The holiday season at Disney’s Parks and Resorts is filled with delights for food fans, and if you ask us, it’s never too early to start planning for holiday fun!!
We’ve compiled years of Disney Parks holiday experience so that you don’t miss a single treat, holiday meal, event, or activity. The DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2021 will include all the NEW events and holiday happenings for 2021, over 350 photos, an events calendar, touring suggestions, and an informative FAQ section!
Below, you’ll find some of our favorite holiday events, tips, and suggestions for making this year’s Disney World holiday trip your merriest one yet! You’ll also find a look back at the holiday season in 2020 while we await even more information about this year’s festivities, which will officially begin on November 12, 2021 in Walt Disney World!
Dining at Walt Disney World During the Holidays
There are plenty of special Disney holiday events for the food lover at Walt Disney World. For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, guests can expect specialty menus and holiday meals at many Disney restaurants in the Parks, at the Resorts, and in Disney Springs.
Here’s what you can expect for Christmas Dining Options in Disney World:
- Restaurants that are often closed will be open during this busy season. For example, look for Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom to be serving quick service eats.
- Many restaurants — both Table Service and Counter Service — will add holiday meals to the menu. You can see the list of locations that served special meals and items for Christmas 2020 by clicking here to give you an idea of some possible options for 2021!
For information on every single Disney World restaurant holiday option, treat yourself with a pre-order of the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays 2021!
For more ideas, check out our DFB YouTube Video for some of our favorite spots to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in the World!
If you’re hoping to plan a festive News Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World, scroll on down for all the delicious and celebratory options!
Holiday Treats at Walt Disney World
The holidays are another welcome excuse for Walt Disney World to introduce lots of special treats just for the season. From sundaes and yule logs to cupcakes and hot spiked beverages, there’s a holiday-inspired treat for everyone!
We sampled OVER 100 holiday treats in 2020 and we’ve gathered our list of ALL our reviews for you right here! And you’ll be able to find ALL of our reviews for the 2021 Season HERE once the Holiday Season kicks off on November 12th!
EPCOT Holiday Treats
The EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays is a global celebration of the Season which will take place November 26 – December 30, 2021! During the Festival, guests can enjoy enhanced offerings around World Showcase and experience holiday traditions from various cultures as expressed through decorations, stories, music, cuisine, and additional special events.
EPCOT will feature internationally-themed food booths called Holiday Kitchens! Look for the ramped-up food offerings at booths like American Holiday Table, Las Posadas, and the new Chestnuts & Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen.
Typically, many counter service restaurants (and even some table service locations) add holiday treats, too!
Magic Kingdom Holiday Treats
Magic Kingdom adds plenty of holiday treats to jingle our taste bells, and while some of them have previously been exclusive to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — which, in 2021, will be replaced by Disney’s Very Merriest After Hours — oodles are available all day, every day during the holiday season. We’re always fans of a seasonal cupcake or classic sugar cookie, but we loved the very unique Belle’s Enchanted Christmas Tree last year!
Yep, it will be holly-jolly time again in the Magic Kingdom sooner than you think. And DID YOU SEE ALL THE TREATS from 2020!!??!!
We reviewed all the eats available including the Twice Upon a Cupcake, the Let It Snow Taco, Yuletide Wishes, the Spice Up Your Holiday sandwich, Fa La La La Funnel Cake, Orange Bird Christmas, and more. You can find them ALL here to get an idea of the kinds of treats you can look forward to in 2021!
Hollywood Studios Holiday Treats
In the past few years, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has really stepped-up its holiday game… as it should after the unfortunate closure of the Osborne Lights Spectacular in 2015! Featured events include Sunset Seasons Greetings and a fireworks and projection nighttime spectacular called Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, and LOTS of sweet, festive treats!
Whimsical, eye-catching, and all-together tasty, Hollywood Studios always comes up with truly creative holiday goodies.
We reviewed SO MANY holiday eats and drinks in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for 2020 including: the Peppermint Bundt Cake Shake, Holiday Tree Mousse, Holiday Whoopie Pie, Apple Bourbon Creme Brulee, Christmas on the Beach, Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, Hollywood Lights, Frozen Winterberry Margarita, Olaf’s Snow Flurry, Frozen Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, Chocolate-Chestnut Pinecone, Hot Cocoa Flight, Mickey’s Holiday Cookie, Festive Holiday Popcorn, and Spiced Surabat Cider (from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!).
Animal Kingdom Holiday Treats
We took in all the sights, sounds, and tastes when all-new Animal Kingdom holiday celebrations debuted in 2019. Elements of the celebration were a part of the yuletide offerings in 2020, including yuletide treats!
One returning holiday treat that we were excited to see make its way back for the celebration was the Double-Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich at Dino-Bite Snacks.
Disney Springs Holiday Treats
Watch for TONS of seasonal treats — you can see ALL of the offerings from 2020 here! — found at various locations throughout the entertainment, shopping, and dining district. We love the Gobbler (holiday turkey) Poutine at The Daily Poutine and the Holiday Turkey Burger at D-Luxe Burger for some unique savory options!
But there will be plenty of SWEET going on in Disney Springs, too… find ALL of our Disney Springs holiday treat reviews from 2020 here!
Disney Resorts Holiday Treats
The Resorts at Walt Disney World like to show off their seasonal creations too, and many of them are well worth the trek outside the parks! One of our favorites in 2020 was the red and green batch of Holiday Oreo Bon Bons at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts! YUM.
Many treats include design elements and flavors typically associated with the holiday season, like gingerbread, cinnamon, and more!
Keep an eye out for seasonal beverages and holiday-themed cupcakes, tarts, and treats at each and every one of the Resorts!
Holiday Events and Experiences at Walt Disney World
Disney World Gingerbread Displays and Activities
Wonderfully aromatic and gorgeous Gingerbread Displays can be found at locations including the Contemporary Resort, BoardWalk Inn, Beach Club Resort, Grand Floridian, EPCOT, Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, and more!
These memorable displays include the signature Gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort, which is SO large that cast members stand inside to serve holiday treats!
Why not take a tour of these stunning displays by way of our DFB YouTube Video?
Magic Kingdom celebrates the holiday season in a BIG way with a larger-than-life Christmas tree, beautiful decorations, and a special extra-ticket event!
For 2021, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be replaced by Disney Very Merriest After Hours. This Magic Kingdom event will require a separate ticket for entry, and will run select nights starting November 8, 2021 through December 21, 2021.
Once inside, guests will enjoy plenty of festive fun and entertainment unique to the Disney Very Merriest After Hours! This will include a showing of Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A., and much more!
EPCOT will celebrate with the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays from November 26 to December 30, 2021! Expect delicious treats from the Holiday Kitchen food booths, festive decorations, and music and entertainment celebrating holiday traditions around the globe!
The popular Cookie Stroll will be returning along with the Festival. Guests stroll around to select Holiday Kitchens trying five different designated cookies. Once you’ve received stamps in your Festival Passport for all five included cookies, you can redeem your stroll with a FREE completer cookie!
The beloved EPCOT Candlelight Processional will return in 2021! This EPCOT tradition is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator while a 50-piece orchestra and choir (composed of a Disney cast member choir along with an ever-changing group of guest choirs from around the country) accompany the re-telling.
We have information about Candlelight Processional Dining Packages here. The packages provide guests with a lunch or dinner meal at select EPCOT restaurants and guaranteed seating to the popular Candlelight Processional.
Costumed Holiday Storytellers also share traditions from the different nations that make up World Showcase.
Even the classic Living with the Land attraction gets all dressed up for the Festival!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a Holiday Spectacular revolving around a search-and-rescue mission for Santa Claus shared by elves Wayne and Lenny from Prep & Landing with favorite holiday tunes, fireworks, special effects, and super-fun seasonal projections.
The return of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! has not yet been confirmed for 2021, but we will keep you posted here when we receive further information.
The Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Holiday Dessert Party
If Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! returns, the Holiday Dessert Party may an option for guests to add to their experience including desserts (of course!), specialty beverages, and a reserved viewing are. Click here for more info on this fun add-on!
Enhanced Decor Around Echo Lake
Festive decor transforms this central part of the park — including dressing Dinosaur Gertie up in her dino-sized Santa hat!
And the Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree in Echo Lake is truly a stunner!
Guests can typically have a chat with Santa at the Once Upon a Time shop.
In 2021, Santa will still pay visits to Disney’s Hollywood Studios by way of a Merry Motorcade, so keep your eyes peeled for ol’ St. Nick!
Holiday Cheer in Toy Story Land
In previous years, guests could celebrate the holidays with seasonal tunes at Alien Swirling Saucers and special decorations unique to Toy Story Land. We look forward hopefully seeing these special touches return this year!
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine
This character-filled meal is centered on seasonal delicacies at lunch and at dinner. Guests can dine with Minnie and her best festive friends, like Mickey and Santa Goofy in their holiday finest in November and December! (We will update this page with specific dates for 2021 as soon as they’re announced.)
Sunset Seasons Greetings
This holiday experience brings guests to a twinkling Sunset Boulevard where holiday decorations set a festive mood. Throughout the night, yuletide scenes are displayed on the billboards of Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollywood Tower Hotel becomes the Hollywood “Holiday” Tower Hotel!
Holiday-themed projections turn the Hollywood “Holiday” Tower Hotel into scenes from Frozen, a Muppets gingerbread house, a toy hotel from Toy Story, and “a Dickensian village inspired by ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol.’” In 2021, the holiday projections will alternate with special Disney World 50th Anniversary projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
Get ready to join in the fun at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration!
This show, which is presented several times throughout the day, receives a special finale just for the holiday season featuring Olaf himself!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
We are thrilled that the beautiful and charming Merry Menagerie will return to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this season!
Winter animal puppets bring joy to guests strolling along Discovery Island, and live musicians also help set the scene.
Festive Flotillas will return to Discovery River, carrying beloved characters through Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Look for Donald’s Dino Bash, Chip ‘n Dale, the Discovery Island Festival Drummers, and the SANTA CLAUS Festival Flotilla!
And in the evenings, the Tree of Life Awakenings — Holiday Edition will deliver beautiful winter-inspired scenes to the park’s icon.
Between those awakenings, the Tree of Life will sport its “Beacons of Magic” look that was created as part of the 50th Anniversary.
And, of course, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be all decked out in gorgeous and unique decorations!
As always, the festivities will extend beyond the parks, too…
Disney Springs showcases festive décor, entertainment, and holiday shopping during the season, including:
Disney Springs’ Christmas Tree Stroll: Stroll, indeed, among custom decorated holiday, Disney-themed trees placed all around Disney Springs! From time to time in the evenings, magical snow will fall upon Town Center.
Santa’s Chalet: In previous years, Santa has met with guests and accepted wish lists through Christmas Eve.
In 2020, Santa (and Mrs. Claus!) could instead be spotted ON THE WATER! Watch for Santa’s Winter Watercade on Lake Buena Vista! We’ll keep you posted on any appearances by Santa in Disney Springs as more information is revealed.
As you shop your way around Disney Springs this holiday season, be on the lookout for great entertainment offerings (previous years these have included Toy Soldier stilt walkers, carolers, and Living Statues dressed in holiday attire).
The festive fun continues with Christmas-inspired treats throughout Disney Springs!
Other Holiday Happenings in Disney World
Cookie Decorating and Crafts
Many of the Resorts offer cookie decorating and other special activities to small guests. After all, just because you’re on vacation, you don’t have to miss one of the season’s most beloved traditions! Check your Resort’s entertainment schedule for this year’s offerings.
Likewise, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels offer cookie decorating frequently throughout the holidays, typically starting at 6PM.
Special Holiday Music Performances
Holiday music is always a great way to set the mood for a festive celebration. And at Disney World during the winter holidays, you’re bound to find lots of talented musicians sharing joyful cheer!
Many of the Deluxe resorts will often feature carolers or other musical entertainment throughout the season. Typically, you’re likely to see them at the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club.
You will also often find carolers strolling the “streets” of Disney Springs throughout the season. And on the Marketplace Dock Stage, watch for school choir groups singing festive songs. Special entertainment often includes a DJ, the popular Toy Soldier Stiltwalkers, and Snowflake Skaters!
Visits with Characters and Santa Claus
But it would hardly be Christmas for the little ones without a visit from Santa Claus!
So far, we know that Santa will make appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
He will also appear by way of a Festive Flotilla in Animal Kingdom!
In previous years — and potentially this year as well — you could also spy Santa at EPCOT, and he often makes appearances on Christmas Eve at several Resort hotels, ready to hear your Christmas wishes. Disney Springs often hosts both Santa and Santa Goofy!
Holiday times are so busy that Disney pulls out all the stops to entertain the large number of guests. It’s quite common throughout Christmas week to find character meet and greets at Deluxe Resorts! In fact, in 2020, characters were spotted making physically-distanced surprise appearances in various Resorts, so keep your eyes peeled!
Really — can you imagine anything more enchanting than Christmas Minnie and Mickey? Be sure to check with the concierge for more information on appearance times for future trips. (In 2020, appearances took place on a happy surprise basis!)
And you’ll also spy the big guy in front of his Tiki Hut at the Swan and Dolphin — perfect for a Florida Santa photo opp!
Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary
In 2021, guests visiting Walt Disney World for the holidays will have ANOTHER celebration to enjoy, in addition to all the yuletide cheer: The Most Magical Celebration on Earth in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World!
Elements of the Anniversary will be presented throughout the holiday season, and you can read up on all of the special happenings for this milestone event here!
New Year’s Eve Dining Options
PLEASE NOTE: Specialty dining options — such as these listed below — were unavailable in 2020. We have kept the information from 2019 (ringing in 2020) below for your future planning reference, and we will update this page with information ways you can ring in 2022 in Disney World when they are announced.
Unless otherwise noted, these New Year’s Eve options could be booked by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Three events have previously been available at the Contemporary Resort — Disney Countdown to Midnight, Disney Ink & Paint Club, and Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve. All of these events were available to book on Disney World’s website.
An additional event took place at the Contemporary Resort — An Elegant Evening Under the Stars at the California Grill. Guests enjoyed a champagne toast, a magician, a portrait artist, and more as they approached the beginning of a new year. At the end of the night, guests were able to witness Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from California Grill’s observation deck!
A New Year’s Eve event also took place at the new Riviera Resort — Mezzanotte at Topolino’s: An Italian Masquerade at Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera and included food, beverages, and musical entertainment.
Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, located at the Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, hosted the Feliz Ano Nuevo: A New Year’s Eve Party. Guests dined on Spanish New Year’s cuisine while enjoying entertaining music. This event cost $400 per person.
If you plan to be around Disney’s BoardWalk on New Year’s Eve, there were two events to choose from! First up was Disney’s BoardWalk Countdown at Atlantic Dance Hall. The event included “views of the EPCOT Fireworks a live DJ, party hats and horns, a confetti drop, a mouthwatering light-bite menu with savory and sweet eats, and a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.”
The other celebration was offered at the BoardWalk’s Flying Fish! Chef Tim Majoras presented a multi-course, pre-fixe menu during this dining event. According to Disney, seatings were “available from 5-6:30pm and 8:30-10pm on Dec. 31, with a sustainable seafood tower and intermezzo included in the second seating.”
Disney’s Grand Floridian also held a duo of events. Narcoossee’s hosted A New Year’s Eve Celebration at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Disney recommended that guests reserve an earlier dinner time for a relaxed experience and a later dinner time for an upbeat experience with a band and dance floor.
If you want to have a truly luxurious experience on New Year’s Eve, look no further than Victoria & Albert’s! During the meal, guests enjoy live music from a harpist, a champagne toast, and a AAA Five Diamond culinary experience.
Holiday Options at On-Property Hotels
Disney and non-Disney-owned hotels on Walt Disney World property have an assortment of holiday options.
Featuring an entire calendar filled with holiday activities, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel celebrates the season with two special guest hosts – Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Tables in Wonderland
Keep an eye out for holiday events for Tables in Wonderland members!