Tips for a Magical Holiday Trip to Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is nothing short of magical during the Christmas holiday season. All four Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Springs, and the Walt Disney World Resorts are in their holiday best. Do you want to plan a magical holiday trip to Walt Disney World? Read on for my best tips!

We have all seen that the Magic Kingdom magically transforms, literally overnight, from Halloween decor to Christmas. As we move into the first and second week of November, the other theme parks, Disney Springs, and the resorts follow suit. Planning a holiday trip to Walt Disney World can be a super magical time for your family!

Tips for a Magical Holiday Trip to Walt Disney World #disneyatchristmas #disneytraveltips #wdw #waltdisneyworld

This is one aspect about a holiday trip to Walt Disney World that I love-every piece of Disney property is decorated for the holidays. Fall remains my favorite-but there is something about the magic of the Christmas decor and season touching ALL of Disney property that makes it magical and amazing.

And while all the holiday decor and park activities are magical and special, this time of year also draws in quite a few visitors. I am going to share my tips with you for a magical holiday trip to Walt Disney World so you don’t miss all the holiday magic!

Plan to Visit Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, if Disney is offering a hard ticketed event, I am going. This is one of those splurges at Walt Disney World that I think is worth it. These do cost extra and require a separate park ticket. However, in my experience these events are well worth it. Not only are the crowds low, but the food offerings and experiences are so much fun.

During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, guests will have access to Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Parade, exclusive holiday treats, and fun character meet and greets. Also, the snow on Main Street USA, hot chocolate and cookie stations, and the low waits for attractions rounds it out as a super fun experience.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place on select nights. Some nights are more popular than others, and will sell out. So if you plan to visit, be sure to get your tickets ASAP. Guests can enter the park as early as 4PM, and the party begins at 7PM. This makes a great way to spend a non park day-relax at your resort, then get to the park for the remainder of your day to enjoy the Magic Kingdom for a few hours and then the party.

Enjoy the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT.

The Candlelight Processional at EPCOT really puts a bow on the holiday experiences at Walt Disney World. This event IS included with your theme park ticket to EPCOT. This beautiful, choral and narrated telling of the Christmas story, takes place at the American Adventure Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase.

The Candlelight Processional often has celebrity narrators-Neil Patrick Harris being the most popular. Each year, Disney releases the list of narrators and dates, as it takes place on select nights in EPCOT. You can even book a dining package. This gives you a meal at one of the amazing EPCOT restaurants, and then reserved seating at the show.

There are typically multiple performances of this event on some evenings. They do fill up, so if you do not have reserved seating, I suggest getting in line about an hour before it starts to get a seat.

Follow the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs.

The Christmas Tree Trail is another complimentary-and VERY fun-holiday activity at Walt Disney World. When planning a resort day, and you are done with the pool and want a change of scenery, this would be perfect!

All around Disney Springs, guests will find themed Christmas trees. They are themed after princesses, classic characters, movies, and all sorts of Disney fun! You can pick up a map at participating stores, and start your Christmas tree trail. When you visit each tree, you look for a specific item or theme, and then place a sticker on your map. When you have finished, you return to the store where you picked up your map to get a prize.

The trees on the Christmas Tree Trail are fascinating! This also makes a great photo opportunity, and a fun way to wander around Disney Springs to keep the kids entertained. If ever you wanted to see perfectly decorated trees, this is the place!

Make Time for World Showcase.

World Showcase offers guests a holiday experience from around the world. During the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays, each pavilion serves unique and festive holiday dishes and drinks. The countries are entirely decked out for Christmas, as well.

World Showcase is not only picture perfect with the Christmas decor and Candlelight Processional, but also the Santas from around the world. During the month of December, guests can interact with a holiday storyteller from each country. The learning and interaction opportunities are amazing during this time! Some of the pavilions even house the “santa” from their culture! You can even find Santa himself for a photo opportunity at EPCOT during this time.

The International Festival of the Holidays typically begins in late November. But, visiting the shops and the pavilions as soon as the holiday decor is up and ready is so magical. Germany even looks like an actual German Christmas market. It’s just stunning!

