/ Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

by Blake Taylor

Welcome to E.P.C.O.T., or Efficient Parenting Counsel on Teens.  The Christmas season is an extra-magical time to visit the most magical place on Earth.  To celebrate the kickoff of this joyous time, let’s count down the top 5 special events that take place at Walt Disney World during the holidays that teenagers are sure to take a liking to.

5. Citizens of Hollywood Glee Club
Hollywood Studios

The entertaining streemosphere characters who wander around Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd. at Hollywood Studios are one of the park’s unsung heroes.  I feel that they start to be truly appreciated around the teen years—not that younger kids don’t find the citizens funny, it’s just that their distinct brand of witty, improv humor is best enjoyed once it can be fully understood, and little tikes may not catch on to some of the references or puns.  Personally, I used to walk right past the citizens when I visited Hollywood Studios.  Now, in my upper teens, I find them hilarious and put them at the top of my must-see list every trip.

Anyway, at Christmastime the Citizens of Hollywood put on a special holiday skit called the Hollywood Glee Club, an overlooked gem of Disney’s holiday festivities.  The premise of this small show is that the citizens are broadcasting on a “live” radio station for Bing Crosby (this is the 1940’s, after all).  Guests are chosen from the audience to participate in the citizens’ comical Christmas carols, the highlight of which is a very…different…version of “12 Days of Christmas.”

The best way to make sure you don’t miss the Glee Club is to directly ask the citizens themselves when you enter the park in the morning.  Guest Services was able to tell me the wide range of when the performers would be out and about, but it was Dorma Nesmond and Mimi Kaboom who informed me of the specific Glee Club showtime.

4.  Dance Parties
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Magic Kingdom

For the more extroverted teen, these special occurrences at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are a great way to let loose and have some fun.  There are two dance parties that take place throughout the night: one at the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland with Woody and Jessie, and another at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in Tomorrowland with Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale.  They’re great opportunities to have some fun at the party and have some character interaction outside of the typical meet & greet environment.

3.  Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Taping
Magic Kingdom

Depending on the interests of your teen, this could be absolutely thrilling or dreadfully boring.  If they have an interest in film as a career and/or have an obsession with current pop stars, it’s likely to be an enjoyable endeavor.  Although it appears as if the parade it broadcast live on Christmas morning, Disney actually films Florida’s segments the first weekend of December at the Magic Kingdom, including the parade segment and the castle performances.  It’s difficult to predict the schedule of who will be where and when they’ll be there, but for those who are interested it’s a fun treat into some backstage TV magic.

Make sure you’re aware that there will be a lot of standing around and stopping & going as things are rehearsed, rehearsed again, filmed, and filmed again…and then filmed another time just for good measure.  It’s definitely not for impatient folks, but if you know what to expect ahead of time and come prepared, it’s fascinating.

2. Campers’ Decorations at Fort Wilderness

It’s worth the out-of-the-way trip to Fort Wilderness to see how Guests have decorated their campers and RVs.  Many of them are fantastic!  What’s so remarkable about the finery is that it’s completely put up by campers, with no Disney involvement at all.  It might just inspire you to head home and do a little ho, ho, ho-ing in your own yard.

Fort Wilderness can be accessed by ferry boat from the Magic Kingdom.  Might I suggest seeing the Castle lighting ceremony, taking  a boat to the Wilderness Lodge to see Walt’s train room, then moseying on over to Fort Wilderness for the campers’ lights and, perhaps, an evening at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue?  It’s a great little excursion.

1. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Hollywood Studios

Warning: Your jaw will drop.  Even after years of seeing these on television and in families’ vacation photos, I was still blown away by seeing the Osborne Lights in person.  Pictures do not do them justice.  They are absolutely breathtaking…and the snow (in Florida!) really tops it off.  They’re just plain cool.  And really, isn’t that what every teen is after?*

Disclaimer: Coolness is a matter of perspective. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, Charlie Brown.

Remember, there are plenty of other excellent Christmas activities throughout Walt Disney World to enjoy (including Epcot’s Candlelight Processional and Holidays Around the World, the gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom, and much, much more), but these are the particular happenings that families with teenagers should be sure to seek out during the months of November and December.

Blake is a high-school student who has been surrounded by Disney literally since birth, having had a Mickey mobile in his crib.  Blake enjoys helping peers plan WDW vacations and writing for his Disney blog, BlakeOnline.com.

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1 thought on “Top 5 Disney Christmastime Activities For Teens”

  1. Marisa says:

    I love this list so much!!!!! The holiday season is the best tine at Disney. I love this list though because Christmas time is the only time my family can go during the year. So, the list has a very sentimental value. Everything on list is amazing. I love the dance parties at MNNSHP and I’m sure they are just as fun at the Christmas party. Also, I’ve heard the best version of the ’12 days of Christmas’ at the Studios by the citizens of Hollywood. From my family going though, I would add just a few more activities that are fun and are fitting for well, my fellow teen friends.
    1. More streetmosphere. AT EPCOT, the World Showcase Players in the United Kingdom made Charles Dickens incredibly well, I think he would be happy by their version of ‘A Christmas Carol’. I walked away from the show crying tears of laughter.
    2. Lights. At certain other resorts like the All-Star movies, people decorate their room windows. Many of them are wacky and whimsical, but so funny.
    3. If your are a DVC Member, then I would recommend going to the Merry Mixer.
    4. Lastly, the magic. Disney is a pretty magical place but through the holidays it gets even more so. The love, music, and cast members are really the best ever.

    Happy holidays! 🙂