Walt Disney World Christmas 2023: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, EPCOT Festival of Holidays

The holiday season begins at Walt Disney World in November and runs until the first week of January 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 décor to remain up until early January.

Read on to find out everything you need to know for enjoying the holiday season at Walt Disney World.

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2023 Holiday Season at Magic KingdomSpecial holiday projection effects on Cinderella Castle

The main focus of celebration in Magic Kingdom Park is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Guests attending the party will get to enjoy a special Christmas parade, fireworks, and snowfall in the park. You can also read about when Disney World decorates for Christmas here.

2023 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates

  • November: 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30
  • December: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22

You can read more about the full list of entertainment offered at this popular Christmas party and how to purchase tickets in our Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party guide. 

But if you don’t attend the party, you can still enjoy all the holiday decor in Walt Disney World as the park will be fully decorated for all guests to enjoy along with plenty of holiday treats and merchandise to enjoy.

Jingle Cruise

Magic Kingdom also features the main Christmas attraction overlay (unlike Disneyland at Christmas, seasonal overlays aren’t a common thing at Walt Disney World!) on the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise is transformed into the “Jingle Cruise” featuring themed holiday jokes told by the Skippers, holiday names for the boats, and holiday decor on the attraction.

Jingle Cruise is available during regular park hours and during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Frozen-Inspired Show Replaces Cinderella Castle DreamLights

In disappointing news for many Walt Disney World fans, the Cinderella Castle DreamLights will NOT be returning for 2023 and a new Frozen show is set to replace the previous one which celebrated the lights on the castle. The Cinderella Castle Dreamlights have not returned to Walt Disney World since 2019 and have since been replaced by projections that illuminate the castle instead. Many fans hoped that we would see the lights return in 2023 as the 50th Walt Disney World decorations were removed but it appears that the DreamLights are gone for good and have been replaced by the projection-style images we’ve seen on the castle.

This new “Frozen Holiday Surprise” is a Frozen-inspired experience to illuminate the castle “in a whole new way” and can be seen during regular park hours and during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We can likely expect Frozen-themed projections on Cinderella’s Castle during this experience.

Disney Jollywood Nights- NEW After-Hours Event at Hollywood StudiosHollywood Studios Xmas Party

Walt Disney World has announced a BRAND NEW ticketed holiday party coming to Hollywood Studios! Disney Jollywood Nights will take place after Hollywood Studios closing time on select nights in November and December. This new event features the return of “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” which hasn’t returned to Disney World since 2019!

 2023 Disney Jollywood Nights event dates:

  • Saturday, November 11
  • Saturday, November 18
  • Monday, November 20
  • Monday, November 27
  • Wednesday, November 29
  • Monday, December 4
  • Wednesday, December 6
  • Saturday, December 16
  • Monday, December 18
  • Wednesday, December 20

This party will take place from 8:30PM to 12:30AM and guests with tickets can enter Hollywood Studios as early as 7PM for the event. Since this party takes place after Hollywood Studios typically closes, this won’t impact guests visiting the theme park without party tickets.

This new holiday party features the return of “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” plus new entertainment and a Muppets focused holiday special at Theater of the Stars! Read all the information including how to buy tickets in our Disney Jollywood Nights event guide. 

Hollywood StudiosSunset Seasons Greetings

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 telling 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.

Minnie’s Seasonal Character Dining at Hollywood & VineMinnie Mouse hosting a yuletide gathering at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios changes their character dining throughout the year to match the park seasonal celebrations. The holiday Hollywood & Vine character dining includes Santa Goofy along with Minnie and other friends dressed in their holiday best. You can read our full review of this holiday experience to see why we loved this special event.

Echo Lake Holiday DecorationsChristmas tree at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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!

EPCOT International Festival of the HolidaysAmerican Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing from the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays takes place November 24th, 2023 through December 30th, 2023 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.

The Voices of Liberty will perform on the America Gardens Theatre stage again this year 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. Guests can also view holiday character cavalcades at Epcot including Mickey, Anna & Elsa, Santa, and more!

Animal Kingdom

At Animal Kingdom you can expect the park to be decked out in breathtaking holiday décor.

This year Walt Disney World has made an effort to include a greater amount of things to do and see for the holiday season.

Tree of Life Awakenings

The Tree of Life awakens during the holiday season wintry tales projected on the tree.

Discovery Island

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.

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.

Disney SpringsMultiple families look at decorated Christmas trees that have signs on them that read Little Mermaid and Marry Poppins

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

A Christmas tree at Disney Springs

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. The Christmas Tree Trail will return for 2023 with a new list of full holiday trees to experience, for now you can cruise the 2022 Christmas Tree Trail list to see what themes to expect!

