By the co-author of the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook ever -- The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit.

Now available in PDF format!—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Christmas 2015 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


Christmas 2014 at Walt Disney World form yourfirstvisit.netThe Christmas season at Walt Disney World includes both the best and the worst times to visit, with both prices and crowds at both lower and very high levels over the period.

Decorations, special Christmas shows, programs, and events, and Christmas trees are everywhere, making Disney World as special a place to celebrate the holidays as you can find.


December crowds at Walt Disney World begin at lower levels. They will begin to build on 12/19, and by 12/23 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 2, 2016

AK-Christmas Mickey and Minnie at Disney's Animal Kingdom from

Walt Disney World resort hotel December prices at the beginning of the month are at one of the lower levels of the year.

On 12/11 they go up a lot at the moderates and values, to 33-45% higher than the lowest of the year, and on December 18, 2015, they increase to 55-85% higher than the lowest levels of the year.

Deluxe prices go up some the 11th, more the 18th, and even more the 25th.

December weather is cooler and variable. While the average daily high is 73, this masks tremendous variability.


The Christmas Osborne Lights from

Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and most have special Christmas events, which begin in early November or right around Thanksgiving.

  • At the Magic KingdomMickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights through the first two-thirds of the month. Later in the month, its signature events—a special Christmas parade, and special Christmas fireworks—are available to all guests. Christmas decor is in place by the night of the first party–in 2015, November 8
  • At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Illuminations has special Christmas additions. In addition, most nights Christmas carols are sung by massed choirs in the Candlelight Processional. Many of the countries in Epcot’s World Showcase have special Christmas events as part of Epcot’s Holidays Around the World program. Epcot’s special events usually begin the Friday after Thanksgiving–November 27 in 2015
  • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Christmas celebration is the Osborne holiday lights in the Streets of America area. The evening opening ceremony is 6p. These typically begin in early November. 2015 will be the last year for the Osborne lights…


New Year’s Eve festivities will occur December 31, 2015 at Disney World’s Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks, and also at the Magic Kingdom on December 30. The Animal Kingdom in the past has had no special New Years events.

Nothing is official yet, but based on the past, the schedule will look like this:

  • Epcot likely will be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until midnight for the general public, and 2a for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests; and the Magic Kingdom until 1a or later
  • The Magic Kingdom likely will have Wishes at 7.30p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.50p
  • Epcot likely will have its Illuminations fireworks show at 6p and 11.40p, plus DJs in various pavilions.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios likely will have fireworks at midnightand several sets over the evening from “Mulch, Sweat and Shears,” a live band
  • Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom, but is available at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Magic Kingdom likely will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.

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1 Tina { 04.09.15 at 6:54 am }

We are planning on going Nov. 8th thru Nov. 15th. That usally in the past that most of the lights and decorations are up . If they do have construction at HS wonder if it will be every night it will be closed. Sure hope not. We all are in wonder over the Osburne LIghts. Young and older alike. Thanks for all your info I always come to your page before planning our next Magical vacation.

2 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 04.09.15 at 9:30 am }

Disney is always magical, but Christmas time at Disney is an extra dose of Pixie Dust!!!

3 Scott { 04.09.15 at 5:55 pm }

Cancelled Osborne lights would not be good. Lets hope it is only a rumor. Well perhaps if they do not have them this year they will need to have some good offers to entice people to come.

4 Dave { 04.10.15 at 8:35 am }

Tina, fingers crossed that this is just a rumor!!

5 kelly { 04.13.15 at 7:56 pm }

does disney usally run any promotions during the fall or early winter

thank you

6 Dave { 04.14.15 at 7:47 am }

Kelly, there’s commonly a room rate deal, and recently for some weeks free dining as well.

7 Tina { 05.04.15 at 10:32 am }

Dave, have you heard anything else about the construction at HS for the Osburne lights? We are coming Nov. 8th for a week and sure hoping that this is rumor!

