Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
The holidays are such a wondrous time of year filled with twinkling lights, sweet treats, and family gatherings. Now imagine pairing all of that with the magic of the Disney Parks? Talk about an absolute overload of fun! While Disney is always an amazing place to visit, it has so much more to offer during this special time of year.
As Babble’s resident Disney Parks expert, I know that planning a trip can seem overwhelming. Fear not — I’ve put together the top festive tips and tricks. It will be such a blast, you’ll think Santa himself set up this vacation for your family!
Magic Kingdom Park
Magic Kingdom is a must. The obvious first stop at Walt Disney World, and the highlight of the Disney holiday season, is the special ticketed event: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It begins with “snow” that magically falls as you wander Main Street USA. Other highlights include:
- Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies
- An incredible view of Cinderella Castle decked out with dream lights, lit by Queen Elsa!
- A special holiday-themed fireworks show
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is filled with something that can only be described as “holiday cheer.” Everyone’s favorite characters march alongside gingerbread men, wooden soldiers, snowmen, and of course Santa while wearing their best winter gear.
The party takes place from 7 PM to 12 AM on select nights through December 22. A special bonus? Since a separate ticket is needed for this event, you can count on smaller crowds and early admission to the Park three hours before it begins.
Another great addition is the Holiday Wishes Dessert Package. Indulge in delicious treats (think holiday-themed cupcakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries) while enjoying reserved viewing for both the parade and the Holiday Wishes fireworks show.
Now, we’re sure you have a Frozen fan or two in your home. You and your little ones will be in awe as Queen Elsa herself uses her powers to turn Cinderella’s Castle into a dazzling, icy masterpiece for the winter season.
One extra tip? It may not be new, but be sure to catch a ride on the Jingle Cruise (it’s the classic Jungle Cruise with a fun holiday twist).
Recommended Holiday Treat: A Mickey or Minnie Christmas Apple from Storybook Treats. You can’t go wrong with this delicious snack!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The new holiday events at Hollywood Studios will make your visit to the Park extra special. Starting now, you can indulge in the following:
- The Holiday Fireworks Spectacular will lead guests through an adventure — Santa has been captured by The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ Oogie Boogie and it’s up to the Prep & Landing team to save him.
- The Park will come to life with extra holiday decor from head to toe.
- There is a special photo opportunity with Santa Goofy at the Once Upon a Time shop on Sunset Blvd.
Recommended Holiday Treat: For the adults, a holiday cocktail from the Yuletide Cheer pop-up bar. You’re on vacation, indulge!
We can always count on Epcot to make us feel like we’re traveling the globe. So, it’s no surprise that they’re paying tribute to holiday festivities from around the world. Here’s what you can expect:
- The Candlelight Processional is back. It’s a celebrity-narrated story of Christmas, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and choirs. This year will feature Neil Patrick Harris, Jodi Benson, Whoopi Goldberg, and more! To guarantee seats to this ever-popular event, I would book a dining package — delicious and comfortable.
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will light up the sky with a special holiday-themed finale.
- The American Music Machine a cappella group will serenade the crowd with favorite holiday songs.
- JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season will be as exciting as it sounds.
- Holidays Around the World is a fun activity for the whole family. Travel around the globe during the World Showcase and taste all the countries’ traditional holiday treats!
You also won’t want to miss the dazzling one-of-a-kind fireworks show at the end of the night, but that goes without saying.
Recommended Holiday Treat: You can’t go wrong during Holidays Around the World, but my pick has to be the Frozen Peppermint Trifle from Norway. It’s sparkly, chocolatey, and minty — everything the holidays should be.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
As usual, this park is all about our favorite furry friends. While there will be holiday decor throughout, the real treat will be experiencing all the new things Animal Kingdom has to offer at night.
- The Tree of Life Awakenings will leave you awestruck as the animal spirits within the tree come to life in a showcase of colors.
- The Harambe Wildlife Parti will turn you and your little ones into “party animals” as they dance and sing throughout the African village of Harambe.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris at Sunset promises an experience you’ve never had before. See your favorite creatures come out to play while the sun goes down.
While you can see these events year-round, there is truly something special about making Disney memories during the holidays. You’ll never forget the look on your children’s faces while they experience these magical moments.
Recommended Holiday Treat: The Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich from Flame Tree Barbecue, with sweet yet tangy cranberry mayo.
The newly renovated Disney Springs is truly a treat in itself. Where better to do your holiday shopping than here? Not to mention all the wonderfully themed decorations you can pick up at the Disney’s Days of Christmas shop!
This season you’ll also be able to enjoy live holiday entertainment, visits with Santa, dance parties, and a nightly tree lighting ceremony! You can even head to the waterfront to see a magical light show, called the Starbright Holidays Show, where lights will dance above your head to the tune of classic holiday songs.
Recommended Holiday Treat: Literally anything from Ghirardelli. There is no better way to delight your family than with a massive hot fudge sundae, I promise.
The West Coast is also gearing up for the holiday season. From decorations galore to meeting Santa Claus, you and your family will love all the festivities at Disneyland.
- Holiday decor will be found on Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, and Fantasy Faire.
- You can watch a special fireworks show, called Believe … in Holiday Magic, light up the sky.
- Ooh and ahh over the It’s a Small World Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday makeovers.
- Catch a ride on the Jingle Cruise and meet Santa at Critter Country.
- Watch the Christmas Fantasy Parade — it’s not something to be missed!
With holiday decor glittering all around the Park, just being there will be a family photo-op in itself. It’s so special seeing classic rides come to life in a holiday-themed way. It truly makes the experience one-of-a-kind.
Recommended Holiday Treat: Candy Cane Mickey Mouse Beignets from The French Quarter. They are so festively delicious.
Disney California Adventure Park
After Disneyland, head over to Disney California Adventure for more holiday fun. This lovely park has an entire event celebrating traditions from around the world — filled with tasty treats and your favorite characters.
- There will be Christmas decor all over the Park, including the Buena Vista Street Window Display, Parade Route Holiday Lighting, garland lining the entrance to Ariel’s Grotto, and more.
- The main event is the Festival of Holidays with fun music and dance. The best part? It includes Viva Navidad and Three Kings’ Day performances, and appearances by Princess Elena!
- The World of Color show is always dazzling, just imagine what the special holiday version will include!
- Meeting Santa at Elias & Co. is a must for any holiday celebration!
Recommended Holiday Treat: Themed bread from Boudin Bread Cart. Pick up a loaf shaped like a candy cane, snowman, or Christmas tree to keep those festive feelings going even after you’ve left the Park.
Whatever festivities you and your family choose at the Parks, it’s sure to be the most memorable holiday yet.