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:

      1. Walt Disney World Theme Parks
      2. Mickey & Minnie Mouse
      3. Beauty & the Beast
      4. Sleeping Beauty
      5. Aladdin
      6. Frozen
      7. The Princess & The Frog
      8. The Little Mermaid
      9. Mulan
      10. Haunted Mansion
      11. Snow White
      12. Pinocchio
      13. Toy Story
      14. Disney Villains
      15. Dumbo
      16. Cinderella
      17. Robin Hood
      18. Star Wars
      19. Peter Pan
      20. Tangled
      21. The Lion King
      22. Mary Poppins
      23. Fantasia
  • 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!
  • Meet Santa: Visit with Santa at Once Upon a Toy!
  • Nightly Snowfall: Town Center in Disney Springs is transformed into a winter wonderland with nightly snowfall.

There are also carolers wandering through Disney Springs along with other roaming varieties of seasonal entertainment.

Walt Disney World Gingerbread Displays

One of the most beloved traditions at Walt Disney World are multiple gingerbread displays at the various resorts at the park. Easily the most famous of all is the gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. You can view clouds of cinnamon billowing out of the chimney of this life-sized storybook gingerbread house made from a classic Austrian recipe.

This house is adorned with white chocolate, candy canes, edible snowflakes, sugar poinsettias, and 25 – yes, 25 – hidden Mickeys! Along the porches, you’ll find an 85-pound chocolate Santa, nutcrackers, toy soldiers, and snowmen that have all been hand-painted by the Grand Floridian Bakery team.

You can even get limited edition pins, mugs, holiday ornaments, and treats! Some of the goodies you can purchase from the Gingerbread House include:

  • Freshly baked, homemade items, such as Gingerbread Mickeys and Shingles, Stollen Bread, Brownie Christmas Tree, and Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  • House-made Gingerbread Ornaments and Gingerbread Houses
  • New items like the Gingerbread Latte Whoopie Pie and Hot Cocoa Bombs
  • Assorted Gingerbread Cookie Bags, Marshmallow Pops, and Caramel Pecan Fudge Bar
  • Gluten-friendly, plant-based, and no sugar added treats
  • Grand Floridian Combo Box featuring assorted fan favorite treats, including the Chocolate Mickey Ornament, exclusive to the Combo Box

Animal Kingdom Lodge features a Life-sized Baby Gingerbread Giraffe and Baby Zebra.

While you’re over at Animal Kingdom lodge you can even decorate an ornament with ostrich shells. These mosaic-like ornaments are made from crushed and dyed ostrich eggs.

Since no male ostriches live in the park or resort, these eggs remain unfertilized and go unused by the female ostriches who lay them on a cycle similar to chickens. Once cleaned, the eggs are crushed and colorfully dyed, glued onto an animal-shaped ornament of your choosing and tied off with a recycled telephone wire. Guests can participate by visiting the recreation clubhouses at Jambo House and Kidani Village.

The Beach Club Resort features a famous gingerbread life-sized carousel that’s been a tradition since 1999 that actually spins! This carousel and its horses are masterfully created with chocolate, sugar, and fondant along with hand-painted characters and hand-crafted gingerbread shingles and snowflakes decorating the display. What makes this year even more special is that all the horses celebrate a different Disney princess. Commemorate your holiday viewing with limited edition pins, mugs, holiday ornaments and treats including:

  • Signature Stollen Bread
  • Candied Pecans (Plant-based)
  • Trio of Fudge
  • Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Snowman
  • Crispy Rice Treat
  • Chocolate Mickey Cookie (New) 
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Gingerbread Shingle
  • Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie (Gluten-Friendly)
  • Gingerbread Cookie (Gluten-Friendly)

BoardWalk Inn’s gingerbread display include a miniature, edible version of the BoardWalk Deli! Before leaving, be sure to check out some of the treats you can take home with you, like:

  • Mickey and Minnie Sugar Cookies
  • BoardWalk Mickey Sugar Cookie (New) 
  • Giant Gingerbread Mickey Cookie (New) 
  • Gluten-Friendly & Plant-based Gingerbread Mickey Cookie
  • Artisan Peppermint Marshmallows (New) 
  • Carnival Bark (New) 
  • Gingerbread Frost Cocktail

Last year Disney’s Contemporary Resort featured a Mary Blair-inspired Cinderella Gingerbread Castle- designed by Walt Disney Imagineers featuring a brand-new 50th anniversary overlay… 11 hidden 5-legged goats! Don’t forget to check out the limited-edition pins, mugs, and holiday ornaments to remember the season. We will see what the Contemporary Resort has in mind this year now that the 50th anniversary is over!