8 Dave { 05.06.15 at 7:48 am }

Tina, as time passes, it feel more like a rumor. My guess is that we’ll get a big HS announcement (e.g. about Pixar, Star Wars, etc, and implications for the rest of the park including the Lights) one of these days–perhaps at the August D23 thingy–which will provide more clarity…

9 Patricia { 06.01.15 at 1:14 pm }

Hey Dave! Awesome (and extremely useful) site you’ve got here. I was wondering if you know if Disney usually runs any promotions from mid to late January (I’m not sure how they apply discount percentages, as I’ve seen they go from 15 to 30%). Actually, I have almost everything planned out for a December visit this year (12/15~12/23), but the more I read about the crowds and the waiting times, the more stressed that I get. I already have the free dining plan, but the crowds are making me give that up (especially at Universal and IOA for WWoHP). I’ll be travelling with a 12 yo child. Any advice? Thanks!

10 Dave { 06.01.15 at 5:44 pm }

Patricia, room rate deals are common then–figure 15% off the values, 20% off the moderates, and 25% off the deluxes. Your December dates will be fine through the 18th but pretty nasty after. In your shoes, I’d do January.

11 Kori { 06.04.15 at 10:03 pm }

When can we start booking processional dinner package? Or where can I check to find out?

12 Dave { 06.05.15 at 8:27 am }

Kori, last year it was early July.

13 Patricia { 06.05.15 at 11:02 pm }

Hey Dave,

Thanks for your advice. I think in the end I’ll do January and I’ll definitely keep checking your site for tips and info!

14 Jeannine { 06.14.15 at 11:54 am }

We will be traveling to Disney the week between Xmas and New Years. We know to arrive at rope drop but what time is the best to leave the park to avoid the massive crowd increase?

15 Dave { 06.15.15 at 7:48 am }

Jeannine, first you want to arrive well before rope drop, not “at rope drop”–you likely already knew that but just to be sure!

Second keep your eye out for 8a opens, morning extra magic hours and such, some of which might even be added the day before.

Long waits start building at 11 and peak mid-afternoon. Target your FastPass+ for 11a-2p.

16 Grace { 09.01.15 at 8:54 pm }

Thanks for such an amazing site! We are planning a 2016 trip and are thinking about arriving November 13th. We are hoping to get free dining that week also. I have been to WDW many times but I have NEVER seen it decorated for Christmas!. We are all adults so is there any merit in springing for the Christmas Party? Thanks again for all the info!

17 Dave { 09.02.15 at 8:51 am }

Hiya Grace and thanks!! I wouldn’t bet on free dining being offered–or its being able to easily book if it is offered–see this.

What you get out of the Xmas party is short waits at the rides and very cool fireworks. It’s absolutely worth it for adults, if you can afford it.

18 Lauren { 09.09.15 at 9:44 pm }

We will be in Orlando 11/1-11/8. If we go to magic Kingdom on 11/6 or 11/7 do you think the Christmas decorations will be up yet?

19 Dave { 09.10.15 at 7:54 am }

Lauren, with the first Christmas party the 8th, for sure they will be mostly, if not entirely, up on the 7th.

20 Jane { 09.15.15 at 4:56 pm }

Hi Dave, I just saw the sad news that the Osborne Lights will end after this Christmas season. Do you think there is any chance they might bring it back after they are done with HS construction? We are really upset about this b/c it is such a wonderful display, and we don’t see how they didn’t find some other place in WDW to host it.

21 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 09.15.15 at 7:04 pm }

Hi Jane, it’s Kelly from Destinations in Florida. There are rumors about moving the lights. But the area where the lights are currently located will be part of the two new areas (Star Wars and Toy Story). So it’s going to be a wait and see. (Maybe Dave will have some inside info).

22 Dave { 09.16.15 at 11:33 am }

Jane, like Kelly I’ve heard rumors about them moving to Epcot. Me, I’d put them in the Chester and Hester area of AK, which will be a much more evening-focused park after Rivers of Light opens in 2106.

But if I had to bet, it would be that they are gone after this year…because so much labor is involved in putting them up and taking them down…

23 Tamara { 12.17.15 at 1:29 pm }

We are hoping to travel to Disney December 26th-January 2 2016 as I am a teacher and that is a good time for me. However we have a four year old and an eight year old are they crowds going to be way to overwhelming? Is spring break a better time? or Summer? Our hearts were really sold on Christmas as my family loves the magic of christmas :)

24 Dave { 12.19.15 at 7:16 am }

Tamara, that’s the most crowded and most expensive time of the year, so I can’t positively recommend it. For teachers, the best time is either early June or late August, if one of those fits your summer calendar.

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