It’s July and you know what that means…it’s time to start celebrating the holiday season!
We’ve already celebrated #HalfwayToTheHolidays with some special announcements from Disney, and now we’re continuing the fun with some Christmas in July celebrations! Today we’re taking a look at some special holiday secrets in Disney World that you should know about. We’re talking about all of those things that pop up during the holidays that are totally underrated and often overlooked. How many of these have you totally skipped over in the past?
Ready to check out some of the fun but also underrated holiday happenings in the Most Magical Place on Earth? Let’s go through them now!
1 — Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar
Disney likes to celebrate the holiday season with lots of special treats throughout the resort, and you may have even picked up a holiday cupcake or two during past visits. But, have you ever stopped into an entire bar that gets transformed for the holidays?!
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs undergoes a special transformation during Christmastime and becomes Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar! During its time as the Holiday Bar, you’ll find all kinds of unique and fun holiday-themed decorations on the inside and outside of the restaurant.
What items will we get to munch on this year? What fun decorations will we get to see here? We’re not sure, but we can’t wait to find out when this fan-favorite holiday experience returns this year!
2 — Holiday Decorations and Trees in the Disney World Hotels
When you think of holiday decorations and GIANT, themed Christmas trees, you probably think of the Disney World theme parks and the decorations you can see there. Don’t get us wrong, those decorations are fantastic. But, the true secret gems when it comes to holiday decorations and Christmas trees in Disney World are the ones you’ll find at the Disney World hotels!
You can typically find some MASSIVE and breathtaking Christmas trees at some of Disney World’s hotels like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. You’ll also typically find a huge tree in front of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and beautiful decorations and trees at the rest of Disney World’s hotels.
You could seriously spend a day just visiting these hotels (following Disney’s hotel hopping rules), and take in all the beautiful sights. Seriously, if you’ve never visited some of these hotels for the holidays, you’ll want to add that to your to-do list!
And, while these may not be a secret, we couldn’t mention holiday decorations without talking about those fantastic gingerbread displays that pop up at some Disney World hotels.
We SO missed these last year and are excited that they’ll be coming back to select hotels this year!
3 — Holiday Treats and Meals Specific to the Hotels
Again, when you think of holiday-themed treats and meals, you might think of special treats or dining experiences you can have in the parks. But, there are plenty of sweet and savory items that only pop up at the Disney World hotels during the holiday season.
We saw a whole bunch of different holiday items available at the resorts last year and we can’t wait to see what delicious treats will arrive this year.
4 — For the First Time in Forever Holiday Ending
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can stop by For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and experience an extra festive finale during the holidays!
At the end of the show, you’ll be able to enjoy Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and sing along to some festive music with everyone’s favorite snowman.
Disney has confirmed that the Frozen show will have a festive finale once again this year featuring Olaf. We expect it will be the same or very similar to the one we’ve seen in the past. Since this festive experience is tucked into the end of this show it can sometimes get overlooked, but it’s a fun way to celebrate with your favorite Frozen friends.
5 — Tree of Life Awakenings — Holiday Edition
Again, the holidays may make you think of festive fireworks or holiday projections on the Tower of Terror, but the holiday version of Tree of Life Awakenings is an experience that some overlook.
During this time, the Tree of Life shimmers and sparkles at night and you get the chance to listen to some beautiful music and typically see some holiday-themed stories projected onto the tree. The Tree of Life Awakenings — Holiday Edition will be returning in 2021 so be sure you check it out.
6 — SNOAP!
Okay, that fabulous fake snow we lovingly refer to as snoap (soap snow) is no secret at Disney World. It’s actually a signature part of the holiday season at the Most Magical Place on Earth for many. But did you know that you don’t have to head into the parks to experience the magic of snoap?!
Last year, we were all able to joyously experience snoap falling from the sky in Disney Springs! And Disney has confirmed that there will once again be a “magical snowfall” in Disney Springs on the West Side during the holidays!
Who knows — we may also see the return of those personal snoap machines too?! Click here to see more!
7 — Holiday Merchandise in Unexpected Spots
When you think of buying holiday merchandise in Disney World, your first thought might be to check the parks or Disney Springs. And while both of those spots will carry lots of holiday merchandise, you can also find a whole bunch of it in the Disney World hotels!
Since many people turn to Disney Springs or the parks for their shopping, you may find that select hotels have more of the items you’re looking for in stock. And sometimes you may find holiday items will pop up at the hotels first.
Last year, we actually found quite a lot of holiday merchandise very early in the season over at the gift shop in the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. We also found a lot of items at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
One of our readers even spotted NEW holiday ears at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort last year.
So, if you’re looking for a specific item and maybe can’t find it at the parks, don’t forget you can do some shopping at the hotels too. And remember that many items also often become available online.
8 — Santa in Animal Kingdom
While you can generally see Santa in some other spots in Disney World, one spot that often gets overlooked is Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
During the Santa Claus Festive Flotilla, you can see the jolly man himself sail down Discovery River. Be sure to keep an eye out for him in the parks once the holiday season begins.
Click here to see every place in Disney World where you can see Santa during the holidays this year!
9 — Ride Overlays
Disney World’s rides are wonderful and fun on their own, but if you’re ready to experience them in a whole new way then you’ll want to be on the lookout for festive ride overlays! All day during the holidays, fans typically get to enjoy the holiday-themed version of the Jungle Cruise — the Jingle Cruise!
But, if you’re looking for more ride overlays you’ll want to head to Disney Very Merriest After Hours! Disney has confirmed that during this After Hours event there will be festive ride overlays.
Disney hasn’t specified which attractions will receive holiday overlays. In the past, during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, we’ve seen overlays at Tomorrowland Speedway (these decorations could generally be seen during the day but were only lit up during the party), Space Mountain, Mad Tea Party, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
These overlays have generally consisted of either holiday lights and music, and sometimes holiday decorations or other theming.
Typically most of these overlays (except for Jingle Cruise) are exclusive to the holiday party, which requires a separate ticket. It’s not a huge, dramatic thing but it can be fun to experience these rides in a unique, special, and festive way!
One bonus item we wanted to include is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto’s holiday overlay and seasonal drinks! Why didn’t this make our official list? Well, Disney hasn’t yet confirmed that this will be coming back. But, considering that Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto recently reopened, we’re hopeful that we’ll get to enjoy some festive fun in this spot once again this year!
And that’s our list of some secrets or just underrated holiday things you should know about in Disney World. Want to get the latest info about the holidays, a schedule of events for the holiday season, and ALL of our tips and tricks for conquering the holiday season in Disney World? Then be sure to check out our DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2021!
Our guide has more than 400 pages of information to help you navigate the holidays in Disney World like a pro. Be sure to pre-order it and get 20% off with the discount code below. And stay tuned to DFB for more Disney holiday news!
Click here to see 6 questions that still need to be answered about the 2021 Disney World holiday season!
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What’s an underrated or secret part of the holiday season celebrations in Disney World that you think others should know about? Tell us in the comments!