Holiday Lights on Cinderella Castle from Reasons You Should Visit Disney at Christmas

Reasons You Should Visit Disney at Christmas

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Disney / Matt Stroshane

There are a lot of amazing places to spend Christmas, of course. Whether you travel home for the holidays, escape to the mountains for a white Christmas or ship off to a tropical destination to avoid family stresses and that winter weather, there’s no wrong place to spend this season. But one of the absolute best destinations for the holidays, at least in our humble opinion, is Walt Disney World. This eternally enchanting place gets an extra dose of magic during this special time of year.

Even though the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year at Disney, it’s worth braving the crowds to experience the four theme parks and numerous resorts during Christmas. And the reasons go far beyond meeting Mickey in his holiday suit and eating more cookies than Santa himself at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party.

From stunning holiday lights on Cinderella Castle gingerbread houses you can practically move in to, here are the 15 reasons you need to visit Walt Disney World during the Christmas season.

Holiday Lights on Cinderella Castle

Disney / Matt Stroshane

Holiday Lights on Cinderella Castle

Few things surpass the splendor of walking down Main Street, USA and seeing Cinderella Castle at the end of your path, except for seeing this exact same view during the holiday season. Just as dusk sets every night during the holiday season, Elsa, Anna and a few of their friends from “Frozen” light up this Magic Kingdom icon in bright white lights, mimicking the effect of thousands of icicles. No matter your age, this is a truly magical sight.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Disney / Kent Phillips

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

It’s impossible not to be jolly as ol’ Santa Goofy himself when you’re at the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime holiday soiree, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This hard ticket event (meaning it requires a separate ticket) features Disney characters in their most festive outfits for meet-and-greets, special parades and stage shows and more dance parties than you could ever imagine. The best part of MVMCP? Free cookies and drinks! At special locations throughout the park, cast members hand out various holiday cookies and seasonal beverages like hot cocoa and cider.

Jingle Cruise

Disney / Kent Phillips

Jingle Cruise

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, has far more seasonal overlays than Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, but one overlay the Magic Kingdom gets that Disneyland doesn’t is the world-famous Jingle Cruise. The always-hilarious boat ride throughout the jungles of Africa and Asia gets festive holiday decorations and a new, punny spiel from the Jingle Cruise skippers. Just watch out for Trader Sam-ta!

Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays

Disney / Chloe Rice

Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays

It seems as though there’s always a festival at Epcot these days, but neither Flower and Garden nor Food and Wine are as lively as Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. From November 18 to December 30, the 11 nations represented at Epcot’s World Showcase have special seasonal food and beverages, and many of the countries have storytellers sharing their holiday traditions. It’s a fun new way to eat and drink your way through this section of Epcot and learn a thing or two along the way.

Candlelight Processional

Disney / Kent Phillips

Candlelight Processional

For 60 years, the Candlelight Processional has been a tradition at the Disney theme parks. At Walt Disney World, you’ll find this beautiful show at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. It features a live orchestra, choir and a celebrity narrator (Neil Patrick Harris, John Stamos, Whoopi Goldberg and more) telling the biblical story of Christmas. It’s a moving show that needs to be seen in person to truly be appreciated.

Holiday Illuminations at Epcot

Disney

Holiday Illuminations at Epcot

Epcot’s Illuminations fireworks show has been lighting up the sky at World Showcase for almost 20 years, and it’s become a fan favorite, especially during the holiday season. At the end of the standard show, "Let There Be Peace on Earth" plays and each country in the World Showcase is represented with a holiday message on the lit-up Earth Barge and through a spoken greeting. Then even more fireworks go off, uninterrupted. 2018 marks the final year for the Illuminations holiday tag, as Epcot is getting a new nighttime show next year. So if you want to experience this show, you’d better head down to Walt Disney World ASAP.

Holiday Décor at Hollywood Studios

Disney / David Roark

Holiday Décor at Hollywood Studios

Though nothing will match the scale of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (which left Walt Disney World in 2016), Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ low-key has some of the best holiday decorations in Orlando. As you walk around the park, you’ll see kitschy, vintage-style Christmas decorations, plenty of baubles, tinsel and festive lights. At night, the Hollywood Tower Hotel that houses the Tower of Terror turns into the Hollywood Toy Hotel with a festive projection show. The main street of Hollywood Studios also comes to life with LED holiday displays and plenty of snow. It’s one of the most amazing Christmas light displays in America.

