27 Must-Do Disney World Holiday Events and Eats!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Season’s Greetings! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and if you’re bound for Walt Disney World, it’s even better.

27HolidayEvents_2017

That’s because there is no more festive spot on earth to celebrate all of the heartwarming fun of the the season.

And we don’t want you to miss out on any of the top attractions. So let’s take a look our list of the 27 Must-do Disney Holiday Eventsand Eats! — to celebrate this season at Walt Disney World!

Take Advantage of a Candlelight Processional Package

There are lots of ways to observe the holidays throughout Walt Disney World, but one of the most beloved is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. This special holiday show is performed nightly through December 30.

Celebrity Narrators recount the traditional holiday story, while a choir and orchestra perform beloved Christmas carols. Narrators for this year include Kurt Russell (December 9-10), Warwick Davis (December 12-14), Neil Patrick Harris (December 18-21), and Chandra Wilson (December 28-30). Check out the full list here.

Conducting the Choir

Conducting the Choir

The event draws big — I mean, HUGE — crowds during the three nightly performances. You can catch most of the action from the Promenade behind the American Gardens Theater.

Neil Patrick Harris Narrating the Candlelight Processional

Neil Patrick Harris Narrating the Candlelight Processional

But if a seat is important to you, definitely take advantage of the Candlelight Processional Packages. For the price of a meal at participating Epcot restaurants, you get reserved seating for the Candlelight Processional as well.

Chefs de France in the France Pavilion, Decked Out for the Holidays

Chefs de France in the France Pavilion, Decked Out for the Holidays

You can book the package for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, and have the comfort of knowing that your Candlelight Processional seat is guaranteed.

Don’t Forget To Watch the DFB’s Top 5 Must-Dos for The Holidays in Disney World!

Attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

If your Disney trip coincides with the holidays, then Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is an absolute MUST on your list!

Snow on Main Street at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Snow on Main Street at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

This special after hours event, held at Magic Kingdom select nights from 7:00PM until midnight, offers lots of special ways to get into the spirit of the season. Special Character Meet and Greets throughout the Park give you facetime with rare characters decked out in their holiday finest. You’ll also enjoy special performances on stages set up throughout the park and SNOW on Main Street USA!

Toy Soldiers During the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade!

Toy Soldiers During the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade!

Kick off your evening with your Frozen favorites, Anna, Elsa, Sven, and Olaf, as they appear in A Frozen Holiday Wish. Elsa wraps up the performance by transforming Cinderella Castle into an enchanted ice palace! (But keep in mind — you can enjoy this special event with or without admission to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.)

Frozen Holiday Wishes

Frozen Holiday Wish

And don’t forget the special Holiday Wishes Fireworks Spectacular! This special fireworks display is only available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party until the event comes to a close. After that time everyone can enjoy it!

Book Minnie’s Holiday and Dine Dinner

Looking for a special meal to kick off the seasonal celebration? Check out Minnie’s Holiday and Dine Dinner at Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Seeing some of our favorite characters decked out for the holidays in brand new gear is a real treat.

Minnie Mouse

Minnie Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

But the food! We found several dishes worthy of the special occasion as well. And with Minnie’s Seasonal Dining changing with the seasons, we can’t wait to see what comes next!

Engage in a Little Gingerbread Hopping

The first appearance of Gingerbread is a sure sign that Christmas and other winter holidays are just around the corner. And displays featuring this traditional confection at Disney Resorts are not to be missed.

2017 Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

2017 Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

Because we are not talking about your grandmother’s gingerbread house here. These are life-sized displays, and more than once, I’ve been tempted to sidle up and break off a piece of shingle, Hansel and Gretel-like, and start snacking. (Good thing I can just buy one!)

Classic Gingerbread Shingle

Classic Gingerbread Shingle

Whether you fancy the Mary Blair-meets-Cinderella display at the Contemporary, the Carousel at the Beach Club Resort, or my favorite, the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, be sure to make some time for these masterpieces during your visit.

2017 Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

2017 Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

And don’t forget to look for special holiday Hidden Mickeys and holiday character meet and greet opportunities at the resorts!

Add to Your Popcorn Bucket Collection

Disney fans are world-class collectors of awesome, and Holiday Popcorn Buckets are right at the top of the list!