Visit the Walt Disney World Resorts.

Each of the Walt Disney World Resorts has its own unique Christmas tree and decorations. Many even offer select holiday treats and drinks!

Disney’s Grand Floridian is the most popular resort to visit-and stay at-during this time. The life size gingerbread house, Victorian decor, and GIANT Christmas tree in the lobby makes it a popular stop for guests. Even if you are not staying there, you’ll want to visit! Just taking in the scent of fresh gingerbread-because they are literally making and selling treats in the lobby-is amazing!

While the Grand Floridian is the most popular and simply amazing, don’t miss out on the others! Disney’s Pop Century Resort offers holiday vintage vibes from various decades. Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter has Mardi Gras themed trees, and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn houses a gingerbread carousel. These are not the only ones to visit-be sure to check which resorts are nearby, or take a break from a nearby theme park to check out the holiday decor at a Walt Disney World Resort.

Visit All Four Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

If ever there was a time to have a 6-7 night stay with a minimum of a 4-day ticket, the holidays at Disney is the time. You just need the time to take it all in and experience it!!

Each of the four theme parks has an iconic Christmas tree. Having seen all of them first hand, I really think the Christmas tree at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is my favorite, followed by EPCOT’s. The beautiful, carved animal and natural ornaments on the Animal Kingdom tree really make it gorgeous.

EPCOT’s tree features ornaments inspired by various cultures and the countries represented in EPCOT’s World Showcase. Obviously, this tree is globally themed-which is what makes it so amazing!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has my favorite overall decor. The vintage, kitschy vibe of the decorations takes me back to my childhood. I remember so many of these giant size decorations being a smaller version at my grandma’s house. The decor here is very vintage, glam. I just love it!

And if you are at Magic Kingdom, don’t miss the “Jingle” Cruise. Everyone’s favorite attraction, the Jungle Cruise, is decked out in its holiday theming. The skippers have a special holiday script, and it’s super fun to ride after dark! This really gives you the opportunity to take in the lights and exclusive overlays.

How to Have a Magical Time at Walt Disney World During the Holidays

Be prepared for cooler weather. It’s Florida, and while it may be warmer than a Midwest Christmas, it’s still cool. In our experience, we didn’t have a lot of warm weather for the pools-plus it was dark earlier. So any time swimming at night was pretty limited. Plan to wear a sweatshirt in the morning and evening, and enjoy shorts and t shirts during the day. This is one time of year when you definitely want to check the weather before you go, and not assume it’ll be Florida hot.

Plan around the crowds. It gets more crowded as we inch toward Thanksgiving, seeing park capacity crowds between Christmas and New Year’s. To avoid this, and get ahead, plan to get to the theme parks at least 45-minutes before they open. And, take advantage of that Early Park Entry as an onsite Walt Disney World guest.

Plan one of your Magic Kingdom days for the day OF Mickey’s Very Merry. I know this can seem counterintuitive-because if you do not have a party ticket, you need to leave by 6PM. That means you are not getting a full park day and not able to see Happily Ever After. With Magic Kingdom being a 2-day park, if you plan one of your days on a party day, you’ll see lower crowds in general. Then, plan another day when there is not a party, so you can enjoy the park again and see Happily Ever After. The day AFTER a party can be more crowded, since party goers were just there the night before. And those without a party ticket, want a full park day at Magic Kingdom.

Book your trip well in advance. As always, booking far in advance is to your benefit. This is especially important when you want to visit over the holidays. Some resorts are more popular than others during this time frame, so booking early is really important. Also, price can increase overall. When you book well in advance, you are booking under current pricing before it increases.

Visiting Walt Disney World over the holidays can be a magical, truly unique experience! Will you be visiting Walt Disney World over the holiday season?

Carrie Hurst

Not only do I love sharing all my vacation tips and ideas here on A Princess and Her Pirates, but I also work alongside families to create magical vacation memories year after year! Email me at carrie@destinationsinflorida.com to begin the planning process, and join hundreds of families on my current guest list.

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