By Zach Johnson
Everyone knows there’s snow better way to get into the holiday spirit than by visiting a Disney theme park! And at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, you can experience the most magical time of year with family and friends—and your favorite Disney characters, too! From November 8, 2019, to January 6, 2020, explore the sights, sounds, and flavors during the seasonal celebration. And as an early Christmas present, we’ve wrapped up all the ways you can maximize your visit!
There are endless places to snap an elfie around the resort! Approximately 300 trees are brought in to spruce things up, and nearly 10,000 poinsettias and 10,000 cyclamen are added. New at Disneyland Park is a wintery holiday look around the Partners statue in the Central Plaza at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. The holiday installation is made up of more than 7,500 individual plants, featuring roughly 80 pine trees decorated with more than 150 strands of warm mini lights. Impressively, the festive display also has more than 500 branches of red winterberry and more than 800 red dogwood branches!
Yule also love the Disneyland Christmas tree, which stands 60 feet tall on Main Street, U.S.A., and includes 1,500 Victorian-inspired ornaments and 100 oversize faux candles. The exterior of Main Street, U.S.A., meanwhile, features approximately 220 garlands that measure more than four miles long, adorned with nearly 80 wreaths and 120 bows.
An assortment of attractions at Disneyland Park are sporting sensational seasonal makeovers. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle, for example, illuminates nightly with more than 26,000 twinkling LED lights, glistening “icicles” and sparkling snow-capped turrets. it’s a small world Holiday and the surrounding plaza add more than 400,000 twinkling lights: 50,000 on its façade and another 350,000 mini-lights in the hedges, topiaries, and trees. Take a whiff of three new scents—cherry blossom (Asia), cinnamon (South America), and coconut (South Seas), which join the familiar smells of fresh pine and peppermint in Europe. And when guests use the Play Disney Parks mobile app and ride it’s a small world Holiday, they can earn a limited-time digital achievement for the seasonal overlay.
Since September 6, Jack Skellington has taken residency in the Haunted Mansion with frightfully festive touches inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Join him and the deer-ly departed in the Haunted Mansion Holiday ballroom, where a gingerbread house celebrating the original attraction’s 50th anniversary is on display. Baked, built, and decorated in 13 days, it stands nearly 10 feet tall and is made of approximately 30 pounds of gingerbread, three gallons of egg whites, 120 pounds of frosting and icing, 75 pounds of confection’s sugar, 140 pounds of fondant—and more!
Guests may feel Santa-mental when Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and the Disney Princesses appear in the A Christmas Fantasy parade, a daily procession with floats, music, and marching toy soldiers. Keep an eye out for Anna, Elsa, and Olaf, who appear in the film Frozen 2 (opening in U.S. theaters on November 22, 2019). Each night, the “Believe…in Holiday Magic” fireworks spectacular and its magical snowfall finale create unfir-gettable holiday memories for families and friends. The fun extends to Tomorrowland Terrace, where a DJ is spinning at the new Disney Holiday Dance Party.
Pick up some mint condition merch, like the candy cane spirit jersey! Other new items include light-up snowman ears, a holiday plaid Santa hat, a Disney Parks holiday food mini backpack, gingerbread Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ear headband, and more!
Meanwhile, at Disney California Adventure, a 50-foot Christmas tree lights up the night in Carthay Circle. Naturally, the tree and the surrounding buildings are decorated with vintage-style ornaments in observance of Buena Vista Street’s 1920s California theme.
During the all-new “Mickey’s Happy Holidays,” running twice daily, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Goofy, and Clarabelle get into the spirit by wearing new Festival of Holidays attire! Join your favorite Disney and Pixar characters as they dance along to high-energy music, led by the merry rhythms of the Holiday Toy Drummers. The Country Bears and Pixar characters also sport fun seasonal overlays for the show.
Disney Festival of Holidays features craft stations little ones will love. Everyone in your party will appreciate the delicious fare at Festival Foods Marketplace, with a variety of holiday dishes and beverages that bridge several diverse cultures and family traditions. The Holiday Sunset Concerts features new music this year from The Suffragettes on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. Phat Cat Swinger returns to play a swinging selection of holiday music with a fun twist nightly from Wednesday through Saturday.
The Three Caballeros host the popular “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party” celebration, featuring folklórico, samba dancers, and live musicians—plus Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their fiesta best! And whether you’ve been naughty or nice, Santa Claus will grace you with his presents at Santa’s Holiday Visit on Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
To ensure you have a haul-y jolly Christmas, race over to Cars Land. The whimsical “Snowcar” greets guests on the road to Radiator Springs, and each Cars character gets a holiday makeover at his or her Route 66 address. Two attractions transform for the haul-idays: Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters becomes Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree becomes Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. With a mix of classic tunes (“Jingle Bells”) and Cars Land originals (“Joy to the Whirl”), you’re in for a musical treat!
