14 Most Important Things to Know About Christmas at Walt Disney World

Citizens of Main Street Dancers in November 2017

Ready to celebrate Christmas, Disney style? With the celebration comes plenty of questions regarding the fun, too. From parties to park hours, here are the 14 most important things to know about Christmas at Walt Disney World!

Christmas at Disney World: Cinderella Castle
Ahh, Cinderella Castle at Christmastime. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

I remember my first visit to Walt Disney World at Christmastime. I couldn’t wait to see the decorations, watch the fireworks, and attend a party. But I had soooo many questions, too. So, thinking back to my questions, I’m hoping to answer all of yours.

1. Should I Go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?

I honestly thought nothing could compare to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in October, but man, was I wrong. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom is just as much fun – and it snows on Main Street U.S.A.!

MVMCP is a hard ticket event. Translation? You’ll have to pay extra to enjoy the fun but, if your budget allows, it’s 100% worth it. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade has Disney Characters dressed in their holiday finest, there’s unlimited cookies and warm beverages, meet and greets, and holiday music.

Bonus: the crowd levels are decent so you’ll be able to hop on most of the rides. As for the fireworks, “Holiday Wishes” is definitely one of our favorites! All of the Christmas music fun, combined with an amped-up fireworks display is worthy of purchasing a ticket alone. 

2. When Do the Christmas Decorations Go Up at Walt Disney World?

In general, WDW begins swapping out autumn decorations for Christmas ones the day after the last Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. No kidding. Last year, we attended the final Halloween Party of 2017 and headed back to Magic Kingdom the next morning. Yep, Christmas decorations were up! Not all of them, but by week’s end, the Christmas tree we there.

While planning at least on Mickey’s very Merry Christmas Party is probably on your radar, you don’t have to see a single one to enjoy all of the gorgeous Christmas decorations.

Magic Kingdom will be the most decorated and the giant Christmas tree in Town Square is worthy of waiting in line to grab a family photo with. Having written that, each of the four theme parks will have giant Christmas trees at or near the entrances.

PhotoPass photographers like to hang around them – perfect for folks with Memory Maker packages. But remember: you don’t have to have a Memory Maker package to take advantage of WDW’s pro photogs! All you have to do is wait your turn and ask nicely if they’ll take a photo using your camera/cell phone.

Disney World and Magic Kingdom at Christmastime
Magic Kingdom at Christmastime! Photo Credit: Steven Locke

3. Should We Check Out Christmas Decorations at the Disney World Resorts?

If you have some time to resort hop, it will definitely be worth your while. The deluxe resorts offer more in the Christmas decoration department but the Value Resorts are just as much fun.

We began our December visit at Pop! Century Resort and ended it at Animal Kingdom Lodge and had just as much fun at both.

4. What Are the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates and Prices?

For 2018, MVMCP starts November 7 and runs through December 21. Ticket prices start at $95. There’s no Very Merry Christmas party on Christmas Day! 

Headed to Walt disney world for Christmas? From parties to park hours, here are the 14 most important things to know about Christmas at Walt Disney World! #disney #Christmas 3DisneyTips #WDW #DisneyWorld #DisneyVacationPlanning

5. Is There Anything Special at Cinderella Castle for Christmas?

Whether you attend a Disney World Christmas party or not, the one thing you absolutely cannot miss the a Cinderella Castle Christmas lighting.

Taking over six weeks to complete, 200,000 white, twinkly lights are draped over the castle and, each night during the holiday season, a small show happens before it’s lit up for the night. SO worth the while.

6. Are There Shows and Specials at Disney World that Are Only During Christmastime?

There are definitely additional perks to visiting in November/December and shows and celebrations are definitely a large part. See below for each park.

The Main Street Trolley Show in Magic Kingdom is fun any time of year, but it's even more special at Christmastime. Photo Credit: Steven Locke
The Main Street Trolley Show in Magic Kingdom is fun any time of year, but it’s even more special at Christmastime. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

7. What’s the Christmas Fun at Magic Kingdom?

Jingle Cruise/Jungle Cruise – The ever-popular Jungle Cruise boat ride in Magic Kingdom turns to Jingle Cruise. Filled with holiday puns instead of the usual ones, the docks, boats, and scenes have holiday touches. If you really want the full ambiance, schedule a FastPass after sundown.

Seasonal Show at Cinderella Castle – A few times a day, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is the show to watch if you love Disney classic characters. While the show doesn’t completely revolve around the season, you’ll get to see seasonal costumes and a song.

Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. A couple of times each morning, the Main Street Trolley Show makes it way up and down the street with fun dancing and seasonal singing and music.

Jim Caviezel during the Candlelight Processional at World Showcase in Epcot in 2016. Photo Credit: Steven Locke
Jim Caviezel during the Candlelight Processional at World Showcase in Epcot in 2016. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

8. What’s the Christmas Fun at Epcot?

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – From November 18th through December 30th, 2018, Epcot is celebrating the holidays with a world wide theme:

  • Holiday Kitchens: Kiosks will be set up around World Showcase featuring seasonal food and beverages.
  • JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season: Gospel, R&B, and holidays songs of the ‘Joyful!’ vocal ensemble. Daily performances will be held at the Future World Fountain Stage.
  • Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree: A scavenger hunt, Chip & Dale style. Maps may be purchased at Pin Central, Disney Traders and World Traveler at International Gateway.
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth: The nightly show will have a special, holiday-themed ending.

