Happy Walt Disney World Resort Holidays - Christmas Happenings at 4 Parks
The Walt Disney World Resort is world (pun intended) renowned for its all year fun, through rain, shine, and cold weather. What kid does not love an affectionate hug from Mickey Mouse and all the Disney Characters you can name? What adult does not dream of being married at this versatile family vacation destination that is perfect for honeymoons? What Disney fan does not love planning a trip there?
Of course, one of the most magical times of the year to visit the Vacation Kingdom is Christmas. Cast Members annually cloak the four parks into festive hues of red, silver, green, and gold. Disney Characters dress in seasonal scarves and Yuletide frocks. Festive instrumental and vocal music from speakers fill the enchanted air. Where else besides Walt Disney World can you spend your magical, happy holidays?
Cookies, Cocoa, Snow, and an Ice Castle
The Magic Kingdom is the heart of the Christmas revels at Walt Disney World, especially with the ever-iconic Cinderella Castle as the centerpiece. Speaking of the castle, it becomes one draped with luminous icicles, known as the Castle Dream Lights, at night.
On select evenings from November through December, this wonderful theme park hosts its annual Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Guests can see some snow falling on Main Street USA, watch the stage shows, see the fireworks display Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season, eat complementary cookies and drink free cocoa, and meet some of their favorite Disney peeps. For those who love to ride at night, the park opens select attractions for them to enjoy.
Also, they can watch a fabulous procession with a surprise appearance by Santa Claus, Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. Save your cash for this event, though - it's a separate-admission one. If you can't afford to see the Christmas Parade, go to this park on days not designated for the festivities.
Global Holidays and True Meanings
Is Epcot free from all the Christmas hoopla just because it's largely an adult-oriented park? Definitely not - besides the decor of the annual time, it hosts a large event called Holidays Around the World. Each World Showcase pavilion shows you its version of Christmas (or other winter holiday) in its respective nation culture and folklore via storytelling. As part of the annual festival, the Candlelight Processional features an orchestra and a massed choir, respectively playing and singing seasonal music.
To add to the magic, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Jesus Christ's birth. Who says that Walt Disney World leaves out the important element of Christmas that Christians come to know? If you worry about Christmas becoming too politically correct or if you as a Christian just need a break from the secular aspects of Christmas, just head on down to American Gardens Theater on select nights and marvel at the story of the holiday's true meaning. Best of all, it comes with your admission or pass.
Tip: be sure to arrive at least an hour before watching this spectacle. Alternatively, save your money to pay for any Candlelight Dinner Package - it will save you time and dinner costs!
Lights, Camera, and More Festive Lights!
This particular event known as the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Disney's Hollywood Studios has a quite interesting history. In the 80's, Breezy Osborne (the sixth child, with the previous five deceased by miscarriages) asked her parents to decorate her house in Little Rock, Arkansas, for Christmas.
The display increased in size until 1993, when visitors worldwide flocked to see it. That raised a huge stink among the Osbornes' neighbors (citing heavy traffic), and they sued them in court a year later. The court ruled the display as a public nuisance and it all but canceled permanently, causing the news media to report on the loss of those magical lights. Another year later, Walt Disney World offered the family in helping them move their once-distraction to fellow neighbors to the park of showbiz and Disney magic and the rest was history.
History aside, this display features millions of lights synced to music on the Streets of America, with angels, carousels, and of course, Mickey himself. This wonder also comes with standard admission, so you don't have to pay an extra arm or leg to be dazzled.
Christmas in Africa?
Although Disney's Animal Kingdom has no Christmas events in particular, you can still enjoy the decorations as well as ride the attractions. Of course, a version of Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade, Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade, draws the holiday-celebrating crowds to the curbs. This procession set to holiday tunes with an African air includes your favorite Disney Characters, large animal puppets, festive jeeps, and much more. If you are visiting this park during the holidays, make sure you watch this parade for a unique spin. A safari caravan of animals and characters and the holidays mix together!
Remember: Crowds are HORRORIFIC on Christmas Day!
What About Crowds?
I know, I know - Christmas is going to get too darn crowded, especially on the day proper.
Of course, some people who go to the parks dead on that day are not aware that they will face a whole lot of disappointment when they enter. That means that they will face long lines on everything: rides, shows, food, and even bathrooms. The atmospheres on either park on Christmas Day or the days surrounding it (New Year's included) are like mob scenes rather than venues of holiday magic.
Well, I was one of those who learned the hard way not to do Disney dead on Christmas. As a girl who flew from my native New Jersey to meet cousins in Florida, I decided to go to the parks. That happened after the day the hospital discharged me after recovering from food poisoning. But I did not expect what made me ride the fewest rides that day in the Magic Kingdom.
I saw swells of crowds packing the park to the brim, and the fact that it was Christmas Day was just part of the problem. Walt Disney World celebrated its 25th anniversary at the time (in 1996), and the revels (including Cinderella-Castle-as-cake) just added to the crowd-related aggravation. There were long lines for everything! For instance, my cousin, parents, and I tried to have our first ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but the line was so long. Thus, we only went to "it's a small world" and Snow White's Scary Adventures.
Despite passing the time with entertaiment and parades, I learned from that day forward that Walt Disney World's parks are not good places to spend Christmas Day.
Tips for an Enjoyable Disney Christmas
Experiences aside, here are ways to manage crowds during the holiday season:
- If you really don't mind the Christmas creep, go in November a week before Thanksgiving. It's generally less crowded and you get to experience the wonders of Christmas without grief. Also, go between the Monday after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas Day too.
- Grab FASTPASSES early. Turismos
start going to the parks in December as South Americans start their
summer vacations, primarily the Brazilian tour groups. Also, the Pop
Warner Little Scholar championships participants (most notoriously the
dancers and cheerleaders) enjoy them too.
- Arrive to the parks at least a half-hour early and go to the left side.
- Take breaks from the parks at midday by returning to your accommodations and return in the late afternoon. (Count yourself lucky if you stay at a Disney resort - they offer excellent Christmas decorations too!)
If you are going to Walt Disney World for the holidays, I wish you a safe and fun merry Christmas!
Other Walt Disney World Hubs
- Disney Characters and Masklophobia - the Fear of Seeing Five-Foot-Tall Animals
- The Pros and Cons of Staying Inside the Walt Disney World Resort: The Pros
- Disney Characters at Disney Parks - Do Adults and Character Meet and Greets Mix?
- Blizzard Beach-Combing
- Walt Disney World: What Annoys You?
- The Many Months of Disney Crowds
- Hot Spots To Visit During Christmas Breaks
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