The nighttime spectacular “World of Color – Season of Light” fuses cherished holiday music with memorable moments from Disney’s animated films. Dazzling lights, brilliant lasers, and high-definition projections make this a must-see holiday show! Since 2016, “World of Color – Season of Light” has been captivating guests as Mickey Mouse and pals begin to decorate their homes for Christmas. The spectacular features a range of sing-along holiday classics, including “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley (Lilo’s favorite!).
Staying in a ho-ho-hotel? The Disneyland Hotel features beautiful pine trees and holiday florals. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is aptly ornamented with blue, green, and silver décor, like the shells and starfish garland and the underwater-themed Christmas tree. And in the lobby at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, marvel at the 7-foot-tall gingerbread house, which is a replica of the property; it took 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 250 pounds of fondant, one pound of “pixie dust,” and 25 people to construct it!
Walt Disney World Resort
You don’t need to travel to the North Pole to experience the magic of the season! The skies above Magic Kingdom will sparkle to life as visions of fireworks dance in the air during an all-new nighttime show: “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks.” Hosted by Minnie Mouse, the holiday extravaganza invites guests to come together in a celebration of heartfelt moments and the magic of Christmas. The show is presented during “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party,” starting at 7 p.m., on the following dates:
- November: 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 24
- December: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 22
Magic Kingdom transforms into an enchanting wonderland with dazzling decorations, holiday treats, a shimmering ice castle, and more. During A Frozen Holiday Wish stage show, Queen Elsa uses her magical powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom—Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf included—by transforming Cinderella Castle into a shimmering ice palace for the holidays. Additionally, each of the 23 nights of “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” will feature performances of “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas,” and “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration” stage show. It’ll be love at frost sight when guests experience select rides and attractions (including the Jingle Cruise), savor complimentary treats, discover exclusive merchandise, and see the magical “snowfall” on Main Street, U.S.A.
Celebrate the howl-idays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is hosting its biggest holiday season in its two-decade history! With festive new entertainment and holiday décor in every land, you can experience the majesty of nature and seasonal magic. A Christmas tree towers over the park’s entrance; decorated with traditional ornaments and hidden animals, the tree is a prelude to the holiday magic awaiting inside the park.
You will be immersed in a magical scene in the heart of the park on Discovery Island. By day, artisan-sculpted, life-sized animal puppets mingle with villagers who call the island home. But as day turns into night, rooftop luminaries in animal shapes give the village a warm and enchanting glow. Also, as the sun sets, the Tree of Life awakens with a series of wintry tales emerging from within, backed by a familiar and heartwarming holiday musical score—and between awakening moments, the Tree of Life will continue to shimmer and sparkle throughout the evening!
Get into the holiday spirit in DinoLand U.S.A., where Donald Duck and his friends have each added their own colorful holiday touches to their spaces.
Make sure to take in the glowing flowers, lanterns, and more in Anandapur, where residents have decorated the theater district in celebration of Diwali—the festival of lights in India. Harambe in Africa offers an exceptional holiday presentation, fusing Western traditions with the colors and texture of authentic African celebrations. The holiday fun continues at Tusker House Restaurant, where Mickey Mouse and pals spread holiday cheer. Meanwhile, find out-of-this-world fun at Pandora – The World of Avatar. Ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora roll out seasonal cheer with a holiday display at Pongu Pongu, pairing vintage pieces from Earth with handcrafted local items.
Joyous traditions from across the globe are at the heart of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. From November 29 through December 30, merry-makers will be immersed in a world of holiday décor and entertainment, themed merchandise, festive cuisine, and costumed storytellers in many of the 11 World Showcase nations.
As always, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will greet guests at The American Adventure pavilion. Epcot’s grandest holiday tradition, Candlelight Processional, will again feature a celebrity narrator retelling the Christmas story, backed by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir. Performances run three times nightly at 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. The narrators include Disney Legend Ming-Na Wen (November 29-December 1), Neil Patrick Harris (December 2-5), Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg (December 6-7), Isabella Rossellini (December 8-10), Chita Rivera (December 11-12), Gary Sinise (December 13-15), Pat Sajak (December 16-18), Warwick Davis (December 19-21), Steven Curtis Chapman (December 22-24), Edward James Olmos (December 25-26), Marlee Matlin (December 27-28), and Lisa Ling (December 29-30).
Holiday Kitchens sprinkled throughout World Showcase serve tasty treats inspired by treasured holiday recipes from across the globe. World Showcase pavilions come alive with the sights and sounds of special entertainment celebrating each country’s holiday heritage. Epcot guests also can do their holiday shopping around the World Showcase pavilions, which are stocked with fragrances, jewelry, toys, stocking stuffers, and more.
