I don’t think it is any secret that Walt Disney World knows how to do holidays in a way no one else can. From the special offerings, to the food, parties, and decorations – Christmas at Disney is something everyone should experience at least once. So, grab your sprinkle cookies and hot chocolate and let’s chat about all things Christmas!
When do the official festivities begin?
The holiday fun arrives to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on November 8, 2018 . Events at Epcot will begin on November 18, 2018.
What can I find in the resorts?
All resorts will be decorated for the season and have Christmas trees. It is even possible to have Santa himself pop in for pictures in the lobby! This is just a bit of holiday magic you will have to wish for.
The deluxe resorts will have the most elaborate decorations and theming. Specifically, we recommend checking out the larger-than-life gingerbread houses at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian. Both have house, created by the culinary team, that are 100% edible. They are incredible to see! If you only have time for one – Grand Floridian is hands down the best. Also, beside each house, you’ll find little “huts” selling holiday treats. These stands are open nightly until 10:00 PM.
Wilderness Lodge is another we highly recommend. This is one of the most popular resorts guests request to stay at during the holiday season. When you walk through those front doors – you will see why.
At Disney’s Beach Club Resort you will also find an edible (huge) carousel. Like Grand Floridian, it makes the entire lobby smell scrumptious and festive.
TIP: Contemporary and Grand Floridian are on the monorail line with Magic Kingdom. You can easily hop to these on the day you visit that park. Beach Club is directly behind Epcot and walkable via the International Gateway path. Find this entrance/exit between France and the UK.
What can I find at Disney’s Magic Kingdom?
Magic Kingdom is the park that offers the most festivities during the holiday season. From the food, to the parties, decor, parades, and more…you definitely want to make sure you give yourself ample time to experience things here.
The biggest and most popular event at The Magic Kingdom is the annual Christmas party – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Tickets are now on sale for select dates throughout November and December. The last party is being held on December 21st. After this date you will see more inclusions in the park during regular hours.
Dates for the party are:
- November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29 and 30
- December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21
What highlights can I expect during the party?
- Holiday Wishes – holiday fireworks show that can be seen during the party at 10:00 PM.
- Snow on Main Street
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade – show during the party but WILL move to the day time (meaning anyone can view) after 12/21/18. Check out a live stream of last year’s parade HERE. Showtimes during the party are 8:30 PM and 11:00 PM.
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is held several times a night on the castle forecourt stage. In this show – Mickey invites his buddies over for an unforgettable Christmas party filled with classic and contemporary holiday magic.
- Frozen Holiday Wish – Elsa “turns on the lights” AKA ice on the castle. This happens most nights at 6:15 PM on NON-party nights at 8:15 on party nights. HERE is a live stream of the show.
- The Edge Effect – vocal harmonies that sing acapella holiday favorites in Tomorrowland. Several showtimes nightly during the party.
- Club Tinsel at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland will be rocking all night while you dance the night away with holiday friends.
- Disney Junior Jingle Jam is held in the Storybook Circus area. Here your little Mouseketeers can have a holiday dance party with their favorite Disney Junior friends.
- Be sure to check your map for complimentary food and beverage offerings. Treat locations are all open nightly until midnight.
A brand new offering has also been added to the party for 2018. Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party is an addition that adds a little sweetness and exclusiveness to your party experience.
Another must do experience is the Jungle Cruise attraction. During the holidays it transforms in to the Jingle Cruise. Find some holiday puns and decor overlaid on to the ride.
What can I find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
This year the park will be incorporating Diwali (the Indian Festival of Lights) in to their holiday offerings. You can find a special show devoted to this over at UP! A Great Bird Adventure.
Mickey & Minnie Mouse at Adventurers Outpost will be dressed in their holiday best for photos and meet n’ greets.
What can I find at Epcot?
Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season performs at Future World Fountain Stage four times daily. Experience the joy of Christmas and Kwanzaa in the uplifting Gospel, R&B, and holidays songs of the ‘Joyful!’ vocal ensemble.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 18 until December 30, 2018. This is sort of a mini-holiday version of Food and Wine. You will find some of the booths out offering holiday eats and drinks themed for specific countries. Also inside each country you will find decor authentic to that culture, storytellers sharing native tales, and more.
Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree returns this year at a cost of $6.99/map. Chip & Dale are on a scavenger hunt, collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree—and they need your help! To get started, simply purchase a map and stickers from select merchandise locations, including Pin Central, Disney Traders and World Traveler at International Gateway. Once you finish the hunt, take your completed map to Disney Traders or World Traveler and exchange it for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip & Dale!
Candlelight Processional is an event each night where a celebrity narrator tells the Christmas story – the story of Jesus’ birth. All the while, gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the production as an orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy. This is a very popular event – with some narrators drawing larger crowds than others. Definitely plan to be in line at least one hour prior to the show, but you’ll see others queueing much earlier than that. The show is held in the American pavilion. Dining packages are also available that include guaranteed admission in to the show (highly recommended). Performances are nightly at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:00 PM.
Here are the narrators who have been announced thus far:
- Chita Rivera – November 22 to 23, 2018
- Helen Hunt – November 24 to 25, 2018
- Alfonso Ribeiro – November 26 to 27, 2018
- Robby Benson – November 28 to 30, 2018
- John Stamos – December 1 to 2, 2018
- Neil Patrick Harris – December 3 to 6, 2018
- Whoopi Goldberg – December 7 to 9, 2018
- Bart Millard – December 10 to 12, 2018
- Blair Underwood – December 13 to 14, 2018
- Gary Sinise – December 15 to 17, 2018
- Pat Sajak – December 18 to 20, 2018
- Auli’i Cravalho – December 21 to 23, 2018
- Edward James Olmos – December 24 to 25, 2018
- Jodi Benson – December 26 to 27, 2018
- Cal Ripken Jr. – December 28 to 30, 2018
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will have a holiday overlay. It has a very powerful ending of Let There Be Peace On Earth.
Also be sure to check out the Gingerbread Village located in The Land pavilion!
What can I find at Hollywood Studios?
One exciting new offering is going to be the transformation of Toy Story Land! Stay tuned to see special decorations and a new holiday overlay on Alien Swirling Saucers. Family favorites such as Sunset Greetings and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! are also returning. Be sure to check out the vintage decor that has gone up this year. That is one touch only found at this park.
Head HERE to find all of the festive food and drinks being offered!
Sunset Greetings is a nightly show lighting up the Hollywood Hotel (aka Tower of Terror). It is a cute little projection show featuring your favorite Disney characters. Check out a live stream of last year’s show HERE.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a nightly holiday show of lights, projections, and fireworks. It is show on the outer facade of the Chinese Theater. Note that this WILL replace the Star Wars show normally done here. For the best view we recommend not being too close to the front. You want a good view of the show being projected on to the building. Check out a live sneak peek of the show HERE.
There is also a dessert party that gives you preferred viewing for this show. We wouldn’t recommend it for the viewing since it’s not too hard to get a good spot. If you want an added holiday experience with exclusive access and treats – this is for you.
Hollywood and Vine lunch and dinner is going to turn in to Minnie’s Holiday Dine. At these meals you will be able to dine with your favorite Disney characters in their best holiday ensembles.
What can I find at Disney Springs?
Aside from holiday decor, lots of Christmas shopping, and yummy treats…here you’ll find the Christmas Tree Trail. Comprised of 15 different trees themed for your favorite characters this trail is one you want to be sure to experience on your stop to Disney Springs. You can also find Santa here for your holiday pictures.
What can I expect as far as crowds?
November 8 to the 16/17th will yield fairly lower holiday crowds. Of course, though, the full holiday offerings will not be out. The week of Thanksgiving will bring in higher crowds. When we move out of Thanksgiving, around the 26th, crowds are going to go back down until around the weekend of the 14th. Note, though, there is a large sports event held annually in early December. Due to this, we DO NOT recommend booking at a value resort. After the 14th, more schools are going to be out for the holidays and crowds will be picking up. Around December 21st you can expect the crowds to be HIGH. They will stay this way until after the New Year’s holiday.
In short – It is going to be busy…know that going in to things. Of course, some dates will be better than others. With ANY of these dates you need to have a strong and solid game plan going in to things.
Are you looking to give the gift of a Disney vacation this holiday season? It’s what we do best and we’d be honored to help!