Disney World is fabulous all year, but there is something extra magical when visiting during Disney World Christmas season. The wide variety of Disney World Christmas decorations, activities, and entertainment make this our favorite time of year. Use our complete 2023 Disney World Christmas guide to understand what is available and plan your own special holiday experience.
- When Is Disney World Decorated For Christmas?
- When Should I Visit Disney World For The Holidays?
- Magic Kingdom Holiday Experiences
- Holidays at Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom Holiday Experiences
- Epcot Festival of the Holidays
- Disney Springs Christmas Activities
- Disney World Resort Christmas Decorations and Gingerbread Creations
When Does Disney World Decorate For Christmas?
Magic Kingdom is the first place to get a Disney World Christmas transformation in early November. Almost overnight Magic Kingdom turns from spooky to festive when transitioning from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Since the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is November 1, 2023, Magic Kingdom holiday decorations will be later than usual. Expect Magic Kingdom decorations to appear starting November 2 and be completely ready November 9, which is the night of the first Christmas party.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom get a sprinkle of holiday decor early in November and were fully decorated by November 11, 2023.
Epcot starts decorating mid-November, but is the last park fully decorated for Christmas. This is because Epcot Festival of the Holidays doesn’t officially start until the day after Thanksgiving.
Disney World resorts complete most Christmas decorating about mid-November. However, some elaborate gingerbread displays aren’t finished until closer to Thanksgiving.
Disney Springs gets an impressive Christmas Tree Stroll with several beautifully Disney-themed Christmas trees. The 2023 Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll starts November 10, 2023 and usually continues until early January 2024.
Disney World Christmas decorations stay up until the New Year, but not much past that. For example, one year we arrived on January 3 and were greeted by gorgeous nautical themed Christmas decor at Yacht Club. By the next morning all of the Christmas decorations had completely disappeared.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Disney World For Christmas?
A few days after Thanksgiving until about a week before Christmas is the best time to visit for the holidays. The Disney World Christmas crowds are low, but everything holiday is up and running.
In particular, the first week of December is a perfect mix of holiday experiences, comfortable crowds, and gorgeous weather which makes it our favorite time to visit.
Not able to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Mid-November is a good Disney World Christmas vacation alternative if you don’t mind missing Epcot Festival of the Holidays.
Where Can I Find Disney World Christmas Decorations?
The short answer is Disney World Christmas decorations are everywhere. There are specially themed Christmas trees, wreaths, flowers, and other decorations at Disney World resorts, theme parks, and Disney Springs.
Disney World cast members put up an astonishing 1700 Christmas trees around the property and over 9 miles of garland according to a recent Disney Parks Blog article.
Magic Kingdom Christmas Decorations And Activities
Main Street at night with sparkling lights and stunningly decorated shops always puts me in the holiday spirit.
A 60-foot (18-m) Christmas tree adorned with 60,000 lights and 1800 ornaments welcomes guests to an enchanting Magic Kingdom Christmas the moment they enter Main Street.
Find wreaths, bows, and other festive Magic Kingdom Christmas decorations inside each display window and all along Main Street U.S.A. The traditional Americana Christmas decor of Main Street at Magic Kingdom is truly enchanting during the Christmas season.
Pay close attention while moving from one area of Magic Kingdom to another. Decorations are perfectly suited to each themed land. For example, find Victorian themed decor in Liberty Square and sleek modern decorations in Tomorrowland.
Frozen Holiday Surprise – A Holiday Castle Lighting Show
Starting November 7, 2023, Olaf and the Snowgies decorate Cinderella Castle for Christmas each night. Olaf, the Snowgies, Anna, and Kristoff set up a holiday surprise for Elsa who then surprises them by transforming the castle into a gorgeous icy version as a conclusion to this cute holiday show.
Frozen Holiday Surprise takes place at 6:15 pm each night with a bonus 8:15 pm performance during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Jingle Cruise Holiday Overlay
A classic attraction, Jungle Cruise, gets a fun holiday makeover turning it into Jingle Cruise. Find Christmas upgrades like a tropical inspired Christmas “tree” in the queue and seasonal flair throughout the ride.
Even the Jingle Cruise jokes get a Christmas update with lots of holiday themed puns and stories. For example, once when leaving the dock our skipper told us to wave to the nice people, but also that one naughty person. He then yelled, “You know what you did!” before calmly continuing our tour.
Jingle Cruise is available to all Magic Kingdom guests, not just those attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (Select Dates)
Usually only available to those attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade is included with a daytime Disney World ticket on select dates.
Based on the past few years, I expect guests visiting Magic Kingdom from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Eve to have the parade as part of their park day.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2023 (Extra Ticketed Event)
Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on several nights over the 2023 Christmas season. MVMCP is an extra ticketed late-night event with limited crowds and low attraction wait times.
In addition to low waits, enjoy special holiday experiences during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party like Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. This parade showcases favorite Disney characters in holiday floats while winding its way through Magic Kingdom.
Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show also returns to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2023. This cute Christmas fireworks show paints the castle in holiday colors with gorgeous fireworks perfectly timed to Christmas music.
Expect fun holiday themed ride overlays, low attraction wait times, dance parties, and more during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party in 2023.
Hollywood Studios Christmas Decorations And Activities
Although Magic Kingdom is the most popular Disney World Christmas park, I think the award should actually go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has gorgeous themed decorations for each area, a great walk up holiday light projection show, and a Christmas themed character meal.
Sunset Seasons Greetings
Hollywood Studios Sunset Seasons Greetings is a great addition to fill part of the void left by fan favorite Osborne Spectacle of Lights.
At night the exterior Tower of Terror facade is surprisingly turned into a beautiful winter wonderland. Sunset Seasons Greetings runs on a continuous loop with a 15 minute break throughout the night from dusk until park closing.
Two billboards along Sunset Boulevard show short video clips which introduce the next seasonal projection. For example, the Swedish Chef makes a gingerbread house in a short video shown on the billboard and then the tower becomes a giant gingerbread house.
The four Disney’s Hollywood Studios Sunset Seasons Greetings themes for Christmas are Muppets, Frozen, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and Toy Story. Each one is more charming than the last, which makes Sunset Seasons Greetings one of my favorite Disney World Christmas activities.
At the end of each tower projection show, lasers cut across the sky highlighting the “snow” falling on the street below. Since the show runs on a continuous loop after dark you can easily fit Sunset Seasons Greetings into your plans.
Another benefit of Sunset Seasons Greetings being shown on a continuous loop is the crowds ebb and flow. This means it’s easy to find good viewing spots without having to wait.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine
Find Minnie and friends dressed in their finest Christmas outfits for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine.
Santa Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy all circulate through the restaurant spreading holiday cheer during Minnie’s Holiday Dine. Have your camera ready for pictures and DIY autograph ornament supplies ready for when these adorably dressed characters stop at your table.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration Holiday
This popular Hollywood Studios show gets a special holiday finale featuring Olaf and seasonal songs during the 2023 Disney World Christmas season.
Hollywood Boulevard Christmas Decorations
There are amazing decorations all around Disney’s Hollywood Studios which begin as soon as you enter onto Hollywood Boulevard. Garland and wreaths are strung across the street, and sparkly stars adorn the light posts.
Echo Lake Christmas Decorations
Echo Lake area has my favorite Hollywood Studios decorations. The retro decor and Christmas playlist like my own makes it feel like home.
The large Christmas tree is impressive in the daytime, but is even better at night when the twinkling lights glow above the lake full of floating ornaments.
Toy Story Land Christmas Decorations
Time to rejoice! Toy Story holiday are here for the 2023 holiday season.
Toy Story Land has several adorable Christmas decorations. Christmas ornaments hang from the large entrance sign while Woody dons a cute scarf.
Each of the characters in Toy Story Land has seasonal flair for their costumes, too. I think the funniest character change is Buzz wearing a Santa hat.
There is a large Hamm sugar cookie decoration and if you peek around the back a green army man is supporting it. Speaking of green army men, they all have red, white, and green camo scarves for the Christmas season.
Popcorn and cranberry garland hang above Woody’s lunchbox, and even Rex puts on reindeer ears above Slinky Dog Dash.
Disney Jollywood Nights (Extra Ticketed Event)
New for 2023, Disney Jollywood Nights is a specially ticketed Christmas event at Hollywood Studios. On select nights from 8:30 pm until 12:30 am enjoy unique character meet and greets (Phineas and Ferb, Poweline Max, and Disney friends in holiday attire), a holiday sing-along, lower waits on popular attractions, and a return of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!.
Tickets went on sale to Disney World resort guests June 29, 2023 and all guests July 6, 2023. Disney Jollywood Night tickets cost $159 to $179 per person and the event is only available November 11, 18, 20, 27, 29 and December 4, 6, 16, 18, 20.
Epcot Christmas Activities
Epcot Christmas activities start later than the other parks or Disney Springs. This year Epcot holiday offerings begin November 24 and continue until December 30, 2023.
Epcot Candlelight Processional – November 24 through December 30, 2023
A celebrity narrator shares the Christmas nativity story with help from an impressive choir and 50-piece orchestra. Epcot Candlelight Processional is one of the most beautiful and touching ways to celebrate Christmas at Disney World.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Learn how each country in Epcot World Showcase celebrates the holiday season during Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Costumed storytellers bring holiday tales to life, and seasonal kitchens plus a cookie stroll give you culinary incentives to celebrate the holidays at Epcot, too.
Living With The Land Holiday Overlay
Take a relaxing boat ride through Epcot’s greenhouse fully decorated with lights and other holiday decor. Although Living with the Land holiday gets decorated around mid-November, the lights start twinkling when Epcot Festival of the Holidays officially begins.
