Christmas comes to Walt Disney World early. Some of the decor has already gone up and some of the Christmas treats have already been released; but when does Disney officially start celebrating the holiday season? Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts on November 9 and you can start getting the treats now as well as seeing many of the Christmas decorations all over the parks and resorts. If you visit DisneyWorld from now until November 17, which is considered a “down time” you will be able to experience many of the Christmas festivities however, some of the resort decorations will not be up yet and some of the Christmas decor around the parks will still be going up.
So, when should you go? If you don’t mind missing out on a few of the decorations around the resorts but want to avoid crowds, book your trip between now and November 17 as kids will still be in school and the Thanksgiving crowd will not have descended on Orlando. You can experience Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (check the site as this party is only offered on select nights between November 9 and December 22). You will not be able to experience Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, which starts on November 24 and runs through November 27. This fantastic and highly sought event has two performances nightly and if you want a guaranteed spot you MUST purchase the Candlelight Processional Dining Package (please see our previous post for all things Candlelight Processional).
To experience a true Walt Disney World Christmas you will need to book your trip between November 24 and January 3. To avoid the peak holiday crowds you may want to look between November 27 and December 22. Anytime after that, you are going to be fighting some of the largest crowds of the year and you should anticipate the parks reaching capacity (especially Epcot and Magic Kingdom) at some point during the afternoon.
Here are our tips and tricks for making the most out of your Christmas in Disney. Book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package. It is worth the extra money to guarantee a seat for this incredible event. If you have never been but were on the fence for this year, book the package. It is the only way to guarantee you a seat for a showing (there are two a night). You may be thinking that since there are two showings you can get in line an hour and a half early and get yourself a spot. Nope! I will guarantee that if you do this, you will not see the show. People get in the standby line for this event when the park opens and will wait there all. day. long.
If you are visiting a park during peak days i.e. December 22-January 2 get to the park early and stay there all day. During these days, the chances that the parks reach capacity are high. If they do and you leave, you are not guaranteed to get back in. If, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve you are crazy enough to go to WDW and you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort with a Park Hopper Pass, you are guaranteed entry to A park. That does not mean you will get into the park you want and you could end up at Hollywood Studios (which is pretty much half of a park right now) and you could be very upset. So if you are going to be there on these days, plan on a long, long day. Get up, get to the park and get situated because you should remain there for the long haul.
Take it all in. When you get to Magic Kingdom, it is so easy to get caught up in everything that is going on around you. Take a minute as you walk down Main Street and even right after you pass through security to take it all in. When the park closes on October 31, castmembers work tirelessly to get these decorations up to get it all ready and in place and ready for Christmas. It doesn’t happen overnight so don’t be surprised if you see a lot more in place between November 1 and November 24. But the decor and the atmosphere is truly magical so take a couple minutes and soak it all in, you won’t regret it.
Check out the resorts. My husband and I are really bad at this. We spend so much time in the parks that we don’t even spend quality time in the resort we are staying at. But, if you have the chance, check out some of the amazing decorations at some of the Walt Disney World Resorts. Some of the resorts not to be missed are The Grand Floridian for the massive gingerbread house, that is actually a store, make sure you look for some of the hidden Mickey’s in this display and be sure to ask for a sample. The African themed holiday decor at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge has incredible rustic decorations. The Beach Club Resort has an incredible carousel display that is made entirely of chocolate and gingerbread! It’s beyond incredible so be sure to trek over there to check it out. The Contemporary Resort in recent years has had an incredible Frozen gingerbread display and you can immerse yourself in a world of Frozen gingerbread glory.
Don’t even think that this is all we have to say about Christmas at Walt Disney World. Stay tuned for many more posts on what we love from previous years and are looking forward to experiencing this year. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see ya’ real soon. And for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse!