Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom. You will find Cinderella’s Castle decked out in breathtaking “icicle” lights each night. Be sure to get pictures: if you are like me and not great with taking night-time pictures, then be sure to get a few PhotoPass shots in front of the castle. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did! 🙂
Magic Kingdom also hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on a number of nights in December, prior to Christmas. This is a separate ticket, so if you want to attend (and it is VERY fun), you will need to purchase tickets separately from your park pass. One of the highlights is the Christmas parade, featuring those famous Wooden Soldiers. If you want to see the parade, but don’t plan on going to the Party before Christmas, you will be able to see it daily, every afternoon, typically starting Christmas Day…no separate ticket needed! (Please note: The Walt Disney World Christmas Parade that you see on TV every year on Christmas morning is NOT a live event and is, in fact, taped weeks before. So PLEASE do not go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas morning expecting to see/be in the parade!)
And of course, the nightly Wishes fireworks display is held every night, but with a “Holiday Wishes” theme that is truly delightful.
What about Epcot? I have to say that Epcot is my personal favorite. While the decorations are beautiful, World Showcase offers a number of wonderful programs related to the “Holidays Around the World” theme, and if you have ever wondered what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in another country, here is your chance. Each country presents their favorite holiday traditions, and many have Holiday Storytellers that highlight some very interesting and fun customs: don’t be surprised to see 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 Wald 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. Do NOT miss this! Although there are 3 showings each night, the line for seats starts well in advance of each show. You can reserve a seat by purchasing a Candlelight Processional dinner package, and I highly recommend this. If you don’t want to do the dinner package, then assign someone in your group to wait in the stand-by line. It is dramatic, and powerful, and very moving.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has their fair share of holiday entertainment with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, held nightly on the Streets of America. There are literally millions of lights and I promise, you will be amazed! The streets can get very crowded however, during this busy season, so my advice, to get the most of your visit here, would be to go 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!
If you still want more parades, then Animal Kingdom has Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, with all the characters in their holiday finest. And be sure 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 through just after New Years.
The Walt Disney World holiday season is truly spectacular and if you are visiting this year, you are sure to create some wonderful memories.