Candlelight Processional – How about a 50-piece orchestra, multiple choirs, and celebrity readers to tell the tale of the biblical story of Christmas? American Adventure Pavilion’s America Gardens Theater in World Showcase is exactly where you need to head to listen to the gorgeous retelling.

Candlelight Processional is free with Epcot admission and shows the true meaning of the revered holiday.

Illuminate Your Holiday – Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is a beauty to see any time of year, but during the Christmas season Epcot has a special version of the light and fireworks display.

Tales From Around the World – Also in World Showcase, storytellers (most of whom are portraying that country’s version of Santa Claus) give a lively description of how they celebrate the Christmas holiday. The storytellers are around throughout the day, so check the Times guide for wheres and whens.

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! At Disney's Hollywood studios. Photo Credit: Steven Locke
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! At Disney’s Hollywood studios. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

9. What’s the Christmas fun at At Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! – replaced The Osborne Family Spectacle of lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios a couple of years ago. Here’s the theme: Santa Claus is missing and elves Wayne & Lanny from “Prep & Landing” need to get him back to the north Pole and pronto.

If you want to sweeten your visit, WDW is offering a Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! Dessert Party, too. 

Bonus: you won’t have to attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom to see snow at WDW- there’s promises of snow at this show!

Santa Meet and Greets – Visit with Santa Claus from November 9 to December 24, 2018—or meet Santa Goofy from December 25 to December 31, 2018.

Sunset Seasons Greetings –  Taking place nightly at the Hollywood Tower Hotel. New laser effects and “snow,” the experience also includes stories, songs and holiday cheer brought to you by friends like Mickey, Minnie and Olaf. Taking place November 8, 2018 through January 6, 2019.

Holiday Touches at Toy Story Land – Straight from the website: Beginning November 8, guests visiting Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can expect to see Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear in festive holiday attire. In addition to holiday character greetings, guests can also enjoy the Toy Story Land’s new holiday decor, including including oversized cranberry-and-popcorn garland, a holiday card “selfie” of “Toy Story” pals, an oversized Hamm sugar cookie, Green Alien ornaments and more.

The land’s attractions will also be plussed up for the season with new holiday audio or music: guests will hear sleigh bells ringing on Slinky Dog Dash, while Alien Swirling Saucers will offer two holiday tracks, plus themed lighting.

Christmas Tree outside Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo Credit: Steven Locke
Christmas Tree outside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

10. What’s the Christmas Fun at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Up! A Great Bird Adventure – From November 8, 2018 to January 1, 2019, discover the story of Diwali—the holiday festival of lights in India—during a special version of this show.

While calories still count on vacation, we still can't resist the cute Mickey Mouse Christmas cupcakes! Photo Credit: Steven Locke
While calories still count on vacation, we still can’t resist the cute Mickey Mouse Christmas cupcakes! Photo Credit: Steven Locke

11. Where Should We Eat?

While you will find holiday-themed snacks and beverages throughout the Disney World parks when you visit, there’s special meals that the parks whip up. Even at Quick Service restaurants, you’ll find holiday-themed dining options.

If you’re planning to stay in Magic Kingdom for the “Happily Ever After” fireworks during your visit, you might want to consider the add-on of a Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace. The hard ticket event includes all of the dessert you can eat with beverages and a premium fireworks viewing location.

Actually, WDW is offering dessert parties at Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. If you have the budget for it, and have a sweet tooth, you’ll be guaranteed a primo view of the show/fireworks.

Temps are fickle in December in Orlando. Get ready to pack a little bit of everything when you visit. Photo Credit: Steven Locke
Temps are fickle in December in Orlando. Get ready to pack a little bit of everything when you visit. Photo Credit: Steven Locke

12. What Are the Temperatures Like in December at Walt Disney World?

Again, another amazing reason to visit Disney World in December: moderate temperatures. Living 1,000+ miles northwest of Orlando, we tend to melt in Central Florida’s heat and humidity.

When we visited last December? We wore jeans and t-shirts most days. It was absolute heaven in the parks and is a major draw for us to visit again at this time.

WDW park temperature averages for December are highs around 69 degrees F and lows of 52 degrees F. Keep in mind this is the average; I know families that packed shorts and tank tops for their Christmas visit and ended up having to purchase winter clothing compliments of a cold snap.

If you have room for jackets in your suitcases, it definitely won’t hurt to bring them just in case.

Headed to Walt disney world for Christmas? From parties to park hours, here are the 14 most important things to know about Christmas at Walt Disney World! #disney #Christmas 3DisneyTips #WDW #DisneyWorld #DisneyVacationPlanning

13. How Are the Crowds During Christmas at Disney World?

Fact? We tend to plan all of our visits to WDW around crowd levels. Not only do lower crowd levels help my attitude stay in a much happier place, they can also determine just how much you’ll be able to see and do on your trip.

As a rule for Walt Disney World, the closer to any major holiday, the higher the crowd levels. Our visit last December hit right at mid-month and the crowds were delightful – and probably the lowest I’d ever seen them.

Online crowd calendars like to use the 1-10 crowd level scale so I’ll use the same. Crowds for early to mid-December will be very decent (3 to 6 out of 10) but the week before Christmas through the first week of January will be peak crowd levels ( 7 to 9 out of 10).

Translation? Lower ability to just walk on rides and attractions. The queues will be much longer, so make sure you take advantage of FastPass+ and lock in your first three choices to start.

14. Are there Special Photo Opportunities?

In the past, there have been special PhotoPass pics, yes. If you attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, you’ll be able to have your photos taken with Disney characters, too. All you have to do is ask a PhotoPass Photographer if they’re offering any.

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