And of course, to keep with the Gingerbread spirit, several areas around the resort will feature a new Gingerbread Martini with Absolut Elyx Vodka, Rumchata Cream Liqueur, and gingerbread spice featuring a rim of gingerbread, freshly baked in the Resort Bakery. You can find this delicious holiday beverage at Grand Floridian Café, Cítricos, and Enchanted Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Boma: Flavors of Africa and Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Chef Mickey’s and Outer Rim at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and dinner at Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club Resort.

The American Adventure at EPCOT also has a gingerbread display. This unique display recreates some classic monuments in America and EPCOT with gingerbread versions of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, The American Adventure building with Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue, and a Festival Kiosk.

Blizzard Beach Holiday Festivities

Blizzard Beach gets into the Christmas spirit as well with additions from the popular Frozen films. In the kid’s section of Tike’s Peak you can find Anna and Elsa’s igloo castle along with Olaf and his Snowgie pals in the wading pool.

Through the holiday season, guests can enjoy seasonal holiday treats such as the Orange Bird DOLE Whip cone and Peppermint Milkshake.

This holiday season also brings more seasonal touches to Blizzard Beach like daily snowfall, holiday music, festive inner tubes and a tropical-dressed Santa.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Holiday Overlay!

Update: It appears that the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will NOT return for the 2023 holiday season.

For the holiday season Guardians swaps their classic playlist for a seasonal song for a holiday overlay bringing along Xandar and Terra too!

Typically Walt Disney World has shied away from holiday overlays because guests want to experience an attraction in its year round form. While Disneyland offers the popular Nightmare Before Christmas version of the Haunted Mansion with Haunted Mansion Holiday, Walt Disney World has typically not offered overlays like this one. This addition of Christmas music to the attraction only increases the re-rideability of the Guardians attractions. Although some guests riding for the first time on a once in a lifetime trip may want the original music which is why Walt Disney World doesn’t usually do holiday overlays too often!

We experienced this new holiday overlay and can confirm it was just one holiday song and not a playlist like some might have expected. The song was the holiday classic “Run Rudolph Run” yet Disney changed most of the words to “Run Rocket Run” along with a bit of mashup with Jingle Bills and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. But regardless, you will just hear the one holiday mashup song during the ride which is a bit of a drawback since the regular attraction offers a rotation of six different songs to enjoy. Here’s hoping in the future that Walt Disney World adds a few more holiday mashups to the set list for the overlay to mix things up!

Photo Tour of Disney World during the Holidays

We have plenty of magical pictures to share with you to get you in the holiday spirt!

Holiday themed cavalcades

Magic Kingdom- near Cinderella Castle

Magic Kingdom- Main Street USA

Magic Kingdom- Main Street

Animal Kingdom-Discovery River

Hollywood Studios- Echo Lake

Santa Goofy!

Echo Lake in Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios- each park has its own decor theme

Echo Lake in Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom- the main Christmas tree by the entrance

On certain nights the Tree of Life will do holiday projections

So beautiful!

You’ll even see holiday décor in Pandora

Epcot- United Kingdom

Epcot will have a few gorgeous trees on display

Find this one in the America pavilion

The Paris pavilion was beautifully decorated

I love the Disney nutcrackers

So many great places to take pictures

Beautiful wreaths and lights

Christmas Tree on Main Street

Main Street is decked out

Castle Projections on Cinderella’s Castle

Castle Projections on Cinderella’s Castle

Castle Projections on Cinderella’s Castle

The projections look amazing!

The fountains will change color too.

Don’t forget to stop by the Jingle Cruise!

Lots of holiday touches

Your skipper will have holiday jokes on hand

My personal favorite on the Jingle Cruise

Disney Resort HotelsHoliday decorations at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Guests can find Disney Christmas trees all throughout the retail, dining and entertainment locations in Disney Springs. In addition to standard holiday décor, guests can also experience snowfall in the Town Center, West Side and The Landing. Plus guests can enjoy the Jock Lindsey’s Holiday bar with festive décor and a holiday menu.

Each resort will have its own themed décor

The Caribbean Beach Resort Hotel décor matches the theme of the resort

The Disney Resort hotels will also have plenty of holiday decorations in their lobbies including fabulous Christmas Trees.

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.

Disney Springs has great shopping and snow fall!

Try the Salted Hot Coco Frozen drink in Hollywood Studios!

Belle’s seasonal cake at Gaston’s Tavern is amazing!

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.

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Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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3 comments add your comment

  1. Good Morning!
    DW Christmas holiday schedule for 2021?
    Are there military & law enforcement discounts available?
    Thank you!
    YCP Instructor

  2. Hello!
    DW Christmas holiday schedule for 2021!
    Do you offer any medical/nurse, first responder discounts?


    • Disney offers military discounts, you can read more about their discounts on our Disney World Discount Tickets page. The schedule should be anounced this summer for the hoilday season but it usually kicks off the first week of November and runs until the first week of January.

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