When choosing a time of year to visit Walt Disney World, Christmas is without a doubt one of the most magical times to visit the resort. If you are planning a trip for the holiday season this year, there’s plenty you’ll want to think about, as the parks are quite different during December. Let’s take a look at some of the unique entertainment offerings and things you should consider before your upcoming Christmas trip to Walt Disney World.
When to Visit During the Holiday Season
While you may be restricted by your vacation time, it’s important to consider the crowds during a holiday visit to the parks. The first two weeks of December can be a great time to visit Walt Disney World, and you’ll still enjoy all of the fantastic holiday entertainment. However, the closer you get to Christmas, the more the crowds grow each day. Between Christmas and New Year, the parks experience some of the highest crowds of the whole year. If you are visiting during this time, ensure you book your resort, dining reservations, and park passes well in advance. Expect the parks to reach capacity on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, particularly in the Magic Kingdom.
Visiting the Parks in December
The start of the month offers guests regular opening hours, which as usual, will vary from park to park. As you get closer to Christmas, the park hours get longer and longer, usually closing as late as midnight during the final weeks of the month. All of the parks will stay open late for New Year’s Eve and have incredible celebrations throughout the night. It’s one of the most fun days of the whole year to be in the parks, but you’ll want to pack your patience as the crowds can be quite a challenge on this day.
Weather and Packing for a December Trip
The weather in Orlando during December can be quite mixed. Depending on where you are visiting from, you may find it to be quite warm during this time, as the average high is 75 degrees, and the average low is 55 degrees. There are often a few days throughout the month where the weather is good enough for swimming, but this will likely depend on your personal preference. The great thing about a December trip is that there’s very little rain, so you won’t have to worry too much about getting drenched in the parks.
Pack for all weather conditions this month, and you’ll want to have a light jacket to wear at night. If you are used to higher temperatures, you may even want to add some winter accessories for night time in the parks. Especially for nights such as New Year’s Eve, where you’ll be waiting for the fireworks late at night, ensure you have enough layers to keep you warm.
Christmas Events and Entertainment
One of the main reasons that anyone would choose to visit the parks during December is for the special events, decorations, and entertainment that’s offered during this time. Even if you’ve visited the parks hundreds of times before, you’ll find there’s something new to do during this month.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
It’s yet to be announced whether this party will return in 2021, but with the recent Boo Bash announcement, we can expect a similar after-hours event in the Magic Kingdom. This is a great way to experience the park at a lower crowd level. You’ll enjoy sweet treats that are included with your ticket, Christmas entertainment, and lower wait times at the most popular attractions. The party usually offers special fireworks and the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which are also shown in the week leading up to Christmas during regular park hours.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
One of our favorite additions to the parks during this time of year is Epcot’s celebrations around World Showcase. In each country, you’ll learn more about the celebrations that take place there and enjoy sampling food and drinks around the world. Similar to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, you’ll find that there are various additional food booths scattered around World Showcase with delicious treats to sample. The biggest event that takes place in the park is the Candlelight Processional, which welcomes celebrity narrators each night throughout December. The show is supported by a live orchestra and cast member choir, and you’ll want to try and book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package to guarantee your place in the theater. Some of the celebrities attract a huge crowd, so plan ahead if you intend to visit during this time.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
While there isn’t a huge event taking place in this park, we love the fun additions to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the holiday season. Make sure you take the time to see the Sunset Seasons Greetings projection show on the Tower of Terror each night, and then after, head over to Hollywood Boulevard to watch the Jingle Belle, Jingle BAM fireworks. You’ll find some delicious treats in the various restaurants throughout the park and, of course, an incredible Christmas tree at the entrance to the park.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
While holiday offerings vary from year to year, in the past years, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has seen some great holiday entertainment. We are hoping that the Tree of Life holiday projection show and the Merry Menagerie puppets might return this year. At the entrance to the park, you’ll see a huge Christmas tree, which is one of our favorites on the property.
Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs
If you don’t have park tickets for one day of your visit, take the time to head over to Disney Springs and see their holiday offering. The Christmas Tree Trail is a free entertainment offering where you’ll walk through a trail of Christmas trees that are themed after your favorite Disney characters. It’s the perfect place for some fun photo opportunities as a family, and you can also meet Santa Claus here throughout the day. Check out the various treats on offer here and throughout Disney Springs in the stores and restaurants.
Walt Disney World Resorts
When you need to take a break from the theme park crowds, take your family on a tour of the Walt Disney World resorts during the holiday season. Each one is decorated to match the resort’s theme, and you’ll love seeing the various Christmas trees on offer. The highlight of the resorts is the Grand Floridian’s gingerbread house, which is big enough for cast members to work inside of. You can purchase delicious gingerbread here, which would be a lovely gift to take home to your family.
Our favorite resorts to visit at this time of year include Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, which have massive Christmas trees that are perfect for your family photo. You’ll enjoy seeing the decorations in each resort and tasting some of the special treats on offer at the quick-service dining locations. Also, check out Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort, where they also have incredible gingerbread displays.
As you can see, there’s so much to consider when planning a trip to Walt Disney World for Christmas. We encourage you to book your trip as early as possible to avoid missing out on any of the fun and book your dining reservations as soon as you can to guarantee some delicious meals on your upcoming holiday trip. If you are planning to visit during Christmas and New Year’s week, make sure you plan to avoid the crowds and factor in some rest time during one of the busiest weeks of the year in the parks.