Christmas at Disney World: Decorations, Snacks, Entertainment and More

by | Dec 24, 2019 | WDW Blog

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Christmas at Disney World is upon us, but what makes this season one of the hottest tickets for a Walt Disney World visit?

Christmas at Disney World is a special time of year at a place that is already magical 365 days a year. With four parks, so many resorts, and a shopping district, it can be Here’s what you can’t miss in 2021…

1. Disney World Christmas Vibes

Christmas at disney world merry menagerie

No need to tightly schedule a visit with these cuties. Photo by Allyson Koerner

There’s something in the air at Walt Disney World during the holidays that can’t be easily categorized. From sipping on hot chocolate under the snoap falling in Magic Kingdom to waking up at your resort to see lavish holiday decor… Disney’s just the place to be to absorb Christmas feels.

Each part of Disney World does Christmas a little differently. From retro vibes at Hollywood Studios to Victorian Christmas at Grand Floridian, everyone’s ideal holiday is represented:

2021 marks the return of some Christmas favorites that were paused last year, including the Merry Menagerie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Strolling into the park to see these animals definitely puts you in the spirit.

2. Christmas Shows at Disney World

Frozen Holiday Wish Andy Sanchez

Know when to catch this show. Andy Sanchez

We love quiet moments with a Christmas cookie, but sometimes you just have to bust a holiday move. A Disney World Christmas is one filled with song, dance, and spectacular shows!

Elsa is taking the year off from icing Cinderella Castle, so the Dream Lights will not be happening this year (enjoy the above photo, instead). But there are still plenty of chances to celebrate the holidays with shows and entertainment at Disney World.

At Magic Kingdom:

  • Christmas Projections on Cinderella Castle
  • Christmas ride overlay at Jingle Cruise

At Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours:

  • Christmas Cavalcades during
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
  • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show
  • Christmas overlay at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Club Tinsel Dance Party in Tomorrowland

At EPCOT:

At Hollywood Studios

  • Frozen Ever After  – With a new festive ending, you won’t want to miss this holiday show!
  • Sunset Seasons Greetings – Watch as the Tower of Terror turns delightful with four different projection stories
  • Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine – This is a dining adventure, but characters are here, so we’re putting it under shows!
  • Santa Claus Motorcade – Wave to Santa and maybe yell your wishes as he rolls by in a sharp red convertible.

Animal Kingdom

  • The Merry Menagerie is back at Discovery Island!
  • Festive Flotillas – You’ll see Donald, Chip, Dale, and even Santa float on down the river
  • Tree of Life Awakenings – Winter edition!

3. Christmas Decorations at Disney World

Sunset Seasons Greetings Laurie Sapp

Sunset Seasons Greetings isn’t something you have to schedule. Laurie Sapp

Magic Kingdom: Classic Magic Kingdom Christmas with lush green garlands and wreaths, twinkling lights on the Jingle Cruise sign, and snoap falling on Main Street during Very Merriest After Hours.

EPCOT: Celebrate beyond Christmas with the decor at each World Showcase Pavilion during the Festival of the Holidays.

Hollywood Studios: A very vintage Christmas awaits, with outrageous decor from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

🎅 For an inside look at the meaning and history of Hollywood Studios’ Christmas décorsubscribe to the WDW Magazine print edition before Nov. 30Our Christmas at WDW issue this year features an exclusive look at the Golden Era decorations of Hollywood Studios. 

Animal Kingdom: Africa and Pandora get into the spirit with creative decorations made from found items. Dinoland USA get kitschy with it, and Diwali can be seen beautifully glowing in Asia.

Around the Resorts: Even if you’re not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you’ve got to check out the decor. Must-sees include the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Polynesian, Beach Club, BoardWalk, and Swan and Dolphin.

4. Christmas Rides at Disney World

Jingle Cruise Brett Svenson

Jingle Cruise is open all day! Brett Svenson

At Magic Kingdom:

  • Jingle Cruise

This overlay is available to park guests before the party, so you want to spend your time at the party doing all of the exclusive things offered. 

For those coming early to the park for Very Merries After Hours, be sure to ride Jingle Cruise before all the party exclusives start.

At Magic Kingdom During Very Merriest After Hours:

  • Jingle Cruise will be slinging puns and holiday cheer all night long
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – It’s a holiday set with festive jokes!

The Christmas overlay at Tomorrowland Speedway will not be returning in 2021.

At EPCOT;

  • Living With the Land Holiday Overlay – Confirmed to return in 2021! The twinkling lights will be back this holiday season.

At Hollywood Studios:

Slinky Dog Dash – OK, not an overlay, but zipping past giant Christmas bulbs will definitely add to your holiday!

5. Christmas Snacks at Disney World

christmas at disney world peppermint-soft-serve

The Peppermint Soft-Serve is a must-try Christmas snack! Photo by Allyson Koerner

If there’s one thing we love about Disney World at Christmas, it’s the snacks! All four parks, Disney Springs, and the resorts get into the tasty spirit.

🍦 We have the full list of 2021 Christmas Disney World snacks, meals and drinks, and boy, does it all look tasty!

6. Christmas Activities at Disney World

RRAMOS_Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail_14

No need for a park ticket to visit these trees. Photo by Rich Ramos

Of course, Disney World is full of magical extras! Here are some activities around the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs that will bring an extra bit of magic to your holiday.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll

The Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs gives you the chance to discover Disney-themed Christmas trees all over Disney Springs. Trees are inspired by films, characters, parks, and attractions. Until we get 2021 details, take a look at the 2020 trees and how to play.

Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt

Can your family find Olaf hidden all over World Showcase? We will be publishing our famous cheat sheet as soon as he appears. For now, here are all of Olaf’s 2020 hiding spots…

Resort Decoration Hot Cocoa Crawl

We highly recommend that you spend a full day taking a hot cocoa crawl of the two major resort areas that go all-out for Christmas.

The Crescent Lake loop has a giant chocolate Santa, beachy decor, and gingerbread delights. The Seven Seas Lagoon circuit features tropical decor and the giant gingerbread house at Grand Floridian. Gingerbread house and decoration offerings may vary in 2021. We will have news as soon as the holidays start to happen!

Don’t Rush Christmas at Disney World

Like with any WDW trip, there’s no way you’ll be able to experience all of the holiday goodness in one visit, so make sure you plan accordingly and make a schedule.

It’s definitely easy to accomplish a lot in a few days, but make sure you don’t rush, because enjoying the holidays at WDW is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

And remember, enjoying the holidays at WDW will be magical no matter what you end up seeing, so be sure to make your first time a memorable one.

Written by Rain Blanken

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Rain Blanken is the frying pan-wielding editorial director for WDW Magazine. She is a published author who has been working in digital media for 15 years. She is a DVC Member, WDW Annual Pass holder, former Disney Vacation Planner, and would live inside Boma if they would just stop checking under the tables at night. Did you like this article? Tip Rain in tartar sauce...
Rain Blanken

Written by Rain Blanken

Rain Blanken is the frying pan-wielding editorial director for WDW Magazine. She is a published author who has been working in digital media for 15 years. She is a DVC Member, WDW Annual Pass holder, former Disney Vacation Planner, and would live inside Boma if they would just stop checking under the tables at night. Did you like this article? Tip Rain in tartar sauce...