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 2022 Holiday Season at Disney World


In 2022, Disney World has returned to a largely complete set of holiday program offerings, with particularly rich offerings at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

More details are available on Disney World’s website, for example here, but in sum:

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the key offering is the “Merry Menagerie,” a subtle but delightful show of arctic themed animal puppets at the Tree of Life. Special winter and holiday effects also enrich the Tree of Life Awakenings show. Elsewhere in the park, Santa Claus floats down the Discovery River.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the major offering is Sunset Seasons Greetings, a charming projection show in the evening on the building that houses Tower or Terror, the Hollywood Tower Hotel. You’ll also find a Santa Claus motorcade, and a special ending to For the First Time in Forever.

Epcot has several major offerings beginning November 25, including

  • The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, one of Epcot’s many food and drink festivals
  • Holiday storytellers in most of the pavilions of World Showcase
  • The beloved Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator and massed choirs. The Candlelight Processional is best seen via reserved seat available through booking a Candlelight Processional Dining Package
  • Epcot will also see a holiday overlay added to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

At Magic Kingdom, the signature event is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP), an additional ticket for which is required (but which does not require a park reservation.)

Officially running three to four nights a week most weeks from November 8 through December 22 from 7p through midnight, guests with tickets for the party can enter as early as 4p if they choose, and enjoy a wonderful Christmas parade, spectacular fireworks, and, other than at a few rides, low waits for attractions. MCMVP tickets are available here.


For more than a decade I have provided a separate itinerary—the “Basic Itinerary”–that integrates all of these offerings into a plan for Walt Disney World. This year I do not do so, largely because the cost of of MVMCP now approaches $750 for a family of four…

Rather, I offer suggestions below for how to see these holiday program elements on an a la carte basis in the Disney World Genie+ Itinerary for visits the weeks beginning 11/26, 12/3, 12/10 and 12/16. (Many of these offerings except those at Epcot will also be available for November visits.)

Animal Kingdom: see the holiday program offerings in your Tuesday visit

Hollywood Studios: see the holiday program offerings on your Sunday visit


  • Enjoy the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and the holiday storytellers as you tour World Showcase on both Saturday and Monday
  • Book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package and see the show on Monday

Magic Kingdom: The best day in your itinerary to see Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is Thursday, which otherwise is your off day. If Thursday is sold out, Friday will also work most of these weeks—although it will lead to a very long day. One option with a sold-out Thursday but an available Friday is to swap Thursday and Friday in your itinerary, making Friday your off day with MVMCP, and Thursday your second Magic Kingdom day.

October 10, 2022   No Comments

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