The holidays are truly a magical time in Disney World – snow on Main Street, the castle lit up with Christmas lights, cookies and hot cocoa and other special treats. When most people think of Christmas in Disney that’s probably what they think of, which is what Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is all about.
And while that is a great event to attend and I highly recommend trying it at least once, with tickets being $100+ per person this year it may not be something everyone wants to work into their budget. While it seems like the main Christmas event, there are actually lots of other great ways to experience the Christmas season in Disney (most of which are included in park admission!).
If you’re thinking about a trip during the holidays, whether it’s a last minute one for 2019 or you’re looking ahead to 2020, I’d be happy to help you plan and book it – in addition to where you should stay I can also give advice on what to do especially around the holidays!
So let’s take a look at ways to celebrate Christmas in Disney without doing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:
Epcot may actually be my favorite place for the holidays. I love walking through World Showcase anytime of year, but during the Christmas season it’s truly magical. Each country decorates differently based on their own culture and traditions, and many of them have special Christmas entertainment – different versions of Santa will tell their country’s Christmas story, bands and singing groups sing Christmas Carols from their countries, etc.
They also have “Festival of the Holidays” which of course means food booths! You can try holiday favorites from different countries by stopping at these booths. And finally, Epcot has Candlelight Processional. A celebrity narrator tells the Christmas story with a full gospel choir. It’s a free show but can get full/very crowded depending on the celebrity, so you can also book a dining package that includes reserved seating.
Hollywood Studios has had its own holiday show for the past two years called Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! It’s a nighttime spectacular that combines projections, lasers, and fireworks. It’s got some good Christmas music and fun little storyline. “Snow” falls around you during the show as well.
In addition you’ll find Christmas decor around the park. Toy Story Land got a great Christmas makeover last year, with the characters wearing Christmas scarves and sweaters.
For the first time this year Animal Kingdom actually has some exciting things going on for the holidays! Around Discovery Island you’ll find large animal puppets such as penguins, reindeer, and polar bears. Dinoland is all lit up and other areas throughout the park have their own unique decor. I’ll be seeing it in a few weeks, but in the meantime Tom from Disney Tourist Blog has a great post about it.
One great addition to the holiday season is a visit to the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail. You can take a stroll around this area of Disney Springs and see over 25 trees decked out in their Disney best while “snow” falls around you. They are each themed on movies, characters, or attractions.
And of course Disney Springs is known for food – so be sure to check out the special holiday treats and drinks available at different Disney Springs locations!
Doing a tour of the resorts at Christmas time is breathtaking, and doesn’t even require park admission! All of the resorts have decor to go along with the themeing – at Caribbean Beach you’ll find tropical inspired Christmas trees, Animal Kingdom Lodge has ornaments inspired by Africa, etc. A number of the resorts also feature their own giant gingerbread houses. You can find them at the Contemporary, Boardwalk, Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge, and the crown jewel – the Grand Floridian.
Even if you’re not attending the Christmas Party, there’s still Christmas spirit in Magic Kingdom! Wreaths, soldiers, and other Christmas decorations can be found all around Main Street. And if you stay til it gets dark the castle lights up with those beautiful icicle lights (even if it’s not a party night). While some holiday food items are exclusive to the party, there are also a number of them which you can find all day at Magic Kingdom!
Plus, the “Jingle Cruise” is available. This is a Christmas overlay of the Jungle Cruise. You’ll find santa hats on animals and jokes that are about the holidays. Other holiday overlays on attractions are only available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but this one is all day!
Watch the Christmas Fireworks
Still hoping to see some of the Christmas fireworks from the Christmas Party? There are several restaurants in the area where you can get a decent view of the fireworks and they even pipe in the music so you can hear that too. My favorite location for fireworks viewing is California Grill, but you’ll also get the experience at Narcoossee’s and Ohana.
How do you like to celebrate Christmas at Disney?