The temperature has started to drop, the fuzzy sweaters are out, and Christmas has started to sweep its way across Disney World!
While the parks will be in a full holiday swing from November 6th through December 30th, entertainment and experiences in the parks and resorts are seeing some MAJOR differences this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
As you start planning your upcoming Disney World vacation, we’re making sure you have all the details about how the holidays will be new and unlike years past!
In previous years, we’ve seen Cinderella Castle all lit up in the Castle Dream Lights to create a Winter Wonderland in Disney World. However, now that nighttime spectaculars have been suspended during this time, regular holiday shows and fireworks will not be occurring in the Magic Kingdom.
Instead, the Castle will have festive projections to add some flair to guests’ Christmas card photos as it is transformed into a series of designs like an ugly Christmas sweater or red, green, and gold ornaments.
While some fans of the Dream Lights (and Elsa lighting magically lighting them up each night!) might be sad to see them gone this year, the projections look like a fun way to still enjoy the season in front of Cinderella Castle each night. We think that just gives us an excuse to buy multiple holiday spirit jerseys to pose in front of the castle this year! 😉
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Parties are a no-go in the parks right now with distancing measures and capacity limits in place (currently capped at 25%). Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was canceled this past spooky season and the holidays are going to look a bit different as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has been canceled this year as well.
However, elements from the event will be making their way into the parks as Character Cavalcades, specials treats, and falling snow (AKA snoap, the real heart of the Disney Christmas season obviously!) are incorporated in Disney World as everyday features!
Not gonna lie, we’re pretty pumped for more excuses to check out snoap in Disney World!
There’s just something extra magical about Christmas in Disney World where you can watch characters put on their holiday best and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” in the parks! The Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featured during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (and typically during the day the week of Christmas) will not be taking place this year. But themed Character Cavalcades will transform the atmosphere of Disney World all season long instead.
Each of the four theme parks will host various experiences with holiday promenades in EPCOT, merry motorcades in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, festive flotillas in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Christmas cavalcades in the Magic Kingdom. Along with the gingerbread men, elves, reindeer, and the famous toy soldiers marching along with the Main Street Philharmonic, the Fab Five and other classic friends will be jamming out to Christmas music as they greet guests during the modified entertainment too!
Even though the Christmas Parties aren’t happening this year, at least all guests in Magic Kingdom can have a chance to check out those awesome Toy Soldiers marching down the street!
Santa Claus Meet-and-Greets
Santa will even be making an appearance during the Christmas Cavalcades, along with pop-ups, distanced appearance in each of the parks, and Disney Springs — by BOAT! Keep in mind that meet-and-greets have been halted since Disney World opened, so your kiddos won’t be able to sit on Santa’s lap this year.
BUT, he’ll still be bringing holiday cheer during Christmastime (and hopefully lots of presents too). Recently, we’ve seen characters like Anna and Elsa separated from guests as they are stationed behind gates and other barriers during their interactions.
Santa Claus could potentially have a similar area set up in the parks, as photo opportunities and booths have been built in past years. Disney hasn’t revealed too much just yet concerning how guests can interact with Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, but we’ll keep you posted as we learn more!
While we could sip and snack on Gingerbread Lattes and cookies all day, every day during Christmastime, Disney has announced that the Gingerbread Houses won’t be returning at the resorts this year. (We’ll miss that sweet smell when we enter Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or Disney’s Beach Club Resort! 😭)
There’s still good news, though, because EPCOT’s patriotic Capitol City Gingerbread Display will be featured in the park this year! Even though the decoration has taken over the American Adventure Pavilion in previous years, it will be moved over to the World Showplace for more guests to visit in a distanced manner.
Disney is shaking things up a little more though with the changes in the display that are going to feature the United States Capitol Building, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and a giant Washington Monument throughout this upcoming holiday season!
Festival of the Holidays
Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition
EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays are coming back to Disney World with “highlights” from previous festivals and new entertainment in the parks! Along with the food booths that will be available starting November 27th, events like the new Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition will bring family and friends together for a festive scavenger hunt!
The Frozen version of the World Showplace scavenger hunt game is replacing Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt as guests search for Olaf in each pavilion and match the location sticker on the scavenger hunt map to the traditions you can find in the countries.
Disney has detailed that “Olaf can be spotted sledding all around World Showcase, collecting new and interesting holiday traditions to share with Anna and Elsa. Unfortunately, he’s had a bit of a bumpy ride…and has misplaced some traditions during his journey.” Once you’ve found all the missing traditions, you can pick up a prize at Disney Traders, Mouse Gear, or World Traveler.
Guests can purchase the Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition map and stickers from places like Mouse Gear, World Traveler, Port of Entry, Stroller Rental locations, International Gateway, and the merchandise cart in Canada for $7.99.
And, while you’re hopping around the park, you can chill out at the World ShowPlace to listen to JOYFUL! perform R&B, Gospel, contemporary, and traditional Christmas hits.
This year, the Voices of Liberty will be moving from the American Adventure Pavilion to the big stage at the America Gardens Theatre to perform a Capella carols and holiday songs for guests.
Although other entertainment will be returning back to Disney World for Christmas this year, the beautiful Candlelight Processional that brings a celebrity-narrated performance, 50-piece orchestra, and choir with Cast Members and special guests has been canceled. The event would take three times throughout the evening during the holiday season, but health and safety regulations have caused the Candlelight Processional to be halted this year.
This event was a big fan-favorite so we know many were disappointed to hear it wouldn’t be taking place this year. You can still snack around EPCOT at the Holiday Kitchen booths though, so at least you can drown your sorrows in delicious cookies and more!
Although there are some major differences in how the parks and resorts will look in Disney World, we can’t wait to experience the changes that will still make the holiday season just as magical as ever! As we explore the parks throughout Christmastime this year, we’ll give you a look at everything you can expect before your upcoming vacation!
What are you looking forward to seeing in Disney World the most this Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!