Here’s How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

The holidays have become one of the most popular times of year to visit Walt Disney World. From festive decorations that include custom Christmas trees that are up to 70 feet tall, to limited-time treats, to special events, and more, there’s so much to do in both the parks and resorts to celebrate. And you don’t want to miss a thing!

So, we’re bringing you a look at every single way you can enjoy the Disney World Christmas season to help you plan the perfect winter getaway to Florida.

When Does Disney World Christmas Start?

If you’re planning to visit Disney World during the holiday season, you’re probably wondering when the Christmas decorations start going up. Well, it’s pretty early! Holiday decorations usually start to appear as early as the first week of November. However, the official start of the holiday season at Disney World in 2024 has yet to be announced. We expect Disney to release more details on the 2024 holiday season in June or July when they celebrate Halfway to the Holidays so stay tuned!

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

At Magic Kingdom, the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (which is Disney’s ticketed holiday event) usually takes place on the first or second Friday in November. While the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays starts a little later in November, usually around Thanksgiving. So, you may miss a few Christmas celebrations if you visit too early in the season.

But, how long are Disney World Christmas decorations up? The holiday season typically runs from early November through the end of December. And, while the Christmas events usually end when the calendar flips to January, the Christmas decorations tend to stay up through the first week of January. Of course, the exact dates will vary from year to year.

Is Christmas a Good Time to Go to Disney World?

If you are a fan of Christmas and Disney, you might be wondering if it is a good time to visit Disney World during the holiday season. The answer is both yes and no.

On one hand, Disney World at Christmas is a magical experience that you won’t want to miss. The parks are beautifully decorated with festive lights, ornaments, and garlands. You can enjoy special holiday shows, parades, and fireworks. Plus, you can meet your favorite Disney characters dressed in their holiday best.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

On the other hand, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year at Disney World (and therefore also more expensive). The parks can be extremely crowded, making it difficult to navigate and enjoy the attractions. You may have to wait in long lines for rides, shows, and even food. The weather can also be unpredictable, with both chilly temperatures and occasional rain. So, you’ll definitely need to pack appropriately.

While we certainly recommend visiting the parks around the holidays, it’s best to come in prepared to face the crowds.

Celebrating the Holidays at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Disney World. It’s home to some of the best treats, shows, and even a special after-hours party. Here are some of the highlights of celebrating the holidays at Magic Kingdom:

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is one of the most popular special events that Disney hosts throughout the year. This special after-hours event takes place on select nights from November to December with the parks closing early to regular day guests to allow those who purchase tickets to enjoy lower crowds, shorter lines, and exclusive holiday entertainment.

This Christmas party is the only place that you can see the holiday parade, a special holiday-themed fireworks show, and enjoy free cookies and hot cocoa throughout the park.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

The cost of the Disney World Christmas party varies depending on the night you attend with prices ranging from around $159 to $199 per person. You can find the full list of dates and prices on Disney’s website. We recommend purchasing tickets in advance, as the event does tend to sell out.

If you are thinking about purchasing tickets and wondering whether Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is worth it, it really depends on your preferences. The fan-favorite party fully immerses you in the holiday season with entertainment that you can only experience if you purchase a ticket. However, it’s certainly not the only way to experience Christmas in Disney World. There are several other free holiday activities throughout all the parks and resorts that will put you in a festive mood!

Frozen Holiday Surprise

Frozen Holiday Surprise is a special show that takes place on the Cinderella Castle stage in Magic Kingdom every night of the Christmas season. The show features Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf from the hit movie Frozen. During the show, they perform some of their favorite holiday songs, and the castle is transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. The show is included with your park admission and usually happens around sunset.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Jingle Cruise

Jingle Cruise is a holiday-themed version of the classic Jungle Cruise attraction. The ride is decorated with holiday lights and decorations, and the skippers tell holiday-themed jokes and puns throughout the ride. It’s a fun way to experience a classic attraction with a holiday twist.

Celebrating The Holidays at EPCOT

If you’re looking for a festive holiday experience, EPCOT is the place to be. From the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays to the Candlelight Processional, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the must-see holiday experiences at EPCOT:

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is a seasonal festival that takes place from late November through December every year. During this festival, you can learn about holiday traditions from around the world. You can also try limited-time food and drink offerings from Holiday Kitchens around World Showcase. Additionally, there are special musical performances, an Olaf-themed scavenger hunt, and merchandise available.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Candlelight Processional

The Candlelight Processional is one of the most beloved EPCOT traditions that takes place during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas, accompanied by a mass choir and orchestra. This is one of the biggest must-do events of the season. So, you may want to consider purchasing a Candlelight Processional Dining Package to enjoy guaranteed seating at the show.

