Ready to celebrate all of the holiday magic in Disney World at Christmas? With the joyous celebrations celebration come plenty of questions regarding the fun, too. From parties to park hours to treats and freebie things to do, here are the 14 most important things to know about Christmas at Walt Disney World!
Disney World at Christmas
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 so 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 (MVMCP) 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, Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks and castle projection show 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 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.
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 to check out Disney World Resorts with the best Christmas celebrations. The deluxe resorts offer more in the Christmas decoration department but the Value Resorts are just as much fun. As for the top resorts to visit, Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge are fan favorites.
4. What Are the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates and Prices?
For 2023, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts November 9 and runs through December 22. There’s no Very Merry Christmas party on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but you will be able to catch the Christmas parade on Main Street during the day. Pricing this year is more expensive than ever and the closer you get to Christmas, the more it will cost per ticket, up to $199 per person.
5. Is There Anything Special at Cinderella Castle for Christmas?
I can’t lie, I miss the 20,000 twinkling lights on Cinderella Castle for the winter holidays. Instead, this year, there’s a castle projection show. Beginning November 3rd and running through December 30th, holiday-themed projections will cover the castle and surrounding areas.
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.
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.
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.
- Meet Santa Claus – At the Odyssey Pavilion from November 24 to December 24, 2023.
- JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season – A joyous tribute to Christmas and Kwanzaa—with Gospel, R&B and holiday songs.
- Holiday Cookie Stroll – Grab a Festival Passport to look for cookie stroll items at select Holiday Kitchens and EPCOT eateries. Purchase five cookies from any of the official cookie stroll locations and then collect a matching stamp for each cookie purchased. Once you have five stamps in your Stroll Passport, you’ll get a complimentary treat.
- Living with the Land Glimmering Greenhouses – Celebrate the season’s bounty on a voyage through greenhouses aglow with dazzling lights.
- Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt – Purchase a scavenger hunt map and stickers for $9.99 (plus tax) from select merchandise locations like Creations Shop and World Traveler. Using the stickers on your map, mark the “tradition” that Olaf has found in each Pavilion. When finished, even if you don’t find all of the holiday traditions, take your map to Disney Traders, Creations Shop or World Traveler to redeem it for an adorable gift.
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.
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.
9. What’s the Christmas fun at At Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
New for 2023 is Disney Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios. Beginning November 11th, 2023, it’s an old-school classic festival with a modern flair. There are appearances from special guest stars, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Tiana, Belle, Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse—accompanied by a talented cast of singers, dancers, and jazz musicians.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM” nighttime spectacular will be returning with the hard ticket event along with a DJ Dance Party, sing-along at the Hyperion Theater and Latin Street Fair. Additionally, there’s a holiday special at Theater of the Stars. Hosted by Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog it’s a punny, kooky spin on Christmas.
Also new for 2023, at Jollywood Nights guests will have the opportunity to dine at the Hollywood Brown Derby and the Hollywood Tower Hotel Courtyard. To grab a reservation, you’ll have to visit My Disney Experience and join the dining queue.
Bonus: You won’t have to attend a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom just to see snow at WDW- there are promises of snow at this show!
Santa Meet and Greets – Visit Santa Claus now to December 24th at It’s a Wonderful Shop. There are two methods to chat with him: standby queue and virtual queue.
Holiday Touches at Toy Story Land – Straight from the website: Beginning in November, 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.
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.
11. Where Should We Eat?
While you will find holiday-themed snacks and beverages throughout the Disney World parks when you visit, there are special meals that the parks whip up. Even at Quick Service restaurants, you’ll find holiday-themed dining options.
Additionally, there are holiday-themed dessert parties that offer ideal views of nighttime and fireworks shows:
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant – In addition to your party ticket, this separately priced experience takes place on select nights from November 9 to December 22, 2023. It’s all the drinks and desserts you care to enjoy, too. As for pricing, while it tends to vary slightly, you’re looking at around $100 per person plus tax.
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.
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 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.