Pluto Popcorn Bucket

Pluto Popcorn Bucket

2017 Happy Holidays Popcorn Bucket

2017 Happy Holidays Popcorn Bucket

Always whimsical, it’s fun to see what they come up with from year to year — and totally worth making space in your suitcase for the empty vessel!

Drink Around the World During Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays

Just when you didn’t think that Disney could become anymore delicious, the holidays arrive. And with them, there are plenty of special drinks to enjoy.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays

Some of my favorites can be found around World Showcase during Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays (taking place November 19-December 30, 2018!). After all, it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without a Spiced Rum Punch Slush from the Alsace Holiday Kitchen in France, a Frozen Kahlua Coffee Margarita at Los Posadas Holiday Kitchen in Mexico, or the Andalusian “Pointsettia” Cocktail at Tarabaki Holiday Kitchen in Morocco.

Spiced Rum Punch Slush

Spiced Rum Punch Slush

Frozen Kahlua Coffee Margarita

Frozen Kahlua Coffee Margarita

Andalusian Poinsettia Cocktail

Andalusian Poinsettia Cocktail

We also love the Shipyard Candy Cane Coffee Porter at Holiday Sweets and Treats!

Shipyard Candy Cane Coffee Porter

Shipyard Candy Cane Coffee Porter

Enjoy the World Showcase Storytellers

But there are more than just great drinks (and eats) happening at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays. Be sure to time your stroll on the Promenade just right so that you can take in all of the World Showcase Storytellers!

Père Noël Sharing French Christmas Traditions

Père Noël Sharing French Christmas Traditions

You’ll hear plenty of Christmas stories, but you’ll also learn about other customs celebrated throughout the world at this time of year.

Celebrating the Spice of Life in the Morocco Pavilion

Celebrating the Spice of Life in the Morocco Pavilion

Be sure to catch them all!

Celebrate the Holidays at Liberty Tree Tavern

Holiday meals are a special time to celebrate with family and friends. They love this traditional feast so much at Liberty Tree Tavern that it’s available all year ’round during both lunch and dinner!

Liberty Tree Tavern Entrance

Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom

Pilgrim's Feast for Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern

Pilgrim’s Feast for Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern

Want to make the holiday extra special? Book your Thanksgiving feast here, as you soak in the early-American Colonial vibe!

See the New Year’s Eve Fireworks

If it’s not on your Disney Bucket List, I think it should be. I’m talking about spending New Year’s Eve in Walt Disney World!

Fireworks

Expect Huge Crowds and Stunning Fireworks on New Year’s Eve

The parks pull out all the stops on this night that’s just made for partying. Be sure to take your power nap in the afternoon so that you can stay up late for the extra special New Year’s Eve Fireworks displays!

Read a review from the DFB Team about dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table for New Year’s Eve!

The Clock Strikes Twelve Dessert

The Clock Strikes Twelve Dessert

Check out the Train Display in the Germany Pavilion for Festive Decorations

Who can resist checking out the toy train display in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion? It doesn’t matter how many times I visit the park, I always have to stop here, especially during the the holidays, when the town square is decked out for the occasion!

Check Out the Holiday Decorations in the Germany Pavilion's Train Town Square!

Check Out the Holiday Decorations in the Germany Pavilion’s Train Town Square!

I always look forward to the time when Christmas comes to miniature Germany!

Personalize Your Ornament at Disney Days of Christmas

True, it’s Christmas 365 days a year if you happen to visit Disney Days of Christmas at Disney Springs. But during the holidays, you have to make a pilgrimage here for the best souvenir of all — a personalized ornament!

Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square Decorations in Magic Kingdom

No time for a trip to Disney Springs? Stop by Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square instead.

Christmas Cookie Ornament

Christmas Cookie Ornament

Attend the Disney Parks Holiday Specials Tapings!

Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland actually tape their Holiday Specials and parades well before the actual holiday.

Magic Kingdom Holidays

Magic Kingdom Holidays

In the past, taping has taken place the first weekend in December, but for the past two years, it was taped in early- to mid-November! So if this is something that you’d love to be a part of, be sure to keep a sharp eye out for when the date is announced in 2018.

Magic Kingdom Holidays

Magic Kingdom Holidays

While it may compromise some of the magic, it’s pretty fun to catch a glimpse of yourself on the special!

