As fans will tell you, the holiday season at Walt Disney World® Resort just gets better and better! And this year, whether you’re a first-timer or returning guest, you and your family can all find something new to celebrate in the parks. So, what’s happening at each one between mid-November and early January? Here’s the scoop:
What to Expect at Magic Kingdom® During Christmas Time
Regular park hours will offer a distinctly festive atmosphere, with garland, lights and ornaments spread throughout the Magic Kingdom®, particularly on Mainstreet USA. You’ll definitely want to catch the exclusive Christmas-themed version of the Jungle Cruise ride, and witness Elsa when she appears at dusk to “transform” Cinderella’s Castle into an enchanted ice palace!
For even more fun, join Mickey Mouse and a few dozen of his pals after hours for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (select nights, 11/9—12/22). This separately ticketed event features an extremely popular light-up parade; the beloved Holiday Wishes fireworks show; themed character meet-and-greets; free snacks, like cookies and hot cocoa; and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration show. (Tip: Be sure to grab your seats early for the parade; the best spots are over by Frontierland at the start of the route!) Not interested in paying for this special after-hours attraction? Try braving the crowds during Christmas week, when some elements — like the parade and fireworks — are also performed during the daytime.
What to Expect at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® During Christmas Time
Now in its second year, the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! show (11/9—12/31) at Hollywood Studios® will continue to dazzle guests with an amazing combination of projection-mapping technology and special effects. Kids will get caught up in the storyline, as characters from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”, Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, and ABC’s “Prep & Landing” try to find Santa Claus in time for Christmas. (Tip: Choose your spot along Hollywood Boulevard or near Center Stage at least 45 minutes ahead of scheduled showings for the best seats.)
Brand-new for 2017, Sunset Seasons Greetings on Hollywood Boulevard — a magical, billboard story experience sharing the favorite Yuletide memories of Mickey, Minnie, Woody, Olaf, Bambi and more — is also not to be missed!
What to Expect at Epcot™ During Christmas Time
Epcot’s™ annual winter celebration has been reimagined and will be bigger and better than ever this year! Now called the Epcot™ International Festival of the Holidays (11/19—12/30), it will be set up similarly to the Food & Wine Festival, featuring a variety of Holiday Kitchens. Come feast on everything from quick bites and mini-desserts, to full meals and adult beverages!
Returning by popular demand will be the awe-inspiring Candlelight Processional. Listen as celebrity guests narrate the Biblical Christmas story backed by a 50-piece orchestra and live community choir. (Tip: You can check the list of celebrities scheduled to appear, but don’t be too surprised if the lineup changes last minute.) Consider purchasing the meal package in advance for guaranteed entry without standing in line for several hours.
What to Expect at Disney’s Animal Kingdom™ During Christmas Time
Of all the Walt Disney World® Resort properties, Animal Kingdom™ will continue to remain the least affected by the seasonal frenzy. Apart from minimal decorations and a themed meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie Mouse hosted at Adventurers Outpost, not much else changes each year. The incredible multi-media Rivers of Light show is set to be performed nightly on the Discovery River, and the still-new world of Pandora should be a priority regardless of the season. (Tip: With relatively little to draw holiday-lovers, this may be the perfect time to visit while others are caught up at the more festive parks.)
What to Expect at Resorts During Christmas Time
The Disney resorts also get into the holiday spirit, but you don’t need to pay high prices for their small hotel rooms to enjoy the perks. Just visit during the day for free! See the Grand Floridian Resort’s gingerbread house and enjoy a live Christmas band. Take photos in front of the huge tree at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Many of the resorts even offer free small crafts, like ornament making!
If your family usually spends the holiday season surrounded by snow, maybe it’s time for a change. With all the comfort of a private home and the amenities of a luxury resort, a December vacation at Encore Resort at Reunion will make everyone feel like Christmas came early this year. Book today to reserve a stay that they’re sure to remember forever!