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A Complete Guide to Experiencing the Holidays at Disney World

A Complete Guide to Experiencing the Holidays at Disney World

Find all the details for Walt Disney World's 2021 Christmas season here.
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It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year at Walt Disney World Resort! Disney goes all out for the holidays at each of the Disney theme parks around the world, and Disney World is no exception. The Florida Disney parks are decking the halls and welcoming guests to experience all the magic they have in store during this festive time of year. 

Here’s what you need to know before you go to Disney World for the holidays, including what seasonal festivities you can experience at each theme park. 

Magic Kingdom 

mickey-mouse-christmas-at-disney-world

When most people think of celebrating the holidays at Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom comes to mind. This theme park has its own special kind of magic to offer guests of all ages. Here’s what you can experience at Magic Kingdom this holiday season throughout November and December 2021. 

Although the dream lights are not covering Cinderella Castle this year (we haven’t seen them decorate this theme park landmark since the holiday season in 2019!), Disney is transforming the castle with cheerful projections throughout the night. 

But that’s not all! Everywhere you turn on Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll see festive decorations that are sure to make you feel merry. And for all the foodies, locations throughout the theme park are offering holiday-inspired food and beverages for guests to purchase and enjoy. 

Finally, we have Disney Very Merriest After Hours, a special ticketed event. Disney is hosting a new holiday event this year instead of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. At the event, guests can see their favorite characters dressed in their holiday best, enjoy Christmas fireworks and a special parade, and take in the magic of the season with far fewer people in the park. Tickets are still available here.  

EPCOT

epcot christmas tree

Though Magic Kingdom started celebrating Christmas very soon after the Halloween season officially ended, EPCOT takes a bit longer to get into the spirit. That’s because the International Food and Wine Festival is still occurring throughout the theme park until mid-November! 

But not to worry, because starting November 26, EPCOT will be fully embracing the holiday spirit as that is the first official day of the International Festival of the Holidays, which will run through the end of December. 

At EPCOT, you can also experience a time-honored Christmas tradition at the Candlelight Processional, in which a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas. Click here for more details on this special event. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

hollywood studios holiday season

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a guest-favorite park during the holiday season especially. This place turns into a holiday wonderland and combines old Hollywood flair with festive merriment. 

Disney completely transforms Hollywood Studios every year with shimmering garland and ornaments around nearly every corner of the theme park, so be sure to spend some time strolling down Sunset Blvd. 

Throughout the night, Disney plays a delightful projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel: Sunset Seasons Greetings, a can’t-miss experience. 

And if character dining is what you’re after, you have to try Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine, where you’ll get dedicated time with your favorite Disney pals dressed to the nines in their holiday best. Watch our video below for our top tips on booking Disney dining reservations.

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We also encourage you to check out For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, which adds a beautiful finale featuring Olaf. 

And of course, catch Santa in the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade throughout the day on Hollywood Blvd. 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

animal kingdom merry menagerie

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not often the first park that comes to mind when guests are planning their holiday trips to Walt Disney World, but in recent years this place has become a true favorite. The unique experiences that Animal Kingdom has to offer make it a one-of-a-kind vacation destination, especially during this time of year. 

Merry Menagerie at Discovery Island offers guests the chance to experience nature in an all-new way. During the day, you’ll see life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets including reindeer, foxes, and polar bears. And after sunset, colorful lanterns and luminaries light up the night sky. This is a new offering that Disney started just a few years ago, and you can’t miss it!

There is also a special holiday edition of the nighttime projection show. Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition adds even more sparkle and music to this special evening experience. Be sure to head to Animal Kingdom in the evening to see it.

There are four festive flotillas (Animal Kingdom’s version of character cavalcades) to see at the park this season: Santa Claus Festive Flotilla, Donald’s Dino Bash Festive Flotilla, Chip & Dale’s Festive Flotilla, and Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla.

Disney Springs

There is so much you can do at Disney World without a theme park ticket. Disney Springs, for example, is completely free to visit! This shopping, dining, and entertainment district offers so much holiday magic year after year, from festive decor around every corner to some amazing holiday merchandise at stores like World of Disney, the Marketplace Co-op, and more. 

Two incredible and free activities you have to check out at Disney Springs are the Christmas Tree Stroll (where you can see themed Christmas trees all throughout Disney Springs) and Let It Snow! (every night, “snow” falls at Disney Springs, adding some magic to your merriment). 

If you’re feeling extra fun, we recommend checking out Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, an Indiana Jones-inspired restaurant and lounge that completely transforms for the holiday season. This location offers adult beverages as well as nonalcoholic options and food for the whole family. 

Disney Resort Hotels

grand floridian christmas decorations

If you want to fully embrace the holiday cheer in a more relaxing way, we recommend taking yourself on a tour of the Disney resort hotels. The hotels on property offer their own holiday decorations and seasonal treats for guests, and you can visit each of the hotels even if you aren’t staying there! 

Three of our favorite hotels to visit this time of year at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (you have to see the gingerbread house!), Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, but all the hotels offer their own magic. 

Follow Perfecting the Magic on TikTok for the most magical Disney updates all season long!

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