That Disney Christmas Magic
I recently talked a little about what to expect at the Disney parks during the Christmas holidays…and how despite all that, my family continues to make plans to visit Walt Disney World at this time of year. Why, you may be asking, would we go through all that?
Honestly, this is one of the most magical times of the year, even for Disney. There are so many beautiful and fantastic things happening that we just love to see. So much so that, the years we don’t visit at Christmas time, we just really miss it. Crazy, I know.
(Now I will say that these holiday highlights can be experienced all through December, so if you want that Disney Christmas magic at a calmer pace, you can visit earlier in the month if your schedule permits…and avoid the crowds too. For us, going in early December doesn’t work…so if we want a Disney Christmas, we need to take the crowds too.)
The Magic of the Magic Kingdom
Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom. You will find Cinderella’s Castle decked out in breathtaking “icicle” lights each night. Be sure to get pictures: if you are like me and not great with taking night-time pictures, then get a few PhotoPass shots in front of the castle. Trust me you’ll be glad you did!
Magic Kingdom also hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on a number of nights in December, prior to Christmas. This is a separate ticket, so if you want to attend, you will need to purchase tickets separately from your park pass. One of the highlights is the Christmas parade, featuring the famous Wooden Soldiers. If you want to see the parade, but don’t plan on going to the Party before Christmas, you will be able to see it daily, every afternoon, typically starting Christmas Day…no separate ticket needed! (Please note: The Walt Disney World Christmas Parade that you see on TV every year on Christmas morning is not a live event and is, in fact, taped weeks before. So do not go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas morning expecting to see/be in the parade!)
Epcot and the Holidays Around the World
What about Epcot? While the decorations are beautiful, World Showcase offers a number of wonderful programs related to the “Holidays Around the World” theme, and if you have ever wondered what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in another country, here is your chance. Each country presents their favorite holiday traditions, and many have Holiday Storytellers that highlight some very interesting and fun customs: don’t be surprised to see Father Christmas in England, Pere Noel in France, and St. Nicholas in Germany to name a few. It is delightful and yes, educational, in a very fun way.
Probably the highlight of the Walt Disney World holidays in Epcot is the Candlelight Processional, a nightly presentation of the Christmas story with a celebrity guest narrator and a huge massed choir made up of professional, college, and high school choirs from around the country. Although there are 3 showings each night, the line for seats starts well in advance of each show. You can reserve a seat by purchasing a Candlelight Processional dinner package, and I highly recommend it. If you don’t want to do the dinner package, then assign someone in your group to wait in the stand-by line to be certain of getting a seat. This is a dramatic and powerful performance that is always the highlight of our Disney Christmas visits.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios and its Christmas Spectacle
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has their fair share of holiday entertainment with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, held nightly on the Streets of America. There are literally millions of lights in this display and it is truly an amazing one. The streets can get very crowded however, during this busy season, so to get the most of your visit here, go during the nightly Fantasmic show, or at the end of the evening, before the park closes. It is much more enjoyable when you are not elbow to elbow with people!
Jingling at Animal Kingdom…and More
If you still want more parades, then Animal Kingdom has Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, with all the characters in their holiday finest. Downtown Disney has the Festival of the Seasons, where you can finish any holiday shopping, visit Santa before Dec. 24, and say hi to Santa Goofy from Dec. 25 to Jan. 4. And don’t miss visiting the holiday decorations at the Disney resorts as well. On your list should be the Grand Floridian for the Gingerbread House, the Boardwalk for the Carousel, and the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge for the enormous trees. These should not be missed, plus they are great ways to get away from the crowds for a bit.
Christmas at Walt Disney World is absolutely one of the loveliest times of year to visit. With beautiful holiday decorations and a festive atmosphere, Disney World becomes even more magical than it usually is….and keeps us coming back, despite the crowds. What about you? Have you visited Disney during the Christmas season?