By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Christmas 2017 at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute


The 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 12/22, and by 12/24 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 2, 2018. Crowds will still be high–though not at the holiday levels–through January 7.

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.

Prices increase 12/10, again 12/15, and again 12/22, ending at the highest levels of the year.

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


Christmas 2014 at Walt Disney World form
Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (and likely Hollywood Studios) have special Christmas events, which will begin in early November at Magic Kingdom, mid-November at the Studios, and right after Thanksgiving at Epcot.

  • At the Magic KingdomMickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party—a special event that requires its own ticket—runs on many nights from November 8 through December 22nd. Later in December, 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 2017, November 8.
  • At the Studios, in 2017 the Christmas projection show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! returns on November 9, and a new show, Sunset Seasons Greetings, beings that same day
  • 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 re-named Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Epcot’s special events are fully in place the Friday after Thanksgiving–November 24 in 2017.


New Year’s Eve festivities have not yet been announced, but based on past practices will occur December 31, 2017 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, but may well in 2017.

Based on the past, the schedule will look like this:

  • Epcot will be open until 1a on New Year’s Eve; Disney’s Hollywood Studios until at least midnight, and the Magic Kingdom until 1a or later
  • The Magic Kingdom likely will have Happily Ever After at 7.30p and special New Year’s Eve fireworks at 11.48p
  • 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 midnight
  • There may be a New Years Eve show at the Animal Kingdom–the first ever
  • Note that alcohol is not available at the Magic Kingdom (other than at a few restaurants), but is available at the other three parks

The Magic Kingdom likely will have the same fireworks at the same times on 12/30/17. This date will likely be a little less crowded than 12/31.
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1 Florence Reali { 08.01.17 at 10:40 am }

Can you tell me when the hotels/resorts start decorating for Christmas? Also, I know the Magic Kingdom decorates at the beginning of November. When does Epcot decorate? Thank you!

2 Dave { 08.02.17 at 7:35 am }

Florence, Epcot will be done by the Friday after Thanksgiving. The hotels start around the middle of the month and are full decorated by that same date.

3 BA { 08.29.17 at 5:41 pm }

Do you happened to know when do the Xmas holiday decorations come down… If we go the first weekend in Jan are they still up??? Thank You

4 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 08.30.17 at 9:31 am }

Disney has traditionally left Christmas decorations up until Marathon weekend (the first weekend in January). You’ll see them gradually coming down throughout the week. But you’ll be able to view at least some of them.

5 Charles { 09.06.17 at 4:07 pm }

Do you have any clues to what additions they are adding to hs this year I’ve heard rumors and can’t wait to find out

6 Dave { 09.08.17 at 9:26 am }

Charles, not sure what you mean…

7 Carli { 10.01.17 at 12:09 pm }

We had our original trip planned for September…then Irma came along the weekend we were due to arrive. In a haste to rebook, we settled on December 9th-16th without giving it much thought. After putting so much time into planning our original trip, I feel like I am totally winging it concerning our touring plans this time around. With the late rebooking, I’ve already long missed the 180 reservation window and Disney has helped us out with the Multiple Experiences Fast Passes based off of our original trip, so we essentially have no legitimate time commitments at this point. We have 6 day tickets with the park hopping option selected for this trip and typically spend all day in the parks from rope drop (or close to it) until close. I would love a second opinion if our touring plans are sound. Ideally, I was hoping for two morning starts at MK, but couldn’t seem to work that out. Afternoons once we “hop” midday are usually less planned. And thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Our current touring plans go a little something like this…

Sat Dec 9th – Arrive by 12pm via Magical Express. Disney Springs and exploring.
Sun Dec 10th – MK (trying for an ADR for BOG between 8-8:30)
Mon Dec 11th – Epcot (or AK)
Tues Dec 12th – HS
Wed Dec 13th – AK
Thurs Dec 14th – AK
Fri Dec 15th – Epcot
Sat Dec 16th – Minigolf at Fanastia Gardens, final shopping/exploring, 6:30 Magical Express to airport

8 Dave { 10.02.17 at 8:39 am }

Carli, this looks great to me!

9 Priscila { 10.03.17 at 4:35 pm }

Is Disney World open on December 25th?

10 Dave { 10.04.17 at 7:13 am }

Priscilla, yes it is–Disney World is open every day. Christmas day is one of the busiest days of the year.

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