Most Magical Time of the Year: Christmas in Disney
By Heather Gausline Tate
Disney is known for being one of the most magical places on earth, which seems heightened even more when you add over-sized Christmas trees, ornament-like blinking Mickey ears, snow falling down on Main Street (despite non-freezing temps), and Mickey Mouse and friends trimmed with Santa hats. Decked out in all of the holiday trimmings, the Happiest Place on Earth feels its most festive.
Christmastime is Extra-Magical Here
The Spirit of Christmas feels magnetized within the gates of each of the four Disney Parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Disney-fan Sheri Page Hall explains why it is her favorite time of year to visit the four parks: “It’s everything: the massive Christmas decorations everywhere, specially-themed trees at each park and resort, the gingerbread displays, the Christmas activities such as parades and fireworks, and more.” Guntown-resident Heather Nicole Graham, mother of four, says they have experienced Disney in every season, and Christmas is their favorite time to go. Graham describes, “The decorations are beautiful and it “snows” on Main Street! From chocolate and gingerbread sculptures to special performances, there is so much to enjoy at Disney this time of year.” At every park there will be plenty of special Christmas photo ops that leave families’ minds reeling at what joys lay in store next.
Magic Kingdom may be the most popular, but it is not the only park that celebrates Christmas at Disney. Epcot’s 11 countries have special Christmas decorations and national foods. Former educator Audrey Roby says that her family has been to Disney during Christmas time before and is returning this year: “My very favorite part is the candlelight vigil at Epcot, which features a rotating celebratory narrator and an orchestra. Hollywood Studios has a special holiday light show featured on its Tower of Terror, and offers special holiday seasonal dining. This will be the first year for Christmas-themed decorations at Toy Story Land. Even Animal Kingdom has one of the most striking massive Christmas trees with carved wooded animal decorations.
The Disney resorts are decorated from top to bottom with some of the most magnificent Christmas trees you’ll ever see. Wilderness Lodge’s Christmas tree is over four stories tall and has Native American decorations, including light-up tee-pees. The Grand Floridian’s tree has a Victorian-era theme with bird cages decorating the bows, and nearby stands a life-size gingerbread house store. You could spend an entire day just visiting some of the Disney resorts’ Christmas decorations.
When to Go for Smaller Crowds and Ideal Weather
Christmas season at Disney is not just a one or two-week event. According to the “Ultimate Disney World Christmas Guide” by Disney Tourist Blogger Tom Bricker, Disney at Christmas begins in early November and concludes in January with “November 26 through December 14 being the least-crowded times to visit Walt Disney World during the full Christmas season.” Most families think that experiencing Disney the week between Christmas and New Years would be ideal because schools are out on vacation. However, this is one of the busiest weeks of the entire year at Disney. There are lighter times in the first two weeks of December and early-to-mid November, but it is important to note that there is really never a non-busy time at Disney.
Even though Orlando is not on the ocean, it can still be impacted and even closed (although rare) because of hurricanes in the rainy fall season. Mild central Florida temperatures mean that December is an ideal month to visit. According to accuweather.com, the average weather in December in Orlando is in the low 70s for a high and mid 50s for lows, perfect for spending the days in the parks without sweating in the lines. You can wear your t-shirts and shorts even at Christmastime, and, yes, the pools are open year round too, so don’t leave your bathing suits at home.
Tips for making the most of your holiday experience at Disney World
- Avoid the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
- Book at least six months in advance.
- Do the Mickey’s Christmas Party.
- Travel in early December for less crowds.
- Put Disney Gift Cards on the Christmas and birthday wish lists.
Heather Gausline Tate is a freelance writer and travel planner. She lives in Guntown with her husband and their two young sons. They enjoyed Disney at Christmas so much last year that they are going again this December.