Summer is winding down and next week Walt Disney World will begin its Fall Fun celebrations. But we’re already looking ahead to the holiday season. We have had many questions about what will be returning and how celebrations might be modified this year and now we have answers. Disney has released details on the holiday season celebrations that will run from November 6 through December 30. Details on the status of the Dream Lights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT, and new ways to celebrate are below.
Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Laurel Slater:
We’re looking forward to the holidays and today, we have an update on some of the festive experiences coming to Walt Disney World Resort. Building off of our recent experiences of operating in a new environment, we’ve reimagined the holidays which will, of course, apply current our current health and safety measures while still keeping the joy and magic of the season. And while things are looking a bit different at Walt Disney World and beyond, we can’t wait to celebrate with you.
We know how much our guests love the holidays, so from November 6-December 30, they will be able to enjoy festive décor, themed merchandise, seasonal food & beverage offerings and entertainment all across Walt Disney World Resort. Holiday magic will be in full force at the four theme parks and Disney Springs, and Santa Claus will make time for special pop-up appearances at each location, waving and exclaiming holiday wishes to all.
Guests will be delighted by the sight of festive flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, holiday promenades at EPCOT and merry motorcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Character cavalcades at Magic Kingdom Park will take on a special holiday twist, with Christmas friends on festive floats in their holiday finest. Gingerbread Men? Check! Elves and Reindeer? Check, check! And, my personal favorite, the Toy Soldiers, will join the Main Street Philharmonic as they march through Magic Kingdom Park, bringing musical holiday cheer for all to hear.
When night falls, special projection effects will give a festive look to Cinderella Castle this year, providing a colorful backdrop for our guests’ photos. The appearance of the iconic castle will be transformed with a rotating series of designs including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation. This will be in place of the Castle Dream Lights. Other holiday experiences that draw big crowds will be on hiatus this year as well, such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. We know these experiences are a cherished part of holiday traditions that will be missed by guests and cast members alike, but we’re glad to be able to bring holiday magic in other creative ways.
Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a meal among friends and family. Minnie Mouse will be hosting a yuletide gathering for all her friends at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting November 6. Santa Goofy will be there, along with Minnie and more in their holiday best.
Shifting gears to Disney Springs, guests will discover Christmas around every corner as they come across a collection of elaborately-decorated Disney Christmas trees spread throughout this retail, dining and entertainment destination. In the evening, guests visiting areas within Town Center, West Side and The Landing will encounter a magical snowfall, adding an extra touch of wonder to their holiday shopping. And to top it off, Jock Lindsey will once again be turning his hangar bar into Jock Lindsey’s Holiday Bar complete with delightful holiday décor and a delicious limited-time menu filled with festive favorites.
Disney Resort hotels will also be decked out for the holidays, with their lobbies featuring iconic trees and other festive flourishes. One thing to keep in mind is that our gingerbread displays will not return to the Resort hotels this year. While we know they are a favorite of people taking in the holiday décor, we’re not able to include those displays due to physical distancing guidelines.
Starting a bit later in the season, on November 27, we’ll celebrate highlights from the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. Holiday kitchens will return around World Showcase promenade with favorites like American Holiday Table featuring Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Bavaria Holiday Kitchen with dishes like Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl.
Guests will be invited to step inside World ShowPlace to enjoy the returning group, JOYFUL!, who present a journey through R&B, Gospel, contemporary and traditional Christmas and holiday music. Also, the Voices of Liberty will bring their incredible 8-part harmonies to the America Gardens Theatre stage for a special concert of favorite carols and songs of the season.
We’re all looking forward to creating new holiday traditions with our guests and cast members this year, as we introduce unique ways to enjoy the season together. So, make your list – and check it twice – because there’s a lot of holiday fun to see and do here at Walt Disney World Resort!
RELATED ARTICLE: 9 Reasons Winter is the Perfect Time to Visit Disney World
By D.W. Noonan
Most travelers to Walt Disney World favor specific times of the year to visit. Some prefer waiting until school lets out to enjoy Florida’s summertime fun; others can’t wait for Epcot’s spring and autumn festivals. Though these seasons certainly offer many wonders to enjoy, the following nine reasons reveal why the winter season, from mid-November to the end of January, is the perfect time to visit Disney World.
9 – Fewer Crowds
Except during school breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, the vacation population of Walt Disney World drops significantly in winter, creating several benefits for those looking to flock to their favorite destination. To begin with, crowds tend to be more mature, since most families with children hesitate to pull their kids out of school for extended periods and retired “snowbirds” fly south to Florida to avoid frigid weather. This doesn’t mean that you won’t meet families with children at Walt Disney World in the winter, just fewer than normal. Locals still visit theme parks at this time, especially during weekends, and many South American families fly up for a bit of Mickey-time during their summer break. Nevertheless, imagine standing on Main Street, U.S.A. or in the middle of Central Plaza and watching Happily Ever After without having to keep your arms at your side to avoid elbowing strangers.
