Christmas has arrived at Walt Disney World and here’s everything you need to know about the holidays in 2020. Visit all 4 parks plus Disney Springs until December 30th for some holiday cheer! Disney always makes the holidays so magical. This was my first visit to Walt Disney World during Christmas time and it did not disappoint. If you have a trip planned let me share with you what to expect and what not to miss. There are magical holiday experiences happening in each park. I will break it down by park and provide a quick reference guide you can screenshot for Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs.
Magic Kingdom has the most decorations and feels so magical. The giant Christmas tree on Main Street, garlands, wreaths, beautiful window displays and more. Normally most of the holiday offerings are only available during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party which is a ticketed event. But that event was canceled this year which is actually a bonus for those visiting because you get to see things that normally would only be available during the party!
My favorite barbershop quartet, the Dapper Dans are out serenading with Christmas music from up top of the Main Street train depot. Plus they sing down Main Street, U.S.A. on the horse-drawn trolley.
Right now there are no parades or fireworks, but I really like the way Disney has filled that void. Throughout the day you can catch cavalcades. A cavalcade is a short parade type performance that lasts only a few minutes. There are no posted show times. Below I do mention below the times each cavalcade can be seen. Times may vary as we get closer to Christmas so check in the My Disney Experience app under entertainment on the day you arrive. You can tell a cavalcade is coming when you hear the park background music change. Cast members will ask you to move out of the parade route as they pass by. We saw many of the performances right next to Splash Mountain where the cavalcades begin. Here’s the cavalcade route.
There are 4 different cavalcades at the Magic Kingdom.
- Santa’s Christmas Cavalcade includes the reindeer prancing down the street with Santa high on his sleigh! You can catch it from 10:40 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
- Mickey’s Holiday Cavalcade has many of your favorite Disney Characters including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse! You can catch it from 10:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
- Goofy’s Scrumptious Cavalcade starring little Max driving down the parade route. Goofy is cooking up some fun on his float and I was so excited to see the gingerbread men. Special note this parade does not run on Tuesday or Wednesday. You can catch it from 11:05 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
- A Royal Christmas Processional includes many of your favorite Disney Princesses on a beautiful crystal castle float all decked out for the season. You can catch it from 12:05 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.
Main Street Philharmonic
In addition to the cavalcades above you can see the Main Street Philharmonic march through Magic Kingdom park and down Main Street U.S.A bringing musical holiday cheer for all to hear. Plus the Toy Soldiers join in the fun. I was so happy to see them, it reminded me of my Christmas visits to Disneyland.
At nightfall Cinderella’s Castle is transformed with cheerful rotating projections, including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation. The projections change every 15 minutes and they now include a mini firework shoot off.
TIP: If you want less people around head to the west side of the castle near Sleepy Hollow snack place and watch the transitions. The projections are just as beautiful if not better from the side. Plus you can snag gorgeous photos with no one around.
This year you can’t meet characters, but they are out waving to you socially distanced. They appear throughout the day. You will find them lined up at the Main Street Train Station as you enter the park. They are waving and posing for photos. They take breaks but come back shortly. Don’t miss the chance to see Mickey and Minnie in their holiday apparel.
Another fun character sighting is over at the Country Bear Jamboree. Up above the attraction building you can spot the bears out waving and posing for a photo.
And over in Tomorrowland on the stage next to Carousel of Progress you will find Buzz Lightyear and Stitch in their holiday gear waving at guests and posing for photos.
The Jungle Cruise is the only attraction that gets a holiday layover. The ride overlay is festive with decor, corny holiday jokes and the Skippers even wear Santa hats! I recommend getting in line for this ride in the morning. With no FastPass availability these days the line gets very long! Plus we rode on it at night and it’s not as fun. You can’t see the jungle as well with a spotlight from the boat. Don’t miss this ride it’s fun for the whole family! Man I wish they’d bring this holiday overlay back to Disneyland!
You know Disney has some holiday treats for us this year too. You can find the foodie guide for Magic Kingdom on the Disney Parks Blog. Only select locations offer seasonal items. And the cutest holiday treat goes to Belle’s Enchanted Christmas tree macaroon. This almond macaroon has a cranberry orange filling. You can find this at Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland.
Here’s a quick reference guide you can screenshot for your trip to Magic Kingdom! It includes all of the highlights mentioned above in one place.
Over at Hollywood Studios there’s lots of signs that Christmas has arrived. The streets are decked out with decor, the music, another giant tree plus Gertie the dinosaur is also dressed up! Similar to Magic Kingdom you can find entertainment and other holiday offerings. Check out the highlights below.
Santa Claus Motorcade
Like Magic Kingdom you can see the Santa Claus Motorcade throughout the day. Catch Santa with an entourage of Elves leading jolly old St. Nick up Hollywood Blvd. in his candy-apple red convertible, packed with presents!
The Hollywood Holiday Tower Hotel
Watch the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel make its evening transformation, giving a playful nod to a variety of fan favorite tales including The Muppets, Toy Story, Frozen and Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine
Enjoy a marvelous character dining experience with Minnie as your hostess. A yuletide gathering for all her friends at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Including characters like Minnie, Goofy and more dressed in their holiday best.
For the First Time in Forever
Go watch a special holiday version of A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration with an unforgettable finale with Olaf.
Well of course there are holiday treats at this park too. We tried a few of them. For a full list you can visit Disney Parks Blog or look under dining in the My Disney Experience app. My favorite treat we ate was the Holiday Whoopie Pie we got at Backlot Express in Echo Lake. The Red velvet whoopie pie is filled with a classic cream cheese filling. Also available at The Trolley Car Café until Jan. 4, 2021.
Here’s a quick reference guide you can screenshot for your trip to Hollywood Studios! It includes all of the highlights mentioned above in one place.
This park offers the opportunity to see cheerful holiday celebrations around the world when you visit the World Showcase. When we were there the decor and entertainment had not arrived. But it all started this past weekend with the opening of Festival of the Holidays, a holiday food event located around the World Showcase. There is plenty of holiday fun to experience at Epcot.
- Santa Claus Promenade – Witness Santa Claus’s grand tour around World Showcase in his horse-drawn sleigh
- “Mickey and Friends Holiday World Tour” – Look for Mickey Mouse and his pals all dressed in their seasonal finest.
- “Frozen Holiday Promenade” – Watch Queen Anna and Elsa ring in the season, journeying from country to country and waving to their fans—like you—along the way.
- New! Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt – Have a blast tracking down all of the things on Olaf’s list during this fun scavenger hunt.
Plus, there’s music in the air everywhere:
- The JAMMitors will rock the Mill Stage at the Canada Pavilion with playful percussion, capturing the fun and merriment of the holiday season. They are very entertaining, we enjoyed them!
- JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season will entertain you with soulful R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas tunes inside the World Showplace.
- The Epcot pianist will take the stage at the World Showplace to perform festive set of holiday music from around the world.
- America Gardens Theatre will play host to a rotating lineup of holiday performances, including Voices of Liberty, who will be performing Voices of the Season and the Mariachi Cobre, who will be celebrating Las Posadas—a tribute to Mexican holiday customs.
Here’s a quick reference guide you can screenshot for your trip to Epcot! It includes all of the highlights mentioned above in one place.Animal Kingdom
There’s plenty of holiday fun at Animal Kingdom this year as well. Here are the don’t miss Christmas experiences this year.
- Santa Claus Festive Flotilla – See Santa Claus as he sails down the Discovery River to a jolly, world-beat holiday soundtrack.
- Donald’s Dino Bash Festive Flotilla – Discover Donald Duck and friends taking their holiday celebration to the water, waving to everyone as they traverse the Discovery River.
- Chip & Dale’s Festive Flotilla – Groove with Chip ‘n’ Dale as they bring their own style of festive flair to the park’s waterways, jingling through the jungle to the rhythm of the holidays.
- Mickey and Friends Festive Flotilla – Wave to Mickey and pals as they head downriver on a holiday safari filled with Christmas-time fun.
- Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla – Feel the beat as a colorful group of percussionists cruise along the Discovery River, entertaining Guests like you on the shore.
Plus, be sure to check out Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition, where our beloved tree shimmers and sparkles each evening, alive with the magic of nature and the spirit of the holidays.
Here’s a quick reference guide you can screenshot for your trip to Animal Kingdom! It includes all of the highlights mentioned above in one place.
Last but not least anyone can visit Disney Springs, it doesn’t require a ticket. Visiting Disney Springs is a great option on your arrival or departure day. All of the resorts have a complimentary bus that takes you to and from Disney Springs. This year Disney has added some fun Christmas experiences for guests.
- Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll – a collection of elaborately decorated Disney Christmas trees throughout Disney Springs.
- Santa’s Winter Watercade – Santa and Mrs. Claus taking to Lake Buena Vista in a Winter Waterland of colorfully decorated pontoon boats and waving Christmas wishes to guests.
- Holiday Scavenger Hunt – Go on a quest across Disney Springs. Hint: don’t forget to check out the themed Christmas Trees for clues!
- Special Entertainment – by Toy Soldier Stilt Walkers and Snowflake Skaters. Waterside Stage and Exposition Park host DJs that keep the tunes flowing throughout the day.
- Let It Snow – Snow flurries are in the forecast for Town Center and the West Side. In the evenings, delight in a magical snowfall. Snowfall will magically appear adding a touch of wonder to your holiday shopping in Town Center, West Side and The Landing. This was my favorite part of Disney Springs because it’s the only place you can experience SNOAP this year!
Here’s a quick reference guide you can screenshot for your trip to Disney Springs! It includes all of the highlights mentioned above in one place.
And wow if you made it to the end of this blog post congratulations! There was a lot of information to share. I wanted to make sure you had every detail to have the most magical Disney Christmas trip! There’s plenty of holiday cheer to experience in 2020 at the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re in need of tickets or a hotel check out this post for lots of information and tips!
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