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Disney from a Twenty-Something: Christmas in Walt Disney World

by Caitlin Corsello

Christmas in WDW is a truly magical time where the parks and resorts are decked out in their holiday finest to really celebrate the season. There is something to celebrate the holidays occurring in every park, so visiting at this time of the year will ensure that you are fully immersed in the Christmas spirit throughout your entire visit.

In the Magic Kingdom, Main Street becomes coated with garlands and Mickey shaped wreaths on every building and light post. There are toy soldiers standing guard around the flag pole and garlands with candles in the center hung across the street all the way from Town Square to the hub. All throughout the day you can hear Christmas music playing further enhancing with experience. At night, the lights come alive with color and sometimes even snow!

If you love Christmas and enjoy the special themed events in the Magic Kingdom, then it is worth your time and money to purchase a hard ticket for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). Beginning at seven on select nights in the Magic Kingdom, MVMCP features exclusive entertainment and character meets that are each fantastic. Throughout the night, Celebrate the Season, a stage show featuring all of the beloved characters (and a few Christmas characters too) come out and perform many Christmas songs and dances for the audience. I recommend viewing the latest showing of the performance at it will be less crowded since families with younger children may have headed back to their resorts by then.

In addition to Celebrate the Magic, you can also experience Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade. The parade runs twice during each party, and if you only plan on viewing one of the runs, I would again recommend the second as it will be less crowded. However, I would still recommend scouting out a place to watch up to an hour early to ensure a good view. The parade is a wonderful display of all of the characters decked out in their holiday finest set to a great soundtrack of beloved Christmas tunes. My favorite part of the parade is the toy soldiers who march along while actually playing their drums. Keep an eye out at the end of the parade for two very special things: a visit from Santa Claus himself and actual snow on Main Street! That’s right; during the Christmas party you can actually experience snow on Main Street further making you forget you are in central Florida and think that you are actually in a Christmas wonderland!

A special fireworks display runs once nightly during each party and you don’t want to miss Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. It’s a fantastic show of fireworks set perfectly to Christmas carols and featuring some great projections and lighting on the castle as well. The best place to view the fireworks is on Main Street as you will have an unobstructed view of Cinderella Castle and the fireworks exploding high over it.

In addition to all of these great experiences, there are also dance parties, character meet and greets, free hot chocolate and cookies throughout the park, and of course all the great attractions of the Magic Kingdom! With all of these great things to take part in, I highly recommend experiencing MVMCP at least once, especially if you love Christmas! Try going on a weeknight if at all possible, as it will be less crowded than a weekend allowing you better viewings of all the performances and events!

Moving over to Epcot, Christmas is in full swing come the end of November when several special events begin. While there are wreaths scattered around the park and an extraordinary tree featured at the back of Future World, it is World Showcase that really, well, showcases the Christmas spirit. The Candlelight Processional is held on certain nights in the theater located across from the main building of the USA Pavilion. The presentation is narrated each year by a number of celebrities (including Neil Patrick Harris!) each telling the story of Christmas while accompanied by an orchestra and massive choir. Since the event is free, the theater can easily fill up well in advance of the show each night. So if you are determined to experience the show, plan on getting there a couple hours early to ensure a seat.

In addition to the Candlelight Processional, each country of the World Showcase features small shows featuring Santa Claus dressed in his traditional outfit for each culture. Santa shares the history and traditions of Christmas for each of the countries’ unique cultures. These experiences are both enjoyable and informative, and I recommend at least stopping to listen to a few of them along you walk through World Showcase.

Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll find the most amazing display of lights aside from Clark Griswold’s house. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is featured on the Streets of America and exhibits hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights coating every building and object in sight. If that weren’t enough, the lights “dance” to a Christmas song every few minutes, putting on a fantastic show and leaving you in awe wondering “how did they do that?” Give yourself plenty of time to wander the lights and experience the many different Christmas songs and dances.  Also keep an eye out for a purple cat: it was a Halloween decoration of the Osborne’s that was accidentally packed and sent to WDW and is now hidden in the display every year. Be sure to also look for Hidden Mickeys, they are everywhere!

Finally in the Animal Kingdom you can experience Mickey’s Jingle Jungle parade daily from November to January. The parade features all of the characters set to Christmas music in the Africa section of the park. Seeing as it is the Animal Kingdom, the parade also features touches of the safari atmosphere featured in the park, making it a great parade to enjoy for the holidays.

In addition to all of these great things to experience in the parks, be sure to stop by some of the resorts to take in their holiday decorations. Several resorts (including Fort Wilderness, the Contemporary, and Animal Kingdom Lodge) display massive Christmas trees themed specifically based on the resort. Several resorts also offer other special Christmas decorations, including the Grand Floridian which displays a massive gingerbread house big enough to sell holiday treats and drinks out of! So take the time to explore as the decorations all across property are gorgeous!

If you are looking for even more ways to celebrate the holidays, I recommend looking into the Holiday D-Lights and Yuletide Fantasy tours which will take you through multiple parks for a behind the scenes look at how Disney creates the magic of the holidays. While both tours cost extra money, I have heard that they are great experiences for those who love the holidays!

As you can see, Christmas is truly a special time to visit WDW as there are so many amazing experiences to have throughout the resort. My favorite holiday moment in WDW will always be standing on Main Street listening to Christmas music and watching the snow fall. To me, it just doesn’t get more magical than that.


What is your favorite part of the holidays at WDW? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!


Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.