’s lap, nor are hugs permitted.
A Disney PhotoPass Photographer will take photos, as you can see above.
When it comes to joining the virtual queue, it’s pretty easy. Simply open the My Disney Experience app and then click the 3 lines at the bottom right of the screen.
Then, you’ll select “Virtual Queues” before clicking “Join Virtual Queue.” You’ll want to select the “Disney Springs” tab and follow the onscreen instructions.
As noted below, you’ll be able to see the estimated wait time, which groups are being welcomed, and whether or not you’re eligible to join the queue. Again, you must be at Disney Springs to join.
Frequently Asked Questions
Allow us to answer some questions that may be on your mind!
How long does Santa make appearances?
Typically, Santa will begin making appearances at the beginning of the holiday season through December 24.
Does Santa Goofy still make appearances?
Yes, Santa Goofy still makes appearances, but only during Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.
Are character meet and greets back to normal?
No, they are not. But, we’ve made progress with character meet and greets since the parks reopened in July 2020.
Instead of being called “meet and greets,” they are now referred to as “sightings.”
You’re able to have 1-on-1 time with select characters, but you must keep your distance. There is no hugging and autographs aren’t allowed. This also includes with Santa.
Most of these experiences don’t have PhotoPass photographers, so you need to take photos/selfies with your own camera and/or mobile device.
You can check wait times for sightings in the My Disney Experience app.
Will Santa sign autographs?
No, he will not. And neither will Disney characters.
At this time, autographs aren’t allowed for health and safety reasons. Even during character dining experiences guests receive a postcard with pre-written character signatures that also serves as a souvenir.
Will Cast Members take photos for guests?
At this time, Disney PhotoPass Photographers aren’t taking guests’ photos with Disney characters, including at select “Sighting” locations across the theme parks.
This means you have to use your own camera, phone, or mobile device to take pictures with characters. You can either take a selfie or have someone in your party snap the image.
As for Cast Members, they will take your photo for you, but only if they feel comfortable doing so. If not, they may decline. It’s important to be polite and respectful, because not everyone has the same level of comfort during these times.
FYI: There are PhotoPass Photographers stationed with Santa at Disney Springs and at the Liberty Square Gazebo during Disney Very Merriest After Hours.
Read more about Christmas at Disney World
Can’t get enough of the holidays at Walt Disney World? Check out these posts for helpful information and tips!
- All About the Holidays at Walt Disney World
- Complete Guide to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- Overview of Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays
- Why you should consider purchasing a Candlelight Processional Dining Package
- Christmas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Christmas at Animal Kingdom
- Where to Find Santa Claus at Walt Disney World
- Disney Very Merriest After Hours Adds New Stage Show & More Holiday News
- Disney After Hours Returning to Disney World in 2023
- Genie+ Adding Festival of Fantasy & Hollywood Studios Character Meet & Greet
- Capture Your Moment Sees Price Increase As It Comes To Epcot & Hollywood Studios
- Where You Can Hug Characters Again at Disney World
- Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom (Nomad Lounge, Trails, Mickey & Minnie) - October 7, 2022
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Opens January 2023 at Disneyland, Plus More Disney100 Celebration Details - October 6, 2022
- Walt’s Main Street Story & Holiday Guided Tour Returning to Disneyland Resort - October 5, 2022