The holiday season begins at Walt Disney World in November which allows for plenty of time for guests to plan a seasonal vacation to one of the Happiest Places on Earth! Typically you can expect the holiday decor to remain up until early January. This year's holiday season runs from November 6th- December 30th.
This year's 2020 holiday season will look a bit different than usual but Disney is still dedicated to bringing holiday magic into the parks and we have all the details you need to know.
Read on to find out everything you need to know for enjoying the holiday season at Walt Disney World.
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2020 Holiday Season at Disney World
This year's 2020 celebration will look a bit different as Disney aims to bring holiday magic to the parks while also maintaining health and safety standards. Unfortunately, the holiday cancellations this year include: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the EPCOT Candlelight Processional. Despite this, Disney World is still planning a magical holiday to bring joy to all their guests visiting this season.
The holiday season this year will run from Nov. 6-Dec. 30 for guests to enjoy festive decor, themed merchandise, seasonal food & beverage offerings and entertainment at Disney World.
Festive Decor, Character Cavalcades, Holiday Character Dining
Disney continues to be creative in their effort to create magic while also maintaining health and safety standards. Guests will be able to see festive flotillas at Animal Kingdom, holiday promenades at EPCOT, and festive motorcades at Hollywood Studios. The character cavalcades at Magic Kingdom will continue with Christmas floats, characters dressed in their holiday best along with gingerbread men, elves, and reindeer. The Toy Solders will also join the Main Street Philharmonic as they march through Magic Kingdom Park. Santa Claus will also still be present as he makes surprise appearances at all four theme parks, resort hotels, and Disney Springs.
When night falls guests can view special projection effects on Cinderella Castle in place of the Castle Dream Lights. The castle will be transformed into a rotating series of designs including a Christmas sweater and overlay of green, red, and gold.
There will also be socially distant character dining at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios beginning Nov. 6th which will include Santa Goofy along with Minnie and other friends dressed in their holiday best.
Disney Springs and Disney Resort Hotels
Guests can find Disney Christmas trees all throughout the retail, dining and entertainment locations in Disney Springs. In addition to standard holiday decor, guests can also experience snowfall in the Town Center, West Side and The Landing. Plus guests can still enjoy the Jock Lindsey's Holiday bar with festive decor and a holiday menu.
The Disney Resort hotels will also have plenty of holiday decorations in their lobbies including fabulous Christmas Trees. Unfortunately, due to physical distancing guidelines the gingerbread displays will not be included at the resorts this year.
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays will begin at EPCOT on November 27th featuring the popular Holiday kitchens around the World Showcase promenade. This will include favorite treats such as the American Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Bavaria Holiday Kitchen with dishes like Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl.
There will also be entertainment to accompany the fantastic food with the returning group JOYFUL! inside the World ShowPlace for guests to enjoy their variations of R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music.
The Voices of Liberty will also perform on the America Gardens Theatre stage for a concert of carols and holiday songs. We will keep updating with menu, entertainment, and tips for visiting the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
Seasonal Treats and Shopping
Half of the fun of enjoying a Walt Disney World Christmas is enjoying the delicious food and great seasonal shopping options! Walt Disney World will offer many seasonal themed treats and dishes in all of their theme parks that are worth trying.
In addition to treats, the shopping at Walt Disney world offers many Christmas and seasonal themed items sure to make someone on your Christmas list very happy.
The rest of this guide features highlights from a typical holiday season at Disney World which we will leave below for your reference for our readers planning 2021 holiday vacations!
Holiday Season in Disney World 2021
We fully expect the regular routine of the Disney World holiday season to return in 2021 so in honor of all the magic Disney can provide in normal circumstances, we've left our planning guide for a typical holiday season unaltered below to help you plan your 2021 vacations.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
The 2020 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is unfortunately cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will keep the 2019 dates and prices below to help you plan for 2021 when we expect the party to return in full swing.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2019 Dates:
- November: 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 24
- December: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 22
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets range in price from $109 to $139 depending on the date you select.. We recommend buying them in advance not just to save money but they will sell out!