Animal Kingdom Christmas Activities
Not to be left out, Animal Kingdom has several newer Disney World Christmas offerings and some unique seasonal decor. Many areas of the park are decorated, but Discovery Island easily had my favorite Animal Kingdom Christmas decorations.
Animal shaped luminaries are pretty in the daylight, but a warm glow at night makes these special decorations even more beautiful. Greenery with natural accents complete the decor in a way that fits seamlessly into Animal Kingdom.
Christmas Character Flotillas
Disney characters in their finest holiday attire float down Discovery River with a seasonal soundtrack. Animal Kingdom flotillas are a popular way to see characters at Disney World, and I’m sure this Christmas version is going to delight guests too.
Holiday Tree of Life Awakenings
The iconic symbol of Animal Kingdom is bathed in seasonal projections during the Disney World Christmas season.
The Holiday Tree of Life Awakenings begin at dark, but continue periodically until park closing. Check the Disney World app for the exact starting time.
Holiday Tree of Life Awakenings is a beautifully done show and more popular than I originally expected. People often line up for viewing spots at least 15 minutes ahead of the first show.
On Discovery Island look for Merry Menagerie during the Christmas season. Adorable, life-sized artisan animal puppets like polar bears and penguins come to life and are accompanied by live music for a fun, seasonal experience.
Where Are The Best Free Disney World Christmas Decorations?
Disney World theme parks are the only places that require a fee to see holiday decorations. Touring Disney World resorts and Disney Springs is a great, free way to see Disney World Christmas decorations.
Disney Springs Christmas Activities
Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll
A new take on the former Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail, the stroll spreads nineteen incredibly decorated Christmas trees throughout Disney Springs. Grab a map at one of the participating locations, find all the trees, and show your completed map to earn a prize.
Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar
Usually known as Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, this quirky bar and restaurant at Disney Springs gets a fun holiday overlay. Decorations seem to hang, or rest, on every available surface. Riotous colors and over the top decor make the bar extra fun at Christmas time.
Enjoy something delicious from their regular menu or order a festive cocktail and appetizer.
Disney World Resort Christmas Decorations and Gingerbread Creations
Each Disney World resort gets a lovely holiday makeover, but some get exceptional holiday transformations.
One of the most popular Disney World resort Christmas traditions are elaborate gingerbread houses. These gingerbread displays are an immense undertaking with bakers starting the baking and prep process in May and continuing until November.
Disney World has announced six gingerbread displays for the 2023 holiday season:
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Beach Club Resort
- BoardWalk Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Yacht Club Resort (new)
Grand Floridian Resort Christmas Decorations
Good news! The Grand Floridian will have its usual amazing Christmas decor despite the resort currently going through a remodel.
Disney’s Grand Floridian has the most impressive gingerbread house on Disney World Property. The immense 16-foot (5-m) tall Grand Floridian gingerbread house is an incredibly popular Disney World Christmas decoration.
The minute you enter the lobby of Grand Floridian you can smell the amazing gingerbread house which permeates the air throughout the multilevel open lobby.
The Grand Floridian gingerbread house features stained glass windows and beautiful details on each side of the immense baked creation. One of the most unique things about Grand Floridian’s gingerbread house is the treat shop inside the ornate, delicious house.
As if the huge Grand Floridian gingerbread house isn’t enough, the lobby also boasts a beautifully decorated 40-foot (12-m) Christmas tree. These two impressive displays, plus easy access via the monorail, is why Disney’s Grand Floridian is one of the best places to see Disney World Christmas decorations.
Beach Club Resort Christmas Decorations
Disney’s Beach Club Resort lobby has a working gingerbread and chocolate carousel. The horses are made of chocolate, and the rest of the carousel is mostly gingerbread. Admire each horse in detail as the carousel continuously rotates.
Yacht Club Resort Christmas Decorations
The 2023 Disney World Christmas season brings a new gingerbread creation to Yacht Club. The towering gingerbread lighthouse blends well with the traditional nautical themed Christmas decorations.
Boat ornaments, lots of blue hued lights, and traditional ornaments in blues and gold make the lobby Christmas tree unique to the Yacht Club theme. Just off to the side of the lobby is a Christmas village display with model trains running through the town.
Visiting Yacht and Beach Club to see the Christmas decorations is easy. These sister resorts are just a short walk from Epcot’s International Gateway and a Disney Skyliner stop.
Final Thoughts On Disney World Christmas Decorations, Tips, And Activities
Visiting Disney World during the Christmas season is a wonderful time to experience a variety of holiday activities. However, there are so many options it is impossible to do everything during one Disney World Christmas vacation.
Disney World Christmas decorations are stunning with over the top details that get even better upon close inspection. We always love the varied Christmas decor perfectly suited for each resort and theme park.
The best time to enjoy Disney World Christmas activities and decorations is early December. Visiting after Thanksgiving, but before school Christmas breaks, provides the best mix of available activities at all four Disney World theme parks plus lower crowds.
Are you planning a Disney World Christmas season trip? Find out why Get Away Today is our preferred travel partner.
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