It’s the holiday season in Disney World, and there is SO much to do!
You can see giant gingerbread houses, awesome decorations, and even Santa Claus! There are fun ride overlays to enjoy, an After Hours event to party at, and a ton of delicious foods to try. It’s an exciting time for sure, and if you’re going to be in the Most Magical Place on Earth on the actual day of Christmas, you need to be prepared! So, let’s take a look at what to expect on Christmas Day in Disney World!
If you’re going to be in Disney World on Christmas Day, you need to pay attention to the park hours! Magic Kingdom is open from 9AM to 11PM, EPCOT is open from 9:30AM to 10PM, Hollywood Studios is open from 8:30AM to 9PM, and Animal Kingdom is open from 8AM to 8PM.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is also open from 10AM to 5PM on Christmas Day, and Disney Springs is open from 10AM to 11:30PM.
Keep in mind that you still cannot park hop until 2PM and you can only park hop if the park you’re going to isn’t at capacity.
Christmas Day is an extremely popular time for people to be at Disney World, so definitely expect crowds! To ensure you stay a little bit ahead of the curve, we suggest you rope drop the park you’re planning on visiting.
And, remember, if you’re a Disney hotel guest, you can get into the parks 60 minutes before the parks open with Early Theme Park Entry. People not staying at a Disney hotel should also be aware of this perk, because hotel guests will be able to enter the parks before you, so take that into account when it comes to rope dropping.
But, we totally understand if you want to sleep in a bit on Christmas Day! Just know that you might face a few more long lines than you would if you were to rope drop.
Speaking of long lines, be prepared to find them all around the parks! This is one of the busiest days of the entire year in Disney World, so long lines are to be expected. Come prepared with the mindset that you’re going to be waiting in lines for some rides and maybe have a fun way to pass the time, like playing a game such as Heads Up on your phone!
If you want to minimize your time spent standing in lines, consider buying Disney Genie+ to use throughout the day, especially in a park like Magic Kingdom where there are a lot of rides. Genie+ is the paid system that replaced Disney’s FastPass+ system and allows you to make reservations for the Lightning Lanes (old FastPass+ lanes) of 46 different attractions. It’s $15 per day, per person.
And, for the really popular rides, you can purchase individual Lightning Lane access! For attractions like Rise of the Resistance or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which are not included in Genie+), you can pay individually to skip the standby lines. Learn more about how this system works here. A few rides that were pay-per-ride are being moved to the Genie+ list for the holidays as well.
If you want an idea of just how busy it’s going to be, let’s take a look at park pass reservations. For regular theme park tickets, only EPCOT and Animal Kingdom still have park reservations available as of this writing, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are completely booked.
And, the same goes for resort guests!
As for Annual Passholders, the Incredi Pass is the only one not blocked out for Christmas Day and there are still park reservations available for all 4 parks.
Going along with crowds, do keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for the parks to hit capacity on Christmas Day. The most popular park is usually Magic Kingdom, so be aware that if you’re planning to park hop there after 2PM, you might be out of luck. We saw Magic Kingdom hit capacity recently on the 50th anniversary, so even with the park reservation system, it can happen if you choose to hop!
For your best bet, you can leave the park you’re in that morning before 2PM so that you basically rope drop the park you’re hopping to as soon as you’re allowed in, but there is still no guarantee. You also might see more luck later in the day, closer to the time the park closes, as people could leave the park early.
Festival of the Holidays
Festival of the Holidays started on November 26th and runs until December 30th, but what a better time to take part in the celebrations than on Christmas Day?! Since EPCOT still has park reservations open (as of this writing), you could see fewer crowds there than in places like Magic Kingdom. It’s a great time to indulge in everything the festival has to offer!
Eating is one of the best ways to celebrate the holidays, in our opinion!
Also at the festival is the Candlelight Processional. This is the telling of the story of Christmas by a celebrity narrator, who is accompanied by music from a choir and an orchestra! The celebrity narrator for Christmas Day is Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman.
Another way to celebrate the day at the festival is by listening to the Storytellers around World Showcase! Each country has costumed storytellers who will tell the stories of their culture’s holiday traditions.
You can also find special musicians around the World Showcase like the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs in Canada and Las Posadas in Mexico.
As for entertainment around Disney World, Christmas Day should be very festive! Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will take place in Magic Kingdom at 12PM and 3:45PM.
You can see Mickey and the gang in their holiday best coming down Main Street, U.S.A.!
And, of course, the parade ends with an appearance from Santa Claus!
Speaking of Santa Claus, you can find him in all of the parks on Christmas Day! In Magic Kingdom, he will be in the parade and should be greeting guests throughout the day at the gazebo behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square.
In EPCOT, Santa and Mrs. Claus are located at the American Adventure pavilion!
In Hollywood Studios, Santa comes down Hollywood Boulevard in an awesome red convertible during a special cavalcade.
And, in Animal Kingdom, you can periodically see Santa come by on a boat! Catch him cruising the waterways on a flotilla.
Also in all of the parks is the transformation of the park icons into Magical Beacons — holiday edition! The Magical Beacons debuted on the park icons for the 50th anniversary, but they all also now have holiday variations throughout the night. In Magic Kingdom, you can see Cinderella Castle decked out in festive gear…
…in EPCOT, Spaceship Earth looks like a candy cane…
…in Hollywood Studios, Tower of Terror gets a holiday makeover…
…and in Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life has a special showing, too!
As for other nighttime entertainment like fireworks, there are currently no special shows announced. Instead, the normal nighttime entertainment will take place — Enchantment at Magic Kingdom will happen at 8PM, Harmonious in EPCOT will take place at 9:45PM, and Wonderful World of Animation will run at Hollywood Studios at 9PM.
We’ll keep an eye out for any other entrainment announcements and keep you updated!
Besides all of the holiday food being offered throughout the season, there are a few items that will ONLY be available on December 25th! At Tiffins in Animal Kingdom, you can get the Horchata Mousse Snow Globe, which is golden coffee crémeux, gingerbread sable cookie, coriander chantilly, elderflower meringue, bourbon caramel, and candied pecans.
Also available at Tiffins will be a Pork T-Bone dish, which has apple-brined pork, sweet potato variations, boniato mash, and ginger-pear butter.
Over at All-Star Movies and Music Resorts, you can get the Pumpkin Tart at Intermission Food Court and World Premiere Food Court!
Also available at both food courts is the Christmas Dinner, which has ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry relish with a choice of apple or pumpkin tart.
And, at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can get the Roast Rib Eye, which is roast rib eye with jus lie, Tunisian mashed potatoes, green beans with apricot-cranberry butter, and mushroom conserva. YUM!
These foods are available for one day only, so make sure to check them out if you can!
That’s what to expect in Disney World on Christmas Day this year! Even though it will be crowded, just make sure you have a game plan like what time you’re getting to the parks and some dining reservations scheduled to keep your day organized and running smoothly. And, stay tuned to DFB for more Disney World news, updates, and info!
What is your favorite thing to do at Disney World during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments!