Well it is November 1, and that can only mean one thing: the Holiday Season in upon us, and in fact, from Disney’s point of view, the holidays begin next Monday with the 1st Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party of 2010.
This is the favorite time of year for many, but all that Holiday magic can get a bit dimmed when combined with concerns about keeping costs under control. And when you add in an impending Disney vacation into the mix, well it can get more than a little challenging.
With that all in mind, I am going to use my Monday blog posts over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas, to discuss ways to have a very merry Disney Christmas. I’ll talk about what you can expect at Walt Disney World for the Holiday Season if you will be visiting during this time of year, and how to experience the magic affordably. And I will also share some of my favorite ways to bring Disney into Holiday gift-giving: whether you are looking for something for the Disney lover on your list, or you will be buying Christmas gifts that will be useful on your Disney World vacation, I will give you some ideas for how to make a Disney Holiday Season both magical AND affordable.
So let’s get things started with a quick overview of the many great Holiday happenings at Walt Disney World, and then in coming weeks we’ll explore some of them in a bit more detail.
For anyone traveling to Disney World in the coming two months, prepare to find TONS of Christmas events and attractions. Decorations abound, characters are in their festive finest, and music, entertainment, and yes, of course, food all combine to make this one of the most special….and popular times of the year to visit Walt Disney World. And best of all, most is free. Some of the highlights include:
The centerpiece of the Holiday celebrations is Cinderella’s Castle, decked out in the “Castle Dream Lights” that sparkle, shimmer, and glisten to create a breathtaking sight. Do not miss this. Lit every evening as part of a special ceremony, the Castle Dream Lights are amazing: if you think the Castle is lovely at other times of the year, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. And it is free to see, every night, starting November 8.
In addition to all of the special decorations, Magic Kingdom features Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights from November 8 to December 19. A “hard ticket” item that requires separate admission, this fun evening event features a showing of the Holiday Wishes edition of the fireworks, as well as the popular Christmas parade (both of which can be seen….for free…..without attending MVMCP, after the 19th until New Years.)
Epcot is probably my favorite place at this time of year. In addition to the beautiful decorations, World Showcase offers some wonderful programs, for no additional charge, as part of the “Holidays Around the World: if you have ever wondered what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in another country, this is the place to find out. Each country shares their most interesting holiday traditions, and many have Holiday Storytellers that highlight some fascinating and fun customs. Look carefully to find Father Christmas in England, Pere Noel in France, and St. Nicholas in Germany to name a few. It is delightful and yes, educational, in a very fun way.
Probably the highlight of the Walt Disney World holidays in Epcot is the Candlelight Processional, a nightly presentation of the Christmas story with a celebrity guest narrator and a huge massed choir made up of professional, college, and high school choirs from around the country. You can reserve a seat by purchasing a Candlelight Processional dinner package for one of the 3 shows each night, or if you don’t want to pay for the dinner package, you can take your chances and wait in the stand-by line. (More about this in coming weeks.) If you love Christmas music, you will find this to be a dramatic, powerful, and very moving experience.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios you will find the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, held nightly on the Streets of America. There are literally millions of lights and it is an absolutely amazing experience….and also free. The streets can get very crowded however, so if you want to get the most of your visit here, consider going during the nightly Fantasmic show, or at the end of the evening, before the park closes. It is much more enjoyable when you are not elbow to elbow with people!
But Wait, There’s More!
If you still want more parades, then Animal Kingdom has Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, with all the characters in their holiday finest. Plus, you will want to visit Downtown Disney for the Festival of the Seasons, where you can finish any holiday shopping, visit Santa before Dec. 24, and say hi to Santa Goofy from Dec. 25 to Jan. 4. And then there are the resorts: some of them feature decorations that are attractions in themselves. Of particular interest are the towering trees at Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Gingerbread House in the Grand Floridian, and the Carousel at the Beach Club. Tour the Disney resorts for a fascinating, and free way to spend an entire day!
The Christmas Season is a wonderful time of year. We’ll take the next several weeks to see how amazing it is at Disney World, and find ways to make that Disney magic more affordable for your family this Holiday Season.