When it comes to “the most wonderful time of the year,” Disney does it bigger and better. Like most anything else, Mickey and his team make the holidays a more magical experience for all. Although this year the holidays will look a bit different thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic, there is still plenty to enjoy at Disney World. From specialty decorations to fanciful lights and castle illuminations, the holiday spirit is still alive and well.
From now until December 30 festivities will be going on in each park, though the decorations tend to stick around until the first week or two into January. Whether you’ll be eating your way around the world in EPCOT, elbows deep in specialty cookies or you’re eagerly awaiting Santa at Magic Kingdom, each park offers its own holiday magic.
Festivals are an EPCOT specialty and the holidays are certainly no exception. Following Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is officially kicked off with the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays from November 27 – December 30. Embrace the chance to celebrate the holidays while learning about and engaging with traditions from all over the world without leaving the country.
Note: Due to health regulations, the candlelight processional at the holiday festival is canceled.
Take a holiday cookie stroll, a festival five-part scavenger hunt, and earn another cookie after you find all five locations! There are five cookie stroll stops around World Showcase where you can collect your sweets and stamp for your cookie passport. There are even festival cookie jars for purchase to keep those cookies safe.
When you’re done scavenging for cookies, be sure to go check out the Gingerbread Capital City at World Showplace. The gingerbread recreations of Washington D.C. landmarks were created especially for the festival by Disney chefs.
The fireworks might be canceled for the foreseeable future, but fan-favorite castle projections are still making their daily appearances. Right in line with the holiday spirit, you can watch Cinderella’s castle transform into Elsa’s ice palace, a gorgeously wrapped holiday gift, and other fun wintertime scenes.
Taking the place of the usual parades are various character cavalcades. Favorite characters, along with Mickey and pals, will don their holiday cheer to spread their joy throughout the park. Additionally, the Dapper Dans will be caroling holiday favorites from the trolley and the Main Street Philharmonic, dressed as toy soldiers, will march their carols far and wide.
Don’t forget to get your picture taken with the picture-perfect Christmas tree at the start of Main Street!
The holidays at Animal Kingdom mean flotillas galore! These festive boats with the fanciful name vary throughout the park. Like the Magic Kingdom cavalcades, this is a socially distant way to see favorite characters or performers all over the park. Even Santa has his own flotilla!
Other flotillas to keep an eye out for are Donald in his Dino Bash holiday flotilla, Chip and Dale, Mickey and pals, and even the Discovery Island drummers! No matter where you are in the park there will be a flotilla to find, just follow the rivers.
The Tree of Life will also be coming to life in its special holiday-themed Awakenings. If you haven’t experienced the Tree of Life Awakenings before, it’s a really special experience. Think castle projections, but with heartwarming nature stories.
Hollywood Studios, in true old Hollywood fashion, gives the holiday season the glam it so desperately needs this year. Santa trades his sleigh for a motorcade, the Tower of Terror gets glitzed up for the season and Minnie even brings her yuletide spirit to Hollywood & Vine.
Like the castle and the Tree of Life, the Hollywood Hotel at Hollywood Studios gets its own projection spectacular. Featuring characters from Toy Story, The Muppets, Frozen, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol, guests can enjoy another magical projection transformation.
Even everyone’s favorite snowman, sorry Frosty, Olaf makes a special appearance in For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. In this seasonal presentation, Olaf gets to make his grand finale which is a special treat for Frozen fans.