Christmas Overlays in Toy Story Land

Walt Disney World

Christmas Overlays in Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land is the newest area at Walt Disney World, and Andy’s backyard has gotten a lil visit from some of Santa’s elves. Alien Swirling Saucers has two new holiday tracks and Slinky Dog Dash has some jingle bell sound effects added for an extra touch of holiday magic. As you wander through this themed land, you’ll see larger-than-life Christmas cookies, Green Alien-themed baubles and strings of popcorn and holiday lights. It’s a fun new addition to the already very festive Hollywood Studios.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Disney / David Roark

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Based on the somewhat obscure ABC special “Prep and Landing,” Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s holiday fireworks show “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Is one of the most spectacular things you will see this Christmas season. The Chinese Theater turns into a holiday adventure featuring all your favorite Disney animated characters as elves try to find Santa Claus, who has gone missing right before his busiest day of the year! And as the name implies, this nighttime show has plenty of big, bold fireworks perfectly timed to classic Christmas songs.

Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Disney

Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Hollywood & Vine isn’t known for the best food at Walt Disney World, but if you want a decent buffet with some of the best character interactions on property, this is a great choice for you. During the Christmas season, Minnie’s Holiday Dine takes over this venue. In addition to as much food as you care to eat, you get to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, all decked out in their holiday best, and they’ll really make you feel like you’re one of the gang! The best character to meet here, though, is Santa Goofy, who greets guests as they enter the restaurant.

Giant Gingerbread Houses

Disney / Kent Phillips

Giant Gingerbread Houses

The magic of Christmas at Disney isn’t just limited to the theme parks; the resorts on property get festive makeovers, too. While every resort has giant holiday trees, some of Disney’s swankiest hotels get an extra-sweet display of outrageous gingerbread houses. The nearly life-size gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian is legendary, and the Mary Blair-themed gingerbread house at the Contemporary Resort is a must-see for any Disney fan. If you want something truly outrageous, head to the Beach Club to see a gingerbread carousel. The best part of gingerbread, of course, is eating it. And luckily, guests can buy shingles of gingerbread made from the very same recipe Disney uses on its displays.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

Disney / David Roark

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail

From November 8 through January 6, guests will have the opportunity view the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World’s shopping district. This walk-though attraction features elaborately decorated holiday trees, inspired by Disney favorites like “Fantasia,” “Frozen,” the Muppets and Star Wars. And if that isn’t enough holiday cheer for you, Santa Claus is waiting at the end of the trail to greet guests and ask them what they want for Christmas. It’s one of the best things you can do at Disney without a park ticket!

Festive Merchandise

Disney / Matt Stroshane

Festive Merchandise

Walt Disney World sells holiday merchandise all year long at many of its shops, but it really amps up the volume and variety of seasonal items during the months of November and December. If you want to deck the halls in all things Mickey, you can easily stock up during the holidays, as Disney sells every Christmas (and Hanukkah) decoration and clothing item you can think of, from Advent calendars to ugly sweaters to flatware, mugs, plushes and much, much more. And as the Christmas Tree Trail proves, Disney sells enough ornaments to decorate a whole forest of evergreens.

Seasonal Treats

Yelp / Joy J.

Seasonal Treats

No celebration at Walt Disney World would be complete without special seasonal treats, and of course Christmas is no exception. From macarons decorated like Santa’s coat to cookies shaped like Mickey complete with tons of holly, your Instagram feed will be totally satisfied with all the picture-perfect and oh-so-sweet treats at Disney. You never know just what surprises you may stumble upon, too, as Walt Disney World is constantly surprising guests with the next elaborately decorated food item.

No Place in the World Is More Magical

Disney / Charlie Champagne

No Place in the World Is More Magical

But the No. 1 reason you should go to Disney for the Christmas season? Well, it’s called the Most Magical Place on Earth for a reason, and all that pixie dust is only amplified by the magic of the Christmas season. If you truly want to bring out that inner child and holiday cheer this December, Walt Disney World is your ultimate destination. The only downside, unfortunately, is that Disney at the holidays is expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save money this Christmas at Disney.

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