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Holidays at Disney Springs – 6 Amazing Experiences Not to Be Missed

Like most families, we have lots of holiday traditions we look forward to every year. With the recent transformation of Disney Springs, we’ve added a new item to our tradition checklist (we love lists!), spending time at Disney Springs during the holiday season. With most of the construction complete, Disney Springs now many great holiday offerings that are not to be missed. You’ll want to carve out at least one night during your Disney World vacation to visit these amazing experiences!


1 – Once Upon a Toy Town – New in 2016

For the dance lovers in your family you won’t want to miss the new DJ Holiday Dance Party at the Once Upon a Play Fountain. You’ll have a chance to show off your best moves and participate in family fun-activities. This holiday offering this year takes place nightly from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm through January 8, 2017.

2 – Christmas Tree Lighting, Caroling and More! – New in 2016

Every evening at 6:00 pm, you’ll have a chance to watch the “family of the day” flip the switch to illuminate the official tree of Disney Springs. This tree is at the Once Upon a Toy fountain play area. You’ll also find traditional carolers roaming throughout the Marketplace singing familiar holiday tunes, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. Finally, larger-than-life Toy Soldiers, snowflake stilt walkers and more roam Disney Springs from 6:00-10:00 pm. Stop to pose for a photo!

3 – Christmas Tree Trail – New in 2016

Disney has added a wonderful new Christmas Tree Trail. Begin your walk-through experience near the play fountain outside Once Upon a Toy in the Marketplace. You’ll find lots of trees expertly themed to the character or movie they represent. We recently walked through the trail and enjoyed seeing all the different ornaments and trimmings on the trees. I especially loved the “Tangled” tree that had Rapunzel’s hair braid as its garland. Here are the different trees we saw:

  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse
  • Disney Villains
  • “Beauty and the Beast”
  • “The Little Mermaid”
  • “Cinderella”
  • “The Princess and the Frog”
  • “Alice in Wonderland”
  • “Frozen”
  • “The Jungle Book”
  • “Mulan”
  • “101 Dalmatians”
  • “Tangled”
  • “Mary Poppins”
  • The Muppets

Check out the slideshow below for pictures of all the trees!

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4 – New Drone Holiday Light Show – New in 2016

A brand-new holiday show at Disney Springs called “Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration,” officially began on November 20 and runs through January 8, 2017. Nightly performances are at 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm. These shows, a first for Disney Parks, will feature 300 show drones illuminating the night sky. Guests will get a chance to watch Disney and Intel explore remarkable new technology. The show is accompanied by an original Disney arrangement of classic holiday songs recorded by a full orchestra. This is the first time a drone show of this scale will be performed in the United States.

The show takes place above the West Side of the Disney Springs waterfront. We were there on November 20 and enjoyed the show. People started lining up along the waterfront as early as 6:00 pm, however the spots in front at the railing didn’t fill up until 6:45 pm. However, we found the show is high enough in the sky, that you don’t need a front row seat to view the show. The entire show was about five minutes and the technology was very impressive! Disney Springs was packed, so make sure to arrive early enough to see this amazing show!


5 – Santa’s Chalet

Returning this year is Santa’s Chalet. Santa’s Chalet is the perfect spot to meet the big man himself! You’ll find him across from the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop. Santa will appear through December 24. Santa Goofy takes over December 25-30 since Santa will be resting from all his hard work. Santa greets daily from 12 pm – 10 pm. Like previous years, guests will check-in to receive a pager so they can shop, dine, and enjoy Disney Springs instead of waiting in line. Be sure to return within 10 minutes to the podium after your pager goes off. After that it will be a very short wait.

We had the chance to test the process during Thanksgiving week last year. It was so easy and simple that it made the whole experience much more enjoyable. We received our pager and was told the wait would be around 60 minutes. We did some shopping and then got some lunch at Earl of Sandwich. As we were finishing up our meal, we got a text that Santa was ready for us! We had time to wrap up our meal and head over. We turned in our pager, and within 3 minutes we were meeting Santa. Like other character meet and greets, we felt we had plenty of time and my three nephews each got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. They loved meeting Santa and we got great pictures! If you can’t make it into the parks we highly recommend meeting Santa at Disney Springs since this location that doesn’t require park admission!

A Disney PhotoPass photographer will be on hand to capture lots of pictures. Of course, feel free to use your own camera or snap a selfie with Santa! If you have purchased the Memory Maker package your photos with Santa will be included. Check out the slideshow below for pictures of the experience!

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6 – Special Kwanza and Hanukkah

There will be special performances celebrating Kwanza on Waterside Stage in the Marketplace on December 26 and December 27, 2016. Also, songs and stories in honor of Hanukkah at Waterview Park in The Landing will take place in the evening from December 24-January 1, 2017.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!