Take a Jingle Cruise

A couple of years ago, those enterprising Jungle Cruise Skippers became a little nostalgic for Christmas celebrations — and the Jingle Cruise was born!

Take a Jingle Cruise!

Take a Jingle Cruise!

Don't Lose Your Head Though! :-)

Don’t Lose Your Head Though! :-)

If you love the Jungle Cruise anyway, be sure to book your FastPass for this holiday version — complete with corny jokes and extra fun holiday decor.

Grab a Spot for Mickey’s Once Upon a Time Christmastime Parade

Who can resist life-sized Dancing Gingerbread and marching Toy Soldiers come to life?

Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

This special holiday parade, which takes place during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, features favorite characters on specially themed floats as well. Look for Santa during the parade’s grand finale!

Santa Claus!

Santa Claus!

Like Holiday Wishes, you can only enjoy this special parade during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party through December 22. The parade is performed daily December 22-31 for the Magic Kingdom general public.

And Don’t Forget the Can’t-Miss Holiday Snacks

Some of our favorite Disney snacks of all time only make an appearance once a year. And that’s now! Be sure to keep an eye out for extra special sweet, like this Red Velvet Christmas Tree-Shaped Whoopie Pie at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Red Velvet Christmas Tree Whoopie Pie

Red Velvet Christmas Tree Whoopie Pie

There’s a flurry of new eats at the Studios this year! This Olaf Sundae is another favorite!

Olaf Sundae

Olaf Sundae

There’s no shortage of treats at Magic Kingdom as well. This Peppermint Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is always a favorite. Check out our review of ALL the treats at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

Peppermint Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor

Peppermint Sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor

But you can’t forget about Epcot. Make some space on the snack list for amazing eats like Pecan Maple Bark from the Canada Pavilion. It’s one of my favorites. (Here’s the recipe if you’d like to make it at home!)

Pecan Maple Bark -- Up Close

Pecan Maple Bark

And if you’re in the mood for cookies, be sure to stop by The Cookie Nook Holiday Kitchen in Epcot!

Cookies!

Cookies!

And don’t forget to pick up a gingerbread treat from one of the resorts!

Observe the Epcot Tree Lighting

Every night at 6:00PM, a Tree Lighting takes place in Epcot’s World Showcase Plaza.

Epcot Christmas Tree

Epcot Christmas Tree

The theme of the Epcot tree is once again Peace on Earth.

Epcot Tree -- Peace Angel

Epcot Tree — Peace Angel

Don’t miss this beautiful spectacle.

Find Carolers and Sing Along

If singing Christmas Carols is a rite of passage for you during the holidays, have no fear — you’ll find Carolers in different spots throughout Walt Disney World. And you should totally join in with the singing!

In Epcot, look for the Voices of Liberty to don Victorian garb and transform into Dickens Carolers.

Dickens Carolers Sing for Guests

Dickens Carolers Sing for Guests

Find them in the American Adventure Pavilion. Animal Kingdom also features carolers singing holiday classics near the tree at the park’s entrance.

Carolers also make regular appearances throughout the resorts and at Disney Springs.

Book a Special Holiday Tour

Special Holiday Tours are also a great way to add magic to your visit. Because the tours are usually limited to a small group, they have a much more personal feel to them than many of the other events.

Learn All About What Goes Into Disney's Beautiful Holiday Displays

Learn All About What Goes Into Disney’s Beautiful Holiday Displays

Tours like the Holiday D-Lights tour and Yuletide Fantasy take you behind the scenes to learn all about how Disney transforms for the holidays — plus you’ll get to take in some of Disney World’s most popular holiday events with your own personal guide.

Decorate Christmas Cookies

What is Christmas without decorating a cookie or two? Many resorts throughout Walt Disney World offer younger guests the chance to decorate their own cookies.

Decorating Gingerbread Men is a Must!

Decorating Gingerbread Men is a Must!

Look for tables set up in the lobby, or check with your concierge desk for more information.

Check Out the Christmas Eve Golf Cart Parade

One of our favorite pastimes during the holidays is a trip to Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground to see the campsite decorations. Guests of this resort go the extra mile to celebrate the season.

