Well, the weather has finally turned cooler, Christmas lights are twinkling and most importantly, my fridge is stocked with eggnog! That’s right, the holiday season is officially here! So what could possibly be better than being surrounded by your family and friends at this time of year? Why spending it at Walt Disney World of course! Not surprisingly, the end of December is the MOST crowded time to visit, as children everywhere are out of school. A good rule of thumb to follow is that when the kids aren’t in school….they’re at Walt Disney World! No worries, crowds or no crowds, this is the most MAGICAL time of the year. Let’s check out the highlights…Oh, wait, grab your eggnog first – OK, now we are ready!
Hitting Magic Kingdom – Holiday Style! Huge parades, lavish shows and even snow are par for the course at Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is home to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a separate hard-ticketed event. From the moment you stroll onto Main Street, U.S.A, snowflakes dance above and carols fill the air. Tons of special activities are planned for the event nights – everything from a spectacular parade to show-stopping holiday performances! Ready for an insider secret? If you visit Magic Kingdom AFTER the party dates (typically around December 19th) the exact same shows, parade and holiday fireworks are all included as part of your general admission!
Joyeux Noel! Over at Epcot, my personal favorite place to spend this season, the celebrations are endless! If you venture to the World Showcase, you can experience Christmas through the eyes of each participating country. The highlight of the journey takes place in the America Gardens Theatre with the retelling of the Christmas Story in the Candlelight Processional. The story of the birth of Christ is told by a celebrity narrator, who is accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra. Dining packages for the Candlelight Processional are also available. Breathtaking! Whatever you do, be sure to swing by the Germany Pavilion and pick up a pickle ornament for your tree – yes, I said pickle! While its origins are questionable, many German Americans hide a pickle ornament in their tree for the children to find on Christmas morning. What a cute tradition to start in your family!
Lions, Tigers and Mistletoe…oh my! While you might not expect to see many Christmas celebrations in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may be quite surprised. Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade is absolutely adorable and the décor throughout the park is so unique! Most of the decorations take a cue from nature and while different from the norm, the holiday season is certainly present here. Be sure to take in the aroma from Minnie’s float – cinnamon rolls, YUM!
Millions of Lights, Camera, Action! Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to something you truly must see to believe – The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Millions of twinkling lights adorn the buildings on and around the Streets of America beginning November 10. Many, many years ago, Jennings Osborne donated the light show to Walt Disney World. For some reason, his neighbors were complaining – hmmm millions of lights and tons of onlookers, who wouldn’t want them next door? Thanks to Mr. Osborne’s generosity, this wonderful spectacle is set to music every night and sometimes, snow flurries are even spotted!
Champagne Wishes and Gingerbread Dreams! Did you know that you can enjoy the season without spending a dime? That’s right, Walt Disney World offers plenty of holiday activities and displays OUTSIDE the theme parks. Downtown Disney is home to the Festival of the Seasons – the best place to get a picture with a certain jolly old man! Each resort is transformed into its own version of a Winter Wonderland. Perhaps the most outrageous example is the life-size gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. Not to be outdone, the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts have a life-size edible carousel on display. Chocolate ponies are upstaged only by a gingerbread version of Cinderella Castle! Disney insiders will certainly tell you not to miss the fantastic decorations that the guests put up on their RVs, campers and campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Some beautiful, some downright amazing! While at Fort Wilderness, be sure to take a sleigh ride (additional charge) through the woods before you head back to your room and snuggle in for the night.
I’m sure that many of you have Disney World Christmas traditions to share – I’d love to hear from ya! Until then, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
-Jackie from the Disney Moms Panel