There is nowhere on Earth more magical than Disney World during the holidays. Yes, everyone knows that, which means that the holidays are the busiest season at Disney World.
But where else are you going to get to try out hundreds of holiday foods, visit storytellers from around the world, see a variety of Christmas trees, visit a full-size gingerbread house, and more?! If you’re going to visit during the holidays, there are some things you can do to handle it like a pro.
What You Need To Do First
First, you’ll need to purchase your park tickets and get your park pass reservations made as soon as possible (especially as certain holidays tend to fill up quickly). Remember that you cannot get into any park without a park pass reservation for it.
Next, make your advance dining reservations as soon as you can — you can make them as early as 60 days from the first day of your trip. You can make those reservations on the Disney World website, through the My Disney Experience app, or by calling 714-781-DINE.
If you want to experience a holiday character dining experience, Minnie’s Holiday Dine will be returning this year — it’s VERY popular, so make that reservation ASAP.
Also, make sure that your park pass reservations match up with where you have dining reservations!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a ticketed after-hours event in Magic Kingdom — if you want to attend, be sure to buy those tickets as quickly as you can. Although there are parties still available, we expect many of them will sell out the closer we get to Christmas. Here are the dates that have already sold out.
This is the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party since 2019, so tickets will go fast!
The event includes special shows like Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, as well as the Once Upon A Christmastime Parade (and yes, you’ll see Santa!), along with Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Guests will be able to dance the night away with several dance parties, too!
Certain rides will get holiday overlays, and guests will get to meet with characters in their holiday attire! There are also special photo ops, as well as special treats, including a few complimentary snacks and drinks. As we said, this party is VERY popular, so buy those tickets NOW.
Don’t forget to check out the projections on Cinderella Castle and the Tower of Terror, too — both Beacons of Magic will be getting a holiday look at night! Spaceship Earth and the Tree of Life will also be getting in on the festivities.
You’ll also be able to hop on the Jingle Cruise (aka the holiday version of Jungle Cruise) and listen to some fun holiday puns just for the occasion. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will also have its own holiday soundtrack this year!!
EPCOT Festival of the Holidays
During the holidays, EPCOT hosts its Festival of the Holidays, which is an ENTIRE event in and of itself. The event runs from November 25th through December 30th and features a ton of food booths with a focus on holiday-themed food, storytellers from around the world sharing holiday tales from their respective countries, and more!
You’ll also not want to miss out on the Candlelight Processional, which features a celebrity narrator and live chorus telling the story of Christmas. If you’re wanting to get a guaranteed seat at the Candlelight Processional (and you DO), be sure to book a Candlelight Processional dining package ASAP.
You’ll also get a chance to meet Santa in the American Adventure pavilion, as well as listen to some Christmas carols by the Voices of Liberty. You’ll also want to check out the Cookie Stroll AND Olaf’s Holiday Traditional Expedition, a scavenger hunt that will take you all over World Showcase.
Holiday Character Experiences and Entertainment
You’ll find that many characters will be dressed up in their finest holiday clothes, so these meet and greets are super special. However, you could run into long lines, so you might want to purchase Genie+ to access the Lightning Lane for those character experiences that offer that.
You’ll also get some special opportunities to see the big guy himself, Santa Claus! He usually appears in cavalcades at the parks, but you can also MEET him at locations like the American Adventure in EPCOT! He also meets with guests in Disney Springs.
One of our favorite holiday must-dos is to catch the animal puppets at Animal Kingdom — so be sure to be on the lookout for that!
Also, for the first time (in forever) For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in Hollywood Studios is getting a holiday finale with Olaf!
Christmas Tree Stroll
If you want to see nothing but Christmas trees, skip the parks and head on over to Disney Springs for the Christmas Tree Stroll. You’ll get to see some uniquely decorated Christmas trees themed to characters, attractions, movies, and more!
What’s even better is that this activity is completely free!
Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs gets a makeover and goes full-on holidays in November and December. Even better, some special holiday menu items become available, and yes, that even includes milk and cookies.
So be sure to head on over to check out the fun decorations and food!
You won’t want to miss all the amazing gingerbread houses at some of Disney World’s hotels. These displays are EPIC, and the one at the Grand Floridian even has a treats shop inside!
So you’ll want to make sure you make time to resort hop to check out all the fun holiday decor and displays!