Chip ‘n’ Dale are gathering ornaments for their Christmas tree, and you’re invited to join in on the fun! To be part of Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree Scavenger Hunt, you must purchase a map and stickers from select merchandise locations, then scout World Showcase locations looking for the famous chipmunks and their ornaments. Completed maps must then be returned for a special festive surprise, courtesy of the dynamic duo!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has all the razzle and dazzle you would expect! For example, the Hollywood Tower Hotel comes to holly-jolly life with colorful projections for Sunset Seasons Greetings. Boasting laser effects and falling “snow,” the celebration includes stories, songs, and holiday cheer, brought to you by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, the Muppets, and more beloved characters. Holiday touches and festive décor throughout the park include seasonal fun inside Toy Story Land, as well as greetings from Santa or Goofy in his holiday best. As a curtain-closer, Olaf performs a special holiday finale in For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along.
The nighttime spectacular “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” invites you to experience the joy, excitement, and music of the season as it raises holiday spirit to awe-inspiring new heights! Watch in wonder as buildings and rooftops come to life showcasing scenes from Beauty and the Beast, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more. The spectacular combines music, fireworks, special effects and state-of-the-art projections to create a one-of-a-kind holiday experience at the Chinese Theatre. This spectacular evening event builds to a festive finale that must be seen—and heard—to be believed! To sweeten the experience, you can also make reservations for the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Holiday Dessert Party at Echo Lake.
The Disney Springs retail, dining, and entertainment district is the perfect place to make a holiday list and check it twice! Live entertainment includes toy soldier stilt walkers and carolers in holiday attire. Stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail and you won’t be-leaf how beautiful the custom-decorated holiday trees are, with each dedicated to a popular Disney theme featuring Disney characters. You’re also invited to join Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt to help discover where the mischievous Experiment 626 has been hiding out!
Hotels across Walt Disney World Resort will be decked out for the holidays, of course. A life-size holiday gingerbread house at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is offering an assortment of Christmas treats, including—you guessed it!—gingerbread. Disney’s Beach Club Resort boasts a life-size, edible carousel as a holiday tradition, while a holiday village with a miniature train takes center stage at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
Disney Cruise Line
Unwrap a holiday voyage for the whole family with a cruise aboard the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, or Disney Fantasy—all decked out with holiday cheer!
Starting in early November, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship during Very Merrytime Cruises, with Christmas feasts, “snow flurries,” and more. One of the special stem-to-stern holiday events is the fan-favorite “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic.” Located in the atrium lobby on the first night of the cruise, several Disney characters lead holiday carols and the lighting of the glittering, three-deck-tall Christmas tree. The atrium lobby also plays host to “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball,” where Disney cruisers welcome the guests of honor, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, with a grand celebration featuring Broadway-style entertainment, more Disney characters, and classic holiday tunes. The evening of enchantment is made complete when royal sisters Anna and Elsa join the party and cause a flurry of Frozen fun when a magical “snowfall” overtakes the atrium.
Dickens-inspired carolers carry the spirit of the holidays throughout the ship while singing holiday classics—sometimes with the help of Disney friends! At the end of the cruise, children have the opportunity to join them onstage for a special farewell show.
Additional family activities including building gingerbread houses and meeting Santa Claus. “Story Time with Mrs. Claus” is a special time for her to read famous Christmas stories from her rocking chair near the tree. Youth holiday crafts include decorating stockings, and gingerbread, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cels.
When your ship stops at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, during the holiday season, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, additional Disney character meet-and-greets, and holiday island music!
On Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree, Santa Claus and his helpers will have a surprise for all the kids, and guests will delight in a special musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas dinner will be served that night in the dining rooms. Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah services will be held for eight days, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev.
A special holiday edition of the cheerful farewell celebration on the final night of the cruise will, of course, feature beloved Disney characters and the ship’s crew in an engaging musical finale—led by Mickey Mouse!
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
As the song goes, “Mele Kalikimaka” is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day! As you might expect, special Hawaiian-inspired holiday décor adorns the entire resort. Throughout the season, snowbirds can watch Christmas carolers perform holiday songs in the Maka‘ala Lobby and Waikolohe Valley, and starting December 1, Disney characters will appear in their best holiday attire for pictures and jolly greetings.
Children will also have a fun with Santa Goofy during Keiki Holiday Cookie Decorating at Aunty’s Beach House! On select nights, gather your love ones and enjoy ‘Ohana Disney Movie Nights. Take a comfy seat on the Hālāwai Lawn and watch family-friendly holiday flicks under the stars. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa will announce dates for these activities soon!
For those lucky enough to stay at the resort on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will be greeting guests at Aunty’s Beach House—meaning this will be anything but a blue Christmas! And here’s some sweet news: Guests will also be offered complimentary hot cocoa and a selection of holiday cookies on December 24. The next day, enjoy the Christmas KA WAʻA Lūʻau. Experience an exhilarating and enchanting journey through Hawaiian history and discover its deep cultural roots in canoe exploration, which brought the first ancient explorers to the shores of Ko Olina!