Christmas Eve Golf Cart Parade at Ft. Wilderness

Christmas Eve Golf Cart Parade at Ft. Wilderness

If you plan your visit for Christmas Eve, be sure to stick around for the traditional Golf Cart Parade, when guests deck out their golf carts in all manner of festive decor!

Take a Sleigh, Wagon, or Carriage Ride

While you’re at Ft. Wilderness, take the opportunity to catch a Sleigh or Wagon Ride. Yep — that’s right. Through the magic of Disney, you can ride in a sleigh in Florida! Wagon rides are also available, and are a bit easier on the budget.

Take a Sleigh Ride!

Take a Sleigh Ride!

If you have your heart set on taking a Carriage Ride instead, you’ll want to head over to Port Orleans Riverside Resort for this charming old world experience.

Learn a Few Gingerbread House How-Tos

Are visiting Gingerbread displays and eating the yummy treats on your list of to-dos? Well, don’t stop there. Attend the Gingerbread Academy at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn to get some great tips on building your own masterpiece.

Gingerbread Academy

Gingerbread Academy

Go even deeper with Gingerbread School at the Ritz Carlton, where families can build their house and take it with them.

Enjoy Some Roasted Chestnuts

Does your holiday dreaming often include Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire? For the epitome of holiday tradition, head to the Grand Floridian, where the resort serves up complimentary tastings of Roasted Chestnuts to guests. You’ll find roasters set up near the Porte Cochere right outside the lobby.

Jingle Bell! Jingle BAM! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Jingle Bell! Jingle BAM! is festive and fun nighttime projection show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a must for the holidays!

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

The show centers around a search-and-rescue mission starring Wayne and Lanny from Prep and Landing and features projections, fireworks, and sparkly snow! There’s also a dessert party pairing a reserved viewing area with holiday-themed food and drink. Multiple food stations will offer holiday sweets and snacks!

Sunset Seasons Greetings

Falling snow, twinkling lights, moving billboards, and festive projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel all make for the magical transformation of Sunset Boulevard into Sunset Seasons Greetings!

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard

Stroll onto Sunset Boulevard after dark and catch the two-minute stories on the moving billboards, featuring festive moments with Disney characters like Mickey and his family in Mickey’s Christmas Carol or the gang from Toy Story! And the Tower of Terror is more festive and less scary – at least on the outside!

Projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel

Projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel

Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs

Disney Springs has decorated 25 trees this year with different Disney themes and the Christmas Tree Trail is a must-do for the holidays!

Alice in Wonderland Tree

Alice in Wonderland Tree

And Finally…See Santa!

And finally, it just isn’t Christmas without a visit with the man himself! If seeing Santa Claus during the holidays tops your list, then you have plenty of options.

Santa Goofy

See Santa Goofy at Minnie’s Holiday and Dine!

As we’ve mentioned, Santa makes regular appearances at the end of Mickey’s Once Upon a Time Christmastime Parade.

You can also meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the American Adventure Pavilion during Epcot’s Holidays Around the World.

Santa and Mrs. Claus in Epcot's American Adventure Pavilion

Santa and Mrs. Claus in Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion

He also makes appearances at Magic Kingdom near City Hall from late November through Christmas. Finally, catch him at Disney Springs and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin as well!

And you can meet Santa Goofy at Disney Springs and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on select days after December 24!

Got a Disney World Trip Planned for December? CHECK THIS OUT!

The DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World® Holidays 2017 is a one-of-a-kind resource that will help you get the most out of your holiday vacation at Walt Disney World.
DFB Holiday Guide 2017_2D (1) March 6

It includes over 400 pages of must-have information, including:

  • A full What’s New!! chapter for the 2017 Holiday Season
  • A full Monthly Schedule of Events for the Holiday Season
  • How to avoid the crowds on Disney World’s busiest days (and when Disney World closes their parks due to capacity!)
  • ALL of the events, activities, and holiday additions in Walt Disney World. ALL. OF. THEM.
  • And of course we’ll tell you where to eat! ;-D

Order your 2017 Guide now and get 20% off with code PEPPERMINT!

As always, our e-Books are 100% guaranteed! If you don’t love it, you get your money back!


What events, treats, or meals make your Disney Holiday Must-Do List? Leave a comment and share your favorite with us!

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