By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Category — 6. The Christmas Season at Walt Disney World

The Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park has added new and enhanced holiday decorations and shows.

Some have called the additions unprecedented, but I have been doing this long enough to have written in the past about the long-gone Mickey’s Jingle Jungle parade at this park, so have a more judicious view.

Highlights of what’s new include

  • Winter puppets near the Tree of Life—this is a daylight event, and my visit was after dark. Disney describes these as “life-size, artisan-sculpted animal puppets—including a Merry Menagerie of reindeer, foxes and polar bears,” and them seem to be quite the hit.
  • A winter-themed set of shows in Tree of Life Awakenings
  • Added decorations in all the parks other lands, including some minor adds to Pandora—my photos of this did not turn out even by my usual lower standards.

Let’s take a tour!

The entry to Disney’s Animal Kingdom features the usual Christmas tree…

…and some holiday lights on the structures here.

Discovery Island has as noted the puppets, and also holiday decorations.

Tree of Life Awakenings can be seen from either in front of it on Discovery Island or from the back along the pathway from Africa to Asia.

The brief shows are more winter-themed than holiday-themed, and have the usual subtlety and charm we’ve come to expect from these shows.

More from the Tree of Life Awakenings.

Africa includes celebratory colors and textiles….

…and among other decorations this tree near the Wildlife Express.

Pandora has a bit of decoration from its Earth-native expats. Some have complained that these additions—all my photos are terrible, so I have nothing to show you—are off-theme, but Disney has learned the hard way in Galaxy’s Edge to not take 100% immersion too seriously. Folks don’t come to Disney World for 100% immersion; they come for fun.

Asia has added lights to celebrate Diwali––the festival of lights in India.

These fit so nicely with the already-existing evening lighting that I’d like to see them stay all year.

Dinoland has recently had strong Donald Duck (and associates) Christmas-themed meet and greets.

You’ll see this again this year, plus more decorations…

… including in the boneyard.

All in, a pleasant set of additions to a great theme park.



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November 25, 2019   No Comments

Christmas 2019 at Walt Disney World


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. In 2019, they will begin to build the week of 12/14 and by 12/23 will hit their highest levels of the year, where they will stay until about January 1, 2020. Crowds will still be high–though not at the holiday levels–through January 4, 2020.

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 12/8, again 12/13, and again 12/20, reaching then the highest levels of the year.

Walt Disney World ticket prices begin the month at average levels. By 12/13 all but the shortest are high, and ticket prices hit their peak levels of the year shortly after.

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


Each of the parks has wonderful Christmas decorations, and each has special Christmas events, which will begin in early November at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and the Studios, and the Friday 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 2019, November 8.
  • At the Studios, in 2019 the Christmas projection and fireworks show Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! returns on November 8 and a projection show on Tower of Terror, Sunset Seasons Greetings, begins that same day.  These two shows, other business, and the Christmas Tree at Echo Lake make Hollywood Studios the second best Christmas park at Disney World, after Magic Kingdom.
  • At Epcot, the evening fireworks show Epcot Forever has special Christmas additions. In addition, beginning November 29 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 Epcot International Festival of the Holidays which begins in 2019 on November 29
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a broader set of Christmas activities and events in 2019 than it has for a while.  See this for more.

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October 29, 2019   2 Comments

December 2019 at Walt Disney World

 December    January   February   March   April   May   June   July


Early December, with lower crowds, lower prices, and wonderful Christmas decorations and events, has the best weeks of the year to visit. The December 5, 2019 opening of the second ride at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios may bump crowds up a bit more than I’ve forecast–especially from locals.

Later December has the highest crowds and prices of the year.

Park closings to additional guests are possible in this later December period, as are 8a openings and more morning Extra Magic Hours than other weeks.

December also has a special party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a special evening event–with its own ticket–that has become a family tradition for many, and major New Years Eve celebrations.

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June 10, 2019   No Comments

Basic 2019 December Disney World Itinerary

This Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving 2019.

If you aren’t going one of those weeks, see Other Itineraries for alternatives the rest of the year, which are published about six months ahead.

A detailed  To-Do List covers all the planning steps you need to undertake now. And you can find links to daily touring plans next.