8 – Shorter Lines (Most of the Time)
While children are in school, the lines at attractions are shorter than you’ll find in the summer. Then again, they grow very long during the winter holiday break. Planning your trip for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas or a week or so after New Year’s Day will result in shorter wait times at most attractions and shows. With reduced waiting, you’ll experience more rides each day, get better seats at shows, and avoid long delays at counter-service restaurants, all of which are great reasons to visit in the winter.
7 – FastPass+ Selections
Even though lines are smaller than usual during most weeks in the winter, they aren’t necessarily fast enough to zip through at popular attractions. You should still make your FastPass+ selections as soon as possible. However, with fewer resort guests staying on the Walt Disney World property during slow winter weeks, you’ll have better opportunities to choose passes for attractions that would normally run out. Also, making additional FastPass+ reservations after using your first three becomes a breeze, because you’ll face less competition in grabbing the remaining time slots.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, FastPass+ is temporarily suspended.
6 – Restaurant Reservations
Reservation hunting at Walt Disney World in peak season frustrates even the most patient restaurant guests. Trying to book tables at establishments like Le Cellier Steakhouse or ‘Ohana during these busy periods proves to be an impossible task, and those you manage to snag are usually inconvenient. Reserving tables during the winter lull offers visitors better time selections and more opportunities to dine at eateries normally out of reach for most guests during crowded weeks.
5 – Mild Temperatures
The scorching heat of Florida spikes into the high 90s in the summer and temperatures hover in the mid-80s during spring and autumn. Add sweltering humidity to the mix, and the heat almost smothers you. On the other hand, you’ll enjoy temperatures in the 70s as you stroll through your favorite theme park in the winter. Be certain to bring a jacket for evening activities, however, because nights can dip into the 40s and 50s. Those who love swimming at Disney Resorts shouldn’t worry about these low temperatures since the pools maintain a comfortable 82 degrees.
4 – Dry Weather
Florida’s dry season begins in late November and extends until May, making winter an ideal time to visit. The rest of the year features the national hurricane season and Florida’s normal wet season. From June to October, 70% of the state’s annual rainfall falls in a seemingly unpredictable fashion, keeping you dry for hours and then drenching you in a span of minutes. Also, Floridian storms often produce an incredible amount of lightning, which easily disrupts theme park operations. Winter travelers to Walt Disney World won’t have to worry about Expedition Everest being closed due to dangerous weather conditions.
3 – Lower Travel Prices
Because winter isn’t the tourist season for Central Florida, Disney Resorts and other hotels in the area lower their room rates, making them more affordable for Mickey fans on a tight budget. Additionally, many airlines discount tickets during this time due to low traffic to the region. Of course, you’ll have to avoid the holiday weeks to get these rates, since the demand for travel arrangements increases at this time. Nevertheless, purchasing a world-class vacation at bargain prices may be worth the trip when tourism lags, even if the timing is problematic.
2 – Christmas Décor
Christmas serves as one of the most beloved holidays of the year, and Walt Disney World remains the most popular vacation destination. During the winter holidays, Disney cast members decorate the parks and resorts with garland, Christmas lights, bows, trees, and more; small “snow flurries” even appear, though they consist of soapflakes rather than snowflakes. Even Jungle Cruise undergoes a makeover, becoming “Jingle Cruise” to exhibit its holiday spirit. Intertwining Christmas and Disney magic provides the perfect occasion for feeling both holiday and vacation delight, which is why this two-week, holiday break is one of the busiest times of the year. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid the crowds of Christmas but desire to feel its spirit, then schedule your trip two weeks before Thanksgiving or the first two weeks of December. Disney cast members will have already decked the halls with boughs of holly, but most of the holiday visitors will not have arrived yet.
1 – Holiday Events
The Imagineers and event planners at Walt Disney World have cooked up some pretty remarkable activities for the winter season, beginning with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which runs from early November to a few days before Christmas. This party includes all of Mickey’s friends, dressed in their best Christmas attire to perform for all attendees. The party also features “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” a special show with Elsa and Anna. As you make your way to Epcot, be sure to check out the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, a presentation of Christmas décor and traditions from the nations represented at the World Showcase. Your visit to Epcot can be capped off with the Candlelight Processional, a mass choir and orchestral show at America Gardens Theatre that’s hosted by a well-known celebrity. Overall, these activities will enhance your holiday celebrations, providing you with a winter vacation that you’ll never forget.
Editor’s Note: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT will not be running in 2020.
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