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Tips and Guide to The Holidays at Disney: Blogmas Day 22


If you did not know, last fall I worked on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. I sold balloons and worked the artist cart and had a great time with some amazing people. Being in Walt Disney World for the fall holidays allowed me to experience the vast amount of offerings that the resort--parks and hotels--has to offer... especially for Christmas.
Magic Kingdom 


Another fact you may not know, Christmas and the holidays at Disney starts right after Halloween. After the last Halloween party, an add-on price that includes special fireworks, parades, candy trails, and more, the park starts to transform overnight. Within one night, the jack o'lanterns come down and the holiday music begins to play. There are videos on YouTube of the transportation and it is, fittingly, magical. Wreaths hang over Main Street and the Dapper Dans, pictured with me to the left, adorne their holiday wear. The Jungle Cruise becomes the Jingle Cruise during the holiday season and the holiday jokes are hilarious.

Some years, the grand Christmas tree in Town Square takes a few weeks to go up due to the filming of the annual Christmas Day Parade at Disney (in which the filming takes place in early November). However, last year it went up right away and it is gorgeous! There are also toy soldiers and some of the shop windows transform. If the decor only does not get you into the Christmas spirit, nothing will!

Within a week, the first Magic Kingdom Christmas parties begin. Much like the Halloween party, the Christmas one is an additional cost. The party starts at seven but you can enter with your event ticket starting at four. The party offers special meet-and-greets, snow falling on Main Street, exclusive merchandise, hot cocoa, special fireworks, and the Christmas parade that runs twice. It is a truly wonderful event. Although the price can steer some away, I highly recommend doing it once in your life.

Here are some photos from the event: 






Pretty, right? (They were shot on an iPhone as my camera died so I hope you can actually enjoy them.)

My tips for Magic Kingdom:
  • Use your ticket to get in at four and get the most of your money.
  • Ride Jingle Cruise as soon as you enter the park as it is better when it is still light out.
  • Visit attractions or characters during the first parade (as long as the weather says you are clear for the night) and see the second parade. 
  • I recommend saving characters that normally visit for another night.
  • Watch the fireworks on Main Street and, while yes it will be packed, you can sit down on the curb right after to reserve a spot under the snow during the parade.
Here's my YouTube video of the Very Merry Christmas Party:


Magic Kingdom also has an amazing New Year's. On the 30th and 31st of December, the park offers the same experience of dance parties around the park, special merchandise, and a countdown to the New Year featuring the voices of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald leading up to a 360-degree firework display that leaves you in complete awe. 

I recommend spending the 30th at Magic Kingdom and the 31st at EPCOT as Magic Kingdom can hit capacity on New Year's Eve and can make it difficult to enjoy while extra packed.

Here is my video of Magic Kingdom during New Year's Eve, Eve:


Hollywood Studios

Now for this park, things are very different per the holidays than last year. 2015 was the final year that The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was presented. Why? Well the lights to music took place on the Streets of America, which has since been cleared to make way for the new Star Wars and Toy Story lands.

Honestly, this was one of my favorite things to see and I am very saddened that I won't again. Much like Main Street, there was snow in addition to the already amazing light show.

Hollywood Studios has a new projection, laser, and firework show called Jingle Ball, Jingle BAM! From what I've seen online, it is nowhere near the amazing spectacular that was the Osborne lights. However, it is still something to see if you are in Hollywood Studios for a night near the holidays. The park also has a tree prior to the entrance that is themed in film strips and more Hollywood style.

Maybe once the new lands open there will be more for Hollywood Studios to offer. And since I cannot help you much with the new offering, I have no tips for this park. However, for New Year's, Hollywood Studios does have some pretty good fireworks.


Animal Kingdom

Much like Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom does not offer much to the level of Epcot or Magic Kingdom during the holidays. This might now begin to change as Animal Kingdom is working on after-dark spectaculars for guests. The new Tree of Life lighting could eventually be used for the holidays.


However, there is a really pretty Christmas animal-themed tree before you enter the park. It features some of the favorite Disney animated animals around the skirt. As of 2015, there was no huge celebration for New Years.


EPCOT

Second to Magic Kingdom's offerings, EPCOT features the holidays around the world. As you enter World Showcase, the tree is front and center.

The Candlelight Processional at the America pavilion features a famous guest telling the story of Christmas along with a choir of Disney Cast Members moving the story along with classic songs. When I went, I got to see Neil Patrick Harris and it was wonderful.
Each pavilion you visit has the tale of what that country envisions for Santa Claus. As well, that version of Santa usually puts on a show or tale within the pavilion.

There is also special food and drinks for the holiday season.

In the American pavilion, you can see the Voices of Liberty perform holiday classics during the day. In the room adjacent to the performance, there is usually a gingerbread display. 2015 had the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.










In addition, you can also visit Santa and Mrs. Claus as I did.


My tips for Epcot:
  • Research what celebrity is narrating the Candlelight Processional prior to your trip and attend the one you would like to see the most.
  • Arrive early to wait in line or you might not get a seat as the Candlelight Processional seating is limited.
  • Pick up a Holidays Around the World passport for free at most merchandise locations in the park. You can get the book stamped at each location and also make sure you visit and see what Epcot has to offer.
Here is my video of the Candlelight Processional:


Epcot also has an amazing New Year's Eve. One the sun sets, there are DJs and dance parties in a few countries around the world. The park also handed out hats and horns for free. Spaceship Earth had a countdown clock on it, as did the globe from Illuminations in the middle of World Showcase Lagoon. Make sure you find a seat before the final hour of the year to ensure a better seat. The countdown begins with a showing of Illuminations: Reflection of Earth. Then, each country has it's own firework show and music as they celebrate the new year for that country and state the time that the country welcomed the new year. Then there is a huge countdown and at midnight the fireworks go nuts! The ground was shaking last year!

Here is my video of Epcot during New Year's Eve:


Resorts 

While every resort usually has a tree, these resorts I am mentioning are amazing to stop by and see. Even if you aren't staying at these resorts, you can use the monorail from Magic Kingdom to visit them or just tell the security guard that you want to see the decorations.

The Contemporary Resort has a beautiful tree out front but it is the inside that is even more magical.

Every year, the resort has a gingerbread display. 2015's was Frozen-themed and was very cute. I enjoyed finding the hidden Mickey's and reading about the design.





At the Grand Floridian, there is a tree in the grand hotel along with another gingerbread display. This one is also a store but I went at night and avoided the crowds.




I recommend going very early or in the evening to see these. You can avoid the crowds this way and also get some clear pictures.

Here is my video of Epcot offerings in addition to resort decorations:



I hope this helped you with an overall look at Walt Disney World for the holidays. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will try to answer them!

Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

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