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party experience includes entertainment options such as:
- A Frozen Holiday Wish
- Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration
- Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
- Christmas themed firework show
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
- Club Tinsel
- Snowfall on Main Street
- Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party
- This is a foodie centered event for an additional cost of $99 per person.
Most popular Magic Kingdom attractions are open during this party and you can expect shorter lines due to many guests enjoying the entertainment options. You can expect to see the Jungle Cruise transformed with holiday decorations into the Jingle Cruise during this party (and all seasonal dates).
During the party you can enjoy meet and greet from classic and popular Disney characters dressed in seasonal fashion along with rare appearances from Santa, Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws and Scrooge McDuck.
And don't forget the food options! Complimentary seasonal sweets and beverages will be available all throughout the park. Several holiday treat locations will be open until midnight during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Magic Kingdom is where most of the Christmas magic happens at Walt Disney World. This is the theme park where Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party takes place and so most of the best decorations can be viewed here.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade
During Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (and after the party dates end) you can enjoy Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade that takes place in the evening and features SNOW on Main Street, USA. The parade features a Christmas theme with bright lights and popular characters such as Anna, Elsa, Mickey, and Santa!
The seasonal fireworks that take place in Magic Kingdom are called Holiday Wishes and they are breathtaking. Hosted by Jiminy Cricket, the fireworks include holiday-themed projection effects on Cinderella Castle along with seasonal classics such as:
- “Sleigh Ride”
- “Jingle Bells”
- “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
- “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
- “O Christmas Tree”
- “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”
- “Spirit of the Season”
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks is the new fireworks show that debuted in the 2019 Christmas season, we'll see if it returns for 2020!
This new fireworks show is hosted by Minnie Mouse herself and celebrates the magic of Christmas featuring well-known Christmas favorites such as “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls” to “Up on the House Top” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
This Magic Kingdom attraction gets the seasonal treatment and renaming from Jungle Cruise to Jingle Cruise during the holiday season. Disney describes this holiday overlay as:
Jingle Cruise is again themed as if the Skippers are once again homesick for the holidays and decorated the attraction queue and boathouse with homemade decorations, gifts and items from back home. (If you listen carefully, you may also hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background in the queue). The boats have been renamed to receive holiday names and the skippers are getting guests laughing with additional holiday jokes. The jungle has also received new seasonal supplies. Unfortunately, some missed their final destination falling deeper into the jungle.
Make sure that you don't miss this holiday themed attraction on your visit which is open during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and regular park hours.
You can also enjoy new holiday enhancements to favorite attractions, such as Space Mountain and Mad Tea Party!
Epcot has plenty to see and do during the holiday season including great food, a candlelight processional, and more!
At Animal Kingdom you can expect the park to be decked out in breathtaking holiday decor. This year Walt Disney World has made an effort to include a greater amount of things to do and see for the holiday season.
This winter celebration at Discovery Island includes life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets that include reindeer, foxes, and polar bears. At night the rooftop will be filled with luminous lights and bird lanterns.
Enjoy holiday fun with Donald Duck and friends during the Donald’s Dino-Bash! In the evening guests can dance with Chip ‘n Dale at the new Holiday Hoopla Dance Party.
Tree of Life Awakenings
The Tree of Life will awaken during the holiday season with a new musical score and feature wintry tales.
Asia and Africa Celebrations
In Asia guests can enjoy glowing flowers, lanterns, and more where residents of Anandapur have decorated the theater district in celebration of Diwali––the festival of lights in India. In Africa, guests can enjoy more decorations in the village of Harambe that blends the style of Western traditions with authentic African celebrations.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
Guests can enjoy seasonal decor and handcrafted materials indigenous to Pandora to celebrate Christmastime at Pongu Pongu.