You’re going to want a big souvenir budget because Disney World goes ALL out on holiday merchandise. You’ll find spirit jerseys, other clothing items, ears, decor, and more, all done up with a Disney holiday theme.
This year will feature new collections, including Mickey’s Vintage Christmas, which will feature hues of red and green as well as snowfall and peppermint to celebrate the holiday season. There’s also a Homestead collection (think lots of plaid), as well as a special Hanukkah-themed line.
In addition to the food booths at the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays, LOADS of holiday-themed snacks will be available in the parks and you’ll probably need to plan ahead to figure out which ones you want to try.
Trust us, having a game plan in advance will keep you from missing out on those snacks you do not want to miss.
Okay, so that seems like a lot, and considering the special food and merchandise, you might need a little help on how to budget for those things. Also, because this is a busy time to visit Disney World, that means that you’ll probably be paying higher prices for your airfare, tickets, and hotel rooms. The most important thing you need to do is decide on a budget BEFORE you start planning.
Once you have that budget in mind, be sure to add in those little items that you may not think about like Genie+ for your entire party. Crowds will mean longer standby lines for rides, but Genie+ will let you bypass those lines and access the Lightning Lane at attractions. However, Genie+ could cost more, depending on the days you visit the parks, so when you budget for that, keep that in mind. Currently, the max price we have seen has been $22 per day per person, so it may be a good idea to use that number in your budgeting. Do note though, this may get even higher closer to the holidays.
Also, keep in mind that some rides are only available on a pay-per-ride basis through Disney Genie — if those are priorities, make sure to keep that cost in mind, too.
As we previously mentioned, hotels will be priced a bit higher, especially after mid-December and through early January. You could save some money, though, if you plan your trip for earlier in the month. Another option is to consider staying off-property to get a better hotel rate.
Once you’ve figured out your budget, you might find that it helps sticking to it if you pick up a Disney gift card from your local Disney Store, Target, Costco, or online. You can load however much amount you need onto it to use on your vacation and each receipt will let you know how much you have left available to spend. And depending on where you buy it, you might actually save a few dollars!! If you have a Target Red Card, for example, you can save 5%!
Finally, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for holiday deals and discounts from Disney. We keep an eye out for those, too, so be sure to consider signing up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out! We also included a LOT of great budgeting tips in our DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays!
How To Get Away From The Crowds
Yes, the parks will probably be crowded during the holidays, but there are some things you can do to escape them, like arriving early at the parks (use Early Theme Park Entry if you’re staying at a Disney World hotel). You can also plan to stay later until park close or take advantage of Extended Evening Hours if you’re staying at a deluxe Disney World hotel. These are the times of day when the parks will be less crowded.
It’s hard to avoid crowds for fireworks, though. Instead of watching the fireworks with everyone else on Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom, you can get a view of the fireworks from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. You can even have a dining experience at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Hotel and watch the fireworks WHILE YOU EAT. You won’t be able to see the projections that are part of the show, though.
This is also a great tip if you want to see the fireworks for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but don’t want to shell out the $$$ for the ticket.
So how do you escape the crowds during the day? Well, if it gets to be too much, just leave the crowded park and do some resort hopping. This gives you an opportunity to take a break from the crowds PLUS see all the holiday decorations at the hotels (and those gingerbread houses we told you about).
Are You Ready To Begin Planning That Holiday Trip?
Of course, we’ve only barely touched upon the tip of the iceberg of everything there is to do at Disney World during the holidays. For example, you could check out the guest-led Golf Cart Parade over at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground on Christmas Eve! Or you could participate in holiday crafts at your resort. You could even take a holiday sleigh ride!
If you want even more ideas of how to make the most of your Disney holiday vacation, be sure to pre-order our DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays! With detailed descriptions and photos of every holiday event and activity happening at the parks and resorts this year —- including tips on how to make the best use of your time and money when visiting — it’s the perfect way to get your planning started.
This comprehensive book includes everything you need to know to plan your holiday visit to Walt Disney World. And it’s got a 100% money-back guarantee!
What are you waiting for? Pre-order the 2022 DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays and check out more of our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays in Disney World in our video below!
By the way, are you a DFB Video subscriber? If you hit the button below, you can subscribe to our channel and catch up on ALL of our latest episodes!
Are you planning a Disney World vacation over the holidays this year?