Meet Santa Claus at the Odyssey Pavilion

If you’re looking to meet Santa Claus, head over to the Odyssey Pavilion! Here, you can take a photo with Santa and share your holiday wishes with him.

Living with the Land – Glimmering Greenhouses

The classic attraction, Living with the Land is transformed for the holiday season and you don’t want to miss this! The greenhouses are decorated with twinkling lights and holiday decor, making for a special journey through the world of agriculture. We recommend riding after dark to see all the greenhouses lit up.

Holiday Storytellers

Throughout the park, you’ll also find Holiday Storytellers sharing tales of holiday traditions from around the world. This is a fun way to learn about different cultures and their holiday customs. It’s also a great excuse to take a little break from all the walking and eating around World Showcase.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Celebrating the Holidays at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios also gets in on the Christmas festivities! And, for the first time ever, a brand new after-hours party is available in 2023! Here are all the ways to celebrate in Hollywood Studios:

Disney Jollywood Nights

In 2023, Disney’s Hollywood Studios welcomed a brand new event and was transformed on select nights with all the glitz and glam of a Hollywood holiday party! Disney Jollywood Nights is a new ticketed event that gives guests extra time in the park with lower crowds and the chance to experience exclusive holiday celebrations. The event includes live-themed entertainment, limited-time food and drink, and holiday shows that have never been seen before.

Tickets to Disney Jollywood Nights cost between $159 to $179 per person depending on the event date you choose. And, like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we recommend purchasing tickets in advance before they sell out.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Minnie’s Holiday Dine is a special dining experience that takes place during the holiday season at Hollywood & Vine inside the park. You’ll get to enjoy a buffet-style meal with Minnie Mouse and her friends, all dressed up in their holiday best making their rounds to your table. This is a great character dining experience to enjoy with kids.

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is a special version of the Frozen show that is only available during the holiday season. You’ll get to sing along with your favorite Frozen characters as they perform classic songs from the movie and the show ends in a special celebration just for Christmas.

Sunset Seasons Greetings

Like other park icons, the Hollywood Tower Hotel transforms for the Christmas season! Make your way to Sunset Boulevard after dark to see the special holiday projections.

Toy Story Land Characters in Holiday Attire

During the holiday season, the characters in Toy Story Land dress up in their holiday best as well. You’ll get to see Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang in festive attire, adding to the holiday atmosphere of the park.

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Celebrating the Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Every year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is transformed into a festive wonderland, complete with holiday decor, special events, and limited-time treats. Here are the must-see Christmas offerings:

Merry Menagerie

One of the highlights of the holiday season at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Merry Menagerie. This adorable group of animal puppets roam near the Tree of Life by the park entrance, interacting with guests and spreading holiday cheer. Be sure to keep an eye out for them during your visit!

Tree of Life Awakenings Holiday Edition

The Tree of Life Awakenings are a must-see attraction at Animal Kingdom. And during the holiday season, they get a special holiday edition. Watch every night as the Tree of Life comes to life with dazzling lights and projections, telling the story of the holidays in a unique and magical way.

Meet Mickey & Minnie in Holiday Attire

No trip to Disney World is complete without meeting Mickey and Minnie. During the holidays, they’re dressed to impress in their festive holiday attire at Animal Kingdom. You can meet them at Adventurers Outpost every day. Just check the My Disney Experience app for exact meet-and-greet times.

Here's How to Plan the Perfect Disney World Christmas Vacation

Celebrating the Holidays at Disney Springs

If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit during your visit to Disney World, there’s no better place to start than at Disney Springs. No park admission is required to visit and you’ll be able to enjoy everything from festive decorations to seasonal treats, and more!

Christmas Tree Stroll

One of the highlights of Christmas at Disney Springs is the Christmas Tree Stroll. This self-guided tour takes you through the various areas of Disney Springs, where you’ll find elaborately decorated Christmas trees inspired by popular Disney characters, movies, and rides. Be sure to pick up a Christmas Tree Stroll map to receive a free gift after finding all the trees!