You can also find characters such as Mickey and Minnie dressed in seasonal attire at the Adventurer's Outpost. Around the park you can also find characters such as Santa, Goofy, Baloo, King Louie, Donald, Chip and Dale dressed in seasonal clothes.
There is plenty of entertainment to be found in Hollywood Studios for the holiday season along with fabulous holiday decorations.
Sunset Seasons Greeting's
Sunset Seasons Greeting's projection show is definitely worth a look as the Hollywood Tower becomes full of light including laser projections and snow!
When evening falls, the billboards transform into real life characters tell a tale of their love for the season.
These holiday scenes include:
- Mickey and Minnie reminiscing about a hometown Christmas as the scene shifts into a romanticized, Norman Rockwell-inspired town—starting in black and white before slowly changing into color.
- The Toy Story characters guessing which new toys are coming this Christmas as the scene becomes covered in holiday wrapping paper.
- The Swedish Chef from The Muppets babbling as only he can while the scene turns into giant gingerbread houses.
- And finally, Olaf pining over his holiday wish as iconic music plays and the scene freezes over into a Frozen winter wonderland—complete with dancing Aurora Borealis lights and projected falling snow.
“Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!”
This spectacular holiday show includes festive music, special effects, and Disney grade entertainment showing nightly November through December.
Santa's Gone Missing.
This show centers around searching for Santa in this festive show with celebrity stars leading the entertainment.
Join the festive fun as the stars of ABC’s Prep & Landing search high and low for Kris Kringle. Landing nightly at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a limited time, it’s Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party is the reserved viewing and dining package option for this popular show in Hollywood Studios.
Echo Lake Holiday Decorations
Echo Lake gets a merry makeover with extra-large ornaments, colorful garlands and a giant Christmas tree centered on the water. Even Dinosaur Gertie will be festively dressed for the occasion!
Disney does not disappoint with their seasonal decorations so take the time to soak it in and enjoy!
Visit with Santa Claus or meet Santa Goofy!
Minnie's Holiday Dine
Join Minnie and her friends for a holiday themed dinner party at Hollywood & Vine!
Disney Springs is fully decked out in its holiday finest along with the theme parks in early November. You can find seasonal treats and shopping in this Disney district
Disney Springs also features a variety of entertainment for the holiday season such as:
- Christmas Tree Trail: a walk through wonderland of Disney themed Christmas trees featuring falling snow and holiday music. This tour starts near the fountain outside Once Upon a Toy, once you find the pathway you can look forward to seeing these themed trees:
- Walt Disney World Theme Parks
- Mickey & Minnie Mouse
- Beauty & the Beast
- Sleeping Beauty
- The Princess & The Frog
- The Little Mermaid
- Haunted Mansion
- Snow White
- Toy Story
- Disney Villains
- Robin Hood
- Star Wars
- Peter Pan
- The Lion King
- Mary Poppins
- Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt: a scavenger hunt to find all of Stitch's lost items, if you find them all you receive a prize!
- Santa’s Chalet: Santa meet and greet options are available at select times.
There are also carolers wandering through Disney Springs along with other roaming varieties of seasonal entertainment.
Holiday Dining Packages and Dessert Parties
The holidays at Walt Disney World also comes with a variety of dining packages and dessert parties to enjoy.
Enjoy the Holiday Fireworks Dessert Party on Tomorrowland Terrace for full reserved viewing of the holiday fireworks, fantastic holiday desserts, and great service.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party is the package to book for reserved viewing for Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
One great way to ensure guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional is to reserve dining with the Candlelight Processional dining package.
For guests looking to enjoy a guaranteed ride on the Frozen Ever After ride in Epcot and great views for the fireworks show the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot World Showcase dining package.
Plan Your Walt Disney World Vacation!
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You can discover more about planning your trip from these links:
- Walt Disney World Cheap Food Guide
- Discount Walt Disney World Tickets
- Walt Disney World Character Guide
- Guide to Epcot Food and Wine Festival
- Guide to Walt Disney World Transportation