The Best Things to See at Christmas in Walt Disney Disney World
Disney World is the most magical place on Earth, and one of the very best times to visit is at Christmas. Here are just some of the special things to see in the parks at Christmas time.
Christmas is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World. We think that it is the most magical time of the year to visit Disney World. However, that magic does come at a price. Christmas is one of the most popular times to visit Walt Disney World.
With all trips to this very special theme park, it really does pay to plan ahead, and know exactly what events and attractions are available. A little planning really does go a long way when you are visiting Disney World.
All of the parks and resorts have special events and decorations for Christmas. Magic Kingdom and Epcot are particularly fun to visit during the Holidays as they have many special features which you will only see at this time of the year.
Disney's Hollywood Studios used to have the Osborne Family Christmas Lights, but unfortunately this will no longer be part of the Holiday celebrations after 2015. The space is being used to build the new Star Wars Land in the park. It will be interesting to see what festive replacement Hollywood Studios has for future years.
Disney's Animal Kingdom does have a lot of decorations, but it is definitely the park with the least Holiday themed attractions. It is still very much worth a visit at this time of the year though.
Disney World is busy at Christmas time. Very busy. If you can go in early December when crowds are much lighter, you can still experience the decorations and some of the attractions.
There is another way to see Magic Kingdom during the Holidays. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party runs from November and provides guests with the chance to see the Holiday Parade and Fireworks prior to Christmas. This does come at a price though, and even those with a park ticket have to buy a separate ticket for the party.
Here is our guide to some of the special features that you will see if you visit Walt Disney World at Christmas.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
When you are visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays you must see Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. This is held at Disney's Magic Kingdom every Christmas. The only way to see this Parade prior to Christmas week is to buy tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This is a separate event where there are special parades, fireworks displays, and character greetings.
If you want to see the Parade as part of general admission this usually starts about a week before Christmas Day. At this time the special Parade is part of Magic Kingdom's general schedule. It runs twice a day at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm.
If you want to get the best view of the Parade, you do need to reserve your spot well in advance. If you want the best viewing places, you need to pick your preferred spot up to two hours ahead of time. It is usually less crowded for the second Parade of the night, so you are more likely to get a better viewing place.
Many of your favorite characters are part of the Parade. Mickey and Minnie Mouse always make an appearance. A relatively new addition is the Frozen float which includes Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. The final float is always Santa Claus himself.
Disney World Holiday Wishes Fireworks
No visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom is complete without watching the fireworks. At Christmas time the special display is the Holiday Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. You really can't miss this if you are visiting Disney World during the holidays.
Just like the Parade, Wishes is part of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. You do have to pay extra to see this event which is held in November and December every year. If you want to see it without paying for a Party ticket, you have to visit Magic Kingdom from mid-December onwards.
The display lasts around ten minutes, and incorporates favorite Christmas music into the colorful display. Watch out for Tinker Bell as she flies from the top of the Magic Kingdom Castle!
Everyone has their favorite place from which to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Our particular favorite is from the Main Street Station. Not only do you get a wonderful view of Main Street and the Castle, but you can also exit the park relatively quickly once the fireworks are over. The mad dash to the boats and the monorail can be a time consuming process if you are further inside the park. You will be exiting at the same time as thousands of other guests. It is much better to be ahead of the crowd!
If you do not want to have to stake out your viewing spot for Holiday Wishes up to 90 minutes in advance, you can now get a Fast Pass for this event.
Epcot Holiday Storytellers
Epcot is a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas. The World Showcase part of Epcot is particularly beautifully decorated, and each country has displays which relate to their own Holiday traditions.
Each day during the Christmas season the Epcot Holiday Storytellers appear in their respective countries. The presentations usually last around 10 minutes, and each storyteller relates a story about a Christmas or New Year tradition relating to their country.
Stop by the Japan Pavilion to hear Daruma talk about Japanese New Year traditions, or France to hear Pere Noel talk about Christmas from the point of view of a child. If you visit the United Kingdom, Father Christmas himself will be there. In Norway, Sigrid will tell you all about the Christmas Gnome.
The Epcot Holiday Storytellers really are worth stopping and listening to. Children and adults enjoy hearing their stories of holidays around the world.
Epcot Candlelight Processional
The Epcot Candlelight Processional is a very popular event which takes place during the holidays every year, and has done so since the opening of the park. This impressive show is held in the World Showcase part of the park in the America Gardens Theatre. It involves at large choir and orchestra performing traditional Christmas songs.
The Candlelight Processional always has a celebrity narrator. These vary from year to year, and the schedule is usually published a couple of months before the Processional. In 2015 the narrators include Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, and Meredith Vieira.
Shows begin at Thanksgiving and are run twice nightly every day until December 30th. The shows are at 5pm, 6:45pm, and 8:15pm.
All of the shows are free of charge. The only problem is that this is a relatively small venue, and the event is very popular. You can expect to have to stand in line for at least an hour to get a seat in the theater.
If you want to guarantee a seat, you can book a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package. This involves booking a lunch or dinner at one of the Epcot restaurants. Packages vary in price according to the restaurant which you pick. The meal will include an appetizer, entree, dessert and a non alcoholic beverage. Examples of pricing for 2015 include lunch at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria which was $41.99 for adults and $14.99 for children; dinner at Les Chefs de France was $75.99 for adults and $22.99 for children. Remember that in Disney World a child is aged from 3 to 9 years old. Anyone aged 10 and above is an adult and will pay the higher price.
If you reserve a Dinner Package you are seated in a special section of the theatre. It does not guarantee a particular seat, and if you want to secure one of the very best you have to be seated at least 30 minutes before the show starts.
You can reserve a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package online or by calling 407-939-3463. Dinner packages are very popular, and do sell out. In 2015 they were released in July, and many sold out very quickly. The closer to Christmas the more popular the show.
The venue is outdoors so it can get cold at that part of the year, particularly if you go to the later show. Some guests come prepared with blankets. If it is a cold evening and you are caught off guard, a good place to purchase a blanket for a very reasonable price, is the Mexican Pavilion.
You can hear the music from outside the theater, so if all else fails you can stand outside and listen. The best place to do this is towards the American Pavilion building. If you stand too far forward you will be blocking guests walking around the World Showcase and will be moved by Disney Cast Members!
Disney World Resorts
One of the most magical things to do at Christmas time at Disney World is to stay at one of the hotel resorts. However, even if you are not actually staying at a Disney hotel, you should take some time to visit them during the holidays. All of the Disney resorts, particularly the deluxe hotels, are beautifully decorated for Christmas.
If you only have time to visit one resort it should be Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is Disney's flagship hotel, and is a beautiful representation of an opulent Victorian seaside resort hotel. The huge foyer has to be seen to be believed at Christmas time. The Grand Floridian always has a huge Christmas tree in the center of the foyer. It is an impressive five storeys high!
Another amazing feature of the Grand Floridian, and many of the other Disney World resorts, is the Gingerbread House. In the Grand Floridian it is a replica of the doll house which is displayed year round in the hotel.
Each Disney resort has its own special decorations for Christmas. At Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort there is a huge Christmas tree with animal themed ornaments. The Contemporary Resort has a Frozen themed gingerbread village, complete with a 17 foot tall ice palace! If you visit Disney's Beach Club Resort you must see the gingerbread carousel.
Watch this video which shows the beautiful decorations at The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at Disney World.
Whenever you visit Disney World during Christmas time you are sure to enjoy it, no matter what age you are. It truly does bring back the magic of Christmas for everyone.
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