Holiday Season Happenings at Walt Disney World

in Walt Disney World

mickey minnie cinderella castle christmas

Credit: Disney

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — especially when you spend it at Walt Disney World Resort!

Disney World in Orlando, Florida decks the halls every single year as the holiday season begins. From the beautiful decor to special events, Walt Disney World knows how to bring joy to their Guests.

But, with that being said, there is so much to see and do during the holiday season! That is why we put together a guide for you and your family so you can plan accordingly and not miss out on any of the magic happening during this time of year.

mickey christmas
Credit: Disney

Related: What to Expect From Halloween at Disney World

Please keep in mind that due to the current pandemic, some of these offerings may not be available. Inside the Magic will keep you updated on the holiday season at Disney World as we get information. 

Holidays at Disney World Resort and Hotels

The holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year to visit Disney World. From the beautiful decor to bigger-than-life Christmas trees to adorable gingerbread houses to special events, Walt Disney World is filled with fun for all ages.

very merry christmas party
Credit: Disney

Why spend the holidays at a Disney resort?

Walt Disney World Resort is already known as the Most Magical Place on Earth, however, during the holiday season, it is an entirely new experience. Cinderella Castle glows with thousands of lights, holiday music plays in the background, the Resort hotels are decked out with Christmas trees, and more!

When does Disney World decorate for Christmas?

Walt Disney World transforms from Halloween to Christmas overnight! Once Halloween season comes to an end (the last day of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary is usually on Halloween night, October 31), Disney Cast Members work extra hard to say goodbye to the spooky season and bring in the holly jolly of the holidays!

And the holiday decorations usually stay up in Walt Disney World through New Year’s and into the first week of January. However, it is important to check the official Walt Disney World website for the most up-to-date information.

Credit: Disney

Disney World events and holiday activities

This Christmas season, get ready for a magical holiday gathering with your loved ones — and some familiar Disney faces. The best part about the holiday season at Walt Disney World is that every theme park, all of the Resort hotels, and even Disney Springs decorates and celebrates this time of year.

Let’s take a look at what each theme park, the Resort hotels, and Disney Springs do to celebrate the holiday magic.

Magic Kingdom

At Magic Kingdom, Guests are greeted with a beautiful decked-out train station before even setting foot into the park. Once past the train station, Guests will see a 65-foot Christmas tree, as well as wreaths and bells up and down Main Street, U.S.A.

Additionally, Guests flock to Main Street, U.S.A. to take photos in front of Cinderella Castle with a beautiful light display consisting of over 200,000 lights (However, for the 2021 season the lights will not return. The good news is special holiday projections will take over Cinderella Castle!). Of course, standing by the castle is also the perfect place to just take in the holiday magic.

Related: How to Avoid Crowds at Magic Kingdom in Disney World

Christmas at Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney World website states:

When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom park lights up with excitement for Guests of all ages. Cinderella Castle shimmers. Joyful music fills the air. Disney Characters don their most festive attire. Favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. And enchanting surprises lie around almost every turn!

But that’s not all because Guests are also in for a real treat — pun intended — when they taste the specialty food items Magic Kingdom offers throughout the holidays. From sugar cookies to candy apples to delicious hot chocolate, the theme park is filled with special treats just for this time of year.

The Walt Disney World website states:

Savor delicious yuletide sweets as you sip on seasonal beverages—included with your admission. Plus, enjoy holiday-themed, event-exclusive treats available for purchase throughout the night.

Please note that alternative healthy and gluten-free options are available upon request. All menus and offerings are subject to change and availability.

holidays at disney world
Credit: Disney

Disney Very Merriest After Hours

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will not return to Disney World for 2021. Instead, a new Disney After Hours event will debut called Disney Very Merriest After Hours. Per Disney Parks Blog:

Holidays are sure to be enchanting at Magic Kingdom Park, where quintessential decorations will return to Main Street, U.S.A. When the sun sets, special holiday projections will appear most nights on Cinderella Castle, alternating periodically with the castle’s transformation into a Beacon of Magic.* What a great way to celebrate the holidays and the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!

Now, talk about an early holiday gift… Disney Very Merriest After Hours,” a new special-ticketed event, will debut Nov. 8 before all the rest of the festive fun. It will be available on select nights through Dec. 21. The four hours of festivities will delight guests with “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks,” Disney characters throughout the park, holiday music and décor, treats included and so much more! As with other Disney After Hours events, a limited number of tickets will be sold for this event. It’s held after regular park operating hours, with lower wait times and access to more than 20 select attractions.  


Spaceship Earth Holiday
Credit: Disney

Over at EPCOT, Guests can celebrate the season with family fun festivities and more. For starters, a beautiful Christmas tree can be found at the entrance of the theme park, as well as other festive decor throughout the park.

EPCOT also hosts its International Festival of the Holidays event, which Disney describes as:

Join us to celebrate holidays around the world during this spirited seasonal festival at Epcot. Check back later for festival updates.

Discover a festival like no other, featuring the joyous holiday traditions of our 11 World Showcase nations. Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth surrounds you in the wondrous sights, sounds and flavors of the season, as celebrated by cultures near and far.

Come and delight in stirring live musical productions and savor seasonal food & beverage specialties at the expanded Holiday Kitchens.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Holidays
Credit: Disney

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests can anticipate a wild mix of holiday-themed twists throughout the lands. But when the sun sets, Guests want to make sure they are by the Tree of Life as they can watch it come to life!

Tree of Life Holiday awakenings is a holiday rendition of Animal Kingdom’s nightly projection show, Tree of Life Awakenings, which Walt Disney World describes on its website as the following:

Flickering fireflies magically appear and stir to life the animal spirits in the tree’s towering trunk—bringing to light a dazzling visual display swarming with color and animated imagery.

Gaze upon a young doe embarking upon a thrilling journey. Behold love blossoming between a pair of hummingbirds. Spy a sly fox spreading gifts of love among the denizens of a wintry forest.

A feast for the eyes, each revelation celebrates the eternal balance and harmony that exists in all living things, big or small, and is sure to inspire and delight your whole family tree.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

hollywood studios christmas decorations
Credit: ITM Rebekah B.

Some of the decor Guests can look forward to at Disney’s Hollywood Studios include the iconic red and white stars hung up along Sunset Boulevard as well as the projections that take over Tower of Terror!

For 2021, Disney Parks Blog shared:

Sunset Seasons Greetings returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as the Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel on Sunset Boulevard will twinkle once again with projection effects, magically transforming into a snowy corner of Arendelle, a Muppets gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, and a Dickensian village inspired by “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” This holiday show will also alternate with the tower’s nightly transformation into a Beacon of Magic.

Additionally, Guests can find oversized ornaments floating in the lake near 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Dinosaur Gertie decked out as well!

Related: Best Outdoor Activities at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney Springs

holiday bar jock lindsey disney springs christmas
Credit: Disney

One of the special events Disney Springs brings during the holidays is the Christmas Tree Trail, which allows Disney Guests to take one-of-a-kind photos during a unique walk-through experience for the holiday season. The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail also features holiday music, falling snow, and of course, festive Christmas Trees, which are each uniquely themed to popular Disney films.

Related: 1 Million Guests Visit the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs

Additionally, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, which is a popular spot located in Disney Springs where Guests can gather around and enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, decks out for the holidays! You can read more about that here.

Disney World Resort Hotels

The Walt Disney World Resort hotels bring special holiday festivities and decor to Guests as well!

Grand Floridian Resort Gingerbread House
Credit: ITM

Which Disney World Resort hotels have the most to see and do during the holidays?

For starters, each and every year, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa takes the cake with their famous gingerbread house display in the lobby. The Christmas tree they have on display is also worth stopping and looking at. Beautiful ornaments and bright lights complete the look and feel that everyone longs for during this time of year.

Disney's Contemporary Resort Gingerbread House
Credit: ITM

Disney’s Grand Floridian isn’t the only Resort with a gingerbread house. Hop on the monorail and head over to Disney’s Contemporary Resort because they also have a popular gingerbread display that is a must-see! In 2018, the display featured Cinderella Castle along with Cinderella herself, Prince Charming, and Fairy Godmother.

And in 2016, the theme was based around the popular film, Frozen. Guests had the chance to see Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and of course everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf.

gingerbread carousel
Credit: ITM

If that’s not enough gingerbread displays for you, then head on over to Disney’s Beach Club Resort for an almost life-size version of a gingerbread carousel – complete with moving horses!

And if you head next door to Disney’s Yacht Club you will find even more holiday decor. Usually displayed in the lobby, this Resort puts out a charming gingerbread train display, perfect for the holidays.

polynesian christmas
Credit: Disney

Of course, we all know Disney’s Polynesian Resort has a South Pacific island theme, and each Resort decorates according to their theme. That’s why the tree in the lobby of the Polynesian is covered in tropical-themed holiday decorations!

And lastly, the Wilderness Lodge. There is nothing like celebrating the holiday season in the great outdoors. Be sure to check out the 60-foot-tall Christmas tree in the hotel lobby!

At all of the Disney World Resorts hotels, Guests can find sweet holiday treats in the quick-service areas. From gingerbread cookies to decorated sugar cookies, and sometimes even holiday-themed candy apples!

New Year’s Eve at Disney World

NYE Fireworks
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

What does Disney World do to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve is known for drawing large crowds, especially to Magic Kingdom Park. Everyone wants to ring in the New Year at the Most Magical Place on Earth, so Disney tends to set off beautiful fireworks at midnight. It is important to check the Disney World website for the most up-to-date information regarding New Year’s Eve!

How to plan your Disney World holiday

How do you start your Disney World vacation planning?

If you want to visit Walt Disney World on your next family vacation, but aren’t sure where to begin planning then don’t hesitate to contact our friends over at Academy Travel. They will be with you every step of the way! Get your free quote today.

Ultimate Disney Christmas Package
Credit: Disney

When should you book holiday reservations for a Disney World Resort hotel?

We highly recommend you start planning your holiday vacations to Disney World as soon you start thinking about it. The holiday season is a busy one at Walt Disney World and so if you want to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck, or if you have any specific Resort hotels you want to stay at, be sure to book soon.

Our friends at Academy Travel will be with you every step of the way when planning and will help you find the best deal for you and your family. Get your free quote today.

What are the most affordable Disney World Resort hotels to stay at during the holiday season?

There are more than 25 Resort hotel options on property and each one has its own unique theme and personality,  but if you are looking for an incredible hotel that’s within budget, we recommend looking at the Value Resorts — All of which still offer the same high level of hospitality as some of their more expensive counterparts.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, and Disney’s All-Star Music are just a few to choose from. For more information on some of the best Disney World Resort hotels, check out our guide here.

And as always, if you ever need help planning we highly recommend working with a trusty travel agent, such as Academy Travel. The authorized travel agents will be with you every step of the way when planning your vacation, including finding the best deal for you and your family! Get started today.

Very Merry Christmas
Credit: Disney

Tips for visiting Disney World during the holidays

If you are planning to visit Disney World during the holiday season, but aren’t sure where to begin, we have your back! There is so much to see and do during the holidays, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs, and more.

But just visiting the theme parks during this time of year is magical. As previously mentioned, each theme park brings beautiful holiday decor and unique opportunities perfect for every family.

How do you get the most out of a holiday trip to Disney World?

When planning your magical Disney vacation, we recommend taking a look at everything the parks have to offer and exploring what are the must-do’s for you and your family. Since every family is different, it is important to explore what would be best for your family.

Also, working with a travel agent is highly recommended as they will help ensure you see and do everything your family would enjoy.

cinderella castle christmas 2020
Credit: Disney

Have you ever been to Disney World during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.

Our friends at Academy Travel will be with you every step of the way when planning and will help you find the best deal for you and your family. Get your free quote today.

in Walt Disney World

Comments Off on Holiday Season Happenings at Walt Disney World