As it is said in the song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” No matter how you celebrate the season, nowhere is it more joyous than at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. This year, the festival is bigger with new holiday kitchens, festive holiday shopping, unique holiday entertainment, and other exciting opportunities for family-friendly fun.
Last week, I was fortunate to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. During the week I was at Walt Disney World, I visited Epcot several times to ensure I could experience almost everything at the festival. My biggest challenge—maneuvering the crowds and having the appetite to eat all the delicious food!
Here is an overview of the festival highlights with a nod to some of my favorites.
• When you arrive at Epcot, make sure to pick up the special Festival of the Holidays times guide and your Festival Passport. Both will provide you with a schedule and itinerary of all events.
• At the Future World Fountain Stage, Joyful! A Celebration of the Season is back with inspirational carols in the spirit of Christmas and Kwanzaa. The vocal ensemble draws big crowds—and don’t be surprised to see Guests singing and dancing.
• New this year is a yummy Holiday Cookie Stroll, a sweet indulgence of cookies for sale at the Feast of the Three Kings (Showcase Plaza), the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany), the American Holiday Table (American Adventure), the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen (between Morocco and France), and the Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada). Purchase any five cookies, collect a matching stamp in your Festival Passport, then bring your stamped passport to Holiday Sweets and Treats (between Mexico and Canada) for a complimentary cookie and cold glass of milk. My favorite cookie? The Gold Chocolate Chip Cookie at the Yukon Holiday Kitchen. It was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and embellished with chocolate ganache.
• The holiday storytellers are back! New this year is Zachary, who shares tales and songs that reflect the joy of Hanukkah. You also can listen to the story of Julenissen the Christmas Gnome in Norway, La Befana the kind-hearted witch in Italy, Père Noël in France, Father Christmas in the United Kingdom, and learn about the Daruma good luck charm in Japan.
• If you enjoy scavenger hunts, try your hand at Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree. You can purchase maps and stickers ($6.99 plus tax) at Pin Central, Disney Traders, World Traveler, and other select Holiday Markets. As you travel around the World Showcase, look for unique wreaths that feature Chip and Dale, and add a corresponding country sticker to your map. After you locate all 11 wreaths, exchange your completed map for a holiday-themed surprise. Some of the wreaths are a bit tricky to find, but it was a fun way to explore World Showcase!
• The Holiday Kitchens feature delicious selections of food, drinks, desserts. I particularly enjoyed the seared salmon at the Yukon Holiday Kitchen and the potato knish at L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen. You can find Holiday Kitchens throughout World Showcase. All feature seasonal treats from around the world.
• What would the holidays be without musical entertainment? This year, my favorite was the colorful Las Posadas Celebration at Mexico, which features the world-renowned Mariachi Cobre and the dancers of Ballet Folklorico. You can also ring in the Lunar New Year with the Lion Dancers at China; listen to the lively holiday music of Durch & Durch at Germany; the Voices of Liberty as Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure; get in the spirit with Sahara Beat at Morocco; learn about holiday traditions in the great white north with the Canadian Holiday Voyagers; and visit with your old friends the British Revolution at United Kingdom.
• If you are a fan of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, 2018 will be your last year to experience your favorite light and laser show with its merry holiday finale. IllumiNations is scheduled to be replaced by a new nighttime fireworks spectacular at the end of summer 2019.
• Last but not least, my all-time favorite event at the Festival of the Holidays is the annual Candlelight Processional. This year I purchased a Candlelight Dinner Package to guarantee a seat and hear the Christmas Story with celebrity narrator, Bart Millard. I also was lucky enough to obtain standby seating to experience the Processional with narrators Blair Underwood and Gary Sinise.
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays comes to a close on December 30, 2018. If you can’t make the event this year, make plans for next year!
Happy Holidays, everyone! And Happy New Year!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about K.S. Wicks and read some of her other posts on the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name above.