Top 10 Holiday Experiences at Disney World

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I look forward to our trip to Disney World in December ever year. It’s the one trip where we decide to fly instead of driving and we always stay on resort instead of off-resort like we do the rest of the year. The weather is great, although you deal with unpredictable temperatures. The resorts and parks are beautifully decorated. And best of all, the entertainment is phenomenal. You will have more than enough to see and do during your trip, but it really makes it worth spending perhaps a little extra money or dealing with larger crowds to experience it all.

Here are my Top 10 Holiday Experiences at Disney World.

  • Candlelight Processional The first time we saw this, we stood outside of the America Gardens Theatre in EPCOT and watched the last half since we were just passing by. We’ve made a point to see this at least once when we’re in Epcot now because it is such a wonderful holiday experience. It’s not for everyone though, as it is the entire reading of the Christmas story. The orchestra and mass choir really make this such a special treat. Not to mention the celebrity narrators – we’re looking forward to seeing Neil Patrick Harris read the story this year.
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party We attend this every year even though it’s just my husband and I that go, but we wouldn’t miss it. We have to attend MVMCP if we want to see Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade since they don’t start showing it during regular park hours until December 21st. By then the crowds are growing and we would rather avoid those crowds and visit the parks in early December instead. The party is awesome, complete with ‘snow’ on Main Street U.S.A., hot cocoa and cookies galore, entertaining shows, dance parties, and exclusive character meet-and-greets. If you have kids, this is a must-do event! Keep in mind that it does require a separate ticket, so you’ll have to budget that extra cost in for your party. If you’re arriving for your vacation on the night of a party, skip buying park tickets for that day and just purchase the MVMCP tickets instead since you can get in starting at 4PM.
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights I remember the first time I turned the corner and saw the lights on the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios. It brought tears to my eyes, it was that beautiful and amazing. I’m still in awe of all the lights and how they coordinate perfectly with the music. And the ‘snow’ adds that extra magical touch that really makes it feel like Christmas, especially if you’re from an area that rarely sees snow. If you’ve never experienced this magnificent event, be sure to add an evening at Hollywood Studios to your ‘must-do’ list.
  • Castle Dream Lights This one should be pretty obvious that it needs to be on your must-see list. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of Cinderella’s Castle when it’s decked out with over 200,000 lights. It will definitely bring tears to your eyes when you first lay eyes on it (or maybe I’m just a sap…). The castle is beautiful year-round, but when those lights are turned on, it becomes a beautiful sight to take in.
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade This is hands down my favorite parade of the entire year at Disney World. The toy soldiers and gingerbread men are always my favorite parts. And if you watch on Main Street, you’ll get a snowy treat to really get you in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, the parade can only be seen during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party each year until late December, so if you visit before then, you’ll have to purchase a separate event ticket for the party. This year you can start seeing the parade during normal operating hours beginning on December 21st but that also means larger crowds…
  • Holiday’s Around the World – Storytellers in EPCOT We really enjoyed listening to Father Christmas last year in the UK Pavilion and we plan on stopping to learn more from the other storytellers this year. They wear elaborate costumes and tell the stories of Christmas from their respective countries – some even let the kids get involved with the storytelling. The kids will absolutely love it and they’ll learn more about how other countries celebrate, so check the daily schedule when you arrive to make sure you schedule time to hear the ones you’re most interested in.
  • Gingerbread Creations (Gingerbread Carousel at Beach Club, Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian, Gingerbread Tree at the Contemporary) – I’m amazed and what you can build with food. If you’ve never made it around to these resorts during the holiday season, make it a point to do just that for your next trip. You can see a giant 16ft gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, the tall gingerbread tree at the Contemporary and the gingerbread (and chocolate) carousel at the Beach Club.
  • Holiday Wishes This is the Holiday version of the usual “Wishes” fireworks show that you can see during the year at Magic Kingdom. Wishes is awesome any time of the year though, not just at Christmas.
  • Christmas Trees around Parks & Resorts – Disney really goes all out with their Christmas trees and you’ll find one at every resort and in all the parks. They are all specifically decorated to fit the theming of the resort or park and some of them are absolutely huge. So be sure to take a tour of the resorts, specifically the deluxe resorts, to view all the beautifully themed trees.
  • Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade Animal Kingdom transforms the Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade into a holiday themed parade each November/December with all the characters dressed in their holiday attire. Who doesn’t love a good parade?

Honorable Mention: Jingle Cruise I can’t really say that this is a ‘must-do’ yet since it’s new to the Magic Kingdom this year and I’ll be experiencing it for the first time in December. But I do enjoy a night ride on the Jungle Cruise, so I’m sure this will be just as funny and great to experience.

Is there anything that I missed that your family likes to see/do when visiting Disney World over the Christmas holiday season?



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5 thoughts on “Top 10 Holiday Experiences at Disney World

  1. A cast member told me yesterday that this will be the last year for the Osborn Spectacle of Lights because they will be removing the “Streets of America” (or however exactly she referred to that area…) That bums me out. Maybe they’ll eventually put the light display somewhere else on property 🙂

  2. Last year I saw the Candlelight Processional 3 times! I got to see NPH, Whoopi Goldberg and Andy Garcia. Same reading, but different and wonderful each time. NPH was kinda the best though!
    This is a really great list! The only one I didn’t take part in last year was the Jingle Jungle Parade.
    At EPCOT, I did miss Father Christmas in the UK, but I absolutely loved Saint Nicholas in Canada. He was brilliant–I highly recommend stopping to see him if you get a chance!

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