Jock Lindsey’s “Holiday” Bar

If you’re looking for a more adult-oriented holiday experience, be sure to check out Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. This aviation-themed bar is decked out in holiday decorations, and offers a variety of seasonal cocktails and snacks. It’s a great place to unwind after a long day of shopping and sightseeing.

Meet Santa

Of course, no holiday experience would be complete without a visit from Santa Claus himself. At Disney Springs, you can meet Santa and take a photo with him at his chalet near the Christmas Tree Stroll. Just keep in mind that lines can get long so we suggest visiting early in the day to avoid crowds.

Other Holiday Offerings in Disney World

If you’re visiting Disney World during the holiday season, here are some other experiences you won’t want to miss:

Gingerbread House Displays at Select Disney Resorts

During the holiday season, several Disney World Resort hotels display elaborate gingerbread creations that are a sight to behold. These gingerbread structures are made entirely out of edible ingredients and are often accompanied by other holiday decorations and sometimes even snacks!

Some of the resorts that typically feature gingerbread houses include Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

This is a great excuse to make a dining reservation at one of these resorts and then stick around for some holiday cheer. Be sure to check with the resort ahead of time to confirm the display will be available during your visit.

Holiday Merchandise

If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts or souvenirs, Disney World has you covered. Throughout the parks and resorts, you’ll find a wide variety of holiday-themed merchandise, including ornaments, apparel, and toys. Some items are exclusive to the holiday season. So, be sure to pick them up while you can.

Holiday Treats and Drinks

Disney World is known for its delicious treats and drinks, and the holiday season is no exception. During this time of year, you can enjoy a variety of seasonal snacks and beverages throughout the parks and resorts. The offerings are different every year so be sure to check the menus in advance so you don’t miss a treat!

Visiting Disney World on Christmas Day

Now, you might be wondering, is Disney World open on Christmas Day? The answer is yes – Disney World is open on Christmas Day! However, it’s important to note that it can be one of the busiest days in the parks out of the entire year.

If you plan to visit Disney World on Christmas Day, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the most of your experience. First and foremost, be prepared for large crowds. You can likely expect long lines for attractions, dining, and transportation. Thus, you’ll want to arrive at the parks early to avoid being denied entry due to reaching capacity limits.

All of the holiday offerings that are available in the parks throughout the season are still available on Christmas Day. Though, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the only two days that you can see the Christmas parade in Magic Kingdom without a ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

There may be a special holiday-themed fireworks show on those nights too. Be sure to check the entertainment guide at the parks you visit to see if there are any other special Christmas Day-only celebrations.

Tips for Visiting Disney World Around the Holidays

Visiting Disney World around the holidays is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  • Plan ahead – The holiday season is one of the busiest times at Disney World, so it’s important to plan ahead. Make sure to book your hotel and dining reservations well in advance. Consider purchasing tickets for special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party before you arrive.
  • Check the daily entertainment schedule at the parks when you arrive – Disney World offers special holiday-themed shows and parades throughout the season, but the schedule can vary from day to day. Check the schedule ahead of time so you don’t miss out on anything.
  • Dress for the weather – Florida can be warm even during the holiday season, so make sure to dress appropriately. Wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen and a hat if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Consider purchasing Disney Genie+ – Disney Genie+ allows you to skip the line at select attractions throughout all four parks. This can save you a lot of time in line, giving you more time to experience all the other holiday offerings. Just note that Disney Genie+ can sell out, so purchase it early in the day if you’re hoping to take advantage.
  • Try the seasonal treats – Disney World offers a variety of seasonal treats during the holidays, from gingerbread cookies to peppermint hot chocolate. Make sure to try some of these delicious treats during your visit since it’s the only time they’re available!
  • Adjust your expectations – With so many people visiting Disney World during the holidays, lines can be long and crowds can be overwhelming. Remember to be patient and take breaks when you need them to avoid getting too stressed out. And, don’t forget to stop to take in the holiday atmosphere – it’s truly one of the most magical times of the year at Disney.

So, now you’re ready to take on Christmas in Disney World! Get ready to make new memories that will be shared around the family table for years to come.


Have you taken part in any of the Disney World Christmas festivities? What is your favorite part about visiting Disney World during the holidays? Leave us a comment below to share your experiences visiting the most magical place on earth at Christmastime.

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