The basic December itinerary was designed to meet several goals: to ensure that you

  1. See the best that Walt Disney World has to offer, including all of its special Christmas season offerings
  2. See the parks in the order that works best for kids (essentially Epcot first, as it is potentially the most disappointing, and the Magic Kingdom last, as it is likely to be the best loved)
  3. Avoid unnecessary waiting, by using FastPass+ and other tactics…
  4. Given all the evening shows and late nights, have as few early mornings as practical

The 2019 version differs from previous ones in a couple of ways:

  • It shifts the Christmas Party night from Tuesday to Thursday, to create an earlier bedtime on Tuesday
  • The two Hollywood Studios days are re-shaped to account for Galaxy’s Edge, with an early morning plugged in both days–one optional
  • It adds some time to Magic Kingdom, as I suspect that the projection-based new fireworks at the party will trap people in the hub for more of the early evening than past iterations–meaning folks will miss a ride or two that they could have seen during the Christmas Party in past years.

If you can’t do the dates required for the Basic Itinerary, see Other Itineraries for alternatives for both the December week and the rest of the year.


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June 9, 2019   10 Comments

November 2019 at Walt Disney World

 November   December    January   February   March   April   May   June


Mid-November has some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with cooler weather, low crowds, low prices, and fun special events.

Other parts of the month are not so good. Jersey Week, beginning 11/2 in 2019, sees moderate crowds and higher prices at the deluxes. Thanksgiving week, beginning 11/23 in 2019, with high crowds and higher prices than the rest of the month, should be avoided.

Note also that picking the right park to visit each day is critical at this time of the year. See this, and use the comment form below to ask me about your specific dates!

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May 1, 2019   40 Comments

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP”) in 2019


While Christmas itself is December 25 of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Christmas celebration at the Magic Kingdom many nights in November and December.

This celebration is called Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or MVMCP for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open with low waits, and cookies and hot chocolate, special events, a Christmas parade, special fireworks, and even snow (!) are offered.

The official Disney World page for this event (where you can also buy tickets) can be found here. For a review of the 2018 version of MVMCP, see this.


This party occurs from 7p-12MN on certain evenings at the Magic Kingdom in November and December.

The 2019 dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are as follows:

  • November 2019: 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 17, 19, 21, 22, and 24
  • December 2019: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 22

With one exception, this is exactly the same pattern we’ve seen for years now.

The exception is Sunday December 22.  In the past, the last party has been the Friday before Christmas week. Having a party happen during the wildly crowded Christmas week period is a mistake–it means that the other three parks will be even more overburdened on December 22.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party from yourfirstvisit.netYou need to buy a special ticket for this party. This ticket is different from regular Walt Disney World park admission tickets.

  • The special party ticket does not allow you to enjoy the rides and attractions of the Magic Kingdom before the Party starts–you need a regular ticket for that (note that you can usually enter and enjoy the rides as early as 4p–although your ticket will say 7p. The 4p entry is unofficial, and not guaranteed, though it has happened that way for years)
  • Regular tickets used to enter the park earlier the day of a Party do not give you access to the Party–you need to have the special Party ticket

Mickey and Minnie at Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at MVMCP 2014 from yourfirstvisit.net_

The party tickets are expensive, so why would first-time visitors be interested? A couple of potential reasons

  • Evening fireworks shows are rare this time of year, so going to one of the parties is a way to guarantee you can see them. There are rumors that the evening fireworks may be updated for 2018
  • Operating hours at the Magic Kingdom are shorter this time of year, so the Party allows you more time there within the same visit
  • Walt Disney World sells only a limited number of tickets to each party, so the evening can see much lower ride waits (except at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan), particularly compared to whenever the Magic Kingdom is open late that week. Note that the outdoor areas of the park, especially near the hub and along the parade routes, will be quite crowded.  Where you won’t see crowds is in the ride lines, other than the two noted above

Many families go the first time for one of these reasons…and then going becomes a tradition!

On the other hand, families following one of the standard 8-night itineraries on this site will see the fireworks and evening parade, and have plenty of time at the Magic Kingdom. For that reason, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not designed into this site’s pre-Thanksgiving itineraries.

It is, however, built in to this site’s Christmas-oriented Basic Itinerary, which works for the three weeks beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For details on what the party offers, suggested approaches, etc., see this!

Here’s the 2018 party brochure–as always on this site, click to enlarge:


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April 29, 2019   6 Comments